Part 5 out of 5
to this concession to political opinions on the highway, and in no
less degree to the money which we gave by way of tips to everybody
everywhere, we arrived at length at the barriers of Nimes, where we
came up with the National Guards who had been repulsed by the
townspeople of Beaucaire.
"This is what had taken place just before we arrived in the city:
"The National Guard of Nimes and the troops of which the garrison was
composed had resolved to unite in giving a banquet on Sunday, the
28th of June, to celebrate the success of the French army. The news
of the battle of Waterloo travelled much more quickly to Marseilles
than to Nimes, so the banquet took place without interruption. A
bust of Napoleon was carried in procession all over the town, and
then the regular soldiers and the National Guard devoted the rest of
the day to rejoicings, which were followed by no excess.
"But the day was not quite finished before news came that numerous
meetings were taking place at Beaucaire, so although the news of the
defeat at Waterloo reached Nimes on the following Tuesday, the troops
which we had seen returning at the gates of the city had been
despatched on Wednesday to disperse these assemblies. Meantime the
Bonapartists, under the command of General Gilly, amongst whom was a
regiment of chasseurs, beginning to despair of the success of their
cause, felt that their situation was becoming very critical,
especially as they learnt that the forces at Beaucaire had assumed
the offensive and were about to march upon Nimes. As I had had no
connection with anything that had taken place in the capital of the
Gard, I personally had nothing to fear; but having learned by
experience how easily suspicions arise, I was afraid that the
ill-luck which had not spared either my friends or my family might
lead to their being accused of having received a refugee from
Marseilles, a word which in itself had small significance, but which
in the mouth of an enemy might be fatal. Fears for the future being
thus aroused by my recollections of the past, I decided to give up
the contemplation of a drama which might become redoubtable, asked to
bury myself in the country with the firm intention of coming back to
Nimes as soon as the white flag should once more float from its
"An old castle in the Cevennes, which from the days when the
Albigenses were burnt, down to the massacre of La Bagarre, had
witnessed many a revolution and counter revolution, became the asylum
of my wife, my mother, M_____ , and myself. As the peaceful
tranquillity of our life there was unbroken by any event of interest,
I shall not pause to dwell on it. But at length we grew weary, for
such is man, of our life of calm, and being left once for nearly a
week without any news from outside, we made that an excuse for
returning to Nimes in order to see with our own eyes how things were
"When we were about two leagues on our way we met the carriage of a
friend, a rich landed proprietor from the city; seeing that he was in
it, I alighted to ask him what was happening at Nimes. 'I hope you
do not think of going there,' said he, 'especially at this moment;
the excitement is intense, blood has already flowed, and a
catastrophe is imminent.' So back we went to our mountain castle,
but in a few days became again a prey to the same restlessness, and,
not being able to overcome it, decided to go at all risks and see for
ourselves the condition of affairs; and this time, neither advice nor
warning having any effect, we not only set out, but we arrived at our
destination the same evening.
"We had not been misinformed, frays having already taken place in the
streets which had heated public opinion. One man had been killed on
the Esplanade by a musket shot, and it seemed as if his death would
be only the forerunner of many. The Catholics were awaiting with
impatience the arrival of those doughty warriors from Beaucaire on
whom they placed their chief reliance. The Protestants went about in
painful silence, and fear blanched every face. At length the white
flag was hoisted and the king proclaimed without any of the disorders
which had been dreaded taking place, but it was plainly visible that
this calm was only a pause before a struggle, and that on the
slightest pretext the pent-up passions would break loose again.
"Just at this time the memory of our quiet life in the mountains
inspired us with a happy idea. We had learned that the obstinate
resolution of Marshal Brune never to acknowledge Louis XVIII as king
had been softened, and that the marshal had been induced to hoist the
white flag at Toulon, while with a cockade in his hat he had formally
resigned the command of that place into the hands of the royal
"Henceforward in all Provence there was no spot where he could live
unmarked. His ultimate intentions were unknown to us, indeed his
movements seemed to show great hesitation on his part, so it occurred
to us to offer him our little country house as a refuge where he
could await the arrival of more peaceful times. We decided that
M____ and another friend of ours who had just arrived from Paris
should go to him and make the offer, which he would at once accept
all the more readily because it came from the hearts which were
deeply devoted to him. They set out, but to my great surprise
returned the same day. They brought us word that Marshal Brune had
been assassinated at Avignon.
"At first we could not believe the dreadful news, and took it for one
of those ghastly rumours which circulate with such rapidity during
periods of civil strife; but we were not left long in uncertainty,
for the details of the catastrophe arrived all too soon."
For some days Avignon had its assassins, as Marseilles had had them,
and as Nimes was about to have them; for some days all Avignon
shuddered at the names of five men--Pointu, Farges, Roquefort,
Naudaud, and Magnan.
Pointu was a perfect type of the men of the South, olive-skinned and
eagle-eyed, with a hook nose, and teeth of ivory. Although he was
hardly above middle height, and his back was bent from bearing heavy
burdens, his legs bowed by the pressure of the enormous masses which
he daily carried, he was yet possessed of extraordinary strength and
dexterity. He could throw over the Loulle gate a 48-pound cannon
ball as easily as a child could throw its ball. He could fling a
stone from one bank of the Rhone to the other where it was two
hundred yards wide. And lastly, he could throw a knife backwards
while running at full speed with such strength and precision of aim
that this new kind of Parthian arrow would go whistling through the
air to hide two inches of its iron head in a tree trunk no thicker
than a man's thigh. When to these accomplishments are added an equal
skill with the musket, the pistol, and the quarter-staff, a good deal
of mother wit, a deep hatred for Republicans, against whom he had
vowed vengeance at the foot of the scaffold on which his father and
mother had perished, an idea can be formed of the terrible chief of
the assassins of Avignon, who had for his lieutenants, Farges the
silk-weaver, Roquefort the porter, Naudaud the baker, and Magnan the
secondhand clothes dealer.
Avignon was entirely in the power of these five men, whose brutal
conduct the civil and military authorities would not or could not
repress, when word came that Marshal Brune, who was at Luc in command
of six thousand troops, had been summoned to Paris to give an account
of his conduct to the new Government.
The marshal, knowing the state of intense excitement which prevailed
in the South, and foreseeing the perils likely to meet him on the
road, asked permission to travel by water, but met with an official
refusal, and the Duc de Riviere, governor of Marseilles, furnished
him with a safe-conduct. The cut-throats bellowed with joy when they
learned that a Republican of '89, who had risen to the rank of
marshal under the Usurper, was about to pass through Avignon. At the
same time sinister reports began to run from mouth to mouth, the
harbingers of death. Once more the infamous slander which a hundred
times had been proved to be false, raised its voice with dogged
persistence, asserting that Brune, who did not arrive at Paris until
the 5th of September, 1792, had on the 2nd, when still at Lyons,
carried the head of the Princesse de Lamballe impaled on a pike.
Soon the news came that the marshal had just escaped assassination at
Aix, indeed he owed his safety to the fleetness of his horses.
Pointu, Forges, and Roquefort swore that they would manage things
better at Avignon.
By the route which the marshal had chosen there were only two ways
open by which he could reach Lyons: he must either pass through
Avignon, or avoid it by taking a cross-road, which branched off the
Pointet highway, two leagues outside the town. The assassins thought
he would take the latter course, and on the 2nd of August, the day on
which the marshal was expected, Pointu, Magnan, and Naudaud, with
four of their creatures, took a carriage at six o'clock in the
morning, and, setting out from the Rhone bridge, hid themselves by
the side of the high road to Pointet.
When the marshal reached the point where the road divided, having
been warned of the hostile feelings so rife in Avignon, he decided to
take the cross-road upon which Pointu and his men were awaiting him;
but the postillion obstinately refused to drive in this direction,
saying that he always changed horses at Avignon, and not at Pointet.
One of the marshal's aides-de-camp tried, pistol in hand, to force
him to obey; but the marshal would permit no violence to be offered
him, and gave him orders to go on to Avignon.
The marshal reached the town at nine o'clock in the morning, and
alighted at the Hotel du Palais Royal, which was also the post-house.
While fresh horses were being put to and the passports and safe-
conduct examined at the Loulle gate, the marshal entered the hotel to
take a plate of soup. In less than five minutes a crowd gathered
round the door, and M. Moulin the proprietor noticing the sinister
and threatening expression many of the faces bore, went to the
marshal's room and urged him to leave instantly without waiting for
his papers, pledging his word that he would send a man on horseback
after him, who would overtake him two or three leagues beyond the
town, and bring him his own safe-conduct and the passports of his
aides-de-camp. The marshal came downstairs, and finding the horses
ready, got into the carriage, on which loud murmurs arose from the
populace, amongst which could be distinguished the terrible word
'zaou!' that excited cry of the Provencal, which according to the
tone in which it is uttered expresses every shade of threat, and
which means at once in a single syllable, "Bite, rend, kill,
The marshal set out at a gallop, and passed the town gates
unmolested, except by the howlings of the populace, who, however,
made no attempt to stop him. He thought he had left all his enemies
behind, but when he reached the Rhone bridge he found a group of men
armed with muskets waiting there, led by Farges and Roquefort. They
all raised their guns and took aim at the marshal, who thereupon
ordered the postillion to drive back. The order was obeyed, but when
the carriage had gone about fifty yards it was met by the crowd from
the "Palais Royal," which had followed it, so the postillion stopped.
In a moment the traces were cut, whereupon the marshal, opening the
door, alighted, followed by his valet, and passing on foot through
the Loulle gate, followed by a second carriage in which were his
aides-de-camp, he regained the "Palais Royal," the doors of which
were opened to him and his suite, and immediately secured against all
The marshal asked to be shown to a room, and M. Moulin gave him
No. 1, to the front. In ten minutes three thousand people filled the
square; it was as if the population sprang up from the ground. Just
then the carriage, which the marshal had left behind, came up, the
postillion having tied the traces, and a second time the great yard
gates were opened, and in spite of the press closed again and
barricaded by the porter Vernet, and M. Moulin himself, both of whom
were men of colossal strength. The aides-de-camp, who had remained
in the carriage until then, now alighted, and asked to be shown to
the marshal; but Moulin ordered the porter to conceal them in an
outhouse. Vernet taking one in each hand, dragged them off despite
their struggles, and pushing them behind some empty barrels, over
which he threw an old piece of carpet, said to them in a voice as
solemn as if he were a prophet, "If you move, you are dead men," and
left them. The aides-de-camp remained there motionless and silent.
At that moment M. de Saint-Chamans, prefect of Avignon, who had
arrived in town at five o'clock in the morning, came out into the
courtyard. By this time the crowd was smashing the windows and
breaking in the street door. The square was full to overflowing,
everywhere threatening cries were heard, and above all the terrible
zaou, which from moment to moment became more full of menace.
M. Moulin saw that if they could not hold out until the troops under
Major Lambot arrived, all was lost; he therefore told Vernet to
settle the business of those who were breaking in the door, while he
would take charge of those who were trying to get in at the window.
Thus these two men, moved by a common impulse and of equal courage,
undertook to dispute with a howling mob the possession of the blood
for which it thirsted.
Both dashed to their posts, one in the hall, the other in the
dining-room, and found door and windows already smashed, and several
men in the house. At the sight of Vernet, with whose immense
strength they were acquainted, those in the hall drew back a step,
and Vernet, taking advantage of this movement, succeeded in ejecting
them and in securing the door once more. Meantime M. Moulin, seizing
his double-barrelled gun, which stood in the chimney-corner, pointed
it at five men who had got into the dining-room, and threatened to
fire if they did not instantly get out again. Four obeyed, but one
refused to budge; whereupon Moulin, finding himself no longer
outnumbered, laid aside his gun, and, seizing his adversary round the
waist, lifted him as if he were a child and flung him out of the
window. The man died three weeks later, not from the fall but from
Moulin then dashed to the window to secure it, but as he laid his
hand on it he felt his head seized from behind and pressed violently
down on his left shoulder; at the same instant a pane was broken into
splinters, and the head of a hatchet struck his right shoulder.
M. de Saint-Chamans, who had followed him into the room, had seen the
weapon thrown at Moulin's head, and not being able to turn aside the
iron, had turned aside the object at which it was aimed. Moulin
seized the hatchet by the handle and tore it out of the hands of him
who had delivered the blow, which fortunately had missed its aim. He
then finished closing the window, and secured it by making fast the
inside shutters, and went upstairs to see after the marshal.
Him he found striding up and down his room, his handsome and noble
face as calm as if the voices of all those shouting men outside were
not demanding his death. Moulin made him leave No. 1 for No. 3,
which, being a back room and looking out on the courtyard, seemed to
offer more chances of safety than the other. The marshal asked for
writing materials, which Moulin brought, whereupon the marshal sat
down at a little table and began to write.
Just then the cries outside became still more uproarious. M. de
Saint-Chamans had gone out and ordered the crowd to disperse,
whereupon a thousand people had answered him with one voice, asking
who he was that he should give such an order. He announced his rank
and authority, to which the answer was, "We only know the prefect by
his clothes." Now it had unfortunately happened that M. de Chamans
having sent his trunks by diligence they had not yet arrived, and
being dressed in a green coat, nankeen trousers, and a pique vest, it
could hardly be expected that in such a suit he should overawe the
people under the circumstances; so, when he got up on a bench to
harangue the populace, cries arose of "Down with the green coat! We
have enough of charlatans like that!" and he was forced to get down
again. As Vernet opened the door to let him in, several men took
advantage of the circumstance to push in along with him; but Vernet
let his fist fall three times, and three men rolled at his feet like
bulls struck by a club. The others withdrew. A dozen champions such
as Vernet would have saved the marshal. Yet it must not be forgotten
that this man was a Royalist, and held the same opinions as those
against whom he fought; for him as for them the marshal was a mortal
enemy, but he had a noble heart, and if the marshal were guilty he
desired a trial and not a murder. Meantime a certain onlooker had
heard what had been said to M. de Chamans about his unofficial
costume, and had gone to put on his uniform. This was M. de Puy, a
handsome and venerable old man, with white hair, pleasant expression,
and winning voice. He soon came back in his mayor's robes, wearing
his scarf and his double cross of St. Louis and the Legion of Honour.
But neither his age nor his dignity made the slightest impression on
these people; they did not even allow him to get back to the hotel
door, but knocked him down and trampled him under foot, so that he
hardly escaped with torn clothes and his white hair covered with dust
and blood. The fury of the mob had now reached its height.
At this juncture the garrison of Avignon came in sight; it was
composed of four hundred volunteers, who formed a battalion known as
the Royal Angouleme. It was commanded by a man who had assumed the
title of Lieutenant-General of the Emancipating Army of Vaucluse.
These forces drew up under the windows of the "Palais Royal." They
were composed almost entirely of Provenceaux, and spoke the same
dialect as the people of the lower orders. The crowd asked the
soldiers for what they had come, why they did not leave them to
accomplish an act of justice in peace, and if they intended to
interfere. "Quite the contrary," said one of the soldiers; "pitch
him out of the window, and we will catch him on the points of our
bayonets." Brutal cries of joy greeted this answer, succeeded by a
short silence, but it was easy to see that under the apparent calm
the crowd was in a state of eager expectation. Soon new shouts were
heard, but this time from the interior of the hotel; a small band of
men led by Forges and Roquefort had separated themselves from the
throng, and by the help of ladders had scaled the walls and got on
the roof of the house, and, gliding down the other side, had dropped
into the balcony outside the windows of the rooms where the marshal
Some of these dashed through the windows without waiting to open
them, others rushed in at the open door. The marshal, thus taken by
surprise, rose, and not wishing that the letter he was writing to the
Austrian commandant to claim his protection should fall into the
hands of these wretches, he tore it to pieces. Then a man who
belonged to a better class than the others, and who wears to-day the
Cross of the Legion of Honour, granted to him perhaps for his conduct
on this occasion, advanced towards the marshal, sword in hand, and
told him if he had any last arrangements to make, he should make them
at once, for he had only ten minutes to live.
"What are you thinking of?" exclaimed Forges. "Ten minutes! Did he
give the Princesse de Lamballe ten minutes?" and he pointed his
pistol at the marshal's breast; but the marshal striking up the
weapon, the shot missed its aim and buried itself in the ceiling.
"Clumsy fellow!" said the marshal, shrugging his shoulders, "not to
be able to kill a man at such close range."
"That's true," replied Roquefort in his patois. "I'll show you how
to do it"; and, receding a step, he took aim with his carbine at his
victim, whose back was partly towards him. A report was heard, and
the marshal fell dead on the spot, the bullet which entered at the
shoulder going right through his body and striking the opposite wall.
The two shots, which had been heard in the street, made the howling
mob dance for joy. One cowardly fellow, called Cadillan, rushed out
on one of the balconies which looked on the square, and, holding a
loaded pistol in each hand, which he had not dared to discharge even
into the dead body of the murdered man, he cut a caper, and, holding
up the innocent weapons, called out, "These have done the business!"
But he lied, the braggart, and boasted of a crime which was committed
by braver cutthroats than he.
Behind him came the general of the "Emancipating Army of Vaucluse,"
who, graciously saluting the crowd, said, "The marshal has carried
out an act of justice by taking his own life." Shouts of mingled
joy, revenge, and hatred rose from the crowd, and the king's attorney
and the examining magistrate set about drawing up a report of the
Now that all was over and there was no longer any question of saving
the marshal, M. Moulin desired at least to save the valuables which
he had in his carriage. He found in a cash box 40,000 francs, in the
pockets a snuff-box set with diamonds, and a pair of pistols and two
swords; the hilt of one of these latter was studded with precious
stones, a gift from the ill-starred Selim. M. Moulin returned across
the court, carrying these things. The Damascus blade was wrenched
from his hands, and the robber kept it five years as a trophy, and it
was not until the year 1820 that he was forced to give it up to the
representative of the marshal's widow. Yet this man was an officer,
and kept his rank all through the Restoration, and was not dismissed
the army till 1830. When M. Moulin had placed the other objects in
safety, he requested the magistrate to have the corpse removed, as he
wished the crowds to disperse, that he might look after the aides-de
camp. While they were undressing the marshal, in order to certify
the cause of death, a leathern belt was found on him containing 5536
francs. The body was carried downstairs by the grave-diggers without
any opposition being offered, but hardly had they advanced ten yards
into the square when shouts of "To the Rhone! to the Rhone!"
resounded on all sides. A police officer who tried to interfere was
knocked down, the bearers were ordered to turn round; they obeyed,
and the crowd carried them off towards the wooden bridge. When the
fourteenth arch was reached, the bier was torn from the bearers'
hands, and the corpse was flung into the river. "Military honours!"
shouted some one, and all who had guns fired at the dead body, which
was twice struck. "Tomb of Marshal Brune" was then written on the
arch, and the crowd withdrew, and passed the rest of the day in
Meanwhile the Rhone, refusing to be an accomplice in such a crime,
bore away the corpse, which the assassins believed had been swallowed
up for ever. Next day it was found on the sandy shore at Tarascon,
but the news of the murder had preceded it, and it was recognised by
the wounds, and pushed back again into the waters, which bore it
towards the sea.
Three leagues farther on it stopped again, this time by a grassy
bank, and was found by a man of forty and another of eighteen. They
also recognised it, but instead of shoving it back into the current,
they drew it up gently on the bank and carried it to a small property
belonging to one of them, where they reverently interred it. The
elder of the two was M. de Chartruse, the younger M. Amedee Pichot.
The body was exhumed by order of the marshal's widow, and brought to
her castle of Saint-Just, in Champagne; she had it embalmed, and
placed in a bedroom adjoining her own, where it remained, covered
only by a veil, until the memory of the deceased was cleansed from
the accusation of suicide by a solemn public trial and judgment.
Then only it was finally interred, along with the parchment
containing the decision of the Court of Riom.
The ruffians who killed Marshal Brune, although they evaded the
justice of men, did not escape the vengeance of God: nearly every one
of them came to a miserable end. Roquefort and Farges were attacked
by strange and hitherto unknown diseases, recalling the plagues sent
by God on the peoples whom He desired to punish in bygone ages. In
the case of Farges, his skin dried up and became horny, causing him
such intense irritation, that as the only means of allaying it he had
to be kept buried up to the neck while still alive. The disease
under which Roquefort suffered seemed to have its seat in the marrow,
for his bones by degrees lost all solidity and power of resistance,
so that his limbs refused to bear his weight, and he went about the
streets crawling like a serpent. Both died in such dreadful torture
that they regretted having escaped the scaffold, which would have
spared them such prolonged agony.
Pointu was condemned to death, in his absence, at the Assizes Court
of La Drome, for having murdered five people, and was cast off by his
own faction. For some time his wife, who was infirm and deformed,
might be seen going from house to house asking alms for him, who had
been for two months the arbiter of civil war and assassination. Then
came a day when she ceased her quest, and was seen sitting, her head
covered by a black rag: Pointu was dead, but it was never known where
or how. In some corner, probably, in the crevice of a rock or in the
heart of the forest, like an old tiger whose talons have been clipped
and his teeth drawn.
Naudaud and Magnan were sentenced to the galleys for ten years.
Naudaud died there, but Magnan finished his time and then became a
scavenger, and, faithful to his vocation as a dealer of death, a
poisoner of stray dogs.
Some of these cut-throats are still living, and fill good positions,
wearing crosses and epaulets, and, rejoicing in their impunity,
imagine they have escaped the eye of God.
We shall wait and see!
It was on Saturday that the white flag was hoisted at Nimes. The
next day a crowd of Catholic peasants from the environs marched into
the city, to await the arrival of the Royalist army from Beaucaire.
Excitement was at fever heat, the desire of revenge filled every
breast, the hereditary hatred which had slumbered during the Empire
again awoke stronger than ever. Here I may pause to say that in the
account which follows of the events which took place about this time,
I can only guarantee the facts and not the dates: I relate everything
as it happened; but the day on which it happened may sometimes have
escaped my memory, for it is easier to recollect a murder to which
one has been an eye-witness, than to recall the exact date on which
The garrison of Nimes was composed of one battalion of the 13th
Regiment of the line, and another battalion of the 79th Regiment,
which not being up to its full war-strength had been sent to Nimes to
complete its numbers by enlistment. But after the battle of Waterloo
the citizens had tried to induce the soldiers to desert, so that of
the two battalions, even counting the officers, only about two
hundred men remained.
When the news of the proclamation of Napoleon II reached Nimes,
Brigadier-General Malmont, commandant of the department, had him
proclaimed in the city without any disturbance being caused thereby.
It was not until some days later that a report began to be circulated
that a royal army was gathering at Beaucaire, and that the populace
would take advantage of its arrival to indulge in excesses. In the
face of this two-fold danger, General Malmont had ordered the regular
troops, and a part of the National Guard of the Hundred Days, to be
drawn up under arms in the rear of the barracks upon an eminence on
which he had mounted five pieces of ordnance. This disposition was
maintained for two days and a night, but as the populace remained
quiet, the troops returned to the barracks and the Guards to their
But on Monday a concourse of people, who had heard that the army from
Beaucaire would arrive the next day, made a hostile demonstration
before the barracks, demanding with shouts and threats that the five
cannons should be handed over to them. The general and the officers
who were quartered in the town, hearing of the tumult, repaired at
once to the barracks, but soon came out again, and approaching the
crowd tried to persuade it to disperse, to which the only answer they
received was a shower of bullets. Convinced by this, as he was well
acquainted with the character of the people with whom he had to deal,
that the struggle had begun in earnest and must be fought out to the
bitter end, the general retreated with his officers, step by step, to
the barracks, and having got inside the gates, closed and bolted
He then decided that it was his duty to repulse force by force, for
everyone was determined to defend, at no matter what cost, a position
which, from the first moment of revolt, was fraught with such peril.
So, without waiting for orders, the soldiers, seeing that some of
their windows had been broken by shots from without, returned the
fire, and, being better marksmen than the townspeople, soon laid many
low. Upon this the alarmed crowd retired out of musket range, and
entrenched themselves in some neighbouring houses.
About nine o'clock in the evening, a man bearing something resembling
a white flag approached the walls and asked to speak to the general.
He brought a message inquiring on what terms the troops would consent
to evacuate Nimes. The general sent back word that the conditions
were, that the troops should be allowed to march out fully armed and
with all their baggage; the five guns alone would be left behind.
When the forces reached a certain valley outside the city they would
halt, that the men might be supplied with means sufficient to enable
them either to rejoin the regiments to which they belonged, or to
return to their own homes.
At two o'clock A. M. the same envoy returned, and announced to the
general that the conditions had been accepted with one alteration,
which was that the troops, before marching out, should lay down their
arms. The messenger also intimated that if the offer he had brought
were not quickly accepted--say within two hours--the time for
capitulation would have gone by, and that he would not be answerable
for what the people might then do in their fury. The general
accepted the conditions as amended, and the envoy disappeared.
When the troops heard of the agreement, that they should be disarmed
before being allowed to leave the town, their first impulse was to
refuse to lay down their weapons before a rabble which had run away
from a few musket shots; but the general succeeded in soothing their
sense of humiliation and winning their consent by representing to
them that there could be nothing dishonourable in an action which
prevented the children of a common fatherland from shedding each
The gendarmerie, according to one article of the treaty, were to
close in at the rear of the evacuating column; and thus hinder the
populace from molesting the troops of which it was composed. This
was the only concession obtained in return for the abandoned arms,
and the farce in question was already drawn up in field order,
apparently waiting to escort the troops out of the city.
At four o'clock P.M. the troops got ready, each company stacking its
arms in the courtyard before marching out; but hardly had forty or
fifty men passed the gates than fire was opened on them at such close
range that half of them were killed or disabled at the first volley.
Upon this, those who were still within the walls closed the courtyard
gates, thus cutting off all chance of retreat from their comrades.
In the event, however, it turned out that several of the latter
contrived to escape with their lives and that they lost nothing
through being prevented from returning; for as soon as the mob saw
that ten or twelve of their victims had slipped through their hands
they made a furious attack on the barracks, burst in the gates, and
scaled the walls with such rapidity, that the soldiers had no time to
repossess themselves of their muskets, and even had they succeeded in
seizing them they would have been of little use, as ammunition was
totally wanting. The barracks being thus carried by assault, a
horrible massacre ensued, which lasted for three hours. Some of the
wretched men, being hunted from room to room, jumped out of the first
window they could reach, without stopping to measure its height from
the ground, and were either impaled on the bayonets held in readiness
below, or, falling on the pavement, broke their limbs and were
The gendarmes, who had really been called out to protect the retreat
of the garrison, seemed to imagine they were there to witness a
judicial execution, and stood immovable and impassive while these
horrid deeds went on before their eyes. But the penalty of this
indifference was swiftly exacted, for as soon as the soldiers were
all done with, the mob, finding their thirst for blood still
unslacked, turned on the gendarmes, the greater number of whom were
wounded, while all lost their horses, and some their lives.
The populace was still engaged at its bloody task when news came that
the army from Beaucaire was within sight of the town, and the
murderers, hastening to despatch some of the wounded who still showed
signs of life, went forth to meet the long expected reinforcements.
Only those who saw the advancing army with their own eyes can form
any idea of its condition and appearance, the first corps excepted.
This corps was commanded by M. de Barre, who had put himself at its
head with the noble purpose of preventing, as far as he could,
massacre and pillage. In this he was seconded by the officers under
him, who were actuated by the same philanthropic motives as their
general in identifying themselves with the corps. Owing to their
exertions, the men advanced in fairly regular order, and good
discipline was maintained. All the men carried muskets.
But the first corps was only a kind of vanguard to the second, which
was the real army, and a wonderful thing to see and hear. Never were
brought together before or since so many different kinds of howl, so
many threats of death, so many rags; so many odd weapons, from the
matchlock of the time of the Michelade to the steel-tipped goad of
the bullock drovers of La Camargue, so that when the Nimes mob, which
in all conscience was howling and ragged enough, rushed out to offer
a brotherly welcome to the strangers, its first feeling was one of
astonishment and dismay as it caught sight of the motley crew which
held out to it the right hand of fellowship.
The new-comers soon showed that it was through necessity and not
choice that their outer man presented such a disreputable appearance;
for they were hardly well within the gates before demanding that the
houses of the members of the old Protestant National Guard should be
pointed out to them.
This being done, they promptly proceeded to exact from each household
a musket, a coat, a complete kit, or a sum of money, according to
their humour, so that before evening those who had arrived naked and
penniless were provided with complete uniforms and had money in their
pockets. These exactions were levied under the name of a
contribution, but before the day was ended naked and undisguised
Someone asserted that during the assault on the barracks a certain
individual had fired out of a certain house on the assailants. The
indignant people now rushed to the house indicated, and soon left
nothing of it in existence but its walls. A little later it was
clearly proved that the individual accused was quite innocent of the
crime laid to his charge.
The house of a rich merchant lay in the path of the advancing army.
A cry arose that the owner was a Bonapartist, and nothing more was
needed. The house was broken into and pillaged, and the furniture
thrown out of the windows.
Two days later it turned out that not only was the merchant no
Bonapartist, but that his son had been one of those who had
accompanied the Duc d'Angouleme to Cette when he left the country.
The pillagers excused themselves by saying they had been misled by a
resemblance between two names, and this excuse, as far as appears,
was accepted as valid by the authorities.
It was not long before the populace of Nimes began to think they
might as well follow the example set them by their brothers from
Beaucaire. In twenty-four hours free companies were formed, headed
by Trestaillons, Truphemy, Graffan, and Morinet. These bands
arrogated to themselves the title of National Guard, and then what
took place at Marseilles in the excitement of the moment was repeated
at Nimes with deliberation and method, inspired by hate and the
desire of vengeance. A revolt broke out which followed the ordinary
course: first pillage, then fire, then murder, laid waste the city.
M. V_____'s house, which stood in the middle of the town, was sacked
and then burnt to the ground, without a hand being raised to prevent
M. T_____'s house, on the road to Montpellier, was sacked and wrecked
and a bonfire made of the furniture, round which the crowd danced; as
if it had been an occasion of public rejoicing. Then cries were
raised for the proprietor, that he might be killed, and as he could
not be found the baffled fury of the mob vented itself on the dead.
A child three months buried was dragged from its grave, drawn by the
feet through the sewers and wayside puddles, and then flung on a
dung-heap; and, strange to say, while incendiarism and sacrilege thus
ran riot, the mayor of the place slept so sound that when he awoke he
was "quite astonished," to use his own expression, to hear what had
taken place during the night.
This expedition completed, the same company which had brought this
expedition to a successful issue next turned their attention to a
small country house occupied by a widow, whom I had often begged to
take refuge with us. But, secure in her insignificance, she had
always declined our offers, preferring to live solitary and retired
in her own home. But the freebooters sought her out, burst in her
doors, drove her away with blows and insults, destroyed her house and
burnt her furniture. They then proceeded to the vault in which lay
the remains of her family, dragged them out of their coffins and
scattered them about the fields. The next day the poor
woman ventured back, collected the desecrated remains with pious
care, and replaced them in the vault. But this was counted to her as
a crime; the company returned, once more cast forth the contents of
the coffins, and threatened to kill her should she dare to touch them
again. She was often seen in the days that followed shedding bitter
tears and watching over the sacred relics as they lay exposed on the
The name of this widow was Pepin, and the scene of the sacrilege was
a small enclosure on the hill of the Moulins-a-Vent.
Meantime the people in the Faubourg des Bourgades had invented a new
sort of game, or rather, had resolved to vary the serious business of
the drama that was being enacted by the introduction of comic scenes.
They had possessed themselves of a number of beetles such as
washerwomen use, and hammered in long nails, the points of which
projected an inch on the other side in the form of a fleur-de-lis.
Every Protestant who fell into their hands, no matter what his age or
rank, was stamped with the bloody emblem, serious wounds being
inflicted in many cases.
Murders were now becoming common. Amongst other names of victims
mentioned were Loriol, Bigot, Dumas, Lhermet, Heritier, Domaison,
Combe, Clairon, Begomet, Poujas, Imbert, Vigal, Pourchet, Vignole.
Details more or less shocking came to light as to the manner in which
the murderers went to work. A man called Dalbos was in the custody
of two armed men; some others came to consult with them. Dalbos
appealed for mercy to the new-comers. It was granted, but as he
turned to go he was shot dead. Another of the name of Rambert tried
to escape by disguising himself as a woman, but was recognised and
shot down a few yards outside his own door. A gunner called Saussine
was walking in all security along the road to Uzes, pipe in mouth,
when he was met by five men belonging to Trestaillon's company, who
surrounded him and stabbed him to the heart with their knives. The
elder of two brothers named Chivas ran across some fields to take
shelter in a country house called Rouviere, which, unknown to him,
had been occupied by some of the new National Guard. These met him
on the threshold and shot him dead.
Rant was seized in his own house and shot. Clos was met by a
company, and seeing Trestaillons, with whom he had always been
friends, in its ranks, he went up to him and held out his hand;
whereupon Trestaillons drew a pistol from his belt and blew his
brains out. Calandre being chased down the rue des Soeurs-Grises,
sought shelter in a tavern, but was forced to come out, and was
killed with sabres. Courbet was sent to prison under the escort of
some men, but these changed their minds on the way as to his
punishment, halted, and shot him dead in the middle of the street.
A wine merchant called Cabanot, who was flying from Trestaillons, ran
into a house in which there was a venerable priest called Cure
Bonhomme. When the cut-throat rushed in, all covered with blood, the
priest advanced and stopped him, crying:
"What will happen, unhappy man, when you come to the confessional
with blood-stained hands?"
"Pooh!" replied Trestaillons, "you must put on your wide gown; the
sleeves are large enough to let everything pass."
To the short account given above of so many murders I will add the
narrative of one to which I was an eye-witness, and which made the
most terrible impression on me of anything in my experience.
It was midnight. I was working beside my wife's bed; she was just
becoming drowsy, when a noise in the distance caught our attention.
It gradually became more distinct, and drums began to beat the
'generale' in every direction. Hiding my own alarm for fear of
increasing hers, I answered my wife, who was asking what new thing
was about to happen, that it was probably troops marching in or out
of garrison. But soon reports of firearms, accompanied by an uproar
with which we were so familiar that we could no longer mistake its
meaning, were heard outside. Opening my window, I heard
bloodcurdling imprecations, mixed with cries of "Long live the king!"
going on. Not being able to remain any longer in this uncertainty, I
woke a captain who lived in the same house. He rose, took his arms,
and we went out together, directing our course towards the point
whence the shouts seemed to come. The moon shone so bright that we
could see everything almost as distinctly as in broad daylight.
A concourse of people was hurrying towards the Cours yelling like
madmen; the greater number of them, half naked, armed with muskets,
swords, knives, and clubs, and swearing to exterminate everything,
waved their weapons above the heads of men who had evidently been
torn from their houses and brought to the square to be put to death.
The rest of the crowd had, like ourselves, been drawn thither by
curiosity, and were asking what was going on. "Murder is abroad,"
was the answer; "several people have been killed in the environs, and
the patrol has been fired on." While this questioning was going on
the noise continued to increase. As I had really no business to be
on a spot where such things were going on, and feeling that my place
was at my wife's side, to reassure her for the present and to watch
over her should the rioters come our way, I said good-bye to the
captain, who went on to the barracks, and took the road back to the
suburb in which I lived.
I was not more than fifty steps from our house when I heard loud
talking behind me, and, turning, saw gun barrels glittering in the
moonlight. As the speakers seemed to be rapidly approaching me, I
kept close in the shadow of the houses till I reached my own door,
which I laid softly to behind me, leaving myself a chink by which I
could peep out and watch the movements of the group which was drawing
near. Suddenly I felt something touch my hand; it was a great
Corsican dog, which was turned loose at night, and was so fierce that
it was a great protection to our house. I felt glad to have it at my
side, for in case of a struggle it would be no despicable ally.
Those approaching turned out to be three armed men leading a fourth,
disarmed and a prisoner. They all stopped just opposite my door,
which I gently closed and locked, but as I still wished to see what
they were about, I slipped into the garden, which lay towards the
street, still followed by my dog. Contrary to his habit, and as if
he understood the danger, he gave a low whine instead of his usual
savage growl. I climbed into a fig tree the branches of which
overhung the street, and, hidden by the leaves, and resting my hands
on the top of the wall, I leaned far enough forward to see what the
men were about.
They were still on the same spot, but there was a change in their
positions. The prisoner was now kneeling with clasped hands before
the cut-throats, begging for his life for the sake of his wife and
children, in heartrending accents, to which his executioners replied
in mocking tones, "We have got you at last into our hands, have we?
You dog of a Bonapartist, why do you not call on your emperor to come
and help you out of this scrape?" The unfortunate man's entreaties
became more pitiful and their mocking replies more pitiless. They
levelled their muskets at him several times, and then lowered them,
saying; "Devil take it, we won't shoot yet; let us give him time to
see death coming," till at last the poor wretch, seeing there was no
hope of mercy, begged to be put out of his misery.
Drops of sweat stood on my forehead. I felt my pockets to see if I
had nothing on me which I could use as a weapon, but I had not even a
knife. I looked at my dog; he was lying flat at the foot of the
tree, and appeared to be a prey to the most abject terror. The
prisoner continued his supplications, and the assassins their threats
and mockery. I climbed quietly down out of the fig tree, intending
to fetch my pistols. My dog followed me with his eyes, which seemed
to be the only living things about him. Just as my foot touched the
ground a double report rang out, and my dog gave a plaintive and
prolonged howl. Feeling that all was over, and that no weapons could
be of any use, I climbed up again into my perch and looked out. The
poor wretch was lying face downwards writhing in his blood; the
assassins were reloading their muskets as they walked away.
Being anxious to see if it was too late to help the man whom I had
not been able to save, I went out into the street and bent over him.
He was bloody, disfigured, dying, but was yet alive, uttering dismal
groans. I tried to lift him up, but soon saw that the wounds which
he had received from bullets fired at close range were both mortal,
one being in the head, and the other in the loins. Just then a
patrol, of the National Guard turned round the corner of the street.
This, instead of being a relief, awoke me to a sense of my danger,
and feeling I could do nothing for the wounded man, for the death
rattle had already begun, I entered my house, half shut the door, and
"Qui vive?" asked the corporal.
"Idiot!" said someone else, "to ask 'Qui vive?' of a dead man!"
"He is not dead," said a third voice; "listen to him singing"; and
indeed the poor fellow in his agony was giving utterance to dreadful
"Someone has tickled him well," said a fourth, "but what does it
matter? We had better finish the job."
Five or six musket shots followed, and the groans ceased.
The name of the man who had just expired was Louis Lichaire; it was
not against him, but against his nephew, that the assassins had had a
grudge, but finding the nephew out when they burst into the house,
and a victim being indispensable, they had torn the uncle from the
arms of his wife, and, dragging him towards the citadel, had killed
him as I have just related.
Very early next morning I sent to three commissioners of police, one
after the other, for permission to have the corpse carried to the
hospital, but these gentlemen were either not up or had already gone
out, so that it was not until eleven o'clock and after repeated
applications that they condescended to give me the needed
Thanks to this delay, the whole town came to see the body of the
unfortunate man. Indeed, the day which followed a massacre was
always kept as a holiday, everyone leaving his work undone and coming
out to stare at the slaughtered victims. In this case, a man wishing
to amuse the crowd took his pipe out of his mouth and put it between
the teeth of the corpse--a joke which had a marvellous success, those
present shrieking with laughter.
Many murders had been committed during the night; the companies had
scoured the streets singing some doggerel, which one of the bloody
wretches, being in poetic vein, had composed, the chorus of which
"Our work's well done,
We spare none!"
Seventeen fatal outrages were committed, and yet neither the reports
of the firearms nor the cries of the victims broke the peaceful
slumbers of M. le Prefet and M. le Commissaire General de la Police.
But if the civil authorities slept, General Lagarde, who had shortly
before come to town to take command of the city in the name of the
king, was awake. He had sprung from his bed at the first shot,
dressed himself, and made a round of the posts; then sure that
everything was in order, he had formed patrols of chasseurs, and had
himself, accompanied by two officers only, gone wherever he heard
cries for help. But in spite of the strictness of his orders the
small number of troops at his disposition delayed the success of his
efforts, and it was not until three o'clock in the morning that he
succeeded in securing Trestaillons. When this man was taken he was
dressed as usual in the uniform of the National Guard, with a cocked
hat and captain's epaulets. General Lagarde ordered the gens d'armes
who made the capture to deprive him of his sword and carbine, but it
was only after a long struggle that they could carry out this order,
for Trestaillons protested that he would only give up his carbine
with his life. However, he was at last obliged to yield to numbers,
and when disarmed was removed to the barracks; but as there could be
no peace in the town as long as he was in it, the general sent him to
the citadel of Montpellier next morning before it was light.
The disorders did not, however, cease at once. At eight o'clock A.M.
they were still going on, the mob seeming to be animated by the
spirit of Trestaillons, for while the soldiers were occupied in a
distant quarter of the town a score of men broke into the house of a
certain Scipion Chabrier, who had remained hidden from his enemies
for a long time, but who had lately returned home on the strength of
the proclamations published by General Lagarde when he assumed the
position of commandant of the town. He had indeed been sure that the
disturbances in Nimes were over, when they burst out with redoubled
fury on the 16th of October; on the morning of the 17th he was
working quietly at home at his trade of a silk weaver, when, alarmed
by the shouts of a parcel of cut-throats outside his house, he tried
to escape. He succeeded in reaching the "Coupe d'Or," but the
ruffians followed him, and the first who came up thrust him through
the thigh with his bayonet. In consequence of this wound he fell
from top to bottom of the staircase, was seized and dragged to the
stables, where the assassins left him for dead, with seven wounds in
This was, however, the only murder committed that day in the town,
thanks to the vigilance and courage of General Lagarde.
The next day a considerable crowd gathered, and a noisy deputation
went to General Lagarde's quarters and insolently demanded that
Trestaillons should be set at liberty. The general ordered them to
disperse, but no attention was paid to this command, whereupon he
ordered his soldiers to charge, and in a moment force accomplished
what long-continued persuasion had failed to effect. Several of the
ringleaders were arrested and taken to prison.
Thus, as we shall see, the struggle assumed a new phase: resistance
to the royal power was made in the name of the royal power, and both
those who broke or those who tried to maintain the public peace used
the same cry, "Long live the king!"
The firm attitude assumed by General Lagarde restored Nimes to a
state of superficial peace, beneath which, however, the old enmities
were fermenting. An occult power, which betrayed itself by a kind of
passive resistance, neutralised the effect of the measures taken by
the military commandant. He soon became cognisant of the fact that
the essence of this sanguinary political strife was an hereditary
religious animosity, and in order to strike a last blow at this, he
resolved, after having received permission from the king, to grant
the general request of the Protestants by reopening their places of
worship, which had been closed for more than four months, and
allowing the public exercise of the Protestant religion, which had
been entirely suspended in the city for the same length of time.
Formerly there had been six Protestant pastors resident in Nimes, but
four of them had fled; the two who remained were MM. Juillerat and
Olivier Desmonts, the first a young man, twenty-eight years of age,
the second an old man of seventy.
The entire weight of the ministry had fallen during this period of
proscription on M. Juillerat, who had accepted the task and
religiously fulfilled it. It seemed as if a special providence had
miraculously protected him in the midst of the many perils which
beset his path. Although the other pastor, M. Desmonts, was
president of the Consistory, his life was in much less danger; for,
first, he had reached an age which almost everywhere commands
respect, and then he had a son who was a lieutenant in one of the
royal corps levied at Beaucaire, who protected him by his name when
he could not do so by his presence. M. Desmonts had therefore little
cause for anxiety as to his safety either in the streets of Nimes or
on the road between that and his country house.
But, as we have said, it was not so with M. Juillerat. Being young
and active, and having an unfaltering trust in God, on him alone
devolved all the sacred duties of his office, from the visitation of
the sick and dying to the baptism of the newly born. These latter
were often brought to him at night to be baptized, and he consented,
though unwillingly, to make this concession, feeling that if he
insisted on the performance of the rite by day he would compromise
not only his own safety but that of others. In all that concerned
him personally, such as consoling the dying or caring for the
wounded, he acted quite openly, and no danger that he encountered on
his way ever caused him to flinch from the path of duty.
One day, as M. Juillerat was passing through the rue des Barquettes
on his way to the prefecture to transact some business connected with
his ministry, he saw several men lying in wait in a blind alley by
which he had to pass. They had their guns pointed at him. He
continued his way with tranquil step and such an air of resignation
that the assassins were overawed, and lowered their weapons as he
approached, without firing a single shot. When M. Juillerat reached
the prefecture, thinking that the prefect ought to be aware of
everything connected with the public order, he related this incident
to M. d'Arbaud-Jouques, but the latter did not think the affair of
enough importance to require any investigation.
It was, as will be seen, a difficult enterprise to open once again
the Protestant places of worship, which had been so long closed, in
present circumstances, and in face of the fact that the civil
authorities regarded such a step with disfavour, but General Lagarde
was one of those determined characters who always act up to their
convictions. Moreover, to prepare people's minds for this stroke of
religious policy, he relied on the help of the Duc d'Angouleme, who
in the course of a tour through the South was almost immediately
expected at Nimes.
On the 5th of November the prince made his entry into the city, and
having read the reports of the general to the King Louis XVIII, and
having received positive injunctions from his uncle to pacify the
unhappy provinces which he was about to visit, he arrived full of the
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
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 calm 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
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
Two days later everything in the town had assumed its ordinary
aspect, and on the 21st of November the king issued the following
"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.
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.