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LETTER III.
The same subject continued.

THE hour of emancipation arrived; the revolution took place, and was no doubt hailed by the protestants like the day-star from on high. Yet no one has dared to accuse them of having sullied their triumph by any excesses whatever. Restored to civic rights, and the protection of equal laws, the assemblies of the desert flew to the temples, which were now thrown open for their solemmities, and poured forth the tribute of their boundless gratitude. Nothing could be more affecting than the public worship of the protestants, at which I was often present in the first years of the Revolution. The remembrance of past perils, the consciousness of present security, was a new joy, which, purified and exalted by à sentiment of devotion, excited emotions almost too powerful to sustain. Every bosom beat high with gratitude, every eye was bathed in tears! When the reign of terror commenced, the protestants had their full share of its perils. The list of victims who perished on the scaf. fold contains, in proportion, the names of a greater number of protestants than catholics. The executioners did not stop to inquire into the religious creed of their victims." But previously to that period, a scene of horrible import to the protestants had already passed in the south of France, the great theatre of fanaticism. A massacre of the protestants took place in the year 1790, at Nismes. However strange it may appear, it is nevertheless true, that this event produced no lasting impression on the public mind, and was in some sort absorbed in the mass of general calamity, which soon after spread itself over France. But the truth is, no events whatever leave any durable impression on a people in revolution. The destruction of the monarchy in 1792, the struggles of the republicans and the terrorists in 1793, seem to us almost as far lost in the lapse of time as the fall of Caesar, or the wars of Marius and Scylla. We descend the pathway of a torrent, with impetuous swiftness, and have no leisure to remount the stream. In such circumstances no event enchains attention, or fastens on the memory. Revolutionary life is an hors d'auvre in human existence—it resembles nothing else, and one of its mysteries is an unconquerable aversion from retrospection. These reflections are peculiarly applicable to that period which succeeded the assassinations of Nismes, when the National Convention covered with a black veil the book of the constitution, and decreed that terror was the order of the day. The whole earth has heard how it accomplished its tremendous purpose. In this country, every brain was confounded, and every mind harrowed up, by the aspect of such strange and incalculable danger. We knew that the wide extent of France was a scene of calamity; but we had home-miseries, that left us no leisure to look abroad. If I may speak an instant of myself, I was then confined with my family in the prison of the Luxembourg, where we found our friends M. de Sillery and M. La Source, who were then on their trial before the revolutionary tribunal. Thither they were conducted by gens3

* During the time of terror, every church in Paris, but that of the protestants, was shut. Encouraged by the example of our pastor, M. Marron, who with the heroism of devout resignation performed divine service every Sunday and Decadi, under the knife of the assassins, the protestants even then assembled regularly for public worship. Such as still survive cherish the recollection that, in those days of profanation and sacrilege, we could say with

Joshua, “As for me, and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

d'armes every morning, and they passed their evenings in our apartment. Three weeks after we reached their prison, they were dragged to the scaffold, with that illustrious band of the Gironde, the honour and pride of their ungrateful country, and for whose untimely fate she has paid the expiation. But let me turn from the mournful story of our murdered friends—their parting words to us, who had soothed the last moments of their lives at the peril of our own— their vows for the cause of liberty, which they were going to seal with their blood—let me turn from those cruel recollections, and resume my narrative. Amidst the general acclamations with which the French nation hailed the revolution, the catholics and protestants of the south remained for some time in perfect harmony. They often sang Te Deum together, according to their respective rites, but which had all the same object. The beginning of religious and political evils in

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