« AnteriorContinuar »
sures which go to exterminate this rebellious race of Vendeansto destroy their hiding-places--to burn their woods—to cut down their crops. It is to gangrenous wounds that medicine applies the knife and the cautery --political medicine ought to employ the same means and the same remedies ;-you do good when you extirpate evil ;-you are beneficent to your country when you punish those who rebel against her. Louvois is accused in history for having ravaged the Palatinate with fire, and Louvois is deservedly accused, for he was the minister of a tyrant. La Vendée is the Palatinate of the republic-destroy it, and you save the country! The trees were to be cut down, the brushwood set on fire, the habitations burnt, the produce and the cattle seized or destroyed, the women and children driven into other parts of France. In fine,' says General Turreau, the land was utterly laid waste, and nothing left in this perfidious country but heaps of dead bodies, of ruins and of ashes, the frightful monuments of national vengeance. General Turreau* justifies this system and the Memoirs in which he justifies it, were reprinted by himself, as a necessary and well. timed re-publication, during the short term of Bonaparte's last usurpation, when the royalists in La Vendée were again in arms!
The extent to which this decree was executed would be incredible, if the effects had not occurred in our own time-if they were not public and notorious--acknowledged on all sides, and established by the confessions, the avowals, and justifications of the infernal agents themselves ! One might say,' says M. Berthre de Bourniseaux, that the Vendeans were no longer human beings in the eyes of the republicans :--the pregnant woman--the paralytic of foursgore--the infant in the cradle,---yea, even the beasts, the houses, the stores, the very soil, appeared to them so many enemies worthy of total extermination. I do not doubt but that if they had possessed the power, they would have launched the thunder against this unhappy country, and reduced it to a chaos.' The
* These are specimens of General Terreau's correspondence at the time, addressed to the general of division Grignon- Les environs du pays où tu te trouves t'offrent un champ pour fouiller, incendier métairies, bois, &c. et purger le pays des scélérats qui l'habitent.-- Croyons que dans ce maudit pays nous ne devons nous fier à personne, et agissons en conséquence. J'ai reçu une croix de St. Louis, un calice, et une patenne. Dépéche-toi de m'envoyer une collection complétte de tous ces brinborions. Continue, mon comarade, à brûler le pays, et à exterminer les rebelles : plus je vais en avant, plus je suis à portée de juger qu'il y a peu d'habitans à excepter de la proscription. General Grignon was, in all respects, worthy of receiving such instructions. On one occasion he said to his brigade : Vous y brûlerez tout; vous passerez ou fil de la baïonnette tous les habitans que vous y trouverez. Il peut y avoir quelques patriotes dans le pays, mais c'est égal !--This will remind the reader of the Inquisitor at the siege of Beziers, or of Carcassone, who, when the Catholic invaders were about to storm the town, and expressed some apprehension that the Catholic inhabitants might be involved in destruction with the beretics, replied, Kill them all, and God will know his own!'
effect which this inhuman system produced was to madden the Vendeans ;-cruelties provoked cruelties; and on their side the burning desire of vengeance was exasperated by conduct on the part of their enemies more resembling that of infernal agents than
It is affirmed that it was one of their pleasures to burn the cattle alive in their stalls, and that more than eleven hundred thousand were destroyed by them thus wantonly and in sport! Rossignol offered a reward of ten livres for every pair of royalist ears ;-it was actually claimed and paid, and there were men who wore human ears as cockades! Other and more execrable examples of the same kind are stated in the book before us; but we will not sully our pages with a repetition of such horrors--horrors which if it were possible, should for the sake of human nature be. forgotten. The representatives of the people and the popular societies were possessed by the same spirit as the army. The Committee of Angers wrote to one of the Deputies, entreating him to send the most * holy guillotine and the republican ministers of her worship. Every hour they said proper subjects were arriving whom they wished to initiate in her mysteries; and they expressed their joy that this divinity, the deliverer of the republic, was not to be abandoned! The state of these countries, indeed of all France, at this time, must appear incredible to posterity :-it will not be thought possible that one part of a nation could be diabolical enough to commit such atrocities--and the other part vile enough to endure them. Well may the Count de Puisaye say, that instead of calling these times the reign of terror, the reign of cowardice (de la lâcheté) would be a more appropriate appellation. During ten months," says this powerful writer, the French nation
presented to the eyes of an observer a flock of five and twenty millions of men deprived of the use of their reason or the sense of their strength; among whom a few hundred executioners, dispersed over all parts of the realm, came every day to choose at their pleasure new victims, whom they seemed to have divided in the provinces and towns, as butchers assort in parks and pastures, whence they may take them out in their turn, the cattle whom they mean to slaughter one after another.' A humiliating calculation, he adds, which it would be too easy to make, would show that if the men' capable of bearing arms who have been thus tamely butchered,
** Le Comité vous prie de lui envoyer LĂ SACRAM SANCTAM GUILLOTINAM et les ministres républicains de son culte.--Il n'est pas d'heures dans la journée qu'il ne nous arrive des récipiendaires que nous désirons initier dans ses mystères.--Fugez de la joie que nous éprouvons, en sonjeant que cette divinité libératrice de la république, n'est pas près d'être abandonnée.'- In the same spirit, the municipality of this town were invited to give employment to a certain citizen Besnard, parce que nous l'avoins, par ordre du représentant Bourbotte, requis de venir nous aider pour l'interrogatoire d'individus guillotinables !!
VOL. XV. NO, XXIX,
had collected together for their own defence, and in the cause of their country and of outraged humanity, they would have formed an army as numerous as all those which the Convention sent into the field !- Incredible—impossible—monstrous as this appears, it is literally true! Prudhomme published his horrible collection in 1797 : at that time, (before the appearance of Bonaparte,) the amount of deaths occasioned by the revolution, upon his details, was 2,022,903 ; of whom those who had perished in battle, and in St. Domingo, did not form one half. In the western provinces, under Carrier's pro-consulship, not less than 32,000 persons were destroyed by noyades and fusillades, (God be thanked. that we have no words in the English language which can express the meaning of these terms without a periphrasis!) and by the horrors of crowded and infected prisons. This Carrier, to whom the precedence in guilt is due, if any man may claim precedence in this equality of guilt and damnation-was a sentimentalist! a philanthropic preacher of benevolence! When he entered Rennes the town was illuminated in his honour, with lights placed behind glasses containing liquids of three colours, so as to make a tricolour illumination. He broke those which containedithe red liquor, saying they made him shudder, for they reminded him of blood ceite couleur me fait horreur! elle présente des idées de sang ! This very man actually made the streets of this very city run with blood! The executioner died;--there were many candidates for the place : it was given by public trial to him who could guillotine with most dexterity; and the successful butcher, after this accursed trial, was borne away in triumph, like the winning member upon a contested election, and dined in public by the side of the representatives of the people ! he was an object of envy and even of adulation! Tant il est vrai qu'il est partout des courtisans! So true it is,' says M. de Puisaye, that courtiers are found every where. Three hundred heads were cut off in one day: it rained heavily at the time; the gutters ran with a sanguine stream, and the mud of the streets was literally reddened with human blood! Even this was but a prelude! The representatives of the people ordered graves, to be made ready for eight thousand victims!
The Vendeans had at least the satisfaction of dying with harness on their backs; they had the satisfaction of revenging themselves while they lived, and the consolation of knowing that they had done their duty to the utmost, and should leave a noble name and a noble example to posterity. Due advantage had not been taken of their last victory over Westermann: Lescure was not recovered enough for action; General Bonchamp was again disabled by his wound; Roche Jaquelein did not assume the place in council to which his talents and character entitled him ;-there was no
one directing mind among the royalists; and as harvest was at hand, the peasants, wherever the enemy had not yet penetrated to lay waste the country, could not perceive that this was no season for the sickle and the scythe. They received two defeats at Lucon; the second was the severest which they had yet sustained; they had exposed themselves in the plain, and light artillery was for the first time brought against them. These losses were counterbalanced by partial successes; but the tremendous means of destruction which the Convention had decreed were now brought against them on all sides. On the 12th of September the tocsin was sounded in all the districts round about La Vendée; and every man between 18 and 50 was compelled to join the republican armies on pain of beingimprisoned as a suspected person,-a charge which in those days invariably led to death. According to M. Beauchamp, not less than 300,000 men were thus raised against the royalists; and it is not to be doubted that a large proportion of these men would more willingly have been fighting in the same cause. The Marchioness states the whole force at 240,000 ; and of these there were not less than 70,000 troops of the line. They burnt the country before them ;--they never spared a prisoner ; they murdered the infirm, the aged, the women, the babes at the breast. In return they received as little mercy as they gave: on one occasion a whole battalion, which had taken the title of the Avengers, were cut to pieces to a man; and whenever they were defeated, the women and children seized the fugitives, and put them to death, not unfrequently with that cruelty in which outraged as well as perverted humanity is too often found to take delight.
At this time a secret deputation from the army of Mentz came to the royalist chiefs, and offered to buy over that army to the king's cause if they would engage to pay the soldiers thirty sols per day, and make a large donation to the officers. It cannot be supposed that Kleber was concerned in this transaction ; but that the persons who made this offer were sincere, is certain, for they gave information of the strength and position of the army, which was of great use to the Vendeans. The negociation failed for want of money; some persons proposed to apply the church plate to this purpose ; against this the clergy of the Vendean council, and some of the leaders, exclaimed as sacrilege--forgetting that if the plate were not thus employed, it would become the prey of the republicans. They made liberal promises, but the Mentz army wanted ready money. M. Beauchamp thinks, that if this army had deserted, La Vendée might have been saved: the Marchioness relates the circumstance without expressing any regret; she observes, that no confidence could have been placed in such mercenaries; that as they deserted the republicans for money, so for a larger sum they
would have deserted the royalists. Perhaps there was little reason for apprehending this danger ; the prisoners and deserters who joined the Vendeans were uniformly found faithful : despair would have made these troops fight as obstinately and as cruelly on one side as they did on the other, and the desertion of 14,000 men, or even of half that number, in a body, might have produced a great effect upon the other armies,-perhaps have overturned a tyranny which was supported only by the opinion of its strength. determined in a council of the royalists, at which all the leaders were present except Roche Jaquelein, (he being confined by a wound,) that from this time no quarter should be given : the decree of the Convention provoked this dreadful measure, and the Mentz army were specified as having no claim to the ordinary laws of war, because after a capitulation with the allied powers, they were again armed against a part of that alliance. The cry of
Rendez-vous, Grace! was therefore, from thenceforth, forbidden in the royalist army; after this consultation and this result, midnight mass was celebrated, and a white flag which the Marchioness had embroidered for her husband's army, was solemnly blessed by the officiating priest. All the royalist forces, amounting to 40,000 men, were at this time collected at Chollet ; they attacked and defeated the Mentz army under Kleber, but the general, one of the ablest of the republican school, made a skilful retreat, while, by his orders, a lieutenant-colonel of his battalion remained to be cut to pieces in defending a bridge! The next day they surprised Beysser, wounded him, took all
his artillery and baggage, and completely routed his division. The next operation should have been to attack a large convoy belonging to the Mentz army, containing their magazines, their plunder, and their wounded; but Charette at this important moment divided the Vendean force, leading part upon a less important, though successful enterprise ; so that for want of adequate strength, D'Elbée and Bonchamp were repulsed by the convoy. From this time, divisions were perceived among the rovalists; the Angevins could never forgive the defeat to which they had been exposed; and Charette, out of humour concerning the division of some paltry spoils, at no time worthy of a moment's thought-separated entirely from the main army at a moment when it was more than ever necessary that their efforts should be unanimous. They sang Te Deum for their victories, when Mia serere should have been their hymn ! The republicans pressed upon them day after day more closely, advancing faster into the Bocage; the women fled from the place as they approached; the Marchionéss-had with her her infant of nine months old, weaned because perpetual fear and misery had dried the breasts of its nurse; the Marchioness was in the third month of her second pregnancy,