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among themselves. They fled to Niort first, then to Blen, there Fleuriot was chosen general—a choice which is said to have offended Talmont, and made him quit the army to pursue his own
He was taken, guillotined at Laval before his father's house, and his head fixed over the door! The fugitives thought at first of making for Redon ;-this might have prolonged their sufferings a little
while ; they preferred to march on Savenay—a worse resolution could not have been formed. The Loire was on one hand, the Vilain on the other; the bridges were broken down there were no boats--and the sea flowed on the third side of the triangle into which they had thus been driven. The republicans followed them close, and their destruction was now inevitable. Marigny told the Marchioness that on the morrow the army would be exterminated, and entreated her to save herself during the night. For himself, he said, he hoped to die in defending her banner. The old marshal, when he could command his feelings sufficiently for utterance, persuaded her to make this attempt, and charged her never to quit her unhappy mother; his own duty was to remain with the army as long as it existed. The mother and daughter then sought refuge among the peasants : among these people, who were untainted by the poison of the times, they found humanity and hospi. tality; more than one family exposed themselves to imminent danger by secreting them; for, by the law of the Convention, this was made a crime of which the punishment was certain death! The attack of the ensuing day proved as fatal as Marigny had anticipated. Between 5 and 6000 Vendeans perished with arms in their hands ; more fortunate in this than their comrades, who were only spared in battle to be massacred in cold blood.
The work of fusillading was carried on during eight days at Savenay, till the walls were scaled with blood, and the ditches filled with human bodies ! Donnissan, with a few friends, made his way sword in hand through the enemy; but they were overtaken, carried to Angers, and put to death. Marigny, a man of stern mind and Herculean strength, after the most admirable efforts of desperate courage, escaped, to perish more miserably by the villany of his friends.
When the main army, or rather the multitude, of the Vendeans crost the Loire, a brother of Cathelineau put himself at the head of a few hundred Angevins, and carried off the wounded D'Elbée with his wife and some other disabled officers, and made their way to Charette's
Charette was at this time relieved from all pressure by the diversion which this great movement made of the republican forces, and taking advantage of the opportunity, he got possession of the Isle of Noirmoutier, and left the wounded there as in a place of safety with a garrison of 1800 men.
As this post enabled him to communicate with England, Turreau, when he took the command, made it his first object to recover it for the republic; and the rascally garrison surrendered without firing a shot. D'EIbée's wound had laid his breast open; his wife might have escaped, but she would not leave him, and therefore remained to share his fate, and in this state the republicans found them. "General,' said he to Turreau, 'Itrust you will do me the justice to believe that if I. could have stood upon my feet, you would not have taken me in my bed.' This justice Turreau has rendered him ; but so little is this general capable of understanding the better part of human nature, that he ascribes the religious sentiments which D'Elbée uttered, not to the sincerity of a dying man,--but to his fidelity to his party! The royalist leader was lying on what would soon have been his death-bed if his ferocious countrymen had respected either virtue or decent humanity; he was to be put to death the next day :through life he had been known for a virtuous and pious man,and General Turreau could not believe in the reality of his religious feelings,-he could not believe in the existence of faith and hope and truth |_He says “il mélait de temps en temps quelques idées religieuses à ses idées de gloire ; mais j'ai dû supposer que c'était uniquement pour
donner une dernière preuve de sa fidélité aux conventions du parti !' General Turreau tells us that D’Elbée was carried from his bed to be shot, being unable to stand,---but he does not tell us that his admirable wife was shot also, on the following day :--it would have been an act of compassion to let them die together; and if General Turreau had disbelieved the existence of that feeling in the human heart, he might certainly have supported his opinion by the whole conduct of the government which he served, and the men with whom he acted.
Roche Jaquelein meantime, when separated from his ill-fated army, made his way to Charette, who received him coldly and jealously. Two such men were not made to coalesce. The peasants of Roche Jaquelein's estates immediately forsook Charette, and at their head he again made himself formidable. But the young hero approached the end of his memorable career. After a slight advantage his men perceived two republican soldiers whom they would have put to death; he wished to ask some questions of the men, and therefore gave orders to spare them, and ran forward himself, bidding them surrender and promising quarter. One of them turned and shot him through the head; he died instantly; the soldier was sabred by the peasants ; they wished to hide the dead because an enemy's column was at hand, and therefore they buried the two bodies in the same hasty grave. Thus perished Henri de la Roche Jaquelein at the age of one and twenty ; Non omnis moriar might be written upon his funeral escutcheon with reference to that immortality which the brave and good en
joy on earth as well as in heaven. During the peace of Amiens his brother and heir, Louis de la Roche Jaquelein, married the widow of Lescure, who, having been secreted during the reign of terror by the Breton peasants, availed herself of the amnesty which the directory proposed. To the children of this marriage her me. moirs are addressed. After their publication Bonaparte returned to France, and that event has given matter for a melancholy supplement to the history of this devoted family. Louis de la Roche Jaquelein stood forward as his brother had done: and addressed the Vendeans in the ever memorable words of his brother-If I advance, follow me; if I retreat, kill me; if I fall, revenge me.' He did fall
, leaving the Marchioness twice widowed, and the name of Roche Jaquelein twice illustrious.
After the elder brother fell, Stofflet took the command of his party, and to his lasting dishonour it must be said that he spoke of him after death, as if glad to be released from the presence of one whose nobleness of mind made him sensible of his own natural inferiority. The same low jealousy and vulgar ambition led him to condemn Marigny to death on a charge of contumacy, and upon this sentence was Marigný seized and executed by a party of Germans under Stofflet's orders. It is by no means certain that Cha. rette did not participate in this foul transaction, but the main guilt undoubtedly rests upon Stofflet and his chief counsellor the Abbé Bernier. It has been said that Joly was in like manner put to. death by Charette, but from this imputation he is cleared by his biographer. Joly was a leader of great intrepidity, but of an iron heart; one son fought with him, another was in the republican army, and it was his fate to be sent against the Vendeans. Knowing his father's temper, he did not venture to desert to him without permission, but he repeatedly solicited that permission, and Joly always replied that if this son ever dared to appear before him, he would blow his brains out. In an action in which the republicans were driven from Lege the royalist son was slain ; the sight of the child whom he dearly loved, lying dead, had nearly bereaved him of his senses, and it was with difficulty that he was prevented from committing suicide, when some one came to tell him that the body of his other son had been found upon the field, and to ask if they should be buried together. He then fainted away. The two brothers who had thus fallen fighting on opposite sides were laid in one grave. When Joly came to himself
, two young prisoners were brought to him to determine if they should be put to death. . Nomin no,' he replied, "I have lost too much this day to destroy these poor boys, their death would not restore my children; take care of them, instead of doing them any hurt! • Rendons grâce au malheur qui umollit ainsi le cæur de l'homme," says M. le Bouvier-Desmortiers;
--and this Ancient Magistrate may be forgiven some of his trespasses for having thus perceived and acknowledged the use of affliction.
Stofflet and Charette both made terms with the republic at the Pacification of La Jaunaie, when the French government, weary of butchery, instead of employing such ruffians as Westermann and Rossignol, sent Hoche, who united the talents of a statesman and a general, to pacify the country by fair means or by foul,* by concili. ation or stratagem. The secret history of that pacification has been laid open by M. de Puisaye; never, perhaps, was so much mischief effected by such despicable agents. Each party soon discovered the insincerity of the other, and the war was renewed, but not till a set of miserable intriguers among the royalists had effectually destroyed their own cause. Stofflet was taken and shot: and Charette in like manner was hunted down by General Travot, the same general who commanded in La Vendée during the late usurpation, and whose sentence of death has been commuted for twenty years imprisonment, intercession having been made for him by the Vendeans themselves on the score of his humanity. Twenty years imprisonment is a worse punishment than death, and, as the voice of mercy has been heard, we would fain see it prevail farther. It will not be supposed that we say this from any such preposterous opinions as have been advanced by some of our wrongheaded countrymen in Lavalette's case : on ihat point our opinion has already been stated ; and all subsequent events have only tended to confirm it. But there is a special reason why General Travot should be distinguished from the rest of the usurper's accomplices. When the French army in Portugal brought such indelible disgrace upon their country by their flagitious conduct, General Travot was remarkable for setting an example of honour, courtesy, and humanity, and for restraining as far as he could the excesses of those under his command. This fact probably is not known in France as it ought to be : and if on this account the king should be pleased to extend a free pardon to this general, (whose life most certainly has been justly forfeited,) such an example might produce a beneficial effect upon military morals in the country where they stand most in need of all that can be done to amend them.
Charette, as was to be expected, met his death bravely; such was the state of things, even when the system of terror was said to
* Hoche says in his correspondence, Ne perdez jamais de vue que la politique doit avoir inniment de part à cette guerre. ' Employons tour-a-tour l'bumanité, la vertu, la probité, la force, la ruse.' And to one of his generals he wrote thus, ' Courage, mon bon ami, courage ; que la religion ne l'arréte pas. Fais dire la messe, et assistes-y s'il est nécessaire.' Yet Hoche, who was, perhaps, the ablest man that the Revolution brought forth, had grace enough to envy the peasants who had the consolation of faith. He says, ' Heureux habitant de Morbihan, qui ne vit que pour adorer Dieu et travailler! j'envie too sort. Que ne suis-je à ta place!
be at an end, and the reign of humanity to have commenced, that his friends dared not ask for the body; and at Nantes, where he was executed, the people had been rendered so barbarous by the long series of butcheries which they had witnessed, that at this time they did not take the trouble of burying the dead! Charette's body was thrown into a quarry by the side of a public road, which served as a receptacle for those soldiers who died of an infectious disease in the hospital. An artist obtained permission to make a cast from his face. Some days afterwards he was accused of having sold the corpse to the Vendeans, and the military authorities threatened him with death unless he could prove his innocence, by pointing it out, and bringing from it a second cast to confront with the first. He was sent under a guard upon this errand, and when he arrived at
quarry Charette's body was not to be seen; more than twenty dead had already been thrown upon it; he had to remove them all, and make a second cast from the festering corpse below!
The war in La Vendée may be said to have terminated with the death of Charette. According to Hoche's statement, who certainly has not overrated the loss, it cost the lives of six hundred thousand Frenchmen; and not a fifth part of the male population was left alive! What a chapter in the history of France! The state in which these unhappy provinces were left may be understood from a single anecdote. Near Chollet there were extensive bleaching grounds, the proprietors of which kept a great number of watch dogs; the town, after having been sacked and burnt, was repeatedly disputed, till at length both parties, weary of contending for a heap of ruins, abandoned it. These dogs, to the number of four or five hundred, took possession of the ruins, and remained there for many weeks feeding upon the unburied bodies : after the pacification, when the refugees attempted to return and rebuild their houses, the animals had become so ferocious that they attacked and would have devoured them; and a battalion of republican soldiers were actually obliged to march against the dogs and exterminate them before the place could be reinhabited.
Some vengeance was taken for this wretched country, but not till after a long struggle, and till the first man who raised his voice in the cause of humanity had been sacrificed for the attempt. This man was Philippeaux, an enthusiastic republican; he could not bear the open profligacy and pillage of the republican generals and his fellow deputies, having himself entered into the ð endean war with his whole heart and soul, and a spirit like that of sincere religious persecution!
• The love of what is good and just,” says M. de Puisaye,* 'is na
* Those parts of M. de Puisaye's Memoirs which are not necessarily employed in de