To the THREE GENERALS, with Scotch Orders, on their Voyage to North-America.
Sigillum veritatis simplicitas est.
Critical and faithful Extracts from Colonel Cavallier's Memoirs of the Wars of the Cevennes, or Lower Languedoc, in his own hand writing, and in the French language.
THE Lower Languedoc, or Cevennes, is bounded to the East by the river Rhosne, and to the South by the Gulph of Lyons. Its extent is 30 French leagues from North to South, and 20 from East to West. The country throughout is very woody and mountainous. Cavallier was a baker's son, born at a village called Rebeaute, in the very center of the seat of war, which began in 1701, and ended in 1704.
The persecutions of that great tyrant, Lewis the XIVth, continuing against the Protestants with unremitted fury, from the revocation of the edict of Nantes in 1685, this country underwent the most shocking scenes of misery, neither sex nor age were spared; for unless they conformed, they were fined, imprisoned, put into dungeons, sent to the galleys, tortured, hanged or racked, till at last being drove to the utmost despair, they resolved to take up arms in their defence, chusing to run all hazards, even unto death, rather than be compelled by violence to give up their liberty of conscience, and every thing besides that was dear to them. By such resolute conduct, they soon obtained at Court the name of Rebels, as the Americans have at this crisis from the Scotch to a man, from all placemen, pensioners, and sycophants, and its feared, even from the -- himself. At first about twenty young men, well armed, associated together, with a view of rescuing their parents and relations out of jails and dungeons, in which they succeeded, as well as their force permitted. In consequence of this beginning, other young men joined them, and being in a short space encreased to one or two hundred, they thought it expedient to divide into parties, and to chuse a head, which fell to Cavallier's lot, then only 24 years old; to whose commands they engaged to pay the strictest obedience, and religiously kept to it to the very last.
First observation of the Memorialist.
' From this fatal period every thing went to ' wreck; the glory of the great Lewis begun to ' be eclipsed, and his laurels to wither; from ' his persecutions he saw all the scourges of God ' upon his kingdom, war, plague, and famine; ' his strong places taken, his armies destroyed in ' battle, & c.'
Count Broglio then commanded in this country, and having garrisons in several towns, as Montpellier, Beaucaire, Avignon, &c. he sent detachments, aided by the militia, to annihilate, as he termed it, the Rebels; but being generally worsted, he was forced to represent to the Court the impossibility of overcoming those infatuated desperadoes. The alarm was thereupon soon taken, and they immediately dispatched several regiments to his aid; but those not proving sufficient, Marshal Montrevel, at the end of 1702, arrived at Nimes, having first and last TEN THOUSAND reglulars to support him, which were supposed amply sufficient to extirpate the contemptuous banditti. The Marshal was so sure of performing this business effectually with the officers under him, that he seldom took the field, judging it below his dignity, and therefore spent most of his time in following the ladies.
Second observation of the Memorialist.
' After our defeat at Perpignan, our forces ' were so broken and scattered, that it was very ' probable we could never have rallied again; ' and really it would not have been at all surprising, ' considering we were entirely undisciplined. ' 'Tis true, I was absolute in my command, ' but had no more experience than my ' soldiers, wherefore we owed our success to Divine ' Providence, which sustained us in our ' greatest calamities, working continual miracles ' in our favour; and among the rest it is very remarkable, ' that sometimes we perceived our ' enemy so much disheartened, they could not ' resist us, though FOUR to ONE in number. ' This I can say, it was not by our valour we ' over came them, although their troops were well ' disciplined, and we but militia without order; ' but there was this difference between us, we ' fought for the Truth and our Liberties, they for ' a Tyrant, who had violated both human and divine ' laws against his subjects, who were obliged ' to take up arms in their defence, after a persecution ' of thirty years, contrary to his sacred ' oath, so often reiterated and recorded in Parliament.'
Notwithstanding the hectoring Marshal, after the defeat, had assured the Court, they would never hear more of the Rebels, for he had reduced them so effectually, that there remained but a few, who had made their escape, and never durst appear again; yet he was compelled soon after to write for more troops, for otherwise it would be impobssile for him to compleatly execute his commission.
At the end of 1703, the King's troops were TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND strong, and all wintered in the midst of us; but early in the spring, they were reduced to TWELVE THOUSAND, by detachments to Spain and Italy. The King, however, being informed of succours from the Allies being intended for us Rebels, FOUR THOUSAND were ordered back from Savoy: about which time Marshal Villars arrived in the Province to take the command. His first step was to procure a conference with me through the Marquis La Lande, who being a man of good character, I readily accepted his invitation, wherein he told me, The King, by an effect of his clemency, wished to put an end to a war between his own subjects, which could produce nothing but the ruin of his kingdom; and that it was his own enemies had stirred it up, and fomented it; after which we parted. But this was the prelude to another with Villars himself, from whom I soon received an invitation, which I accepted, under a strong guard on both sides. Our discourse was much the same as with La Lande, with a deal of the King's clemency. He heard my demands very attentively, but said, there were some articles, although he was vested with full powers to treat with me, which he could not consent to, till he had an answer from the King, upon which we parted. After eight days he sent to me again, when I found some material points altered; but as I had gone so far, it was impossible for me to recede, without losing many powerful friends who had assisted us, and above all having no tidings of those succours with which we had been so long and so often flattered; I therefore resolved to conclude the treaty on the best terms I could, which Villars (in the King's name) and myself, signed at Nimes on the 17th of May 1704.
Shortly after, I was again sent for to go to the Marshal at Nimes, where I was informed our destination was changed, and that I was to go with my men to Brissac; and presently after we began our march to Lyons, and thence to Dijon, where I wrote to Monsieur Chamilard, the Prime Minister, that if I could be admitted to the King's presence, I had something to propose towards putting an end to the troubles in the Cevennes.
' Herein I had two views; the first was to ' know whether the King knew all that had ' passed between Villars and me, which I much ' doubted; and the second, to endeavour that ' the terms of the treaty might be strictly adhered ' to, as the Marshal had evaded many of the ' most material articles.'
Great pains were used at Dijon, for me to discover what I had to say to the King, but to no purpose; whereupon I was soon sent for to Versailles, where Chamilard told me, as he was first Minister, that opening myself to him would be the same as to the King; but I kept firm to my resolution, which immediately procured my introduction by Monsieur Chamilard to the King in his closet, who heard my story very patiently, and without interruption, until I implored his Majesty to confirm the promises made us by the Marshal de Villars. Here he interrupted me, and with an angry, low voice, he said, "I order you not to speak one word of that treaty, on pain of incurring my indignation."
BY the foregoing short extracts, we find a people oppressed, most in humanly butchered, and drove to take up arms to defend their lives and liberties against an execrable Tyrant; that the country where this war was carried on near four years, is not of greater extent than the county of Sussex; that the malcontents never exceeded TWO THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED undisciplined young men; that Lewis the Fourteenth employed TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND regular forces, exclusive of the militia of the country, upon this shocking business, with two Marshals of France at their head, without being able to overcome them, such being the providential difference between fighting in a just or an unjust cause. That the great Marshal Villars, to put an end to the war, found himself compelled to invite Cavallier to a treaty, which they both signed, and which the Marshal soon broke in several of the most material points; and that Cavallier, through his firmness, obtained admittance the King, who heard him patiently, till he mentioned Villars's promises, when the mighty Monarch's pride was so wounded, that he charged him never to mention that treaty upon pain of his highest indignation.
When all these facts, true beyond contradiction, are well weighed, will Administration be so weak, or the officers they employ be so presumptuous to imagine, with TWELVE or FIFTEEN THOUSAND men, most of them averse to the cause they are sent to fight for, that they shall conquer TWO or THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND brave men, trained to arms, all united in defence of their liberties, in an abundant country, of unbounded extent, and where our army in a few months must moulder to nothing, if they attempt to attack them?--This History shows how cautious men should be, when they treat with the servants of a Tyrant on such important concerns, as the Liberties of Mankind.