Page images
[ocr errors]

army existed.

ceeded, the protestants alone were the vict and proceeded to chaunt the requiem them tims. The assailants were discriminate in selves. their choice; and the selection of the pro But although the affairs of another world fessors of the protestant faith evidently indi- interest little the Parisian, who is so much cated that it was an organised religious per- occupied with the present, the prorincial has secution. The silence and inaction of the more leisure, and less indifference on this protestant powers

led to the disbelief of such subject. violence arising from such a cause; but di In remote provinces, where life glides on plomacy is observant of etiquette, and inter more calmly, and where the great events of ference with the internal government might the present times are only known by the have been deemed an humiliation of royal newspapers of the capital, the inhabitant has authority. The foreign troops were also too time to ponder over the historical records of much occupied in skirmishies, and sieges, his province, and the traditions of the country and in re-forming the museum, to heed dis around him. turbances in the departments: no French No part of France has been more fertile in

It was awaiting its dissolu- those traditions than that of Lower Languetion in its retreat behind the Loire. A doc. Protestantisin had been spread through thousand reasons occurred at that moment many provinces of France in a greater or less against any interference of authority to put degree, but the south was its principal abode, a stop to these horrible outrages.

and Nismes had been called the protestant The French governinent, and the French Romne. The word protestantism cannot, people, were at that period too much occu- however, be strictly applied to this descrippied in the great European catastrophe that tion of dissenters from the catholic church. had just taken place, to bestow much atten- It belongs rather to the Lutherans, the inhation on what they considered provincial bitants of Saxony, and other parts of Gerparty disputes. Catholics and protestants many. Those dissenters were named, in the were names almost unknown at Paris

. The persecuting state edicts of Louis XV I., proParisians, in their invectives against the fessors of the R. P. R. the religion pretendprotestant allies, exhausted the vocabulary edly reformed; and by the court of Louis of all ill-sounding epithets, on what they XIV. heretics, and Hugonots. The name deered the most nefarious of all measures, by which they called themselves, and were the taking their pictures; but never thought justly denominated by their friends, was of applying to them the offensive terms of simply that of Calvinists. Among them the Heretic or Hugonot. Royalist and Buona- heresies of the protestant world have made partist were well understood by the Parisians, no inroads, Bengelins may have raised and conveyed some meaning; but a contest doubts on certain interpolated texts in proabout catholicism, and protestantism, was a testant Germany: Eichorn, with his vast subject which met with no sympathy, and erudition, may have rendered the Hebrew abont which, had they understood the nature Scriptures more intelligible; and Wetstein, of the contest, they would have given them with his unwearied industry, have collected selves but little concern. Their interest in manuscripts, and discovered ten, instead of affairs of religion is awakened only on some four thousand various readings in the writgreat public event. Their wrath had indeed ings of the apostles. Pious teachers and been kindled against the piety of the court, learned professors may have confirmed the because it had ordained a more externally faith of their followers, by enlightening their strict observance of the sabbath : their ridi- reason, and led to a fuller belief in the holy cule had been excited by the religious pro- oracles by a more satisfactory interpretation, cessions of the Féte Dieu, and their indig- after exploring the fountain itself of heavenly nation was so strongly manifested against knowledge. the catholic clergy, on their refusal of canoni, On his brethren of this inquisitive temper, cal interinent to an actress, that they forced the steady religionist of the south looks with the doors of the church, with the dead body. charitable wonder. The Calvinist, whose

faith was fixed upwards of three centuries been of late the victims? Crimes! Their since, by the apostle of Geneva, adheres foulest enemies bring none to their charge with scrupulous fidelity to all that was then One leading cause of this persecution dates taught by that great leader. At this sort of from far: it is a renovation of that old spirit progressive religion among his protestant of fanaticism, which once infected even the brethren the Calvinist stands in sullen amaze, court; and which, driven from the powerful astonished that erudition can be so misap- and the great, now sought for refuge in the plied, as to be made the instrument of amend. lowest of the multitude. ing what the illustrious reformer had handed It is with governments as with individown to future times as perfect.


ma bad principle or an evil action has The light which of late years has risen consequences which extend beyond the reach over the holy city, the cradle of the reforma- of those who instil the first, or commit the tion, instead of being hailed as the star in the latter. When Louis XIV. began the perse. east, was regarded by those Calvinists only cution of the protestants of France, and as a misleading meteor. From this vene which brought on the revocation of the edict rable mother of their faith their filial eyes of Nantz, when fanaticism was let loose with were averted, when they beheld her, if not all its horrors, that monarch, alternately the arrayed in gold and scarlet, and the trappings puppet of love and devotion, saw none of of her Babylon, glorying at least in the tinsel the evils that awaited his country, when thus of heathenish learning, applied to the exami- deprived of various sources of its wealth. nation of the sacred text, and indulging in But still less did he foresee the greatest calathat philosophy of the Greeks, which the mity attending those measures, in the perpeCalvinist deems stumbling blocks and fool- tuity of that infernal spirit of persecution ishness. So unwavering in their adherence transmitted to future generations. to the doctrines of the Genevan apostle have Louis XIV. half repented when it was been these faithful professors of the south, too late : 'we are told by his apologists

, that that they had escaped the dreadful accusa when he let loose his ministers of vengeance, tion brought against them by the catholic he gave them orders to be merciful, humane, clergy, in their last conversation and address and christian-hearted. The actions of those to Louis XVI. when they asserted, that the ministers and priests, clothed in royal and church of Geneva had ceased to be a member celestial authority, may be obscure in history, of the christian church, since it had taught but their persecuting principles and doctrines the disbelief of what they held to be its great have outlived their memory. corner-stone, and in which all other churches, When persecution is enjoined by power, whatever be their other heresies, were agreed. and killing, to do God a service, is inculcated

The steady faith of the protestants of the by the priest, let us not wonder that such a south had therefore never strayed from that hideous doctrine has found adherents. In called the doctrine of the reformation. They our own enlightened times have we not seen might have mistaken the nature of that great Frenchmen taught to believe, that violence event; they might have reasoned amiss ; and conquest were other names for glory? they might have erred by resting in the in Such are the consequences of demoralizing fallibility of the opinions of him who was a people by the false principles laid down by the founder of their faith, and precluding their rulers. The persecutions of the prothemselves from all further examination ; testants had become legal acts of the state

. but they have at all tiines supported the Louis and his ministers disappeared; but the distinguished character they bore in the laws they enacted remained in all their force, community, for the practice of every public and the sufferings of the protestants were virtue, and as a people zealous of good extreme. Pious families, shrouded by the works. What then were the crimes which have danger, towards the spot assigned for their

night, bent their way, amidst darkness and drawn down on the heads of those respectable religious ceremonies ; a dark-lantern guiding Calvinists the persecution of which they have their perilous steps. Arrived at their temple

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

amidst the rocks, two walking-sticks hastily poral state became worse than that of the stuck in the ground, and covered with a protestant ministry, who continued to be black silk apron of the female auditors, supported by their respective congregations. formed what was called the pulpit of the The cause of religion had been so mangled desart. To such an assembly how eloquent by the worshippers of the goddess of reason, must have appeared the lessons of that the professors of theophilanthropism, and preacher who braved death at every word other kinds of vagabond divinities, and he uttered! how impressive must have been strange doctrines, that the constitutional cathat divine service, the attending of which tholic clergy began to feel the necessity of incurred the penalty of fetters for life! some effective means for the preservation of These were the glorious days of protestantism any faith; the most singular of which was, in France; these were her proudest tri- that of a wish to strengthen their cause by a umphs: she could then boast of votaries, of junction with the protestant church. The whom the world was not worthy; her mar result of the famous colloque of Poissy tyrs then bore testimony to their faith at the afforded no great hopes that such an union fatal tree, or were chained for life to the oar could take place. In the discussions of a of the galleys; and women, with the same protestant minister with the archbishop of noble feelings in the same sacred cause, his diocese, various points, in which both shrunk not from perpetual imprisonment in communions agreed, had been laid down as the gloomy tower that overhangs the shores the basis of union. The constitutional and of the Mediterranean.

antipapistical fathers of this council met in The revolution took place, fraught with Paris; most of whom were then the lumiall happy omens for the protestants. They naries of the Gallican church. Their debates cast their eyes back on the iron bondage of were liberal, and their decisions, for the the past, on the edicts of the last hundred greater part, conceived in the spirit of eryears against their fathers, and blessed the larged religion and charity. The union of dawn of religious liberty. Yet, during the the catholic and protestant communions also constituent assembly, how many hesitations, occupied their attention. But it was not exceptions, and discussions, took place on the deenied prudent to commit the dignity of subject of the protestants ! It was with some the council, by an official communication difficulty, notwithstanding the proud pro with the chiefs of the French protestant mulgation of equal rights, and equal laws, church. An Englishman, who was well that they obtained the privilege of being known to some of the bishops of one church, tolcrated. Rabaut St. "Ethienne fought and to the pastors of the other, was invited to against the Abbé Maury, under the shield a conference on the subject. The groundof Mirabeau, who exclaimed, “ that he knew work of conciliation was the topic. The nothing more intolerable than toleration.” English protestant, after some discussion on

The protestants were now tolerated in the various articles, proposed the Scriptures, to public exercise of their worship, and enjoyed which the catholics assented. But what their civic rights, but they received no por- translation? The catholics were strenuous tion of what was allotted to the ministers of for that authorised by the church. The proreligion by the government; to whom, on testant alleged several textual facts against the contrary, they paid an annual tribute for this infallibility of translation, and proposed the hire of the churches in which they offi- the authority of the earliest manuscripts of ciated. Their state was that of temporary the Scriptures in the national library. The tranquillity--but it was not confirmed re conference was adjourned. pose. Amidst the Saturnalian government's Rome was alarmed at the meeting of an that followed the fall of the monarchy, reli- unauthorised council, where hostility against gion and the priesthood were little respected. ultrainontane policy was so avowed. The The clergy among the catholics were not de- alliance of the pope and Buonaparte was an prived of their livings; but, as they were no affair of more facility than that of the catholonger paid by the government, their tein lic and protestant church. This alliance

[ocr errors]

took place, and ended in the famous con- bird of night, but waiting a propitious mo cordat.

ment to Hit abroad, ånd pounce upon its Whatever might have been the advantages prey. This power was fanaticism. to the pope, the church, or Buonaparte, from T'he catholic inhabitants of the south had this compact, the protestants completely gain- learned, from the highest authorities in the ed their cause. It was no longer the perse- state, down to the middle of the last century, cuted, or the tolerated sect. They were at that heresy was the most dangerous of crimes, once enthroned in rights equal to those of of which an immense body of the most re the catholic church, and became alike the spectable and industrious of their fellow-citi: objects of imperial favour.

zens were attainted. They had long beheld The impolitie conduct of Buonaparte those whom the civil power, and the church, against the catholic church, in the person of had stigmatised with the foul offences of its chief, operated greatly in favour of its Hugonotism, delivered over to military exe: cause, and of course was injurious to that of cution in this world, and to eternal reprobathe protestants, particularly to those of the tion in the next; and as no doubt could be south, in wbose provinces the banished car entertained of the flagitiousness of their dinals remained in a state of surveillance. crime, so none could arise of the justice of

The royal family of France returned. By its punishment. some oversight in the king's charter there The persecutions inflicted on the pro. was mention of a state-religion, and the pro testants during a long lapse of time, and testants consequently were obliged to sink which were continued in a greater or less back to toleration.

degree to our own days, while they exerIn protestant countries, where religious cised their patience, and strengthened their liberty may be better defined, or at least bet courage and their faith, confirmed the hatred ter understood, such an article as that of a of the lower classes of the catholics ; who state religion would have been deemed, by could not believe that the anathemas of their dissidents, the substitute of forbearance for own holy and infallible church, once proa right: there are men who view remote nounced, were subject to the fluctuation of consequences in an unsound principle, and, state politics, or of revolutions; but that the as was said of the American lawyers in the continuance of the guilt of protestantism refirst period of their revolution, “who sent quired the continuation of its punishment, tyranny in every tainted breeze.” Of such

as soon as the opportunity should offer. sagacity the French protestants were per There was another charge laid against the fectly innocent. The charter had been less protestants, which, though of a more worldly favourable with respect to their religious nature, had not failed to proeure them ene; rights than the concordat; but they were mies of a higher rank. The protestants were justly satisfied in believing, that their reli- the wealthiest subjects of the community, gion could never have been safer, under a because they were the most industrious; and ruler indifferent to every system of faith, their riches naturally excited the envy, and than under the protection of a pious and cupidity of their neighbours: who, without philosophical prince. Secure in the virtues absolving them from their fate in the next of the monarch, and the lights and philoso- world, could not but envy them their prophy of the present times

, they little dreamt sperity in the present. that they should ever become again the ob This hostile disposition was not unknown jects of religious persecution.

to the protestants: the iniquitous spirit had But the lights of the present times had been transmitted in the race of the fanatical illuminated but partially the department of multitude, who were not prudent in their the Gard. Driven from alınost every other abhorrence, nor were their projects of yenpart of France, there was a power which geance breathed silently. Their menaces, pays no regard to laws, and which cares still sometimes uttered in the patois of Langue less for lights or philosophy, that hovered doc, had lately met the ear of the pver this province, gloomily retired like the ants; and that of sending back the Hugonots,


to the desart, seemed to be the most preva- faction seemed determined not to fall withlent, since it was that state of humiliation, out a struggle; and, in others, the royalist which was best known or remembered. party forgot all moderation in their triumph.

It might have been hoped, that the con Partial insurrections were formed, and variduct which the protestants had observed since ous outrages committed at Marseilles, Montthat glorious epocha which confirmed to pellier, Toulouse, Avignon ; and the disorthem their religious rights, would have dis ders of Nismes were long believed at Paris armed the most rigorous of their foes. They to have the same source, and to be no other had shewed no exultation in the victory they than the last convulsion of political contests. had obtained; their joy had been confined But it was at length recognised that, when to their own bosoms, or breathed in secret the troubles which had prevailed in other thanksgivings. The blessings of the revo- provinces were hushed into peace, the delution had not been perverted by them to partment of the Gard was still the scene of any private advantage; they had not been viclence and horror. It was found that some forward to solicit the honours, but had al evil of a darker lue, and more portentous ways cheerfully borne their share in the bur- meaning, than the desultory warfare of podens and charges of the state.

litical parties, hung over the devoted city of But no conduct, however void of offence, Nismes. A fanatical multitude, breathing can disarm the malignant passions. The traditionary hatred, was let loose :—the cry tranquillity enjoyed by France, during a of “ Down with the Hugonists." resounded few months after the first return of the king, through the streets. Massaere and pillage presented no means to the fanatics of grati- prevailed; but protestants alone were the fying their rage, except by menaces. These victiins. The national guard of Nismes, menaces alarıned those who were the objects composed of its most respectable citizens, of them no further than as indications of had been dissolved, and a new enrolment of hostile dispositions, but some pastors of the six times the number had taken place, and south, who visited Paris during that winter, in which many of the fanatics had found asserted, that if any public event should take admission. Here, and here only, by some place, the catholics would not fail to pervert cruel fatality, the national guard betrayed its it to mischief against the protestants.

trust, and abandoned its noble function of They were then far indeed from any con protecting its fellow citizens. In vain the jecture that the disastrous event of the land unhappy protestants invoked its aid; no ing of Buonaparte on the coast of Provence arm was stretched out to shelter, or to save

He glided rapidly by the them their property was devastated withsouthern provinces, and established himself out resistance, and their murderers were unat Lyons. His presence affected the pro disturbed. The government caught the testants in no other manner than as it affected alarm the complaints of the protestants as all other Frenchmen. His cause was tried sailed its ear, and general La Garde was sent at Waterloo; and that battle, the most me to Nismes to command the military force of morable of modern times, not only from the the department, and protect the protestants. splendour of military genius it exhibited, On his arrival at Nismes, general La Garde and the heroic feats of valour it displayed, ordered the temples to be opened, which was but from the mighty consequences which announced to the public at eight o'clock on were the result of that immortal day, ayain the Sunday morning. The summons was placed Louis XVIII on the throne of obeyed with alaerity by the protestants. France.

They had long been deprived of the consolaAmidst the most important changes in tion of assembling together, and they felt the state, the expulsion of Buonaparte, the with the psalmist, " How amiable are thy surrender of Paris, and the retreat of the tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts !!!" French army across the Loire, many partial The church was crowded, but the congredisorders took place in various parts of gation was almost entirely composed of the France In some provinces the Buonapartist higher order of citizens; who perhaps felt

was so near.

« PreviousContinue »