Imatges de pÓgina

the reign in which France attained tory of Hochstedt, the first of our the apogee of her splendour and pros- great disasters in the War of Succesperity, is to be traced the origin of sion. During the reign of Louis XV., much of the discord and misery under whenever the allied powers threatwhich she since has groaned.

ened our frontiers, the government In no French work do we remem- was obliged to purchase the fidelity ber a passage so nearly approaching of the Protestants in the border proto a denunciation, temperately and vinces, by promises constantly reforcibly expressed, of Louis XIV.'s newed and never fulfilled. But was criminal errors, as the following page even the religious result, pursued at of Mr Weiss's new history.

the cost of so many sacrifices, ulti"The kingdom," says the learned mately attained ? At the period of professor, “which Louis XIV. re- the revocation of the Edict of Nantes ceived covered with glory, powerful the population of France was about by its arms, preponderant abroad, twenty millions, and included one tranquil and contented at home, he million of Protestants. At the pretransmitted to his successor humbled, sent day, from fifteen to eighteen hunenfeebled, dissatisfied, ready to un- dred thousand Protestants live disdergo the reaction of the Regency, and seminated amongst thirty-five million of the whole of the eighteenth cen- Catholics. The proportion between tury, and thus placed upon the fatal the two religions has not varied. Enslope conducting to the Revolution of forced during a whole century, Louis 1789. To the formidable encroach- XIV.'s cruel laws, further aggravated ments of a prince ruled, during the by the decree of 1724, proved powerlatter part of his reign, by a nar- less against the religious convictions row and exclusive spirit in religious they were intended to annihilate." matters, and, in his policy, by views An examination of Mr Weiss's that were rather dynastic than na- book cannot better be commenced tional, Protestantism opposed an in- than by the quotation of its last few surmountable barrier in England and lines—the closing sentences of an eloHolland united under one chief, who quent chapter, whose publication preled the whole of Europe against iso- ceded that of the work itself.* lated France. The signal of coalitions writing," he says, “the history of --since so often re-formed-was given these martyrs of their faith, we befor the first time in 1689, and, also lieve that, besides performing a pious for the first time, France was van- duty, we have filled up a void in our quished,—for the Treaty of Ryswick national history. The annals of France was in fact a defeat. Not only the were not to remain for ever closed to king acknowledged William III., but the destinies—often' glorious, always his intendants officially recorded the honourable—of the scattered refugees. diminution of the population, and the We have studied the vicissitudes of impoverishment of the kingdom - their various fortunes, sought out the inevitable consequences of the emi- traces of their sufferings and triumphs, gration, and of the ensuing decline in displayed and proved their salutary agriculture, manufactures, and trade. influence in the most diverse counAt the beginning of the eighteenth tries; and, if it has not been granted century, the safety of France was com- to us to erect to them a durable mondpromised, in a military sense. Early ment, we at least shall have contriin the struggle which followed the ac- buted to rescue from oblivion great ceptance of the will of Charles II., and noble recollections, that deserve Marshal Villars had to be sent for to live in the memory of man, and of from Germany to combat the insur- which France herself has reason to be gents of the Cevennes; and no sooner proud.” Without wasting in eulogium had that skilful commander quitted space which will be better occupied the army than the Allies won the vic- by an analysis of a portion of Mr

« By.

This concluding chapter appeared, under the title of “A General Appreciation of the Consequences of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes," in the twelfth number of a French Protestant periodical, “ Bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire du Protestantisine Français,” published at Paris in April of the present year,

Weiss's interesting book, we will foot, might bave been materially lessbriefly say that he deserves credit no ened, and even converted into indigless for what he has abstained from nation and alarm, had it been known than for what he has performed. In that the refugees were taking with treating so copious à subject, the them far more than their numerical temptation to prolixity was great ; it proportion of the pith and vigour, has been magnanimously resisted. virtue and valour, of France. Mr Weiss has borne steadily in mind Few historians would have had rethat he had undertaken to write a solution to confine themselves to their history, not of French Protestantism, exact theme so strictly as Mr Weiss but of those French Protestants whom bas done. Many would assuredly persecution drove from their native have given a volume or two to that land, to enrich other countries by their preliminary and accessory branch of toil and talents, and, in many in- the subject, which he has admirably stances, valiantly to defend the land compressed into his First Book, of one of their adoption against the armies hundred and twenty pages. Even of the nation that had rejected them. those persons best versed in the bisProfoundly versed in history, himself tory of the French Protestants during a zealous Protestant, Mr Weiss bas the eighty-seven years that elapsed devoted many years of labour and between the promulgation of the Edict research to the production of these of Nantes and its revocation, will two volumes. He has visited the read with fresh and lively interest countries where the refugees founded this succinct narrative. Mr Weiss colonies—in some of which, although possesses, in an eminent degree, the a century and a half has since elapsed, talent of compression, combined with French is still the spoken tongue. a satisfactory lucidity of style and England, Holland, Germany, Switzer- arrangement--attributable, we preland, have in turn received him, and in sume, partly to great painstaking and all he has culled voluminous and im- revision, and partly to his vocation of portant materials for his work. The historical professor, which has habiarchives of his own country have tuated him to convey instruction in swollen the mass of matter, further the clearest and most intelligible manaugmented by the results of researches ner. He commences by dividing that recently made in Germany by French term of eighty-seven years into three diplomatists, by order of two minis- principal periods. During the firstters of Foreign Affairs, MM. Drouyn extending from the publication of the de Lhuys and Labitte. Most of the celebrated edict which closed, in 1598, foreign documents, many of the French the bloody civil wars of the sixteenth ones, were unpublished, and entirely century, to the capture of La Rochelle unknown to the world. The persecut- in 1629--the Protestants imprudently ing government of Louis XIV. feared meddled in the troubles that distractthe effect that might be produced upon ed the regency of Mary de Medicis the less bigoted sections of the Ro- and the early years of Louis XIII.'s man Catholics, by a disclosure of the majority. Deprived, successively, of shameful injustice and cruel oppres

all the towns allotted them as places sion to which their Protestant fellow- of refuge and security, and of their countrymen were subjected. Per- political organisation, they ceased to haps, also, a feeling of shame-inade- form a recognised body in the state. quate to temper fanatical ardour, but The second period extends from the sufficiently powerful to bring a blush capture of La Rochelle to the comfor such barbarity-induced that and mencement, in 1662, of Louis XIV.'s succeeding governments to conceal, as persecutions. During that time the much as possible, the amount of mi

Protestants were a mere religious sery, and the grievous detriment to party, from which, little by little, France, originally occasioned by the its most influential chiefs withdrew intolerant spirit of Louis XIV. and themselves. They had laid aside his counsellors. The satisfaction with their arms; instead of impoverishing which a large portion of the nation France by strife, they enriched her beheld the Haguenots once more by their industry. It had been wise driven to the wall

, and trodden under and Christian-like to abstain from molesting good subjects, who asked it Little Canaan. In Berri, the skilful but liberty to pray to God in the way wine-growers restored that country to their conscience dictated. Such liberty its former state of prosperity.” In was not long vouchsafed to them. the towns, the Protestants were not Between 1662 and 1685, they were less remarkable for their manufacturexcluded from all public employments, ing and commercial intelligence and attacked in their civil and religious success, than were their rural brethren rights, and, finally, by the revocation, for their proficiency in agriculture. By compelled to change their religion, or irrefragable documents - despatches fly their country.

and memorials from government offiPassing over the historian's rapid cials, conceived, for the most part, in sketch of the events of the first period, a spirit hostile to the Huguenots-Mr the reader's attention is infallibly ar- Weiss shows that in many districts rested by his novel and striking pic- and cities commerce was entirely in ture of the state of the French Pro- their hands. This was the case in testants during the thirty years of Guienne, where nearly all the trade repose that followed the siege of La in wine was transacted by them ; in Rochelle, and preceded the persecu- the two governments of Brouage and tions. Repulsed from court, gradually Alençon, where a dozen Protestant excluded from office of every kind, families monopolised the trade in salt they fell back upon those natural re. and wine, amounting annually to sources of which none could deprive twelve or fifteen hundred thousand them-upon their industry, persever- livres. At Sancerre, the intendant ance, and ingenuity. “ The vast (M. de Seraucourt) admitted that plains they possessed in Béarn, and they were superior to the Catholics in in the western provinces, were cover- numbers, wealth, and consideration. ed with rich harvests ; the parts of At Rouen, at Caen, at Metz, nearly Languedoc occupied by them became the whole of the trade was carried on the most fertile and the best cultivate by them. The governor of the lasted-often in spite of poverty of soil. named town recommended the minisThanks to their indefatigable toil, that ters of Louis XIV. to show them province, so long devastated by civil particular attention, much gentlewars, rose from its ruins. In the ness and patience," inasmuch, he said, mountainous diocese of Alais, which “they have all trade in their includes the Lower Cevennes, the hands." Little attention was paid to chestnut-tree supplied the inhabitants the judicious recommendation.

As with food, which they piously com- long as fourteen years after the Repared to the manna wherewith God vocation, Baville, the intendant of nourished the Israelites in the desert. Languedoc, a cruel persecutor of the The Aigoal and the Esperou, the two Protestants, wrote as follows: “

" If loftiest mountains of that chain, were the merchants of Nismes are still bad covered with forests and pastures, Catholics, at least they have not where their flocks grazed. On the ceased to be very good traders. Esperou was particularly remarked a Generally speaking, all the new conplain enamelled with flowers, and in- verts are more at their ease, more latersected by numerous springs, which borious and industrious, than the old preserved the freshness of its verdure Catholics of the province." Bordeaux, in summer's greatest heat. The in- La Rochelle, and the Norman ports, habitants called it the Hort-Diou, or were indebted to members of the ReGarden of God. The part of the Vi- formed church for great increase of varais known as the Mountain pro- trade. “The English and Dutch had duced corn in such great abundance more confidence in them than in the that it far exceeded the consumption. Catholic merchants, and were more The diocese of Uzès also yielded quan- willing to correspond with them." tities of corn, and exquisite oil and Our restricted space prevents us from wine. In the diocese of Nismes, the giving much of the curious statisvalley of Vaunage was renowned for tical information supplied by Mr the richness of its vegetation. The Weiss. The Protestants were the Protestants, who possessed within its first to adopt in France the system limits more than sixty temples, called (already prevailing in England and


Holland) of the division of labour. faith only through the gate of invesThe thriving manufactories of cloth tigation. Thence their superior enat Rheims, Abbeville, Elbeuf, Lon- lightenment, which necessarily exviers, Rouen, Sedan, and numerous tended itself to all their actions, and other places, owed their establishment rendered their minds more capable of and progress to Protestant families. seizing every idea whose application The Protestants of the Gévaudan, a could contribute to their welfare." district of Languedoc, annually sent Most of the Protestants, when young, to foreign parts a value of from two visited Protestant countries, French to three millions of livres of serge and Switzerland, Holland, and England, other light fabrics. Every peasant and thence brought back valuable had his loom, and worked at it in the knowledge and enlarged ideas. One intervals of agricultural occupation. more circumstance is to be noted: the The manufactures of silk stuffs and Protestants' working year contained stockings, of hardware, gold and silver 310 days, only the Sundays and solemn lace, and notably of paper, were festivals being given to rest ; the chiefly in Protestant hands. In Brit- Catholics, on the other hand, gave tany they made sail-cloth, of which, barely 260 days to labour—the rest previonsly to the emigration, the were holidays. Hence a clear gain of English and Dutch annually purchas- one-sisth to Protestant industry. ed very large quantities. In Touraine When, upon the death of Mazathey were tanners, and their leather rin, Louis XIV. grasped the reins of was celebrated throughout France. power, the Protestant religion was They bad four hundred tanneries in not only tolerated, but authorised that province. The silk and velvet and permitted throughout the kingmanufactures of Tours and Lyons, so dom of France. The Huguenot porenowned in the middle of the seven- litical faction was destroyed ; the teenth century, owed their success French nobility, a few years before and prosperity mainly to the Protes- so warlike and turbulent, had abantants. We abstain from enumerating doned their provincial strongholds to a number of other important articles bask in court favour ; the plebeians of consumption produced, almost ex- were contented and happy because clusively, by that industrions people, peace and public order were mainwhose reputation stood as high fortained; the triumph of the crown was commercial probity as for activity complete. For a while the king's and intelligence. The reasons for policy was to maintain the Protestheir general superiority over their tants in the privileges granted them Catholic fellow-citizens are concisely by his predecessors, but to show them and forcibly given by Mr Weiss. À no further favour, and to exclude mere handful amongst jealous and them from all benefits and advantages suspicious millions, austere morality in his own individual gift. He hoped and integrity were their sole safe. that they would gradually go over to guard against calumny, and against Rome, in order to share the good the severity of the laws levelled es- things bestowed upon Catholics — a pecially at them. Their very enemies motive which had already induced were compelled to admit that they most of the Protestant nobles to abjure were frugal, laborious, lovers of truth their religion. The king, however, and of their religion, conscientious in did not long adhere to a system their conduct, constant in their fear and which, although neither just nor imreverence of God. Placed at disadvan- partial, was at least prudent and tage by the State on account of their moderate. His first notable act of creed, their stimulus to exertion was aggression against his patient, peacestrong, since it was only by superior able, and valuable Protestant subindustry and intelligence that they jects, was the demolition, in the discould place themselves on a level with trict of Gex, of twenty-two of their their more favoured Catholic fellow- churches, under the pretence that the subjects. “ They were further aided Edict of Nantes did not apply to that by the principles of their religion, un- bailiwick, which had been annexed ceasingly tending to instruct and en- to the kingdom since its promulgation. lighten them, by conducting them to Another decree granted to the Catholics of Gex a term of three years for into their corporation more than two payment of their debts. This was an persons of the reformed religion. immoral lure held out to the Protes- Slackened a little during the war with tants, who, by changing their religion, Holland, these odious persecutions would partake of the advantage. Then resumed their vigour after the peace came an order in council, forbidding of Nimeguen. On the most absurd Protestants to bury their dead save pretexts, the temples, in a number of at daybreak or nightfall. In 1663, those large towns where the populanewly-converted Protestants were dis- tion was chiefly Protestant, were pensed from payment of their debts pulled down. And by an edict of to their former co-religionists. The the 17th June 1681, children of seven effects of this iniquitous dispensation years of age were authorised to ab. upon the various trades in wbich the jure their parents' faith and embrace Protestants were so largely engaged, the Catholic religion! It was openneed hardly be indicated.' Old and ing a fine field to the unscrupulous barbarous laws against converts who proselytising emissaries of Rome. “It relapsed into the reformed religion, now sufficed that an envious person, were revived and put in force. The an enemy, a debtor, declared before a bodies of persons who had abjured tribunal that a child wished to beProtestantism, and who, upon their come a Catholic, had manifested an deathbeds, refused the sacraments intention of entering a church, had of Rome, were drawn upon hurdles joined in a prayer, or made the sign amidst the outrages of the popu- of the cross, or kissed an image of the lace. This law was applied to per- Virgin, for the child in question to be sons of quality ; amongst others to taken from his parents, who were a demoiselle de Montalembert, whose compelled to make him an allowance corpse was dragged naked through proportioned to their supposed ability. the streets of Angoulême. In 1665, But such estimates were necessarily priests were authorised to present arbitrary, and it often happened that themselves, in company with the the loss of his child entailed upon the magistrate of the place, at the bed- unfortunate father that of all his proside of dying Protestants, to exhort perty." We have not room to multhem to conversion; and if they ap- tiply instances of the abominable peared disposed to it, the work was system then adopted. Whilst Colto be proceeded with in spite of the bert lived, his voice was ever uplifted family. It may be imagined what in the king's council against the gentle and conscientious use Catholic maltreatment and oppression of men priests would make of this scandalous whom he held to be peaceable, induspermission. A dying man, agonised trious, and useful citizens. After his and speechless, made, or was said to death, Louvois, anxious to please the have made, a sign with his head, king, went far beyond anything that hand, or eyes, indicating adherence had yet been done. He instituted to the Church of Rome. Thereupon wbat were called the dragonnades. his body was interred in the Catholic Troops, principally dragoons, were cemetery, and bis children were hur- sent into the provinces and quartered ried to mass- -Catholics by virtue of in Protestant houses, where they were their father's pretended abjuration. encouraged to every kind of excess

Such was the beginning of the per- short of rape and murder. “In many secution. Thenceforward no month villages (of Poitou) the priests folpassed without some fresh act of lowed them in the streets, crying out: rigour.. Temples were shut_up or 'Courage, gentlemen; it is the king's demolished; the number of Protes- intention that these dogs of Huguenots tant schools was limited; the educa- should be pillaged and sacked. The tion of Protestant children was re- soldiers entered the houses sword in stricted to reading, writing, and hand, crying • Kill! kill!' to frighten ciphering. French Protestants were women and children.

They forbidden to leave the country; and employed threats, outrages, and even those already in foreign parts were tortures, to compel them to conversion; ordered to return. The physicians burning the feet and hands of some of Rouen were forbidden to admit at a slow fire, breaking the ribs and


« AnteriorContinua »