Make your own free website on Tripod.com

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

desire to displays whether he felt it or not, a perfect impartiality;
so when the delegates from the Consistory were presented to him, not
only did he receive them most graciously, but he was the first to
speak of the interests of their faith, assuring them that it was only
a few days since he had learned with much regret that their religious
services had been; suspended since the 16th of July.  The delegates
replied that in such a time of agitation the closing of their places
of worship was, a measure of prudence which they had felt ought to be
borne, and which had been borne, with resignation.  The prince
expressed his approval of this attitude with regard to the past, but
said that his presence was a guarantee for the future, and that on
Thursday the 9th inst. the two meeting-houses should be reopened and
restored to their proper use.  The Protestants were alarmed at,
having a favour accorded to them which was much more than they would
have dared to ask and for which they were hardly prepared.  But the
prince reassured them by saying that all needful measures would be
taken to provide against any breach of the public peace, and at the
same time invited M. Desmonts, president, and M. Roland-Lacoste,
member of the Consistory, to dine with him.

The next deputation to arrive was a Catholic one, and its object was
to ask that Trestaillons might be set at liberty.  The prince was so
indignant at this request that his only answer was to turn his back
on those who proffered it.

The next day the duke, accompanied by General Lagarde, left for
Montpellier; and as it was on the latter that the Protestants placed
their sole reliance for the maintenance of those rights guaranteed
for the future by the word of the prince, they hesitated to take any
new step in his absence, and let the 9th of November go by without
attempting to resume public worship, preferring to wait for the
return of their protector, which took place on Saturday evening the
11th of November.

When the general got back, his first thought was to ask if the
commands of the prince had been carried out, and when he heard that
they had not, without waiting to hear a word in justification of the
delay, he sent a positive order to the president of the Consistory to
open both places of worship the next morning.

Upon this, the president carrying self-abnegation and prudence to
their extreme limits, went to the general's quarters, and having
warmly thanked him, laid before him the dangers to which he would
expose himself by running counter to the opinions of those who had
had their own way in the city for the last four months.  But General
Lagarde brushed all these considerations aside: he had received an
order from the prince, and to a man of his military cast of mind no
course was open but to carry that order out.

Nevertheless, the president again expressed his doubts and fears.

"I will answer with my head," said the general, "that nothing
happens."  Still the president counselled prudence, asking that only
one place of worship at first be opened, and to this the general gave
his consent.

This continued resistance to the re-establishment of public worship
on the part of those who most eagerly desired it enabled the general
at last to realise the extent of the danger which would be incurred
by the carrying out of this measure, and he at once took all possible
precautions.  Under the pretext that he was going to-have a general
review, he brought the entire civil and military forces of Nimes
under his authority, determined, if necessary, to use the one to
suppress the other.  As early as eight o'clock in the morning a guard
of gens d'armes was stationed at the doors of the meeting-house,
while other members of the same force took up their positions in the
adjacent streets.  On the other hand, the Consistory had decided that
the doors were to be opened an hour sooner than usual, that the bells
were not to be rung, and that the organ should be silent.

These precautions had both a good and a bad side.  The gens d'armes
at the door of the meetinghouse gave if not a promise of security at
least a promise of support, but they showed to the citizens of the
other party what was about to be done; so before nine o'clock groups
of Catholics began to form, and as it happened to be Sunday the
inhabitants of the neighbouring villages arriving constantly by twos
and threes soon united these groups into a little army.  Thus the
streets leading to the church being thronged, the Protestants who
pushed their way through were greeted with insulting remarks, and
even the president of the Consistory, whose white, hair and dignified
expression had no effect upon the mob, heard the people round him
saying, "These brigands of Protestants are going again to their
temple, but we shall soon give them enough of it."

The anger of the populace soon grows hot; between the first bubble
and the boiling-point the interval is short.  Threats spoken in a low
voice were soon succeeded by noisy objurgations.  Women, children,
and men brake out into yells, "Down with the broilers!" (for this was
one of the names by which the Protestants were designated).  "Down
with the broilers!  We do not want to see them using our churches:
let them give us back our churches; let them give us back our
churches, and go to the desert.  Out with them!  Out with them! To
the desert!  To the desert!"

As the crowd did not go beyond words, however insulting, and as the
Protestants were long inured to much worse things, they plodded along
to their meeting-house, humble and silent, and went in, undeterred by
the displeasure they aroused, whereupon the service commenced.

But some Catholics went in with them, and soon the same shouts which
had been heard without were heard also within.  The general, however,
was on the alert, and as soon as the shouts arose inside the gens
d'armes entered the church and arrested those who had caused the
disturbance.  The crowds tried to rescue them on their way to prison,
but the general appeared at the head of imposing forces, at the sight
of which they desisted.  An apparent cam succeeded the tumult, and
the public worship went on without further interruption.

The general, misled by appearances, went off himself to attend a
military mass, and at eleven o'clock returned to his quarters for
lunch.  His absence was immediately perceived and taken advantage of.
In the: twinkling of an eye, the crowds, which had dispersed,
gathered together in even greater numbers and the Protestants, seeing
themselves once more in danger, shut the doors from within, while the
gens d'armes guarded them without.  The populace pressed so closely
round the gens d'armes, and assumed such a threatening attitude, that
fearing he and his men would not be able to hold their own in such a
throng, the captain ordered M. Delbose, one of his officers, to ride
off and warn the general.  He forced his way through the crowd with
great trouble, and went off at a gallop.  On seeing this, the people
felt there was no time to be lost; they knew of what kind the general
was, and that he would be on the spot in a quarter of an hour.  A
large crowd is invincible through its numbers; it has only to press
forward, and everything gives way, men, wood, iron.  At this moment
the crowd, swayed by a common impulse, swept forward, the gens
d'armes and their horses were crushed against the wall, doors gave
way, and instantly with a tremendous roar a living wave flooded the
church.  Cries of terror and frightful imprecations were heard on all
sides, everyone made a weapon of whatever came to hand, chairs and
benches were hurled about, the disorder was at its height; it seemed
as if the days of the Michelade and the Bagarre were about to return,
when suddenly the news of a terrible event was spread abroad, and
assailants and assailed paused in horror.  General Lagarde had just
been assassinated.

As the crowd had foreseen, no sooner did the messenger deliver his
message than the general sprang on his horse, and, being too brave,
or perhaps too scornful, to fear such foes, he waited for no escort,
but, accompanied by two or three officers, set off at full gallop
towards the scene of the tumult.  He had passed through the narrow
streets which led to the meeting-house by pushing the crowd aside
with his horse's chest, when, just as he got out into the open
square, a young man named Boisson, a sergeant in the Nimes National
Guard, came up and seemed to wish to speak to him.  The general
seeing a man in uniform, bent down without a thought of danger to
listen to what he had to say, whereupon Boisson drew a pistol out and
fired at him.  The ball broke the collar-bone and lodged in the neck
behind the carotid artery, and the general fell from his horse.

The news of this crime had a strange and unexpected effect; however
excited and frenzied the crowd was, it instantly realised the
consequences of this act.  It was no longer like the murder of
Marshal Brune at Avignon or General Ramel at Toulouse, an act of
vengeance on a favourite of Napoleon, but open and armed rebellion
against the king.  It was not a simple murder, it was high treason.

A feeling of the utmost terror spread through the town; only a few
fanatics went on howling in the church, which the Protestants,
fearing still greater disasters, had by this time resolved to
abandon.  The first to come out was President Olivier Desmonts,
accompanied by M. Vallongues, who had only just arrived in the city,
but who had immediately hurried to the spot at the call of duty.

M. Juillerat, his two children in his arms, walked behind them,
followed by all the other worshippers.  At first the crowd,
threatening and ireful, hooted and threw stones at them, but at the
voice of the mayor and the dignified aspect of the president they
allowed them to pass.  During this strange retreat over eighty
Protestants were wounded, but not fatally, except a young girl called
Jeannette Cornilliere, who had been so beaten and ill-used that she
died of her injuries a few days later.

In spite of the momentary slackening of energy which followed the
assassination of General Lagarde, the Catholics did not remain long
in a state of total inaction.  During the rest of the day the excited
populace seemed as if shaken by an earthquake.  About six o'clock in
the evening, some of the most desperate characters in the town
possessed themselves of a hatchet, and, taking their way to the
Protestant church, smashed the doors, tore the pastors' gowns, rifled
the poor-box, and pulled the books to pieces.  A detachment of troops
arrived just in time to prevent their setting the building on fire.

The next day passed more quietly.  This time the disorders were of
too important a nature for the prefect to ignore, as he had ignored
so many bloody acts in the past; so in due time a full report was
laid before the king.  It became know the same evening that General
Lagarde was still living, and that those around him hoped that the
wound would not prove mortal.  Dr. Delpech, who had been summoned
from Montpellier, had succeeded in extracting the bullet, and though
he spoke no word of hope, he did not expressly declare that the case
was hopeless.

Two days later everything in the town had assumed its ordinary
aspect, and on the 21st of November the king issued the following
edict:--

"Louis, by the grace of God, King of France and of Navarre,

"To all those to whom these presents shall come, greeting:

"An abominable crime has cast a stain on Our city of Nimes.
A seditious mob has dared to oppose the opening of the Protestant
place of worship, in contempt of the constitutional charter, which
while it recognises the Catholic religion as the religion of the
State, guarantees to the other religious bodies protection and
freedom of worship.  Our military commandant, whilst trying to
disperse these crowds by gentle means before having resort to force,
was shot down, and his assassin has till now successfully evaded the
arm of the law.  If such an outrage were to remain unpunished, the
maintenance of good government and public order would be impossible,
and Our ministers would be guilty of neglecting the law.

"Wherefore We have ordered and do order as follows:

"Art. 1.  Proceedings shall be commenced without delay by Our
attorney, and the attorney-general, against the perpetrator of the
murderous attack on the person of Sieur Lagarde, and against the
authors, instigators, and accomplices of the insurrection which took
place in the city of Nimes on the 12th of the present month.

"Art. 2.  A sufficient number of troops shall be quartered in the
said city, and shall remain there at the cost of the inhabitants,
until the assassin and his accomplices have been produced before a
court of law.

"Art. 3.  All those citizens whose names are not entitled to be on
the roll of the National Guard shall be disarmed.

"Our Keeper of the Seals, Our Minister of War, Our Minister of the
Interior, and Our Minister of Police, are entrusted with the
execution of this edict.

"Given at Paris at Our Castle of the Tuileries on the 2lst of
November in the year of grace 1815, and of Our reign the 21st.

"(Signed) Louis"


Boissin was acquitted.

This was the last crime committed in the South, and it led
fortunately to no reprisals.

Three months after the murderous attempt to which he had so nearly
fallen a victim, General Lagarde left Nimes with the rank of
ambassador, and was succeeded as prefect by M. d'Argont.

During the firm, just, and independent administration of the latter,
the disarming of the citizens decreed by the royal edict was carried
out without bloodshed.

Through his influence, MM. Chabot-Latour, Saint-Aulaire, and Lascour
were elected to the Chamber of Deputies in place of MM. De Calviere,
De Vogue, and De Trinquelade.

And down to the present time the name of M. d'Argont is held in
veneration at Nimes, as if he had only quitted the city yesterday.






< < Previous Page    



Other sites:

db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com