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Title: 'Monsieur Henri' - A Foot-Note to French History
Author: Guiney, Louise Imogen
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                       This ebook is dedicated to
                                 EMMY
                 friend, colleague, mentor, role model,
                 who fell off the planet far too soon.
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[Illustration: De La Rochejaquelein]



“MONSIEUR HENRI”

  A FOOT-NOTE TO
  FRENCH HISTORY BY
  LOUISE IMOGEN GUINEY

  [Illustration]

  NEW YORK HARPER & BROTHERS
  PRINTERS & PUBLISHERS MDCCCXCII



  Copyright, 1892, by HARPER & BROTHERS.
  _All rights reserved._



TO MADAME MARIE-ANGE BONDROIT R.S.C.J.


_When you were first an exile, and at Elmhurst, I was a child. Six
studious years we had together, many games, a tiff or two, much silent
love. It is because I do not forget any of them, and because it may
stand as a little token of an honorable and lifelong debt, that to you,
my dear old friend, without asking your leave, I dedicate this book._



“I have looked narrowly into this war of La Vendée, full as it is of
scenes and faces; I have thought of it by day, and dreamed of it by
night. It is not cold, commonplace war, waged for ambition and policy,
nor for commercial advantage; it is a war deep-rooted in the soil and
in the conscience of man; a war all for family and fatherland, in the
antique impassioned way; a Homeric war, inspiring dread and admiration,
pity and love.... Everything in it calls for the palette and the
lyre.”--A Republican officer, quoted by Abbé Deniau, _Histoire de la
Guerre de la Vendée_.

“And mark you, undemonstrative men would have spoiled the situation.
The finest action is the better for a piece of purple.”--ROBERT LOUIS
STEVENSON, in _The English Admirals_.



PREFACE.


So little concerning the French provincial struggle of the eighteenth
century has found an echo in our language, that the British Museum
and the Bodleian Library have not three original references between
them to add to the local archives (most of them, alas! still confused
and uncatalogued), of the Bibliothèque Nationale. Madame de La
Rochejaquelein’s beautiful _Mémoires_ still serve as the basis for
whatever may be said on the subject; and where I have differed from her
by a hair, it has not been without reluctance, and the comparison of
many oracles.

I do not plead for pardon in treating an all-but-hallowed theme in a
rather high-handed fashion, since every grain here has been painfully
sifted and weighed, and the material, if not the proportioning of it,
is true as truth. But in so treating it, I bore in mind that excision
is the best safeguard against decay, that time throws away as rag and
bobtail the political specifications thought to be precious, and that
we must at once, and in the nobler sense, romanticize such dry facts as
we mean shall live.

It is always the character of the man which vitalizes the event; what
did or did not happen is, ultimately, of minor importance beside the
spectacle of a strong soul. A background may be blurred for the sake of
a single figure. I tried, therefore, to paint a portrait, willing to
abide by the hard saying of Northcote: “If a portrait have force, it
will do for history.”

To the Rev. Walter Elliott, editor of _The Catholic World_, who
allows me thus to incorporate and remodel a sketch first contributed
to its pages; to Monsieur le Curé and Monsieur le Vicaire of
Saint-Aubin-de-Baubigné, who, for the sake of the immortal Red
Handkerchief unknown to English literature, brightened my frosty
travels in the old Bocage; to Madame la Comtesse de Chabot of
Boissière; to Mademoiselle de Chabot, Henri’s young kinswoman and
annalist, whose ardent researches have verified many of the data I
give, and to Monsieur de Chabot, also, who drew for his sister’s
soldierly book the admirable chart now kindly lent me for transmarine
use, I return, this late, my faithful and ever affectionate thanks.

                                                         L. I. G.
  LONDON, 1891.



“MONSIEUR HENRI”:

A FOOT-NOTE TO FRENCH HISTORY.


Before a crowd of excited farmers, a young Frenchman, blond,
enthusiastic, delicately-nurtured, made once this singular oration:
“Friends! if my father were here, you would have confidence. As for
me, I am only a boy, but I will prove that I deserve to lead you.
When I advance, do you follow me; when I flinch, cut me down; when I
fall, avenge me!” Then amid the cheers and tears of peasants, he sat
in the great court-yard of his father’s abandoned house, and munched
with them their coarse brown loaves. It was the first slight sign of
his consecration to a cause. He had spoken famous words, hardly to
be matched in history; words which have travelled far and wide, and
proclaimed his spirit where his name is utterly unknown. Yesterday he
was a carpet-knight; now, like “gallant Murray” in the song,

  “His gude sword he hath drawn it,
   And hath flung the sheath awa’.”

There was no retrogression. Henri du Vergier de La Rochejaquelein,
twenty years old, a little indolent hitherto, an athlete, a critic of
horses and hounds, was suddenly shaken out of his velvet privacy into
the rude lap of the Revolution.

He was born in the village of Saint Aubin de Baubigné, near
Châtillon-sur-Sèvre, in the broad-moated, wood-surrounded feudal
castle of La Durbellière, on the thirtieth of August, 1772. He
came of fighting stock. Among the ancestors of his name there were
Crusaders, two warriors slain under Francis I. at Pavia, and a
dear brother-in-arms of Henry of Navarre, who was wounded beside
him on the battle-field of Arques. Henri’s father, the Marquis
Henri-Louis-Auguste, died of the opening of an old scar in 1802, after
able service in San Domingo, where he was defeated, with his English
allies, by the blacks and the forces of Spain; his wife, a proprietress
there, described in the parish books at home as “the high and powerful
lady Constance-Lucie-Bonne de Caumont Dade,” was destined to survive
her son also, but not long. They were the parents of two other sons and
of four daughters, of all of whom it is perfect eulogy to say that they
were alike. Henri, the second child and eldest boy, was intended for
the military profession: while the supreme political storm was brewing
he was completing his studies at Sorèze. This famous school in Lower
Languedoc was just then, under the benignant rule of Dom Despaulx, in
its prime. In the great plain under the shadow of Pepin’s Tower, the
Benedictines could marshal their four hundred boys, in blue uniforms
faced with red. Henri was probably something less than an enthusiast
in botany and dancing (for all the arts had excellent show at Sorèze),
but gentle as he was, he had no disrelish for the novitiate of war. He
must have apprehended, even at the still college where, long after,
the radical Republican, Père Lacordaire, set his bust to smile down
upon the bent heads of the study hall, what strange transatlantic
winds were already blowing over France. He looked forward always to
a campaign, to spurs and sabres, and some mighty Jericho to assail.
Courage he had as a birthright; the splendid animal nonchalance in
face of danger, and, later, in a measure almost as ample, the fortitude
of soul which “endures and is patient.” He went directly from school
to Landrécy in 1785, joining the garrison as sub-lieutenant, his first
commission being in the Royal Polish regiment, of which his father was
then colonel. The marquis, a person of worth and fortune, had every
reason to be pleased with his pretty cavalryman of thirteen, who had to
get along as he could, without public favors, and who was treated with
complimentary strictness.

Henri became one of the constitutional guard at Versailles, which had
replaced the household body-guard of Louis XVI., and six years later,
when this was disbanded, he remained in Paris, by order of the King.
His lodgings were in the Rue Jacob. On Friday, the terrible tenth of
August, 1792, he was in the Tuileries, and narrowly escaped with his
life; his companion, Charles D’Autichamp, crossing the bridge over
the Seine, killed several men in his own defence. It is likely that
Henri forced his way on a run through the great alley of the Champs
Elysées, or found passage at the Queen’s garden-gate, where most who
ventured were struck down; for he was not with those who went with
Choiseul, sword in hand, on that ever-dramatic day, to join their
master under the protection of the Assembly. Louis-Marie de Salgues,
the young Marquis of Lescure, a cousin of the La Rochejaqueleins,
reached Tours safely with his wife, along a road marshalled with
forty thousand hostile troops; he owed his escape to the romantic
gratitude of Thomassin, Parisian commissary of police, whose pupil
he had been. Haggard, wearied, wrought to the pitch of anxiety, they
fled unawares into the heart of revolt and disturbance. La Durbellière
was deserted; the family of La Rochejaquelein had emigrated, during
the preceding December, to Germany; the parish had gone over to the
will of the majority. Lescure, sheltered at his château of Clisson,
in Boismé, Poitou, sent for his homeless kinsman. Thither, evading
a series of perils, Henri went, stepping in among a strange huddled
group of royalists: men of resources, like Bernard de Marigny, with
his large joyousness of nature; men like the giddy, whimpering old
Chevalier de La Cassaigne, who got the whole house into trouble by
his officiousness, and whose name is often indulgently replaced by a
blank; aristocrats, abbesses, notaries, old tutors, servants, distant
relatives, and proscribed children, keeping vigil over the dying hopes
of conservative France. Few rumors reached them of the fighting in
Anjou; they ventured out into the roads but seldom, as the doors were
jealously watched. They were of one heart and mind, undergoing agonies
of suspense, and anon cheering one another with fireside tales, with
indoor games and music. Marigny, the kind giant of a cousin, with his
maskings and recitations, his mimicry of divers ages, conditions,
and dialects, kept them alive with laughter. But Henri was the true
centre of interest; all relied upon him, quiet and reserved as he was;
from first to last he somehow made a moral brightness in the sombre
lapses of those days. He was no courtier; “he had lived,” says the
woman then Lescure’s bride, “but little in the world.” Here, through
her, we have the earliest glimpse of his tall and comely figure, of
his wheaten-yellow hair, his healthful color, his animated eyes, “his
contour English rather than French.”

Like a thunder-clap came the news of the King’s death. It had been
provided that word should be sent to Clisson of any impending rescue.
Not a hand worth counting had been raised to save him. Lescure and
La Rochejaquelein looked at each other in profound grief and dismay;
and among the twenty-five men in the château capable of bearing arms,
the spark of desperate merriment flickered out. So they remained for
months, in the midst of threats growing from day to day. Madame de
Lescure was learning to ride, as an initiation into the possible life
before her, and sat trembling upon the saddle, while her husband and
Henri walked on either side over the greensward, supporting her, and
comforting her tears. Henri began to be more moody and preoccupied,
saying little. He traversed the country alone, often facing and
surmounting danger with his consummate physical skill, sometimes
hiding, or galloping madly to the woods. On one occasion gendarmes made
a descent on Clisson, and carried off his favorite horse. They told
Lescure that “the son of Monsieur de La Rochejaquelein was much more
sharply suspected” than he was. “I do not see why,” Lescure replied,
with his habitual directness; “we are relatives and fast friends; our
opinions are quite the same.”

Citizens were summoned to the defence of Bressuire. Lescure had been
for four years back commandant of his parish of Boismé. Hourly he
expected his orders to march against his insurgent neighbors: there
seemed no way out of it. The men were holding a council of debate,
determined, at least, to make a passive resistance when, early in
April, the name of La Rochejaquelein was called to be drawn for the
militia. On the track of this announcement followed a secret message,
brought by a young peasant named Morin, from Henri’s unmarried aunt,
living in retirement some miles away. Chollet had been taken; the
people had arisen; there were wild hopes that the royalist faction
might get the upperhand. The young peasant, eager and breathless,
fixed his glance upon Henri. He spoke persuasively, with a fervor that
seemed to thrill his whole body. “Sir, will you draw to-morrow for the
militia, when your farmers are about to fight rather than be drafted?
Come with us! The whole country-side looks to you; it will obey you.”
“God wills it,” cried Peter the Hermit. He willed that God should will
it, at any rate, and all Christendom took him at his word. The peasant
boy had some spell beside eloquence, for Henri’s thinking was over.
“Tell them that I will come,” he answered. That night, accompanied by
one servant, a guide, and the tremulous Chevalier, afraid to stand
his chances at Clisson, provided with a brace of pistols and carrying
a stick, Henri mounted his horse and waved farewell. There were
protestations, arguments, women’s prayers and tears; but he silently
tightened his belt upon his pistols, and threw himself, at parting,
into Lescure’s arms. “Then first came the eagle-look into his eyes”
(says the gentle historian of La Vendée), “which never left them after.”

Machecould, the Herbiers, and Chantonnay had already been seized by
the insurgents, when Henri, racing across country to evade the Blues,
reached the little army on the morrow of a nearly fatal victory at
Chemillé, whose fruits had to be abandoned for lack of ammunition.
He turned about and made another painful journey to Mademoiselle
Anne-Henriette de La Rochejaquelein; and passed Easter there with
her in the roomy house of charity at Saint Aubin, Le Rabot, which
she had built in 1785; then, with a few young men, he hurried to the
rebels’ quarters at Tiffanges, whither they had withdrawn. Stofflet,
Bonchamp, D’Elbée, even Cathelineau, were disheartened; they had now
but two pounds of powder; the shabby regiments were disbanding. Henri
went back, brooding and restive, to Saint Aubin. It seemed as if
opportunity, after all, had failed him. But the peasants found him,
calling upon him as “Monsieur Henri!” a plain name which is historic
now, and promising that in the course of a day a force of ten thousand
men should join him. He urged them to gather at once by night, armed
only, alas! with their cudgels, spits, hay-forks, scythes, and spades.
They came in droves to the castle at Saint Aubin from Nueil, Rorthais,
Echaubrognes, the Cerqueux, Saint Clémentin, Voultegon, Somloire,
Etusson, Izernay. Quétineau’s trained division, three thousand strong,
was before them. They had but two hundred muskets and sixty pounds
of blasting powder, which Henri had discovered in a mason’s cellar.
At dawn he took command, with the alarum on his lips. His gayety had
come back; he had found his post. What he had to say fired itself in
an epigram. He was a little pale, but very earnest, and his beautiful
presence was another thousand men. He was only a boy, he said; but if
he flinched they might, at least, cut him down; if he fell in battle,
they would, at best, avenge him. And they stormed up together against
the Aubiers on the seventeenth of April, 1793, as if in the first
bustling act of a bright drama.



This side-show of the great Revolution was a magnificent spectacle,
and unique in the world’s annals. The seat of war, _Vendée militaire_,
may be described roughly as being bounded on the north by the Loire
from Saumur to the sea; on the west by the Atlantic; on the south by
a line drawn from Sables d’Olonne across to Parthenay; and on the
east by another line from Parthenay up again to Saumur. It was then
comprised in some square leagues of old Anjou, Poitou, and Nantes; it
is now divided into the four modern departments of Loire-Inférieure,
Maine-et-Loire, Deux-Sèvres, and Vendée. The name Vendée, at first,
indeed, minor and local, rose and spread after the affair at Challans
on the twelfth of March, until it became representative of the people
and their cause. And Vendée, once mentioned, means two things: the
Marais, or low sea-coast district, a great meadow honey-combed with
canals from the island of Bouin to Saint-Hilairie-de-Rie; and the
inland Bocage, or thicket, in its own way quite as inaccessible.
The latter, the centre of agitation, was settled by rugged, simple,
honorable folk. It was glossy with woods of golden furze and pollard
oaks, and broken everywhere with little hollows and little streams. It
was a rough and arid place; it had few roads, and these were clayey and
difficult; it was full of rocky pastures, hedge-rows, and trenches;
dull in color, crabbed in outline, niggardly of distance. It had not
a mountain nor any considerable landmark save the Hill of Larks. In
the narrow flats it was all but impossible for the enemy to form; and
utterly impossible for one detachment to communicate with another by
signals. The puzzling Bocage was a glorious vantage-ground, however,
for its own sons. The race which mastered it had great agility and
nerve: Cæsar had called them invincible. They were not of a volatile
humor, as were their compatriots in northern France; and yet they moved
habitually in the very gravity and temperance of cheerfulness. The
patriarchal life survived among them: the noble divided the proceeds
of the land with his farmers; and he was his own steward, attending
personally to business, and having for his tenants those with whom he
had played as a boy. The ladies’ carriages were drawn by bullocks. On
fête-days the wives and daughters of the hall danced with the peasants.
After the Sunday services, among his devout flock the good _curé_ read
aloud the place of meeting for the week’s hunts. There were no feuds;
a scandal was unheard of; a lawsuit was a twenty years’ wonder. The
keys of the jail had taken to chronic rust. The shut-in Bocage had seen
the beginnings of the national upheaval with but faint concern. Its
own clergy were poor, its own gentry magnanimous; its liberties were
entire; it had no great public abuses calling for reform. And through
the outlying districts things were much the same. It was impossible,
as Jeffrey wrote soon after in the _Quarterly_, to “revolutionize” a
people so circumstanced. Innocent and happy as they were, it may be
said of them that they had no history till the insurrection. It broke
out in March of 1793, it was over in July of 1795; and those on its
soil cannot speak of it yet without a throb of feeling.

It was in the main, a religious war; one of the few since St. Louis’
in the thirteenth century, which has not disgraced the name; and the
latest, indeed, known to general history. But it has been affirmed
too often that the nobles and priests, active here as elsewhere for
the losing cause, had roused the masses to revolt. M. Berthre de
Bourniseaux, of Thouars, a Republican, says earnestly, that defensive
war was produced by three causes, with none of which the influence of
churchmen and kingsmen, as such, had anything to do. First, by the
execrable tyranny of the Jacobins in worrying an intensely conservative
section, which, in the proper Jacobinical jargon, was not “ripe” for
the Revolution; second, by the foolish persistent persecution of their
old faith in behalf of the goddess Reason--a thing borne long in
silence and bewilderment, until the smouldering opposition sprang into
the full stature of a blaze; third, by the forced levy of three hundred
thousand men. On the twenty-first of January, 1791, Louis, after his
usual hesitation, signed the decree authorizing the ejection of those
vicars and curates who would not uphold the new civil constitution of
the clergy. It may be believed that this stroke of national polity
fell heavily in mid-France, where “priestcraft” had never figured as
a word in any possible dictionary, and where the Roman obedience had
been as perfectly established as the solar system in the popular mind.
Says Lamartine: “The Revolution, until then exclusively political,
became schism in the eyes of a portion of the clergy and the faithful.
Among the bishops and priests, some took the civil oath, which was
the guarantee of their lives; others refused to take it, or, having
taken it, retracted. This gave rise to trouble in many a mind, to
agitation of conscience, and to division in the temple. The great
majority of parishes had now two ministers, the one a constitutional
parson, salaried and protected by the state, the other refractory,
refusing the oath, bereft of his income, driven from his sanctuary,
and raising his altar in some clandestine chapel or in the open field.
These rival upholders of the same worship excommunicated each other,
one in the name of the Government, one in the name of the Pope and the
Church.... The case was not actually, as it stood, persecution or civil
war, but it was the sure prelude to both.... When war burst out, the
Revolution had degenerated.” It was not until August that the report of
the uprising in the provinces, and the full sense of its significance,
were accredited at Paris. Simultaneously the air thickened with fierce
rumors from Austria and Spain, and Dumouriez’s last watch-lights
sputtered out upon the frontiers. While the attention of Europe was
fixed for a moment on larger matters, the disbanding of ecclesiastics
and the enrolling of conscripts engendered their natural sequence in
ignored La Vendée, and the placid farm-country sprang forth prodigious,
like a fireside spectre, menacing the fortunes of the house with a
bloody hand.

Let it be remembered, despite Carlyle’s random arrow at “simple people
blown into flame and fury by theological and seignorial bellows,” that
the nobles and the clergy, whatever may have been their desire, were
too well informed to pit a forlorn corner of France against the united
realm. Here, as in Paris, and for rival arguments exactly as apposite,
the Revolution was a matter belonging to “the man on the street.”
Against what they knew to be the spirit of rapine and injustice, the
people, of themselves, arose. Their campaign had no intrigue, no
pushing; it had absolute purity of intention. More perfectly than
even the American civil war, this of La Vendée was fought on a moral
principle, and on that solely, from the start. Every advantage possible
was on the side of submission; the peasants would have been let alone
and forgotten, presently had they been weaker, and wiser. Unable to
foresee the majestic trend of events, not having in their own sore
memories the germ of a verdict which was to reverse the world, they hit
out, in the dark, against the local and the immediate wrong. Ignorant
as they were, they were not ignorant of their jeopardized liberties.
They opposed iniquitous laws for the sake of their own commune; their
argument had premises impregnably sound. If they were mad, it must
be added that they were right, too, in the fullest relative senses
of earth and heaven. The titled gentry were compelled to join, in
nearly every case, by their vehemence. D’Elbée, Bonchamp, Lescure, La
Rochejaquelein, Charette, and many of the minor officers, were drawn
from their very firesides, and urged into service. “You are no braver
than we, but you know better how to manage,” so the frank fellows
explained it to the lords. The priests, also, banished from their sad
parishes for refusing the irregular oaths proposed by the Assembly,
and cast adrift like the hill-side friars of Ireland, long held aloof
from sanctioning the redress of arms. Nowhere, at any time, did they
march nor combat with their flocks. When their bodies were found upon
the field, it was manifest that they had been shot while ministering
to the dying. Such, on this point, was the Vendean sensitiveness, and
austere regard for the proprieties, that a young subdeacon discovered
in the ranks was angrily and summarily dismissed. Not until the army
was at Dol did the pastors ever attempt to “fanaticize” the soldiery by
working upon their religious feeling as a means of reviving courage.
Nor did the laymen ever waive towards them that which, in Turreau’s
phrase, was their “blind and incurable attachment.” At a sign from some
active Levite they actually disbanded during Holy Week of 1793. The
Republican squadron, sent to quell the revolt, found the villages in
dead quiet, and so returned north; but on Easter Monday the roads were
alive again.

Well was the Bocage called, by the earliest of its very few English
critics, “the last land of romance in Europe.” The quarrel espoused
for conscience’ sake had a child-like disinterestedness. What the
men endured we know; the rewards they meant to ask for their success
were these: that religion should be established, free of state
interference; that the Bocage itself should be known as La Vendée,
with a distinct administration; that the King should make it a visit,
and retain a corps of Vendeans in his guard; and that the white flag
should float forever from every steeple, in memory of the war! It is
clear that they had little to wish for, and that they had no greed.
Nor did they fight for glory, the dearest motive of their race.
“There is no glory in civil war,” said Bonchamp, in what was, for
once, too ascetic a generality. But they were dedicated souls; they
bore themselves gently, gayly, without boast or spite; and they long
continued to honor the obligations laid on them by the purest cause
that ever drew sword. Their blows were struck for the independence of
their religion, and only incidentally for the monarchy then identified
with it. From the chivalrous conversation between the Marquis of
Lescure and General Quétineau, then his prisoner, we learn that even
Lescure would have rushed to the common defence had the Austrian made
good his threat to pollute the soil of France. They failed, we say;
yet what they fought for they secured: the liberty of the Church, and
the restoration (temporary, as things are in France) of the government
of their allegiance. Louis XVIII. was unworthy of their devotion. He
was mean enough afterwards to reduce the pension granted by Napoleon
himself to Madame de Bonchamp; to suspect the immeasurable loyalty of
Madame de Lescure; to refuse admission to the portraits of Stofflet
and Cathelineau when opening his gallery of generals at Saint Cloud,
because, forsooth, they were but plebeians. In a hundred ways, by
delayed recognitions, by temporizing, by denials, and by cringing to
alien opinion (things deprecated with energy by the Abbé Deniau in his
valuable work), he broke the faith of a too faithful party. Yet the
praise the western subjects hoped for from the little Dauphin of 1793
they won from this man. “I owe my crown to the Vendeans,” he said, with
the family characteristic of gracious speech.

The peasants, therefore, driven to the wall, rebelled without
forethought or plan; a desperate handful against the strength of new
France. At remote points, with no concert whatever, hostilities began:
on Sunday, March tenth, in Anjou, two days later in Lower Poitou; and
months passed ere one knot of insurrectionists heard tidings of the
other. With the populace at Maulevrier rose Stofflet, the swarthy
game-keeper of the resident lord; Stofflet of the German accent, harsh
and hard, big-nosed, unlettered, trusty, a keenly intelligent and
masterful disciplinarian. But the noteworthiest leader was Jacques
Cathelineau, “a painstaking, neighborly man,” wagoner, and vender
of woollens. There had been a disturbance at Saint Florent over the
drafting; the Government troops fired; the young recruits charged
on their assailants and routed them, pillaging the municipality and
burning the papers. Cathelineau of Pin-en-Mauges was kneading bread
when he heard of it. “We must begin the war,” he murmured. His startled
wife echoed his words, wailing: “Begin what war? Who will help you
begin the war?” “God,” he answered quietly. Putting her aside, he wiped
his arms, drew on his coat, and went out instantly to the market-place.
That afternoon he attacked two Republican detachments and seized their
ammunition, his small force augmenting on the march; in a few days it
was one thousand strong, and carried Chollet. Cathelineau’s three
brothers enlisted under his banner; in one short year all four were to
be gathered into their stainless graves. He was called “the saint of
Anjou,” and he deserved it; a man of truth, discretion, dignity, and
sweetness, about whom the wounded crept to die.



Those born in the purple had all the “tenderness with great spirit” of
Plato’s elect race. They had the delicacy and high-mindedness of the
primitive gentleman. A pleasant instance of the odd and fine retention
of amenities in the cannon’s mouth, occurred before Nantes, where
Stofflet, explosive as usual, found occasion to challenge Bonchamp.
“No, sir,” said Bonchamp, “God and the King only have the disposal
of my life, and our cause would suffer too greviously were it to
be deprived of yours.” Friendships throve among them. Lescure, La
Rochejaquelein, and Beauvolliers were closely attached to one another,
as were Marigny and Perault. Preferments went wholly by natural nerve,
intelligence, and a vote of deserts. There was no scheme of promotion
to benefit those of gentle blood; the army, formed of a sudden,
formed into a genuine democracy. “They never talked ‘equality’ in La
Vendée.” But its first generalissimo, acclaimed with universal homage
and good-will, was the peasant Cathelineau. No long-descended knight
floated his own banner; as the Prince of Talmont had to be reminded
at Fougères, the _fleur-de-lys_ was sufficient for them all. Perfect
confidence reigned. After the retaking of Châtillon, the young Dupérat,
in company with three others, mischievously broke open the strong-box
in Westermann’s carriage; there was presumptive evidence enough that
they had taken money from it. A council ensued, and Dupérat, questioned
by Lescure, denied that they had done so. His high character was known,
and though the mystery was not cleared up, the proceedings were closed
with an apology. Here, at Châtillon, pierced with twelve sabres, fell
Beaurepaire, who had joined the “brigands” at eighteen. The Chevalier
of Mondyon was a pretty lad of fourteen, a truant from his school. At
the battle of Chantonnay the little fellow was placed next to a tall
lieutenant, who, under the pretext of a wound, wished to withdraw.
“I do not see that you are hurt, sir,” said the child; “and, as your
departure would discourage the men, I will shoot you through the head
if you stir.” And as he was quite capable of that Roman justice, the
tall lieutenant stayed. De Langerie, two years Mondyon’s junior, had
his pony killed under him in his first onset. Put at a safe and remote
post, but without orders, he reappeared, during the hour, galloping
back on a fresh horse to fight for the King. Duchaffault, at eleven,
sent back to his mother, rode into the ranks again at Luçon, to die.
Such were the boys of La Vendée.

The Chevalier François-Athenase de Charette was first to lead the
rebels in the wild marsh-lands of Lower Poitou. He had been a ship’s
lieutenant. Despite the known laxity of his private conduct, Charette
was a power. In matters of sense and courage he was equal to the
best of his extraordinary colleagues, all of whom he was destined
to outlive. He was twenty-eight years old when he took command at
Machecould. Charles-Melchior Artus, Marquis of Bonchamp, was enrolled
at the solemn inauguration of the war. He had seen service in India,
and was in his early prime: a scholar, an accomplished tactician, and a
man greatly beloved, whose name is yet in benediction. La Ville-Baugé,
placed by force among the Blues (so called from the color of their
coats, which under the kings had been white), abandoned them, and
joined the insurgents at Thouars. He was a youth of marked steadiness
and patience, dear to Lescure and to Henri. Gigot d’Elbée, late of the
Dauphin cavalry, was forty years of age, already white-haired, of small
and compact build. Possessed of many virtues, he was not a striking nor
engaging character; his conceit, fortunately, harmed neither himself
nor others. It was he who read sermons to his men, who carried with him
the images of his patron saints, and who, above all, talked so much and
so well of the wisdom which directs us, that the roguish congregation
in camp fastened on him the nickname of “_La Providence_.” For Lescure,
as for Cathelineau, the peasants had a veneration. Unselfish, contained
and cool, versed admirably in military science, Lescure at twenty-six
was a bookish recluse, with a heart all kindness, and a bearing
somewhat lofty and austere. Born in 1766, in 1791 he had married his
first cousin, Victoire, daughter of the fine mettlesome old Marquis
of Donnissan. To this timid girl, who heroically followed her husband
through the Vendean crisis (and who herself, years after, was to play
a second illustrious role as the wife of Louis de La Rochejaquelein),
we are beholden for the _Mémoires_, naïve and precious, which supply
nearly every main detail of the long struggle, which persuaded out of
life the ignorance and prejudice of its traducers, and which serve as
the worthiest monument ever raised to the loving army, Catholic and
Royal.



In their curious dialect, the Vendeans had a verb, _s’égailler_,
_s’éparpiller_, and they lived up to it. It meant scattering and
sharp-shooting, every man for himself, in what we Americans might
call the historic Lexington style. Each carried his cartridges in his
pocket. If any complained of lack of powder, Henri had a pricking
answer: “Well, my children, the Blues have plenty of it!” which
reversed matters in five minutes. Bred in a hunting country, the King’s
men were expert shots from boyhood. Farming weapons fixed on handles
adorned the marching no-pay volunteers. Such guns as they had were
put into the ablest hands; and wonderful musketeers they made, these
hunters of Loroux and the Bocage. They crept behind walls and hedges,
not firing, as did the troops of the line, at the height of a man, but
aiming individually, and rarely missing, so that throughout an action
their loss was but as one to five; they leaped garden terraces, and
peered from the angles of strange little foot-paths, making sudden
volleys and attacks, the chief usually foremost, the men eager and
undrilled; or they ran forward by scores, fronting the hostile cannon,
flinging themselves down at every explosion, and so creeping nearer and
nearer, until they might grapple with the stupefied cannoneers hand to
hand. This was their favorite strategy. More than one town was actually
taken by savage wrestling and boxing, without a report of fire-arms
at all. They lacked wagons, reserves, luggage; each carried his own
rations. They travelled without a calendar, for that sanctioned by the
Republic, and therefore, with Fabre d’Eglantine’s pretty fooleries of
_Floréal_ and _Pluviose_, cashiered, was the only one extant in France.

They had thirty lively drums and no trumpets; when they wanted an
inspiring noise they sang a hymn. Sentinels could not be trained; it
seems incredible that they should have done for two years without
pickets or patrols, except when the officers took turns at a necessary
duty. But in this, as in other matters, the strong-minded rustics, who
freely entered the ranks, reasoned, objected, fought shy, and were at
once the solace and the despair of their commanders. A certain fatal
independence was born in their blood. What chance, at any time and
however valiant, has the army of momentary concurrence against the
army of sworn obedience? Innocent of discipline, they were all but
impossible to direct on an open plain. Every movement was a farce
in tactics. A chief exercised his full authority according to the
individual esteem in which he was held. This singular code, likely to
be subversive of all authority elsewhere, was the only one which proud
and willing Vendée could be brought to understand. “Such a general goes
such a way,” the adjutant would call; “who goes with him?” And the
tenants of his own seigneury, the guerilla vassals, would run with a
shout after him, forming their lines by some convenient object--a house
or a tree. Their Monsieur Henri had a formula borrowed unconsciously
from the old war-cry of Gaston de Foix: “He who loves me follows me!”
When he flashed down the front on his wonderful white horse, which
the cheering peasants had christened the Fallowdeer, thinking nothing
else could be so wild, so delicate, so amazingly swift, parish after
parish rallied to him in a little cloud. The fashion of gathering in
clans and bands, primitive as it was, had its advantages. Every one
stood, in action, next another of his own estate or blood; and La
Vendée was notoriously careful of its wounded and slain. Never were men
more dependent on the nerve and sagacity of their leaders. A disabled
officer dared not budge, or the crazy columns would give way. Lescure,
unhorsed at Saumur, would have kept the troops ignorant of his hurt
had not the boy Beauvolliers thrown himself upon him with a loud
cry of lamentation and started a panic in the ranks. Charette being
wounded long after at Dufour, his regiments dispersed like sheep. When
Cathelineau of the shining brow fell in sight of his army, there was
instant rout. At the recapture of Châtillon many a dissembler, sick and
weak, rode forth in affected vigor, and so forced the splendid issue
of the day.

The cavalry bestrode steeds of divers eccentricities, but at the
tails of one and all figured the enemy’s derided tri-color cockade.
Ropes were stirrups to these gallant paladins, and their sabres hung
by packthreads. They had small leisure for the conventions of the
toilet: their hair and beards looked like Orson’s. The officers wore
woollen blouses and gaiters, having, like the others, the little red
consecrated heart sewed on their coats; they lacked at first any
distinguishing dress. Neither they nor the privates received a sou for
services; if a man were in want he asked for a disbursement, and, until
supplies failed, he got it. Funds flowed into the general reservoir
from the pockets of the gentry, and from a source as obvious--the
rights of confiscation. The main army averaged twenty thousand men;
at a pinch it could be doubled. Sobriety reigned in the camps,
though it was the one considerable virtue to which the good peasants,
un-French in most matters, were not blindly addicted. Considering the
prohibition against the presence of women, it is surprising to find
here and there undetected in the van some spotless amazon like Jeanne
Robin, or the revered Renée Bordereau, or Dame de La Rochefoucauld,
a cavalry captain, shot upon the Breton coast. Piety was universal.
The scythe-bearing soldiery, meeting a wayside cross half-way to the
battery, would doff hats and kneel an instant, then charge like fiends
on the foe. The parishes sent carts to the road-side, laden with
provisions for the passing cohorts. The women, children, and old men
knelt in the cornfields, while the din went on afar off, to beseech the
Lord of Hosts. At Laval and Chollet, where the sieges closed perforce
in one mad scrimmage in the dark, the Vendeans fired wherever they
heard an oath, surer than ever the Cromwellians were before them, that
in that direction they could bag none but legitimate game.

The peasants were so many big children; they had no adult comprehension
of their momentous concerns, to which they gave themselves by spurts,
with perfect disinterestedness, ardor, and zeal. After the first hint
that the victory was theirs, they hastened to ring the church-bells,
and make bonfires of the papers of the administration--proceedings
which, according to Madame de Lescure, afforded them unfailing
amusement. They went into action like a black whirlwind, with
roundelays or litanies on their lips, and the continuous battle-cry:
“The King for us, all the same!” They frolicked about the famous
twelve-pounder they had named Marie-Jeanne; they kissed its ornate
brazen rim; they buried its inscriptions of Richelieu’s era in flowers
and ribbons; they lost it with mopings, and they recaptured it with
salvos of joy. “Above all things, boys, we must get Marie-Jeanne back!”
cried La Rochejaquelein on a certain occasion. “The best runner among
you, that’s the man for her!” There was no reason whatever for such
special devotion: it was pure fun on all sides. They were never under
arms for more than a few consecutive days. The gathering together was a
sensational sight. The church-bells clanged for a signal, the windmills
gesticulated, horns were blown on the hills; and proprietor, farmer,
peasant, with sticks and hunting-guns, came threading the hedges,
and running in many a long dark line through the waving crops into
the village market-place. The troops were repeatedly dispersing and
rallying, giving their chiefs endless worry and chagrin. They fought,
like Spenser’s angels, “all for love, and nothing for reward.” But they
left the ranks when they chose; after a success, rather than after a
defeat, they would scatter to their homes like so much thistle-down
in the air, and it was hopeless to try to follow up an advantage
gained. It was when difficulties were suspended that, in the wisdom
of their villageous heads, they hurried off, one to his wife, and one
to his farm, and one to his merchandise. No general was baffled and
angered oftener by this freak than Henri. The valor of the Vendeans
was incomparable, though one might borrow a musical metaphor and add
that it swerved too easily from pitch. And it is noteworthy, as by
a paradox, that whenever they wavered it was not, at least, through
dread of any personal hardship. They were often ragged and hungry,
but they did not play truant for that. They soon underwent horrible
poverty and distress, and lacked food and clothes. The picked men of a
company long marched in grotesque dominos out of sacked playhouses, in
lawyers’ gowns, even in furniture-stuffs and draperies. The chivalric
De Verteuil was found dead on the field equipped in two petticoats, one
about his neck, the other about his waist: as noble armor, perhaps, as
officer ever wore. Frequently, when ammunition was in abundance, the
unaccountable army was overcome; and as often, without a carabine among
six, it swept everything before it. Napoleon was the first to see--all
the world sees now--how little was wanted to secure their ultimate
triumph; how drill, a few kegs of powder, a few observant, able, cool
heads where the exiles were congregated, and the prestige and authority
of some royal name, might have built up again, it may be in justice,
the ancient fabric surely in justice pulled down. They had no fair
play. “Yet these same men, by bravery and enthusiasm, and by knowledge
developed of short experience, conquered a part of France, obtained an
honorable peace, and defended their cause with more glory and success
than did the leagued allies.”

As we get away from the grim ethics of history the æsthetics of it take
shape and color, and give us an abstract pleasure from the centres of
thought and pain. There is an unspeakable attractiveness, despite all,
in the image of these turbulent years--an almost Arabian beguilement,
as of something which never need be true. The course of events is like
a romantic drama, full of “points,” of poses, of electric surprises;
the dialogue flows in alexandrines; the crises are settled in the
nick of time. The talk is the rhetoric of hearts sincere, but French.
The devoted Marquis of Donnissan breaks in upon two duelling swords:
“‘What! the Lord Christ pardons his executioners, and a soldier of the
Christian army tries to slay his comrade?’ At these words they drop
their swords and embrace each other!” Or, after the terrible battle
of Mans, and not long before her little daughter’s birth, Madame de
Lescure, hemmed in the choked streets of the city, catches in despair
at the hand of a gentle-faced young trooper pushing by: “Sir, have pity
on a poor woman who cannot go on. Help me!” Whereupon the young trooper
weeps some feverish tears: “What can I do? I am a woman also!” Or that
charming impostor, the pseudo-bishop of Agra, stands up before the
serried lines, and sheds upon them such prose as Matthew Arnold should
praise forever: “_Race antique et fidèle des serviteurs de nos rois,
pieux zélateurs du trône et de l’autel, enfants de la Vendée, marchez,
combattez, triomphez! C’est Dieu qui vous l’ordonne._”



The sportsman Count of La Rochejaquelein had it all his own way at the
Aubiers. He took the town, and captured large supplies, and gleefully
perched upon the cemetery wall, fired no less than two hundred telling
shots. Thence he rode by night to Bonchamp and D’Elbée, and to the
weary allies of Anjou, bringing aid and arms; and, as a gift not least,
the contagious cheer that was in him. When he had fulfilled his public
duty, but not before that, he flew to the rescue of his friends.
Scarcely had Henri left Clisson, in the spring, when Lescure and all
his family were seized as suspects, and conducted to Bressuire, but
forgotten there when fear caused an evacuation of the borough. Henri
himself easily carried it, and burst in upon them at the château,
crying that he had freed them. By a comical inconsistency, great
numbers of the Republican inhabitants rushed for protection back to
Clisson, as soon as Citizen Lescure, walking a free man from Bressuire,
had entered the gates. That godly gentleman made bashful Henri kiss
every woman among them, to ease their fears of the “monster” whom they
believed him to be.

Six victories, due to Henri’s restless energy, followed in swift
succession. Though his growth, in all things, was steadily towards
reasonableness and the golden mean, his chief early characteristic was
hare-brained intrepidity; a habit of confronting too near, pursuing
too far, “combating with giants,” as old Burton says of his warrior,
“running first upon a breach, and, as another Phillipus, riding into
the thickest of his enemies.” He was wholly without fear, and often, at
first, without foresight; and it took many bitter denials and reverses
to teach him the pardonableness of deliberation and second thought in
others. But while he lived, wherever he went, he was a force. He was
of the stuff of Homer’s joyous men. His decisive fashion swayed elder
and better soldiers. His troops were his for risks such as no general
else besought them to run; every day he won their hearts anew by some
spurt of daring, some astonishing fooling with death or failure.
Many a dragoon was cut down with his sabre; horses were slain under
him again and again. It is said of him that he never took a prisoner
without offering him a single fight, sword to sword. This laughing
audacity of his had no cant in it. It was the metal of which he was
made, that which he lived by, the blameless outcome of himself: a
thing to sadden and exasperate his companions, and fill them with
foreboding. Pilgrim-shells are quartered upon the arms of his house,
“the scallop-shells of quiet,” as the poet sings. A more sarcastic
advice for the La Rochejaqueleins it would be impossible to conceive!

As the close study of the Vendeans brings to mind the character of the
Scotch Highlanders, great at an onset, with not a whit more native
knowledge of the common etiquette of war, so Henri himself, in sober
simplicity of nature, in the firm thoroughness of all he had to do,
even in the agreeable accident of personal beauty, is not unlike a
much-maligned man who lived a century before him: John Graham of
Claverhouse, the never-to-be-forgotten “deil o’ Dundee.” Claverhouse
had a habit of curling his hair on papers; and one learns, with the
same sensation, that Henri had one of those singular antipathies no
effort of will can correct. At Pontorson, while Madame de Lescure was
sewing in a room, with a tame black-and-gray squirrel in her lap, he
came in, and backed against the door, pale and trembling. The sight of
a squirrel, as he said with a laugh, gave him a feeling of invincible
terror! His friend asked him to stroke the little creature. He did so,
shaking in every limb, and avowing his weakness with great good-humor.
He was never much of a talker. Discussions were intolerable to him. If
called upon in council, he would speak his mind briefly, overcoming
an extreme diffidence; and having done, he withdrew, or worse, fell
asleep. No one was more humane at battle’s end; but, nevertheless,
Henri’s element was battle. His Paradise was like the heathen board,
where, after the combat and the chase, he might sit at the “red right
hand of Odin;” and the masterly rider looked forward to a life where
he might play soldier forever. “When the King” (Louis XVII.) “is on the
throne,” he confided to his cousin Lescure, “I shall ask for a regiment
of hussars, a regiment always on the gallop.” It was his whole desire
of guerdon.

Lescure had also the Roman devotedness: any morning he stood ready
to outdo Curtius and Horatius. In the rout of Moulin-aux-Chèvres he
drew the hostile squadrons from the pursuit of the frantic Vendeans by
calling their attention to himself and to La Rochejaquelein by name. At
Thouars he gained the bridge of Vrine alone, amid a shower of balls.
He returned to his dispirited band with exhortations; one emboldened
comrade followed him to the second charge. But on the instant Henri
arrived with Forestier, to join Lescure and fire the lagging troops,
as the celestial armies are fabled to have fought at need for the
old commonwealths. Here, this same day, mounted on the shoulders of
a gigantic peasant named Texier, one of the most useful men in the
ranks, Henri broke the mouldy coping of the fortress wall, and through
the breach hurled stones at the flying Blues. His course henceforward
is to be tracked in these flashing incidents, deeds compacted of
demonic sense and wit. Pauvert depicts him breaking the tri-color lines
outside Argenton merely by whistling through, with two friends in his
train, like a blast of wind. At Château-Gontier he seized and bore the
colors; there and elsewhere, wherever he moved, bullets ploughed the
ground under him, and sent up a puff of dust to his spurs. While his
weary infantry slept, he was known to watch for them, in an exposed
bivouac, and turn his idleness to account by picking cartridges for
his poorer “children” out of the wealthy pockets of the adjacent
slain. He and Stofflet reconnoitred the streets of hostile Châtillon
by night, on all fours, the sentinel refraining from challenging the
passage of the big dogs they were supposed to be. Observe the tricks
of a generalissimo, on whose safety the balance of empire hung! He was
a lad; he did not know his value; but what he did know was that nobody
could manage these indispensable lesser manœuvres so exquisitely as
himself. “_Quel gaillard!_” shouted those who at first held back from
this incorrigible, superculpable, adorable, business-like creature of a
Henri; “_quel gaillard!_” At the siege of Saumur, at a wavering moment
of the assault, he flung his hat into the intrenchments. “Who will
fetch that for me?” he cried, as certain of his response as was the
great Condé, or Essex before Cadiz in 1596. Of course, with his usual
verve, he leaped towards it himself, and the crowd rushed after him as
one. In the same engagement he saved the life of his loyal Ville-Baugé,
struck from his stirrups while loading Henri’s pieces for him; as at
Antrain, during the twenty-two hours’ battle, and with a call for much
greater adroitness, he saved that of La Roche Saint André.

The central event of this period was the five days’ victory at Saumur.
By Cathelineau’s order a _Te Deum_ was sung in the church, the captured
flags, rent with balls and black with smoke and blood, dipping to
the chancel floor at every sound of the Holy Name. Such a spectacle
put them all in an exalted mood. Henri was found at a window, meekly
musing over their fortunes: he, the deliverer, who placed elsewhere
the primal credit of the deliverance. The garrison here was left to
his charge, much to his disrelish. “They make a veteran of me!” he
said, ruefully, for the affairs he loved were going on outside. The
inaction of the time told on his men, quite as discerning as himself,
and far less dutiful; despite the fifteen sous a day which, as the
first Vendean bribe, were offered them to remain, they perceived that
there was nothing more to fear, and slipped away to their homes. Soon
but nine were left, and with them Henri departed gloomily, carrying his
cannon, and at Thouars, since not a cannoneer came back to relieve him,
burying it in the river. Luçon, too, was lost. Having got astray during
the action, he arrived but in time to cover the retreat. At Martigné,
where D’Elbée was in command, and again at Vihiers, while Henri was
off recruiting, his name had to be cited constantly to encourage the
soldiers, though he was absent from the field.

He stood in a valley path, giving orders, during an obstinate fight
at Martigné-Briand. A ball struck his right hand, shattering the
thumb and glancing to the elbow. He did not stir, nor even drop his
pistol. “See if my elbow bleeds much,” he said to his companion. “No,
M’sieu Henri.” “Then it is only a broken thumb,” he replied, and went
on directing the troops. It proved to be an ugly and dangerous wound;
it deprived him, during the month of September, of his share of three
signal victories won by “the devils in sabots” under Bonchamp at
Torfou, Montaigu, and Saint Fulgent. Not long after, before Laval, his
arm limp and swollen in a sling, Henri was attacked on a lonely road by
a powerful foot-soldier. He seized the fellow by the collar with his
left hand, and so managed his horse with his legs that his struggling
assailant was unable to draw upon him. A dozen Vendeans ran up, eager
to kill the man who menaced their general. He forbade it, as he was
sure to do. But he checkmated his Goliath with his tongue. “Go back to
the Republicans,” he told him; “say that you were alone with the chief
of the brigands, who had but one arm to use and no weapons, and that
you could not get the better of him.”

In addition to his dark blue great-coat and his wide hat, Henri wore
anything which he found available, and chose, for his distinctive
mark, red handkerchiefs of immemorial Chollet make about his head
and neck, and another about his waist to hold his pistols. It is
striking to find him, the soul of conservatism, in the identical
dress of the Cordeliers, “the red brothers of Danton,” cravatted and
girdled in their Paris fashion, and flaunting the _bonnet rouge_. The
appropriation of the hated color must have been of malice prepense,
as a bit of not illegal bravado, and a slap of exquisite fun at the
tailorish pomp and circumstance of war. Henri made a mountain guy of
himself to some purpose. Among the Blues at Fontenay it quickly became
a universal order to fire at the Red Handkerchief. The other leaders
were unable to persuade him to doff it. “They know me by that,” was
his aggravating answer, “and besides, it is so comfortable!” But they
adorned themselves quickly with the same insignia, and saved him from
the sharp-shooters. Such was the origin of the officers’ earliest
uniform; and with their flapping boots, their huge swords, and these
floating flame-colored gingham plaids, they must indeed have resembled
the “brigands” of their enemies’ fancy. Henri continued to take pride
in his Chollet turban, and was apt to consider a hat, except on festal
occasions, as a piece of tautology. Later, after the conference at
Fougères, he adopted the white sash, with its famous little black knot.



Those officers and civic adherents who encompassed the royal family
at Paris, between the tragic forsaking of Versailles and the dawn of
the regicide year, were, as well they knew, standing under oak-boughs
in a gathering storm. Event was treading on the heels of event; every
hour was oracular; it was impossible not to forecast the morrow, and to
dread or defy it, as habit might prompt. Through the charged and purple
air strange figures were passing: Mirabeau, borne dead to the Pantheon,
to be eldest of its sleepers; Lafayette, with brave step and smile
of compromise, riding through the blue national guards; the Queen,
appearing in white on balconies, calm before mobs, with her firm fair
arm about her little son; Barbaroux and Roland escorting Madame as she
goes reluctantly from her happy dream-time in the garret of the dingy
Rue Saint Jacques into place and authority; Camille Desmoulins, ever
sauntering loose-haired, with a soiled roll of writing, and a sarcasm
not unsweet upon his tongue; the Chéniers; Vergniaud; Westermann,
with his hard, tenacious intelligence not yet amply employed; and
Robespierre, “the last word of the Revolution, which, thus early, no
man could read;” regal maskers, flown to the frontiers and snared at
Varennes, and marched back to the capital amid din of sabres; couriers
arriving with verifications of the butcheries at Avignon, and bishops
departing, after a rapturous _Te Deum_ in the cathedral, each to his
seething diocese; stout foreigners drinking in the Faubourg Saint
Honoré, and darkly prognosticating ruin for this whole wild smithy
where so much old iron was being lighted and beaten into new uses;
Maillard and his murder-men of the Abbaye, walking yet peaceably,
but looming on the horizon like huge dripping spectres of the worst
that was to be;--such was the panorama, such the France, all of which
Henri de La Rochejaquelein literally saw, and part of which, belying
the adage, he was not. He, too, had been at the Café Valois; he, too,
had watched on the quays the gaming soldiers his colleagues, and the
knowing tri-color demoiselles; and heard through his lonely windows, by
night, the mounting chorus of

  “_Amour sacré de la patrie,
   Conduis, soutiens nos bras vengeurs!_”

the legacy of immortal song which a Royalist had given to the Republic
forever. But these externals had no real hold upon him. He was no
searcher of the deep roots nor the forward-stretching tendrils of
circumstance. He went across the lesser Doomsday as a child across the
hostile streets of a city, thinking always, but not of the obvious
things. What he saw through the medium of his sequestered soul were
reeking sedition, experiments blundering and caring not whom they
hurt, principles despoiling the world of quiet and gentleness and “the
unbought grace of life;” and he moved, indeed, towards Burke’s own
curious inference, that the Revolution was criminal because it was
unmannerly. He took no time to philosophize when the one blameless
and disadvantaged Bourbon needed his sword; it was nothing to him
that pent-up rights, burst abroad, were about to vindicate themselves
terribly and justly in “immolating a generation to make way for an
idea,” while he saw, far more clearly, his order injured, his religion
handicapped, and the old ideals taught him at his mother’s knee swept
into the universal dust-heap. There were hundreds of honorable lives
like his, impelled by the same hurrying conscientiousness, forming
on either side of the great struggle from 1789 to 1792: the men who
represented the early beauty of the Revolution, while yet it was a
“child of many prayers.” No apology (in the primitive nor in the
perverted sense of the word) need be made for their opposing courses,
so soon to be defined; it is enough if we wise landsmen of posterity
know the great current and whither it tends, and that we perceive, near
shore, the forceful counter-current pushing backward victoriously, if
but for an hour, and recognize that both are one clear water, and that
the same Hand suffers them to flow. Henri went home, not to ponder
much, but to grieve a little and then to fight: to fight the strength
of the equinoctial tide, even as it proved.

With every foot of the Bocage he became acquainted; he travelled it
over and over; he was spun like a thread of destiny into and around its
level fields and farms; he crossed and re-crossed its fords; he lost
and won its towns; he held its fortunes for a year in the hollow of his
hand; his grave, like his birth, was in its bosom. It is small wonder
that a species of folk-lore, in his own neighborhood, has, in three
generations, grown up around him, which makes it a difficult thing
to disentangle what is true of him from what might as well be true:
for the French are not given, even in their gossip, to incongruities.
Every rustic, who, having served under Henri, lived to startle a more
prosaic world with his reminiscences, had anecdotes to tell of him
really vital and precious; and the travellers who were able to gather
them at first hand, like Monsieur Eugène Genoude and Viscount Francis
Walsh, are yet to be envied. It is known from oral report how he would
run any risk for a charge of his, were he, in particular, a child or
a coward; or how he would deny himself bread while one mouth hungered
near him; how he was a fatal apparition, looming bare-headed from the
saddle, pistol in hand, to those who encountered him in a charge: for
he had a sure aim, and no genteel misgivings as to his present duty.
Picked out for the object of many raids, he had the strength of nerve
to save himself repeatedly, by blowing out the brains of a dozen. When
he achieved an admitted advantage, he seemed to overflow instantly
with his native kindness and compassion. His military career was less
one of thought and command than of manual killing and sparing: and in
that particular he belonged with the ancient world, with Gideon and
with Hector. The endless patience which he brought to bear on his
heart-breaking circumstance and his ungovernable mass of men, out-soars
praise. Not once, among the contradiction, the disorder, the stupidity
which he deplored, was he anything but just. This autumnal sweetness of
his character, which he seemed to have inherited in full at Lescure’s
death, was its first and last distinction. It helped him, at an age
when moods alternate with the pendulum, to take prosperity without
pride, trials without a plaint. Young in every fibre, he had not a
trace of the severity of youth, its raw dominance, its hasty partial
will.

As he takes the eye from among the striking figures in Madame de La
Rochejaquelein’s _Mémoires_, so, alive, he compelled the interest of
on-lookers and of commentators who were foes. Jomini, in his _Histoire
Critique_, turns to him with insistent admiration. Kléber’s reports
are filled with notes on his scientific skill. It was the opinion of
Sempré, after the Vendean repulse at Granville and the ensuing movement
which almost cancelled it, that “Xenophon himself was not half so
clever as this vagabond.” And Napoleon, the man whose attribute it was
to know men, dictating to General Montholon at Saint Helena, used a
significant exclamation: “What might he not have become!” Henri’s large
close mental grasp, his delighting straightforward talk, his prompt
deed, were all of a piece; and they won his great contemporary from
the outset. Nor had the latter forgotten, when the crown was upon his
head, to invent every means to gain the coveted adherence of Louis de
La Rochejaquelein, who was much of the same mould.

Henri, unlike Lescure and Bonchamp, was no scholar: one might guess
as much from his handwriting, always too indolent and free. To
one book, however, he clung, and after carrying it about for an
interrupted rereading, he would put it under his pillow: this was a
Life of Turenne. His age and his country were surfeited with learned
and poetic persons; while they were writing things worthy to be read,
he, as Sir Walter Scott would put it, was doing things worthy to be
written; he was breathing abroad something of the Greece crystalizing
silently in André Chénier’s brain. Shall we ascribe it to immunity
from the giant literature which was the prelude of the Revolution that
he was a very simple youth indeed, that he believed in God, and was
strict (“_sévère_” is Madame de La Rochejaquelein’s word) in matters
touching his conscience? “He knew me at Saumur, when I came on with
Cathelineau,” a peasant told a stranger, “and he spoke to me: ‘How
well it goes with us!’ ‘Yes, yes, so it does,’ I replied, ‘thanks to
you, M’sieu Henri!’ ‘Thanks unto God!’ was what he said.” His own
success, wonderful in the extreme to him, he preferred to charge upon
supernatural agencies. When he galloped into the guns, and caught no
one admiring him visibly, he took occasion to make the sign of the
cross; the bigger the danger, the bigger the gesture, according to
tradition. Nothing was mere mechanism with him; he was a scorner of
exaggeration. His religiousness was in the current of his blood. It
alone kept him to the end an optimist: one able to leap into the chasm
beyond, without ever having had a single speculation about it, nor a
single dread.



The autumn of 1793, when the red flag was floating at the altar of the
Fatherland, when the tombs at Saint Denis were rifled of their kingly
dust, and some hearts were yet aching for the fallen Gironde,--this
memorable autumn was marked in the west by the _choc_ on the heights
about Chollet, and the tragedy of the passage of the Loire. During the
first attack D’Elbée and Lescure were borne helpless from the field.
The ensuing night a council of war was held, Stofflet and Henri begging
for leave to defend the town, and Bonchamp persistently pleading for
an expedition across the river, in the hope of obtaining succor and
new strength from the Bretons, and of opening a northern seaport to the
expected co-operation of England. While the debate was yet seething,
the second clash came, and Bonchamp was struck down. It was a terrific
battle: forty thousand peasants against forty-five thousand tried and
trained soldiers of the line. “They fought like tigers,” brave Kléber
wrote to the Convention, “but our lions beat them.” Before daybreak on
the seventeenth of October, without any order of advance, and against
the impassioned efforts of Henri and other generals, panic set in,
and the air was rent with a league of cries. Then began the mad rush
for the Loire, and an exodus comparable to nothing human but that of
the Tartar tribes. The manœuvre, suggested but a little while before
as a safeguard, was adopted in complete despair, and the retreat
deteriorated into a migration. Countless families emptied themselves
into the rebel camp; a horde of poor creatures, including the entire
population of Chollet and the near boroughs, flew to the common centre;
women, babes, the aged, the sick, the fearful, hung darkening over the
army, like summer insects over a pool. Once it had started, nothing
could hold back the onward pressure of such numbers. Four thousand
men were detached under Talmont and sent to clear the banks at Saint
Florent. A whole people, their homes burning behind them, thrown upon
pauperism, inevitable separation, and the rigors of the coming winter,
the Republican hosts advancing from all sides to exterminate them;
Bonchamp, on whose persuasion the fatal move was undertaken, on whose
prudence the others relied, known to be dying; Lescure, who had been
wounded at La Tremblaye in the midst of his squadrons, dying also; the
bewildered, groaning multitude dropping, like the pallid passengers
of the Styx, into the river-boats, and struggling from island to
island;--what a spectacle! The great tears of anger and sorrow stood
thick in Henri’s eyes. When a march could be formed, the foot-soldiery,
with the cannon, were placed at the head, and the cavalry and picked
men brought up the rear. Between them were the fifty thousand drags,
stumbling along in a lunacy of terror, and in a muffled roar bewailing
their bitter fate, and calling on Heaven for mercy. The habit of their
enemies was invariably to attack the van or the rear:--a mistake which,
more than anything else, prorogued the inevitable end.

Cathelineau, the first, and, next to Charette, the ablest
commander-in-chief of the Vendeans, having been mortally wounded before
the gates of Nantes, D’Elbée, by his skilful policy at Châtillon, had
himself appointed to the succession. It was the work of an obstinate
cabal; Bonchamp, by every claim, deserved the election. But after the
passage of the Loire, D’Elbée, in the confusion, was not to be found.
Lescure, besought, in his bed, to take matters into his own hands,
immediately proposed that the officer best-beloved by all divisions of
the army, and best-known to them, Henri de La Rochejaquelein, should
be nominated to the vacant generalship. “As for me, should I recover,”
added Lescure, “you know I cannot quarrel with Henri. I shall be his
aide-de-camp.” The little senate met at Laval. Henri, never willing
to push himself forward, dissented hotly. As advocate against his own
claims, he made his longest speech. He represented that he had neither
age nor experience, that he was merely a fighter, that he had too
little practical wisdom, that he was untenacious of his opinions, that
he should never learn how to silence those who opposed him: in vain.
After the ensuing vote he was found hidden in a corner, and cried like
the child he was, on Lescure’s breast, for the unsought honor thrust
upon him. He was to have no further guardianship and support from that
dearest of his friends. On the road between Ernée and Fougères Lescure
died, not before a mighty pang was added to his passing by an oral
account of the execution of the Queen. In the room where his body lay
Henri said to his widow, “Could my life restore him to you, oh, you
might take it!”

The Royalists nearly sank under this second calamity, for Bonchamp,
too, had but lately died, on the eighteenth of October. (“The news of
these two,” cried lively Barrère in the Convention, “is better than
any victory!”) His remains, which, like Lescure’s, were carried for a
brief time under the colors, were temporarily buried at Varades. His
only son, Hermenée, became Henri’s special care. In all his trouble
and preoccupation he was pathetically kind to the child, and had him
sleep with him every night. By day Hermenée rode with Henri on the same
saddle, or trotted in the rear-guard, beating his toy-drum, haranguing
the soldiers with pretty ardor, and remembering each lovingly by name.
The poor little fellow, weakened by his hardships, succumbed to the
small-pox, in his mother’s arms, at Saint Herbelon, before the year was
over.

The wretched throng were exiled, as completely as they would have
been had they crossed the Pyrenees. Seven months of intense activity,
seven months of successful fight, even while they were surrounded like
sheep in a pen, had resulted only in this: that no single general, at
his allotted post, had been able to beat back the Revolution from La
Vendée; that the restoration of the monarchy, the remoter and greater
object, was more visionary and hypothetical than ever. They hurried
northward feverishly, pursued always by an immense force, subject
to continuous cold rains, obliged to leave at every stopping-place
the wounded and the sick, the women and babes, to mark their trail
and to perish by massacre. Kléber had his keen eye upon Henri: “I do
not believe he can hold out long, away from his own country.” But
Henri proceeded to defeat the garrison at Château-Gontier, to crush
L’Echelle’s division at Entrammes, and to score a double triumph
at Laval. It was at Château-Gontier that the venerable Monsieur de
Royrand, who had sustained the war in Lower Poitou from the very
beginning, breathed his last. His regiments ceased firing, and mourned
aloud. Henri hurried into the midst of them, his own tears flowing.
“Come, come!” he cried; “we will weep and pray for the dear friend
to-morrow. Let us avenge him to-day!” Then he swooped like an eagle on
the troops of the state, with Royrand’s orphans at his heels.



These were the days of what the peasants called “the reign of Monsieur
Henri.” Power and the opportunity of dictatorship, which prove the
ruin of much excellence, seemed to awaken in him only fresh virtues.
So sound was his temperament, that the less unhampered he became the
more intelligently he was able to serve his cause; and his manner of
serving, as we know, was not to draw charts in his tent. Incapable
of turning his little finger to benefit himself, he was a perennial
benefit to all around him. His glad irrepressible gusto leavened the
spirits of thousands. Providence, he liked to think, took care of
him while he was needed. Now that he had a community depending upon
him, as if he were a patriarch of old, his conduct came to be more
and more temperate. For his habitual rashness, criminal under other
conditions, he ought not at any time to be blamed. A verse from the
most masculine ode in English literature might be borrowed to describe
La Rochejaquelein, who,

  ----“like the three-fork’d lightning first
  Breaking the clouds where it was nurst,
  Did thorough his own side
  His fiery way divide.”

He must have blazed or burst. And he had exterior warrant. It was of
the first importance that the generals should have the confidence of
their curiously critical liegemen; and that confidence was to be won in
nowise but by the display of pluck, the argument of example. Lescure
and Bonchamp, whom none will accuse of recklessness, pursued, on
calculation, the same and the only course of constant self-exposure;
for to such cruel tests did the foolish philosophers of La Vendée put
their worthiest. Can anything be more marvellous than that an army so
handicapped by whim and ignorance should have withstood attack at all?
One by one its governors and guides were mown like weeds, who, had they
been enrolled in other ranks, would have been warded from the remote
approach of personal peril.

The only legitimate stricture on Henri’s behavior is that he did not
compel obedience off the field. It became necessary even for him, who
was so secure in the affections of his volunteers, and who had so
much influence over them, to shed something besides persuasion on the
difficult crowd in his charge. He made no endeavor to employ Stofflet’s
verbal whips and goads, which never failed to accomplish their object;
sternness was not natural to him, and it was an art which he somehow
disdained to acquire. The fault, beyond doubt, was the outcome of his
extreme youth, and of his habit, even in Paris (and what an orgy of a
Paris it was then!), of mingling as little as possible with the social
world, the sole school for the development of the defensive faculties.
Such a lack, in such a character, was predestined to be righted with
advancing years. While the reproach existed it was fully confessed,
and it colored all his judgments upon himself: it was entirely just
that he should have deprecated, as he did, the major responsibilities
urged upon him in the October of 1793. Almost the last words of Louis
de Lescure to his cousin were to assure him that if he, Lescure,
lived, his chief care would be to help La Rochejaquelein overcome this
ill-placed timidity, which belied the true masterfulness within him,
and which made it impossible to curb factional intrigue.

It is to be observed, that throughout the campaign in Brittany, no
blunder has ever been imputed to Henri. He guessed at a science to
which others had made the painful approximation of study. His own
vision was so clear, so free of prejudice, that he saw at once what
was to be done. His sagacity, when things were left in his own hands,
was simply amazing: for we do not expect sagacity from dare-devils.
But he had a mistaken humility which forbade him to apply his great
force of will, when the question arose of overruling age and numbers.
His fear that he should not know how to silence those who opposed him
proved but too accurate. Cathelineau’s death closed the first of the
three periods of the war, as his own death closed the second; and up
to the hour when “the honest and the perfect man” of Pin-en-Mauges
gave back his great spirit, there was no rivalry nor internal strife in
his camp. But by the time “the son of Monsieur de La Rochejaquelein”
stood up to direct the graybeards of his staff, the general concord
about him was by several degrees less angelic. The farther north the
army strayed the more irksome became his position, for his steadfast
conviction was against the expediency of trying to reach Granville at
all. When, after the affair of Château-Gontier, a unique opportunity
arose to retrace the march and re-establish headquarters in the Bocage,
it went hard indeed with Henri that none would listen to him. Again,
at Laval, he would have pushed through Kléber’s disorganized forces,
towards the safe though smoking labyrinths at home; but, misled by some
vague encouraging rumor, the majority clamored to push on. Throughout
this unhappy time, when his light heart was sickening with rebuffs and
delays, there came to him a growing prudence and calm. He learned to
cover a rout, to reap the full fruit of a victory. Many of the elder
subofficers who watched him were touched and comforted, during the hot
fourteen hours at Château-Gontier, where he forbore his old impetuous
charges, but rode close to his column, clearing up the confusion,
hindering the bravest from advancing alone, and holding the disciplined
musketeers together; so as to remind more than one of the tradition of
Condé, in his invincible youth, at Rocroy.



The blue sea-horizon showed no sign of an English sail, though the
firing was heard at Jersey; there were tidings neither from “_le roi
Georges_” nor from the absent princes of France. When the insurgents,
driven forth from Granville by flame and sword, started to return, they
found the country which they had just conquered reoccupied by their
enemies. They had to contest their way back to the Loire-barrier, as
if they were breaking virgin ground. At Avranches there was a mutiny,
caused by a rather ridiculous suspicion of treason in Talmont and the
ambitious Abbé Bernier. At Pontorson, where the streets had been choked
with dead for many days, the army routed the Blues; Forêt, the first
brand in the burning at Saint Florent, fell there; no quarter was given
nor taken. A tremendous battle followed at Dol. Talmont sustained the
siege with superb courage. Not a few of the fighting corps were sinking
already from homesickness, exhaustion, and hunger. While there was
a single squad to stand by him, Henri fought like a lion; and then,
alone and seemingly numb with despair, he turned about, with folded
arms, and faced the battery. It was owing wholly to the exhortations
of Abbé Doussin of Sainte-Marie-de-Rhé, and to the resolution of the
women, that the troops rallied nobly and wrested three successive
victories from their foes. Yet again would Henri have struck out as
far as Rennes, thence in a straight line south; and yet again he was
forced to see the acceptance of a crazy project, whereby the roundabout
route of October was to be retraced inch by inch. “You deny me in
conference; you abandon me on the field!” he could well say, with
something like wrath flushing his young cheek. The highways were one
horrible open grave; the winter weather was cruelly cold; desertions
set in; famine and pestilence came upon them. At Angers, Henri would
fain have quickened the lagging spirits of his old comrades; the guns
having made a small breach in the town-walls, he, with Forestier of
Pommeraie-sur-Loire, who was never far from his side, and two others,
flung themselves into it. Not a soul rallied to their defence. A
miserable huddled mass, the army fell back on Baugé, and now, unable
to seize a permanent advantage, ran hither and thither, ever away from
the Loire. At the bridge of La Flèche, Henri, fording the stream with
a small picked body of horsemen, overcame the garrison by an adroit
move, and there was a flicker of great hope. But the peasants who
began the war were weary, weary. Too truly the tide of disaster had set
in.

In the city of Mans, at the end of the only road open, were food,
warmth, and rest. The exiles ate, drank, and slept; slept, drank, and
ate again. It seemed as if nothing could rouse them more. Marceau,
Müller, Tilly, and Westermann’s light cavalry were closing on them.
Prostrate and drunken, the Royalist survivors lay inert as stones.
But Henri’s frantic energy (“he was like a madman,” says Madame de La
Rochejaquelein) once more assembled a desperate handful, under himself,
Marigny, Forestier, and the Breton, Georges Cadoudal. A bitter and
awful fight it was--a scene of din and smoke and blind tumult, surging
about the bloody gates by moonlight. Twice Westermann wavered and
charged again. Two-thirds of the forlorn remnant of the journeying
army laid down their lives. In the deserted town thousands of old men,
women, and children were slaughtered, amid jeers and fury and the
patter of grape-shot. Exhausted, and with a heart like lead within him,
the commander-in-chief spurred to the side of the widowed Marchioness
of Lescure, who, seated on horseback, hung at the outskirts of the
forces. (Madame de Bonchamp, under the same affectionate protection
of La Rochejaquelein and D’Autichamp, had been ordered, with her two
little ones, to withdraw). She took his hand solemnly. “I thought you
were dead, Henri,” she sighed--and her sequence of speech was worthy
both of him and of her, “for we are beaten.” “Indeed, I wish I were
dead,” he answered. He knew that La Vendée had had its death-blow
before him.

So ended the march into Brittany. No coward Bourbon appeared to lead
and comfort his believers; the emigrant aristocracy, “effeminated
by a long peace,” and scattered among the European capitals, shrunk
from reviving their own fainting cause; the imperfect overtures with
Pitt and Dundas, until too late, were of no avail. The Vendeans were
forty leagues from home, famished, diseased, betrayed, burdened with a
host of the useless and the weak; and let it be written that in this
plight they took twelve cities, won seven battles, destroyed more than
twenty thousand Republicans, and captured one hundred cannon. It is a
wonderful two months’ record: a failure such as bemeans most conquests.
And while Maine and the Breton country were overrun, when there were
so many to nurse and shelter, so many mouths to feed, it is to be
noted that no pillage was legalized. La Vendée paid its last penny for
what it took, and when that was spent issued notes in the King’s name,
payable at a four-and-a-half per cent. interest at the Restoration.

For the last time Henri led a masterly retreat through Craon and Saint
Mars, too rapid, alas! for the dying feet of many. The Loire was to
be recrossed at Ancenis on the sixteenth of December. The Republican
troops were on the farther side and all about; not so much as a raft
was to be hired for pawns. Two pleasure-boats were seized on adjacent
ponds and carried to the river. Henri, Stofflet, and La Ville-Baugé
in one, young De Langerie and eighteen men in the other, succeeded in
launching themselves, with the intention of capturing and towing back
some hay-laden skiffs on the opposite shore. The current was rapid and
strong; the patrols opened fire; a gun-boat descended the channel and
sank the skiffs; the mournful peasants, separated from their generals,
lost the chance of following, and disbanded in universal disorder
and terror. The army Catholic and Royal, driven back on Nort, and
relying on Fleuriot as its provisionary commander, saw Henri de La
Rochejaquelein no more.



The fugitives, fortunately, landed in safety, and wandered all day
through the fields. The Republic, angered at the strategies that so
long held its strength at bay from the footpaths, hedges, and queer
monotonous bush-places which had provided shelter to the rebels and
pitfalls to its own baffled soldiery, was literally clearing the
neighborhood out, and burning east and west down to the very grass.
The houses were in ashes; the inhabitants had taken to the woods;
the lowing of the homeless cattle filled the wind. Desolation yet
more complete, a desolation known to wolves and carrion-crows, was
to fall upon La Vendée. After twenty-four hours, traversing several
parishes and meeting no sign of life, Henri and his companions found
a lately-deserted barn, and threw themselves on the straw. The farmer
stole in from the thicket to tell them that the Blues were on the
trail. “We may be murdered, but we must sleep,” was the response.
They were incapable of resistance. The Blues, probably sent out from
Chollet by the tireless Poché-Durocher, came promptly. They were also
a small party, apparently greatly fatigued, and they lay down with
their guns on the same heap of straw, not two yards away, and departed,
unsuspecting, ere dawn. Their poor bedfellows, thankful for their
immunity, crept forth and roamed on. They would have perished, had they
not, with the strength of despair, attacked a relay, and seized bread
and meat. They had news by chance of the last flash of Vendean courage
at Savenay, under Fleuriot and Marigny, when the hostile cannon boomed
_Amen_ to the long psalm of heroic pain. Out of nearly one hundred
thousand who crossed the Loire the season preceding, less than seven
thousand remained.

The little party disbanded. Those who accompanied Henri reached
Boisvert de Combrand, and passed a melancholy Christmas with
Mademoiselle de La Rochejaquelein, still concealed and in solitude.
Here Henri, who was not well, fell into the deepest dejection he had
ever known, thinking still of Mans and of the friends gone before him,
thinking more of the hopeless to-morrow, now that the chartered Terror,
a tightening ring of myriad evil faces, led by Carrier and Francastel,
was closing in on the wretched west. His aunt, the best stoic of a
stoic family, roused him from his lethargy. She would have him leave
her, and risk himself once again. “If thou diest, Henri,” she said,
with the reticence which, in her, was rich with meaning, “surely thou
hast my esteem as well as my regret.” This was the sort of godspeed
which could not fail to influence him. He went, at this time, to La
Durbellière alone, perhaps conscious that it was his solemn farewell
look at the woods dear to his infancy. A detachment of Blues dogged
him. He heard the hoofs in time to save himself. His neglected arm,
causing him much suffering, was still in a sling. Always light-footed
and firm of muscle, he swung himself up as best he could to the ruined
lintel of the court-yard gate, and dropping inside the wall, without
dislodging a stone, he lay flat, and watched his fowlers debate, pass
under, and clatter off, without their bird. This opportune reminder
of how much he was still sought and feared, determined his immediate
action. Nothing but the jaws of the guillotine awaited him if he
failed.

He learned that while Stofflet was already bravely combating in the
recesses of the Bocage, Charette was advancing towards Maulevrier.
Chafing to be separated from the rallying men, Henri and his comrades
set out on the twenty-eighth of December, walking all night, to reach
the camp. Charette was breakfasting in his tent. He received Henri
coldly, nor did he ask him to the table. They had some conversation,
and the younger general withdrew to the house of a neighbor for
refreshment. When the drums began to beat, Charette crossed over to the
spot where Henri was standing. “You will follow me?” he asked. Henri
made a foolish and haughty answer: “I am accustomed to be followed!”
and turned away. Here was an instance of the jealousy and disunion
which had affected the chiefs of the insurrection. Though Henri was
the legitimate commander of all the forces of the main army, Charette
had a rather ignoble precedent in his favor, inasmuch as his little
legion of the Marais had never been fused in the main army; and a long
despotism, pure enough in its purpose, had made him averse to any
compromise. It seems scarcely credible that, from Cathelineau’s time
onward, Charette had ruled in Lower Poitou his own schismatical twenty
thousand, which never crossed the Loire, which never even co-operated
with the other forces, save at Nantes, where they were beaten by
Beysser, and at Luçon, where they were beaten by Tuncq. Could the two
have agreed to march together on the capital, the counter-revolution,
Napoleon declared, would have set in nearly twenty years sooner.

The peasants, flocking meanwhile from the environs to join Charette,
crowded about with welcoming shouts of “M’sieu Henri!” before he had
so much as spoken. He was pleased, as they were; his eager spirit
revived; he left the Chevalier to his own devices in his own county.
Assembling the new battalion at Neuvy, he marched all night, and
carried a Republican post eight leagues distant. Then began his most
indefatigable minor campaign. He attacked remote points to prevent
surmise; he dropped down on widely-scattered garrisons; he harassed
pickets, captured provisions, convoys, and horses; he intercepted
Cordelier’s rear-guards on perilous roads. His name was in everybody’s
mouth at Paris; he spread fresh fear abroad with every success of these
wild days. At Salbœuf Castle and in Vezins his astonishing boldness
sprang into final play. He was wise in not yet collecting his men, and
hazarding a general contest. His troop of eight hundred increasing
daily, he became, by sheer thrust and parry, master of the surrounding
country; and at last he prepared to besiege Mortagne and Châtillon.
His headquarters were in the forest of Vezins; his house was a hut of
boughs. About it he went and came, a familiar figure in disguise, with
long fair clustering hair, his arm in a rough sling, a great woollen
cap and peasant’s blouse for his regimentals, the little symbolic heart
worn outside, as of old. He kept his adherents, poor and threadbare
like himself, continually under exercise. Tidings came, too, to cheer
them all, that in the north the Chouans were aroused.

It was the twenty-eighth of January, 1794. Henri had a skirmish at
Nouaillé, and won. After the enemy were routed, he saw, far to the
right of his little army, two grenadiers stooping behind a bush.
Some who were with him aimed at them. He bade them desist; he wished
to question them. He went forward, alone, with the Vendean formula:
“Surrender and be spared!” A voice from his own ranks, either not
heard or not heeded, warned him to stop short. He was riding a
richly-caparisoned horse which he had seized, and he had been able that
morning to resume his general’s coat and sash--things which made him
conspicuous and proclaimed him aloud; for one of the Blues, recognizing
him, with inconceivable celerity rose and fired. Henri had put out his
hand, with a sudden sense of danger, to disarm his assailant; but on
the instant, and without a cry, he fell from his saddle, dead.



The legend of Henri de La Rochejaquelein did not end with his life.
Says the Count of C----, an emigrant (author of the graphic and erratic
pamphlet entitled _Un Séjour de Dix Mois en France_): “It was in a
prosperous hour, and shortly after the fortunate expedition of which
I have been speaking, that I had the pleasure of joining the Royalist
army. On every side I saw tears only, and I heard but sighs: Henri had
lately perished on the field of honor.” From this anonymous gentleman
comes fragmentary testimony on a subject once of some mystery and
conjecture. He had embraced, or helped to create, a rumor that a
woman headed the young chief’s troops as soon as he had fallen. He
declares that, unwilling to survive him, yet burning to avenge him,
she flung herself upon the advancing Blues, and so expired. And he
lends her, moreover, the soldierly distinction of reposing by her hero
henceforward. Now, as the Count of C---- is the only one in the world
to print this story, it may be worth while to quote, for the sake of
contradicting it, a passage of that cloying racial eloquence which
has never the Saxon shame of speaking a little more than it feels:
“And thou, O La Rochejaquelein, thou the Rinaldo of the new Crusade,
the terror of infidels and the hope of Christians, thou whom nature
had dowered with so much worth and so much charm! look down upon the
tears of thy brethren-in-arms; listen to the sorrowings of the whole
army; see the glorious tomb raised to thy memory; bid thy spirit hover
nigh among the cypresses, to count the trophies which thy victorious
comrades hang there day by day, the garlands which thy countrywomen,
fair and sad, wreathe there forever; hear the hymns sung for thy sake;
watch the young and buoyant legion sworn to perpetuate thy name and
to accomplish thy vengeance; read the inscriptions which passers-by
grave on the trees in memory of thee; rejoice to know that thy sweet
friend sleeps at thy side, wept, cherished, reverenced, less because
she was lovely, good, and bright than because she was once thy heart’s
happiness and thy triumph’s pulse and centre; ah! behold and consider
all these things at once, and let the palm which is thine in Heaven
be set about and made fairer, if that can be, with all the bays won
well of old of earth.” The soft music of this extract, crossed with
appeals to the super-mundane vanity of the most modest of mortals, is
a sufficient voucher that with the real La Rochejaquelein it has no
commerce whatever. It was indeed true that some martial girl, leading a
company during the winter, received her death-blow in the neighborhood
of Trémentines. The nonsense of her being Henri’s sweetheart probably
owed its origin to the same singular Republican inventiveness which,
long after the fight of Vrine which laid Jeanne Robin low, continued to
call her Jeanne de Lescure and sister of her commander, who might have
wished any sister of his, did such exist, to be as pure and as brave.

There are instances, in the long dealings of eternity with time, when
a man is given whose life is an imagination not to be matched in the
arts; but such a one is usually spoiled, like Icarus, by the heats of
an alien planet: we cannot take him as he is; we must needs relax and
refashion him, and make of the abstract idyll a _sujet théatrique_.
Henri de La Rochejaquelein, zigzagging in the teeth of the enemy,
doing deeds with his own hands which are not common in salons; Henri,
with his slender height, his shy caressing voice and smile, having no
tenderer talisman to carry than the sign of the cross, no parting look
at anything more responsive than a torn white flag,--such a Henri,
jarring with prescriptive ideas, calls for reform. It is ungracious
that a chevalier of twenty should have no leisure for a personal
romance; and therefore, for his own credit’s sake, that he may remain
a consistent and comprehensible chevalier, kind gossip makes him the
gift of a lady! almost as beautiful there as Briseis by Agamemnon. Nay;
more sincere tradition must leave him as he was, with no true-love yet
at his side. For many years, under the boughs of Brissonière and Haie
Bureau, there was some one, verily, to share the hallowed six feet of
ground with Henri; some one sleeping quietly as the child Hermenée in
old days, while yet over the two virginal hearts their common doom was
hanging: the bride of the irony of this world, the ungrateful miscreant
who had slain him.

When the Vendeans, transported with fury, rushed forward and cut the
grenadier down, there was in the air the noise of an approaching
hostile column. In the utmost distress the detachment at Nouaillé, to
whose command Stofflet now succeeded, enjoined it upon a trusty farmer
to bury their chief in a hasty grave. They would not have the grenadier
parted from him, that his uniform might be a silent defence against
profanation and conceal the identity of Henri, who, stripped of his
own insignia, had the enemy’s cap and cockade drawn over his forehead.
Thrice were the two moved from pit to pit in the lonely neighborhood a
mile or two from Chollet, and always by the loyal, secret, and shrewd
hands of the farmer Girard.

Madame de Sapinaud de Bois-Huguet says that the Royalists at large
supposed Henri to have been seriously hurt only, and carried to a place
of safety, up to the treaty of peace signed by Sapinaud and Charette.
This allegation alone would confound the ready rhetoric of the Count
of C---- and the “glorious tomb” which never existed. Great confusion
as to the date of Henri’s death is found in all contemporary accounts,
caused by the prolonged lack of calendars; and uncertainty of the fact
itself bewildered those interested without. Henri’s mother knew nothing
of her loss until the following summer. Meanwhile Stofflet temporarily
carried on energetic operations in his colleague’s name. The rumor
of the truth reached Paris slowly, and it bred so great a doubt in
Turreau’s mind that he wrote Cordelier to secure proof, by discovering
and digging up the body. Thanks to the foresight of others, no such
indignity befell what was Henri. But how little Turreau recognized
the splendid oblique flattery of this order, which, as Crétineau-Joly
remarks, was accorded only once before in history, and then by the
Romans to Hannibal!

In 1816, twenty-two years after, by the piety of Mademoiselle
Louise de La Rochejaquelein, upheld by the most minute and accurate
converging testimony of eye-witnesses, the remains of her brother,
easily recognizable by the tall frame and the bullet-hole through the
head, were officially disinterred, and laid under the altar of Saint
Sebastian, in the old church of Saint Peter at Chollet. And within the
year, the centre of a solemn and moving spectacle, borne by his former
comrades and the returned exiles of his family, amid the muffled
music of the march, the salutation of the Latin liturgy, and the proud
rapture of public tears, Henri de La Rochejaquelein was brought home
to the parish cemetery of Saint Aubin de Baubigné. He was buried at
the right hand of his brother Louis, who, with another Cathelineau and
another Charette, had died at his post in June of 1815, just before
Waterloo, at the head of the Vendean army raised to oppose the Emperor
Napoleon. “Accident,” says Genoude very sweetly, “took upon herself the
writing of their epitaphs, and sowed in abundance over their dust what
is known as the Achilles-flower.” “That is more touching to me,” adds
Madame de Genlis, in a note to the _Mémoires_ of Madame de Bonchamp,
“than the legendary laurel which sprung from Virgil’s grave.”

Again, in 1857, all the precious dust in that little tomb was gathered
into the vault of the new church near, where Henri lies with very
many of his high-hearted kindred; and with the venerated gentlewoman
who was his cousin both by her first marriage and by birth, and who
became, after his death, his brother’s wife: Victoire de Donnissan, his
junior by three months, his dear friend of the camp and the fireside,
his survivor of over sixty years. In the still aisle-chapel above
them, the rich light of a memorial window slides down on delicate
sculptured marbles, through the figures of the dying Maccabees; and
around the walls, graven like a triumphal scroll, is the cry of the
same Hebrew martyrs that it is far, far better to fall in battle, than
to let ruin come upon the things that are holy. The spotless name of La
Rochejaquelein must, with the ebb of this century, be withdrawn from
among men; but whoso fears for it is not wise. Every villager to-day,
passing the low sepulchral outer door between Le Rabot and the inn,
affectionately raises his cap, and, walking in the ways of his fathers,
forgets not the prayer, which, as some yet think with Sir Thomas
Browne, is “more noble than a history.”



The strength and beauty of the cause vanished with Henri. The war did
not end for more than a twelve-month; fresh recruits carried it on
with wonderful persistence and pluck, under Charette, still in the
Marais, Stofflet in the interior, and the Chouan leaders in Brittany.
But towards the close, itself the disciple of accursed experience,
it became merely “a war of ruffians, carried on by treachery,” and
accomplished in carnage and wrath; its last flutter on Quiberon sands,
its last allaying, far gentler than any anticipation of it, from the
steady hand of General Hoche.

  “So quick bright things come to confusion!”

The Vendean captains were patriots, as is well said in the preface to
Mr. George J. Hill’s admirable little book, “whose _patria_ was not of
this world,” Cathelineau, with his thirty-six kinsmen, Bonchamp and
Lescure, gloriously perished while yet hope was high; D’Elbée, in a
sick-chair in his own garden, laden with abuse, and bearing himself
gallantly, was shot at Noirmoutiers; Mondyon and other faithful youths
“died into life” at Angers, bound in couples like dogs; Stofflet paid
the wages of his exceeding loyalty in the same rocky town; Bernard de
Marigny was cut off in his prime by the acquiescence of Stofflet, who
was under an evil influence, and by the orders of Charette, to the
bitter sorrow, afterwards, of the former; Charette himself, having
made terms to his advantage in March of 1795, at Nantes, and renewing
hostilities for what he thought to be sufficient cause, though offered
a thousand pounds and free passage to England for his good-will, kept
up to the last the unequal struggle with Travot, and, closing a career
of signal splendor, was taken and put to death, lion-stanch, with a
salute to the King upon his lips. As soon as his grave was dug, General
Hoche withdrew his forces. The war was finished.

It is the word of homage to be spoken of the Vendeans, that they fought
long with honor and with pity, in the face of unnameable brutality
and treachery. During the first Royalist occupation of Chollet, when
it was for a while Cathelineau’s gay and free little capital, full
of festivity and transient peace, the public treasury, known to be
packed, was not touched. Tributes to facts of this kind are to be
gathered from the pages of every hostile or neutral annalist. And
Madame de La Rochejaquelein recalled, for the amusement of another
generation, her own amusement at Bressuire in 1793, when the rueful
masters of the situation complained to her that they had no money
to buy tobacco, it never having occurred to them to seize it in the
shops! It is clear that persons who so scrupled to appropriate the
goods the gods provided, were not destined easily to become experts
in wanton slaughter, which relieved no need of their honest stomachs.
The Republicans began their business at once with the master-stroke of
homicide, and forecasted the immortal axiom of De Quincey, that when
once a man indulges in murder he soon gets to think little of robbing
and lying, of drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and even of incivility
and procrastination. But in La Vendée they had a breed of misgiving
hearts. Marigny, indeed, mild and brotherly towards his own, was as a
demon towards his foes; Charette, the very Charette who had put a stop
to the cruelties of Souchu at the beginning, was, with D’Elbée, the
first to sanction reprisals. But Cathelineau, Bonchamp, Lescure, La
Rochejaquelein and priests innumerable stood then, and stand always,
ranged on the side of Christ-like charity.

To any student of the great Revolution not much need be said of the
unequal exchange of grim attentions. The Blues outdid themselves on
Vendean territory. Arrest, with them, meant an immediate commission
to explore the spheres. The burials alive at Clisson, the holocaust
at Vezins, the atrocities in the wood of Blanche Couronne, the
week-long fusillade at Savenay, Westermann’s thousands shot at
Angers, Carrier’s drowned at Nantes, the hellish policy of Commaire,
Crignon, Amey, Dufour--these were the things which crazed the gentler
rebels until they, too, learned to throw forgiveness by, as a coin
hollow and vile. In May of 1794, Vimeux, then in command, went to
lay their country waste. Only Victor Hugo’s pen could fitly portray
the results. The Convention desired report of a landscape without a
man, without a house, without a tree; in due season they had it, true
to the letter. It was Westermann’s boast to the Committee of Public
Safety that he had crushed the children under the horses’ hoofs, and
massacred the women, who should bring forth no more “brigands;” that
not a prisoner could be laid to his charge, for he had exterminated
them; that La Vendée was heaped, like the pyramids, with bodies. At
Rennes the children were made to fire upon their parents: it was a
novel, awkward, and lengthy proceeding, entirely to the minds of its
originators. At Savenay, hundreds were lured under cover by a promise
of amnesty, and as they entered, they were shot down. An adjutant was
brought to La Rochejaquelein, during the last days of his life, in
whose pocket was an order to repeat this brilliant joke. During that
January, also, at Barbastre, fifteen hundred insurgents capitulated,
and were cheated in the same way. What wonder if, outside Laval,
with horror on horror bruited in their ears, the peasants destroyed
a whole battalion of Mayence men who were laying down their arms?
But after, marching on Angers from Antrain, they sent to Rennes one
hundred and fifty prisoners, with the significant message that this
was the sort of vengeance taken by choice for old injuries. It was the
work of the kindly incumbent of Sainte-Marie-de-Rhé. On the morning
of this release, Monsieur de Hargues, for whom Henri (who had once a
hot quarrel with him) interceded passionately, mounted the scaffold.
For the bitter deeds of Souchu at Machecould the army did voluntary
penance. Until it was practically disorganized, it did not sin in the
same way again. We are aware how pretty a burlesque between nominal
captor and captives came off at Bressuire. And in Thouars, Fontenay,
and many towns like them, inhabited by Republicans and revolutionists
who trembled for their fate, no violence whatever was wreaked.

A truly humorous retaliation was made, at the suggestion of the Marquis
of Donnissan, at Fontenay. There were four thousand prisoners, and no
forts nor cells to hold them. Should they be loosed they could not be
trusted on parole. (What a thing for Frenchmen to know of Frenchmen!)
To solve the difficulty their heads were shaved, so that if during the
following weeks they again attempted to fight, they might be caught
and punished. The wild barbers had infinite entertainment out of this
circumstance. La Rochejaquelein’s clemency was a proverb. He waived
the very show of superiority, as when, at Bois-Grolleau, he made
Tribert keep his proferred sword. As one who had accepted beforehand
the painfulest surprises of fate, he heard of the destruction of La
Durbellière without a sigh. Precisely the same danger which proved
fatal to him, having rehearsed itself before him early in his career,
and the pistol having missed fire, the marksman flung himself at his
feet, crying out that he could now have his satisfaction. “That is to
let thee live,” was the Alexander-like reply, made over and over to
those who thus fell into his power. He was destined to perish through
his belief in the honor of others. The best acknowledgment of the
influence which he had upon his headstrong band, was that although
they slew, in his absence, the Republican officer who led the first
raid upon his homestead, yet, when he was murdered by the hand of one
of the two grenadiers, they spared the man who had not fired, because
he had been offered mercy in Henri’s last spoken word. The Marigny,
who bore to his imminent misfortune the surname of an active Royalist,
was so charmed with the spirited behavior of Richard Duplessis, made
captive at the siege of Angers, that he sent him back under escort to
his own lines. La Rochejaquelein, never to be outdone in a handsome
service, instantly freed two dragoons, with their arms, thanking him,
and offering him, in the future, an exchange of any two prisoners
for his one. “This was the only Republican general,” adds Madame de
Lescure, “who had been wont to show us any humanity: he was killed that
very day.” Marceau and Quétineau, both scrupulously fair, deserve to
share this mention of Bouin de Marigny. And to Kléber and Hoche, the
knightliest of foemen, no acknowledgment would be too great.

Lescure himself was the consummate type of the early Christian: so
tolerant, so self-controlling, that to be able to impute one vicious
deed to him would be a gratification. “The Saint of Poitou,” however,
was once known to swear steadily for several minutes. An enemy, in
action, having cocked a pistol within a rod of his menaced head,
Lescure, fearless and quick, dislodged the barrel with a swing of
his sword, and told the astonished invader to go free. The Poitevins
behind had a mind of their own on the subject, and presently cut the
bold Blue to pieces. When the general learned how he had been obeyed,
his rage was something to be remembered. This was the aristocrat who,
when his ancestral halls were razed to the ground, would not burn
Parthenay, which he had taken, not only lest it should be, on his
part, a revenge for Clisson, but lest, being a precaution merely, it
should disedify by having the look of a revenge! And it is a curious
instance of the “governance of blood” in his most lovely character,
that although he was invariably in the thickest of the fight, his hand
inflicted no wilful wound throughout the war, and that to his personal
interference no fewer than twenty thousand owed their lives. Again, at
the crossing of the Loire, in an hour of unexampled perplexity, between
five and six thousand captives were in the hands of the migrating
army, and shut in the Benedictine Abbey church, which still tops the
crescent-shaped heights of Saint Florent-le-Vieil. There could be no
question of transporting them; the simplest expedient was to destroy
them. Nor was this proposal made in cold blood, for the Marquis of
Bonchamp was dying young from the last of many wounds, “for the sacred
cause of the lilies,” and his troops were in a frenzy of excitement and
grief. Not an officer could be found to give the revolting order. The
men had the guns already pointed at the doors, and the slaughter was
about to begin, when Bonchamp, apprised of what was pending, with his
last breath commanded, as he had done before at Pallet, that the Blues
should be spared. From the house where he lay the echo rolled along the
crowd: “Quarter for the prisoners; quarter! It is Bonchamp’s order!”
They were delivered. With the genuine Gallic sense of the apportioning
of things, Bonchamp’s gracious valedictory is inscribed upon his tomb,
lifting its glorious outlines to-day in the transept of that very
church, and bearing, in a free-will offering, the name of the sculptor,
David d’Angers, whose father was among the ransomed soldiery. As to the
amnesty, the Convention, guided by the advice of Merlin de Thionville,
growled over it. “Freemen accept their lives from slaves! ’Tis against
the spirit of the Revolution.... Consign the unfortunate affair to
oblivion.” There was different speech in the Temple. “Capet!” said the
brute Simon to the wretched little King, when the news came of the
crossing of the Loire, “if the Vendeans deliver you, what will you do
first?” “Forgive you!” replied the child.

La Vendée, forbearing wrong, and seeking after righteousness, has no
mean martyrology. What people in the modern world so sweetly rival
the holy race of whom it is said in the _Pharsalia_ that they hurried
on their own extermination, and, brimming with life, spilled it as a
libation to the gods? But since these others were not pagan, there is
a yet more endearing and more becoming word: “_Æterna fac cum sanctis
tuis in gloria numerari!_”



It is a brief and moving story, and it is over. Small comment is to
be made at any time, on promise cut short, on the burning of Apollo’s
laurel-bough. La Rochejaquelein of Poitou, with his goodness, genius,
health, breeding, wealth, and beauty--who in his day would have
measured for him the renown which seemed so nigh and so wide? And the
first reward of that fine heart and brain was a wild grave in the
grassy trenches with the assassin; no dues, no amends, no appeal,
beyond that piteous ending. He was a boy, rash and romantic, as boys
are, and so pyrotechnically French that some must smile at him. His
chivalry went to the upholding of kings; all he did has a sole value
of loyalty, and the application of it is open to dispute. But his
spirit, disentangled from old circumstances of action, is that which
helps humanity towards the dawn, and sets oppressions aside with bad
by-gone dreams; a spirit infinitely suggestive and generative, then and
now a durable sign of hope.

It is difficult to account for the halo which gathers about such
heads, and stays, to make of a sometime aimless intelligence a vision
of extreme force and charm to the youth of his own land. Nor ought
we try to account for it. Henri de La Rochejacquelein is one with
whom statistics and theories have distant dealings. He is a fond
incongruity, a compliment to human nature almost as great as it can
bear. He has precisely the look, language, and physical radiance of
the demigods: we infer how, from his counterparts, the early myths
grew. Wherever there is a liberal air, and discipline, behold, the
demigods are again; and the senses no longer boggle at them. They rise
often, and repeat one another, preaching affirmation, and inclining us
to allow that what Greece and Japan have had, England has, Alaska and
the Congo shall have. Stress must be laid upon heroes: they are the
universal premise. Like Emerson’s stars, they “light the world with
their admonishing smile;” they warn us, if we will not adore, at least
not to deny that they shine forever.

Among Henri de La Rochejacquelein’s peers there were those who would
have been men of weight and of mark in any career. But perhaps he, more
sensitive and solitary, had no such adaptabilities to bear him out. He
was not twenty-two when the dark curtain was rung down upon him. To
regret it, is to show small appreciation of the masterly consistency
which Fate sometimes allows herself. No spectator of the little drama
enacted within the Revolution can forget how dominant, distinct,
unrepeated, this artful image of Henri burns itself in upon the memory.
To wish him age and a competency were superstition. Mark how, even in
her hasty finishing touches, Nature did not bungle with him. She rounds
out her white ideal. She leaves us convinced that living a span, and
dying in the hurly-burly, he best fulfilled himself. He is placed in an
allotted light perfectly kind to him, perfectly soft and clear to the
looker-on.

Virtually, what did he amount to? What testimony of him is left? To
the man of facts, who asks the questions, the answers are: Nothing and
None. There is a laconic apology in the _Spanish Gypsy_:

  “The greatest gift the hero leaves his race
   Is to have been a hero.”

Such a one makes a jest of values; he has the freedom of every city;
he need pay no taxes; he cripples criticism; he can do without a
character; theology itself will not exact faith and good works from
him. This Henri lived with his whole soul. His interest to us now
is that he blazed with genuine fire, and played no tricks with his
individuality. Among the serious war-worn leaders of the insurrection
he stands, a fairy prince, with a bright absurd glamour. Never was
anybody more like the fiction of an artist’s brain. He is all that
children look for in a tale, and he has no moral. He is the embodiment
of “_l’inexplicable Vendée_.”

He was made to despatch this world, like an errand or a game. He had
no sovereign interests here of his own; rather was he his brother’s
keeper. A sort of rich unreason shot him past the work, the musing,
the sight-seeing for self, and the pleasant banquets over which men
linger. Careless for the making of a name, for the gain of experience,
even for the duty of prolonging his usefulness, he chose the first
course which he believed honorable, and to which he could give his
heart; and so stumbled on death. The war had a thousand sanctions in
his eyes. His enlisting was honest and humble. If he flashed into
the most unexampled comet-like activity before he had been long
apprenticed, it was merely that he warmed with the motion, that he
felt sure at last of himself, and so blazoned abroad his content and
comprehension of life. He is less flesh and blood than a magnificent
quibble for all the philosophies of the cold schools. He represents, in
the economy of things, the waste which is thrift, the daring which is
prudence, the folly which is wisdom ineffable.

Despite the white heat of enthusiasm, which is apt to singe the
susceptibilities of others, his, at least, was a modest, merry, and
balanced mind. Ranked as he will be always with his Cathelineau,
Bonchamp, and Lescure, he differs sharply from them: that is, he was
farther from a saint or a conventional hero. None the less is he a type
of young French manhood ere it had grown wholly modern and complex; the
last of a single-minded race, soldiers by accident, helpers and servers
of men by choice. In short, he was a Vendean, behind his century in
shrewdness, ahead of it in joy; a straggler from the pageant of the
ancestral crusaders, having all the thirst for justice, the rational
gayety, the boyish _bel air_ of the sworded squires of the Middle
Ages. A phrase meant for Sidney will grace him: “God hath disdeigned
the worlde of this most noble Spirit.” Let him ride ever now in
memory, a beardless knight erect upon Fallowdeer, his white scarf
around him, the nodding cockade of his foes behind; women watching his
lips for comfort and assurance, the happy Hermenée prattling between
his knees; beautiful indeed, even in the smoke of war, with his oval
face, his hale and winning aspect, his terse speech and candid ways;
not the Count nor the General La Rochejaquelein, but “Master Henry, a
hard hitter and a dear fellow,” as his compatriots knew him, and as
Froissart, his fittest chronicler, might have loved him.



[Illustration: CHART ON A REDUCED SCALE OF VENDÉE MILITAIRE.]



Transcriber’s Note:

Spelling has been retained as used in the original publication,
including both Rochejaquelein and Rochejacquelein and possible
typographical errors.





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to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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