« AnteriorContinuar »
quiry, from taking part in the operations under that General. Mr. Gleig complains much of the result of the inquiry :
'Sir Arthur, still treating with the utmost possible delicacy officers who were by no means so delicate towards him, proved his own case. The Court listened with partial ears to the statements of Sir Hugh and Sir Harry; and the final issue was a declaration that nobody was to blame; that all which could have been reasonably expected under the circumstances had been done, so that further proceedings in the case were not necessary.'
But, at all events, 'one of the first acts of both Houses, when Parliament met in January, 1809, was to pass a vote of thanks to Sir Arthur Wellesley and the army which had served under him.'
After the battle of Corunna Lord Castlereagh proposed to the Junta of Seville to make Cadiz the base of British operations; but he afterwards consulted Sir Arthur, and obtained from him the able and comprehensive minute, which, recommending that Portugal should be defended partly by British troops and partly, after the Indian method, by native troops under British officers, laid the foundation of the system on which the Peninsular war was afterwards conducted. This minute also, as is well known, prophetically described Napoleon's political system as 'one of terror, which must crumble to pieces if once effectually checked,' and suggested that the first decided check might be given to it in Portugal at the same time that the operations in Portugal would be highly favourable to the Spaniards. It produced a great effect, and Sir Arthur's views were unanimously adopted by the Cabinet on the refusal of the Spaniards to receive a British garrison at Cadiz.
The grand opportunity for which our great soldier had been yearning and labouring at length presented itself. He resigned his seat in Parliament and his office in Ireland, and proceeded to Portugal, at the head of the army, to carry out his own views, with the approval of the nation as well as of the Government. General Beresford was appointed, on his recommendation, to command the Portuguese contingent under his orders, and he started, with about 20,000 British, to make head against more than ten times that number of French troops.
But we must reserve the glorious achievements of the Peninsula for another article.
ART. II.-1. Les Forçats pour la Foi.
1684-1755. Par Athanase Coquerel, Fils. Paris, 1866. 2. Mémoires d'un Protestant condamné aux Galères de France pour cause de Religion. Paris, 1864.
3. Arnold Delahaize; or the Huguenot Pastor. London, 1863. 4. Henri de Rohan; or the Huguenot Refugee. By Francisca Ingram Ouvry, author of Arnold Delahaize.' London, 1865.
HE mournful yet glorious annals of religious persecution form a chapter of undying interest in human history. The names of persecutors and of martyrs stand out on its pages in conspicuous and unfading colours. Imagination invests both alike with something of the super-human. In the former a perfection of malignity, an induration of the heart and conscience, naturally suggest the idea of fiendish inspiration; in the latter a sublime combination of fortitude and meekness seems to exalt our poor human nature to the confines of the divine. In all that band of heroes, who, in various countries and periods, have given their lives for their religion, we find a common type. Minor differences of race and character are merged in the assimilating element of a victorious faith. Englishman and Frenchman, Hollander and Italian, Asiatic and African, have in their turn undergone the fiery trial; yet it would be difficult to discriminate the special features which have distinguished each, or to award the palm of fortitude among the rival martyrs. All of them, in truth, were fellow-soldiers in that 'noble army,' and the banner under which they fought was the common standard of Christendom.
The sufferings of the Protestants of France in the reign of Louis XIV., subsequent to the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, are in their general features familiar to most readers of history. The Dragonnades,' which, under the influence of his Minister Louvois and of his Jesuitical and priestly counsellors, the King inflicted upon his unoffending Hugonot subjects, will affix an everlasting stigma on the reign of the Grand Monarque.' A brutal soldiery, subject to no check or restraint, were quartered in the homes of the families who adhered to the Reformed faith, and they exercised the utmost rigour of pillage, torture, and outrage, without distinction of sex or age, upon the helpless recusants. Neither was escape permitted to those who found the persecution in their homes intolerable. The strictest precautions were adopted to deprive the victims of tyranny of that alternative. The guards were doubled at the frontiers; the peasants were enjoined to aid in arresting fugitives; soldiers were dispersed
over every part of the country, and rigorous orders were given to stop any person passing the frontiers without a passport. In spite of all these precautions, it is true, great numbers of the persecuted did find means to escape, and settled themselves in foreign countries, of which they and their descendants became some of the most valued citizens. But the escape of these fortunate persons was not effected without fearful risk: confinement to the galleys for life was the penalty of the arrested fugitive. The condition of those upon whom this sentence was carried out may be described without any exaggeration as 'worse than death.' It was death in a multitude of cases without the ele vating consciousness of martyrdom, or the mercy of a speedy release from suffering. It was a gradual death from excessive labour and ill-usage, terminating a servitude in which the wretched victim underwent almost every form of misery most terrible to human nature-cold, hunger, chains, scourging, sickness-superadded to the occasional horrors of naval warfare and the perils of shipwreck. Descriptions of other forms of persecution have often moved our sympathies. We have shuddered at the martyrdoms of the stake, the pincers, or the rack'the agonising wheel,
Luke's iron crown and Damien's bed of steel,'
but the condition of the galley-slave, the details of whose sufferings were out of sight and little known, excite in our minds a much less keen emotion. It conveys, indeed, a vague notion of severe and unremitting labour; but we do not recognise in it what it really was-a form of martyrdom more calculated, perhaps, than any other to test to the uttermost the capacity of endurance in human beings.
Of the sufferings of these unhappy Forçats pour la Foi,' as they were popularly called by their contemporaries, some interesting records have been preserved in such of the memoirs and narratives, drawn up by the sufferers themselves, as have come down to us. The compilation of M. Athanase Coquerel, under the above title, furnishes a good, though brief, account derived from such sources, of the nature and extent of the persecution of which the galleys were the scene. Among the documents comprised in this volume is a catalogue, formed from a collection of various extant lists, of the Protestants under sentence at the galleys from 1684 to 1762, specifying their names, and, in the majority of cases, their places of birth, age, sentence, period of suffering, and the date of its termination, whether by release or death. One of the most complete of these lists, that of M. M. Haag, gives a total-probably below the truth—of no
less than 1480 convicts, condemned to the galleys for adherence to the reformed faith during the period referred to. Almost every variety of age, class, and condition, is represented in these rolls. The youth of fifteen or sixteen, sentenced for attending with his parents at their prayer-meetings, and the old man of seventy years and upwards, whose brief remnant of life was in most cases speedily cut short by the rigours of his treatment, are found there. There, among the humble and low-born members of the reformed church are enrolled no less than forty-six gentlemen of birth, and two chevaliers of the order of St. Louis. There are the names of some men, such as the erudite Louis de Marolles, eminent for their attainments in science and learning, and who found even in their vile floating dungeons some consolation from, and means to carry on, their cherished studies. Of the ministers of the proscribed religion but very few names occur, which is explained by the fact that it was only in rare exceptions that the sentence of death in their case was commuted for the doubtful mercy of the galleys. What is more remarkable is the appearance in this martyr-roll of a few individuals, born and educated as Roman Catholics, who embraced, in the very midst of the storm that raged against it, the persecuted side. One of these converts was Jean Bion, the chaplain of the 'La Superbe' galley, who has recorded in his touching narrative, published in London and at Amsterdam in 1708-9, the circumstances which impelled him 'to preach the faith which once he destroyed.' It was when he visited in the hold of the vessel the mangled and bleeding sufferers who had undergone the terrible bastonnade' for refusing to kneel at the celebration of the mass, and when shocked at that spectacle he found himself addressed by them in words of comfort and encouragement, that his heart was melted and his creed changed. Their blood,' he says, 'preached to me, and I felt myself a Protestant.'
The account of the treatment and condition of the convicts on board the galleys, which is to be found in M. Coquerel's volume, is mainly derived from the other work, of which the title is also prefixed to this article, the Mémoires of Jean Marteilhe.' The genuineness of this narrative, which was originally published at Rotterdam in 1757, and is referred to in several contemporary publications, appears to be beyond question. The work had, however, become extremely scarce; only two or three copies were known to exist, and it was with some difficulty rescued from oblivion. It was known, however, to M. Michelet, who in the 13th volume of his 'History of France,' containing an account of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, referred to and cited from
the volume, characterising the neglect to re-publish it as discreditable to Protestants, and describing it in these terms:
'C'est un livre du premier ordre par la charmante naïveté du récit, l'angélique douceur, écrit comme entre terre et ciel. Comment ne le ré-imprime-t-on pas?'
The re-publication of the volume in Paris in 1864, under the editorship of M. Paumier, is the answer to this appeal; and we do not hesitate to say that a more valuable contribution to the records of genuine martyrology could hardly be found. The style of the narrative in its graphic simplicity reminds us of Defoe; but the well-authenticated facts which it relates are more interesting than fiction, and the incidents not less strange. The pictures which Miss Ouvry has drawn in her two pleasing tales of the sufferings of the high-minded Hugonot martyrs, though delineated with ingenuity and skill, must yield in interest to the unadorned but vivid records of personal experience contained in Marteilhe's pages. The narrator is a young Frenchman, who from the year 1700 to 1713, when, through the intervention of our Queen Anne, he and some hundreds of his fellow Protestants were released from bondage, underwent the punishment of the galleys. The tale of suffering is told with a candour and ingenuousness extremely captivating, and in a spirit of moderation and forbearance towards his persecutors which increases our sympathy for the writer. In addition to the personal narrative, Marteilhe gives a very full and interesting description of the French galleys,their construction and equipment, the organisation of their crews, their discipline, and the treatment of the miserable beings who worked in them. His volume contains also an unusual variety of striking incidents and illustrations of human character, exhibited sometimes in its lowest degradation, sometimes in its noblest aspects of fortitude and devotion. The constancy of those humble confessors who endured patiently for many years the abominations of such a hell upon earth as the convict-ships, from which, at any moment, a simple declaration of conformity to the faith of their persecutors would have set them free, entitles them beyond all question to a high place in the roll of martyrs. We believe that a summary of the leading points of Marteilhe's narrative will interest our readers, and we shall be glad if it should be the means of making his touching narrative better known.
'I was born,' says the writer, at Bergerac, a small town in the province of Perigord, in the year 1684, my parents being persons of the middle class engaged in trade, who, by the grace of God, lived and remained constant unto death in the principles of the reformed