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-her mother was scarce recovered from a malignant fever, her aunt the abbess increased the number of this helpless and wretched company; and to complete their wretchedness, Lescure, in the commencement of a disastrous action, received a ball near his left eye-brow, which came out behind the ear. Bonchamp now saw that all was lost in La Vendée, and sent Talmont and D'Autichamp to occupy Varades, that in case of another defeat they might cross the Loire, and carry the war into Bretagne : he knew the disposition of the Bretons, and his great talents make it probable that he had formed some clear and well projected plan for bold operations in that country. The battle was fought near Chollet, and with the most determined bravery; a reserve of the Mentz army arrived in time to decide it; D'Elbée and Bonchamp were both mortally wounded; whilst the Vendeans bore away the wounded, the Blues, who had suffered too much to pursue them with any vigour, entered Chollet in triumph, set fire to the town, and passed the night in their accustomed orgies of blood and abominations ;--whilst the royalists, knowing that Talmont had succeeded in occupying Varades, ran toward the Loire, waiting for no instructions from their generals, as if they believed that when they had crossed the river, all their sufferings were to cease.
In the whole history of this deplorable Revolution, there is not a more impressive circumstance than the passage of the Loire by the Vendeans. The heights of St. Florent, for which point all the fugitives had made, forms a sort of crescent, at the foot of which there is an extensive flat shore: the river here is of a great width, and in the middle it encircles a small island. Lescure was removed from Chaudron upon a litter during the night; early in the morning they reached the heights, and his widow compares the scene to the horrors of the Last Judgment. Behind them in the distance were the flames and smoke of burning villages ;-eighty thousand fugitives were crowding to the shore, soldiers, women, children, the sick, the infirm, the aged, the wounded; amidst the confusion the predominant sound was that of sobs and grievous lamentations, Already a great number had reached the opposite shore-the işlet was crowded with people who had forded thus far; about twenty boats were continually passing and repassing with fugitives; some sought to cross on horseback-all were stretching out their hands to the opposite shore, as if to implore assistance. Four thousand prisoners, taken before the war assumed its present cha: racter, bad been brought to St. Florent; it was proposed and determined to put them to death. The Marchioness says that no person could be found to execute this determination, and that therefore they were spared: M. Berthre de Bourniseaux ascribes their preservation to Lescure ; but his widow tells us his voice was too
feeble to be heard when he exclaimed it was horrible to give such an order. The prisoners themselves affirmed that Madame de Bonchamp procured their deliverance from her husband, and on this account they saved her from the butcheries at Nantes. Bonchamp was expiring at the time, and it was certainly believed upon the spot, that the last act of his life was to interfere for the preservation of these four thousand lives; these very prisoners seized the cannon which were left on the shore, and fired grape shot at the fugitives; and when the republican army came up, they dug up Bonchamp's body from the grave, beheaded it, and sent the head as a trophy to Paris !
Roche Jaquelein would fain have stood his ground in La Ven. dée, or have perished there ; but the impulse had been given, and he found it impossible to resist the torrent. Lescure also wished to die in his own country; he yielded to the entreaties of his friend, and was borne across the river in a state of great suffering, so much 80, that when an alarm was given on the opposite shore, he said the republicans would do him a kindness in expediting his death, and bullets would do him less hurt than the cold and the wind. He was carried to Varades, of which place and of Ancenis the royalists obtained undisputed possession. Lescure assembled the principal officers round his bed, and told them it was necessary to eļect a General in Chief-they replied he was their General : he made answer that he was mortally wounded, but that should he ever, contrary to his own expectations, recover, he should long be incapable of service; and he recommended Roche Jaquelein as the only person in whom all requisites were combined. Roche Jaquelein accordingly, notwithstanding his own unfeigned reluctance, was appointed by acclamation. Lescure then advised that they should march to Nantes, its garrison was with the republican army; an unexpected attack he thought would make them masters of that important post, and from thence they might communicate with Charette, and re-enter La Vendée. But Nantes had already been fatal to the Vendeans, and there was a prevalent disinclination among them to risk a second attempt upon that įnauspicious ground. They determined to march upon Rennes; nor could they have pursued a wiser course, if they had persevered in it. Lescure was offered a hiding place for himself and family-he would not leave the army; and his wife, who for a moment thought of trusting her infant to this asylum, feared lest it should be sent to the Foundling, Hospital, or that it should be treated with neglect: so the whole of the wretched family took their fortune with the crowd, so it may be called, more fitly than an army. The line of march was about twelve miles in length! first went a numerous advance guard,--then the crowd followed; a pitiable scene of wretchedness
and confusion, guns, baggage, women and children, old men and wounded, soldiers without rank or order, on horse and on foot, every one shifting for himself as best he could. The rear guard had it in especial charge to protect Lescure, who was in a dreadful state of suffering ; pain of body and agony of mind seemed to have changed his disposition, and he gave way not only to frequent cries, but to an impatient and fretful anger which he had never before displayed. Had the republicans attacked them in any force upon this disorderly march, or with any judgment, a destruction might have been made to the heart's delight of the blondiest conventionalist; but the passage of the Loire had never entered into their views : it disconcerted all their combinations, and gave for a time to the royalists, that advantage in Bretagne which they had lost in La Vendée. They marched by Ingraéde, Candé, Segre, and Chateau Gonthier, upon Laval. The representative Esnue Lavallée col. lected what force he could to defend the town. M. Beauchamp states it at from 5 to 6000 men, the Marchioness at 15,000; they were defeated with considerable slaughter; the inhabitants received the conquerors with undissembled joy, and more than six thousand Bretons joined the royal standard : this raised their hopes, and they determined to rest at Laval for some days, in order to organize the army as well as they could, and increase their force. This need. ful repose was of the greatest advantage to Lescure, he recovered strength, and on the second day there were great hopes of his recoyery. That night Westermann, with the advance of the republicans, thought to enter the town; the Vendeans met and defeated him in the darkness. This action had so much of chance medley, that each party supplied itself from the ammunition casks of the other, in the disorder; and friend was so little to be known from foe, that a royalist officer was helping a republican out of a ditch, when by the flash of a cannon he saw his uniform, and put to death the man, whom at the instant he had been endeavouring to save. On the following day it was known that the general in chief Lechelle was come up, and was preparing to attack them with his main force, from 25 10 30,000 men, all good troops. Lescure could scarcely be prevented from mounting on horseback and taking the field ; he would not be restrained from going to the window, and encouraging the soldiers as they passed; the exertion and agitation counteracted all the good which three days of rest had done, and soon destroyed what hopes of recovery had been till now indulged. This was the first great action in which Roche Jaquelein had commanded; for the first time he felt himself responsible for the event of the day, and the change which this feeling produced in his ardent and impetuous character, shows of what heroic elements that character was composed. Instead of setting an example of headlong courage as he
had hitherto done, he was always in his proper station controling and directing the troops, his eye and his intellect fully occupied, and feeling no want of the arm which he carried in a sling. Happy if he had as well known how to use the victory as to gain it ; but youth and inherent modesty made him unwilling to assert that rank in council, which he had shown himself so able and worthy to sup. port in the field. The republicans stood their ground well, but they were entirely defeated, and no quarter was given ;-a whole corps who laid down their arms were marched a part by one of Stoflet's officers and fusilladed. General Beaupuy rallied the fugitives, and endeavoured to make a stand at Chateau Gonthier-he was mortally wounded-being carried from the ground, he sent his bloody shirt to his soldiers, that that sight might stimulate them to revenge him. Roche Jaquelein exclaimed to his men, What, my friends, are we to lie without the town, and they whom we have beaten within ? They forced the passage of the bridge, and drove the republicans from this last stand, who now fled, leaving every thing behind them, and did not think themselves safe till they reached Angers : it was twelve days before the wrecks of the army could be re-organized. Lechelle died in a few days of vexation and fear, for his men hooted him, and the deputy Merlin of Thionville menaced him with the vengeance of the Convention, which was never accustomed to weigh past services in the scale : he had been a fencing master at Saintes, and had won those victories which drove the royalists from the Bocage.
Great part of the Mentz army was cut to pieces in this battle. Roche Jaquelein wished to pursue the fugitives to Angers, where he might have completed their destruction, and then re-enter La Vendée ; and the Marchioness thinks it ought to have been done, when they might thus have returned triumphantly. But whilst he was at Chateau Gonthier, the greater part both of men and officers had returned to Laval, and he did not venture on his own judgment to take so important a step. He therefore turned back to consult with the other chiefs, and from this time, cabals and jealousies began openly to appear. The Prince de Talmont proposed marching to Paris,-an absurd proposal, which has been erroneously imputed to Roche Jaquelein: it would have been madness to attempt this, unless all
' Bretagne had risen to support them; but the indispensable measure for encouraging the Bretons, who were admirably disposed, was to advance upon Rennes; the capital of the province once occupied, the whole country would have risen, the republicans there would have been cut off, or at least prevented from forming a junction with the force now collecting at Angers, and eighty leagues of coast would have fallen without resistance into the hands of the royalists ; thus enabling them instantly to
receive those succours with which-England was ready. Unhappily, a man who had been engaged in the feeble insurrection excited by the fugitive Brissotines in Normandy, come from his hiding place at their approach, and persuaded them to direct their course towards his country, and get possession of Granville, saying that he knew the weak part of the town, and would direct the attack. It was determined to proceed to Fougères, and from thence turn either upon Rennes, or toward Granville, as might then seem best : in this uncertainty they set forth, after having remained nine days at Laval. Lescure, in a dying state, accompanied the army; he had always thought his wound mortal, and it was now certain that death was at hand. On the third day before they re.commenced their march, he received extreme unction, and in this state, speechless, but not senseless, it was necessary that the breathing and suffering corpse should be carried on; his wife could not possibly leave him in that state, and to have remained with him would have been exposing herself to certain death,—this, however strongly her feelings at that time inclined to it, would have been acting in opposition to her known duty, and her husband's known injunctions, which were then perhaps more regarded. He was laid upon a mattress in the berlin, with Agatha, a servant who had been bred up with him from childhood, and a surgeon to whom the Marchioness was persuaded to quit her place. She herself went on horseback, and she acknowledges, that seeing that day the bodies of several republican soldiers lying in the road, she purposely road over them, that she might have the revenge of trampling under foot some of those who had brought her to a state of widowhood. Lescure died in the carriage; and that his death might be concealed from her as long as possible, Agatha remained seven hours in it, alone with the dead body: had the Marchioness been informed of it upon the way, she might have been unable to proceed. At night, when the event was communicated to her, a miscarriage was dreaded, and it was necessary to bleed her; the man who came to perform the operation was six feet high, of a ferocious countenance, with four pistols in his girdle, and a hudge sabre at his side : when she expressed her fear at being bled, · Hé bien !' he replied, “I have no fear; I have killed more than three hundred men this war : this very morning I cut a gendarme's throat. I know well enough how to bleed a woman. Come, give me your arm! She escaped with a slow fever, which continued till the time of her delivery. Her fear now was that her husband's body should fall into the hands of the enemy, and be exposed to the same brutal outrages as that of Bonchamp's. She wished to have it embalmed, and carry it on with her in the carriage ; and not being indulged in this frantic project, she made one