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The Protestants, as we have said, hailed the golden dawn of the revolution with delight; then came the Terror, which struck at all without distinction of creed. A hundred and thirty-eight heads fell on the scaffold, condemned by the revolutionary tribunal of the Gard. Ninety-one of those executed were Catholic, and forty-seven Protestants, so that it looked as if the executioners in their desire for impartiality had taken a census of the population.
Then came the Consulate: the Protestants being mostly tradesmen and manufacturers, were therefore richer than the Catholics, and had more to lose; they seemed to see more chance of stability in this form of government than in those preceding it, and it was evident that it had a more powerful genius at its head, so they rallied round it with confidence and sincerity. The Empire followed, with its inclination to absolutism, its Continental system, and its increased taxation; and the Protestants drew back somewhat, for it was towards them who had hoped so much from him that Napoleon in not keeping the promises of Bonaparte was most perjured.
The first Restoration, therefore, was greeted at Nimes with a universal shout of joy; and a superficial-observer might have thought that all trace of the old religious leaven had disappeared. In fact, for seventeen years the two faiths had lived side by side in perfect peace and mutual good-will; for seventeen years men met either for business or for social purposes without inquiring about each other's religion, so that Nimes on the surface might have been held up as an example of union and fraternity.
When Monsieur arrived at Nimes, his guard of honour was drawn from the city guard, which still retained its organisation of 1812, being composed of citizens without distinction of creed. Six decorations were conferred on it--three on Catholics, and three on Protestants. At the same time, M. Daunant, M. Olivier Desmonts, and M. de Seine, the first the mayor, the second the president of the Consistory, and the third a member of the Prefecture, all three belonging to the Reformed religion, received the same favour.
Such impartiality on the part of Monsieur almost betrayed a preference, and this offended the Catholics. They muttered to one another that in the past there had been a time when the fathers of those who had just been decorated by the hand of the prince had fought against his faithful adherents. Hardly had Monsieur left the town, therefore, than it became apparent that perfect harmony no longer existed.
The Catholics had a favorite cafe, which during the whole time the Empire lasted was also frequented by Protestants without a single dispute caused by the difference of religion ever arising. But from this time forth the Catholics began to hold themselves aloof from the Protestants; the latter perceiving this, gave up the cafe by degrees to the Catholics, being determined to keep the peace whatever it might cost, and went to a cafe which had been just opened under the sign of the "Isle of Elba." The name was enough to cause them to be regarded as Bonapartists, and as to Bonapartists the cry "Long live the king!" was supposed to be offensive, they were saluted at every turn with these words, pronounced in a tone which became every day more menacing. At first they gave back the same cry, "Long live the king!" but then they were called cowards who expressed with their lips a sentiment which did not come from their hearts. Feeling that this accusation had some truth in it, they were silent, but then they were accused of hating the royal family, till at length the cry which at first had issued from full hearts in a universal chorus grew to be nothing but an expression of party hatred, so that on the 21st February, 1815, M. Daunant the mayor, by a decree, prohibited the public from using it, as it had become a means of exciting sedition. Party feeling had reached this height at Nimes when, on the 4th March, the news of the landing of Napoleon arrived.
Deep as was the impression produced, the city remained calm, but somewhat sullen; in any case, the report wanted confirmation. Napoleon, who knew of the sympathy that the mountaineers felt for him, went at once into the Alps, and his eagle did not as yet take so high a flight that it could be seen hovering above Mount Geneve.
On the 12th, the Duc d'Angouleme arrived: two proclamations calling the citizens to arms signalised his presence. The citizens answered the call with true Southern ardour: an army was formed; but although Protestants and Catholics presented themselves for enrolment with equal alacrity, the Protestants were excluded, the Catholics denying the right of defending their legitimate sovereign to any but themselves.
This species of selection apparently went on without the knowledge of the Duc d'Angouleme. During his stay in Nimes he received Protestants and Catholics with equal cordiality, and they set at his table side by side. It happened once, on a Friday, at dinner, that a Protestant general took fish and a Catholic general helped himself to fowl. The duke being amused, drew attention to this anomaly, whereupon the Catholic general replied, "Better more chicken and less treason." This attack was so direct, that although the Protestant general felt that as far as he was concerned it had no point, he rose from table and left the room. It was the brave General Gilly who was treated in this cruel manner.
Meanwhile the news became more disastrous every day: Napoleon was moving about with the rapidity of his eagles. On the 24th March it was reported in Nimes that Louis XVIII had left Paris on the 19th and that Napoleon had entered on the 20th. This report was traced to its source, and it was found that it had been spread abroad by M. Vincent de Saint-Laurent, a councillor of the Prefecture and one of the most respected men in Nimes. He was summoned at once before the authorities and asked whence he had this information; he replied, "From a letter received from M. Bragueres," producing the letter. But convincing as was this proof, it availed him nothing: he was escorted from brigade to brigade till he reached the Chateau d'If. The Protestants sided with M. Vincent de Saint-Laurent, the Catholics took the part of the authorities who were persecuting him, and thus the two factions which had been so long quiescent found themselves once more face to face, and their dormant hatred awoke to new life. For the moment, however, there was no explosion, although the city was at fever heat, and everyone felt that a crisis was at hand.
On the 22nd March two battalions of Catholic volunteers had already been enlisted at Nimes, and had formed part of the eighteen hundred men who were sent to Saint-Esprit. Just before their departure fleurs-de-lys had been distributed amongst them, made of red cloth; this change in the colour of the monarchical emblem was a threat which the Protestants well understood.
The prince left Nimes in due course, taking with him the rest of the royal volunteers, and leaving the Protestants practically masters of Nimes during the absence of so many Catholics. The city, however, continued calm, and when provocations began, strange to say they came from the weaker party.
On the 27th March six men met in a barn; dined together, and then agreed to make the circuit of the town. These men were Jacques Dupont, who later acquired such terrible celebrity under the name of Trestaillons, Truphemy the butcher, Morenet the dog shearer, Hours, Servant, and Gilles. They got opposite the cafe "Isle of Elba," the name of which indicated the opinion of those who frequented it. This cafe was faced by a guard-house which was occupied by soldiers of the 67th Regiment. The six made a halt, and in the most insulting tones raised the cry of "Long live the king!" The disturbance that ensued was so slight that we only mention it in order to give an idea of the tolerance of the Protestants, and to bring upon the stage the men mentioned above, who were three months later to play such a terrible part.
On April 1st the mayor summoned to a meeting at his official residence the municipal council, the members of all the variously constituted administrative bodies in Nimes, the officers of the city guards, the priests, the Protestant pastors, and the chief citizens. At this meeting, M. Trinquelague, advocate of the Royal Courts, read a powerful address, expressing the love, of the citizens for their king and country, and exhorting them to union and peace. This address was unanimously adopted and signed by all present, and amongst the signatures were those of the principal Protestants of Nimes. But this was not all: the next day it was printed and published, and copies sent to all the communes in the department over which the white flag still floated. And all this happened, as we have said, on April and, eleven days after Napoleon's return to Paris.
The same day word arrived that the Imperial Government had been proclaimed at Montpellier.
The next day, April 3rd, all the officers on half-pay assembled at the fountain to be reviewed by a general and a sub-inspector, and as these officers were late, the order of the, day issued by General Ambert, recognising the Imperial Government, was produced and passed along the ranks, causing such excitement that one of the officers drew his sword and cried, "Long live the emperor!" These magic words were re-echoed from every side, and they all hastened to the barracks of the 63rd Regiment, which at once joined the officers. At this juncture Marshal Pelissier arrived, and did not appear to welcome the turn things had taken; he made an effort to restrain the enthusiasm of the crowd, but was immediately arrested by his own soldiers. The officers repaired in a body to the headquarters of General Briche, commandant of the garrison, and asked for the official copy of the order of the day. He replied that he had received none, and when questioned as to which side he was on he refused to answer. The officers upon this took him prisoner. Just as they had consigned him to the barracks for confinement, a post-office official arrived bringing a despatch from General Ambert. Learning that General Briche was a prisoner, the messenger carried his packet to the colonel of the 63rd Regiment, who was the next in seniority after the general. In opening it, it was found to contain the order of the day.
Instantly the colonel ordered the 'gineyale' to sound: the town guards assumed arms, the troops left the barracks and formed in line, the National Guards in the rear of the regular troops, and when they were all thus drawn up; the order of the day was read; it was then snatched out of the colonel's hands, printed on large placards, and in less time than seemed possible it was posted up in every street and at every street corner; the tricolour replaced the white cockade, everyone being obliged to wear the national emblem or none at all, the city was proclaimed in a state of seige, and the military officers formed a vigilance committee and a police force.
While the Duc d'Angouleme had been staying at Nimes, General Gilly had applied for a command in that prince's army, but in spite of all his efforts obtained nothing; so immediately after the dinner at which he was insulted he had withdrawn to Avernede, his place in the country. He was awoke in the night of the 5th-6th April by a courier from General Ambert, who sent to offer him the command of the 2nd Subdivision. On the 6th, General Gilly went to Nimes, and sent in his acceptance, whereby the departments of the Gard, the Lozere, and Ardeche passed under his authority.
Next day General Gilly received further despatches from General Ambert, from which he learned that it was the general's intention, in order to avoid the danger of a civil war, to separate the Duc d'Angouleme's army from the departments which sympathised with the royal cause; he had therefore decided to make Pont-Saint-Esprit a military post, and had ordered the 10th Regiment of mounted chasseurs, the 13th artillery, and a battalion of infantry to move towards this point by forced marches. These troops were commanded by Colonel Saint-Laurent, but General Ambert was anxious that if it could be done without danger, General Gilly should leave Nimes, taking with him part of the 63rd Regiment, and joining the other forces under the command of Colonel Saint-Laurent, should assume the chief command. As the city was quite tranquil, General Gilly did not hesitate to obey this order: he set out from Nimes on the 7th, passed the night at Uzes, and finding that town abandoned by the magistrates, declared it in a state of siege, lest disturbances should arise in the absence of authority. Having placed M. de Bresson in command, a retired chief of battalion who was born in Uzes, and who usually lived there, he continued his march on the morning of the 8th.
Beyond the village of Conans, General Gilly met an orderly sent to him by Colonel Saint-Laurent to inform him that he, the colonel, had occupied Pont Saint-Esprit, and that the Duc d'Angouleme, finding himself thus caught between two fires, had just sent General d'Aultanne, chief of staff in the royal army, to him, to enter into negotiations for a surrender. Upon this, General Gilly quickened his advance, and on reaching Pont-Saint-Esprit found General d'Aultanne and Colonel Saint-Laurent conferring together at the Hotel de la Poste.
As Colonel Saint-Laurent had received his instructions directly from the commander-in-chief, several points relating to the capitulation had already been agreed upon; of these General Gilly slightly altered some, and approved of the others, and the same day the following convention was signed:
"Convention concluded between General Gilly and Baron de Damas
"S.A.R. Mgr. le Duc d'Angouleme, Commander-in-Chief of the royal army in the South, and Baron de Gilly, General of Division and Commander-in-Chief of the first corps of the Imperial Army, being most anxiously desirous to prevent any further effusion of French blood, have given plenary powers to arrange the terms of a convention to S.A.R. M. le Baron de Damas, Field-Marshal and Under-Chief of Staff, and General de Gilly and Adjutant Lefevre, Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, and Chief of the Staff of the first Army Corps; who, having shown each other their respective credentials, have agreed on the following terms:--
"Art. 1. The royal army is to be disbanded; and the National Guards which are enrolled in it, under whatever name they may have been levied, will return to their homes, after laying down their arms. Safe conducts will be provided, and the general of division commanding-in-chief guarantees that they shall never be molested for anything they may have said or done in connection with the events preceding the present convention.
"The officers will retain their swords; the troops of the line who form part of this army will repair to such garrisons as may be assigned to them.
"Art. 2. The general officers, superior staff officers and others of all branches of the service, and the chiefs and subordinates of the administrative departments, of whose names a list will be furnished to the general-in-chief, will retire to their homes and there await the orders of His Majesty the Emperor.
"Art. 3. Officers of every rank who wish to resign their commissions are competent to do so. They will receive passports for their homes.
"Art. 4. The funds of the army and the lists of the paymaster-general will be handed over at once to commissioners appointed for that purpose by the commander-in-chief.
"Art. 5. The above articles apply to the corps commanded by Mgr. le Duc d'Angouleme in person, and also to those who act separately but under his orders, and as forming part of the royal army of the South.
"Art. 6. H.R.H. will post to Cette, where the vessels necessary for him and his suite will be waiting to take him wherever he may desire. Detachments of the Imperial Army will be placed at all the relays on the road to protect His Royal Highness during the journey, and the honours due to his rank will be everywhere paid him, if he so desire.
"Art. 7. All the officers and other persons of His Royal Highness' suite who desire to follow him will be permitted to do so, and they may either embark with him at once or later, should their private affairs need time for arrangement.
"Art. 8. The present treaty will be kept secret until His Royal Highness have quitted the limits of the empire.
"Executed in duplicate and agreed upon between the above-mentioned plenipotentiaries the 8th day of April in the year 1815, with the approval of the general commanding-in-chief, and signed,
"At the headquarters at Pont-Saint-Esprit on the day and year above written.
"(Signed) LEFEVRE Adjutant and Chief of Staff of the First Corps of the Imperial Army of the South
"(Signed) BARON DE DAMAS Field-Marshal and Under-Chief of Staff
"The present convention is approved of by the General of Division Commanding-in-Chief the Imperial Army of the South.
After some discussion between General Gilly and General Grouchy, the capitulation was carried into effect. On the 16th April, at eight o'clock in the morning, the Duc d'Angouleme arrived at Cette, and went on board the Swedish vessel Scandinavia, which, taking advantage of a favourable wind, set sail the same day.
Early in the morning of the 9th an officer of high rank had been sent to La Palud to issue safe-conducts to the troops, who according to Article I of the capitulation were to return home "after laying down their arms." But during the preceding day and night some of the royal volunteers had evaded this article by withdrawing with their arms and baggage. As this infraction of the terms led to serious consequences, we propose, in order to establish the fact, to cite the depositions of three royal volunteers who afterwards gave evidence.
"On leaving the army of the Duc d'Angouleme after the capitulation," says Jean Saunier, "I went with my officers and my corps to Saint-Jean-des-Anels. From there we marched towards Uzes. In the middle of a forest, near a village, the name of which I have forgotten, our General M. de Vogue told us that we were all to return to our own homes. We asked him where we should deposit the flag. Just then Commandant Magne detached it from the staff and put it in his pocket. We then asked the general where we should deposit our arms; he replied, that we had better keep them, as we should probably find use for them before long, and also to take our ammunition with us, to ensure our safety on the road.
"From that time on we all did what we thought best: sixty-four of us remained together, and took a guide to enable us to avoid Uzes."
Nicholas Marie, labourer, deposed as follows:
"On leaving the army of the Duc d'Angouleme after the capitulation, I went with my officers and my corps to Saint-Jean-des-Anels. We marched towards Uzes, but when we were in the middle of a forest, near a village the name of which I have forgotten, our general, M. de Vogue, told us that we were to go to our own homes as soon as we liked. We saw Commandant Magne loose the flag from its staff, roll it up and put it in his pocket. We asked the general what we were to do with our arms; he replied that we were to keep both them and our ammunition, as we should find them of use. Upon this, our chiefs left us, and we all got away as best we could."
"After the capitulation of the Duc d'Angouleme I found myself," deposes Paul Lambert, lace-maker of Nimes, "in one of several detachments under the orders of Commandant Magne and General Vogue. In the middle of a forest near a village, the name of which I do not know, M. de Vogue and the other officer, told us we might go home. The flag was folded up, and M. Magne put it in his pocket. We asked our chiefs what we were to do with our arms. M. de Vogue told us that we had better keep them, as we should need them before very long; and in any case it would be well to have them with us on the road, lest anything should happen to us."
The three depositions are too much alike to leave room for any doubt. The royal volunteers contravened Article I of the convention.
Being thus abandoned by their chiefs, without general and without flag, M. de Vogue's soldiers asked no further counsel of anyone but themselves, and, as one of them has already told us, sixty-four of them joined together to hire a guide who was to show them how to get by Uzes without going through it, for they were afraid of meeting with insult there. The guide brought them as far as Montarem without anyone opposing their passage or taking notice of their arms.
Suddenly a coachman named Bertrand, a confidential servant of Abbe Rafin, former Grand-Vicar of Alais, and of Baroness Arnaud-Wurmeser (for the abbe administered the estate of Aureillac in his own name and that of the baroness), galloped into the village of Arpaillargues, which was almost entirely Protestant and consequently Napoleonist, announcing that the miquelets (for after one hundred and ten years the old name given to the royal troops was revived) were on the way from Montarem, pillaging houses, murdering magistrates, outraging women, and then throwing them out of the windows. It is easy to understand the effect of such a story. The people gathered together in groups; the mayor and his assistant being absent, Bertrand was taken before a certain Boucarut, who on receiving his report ordered the generale to be beaten and the tocsin to be rung. Then the consternation became general: the men seized their muskets, the women and children stones and pitchforks, and everyone made ready to face a danger which only existed in the imagination of Bertrand, for there was not a shadow of foundation for the story he had told.
While the village was in this state of feverish excitement the royal volunteers came in sight. Hardly were they seen than the cry, "There they are! There they are!" arose on all sides, the streets were barricaded with carts, the tocsin rang out with redoubled frenzy, and everyone capable of carrying arms rushed to the entrance of the village.
The volunteers, hearing the uproar and seeing the hostile preparations, halted, and to show that their intentions were peaceful, put their shakos on their musket stocks and waved them above their heads, shouting that no one need fear, for they would do no harm to anyone. But alarmed as they were by the terrible stories told by Bertrand, the villagers shouted back that they could not trust to such assurances, and that if they wanted to pass through the village they must first give up their weapons. It may easily be imagined that men who had broken the convention in order to keep their weapons were not likely to give them up to these villagers--in fact, they obstinately refused to let them out of their hands, and by doing so increased the suspicions of the people. A parley of a very excited character took place between M. Fournier for the royal guards and M. Boucarut, who was chosen spokesman by the villagers. From words they came to deeds: the miquelets tried to force their way through, some shots were fired, and two miquelets, Calvet and Fournier, fell. The others scattered, followed by a lively discharge, and two more miquelets were slightly wounded. Thereupon they all took to flight through the fields on either side of the road, pursued for a short distance by the villagers, but soon returned to examine the two wounded men, and a report was drawn up by Antoine Robin, advocate and magistrate of the canton of Uzes, of the events just related.
This accident was almost the only one of its kind which happened during the Hundred Days: the two parties remained face to face, threatening but self-controlled. But let there be no mistake: there was no peace; they were simply awaiting a declaration of war. When the calm was broken, it was from Marseilles that the provocation came. We shall efface ourselves for a time and let an eye-witness speak, who being a Catholic cannot be suspected of partiality for the Protestants.
"I was living in Marseilles at the time of Napoleon's landing, and I was a witness of the impression which the news produced upon everyone. There was one great cry; the enthusiasm was universal; the National Guard wanted to join him to the last man, but Marshal Massena did not give his consent until it was too late, for Napoleon had already reached the mountains, and was moving with such swiftness that it would have been impossible to overtake him. Next we heard of his triumphal entry into Lyons, and of his arrival in Paris during the night. Marseilles submitted like the rest of France; Prince d'Essling was recalled to the capital, and Marshal Brune, who commanded the 6th corps of observation, fixed his headquarters at Marseilles.
"With quite incomprehensible fickleness, Marseilles, whose name during the Terror had been, as one may say, the symbol of the most advanced opinions, had become almost entirely Royalist in 1815. Nevertheless, its inhabitants saw without a murmur the tricolour flag after a year's absence floating once more above the walls. No arbitrary interference on the part of the authorities, no threats, and no brawling between the citizens and the soldiers, troubled the peace of old Phocea; no revolution ever took place with such quietness and facility.
"It must, however, be said, that Marshal Brune was just the man to accomplish such a transformation without friction; in him the frankness and loyalty of an old soldier were combined with other qualities more solid than brilliant. Tacitus in hand, he looked on at modern revolutions as they passed, and only interfered when the, voice of his country called him to her defence. The conqueror of Harlem and Bakkun had been for four years forgotten in retirement, or rather in exile, when the same voice which sent him away recalled him, and at the summons Cincinnatus left his plough and grasped his weapons. Physically he was at this period a man of about fifty-five, with a frank and open face framed by large whiskers; his head was bald except for a little grizzled hair at the temples; he was tall and active, and had a remarkably soldierly bearing.
"I had been brought into contact with him by a report which one of my friends and I had drawn up on the opinions of the people of the South, and of which he had asked to have a copy. In a long conversation with us, he discussed the subject with the impartiality of a man who brings an open mind to a debate, and he invited us to come often to see him. We enjoyed ourselves so much in his society that we got into the habit of going to his house nearly every evening.
"On his arrival in the South an old calumny which had formerly pursued him again made its appearance, quite rejuvenated by its long sleep. A writer whose name I have forgotten, in describing the Massacres of the Second of September and the death of the unfortunate Princesse de Lamballe, had said, 'Some people thought they recognised in the man who carried her head impaled on a pike, General Brune in disguise,' and this accusation; which had been caught up with eagerness under the Consulate, still followed him so relentlessly in 1815, that hardly a day passed without his receiving an anonymous letter, threatening him with the same fate which had overtaken the princess. One evening while we were with him such a letter arrived, and having read it he passed it on to us. It was as follows:
"'Wretch,--We are acquainted with all your crimes, for which you will soon receive the chastisement you well deserve. It was you who during the revolution brought about the death of the Princesse de Lamballe; it was you who carried her head on a pike, but your head will be impaled on something longer. If you are so rash as to be present at the review of the Allies it is all up with you, and your head will be stuck on the steeple of the Accoules. Farewell, SCOUNDREL!'
"We advised him to trace this calumny to its source, and then to take signal vengeance on the authors. He paused an instant to reflect, and then lit the letter at a candle, and looking at it thoughtfully as it turned to ashes in his hand, said,--Vengeance! Yes, perhaps by seeking that I could silence the authors of these slanders and preserve the public tranquillity which they constantly imperil. But I prefer persuasion to severity. My principle is, that it is better to bring men's heads back to a right way of thinking than to cut them off, and to be regarded as a weak man rather than as a bloodthirsty one.'
"The essence of Marshal Brune's character was contained in these words.
"Public tranquillity was indeed twice endangered at Marseilles during the Hundred Days, and both times in the same manner. The garrison officers used to gather at a coffee-house in the place Necker, and sing songs suggested by passing events. This caused an attack by the townspeople, who broke the windows by throwing stones, some of which struck the officers. These rushed out, crying, 'To arms!' The townspeople were not slow to respond, but the commandant ordered the 'geneydle' to beat, sent out numerous patrols, and succeeded in calming the excitement and restoring quietness without any casualties.
"The day of the Champ du Mai orders for a general illumination were given, and that the tricolour flag should be displayed from the windows. The greater number of the inhabitants paid no attention to the desires of the authorities, and the officers being annoyed at this neglect, indulged in reprehensible excesses, which, however, resulted in nothing mare serious than some broken windows belonging to houses which had not illuminated, and in some of the householders being forced to illuminate according to order.
"In Marseilles as in the rest of France, people began to despair of the success of the royal cause, and those who represented this cause, who were very numerous at Marseilles, gave up annoying the military and seemed to resign themselves to their fate. Marshal Brune had left the city to take up his post on the frontier, without any of the dangers with which he was threatened having come across his path.
"The 25th of June arrived, and the news of the successes obtained at Fleurus and at Ligny seemed to justify the hopes of the soldiers, when, in the middle of the day, muttered reports began to spread in the town, the distant reverberations of the cannon of Waterloo. The silence of the leaders, the uneasiness of the soldiers, the delight of the Royalists, foretold the outbreak of a new struggle, the, results of which it was easy to anticipate. About four o'clock in the afternoon, a man, who had probably got earlier information than his fellow-townspeople, tore off his tricoloured cockade and trampled it under foot, crying, "Long live the king!" The angry soldiers seized him and were about to drag him to the guard-house, but the National Guards prevented them, and their interference led to a fight. Shouts were heard on all sides, a large ring was formed round the soldiers, a few musket shots heard, others answered, three or four men fell, and lay there weltering in their blood. Out of this confused uproar the word "Waterloo" emerged distinct; and with this unfamiliar name pronounced for the first time in the resounding voice of history, the news of the defeat of the French army and the triumph of the Allies spread apace. Then General Verdier, who held the chief command in the absence of Marshal Brune, tried to harangue the people, but his voice was drowned by the shouts of the mob who had gathered round a coffee-house where stood a bust of the emperor, which they insisted should be given up to them. Verdier, hoping to calm, what he took to be a simple street row, gave orders that the bust should be brought out, and this concession, so significant on the part of a general commanding in the emperor's name, convinced the crowd that his cause was lost. The fury of the populace grew greater now that they felt that they could indulge it with impunity; they ran to the Town Hall, and tearing down and burning the tricoloured, raised the white flag. The roll of the generale, the clang of the tocsin were heard, the neighbouring villages poured in their populations and increased the throng in the streets; single acts of violence began to occur, wholesale massacres were approaching. I had arrived in the town with my friend M____ the very beginning of the tumult, so we had seen the dangerous agitation and excitement grow under our eyes, but we were still ignorant of its true cause, when, in the rue de Noailles, we met an acquaintance, who, although his political opinions did not coincide with ours, had always shown himself very friendly to us. 'Well,' said I, 'what news?' 'Good for me and bad for you,' he answered;' I advise you to go away at once.' Surprised and somewhat alarmed at these words, we begged him to explain. 'Listen,' said he; 'there are going to be riots in the town; it is well known that you used to go to Brune's nearly every evening, and that you are in consequence no favourite with your neighbours; seek safety in the country.' I addressed some further question to him, but, turning his back on me, he left me without another word.
"M______ and I were still looking at each other in stupefaction, when the increasing uproar aroused us to a sense that if we desired to follow the advice just given we had not a moment to lose. We hastened to my house, which was situated in the Allees de Meilhan. My wife was just going out, but I stopped her.
"'We are not safe here,' I said; 'we must get away into the country.'
"'But where can we go?'
"'Wherever luck takes us. Let us start.'
"She was going to put on her bonnet, but I told her to leave it behind; for it was most important that no one should think we suspected anything, but were merely going for a stroll. This precaution saved us, for we learned the next day that if our intention to fly had been suspected we should have been stopped.
"We walked at random, while behind us we heard musket shots from every part of the town. We met a company of soldiers who were hurrying to the relief of their comrades, but heard later that they had not been allowed to pass the gate.
"We recollected an old officer of our acquaintance who had quitted the service and withdrawn from the world some years before, and had taken a place in the country near the village of Saint-Just; we directed our course towards his house.
"'Captain,' said I to him, 'they are murdering each other in the town, we are pursued and without asylum, so we come to you.' 'That's right, my children,' said he; 'come in and welcome. I have never meddled with political affairs, and no one can have anything against me. No one will think of looking for you here.'
"The captain had friends in the town, who, one after another, reached his house, and brought us news of all that went on during that dreadful day. Many soldiers had been killed, and the Mamelukes had been annihilated. A negress who had been in the service of these unfortunates had been taken on the quay. 'Cry "Long live the king!' shouted the mob. 'No,' she replied. 'To Napoleon I owe my daily bread; long live Napoleon!' A bayonet-thrust in the abdomen was the answer. 'Villains!' said she, covering the wound with her hand to keep back the protruding entrails. 'Long live Napoleon!' A push sent her into the water; she sank, but rose again to the surface, and waving her hand, she cried for the last time, 'Long live Napoleon!' a bullet shot putting an end to her life.
"Several of the townspeople had met with shocking deaths. For instance, M. Angles, a neighbour of mine, an old man and no inconsiderable scholar, having unfortunately, when at the palace some days before, given utterance before witnesses to the sentiment that Napoleon was a great man, learned that for this crime he was about to be arrested. Yielding to the prayers of his family, he disguised himself, and, getting into a waggon, set off to seek safety in the country. He was, however, recognised and brought a prisoner to the place du Chapitre, where, after being buffeted about and insulted for an hour by the populace, he was at last murdered.
"It may easily be imagined that although no one came to disturb us we did not sleep much that night. The ladies rested on sofas or in arm-chairs without undressing, while our host, M______ and myself took turns in guarding the door, gun in hand.
"As soon as it was light we consulted what course we should take: I was of the opinion that we ought to try to reach Aix by unfrequented paths; having friends there, we should be able to procure a carriage and get to Nimes, where my family lived. But my wife did not agree with me. 'I must go back to town for our things,' said she; 'we have no clothes but those on our backs. Let us send to the village to ask if Marseilles is quieter to-day than yesterday.' So we sent off a messenger.
"The news he brought back was favourable; order was completely restored. I could not quite believe this, and still refused to let my wife return to the town unless I accompanied her. But in that everyone was against me: my presence would give rise to dangers which without me had no existence. Where were the miscreants cowardly enough to murder a woman of eighteen who belonged to no-party and had never injured anyone? As for me, my opinions were well known. Moreover, my mother-in-law offered to accompany her daughter, and both joined in persuading me that there was no danger. At last I was forced to consent, but only on one condition.
"'I cannot say,' I observed, 'whether there is any foundation for the reassuring tidings we have heard, but of one thing you may be sure: it is now seven o'clock in the morning, you can get to Marseilles in an hour, pack your trunks in another hour, and return in a third; let us allow one hour more for unforeseen delays. If you are not back by eleven o'clock, I shall believe something has happened, and take steps accordingly.' 'Very well,' said my wife; 'if I am not back by then, you may think me dead, and do whatever you think best.' And so she and her mother left me.
"An hour later, quite different news came to hand. Fugitives, seeking like ourselves safety in the country, told us that the rioting, far from ceasing, had increased; the streets were encumbered with corpses, and two people had been murdered with unheard-of cruelty.
"An old man named Bessieres, who had led a simple and blameless life, and whose only crime was that he had served under the Usurper, anticipating that under existing circumstances this would be regarded as a capital crime, made his will, which was afterwards found among his papers. It began with the following words:
"'As it is possible that during this revolution I may meet my death, as a partisan of Napoleon, although I have never loved him, I give and bequeath, etc., etc.
"The day before, his brother-in-law, knowing he had private enemies, had come to the house and spent the night trying to induce him to flee, but all in vain. But the next morning, his house being attacked, he yielded, and tried to escape by the back door. He was stopped by some of the National Guard, and placed himself under their protection.
"They took him to the Cours St. Louis, where, being hustled by the crowd and very ineffectually defended by the Guards, he tried to enter the Cafe Mercantier, but the door was shut in his face. Being broken by fatigue, breathless, and covered with dust and sweat, he threw himself on one of the benches placed against the wall, outside the house. Here he was wounded by a musket bullet, but not killed. At the sight of his blood shrieks of joy were heard, and then a young man with a pistol in each hand forced his way through the throng and killed the old man by two shots fired point blank in his face.
"Another still more atrocious murder took place in the course of the same morning. A father and son, bound back to back, were delivered over to the tender mercies of the mob. Stoned and beaten and covered with each other's blood, for two long hours their death-agony endured, and all the while those who could not get near enough to strike were dancing round them.
"Our time passed listening to such stories; suddenly I saw a friend running towards the house. I went to meet him. He was so pale that I hardly dared to question him. He came from the city, and had been at my house to see what had become of me. There was no one in it, but across the door lay two corpses wrapped in a blood-stained sheet which he had not dared to lift.
"At these terrible words nothing could hold me back. I set off for Marseilles. M______ who would not consent to let me return alone, accompanied me. In passing through the village of Saint-Just we encountered a crowd of armed peasants in the main street who appeared to belong to the free companies. Although this circumstance was rather alarming, it would have been dangerous to turn back, so we continued our way as if we were not in the least uneasy. They examined our bearing and our dress narrowly, and then exchanged some sentences in a low, voice, of which we only caught the word austaniers. This was the name by which the Bonapartists were called by the peasants, and means 'eaters of chestnuts,' this article of food being brought from Corsica to France. However, we were not molested in any way, for as we were going towards the city they did not think we could be fugitives. A hundred yards beyond the village we came up with a crowd of peasants, who were, like us, on the way to Marseilles. It was plain to see that they had just been pillaging some country house, for they were laden with rich stuffs, chandeliers and jewels. It proved to be that of M. R____, inspector of reviews. Several carried muskets. I pointed out to my companion a stain of blood on the trousers of one of the men, who began to laugh when he saw what we were looking at. Two hundred yards outside the city I met a woman who had formerly been a servant in my house. She was very much astonished to see me, and said, 'Go away at once; the massacre is horrible, much worse than yesterday.'
"'But my wife,' I cried, 'do you know anything about her?'
"'No, sir,' she replied; 'I was going to knock at the door, but some people asked me in a threatening manner if I could tell them where the friend of that rascal Brine was, as they were going to take away his appetite for bread. So take my advice,' she continued, 'and go back to where you came from.'
"This advice was the last I could make up my mind to follow, so we went on, but found a strong guard at the gate, and saw that it would be impossible to get through without being recognised. At the same time, the cries and the reports of firearms from within were coming nearer; it would therefore have been to court certain death to advance, so we retraced our steps. In passing again through the village of Saint-Just we met once more our armed peasants. But this time they burst out into threats on seeing us, shouting, 'Let us kill them! Let us kill them!' Instead of running away, we approached them, assuring them that we were Royalists. Our coolness was so convincing that we got through safe and sound.
"On getting back to the captain's I threw myself on the sofa, quite overcome by the thought that only that morning my wife had been beside me under my protection, and that I had let her go back to the town to a cruel and inevitable death. I felt as if my heart would break, and nothing that our host and my friend could say gave me the slightest comfort. I was like a madman, unconscious of everything round me.
"M______ went out to try to pick up some news, but in an instant we heard him running back, and he dashed into the room, calling out:
"'They are coming! There they are!'
"'Who are coming?' we asked.
"My first feeling, I confess, was one of joy. I pounced upon a pair of double-barrelled pistols, resolved not to let myself be slaughtered like a sheep. Through the window I could see some men climbing over the wall and getting down into the garden. We had just sufficient time to escape by a back staircase which led to a door, through which we passed, shutting it behind us. We found ourselves on a road, at the other side of which was a vineyard. We crossed the road and crept under the vines, which completely concealed us.
"As we learned later, the captain's house had been denounced as a Bonapartist nest, and the assassins had hoped to take it by surprise; and, indeed, if they had come a little sooner we had been lost, for before we had been five minutes in our hiding-place the murderers rushed out on the road, looking for us in every direction, without the slightest suspicion that we were not six yards distant. Though they did not see us I could see them, and I held my pistols ready cocked, quite determined to kill the first who came near. However, in a short time they went away.
"As soon as they were out of hearing we began to consider our situation and weigh our chances. There was no use in going back to the captain's, for he was no longer there, having also succeeded in getting away. If we were to wander about the country we should be recognised as fugitives, and the fate that awaited us as such was at that moment brought home to us, for a few yards away we suddenly heard the shrieks of a man who was being murdered. They were the first cries of agony I had ever heard, and for a few moments, I confess, I was frozen with terror. But soon a violent reaction took place within me, and I felt that it would be better to march straight to meet peril than to await its coming, and although I knew the danger of trying to go through Saint-Just again, I resolved to risk it, and to get to Marseilles at all costs. So, turning to M____, I said:
"'You can remain here without danger until the evening, but I am going to Marseilles at once; for I cannot endure this uncertainty any longer. If I find Saint-Just clear, I shall come back and rejoin you, but if not I shall get away as best I can alone.'
"Knowing the danger that we were running, and how little chance there was that we should ever see each other again, he held out his hand to me, but I threw myself into his arms and gave him a last embrace.
"I started at once: when I reached Saint-Just I found the freebooters still there; so I walked up to them, trolling a melody, but one of them seized me by the collar and two others took aim at me with their muskets.
"If ever in my life I shouted 'Long live the king!' with less enthusiasm than the cry deserves, it was then: to assume a rollicking air, to laugh with cool carelessness when there is nothing between you and death but the more or less strong pressure of a highwayman's finger on the trigger of a musket, is no easy task; but all this I accomplished, and once more got through the village with a whole skin indeed, but with the unalterable resolution to blow my brains out rather than again try such an experiment.
"Having now a village behind me which I had vowed never to re-enter, and there being no road available by which I could hope to get round Marseilles, the only course open to me was to make my way into the city. At that moment this was a thing of difficulty, for many small bodies of troops, wearing the white cockade, infested the approaches. I soon perceived that the danger of getting in was as great as ever, so I determined to walk up and down till night, hoping the darkness would come to my aid; but one of the patrols soon gave me to understand that my prowling about had aroused suspicion, and ordered me either to go on to the city, in which by all accounts there was small chance of safety for me, or back to the village; where certain death awaited me. A happy inspiration flashed across my mind, I would get some refreshment, and seeing an inn near by, I went in and ordered a mug of beer, sitting down near the window, faintly hoping that before the necessity for a final decision arrived, someone who knew me would pass by. After waiting half an hour, I did indeed see an acquaintance--no other than M______, whom I had left in the vineyard. I beckoned him, and he joined me. He told me that, being too impatient to await my return, he had soon made up his mind to follow me, and by joining a band of pillagers was lucky enough to get safely through Saint-Just. We consulted together as to what we had better do next, and having applied to our host, found he could supply us with a trusty messenger, who would carry the news of our whereabouts to my brother-in-law. After an anxious wait of three hours, we saw him coming. I was about to run out to meet him, but M____ held me back, pointing out the danger of such a step; so we sat still our eyes fixed on the approaching figure. But when my brother-in-law reached the inn, I could restrain my impatience no longer, but rushing out of the room met him on the stairs.
"'My wife?' I cried. 'Have you seen my wife?'
"'She is at my house,' was the reply, and with a cry of joy I threw myself into his arms.
"My wife, who had been threatened, insulted, and roughly treated because of my opinions, had indeed found safety at my brother-in-law's.
"Night was coming on. My brother-in-law, who wore the uniform of the National Guard, which was at that moment a safeguard, took us each by an arm, and we passed the barrier without anyone asking us who we were. Choosing quiet streets, we reached his house unmolested; but in fact the whole city was quiet, for the carnage was practically at an end.
"My wife safe! this thought filled my heart with joy almost too great to bear.
"Her adventures were the following:
"My wife and her mother had gone to our house, as agreed upon, to pack our trunks. As they left their rooms, having accomplished their task, they found the landlady waiting on the staircase, who at once overwhelmed my wife with a torrent of abuse.
"The husband, who until then had known nothing of their tenant's return, hearing the noise, came out of his room, and, seizing his wife by the arm, pulled her in and shut the door. She, however, rushed to the window, and just as my wife and her mother reached the street, shouted to a free band who were on guard across the way, 'Fire! they are Bonapartists!' Fortunately the men, more merciful than the woman, seeing two ladies quite alone, did not hinder their passage, and as just then my brother-in-law came by, whose opinions were well known and whose uniform was respected, he was allowed to take them under his protection and conduct them to his house in safety.
"A young man, employed at the Prefecture, who had called at my house the day before, I having promised to help him in editing the Journal des Bouches-du-Rhone, was not so lucky. His occupation and his visit to me laid him under suspicion of possessing dangerous opinions, and his friends urged him to fly; but it was too late. He was attacked at the corner of the rue de Noailles, and fell wounded by a stab from a dagger. Happily, however, he ultimately recovered.
"The whole day was passed in the commission of deeds still more bloody than those of the day before; the sewers ran blood, and every hundred yards a dead body was to be met. But this sight, instead of satiating the thirst for blood of the assassins, only seemed to awaken a general feeling of gaiety. In the evening the streets resounded with song and roundelay, and for many a year to come that which we looked back on as 'the day of the massacre' lived in the memory of the Royalists as 'the day of the farce.'
"As we felt we could not live any longer in the midst of such scenes, even though, as far as we were concerned, all danger was over, we set out for Nimes that same evening, having been offered the use of a carriage.
"Nothing worthy of note happened on the road to Orgon, which we reached next day; but the isolated detachments of troops which we passed from time to time reminded us that the tranquillity was nowhere perfect. As we neared the town we saw three men going about arm in arm; this friendliness seemed strange to us after our recent experiences, for one of them wore a white cockade, the second a tricolour, and the third none at all, and yet they went about on the most brotherly terms, each awaiting under a different banner the outcome of events. Their wisdom impressed me much, and feeling I had nothing to fear from such philosophers, I went up to them and questioned them, and they explained their hopes to me with the greatest innocence, and above all, their firm determination to belong to what ever party got the upper hand. As we drove into Orgon we saw at a glance that the whole town was simmering with excitement. Everybody's face expressed anxiety. A man who, we were told, was the mayor, was haranguing a group. As everyone was listening, with the greatest attention, we drew near and asked them the cause of the excitement.
"'Gentlemen,' said he, 'you ought to know the news: the king is in his capital, and we have once more hoisted the white flag, and there has not been a single dispute to mar the tranquillity of the day; one party has triumphed without violence, and the other has submitted with resignation. But I have just learned that a band of vagabonds, numbering about three hundred, have assembled on the bridge over the Durance, and are preparing to raid our little town to-night, intending by pillage or extortion to get at what we possess. I have a few guns left which I am about to distribute, and each man will watch over the safety of all.'
"Although he had not enough arms to go round, he offered to supply 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 Nimes.
"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 towers.
"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 authorities.
"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."
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