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desired it even, but it was a vague and remote idea.' • Throughout the whole country it began nearly under similar circumstances and in the same manner.' p.53.
• Very different ideas had been formed of this insurrection. It was naturally supposed to have been brought about by intrigue and deep manoeuvring, and that the chiefs were skilful politicians, of whom the peasants were the blind instruments, and that the whole had been the result of a great plan previously concerted. Nothing could be inore remote from the truth. The war was rather defensive than offensive, wholly without a plan, and had scarcely any object but the immediate security of the country. After continued successes, the hope of powerfully contributing to a counter-revolution, assuredly presented itself to all the Vendeans, but without influencing their conduct.' p. 124.
It is equally mournful and astonishing to contemplate such a spectacle. Setting aside entirely the great and serious question, whether a portion of a nation has politically and morally a right to separate itself forcibly from that nation, repelling the institutions of government which that nation has with general concurring choice adopted,-what hope could there be in a case like this? What chance, almost, of any thing less than desolation and destruction? Our Author even confesses, by some of the expressions in the passages just quoted, that it was apparent to the leaders, in the early stages, that the undertaking was, from the nature of the case, nearly desperate; and they would have seen it to be totally so, if they had taken the pains, which, whether they did, or did not, they ought to have done, before embarking in it, to inform themselves respecting the general state of feeling and opinion through the nation.. But then, was ever infatuation like theirs, to put themselves at the head of such an insurrection, with such consequences full in prospect, instead of exerting their utmost influence, with all possible earnestness, to deter their unhappy vassals from rushing on destruction? They could not be so utterly ignorant of history, as not to know that the atrocity of war is always aggravated indefinitely in a civil war. They could not but know that this aggravation would be most terrible under the peculiar circumstances of the country, just ready to be attacked by a formidable coalition of powers, advancing avowedly in the most arrogant and vindictive spirit of despotism, and abetted and stimulated by the emigrant tribe, with whose designs those of the Vendeans would naturally be regarded as identical.
They well knew that no state in the world would tolerate one of its provinces in a hostile independence, and they knew also, or might have known, that there was enough of unanimity, indignation, and energy, in the nation, to overwhelm an insurgent district. They could not, therefore, deliberately anticipate any thing but the utter ruin and destruction of the people to whom they were
so much attached,—a dreadful tragedy ending in desolation. All this was before their eyes;, and at the same time they knew they had very great influence on the minds of the people; an influence in all probability sufficient to persuade them to a quiet submission, at least till it should be ascertained how the grand train of events, which the people of a single province could not stop or control, would be likely to terminate. And also they were sensible what advantages or mitigations they would probably be able to gain for these endangered provincials, by means of the great merit they would have with the ruling powers from such a pacific exercise of their influence. Such was the state of the case at the awful crisis, when the commotions among the people rendered it impossible for their chiefs any longer to avoid taking a decided part. And that, with such a view presented to them, they could decide, with a reckless and cruel rashness, to join, and inflame, and lead the insurrection, evinces, we think, such a moon-struck state of mind, as hardly ever fell on worthy men before. No doubt there is something fine and generous in their self-devotedness and bravery, and their retrospective and uncalculating loyalty; and if nothing but just their own gallant persons could have been committed to the hazard, the whole affair would have been a very splendid display of chivalry but there were the women and children, the aged and the sick, the dwellings and the gardens;-there was, in short, whatever had the breath of life,' and whatever was for the sustenance and accommodation of life: all was to be plunged into that horrible wreck and misery,-which was foreseen as an almost inevitable consequence; insomuch, that when the most melancholy presages were realized, these leaders, those of them who survived, felt they had no cause for surprise. But we are amazed that when they actually saw the inexpressible misery and hopeless perdition in which their people were involved, we find none of them deploring, with anguish, that instead of restraining them from the desperate enterprise,, they had actively led them on to its fatal consummation. The infatuation was absolutely incurable. When myriads of the insurgents had perished, amidst every variety of misery, and the daily perishing remainder were making hopeless forced marches in Brittany, and other tracts to the north of the Loire, encountered at every turn by hostile armies, and in acknowledged expectation of speedy destruction, our Author makes some remarks on the peasants of Brittany, (who were in their hearts favourable to the royalist cause,) to the effect of reproaching them for not being so insane as the Vendeans.
The Bretons could not easily be induced to undertake a war like the one in which we had been engaged. (!!) They are capable of strong attachments, and of a determined courage; but they have too
little ardour and decision. They live more asunder than the Poitevins, and are much less obedient to their chiefs. They are wilful, more interested, and less active, than the Vendeans. They cannot bear the idea of their houses being plundered and burnt. Thence the different character of the wars of Brittany from that which marked the insurrection of Poitou.' p. 415.
The selfish dastards! They could not bear the idea of their houses being plundered and burnt!' which was not probably just that for which they had built, and furnished, and stored them! They wished, belike, to live for themselves and their families! and could not comprehend the felicity or the glory of giving their little hard-earned property to the fire, and their families and themselves to the sword, from horror of having their mass said by men who had taken an oath to a popular form of government, or as a dutiful sacrifice to a corrupt, rapacious, and then defunct court!
We are a little apprehensive that those readers of the above paragraphs, who have not seen the book which has suggested them, may be inclined to tax our accumulation of strong epithets, as a rhetorical exaggeration of style. But let them read the book, and they will acknowledge that no language can be wrought up to the tragical character of a great part of the story. It is such a scene of miseries, as very few records of barbarity and calamity can rival. And no story was ever more excellently told. If we are tempted into an excess of epithets, it is a fault of which the Marchioness is never guilty. Her narratives have an admirable simplicity and brevity. They are almost miraculously clear of all that verbiage, and artificial pomp, and cold cant, and inane exclamation, so prevalent and disgusting in French composition. She never seems to aim at that same thing which is lost by aiming at it-effect. Indeed, her mind is so perfectly familiar with all the forms of terror and suffering, that she seems never in the least to think about the effect they are adapted to produce, in representation, on persons who have not beheld such things. She relates the series of frightful adventures, and narrow escapes, and brilliant feats, and sudden calamities, and bloody executions, much in the manner of a person who should be hastily recounting them to other persons known to have been equally familiar with such things in some other place, and would therefore be sensible it would be mere impertinence in such company to flourish, and exclaim, and aggravate. We can imagine her shewing an unaffected surprise at the appalled feelings of some of her readers. And then, the number of the facts rapidly crowding on her memory, allows her no time for formal reflections or rhetorical amplification. Such a desultory warfare involves a greater diversity and multitude of remarkable incidents, than a regular campaign. It requires a greater number of operations to
bring it to a conclusion; and it admits, if the combatants on both sides are resolute, of a much greater number of alternations of success, before any success can be decisive. In this Vendean war, besides, many of the operations can be described as a kind of personal combats, displaying the character and the valour of individuals, many of whom were well known to the writer. She was immediately involved in a great part, and in the most tragical part, of its operations and perils, being necessitated to accompany military parties, in all manner of alarming situations, by day and by night, in sunshine or in storm, and under the most distressing personal circumstances, such as required all the benefits of indulgence and repose. She somewhere expresses, but with far less emphasis than the case deserved, her wonder how it was physically possible for her life to be maintained through such a rugged course. She was naturally excessively timid; and on various occasions in the course of the narrative she confesses ingenuously how much she was terrified, among horsemen and cannon, routs, flights, and mangled bodies. At the time of the first breaking out of the insurrection, she could not sit on horseback without apprehension, even when there was a man to lead the horse; but greater causes of emotion will annihilate the less; very early in the warfare, hearing a report of her husband being wounded, at a place nine or ten miles off, she galloped a bad horse to the spot, over a rough country, in three quarters of an hour, and was never afterwards, she says, in any fear of riding on horseback. She became inured to hunger and cold, to rags, and sleeping on straw amid noise and tumult, and at last passing whole nights in the fields and woods, without the smallest shelter, to escape the searching parties of the furious republícan assassins.
We did not take up the book with any design of attempting an abstract of the history: that would be quite impossible within any reasonable limits; nor is it at all necessary for a book so easily obtained, and which so many will read. It is crowded with remarkable particulars. Military records of crimes and miseries have often a sort of gloomy monotony, which reduces the mind, after a while, to a stupified gloomy loathing sameness of consciousness. Less of this effect is produced by this work than by almost any other we have read, it is so inspirited by diversities of incident, the romantic and sometimes fanatical character of the warfare, and the lively simplicity and feminine sensibility of the narrative.
It is quite melancholy to see almost all the persons whom the Author brings prominently forward to notice in the early part of the story, perishing successively in its progress. After herself, the two most conspicuous and interesting persons, are her husband
Lescure, and Henri de Larochejacquelein, the brother of the man who afterwards became her second husband, which second husband also fell fighting at the head of another insurrection during the last short reign of Bonaparte. Lescure was mortally wounded in what may be called the middle period of the first insurrection, when its most favourable events were past, and its fortunes were fast declining towards despair. He lingered a number of days in a state which inflicted the bitterest anguish. on his wife. There appeared some slight ground for hope, had it been possible for him to be in a state of quietness, with the requisite comforts and medical care. But the army was retreating in disaster and privation, hourly harrassed by the enemy; it was necessary for him to be hastily dragged along, amid his unrelieved sufferings; and he died in a kind of cart on the road. Henri appears to have been a most admirable youth, virtuous, generous, affectionate, and quite a Rinaldo in battle. He met his fate at a later period, from a republican soldier whom he had at that moment called upon his own man to spare. He was only twenty-one years of
The whole story (and the veracity of it would be beyond all doubt, even if it were not corroborated by innumerable other testimonies) gives a horrible representation of the general conduct of the republicans. They were a vast pack of blood-hounds. They rioted in the massacre of the helpless, the wounded, women, and children, and even the unoffending neutral inhabitants who alleviated any sufferings of the royalists in their retreats and wanderings. Most of their leaders, above all the notorious Westermann, were worthy of their followers. Several of them, however, are honourably distinguished; and it is not less honourable to the Marchioness, that she makes the exception with a grateful emphasis.
She confesses there were some instances of cruelty on the part of the royalists; but she says that most of these were in the way of reprisal, provoked by the horrible atrocities of their enemies. She constantly asserts that they were systematically moderate and forbearing,-at least the armies commanded by Lescure, Henri, and their immediate coadjutors. Of the dispositions of some of the other leaders, especially Stofflet and Charetti, she speaks much less favourably. She excepts too, from the praise of clemency, De Marigny, a very brave and able officer in immediate connexion with her husband. She mentions him as a remarkable instance of a man previously humane, rendered savage by the events of the war.
There are many curious instances of the influence of the priests, and the power of superstition. One priest, himself evidently a courageous man, exhorting the over-powered and