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Louis XV hastened to confirm, to sanction, and even to aggravate, the persecution of the protestants, by the edict of 1724, to which
extent, the magnificent view it commands, its undulating soil covered with verdure, and shaded by trees, and its beautiful monuments, attract the curiosity of strangers, who admire the purity of taste that prevails in these monuments, which are all modern. This inclosure contains no mouldering sepulchres; every tomb bears a recent date, and is filled with contemporary life. But while the traveller carelessly reads the inscription on the storied urn, and passes on, those who, like me, have long inhabited Paris, wander to that spot with far other emotions. These tombs contain the objects of our tenderest and most sacred affections; those with whom we have passed through the storms of life at an epoch when they beat most pitiless; those whom we have folded to the heart in the agonies of separation; who fixed on us that look which is the last communication of the dying, long after the lips have lost their utterance. Nothing can be more affecting than the sight of this cemetry le jour des morts. On that day, sacred to the dead, the catholics hasten hither in crowds, and, kneeling at the grave of the departed, pray for the repose of their souls. This tender superstition, that
soothes the bitterness of sorrow, is more to be envied than
they continued to be subject till 1787, when the mild edict of Louis XVI unfolded to them the perspective of civil libérty. But during that interval how many martyrs had the cause of protestantism numbered when the penalty of assembling for public worship was the gallies for the men, perpetual imprisonment for the women, and death for the preacher. M. Boissy D'Anglas, in a late publication, gives an affecting account of his visit, when a child, to the Tour de Constance, where protestant women were confined. M. de Boufflers has often related to me the details of that campaign of humanity, which he made to the south of France, with his uncle, the Marechal de Boufflers; and of their visit to the Tour de Constance, where several protestant women were confined. They saw the Marechal enter, in gloomy silence; but observing marks of sympathy on his countenance, they threw themselves at his feet, bathed them with their tears, and implored him to plead in their behalf. M. de Boufflers there saw Mademoiselle Durand, who at nearly fifty years of age had known no other world than a prison. She had been confined since she was eight years old, with her mother, who had been seized with her child at a place of public worship, and who died in her daughter’s arms, in the Tour de Constance. Mademoiselle Durand was at length released, and lived some years in Paris. While M. de Boufflers was in the south, he told me that, one day in his rambles, he reached the top of a hill, that overlooked the desert where the protestants were assembled at worship. He was in his military uniform, and in that hostile garb the most philanthropic of men was mistaken for an enemy. The audience dispersed with precipitation, but M. de Bouf. flers threw off his coat, flew down the hill, rallied the fugitives, and placing himself by Paul Rabeau the preacher, listened to an ad
deplored. The protestants bring offerings of fresh flowers, selecting perhaps those to which some recollection of the heart have given a predilection. The groves are all carefully planted with shrubs; that spot where my mother reposes is encircled with Scotch firs, that seem to blend the associations of country with the sorrows of affection. At Paris we all know the place of our repose; we have all some grave near which we have chosen our last shelter— we have all said to those who may survive us, “O lay me, ye that see the light, near the rock of my rest!"—How soothing a contrast we find in this sad yet cherished privilege, with those times which I too well remember, when the dead were thrown into one common gulf, over which
no prayer was uttered, and no memorial was left.
* M. de Boufflers, whom Delille calls “le modèle des Chevaliers, la fleur des Troubadours," was an elegant writer, though perhaps still more distinguished for the charms of his conversation, which had an irresistible attraction. He had much of the polish of courts, but still more of the simplicity of the philosopher. His playful and original wit enchanted others, but he never suspected himself of possessing the slightest intellectual superiority. I knew him only in his advanced age, but he was the most amiable of old men. Time had respected his faculties and feelings, and had left him those best sensibilities of our nature, of which the contraction, or the loss, is the most
gloomy circumstance of our closing history.
The edict of Louis XVI gave the protestants the privilege of enregistering their marriages, and legitimatised their children, leaving them, however, still at a distance from all the rights of citizens.
But the tide of public opinion flowed already full in favour of religious toleration. The mild and humane character of Louis XVI, who wished all within the pale of his dominion to be happy, was in sympathy with the sublime lessons of Malesherbes. Voltaire had also brought persecution into disgrace; the multitude had adopted the opinions of the Encyclopedists. Such as could neither reason nor feel could imitate : toleration was the general fashion; and the great event of the revolution approached.