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constitution-mongers and rulers were, in every change, adverse to the formation and duration of any rational scheme of a republic." That polity, rightly understood, and as it flourishes here, has not to answer for any of the enormities or miscarriages prominent in the French revolutionary records. Even Rousseau defines it to be a government of laws—not one of demagogues or monsters. Our author grants all credit, in the kindest strain, to "the successful attempt in America to establish it on a large scale," but ascribes, as many distinguished European politicians have done, more power of good or evil to Washington, in that question, than he, or any other individual, possessed. The model of heroes was no more able than he was inclined, to turn the march of our Revolution, or give a monarchical character to our system.
Notwithstanding the confidence with which Sir Walter and various foreign historians, indicate opportunities, by the improvement of which, in the modes they specify, Louis XVI. might have stayed the revolutionary torrent in France, and rescued the monarchy, we unaffectedly doubt whether this was ever possible, whatever degree of sagacious vigilance, or despotic energy, or circumspect, timely compliance, he might have personally essayed. The earthquake of popular commotion was prepared: the minds of men were incurably seasoned and determined for a grand catastrophe, by accumulated abuses, wide-spread discontent, profligate ambition, ignorance, vice, irreligion—by all reveries of wild enthusiasm, all exorbitances of rash theory. "Such was the distemper of the public mind, that there was no madman, in his maddest ideas, who might not count upon numbers to support his principles and execute his designs." Heaven and earth combined in the tempest. No sovereign, however strenuous, no ministers, however skilful, could have averted its approach or repelled its shock. It was "Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; stormy wind fulfilling His word."
The imprisonment, trial, and execution of Louis and Marie Antoinette, are materials out of which our author might have wrought more elaborate and moving pictures and lessons than he has furnished,if he had possessed space for the indulgence of his talent and sensibility: But, though abstemiously, they are still efficiently used; and also, the siege and treatment of Lyons, the subsequent fierce and ravenous struggles, and successive overthrow and butchery, of the Girondists, and of the more nefarious leaders and instigators of the sovereign canaille, and indefatigable directors of the holy guillotine, in their turn. The decree of proscription against the Girondists, passed on that, in the commerce of murder, he was like to have the better of the bargain, if any time was lost; they therefore took one of their short revolutionary methods, and massacred him in a manner so perfidious and cruel, as would shock all humanity, if the stroke was not struck by the present rulers on one of their own associates."*
We would willingly quote the whole of Sir Walter's most interesting and spirited outline of the struggle in La Vendee, where "the blood-hounds of war" were indeed uncoupled and unmuzzled, by the Jacobin dynasty, to imbrue themselves in carnage worthy of fiends; but we must be content with part of it, and that, perhaps, beyond our proper contingent.
"The Vendean insurgents, though engaged in the same cause, and frequently co-operating, were divided into bodies, under leaders independent of each other. Those of the right bank of the Loire were chiefly under the orders of the celebrated La Charette, who, descended from a family distinguished as commanders of privateers, and himself a naval officer, had taken on him this dangerous command. An early wandering disposition, not unusual among youth of eager and ambitious character, had made him acquainted with the inmost recesses of the woods, and his nativegenius had induced him to anticipate the military advantages which they afforded. In his case, as in many others, either the sagacity of these uninstructed peasants led them to choose for command men whose talents best fitted them to enjoy it, or perhaps the perils which environed such authority prevented its being aspired to, save by those whom a mixture of resolution and prudence led to feel themselves capable of maintaining their character when invested with it. It was remarkable also, that in choosing their leaders, the insurgents made no distinction between the noblesse and the inferior ranks. Names renowned in ancient history—Talmont, D'Autichamp, L'Escure, and La Roche-Jacquelein, were joined in equal command with the gamekeeper Stofiet; Cathelineau, an itinerant wool-merchant; Charette, a roturier of slight pretensions; and others of the lowest order, whom the time and the public voice called into command, but who, nevertheless, do not seem, in general, to have considered their official command, as altering the natural distinction of their rank in society. In their success, they formed a general council of officers, priests, and others, who held their meetings at Chatillon, and directed the military movements of the different bodies; assembled them at pleasure on particular points, and for particular objects of service; and dispersed them to their homes when these were accomplished.
With an organization so simple, the Vendean insurgents, in
* Fourth Letter on a Regicide Peace.
about two months, possessed themselves of several towns and an extensive tract of country; and though repeatedly attacked by regular forces, commanded by experienced generals, they were far more frequently victors than vanquished, and inflicted more loss on the republicans by gaining a single battle, than they themselves sustained in repeated defeats.
Yet at first their arms were of the most simple and imperfect kind. Fowling-pieces, and fusees of every calibre, they possessed from their habits as huntsmen and fowlers; for close encounter they had only scythes, axes, clubs, and such weapons as anger places most readily in the hands of the peasant. Their victories, latterly, supplied them with arms in abundance, and they manufactured gunpowder for their own use in great quantity.
Their tactics were peculiar to themselves, but of a kind so well suited to their country and their habits, that it seems impossible to devise a better and more formidable system. The Vendean took the field with the greatest simplicity of military equipment. His scrip served as a cartridge-box, his uniform was the country short jacket and pantaloons, which he wore at his ordinary labour; a cloth knapsack contained bread and some necessaries, and thus he was ready for service. They were accustomed to move with great secrecy and silence among the thickets and enclosures by which their country is intersected, and were thus enabled to choose at pleasure the most favourable points of attack or defence. Their army, unlike any other in the world, was not divided into companies, or regiments, but followed in bands, and at their pleasure, the chiefs to whom they were most attached. Instead of drums or military music, they used, like the ancient Swiss and Scottish soldiers, the horns of cattle for giving signals to their troops. Their officers wore, for distinction, a sort of chequered red handkerchief knotted round their head, with others of the same colour tied round their waist, by way of sash, in which they stuck their pistols.
The attack of the Vendeans was that of sharp-shooters. They dispersed themselves so as to surround their adversaries with a semicircular fire, maintained by a body of formidable marksmen, accustomed to take aim with fatal precision, and whose skill was the more dreadful, because, being habituated to take advantage of every tree, bush, or point of shelter, those who were dealing destruction amongst others, were themselves comparatively free from risk. This manoeuvre was termed s'egailler; and the execution of it resembling the Indian bush-fighting, was, like the attack of the Red warriors, accompanied by whoops and shouts, which seemed, from the extended space through which they resounded, to multiply the number of the assailants.
When the Republicans, galled in this manner, pressed forward to a close attack, they found no enemy on which to wreak their vengeance; for the loose array of the Vendeans gave immediate passage to the head of the charging column, while its flanks, as it advanced, were still more exposed than before to the murderous fire of their invisible enemies. In this manner they were sometimes led on from point to point, until the regulars meeting with a barricade, or an abbatis, or a strong position in front, or becoming perhaps involved in a defile, the Vendeans exchanged their fatal musketry for a close and furious onset, throwing themselves with the most devoted courage among the enemy's ranks, and slaughtering them in great numbers. If, on the other hand, the insurgents were compelled to give way, a pursuit was almost as dangerous to the Republicans as an engagement. The Vendean, when hard pressed, threw away his clogs, or wooden shoes, of which he could make himself a new pair at the next restingplace, sprang over a fence or canal, loaded his fusee as he ran, and discharged it at the pursuer with a fatal aim, whenever he found opportunity of pausing for that purpose.
This species of combat, which the ground rendered so advantageous to the Vendeans, was equally so in case of victory or defeat. If the Republicans were vanquished, their army was nearly destroyed; for the preservation of order became impossible, and without order their extermination was inevitable, while baggage, ammunition, carriages, guns, and all the material part, as it is called, of the defeated army, fell into possession of the conquerors. On the other hand, if the Vendeans sustained a loss, the victors found nothing on the field but the bodies of the slain, and the sabots, or wooden shoes, of the fugitives. The few prisoners whom they made had generally thrown away or concealed their arms, and their army having no baggage or carriages of any kind, could of course lose none. Pursuit was very apt to convert an advantage into a defeat; for the cavalry could not act, and the infantry, dispersed in the chase, became frequent victims to those whom they pursued.
In the field, the Vendeans were courageous to rashness. They hesitated not to attack and carry artillery with no other weapons than their staves; and most of their worst losses proceeded from their attacking fortified towns and positions with the purpose of carrying them by main force. After conquest, they were in general humane and merciful. But this depended on the character of their chiefs. At Machecoul, the insurgents conducted themselves with great ferocity in the very beginning of the civil war; and towards the end of it, mutual and reciprocal injuries had so exasperated the parties against each other, that quarter was neither given nor taken on either side. Yet until provoked by the extreme cruelties of the Revolutionary party, and unless when conducted by some peculiarly ferocious chief, the character of the Vendeans united clemency with courage. They gave quarter readily to the vanquished, but having no means of retaining prisoners, they usually shaved their heads before they set them a'