Page:A book of the Cevennes (-1907-).djvu/159

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107
PROTESTANT VERNOUX

walled terraces, with infinite labour, and where there are not vines there are chestnuts and cherry trees. At S. Fortunat, the Dunière enters the Erieux, and hence a road leads to Vernoux, the Geneva of the Protestants of Upper Ardèche. It is mainly occupied by descendants of the Huguenots, but there are Catholics as well, living in a separate quarter. The Protestants are much divided among themselves. One sect is that of the Momiens, whose head-quarters are S. Agrève and Vernoux. They represent the original Huguenots far more truly than those who call themselves Evangelicals, for these latter have lapsed into Freethought, Indifference, Agnosticism, and the best are Deists. The Momiens do not attend the "Temples Protestants," but hold their assemblies in the open air, in fact have camp meetings. Every one brings his provisions with him; they have exercises of prayer, psalm-singing, and exhortation, and then all dine peaceably under the chestnut trees. They come into town only on Sundays and market-days, and do not frequent the public-houses. They have the character of being scrupulously honest.

Many of the Evangelicals never attend public worship. Out of eleven thousand inhabitants of Vernoux, about eight thousand are Protestants; they are able, accordingly, to engross all the offices and determine the elections. Conversions one way or the other are most rare, perhaps four or five in thirty years, and these only on account of marriages. The Protestant young men are desirous of getting Catholic wives, as the girls of this latter confession have a better moral character—being more carefully looked after by the clergy and sisters than are the others; but the curés in every way