The Refugees

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The Refugees  (1893) 
by Arthur Conan Doyle

Part I: In the Old World.[edit]

Part II: In the New World.[edit]

Notes[edit]

Note on the Huguenots and Their Dispersion.[edit]

Towards the latter quarter of the seventeenth century there was hardly an important industry in France which was not controlled by the Huguenots, so that, numerous as they were, their importance was out of all proportion to their numbers. The cloth trade of the north and the south-east, the manufacture of serges and light stuffs in Languedoc, the linen trade of Normandy and Brittany, the silk and velvet industry of Tours and Lyons, the glass of Normandy, the paper of Auvergne and Angoumois, the jewellery of the Isle of France, the tan yards of Touraine, the iron and tin work of the Sedanais--all these were largely owned and managed by Huguenots. The numerous Saint days of the Catholic Calendar handicapped their rivals, and it was computed that the Protestant worked 310 days in the year to his fellow-countryman's 260.

A very large number of the Huguenot refugees were brought back, and the jails and galleys of France were crowded with them. One hundred thousand settled in Friesland and Holland, 25,000 in Switzerland, 75,000 in Germany, and 50,000 in England. Some made their way even to the distant Cape of Good Hope, where they remained in the Paarl district.

In war, as in industry, the exiles were a source of strength to the countries which received them. Frenchmen drilled the Russian armies of Peter the Great, a Huguenot Count became commander-in-chief in Denmark, and Schomberg led the army of Brandenburg, and afterwards that of England.

In England three Huguenot regiments were formed for the service of William. The exiles established themselves as silk workers in Spitalfields, cotton spinners at Bideford, tapestry weavers at Exeter, wool carders at Taunton, kersey makers at Norwich, weavers at Canterbury, bat makers at Wandsworth, sailcloth makers at Ipswich, workers in calico in Bromley, glass in Sussex, paper at Laverstock, cambric at Edinburgh.

Early Protestant refugees had taken refuge in America twenty years before the revocation, where they formed a colony at Staten Island. A body came to Boston in 1684, and were given 11,000 acres at Oxford, by order of the General Court at Massachusetts. In New York and Long Island colonies sprang up, and later in Virginia (the Monacan Settlement), in Maryland, and in South Carolina (French Santee and Orange Quarter).

Note on the Future of Louis, Madame de Maintenon, and Madame de Montespan.[edit]

It has been left to our own century to clear the fair fame of Madame de Maintenon of all reproach, and to show her as what she was, a pure woman and a devoted wife. She has received little justice from the memoir writers of the seventeenth century, most of whom, the Duc de St. Simon, for example, and the Princess Elizabeth of Bavaria, had their own private reasons for disliking her. An admirable epitome of her character and influence will be found in Dr. Dollinger's _Historical Studies_. She made Louis an excellent wife, waited upon him assiduously for thirty years of married life, influenced him constantly towards good--save only in the one instance of the Huguenots, and finally died very shortly after her husband.

Madame de Montespan lived in great magnificence after the triumph of her rival, and spent freely the vast sums which the king's generosity had furnished her with. Eventually, having exhausted all that this world could offer, she took to hair-shirts and nail-studded girdles, in the hope of securing a good position in the next. Her horror of death was excessive. In thunderstorms she sat with a little child in her lap, in the hope that its innocence might shield her from the lightning. She slept always with her room ablaze with tapers, and with several women watching by the side of her couch. When at last the inevitable arrived she left her body for the family tomb, her heart to the convent of La Fleche, and her entrails to the priory of Menoux near Bourbon. These latter were thrust into a box and given to a peasant to convey to the priory. Curiosity induced him to look into the box upon the way, and, seeing the contents, he supposed himself to be the victim of a practical joke, and emptied them out into a ditch. A swineherd was passing at the moment with his pigs, and so it happened that, in the words of Mrs. Julia Pardoe, "in a few minutes the most filthy animals in creation had devoured portions of the remains of one of the haughtiest women who ever trod the earth."

Louis, after a reign of more than fifty years, which comprised the most brilliant epoch of French history, died at last in 1715 amidst the saddest surroundings.

One by one those whom he loved had preceded him to the grave, his brother, his son, the two sons of his son, their wives, and finally his favourite great-grandson, until he, the old dying monarch, with his rouge and his stays, was left with only a little infant in arms, the Duc D'Anjou, three generations away from him, to perpetuate his line. On 20th August, 1715, he was attacked by senile gangrene, which gradually spread up the leg until on the 30th it became fatal. His dying words were worthy of his better self. "Gentlemen, I desire your pardon for the bad example which I have set you. I have greatly to thank you fur the manner in which you have served me, as well as for the attachment and fidelity which I have always experienced at your hands. I request from you the same zeal and fidelity for my grandson. Farewell, gentlemen. I feel that this parting has affected not only myself but you also. Forgive me! I trust that you will sometimes think of me when I am gone."


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1930, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.