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time, can baffle the most expert of their followers. Though the word army is usually applied to the Vendean force, still there is no reality to justify the use of such a term, for the Chouans are full too well persuaded that their chances of success in a fair and open fight, are but slight, compared with the expectations of triumph which arise from a very different mode of attack. When, therefore, a war is to be waged, the day is fixed for executing some particular act in the offensive—at day-break, and sometimes at midnight, the tocsin is sounded at a particular village. This circumstance shews at once the chosen site of the engagement, and the sound from this spot is rapidly carried from hamlet to hamlet, each of which gives up its efficient inhabitants, whatever be their employment, and all proceed to the common rendezvous. The Vendean peasant, whose delighted ear is caught by the sound of war, instantly lifts his gun, which is usually carried by him during his ordinary business. Stuffing his belt with cartridges, he ties a handkerchief round his broad-brimmed hat, and starts for the next church. There he offers up a brief prayer, and proceeds to the common centre, to which he has been invited. At this place the band is joined by the chiefs, who, after giving the necessary instructions, utter the concluding order“ Scatter yourselves, my fine fellows!” General Dermoncourt then describes the effect of this direction.
'Immediately each breaks, not from the ranks, but from the group, marches off his own way, proceeds onward with precaution and in silence, and in a short time every tree, every bush, every tuft of furze bordering either side of the high road, conceals a peasant with a gun in one hand and supporting himself with the other, crouched like a wild beast, without motion and scarcely breathing.
• Meanwhile, the patriot column, uneasy at the thought of some unknown danger, advances towards the defile, preceded by scouts who pass without seeing, touch without feeling, and are allowed to go by scathless. But the moment the detachment is in the middle of the pass, jammed in between two sloping banks, as if it were in an immense rut, and unable to deploy either to the right or to the left,—a cry, sometimes an imitation of that of an owl, issues from one extremity, and is repeated along the whole line of ambuscade. This indicates that each is at his post. A human cry succeeds one of war and of death. In an instant each bush, each tuft of furze, glares with a sudden flash, and a shower of balls strike whole files of soldiers to the earth, without their being able to perceive the enemies who slaughter them. The dead and wounded lie piled upon each other on the road; and if the column is not thrown into disorder, and the voices of the officers are heard above the firing-if, in short, the troops attempt to grapple body to body with their assailants, who strike without showing themselves if they climb the slope like a glacis, and scale the hedge like a wall, the peasants have already had time to retire behind a second enclosure, whence the invisible firing recommences as murderous as before. Should this second hedge be stormed in the same manner, ten, twenty, nay, a hundred similar intrenchments offer successive shelters to this destructive retreat: for the country is thus divided for
the security of the children of the soil, which seems to show a maternal solicitude for their preservation, by offering them a shelter everywhere, and their enemies everywhere a grave.'-pp. 31–33.
The invulnerable character of the Vendean people is at once placed beyond all dispute, by the fact, that Napoleon, who laid the continent of Europe prostrate before him, could never obtain any due obedience in La Vendée, or in any of two other departments of France.
Scarcely had the general assumed the functions of military commander in La Vendée, when the event occurred of the appearance of the duchess in that district. The circumstances which led to this last desperate enterprize of the duchess are by no means without their interest. In the summer of 1831, the ex-princess having made up her mind to undertake a descent on France, obtained from Charles X. a letter addressed to all French royalists, in which he acknowledged the duchess to be regent of the kingdom, of which her son, Prince Henry, was the lawful king. With this document she proceeded in June, 1831, by way of Holland, and part of Germany, into Switzerland, and then passing into Piedmont, she took up her residence at Sestri, a small town about thirty miles from Genoa. Here she assumed the incognito of the Countess Sagana. But she was well known even by the peasantry in this place, because she wished to be known, and on Sundays used to appear at chapel in a head-dress of mesaro, the peculiarly graceful ornament of the Genoese belles. Many Frenchmen assembled in Genoa, and negociations appeared to be going on, and liberties seemed to be taken by the French, such as called for the immediate interference of the consul then representing the government of France in that city. The latter sent a remonstrance to Charles Albert, the king of Sardinia, who then reasoned with the duchess, concluding his argument by publicly insisting that she should evacuate his dominions without delay. She was mortified at the request, but as there was no alternative, she left Piedmont and proceeded to Rome, where the pope presented Deutz to her. The ex-princess, in her subsequent movements, appears to have been altogether the tool of a set of intriguers who surrounded her, and who consulted exclusively their own interests. By the most artful contrivances they prevented her from becoming acquainted with the true state of French feeling in all parts of the country, and allowed her to contract the most chimerical opinions with respect to the success of an enterprize in France. The act of precipitancy into which she was finally led, was hastened also by the pressing letters of persons who were amongst the foremost afterwards to abandon her in the hour of need. One of these encouraging epistles was written by M. Humbert de Sesmaisons, a peer of France, and another by the Marquis de Coislin. Under these urgent circumstances the duchess despatched an address to the royalists of Nantes, Angers, Rennes, and Lyons.. On the 21st April, 1832, she embarked in the Carlo Alberto
steamer, which, after touching at Genoa, was seen on the 29th off Marseilles. The sea was high, the wind strong, but the duchess had fixed that night for the insurrection, and not even the elements themselves should interrupt her designs. Contrary to every opposition which the good feelings of the captain of the vessel induced him to make, the duchess persevered in causing a boat to be lowered, and, accompanied by M. de Ménars and General Bourmont, she descended to the frail boat which was bound for the port of Marseilles. The party landed, but it was in the night, and being afraid to appear under their circumstances, the duchess wrapped herself in a cloak, and took a sheltered position under a rock. The two attendants kept watch during the night. In the morning they saw the white flag waving from the church of St. Laurent: the alarm bell was heard likewise; the noise and confusion continued all day, and the alternate setting up and taking down of the adverse flags shewed that the result was likely to be very doubtful. A frigate in the course of the day sailed out of the harbour, and pressed sail for the station of the Carlo-Alberto. When the frigate approached her, the steamer gave play to her paddles and was soon out of sight. In this crisis to enter the town would have been destructive, so that the duchess was prevailed upon by Bourmont to enter the hut of a charcoal-burner which stood hard by, whilst he went in search of intelligence. On his return he related all that he had heard, and all agreed that it was of a nature that could not justify any further attempt by her royal highness in Marseilles. It was finally determined on, therefore, that the party should proceed westwards, with the view of ultimately reaching La Vendée. They started, under cover of the night, and followed a guide through secret mountain passes, but without any conveyance whatever. In the first portion of their journey they went astray, and only found that they had deviated a considerable distance from the right path at a moment when the duchess was ready to sink with fatigue. They stopped, however, in the rude place, and had some refreshing sleep At the dawn of day the guide recognized his situation, and proceeded to lead the party to the proper path. As they walked on, the duchess perceiving a country-seat at a little distance, asked to whom it belonged.
"" To a furious republican," the guide answered; "and what is more, lie is Maire of the commune of C ** *." ““ Very well,” replied the princess, “ conduct me thither.” Her companions looked at her with astonishment.
Gentlemen,” she said, in the tone of voice which she always assumes when her determination is irrevocable, turning towards them, and without giving them time to speak, " the moment is come when we must part. There is less danger for us separately than if we remained together. Monsieur de Bourmont, you shall receive my orders at Nantes; proceed thither, and wait there for me. Monsieur de Ménars, do you
reach Montpellier; there I will let you know where I am. Adieu, gentlemen; I wish you a safe journey, and may God be with you!”
So saying, she gave them her hand to kiss, and took leave of them. They both withdrew, well knowing that remonstrance would be vain.
The duchess, on finding herself alone, repeated her order to the guide to conduct her to the house of the maire. In a quarter of an hour they were in the maire's drawing-room, and notice was given to the master of the house that a lady wanted to speak to him in private. He made his appearance in about ten minutes, and the duchess advanced to meet him.
* "Sir," said she, "you are a republican, I know; but no political opinions can be applied to a proscribed fugitive. I am the Duchess of Berri, --and I am come to ask you for an asylum."
My house is at your service, madam.” "“ Your office enables you to provide me with a passport, and I have depended on your getting one for me." 6“ I will procure you one."
"I must to-morrow proceed to the neighbourhood of Montpellier; will
you afford me the means of doing so ?” "" I will myself conduct you
thither.” Now, sir,” continued the duchess, holding out her hand to him, "order a bed to be got ready for me, and you shall see that the Duchess of Berri can sleep soundly, even under the roof of a republican.”—pp. 80–83.
The mayor kept his promise, and drove the duchess to a place near Montpellier. Here she was joined by M. de Ménars and the Marquis de L-, with whom she entered a calash, and all being now provided with passports, they proceeded on the high road from Montpellier to Toulouse, where she received a few of her partizans. She left Toulouse the same night, and, proceeding through Bourdeaux, reached the citadel of Blaye, near which was the mansion of a friend, under whose protection she designed to remain for a short time. When the carriage stopped at the door of this friend, who appears to have been intimately known to the Marquis of L-, the duchess's attendant, he seemed astonished, and objected to receive them as he had some company with him at the time. The duchess opening the blinds of the carriage, slily put out her head, and asked the host if he had not, by some chance or another, a female cousin living fifty leagues or thereabouts from his residence? He took the hint, and the duchess, leaping from the carriage put her arm under his, quite familiarly, and was introduced into the house as his cousin. Here she remained a week, recognized by none except the curé, who, though he positively knew her, was laughed out of his conviction, and was induced to be contented with believing that the lady was very like the duchess! Here it was that she launched her bruta fulmina, which, even amongst her most enthusiastic partizans, fell pointless. It is curious that the princess should have continued so long as she did under the least probable of all delusions; in the full confidence that her word would be obeyed as a sacred law by the Vendeans, she issued her high behest to the chiefs of that district to take up arms.
But seven out of the twelve of these individuals had the good sense to estimate the folly of the enterprize,
and they declared, that having sent their men, at the desire of the men themselves, to their homes, they (the chiefs) were ready to shed their blood in her cause. But they besought her to consider the terrible responsibility which would be imposed upon her, should she plunge the Vendean people into a struggle, bloody in its immediate consequences, but perfectly fruitless in its ultimate ones. There is good evidence that the Vendean populace did not concur in this spirit of forbearance with their chiefs, for such of them as had taken a lead in remonstrating with the duchess, were marked objects of that species of contempt which a people usually expresses by the application of nick-names to the objects of its dislike. The chiefs to whom we have just alluded, were distinguished by the opprobious epithet of “Pancailliers,” which is the name of a species of the brassica, or cabbage tribe, peculiar to La Vendée, and which grows with great rapidity, and to a very unusual height, but then belies all its promise by proving abortive. Nevertheless the chiefs were right, and a very days only elapsed when the duchess received a long letter from the Marquis de Coislin, proving to her, from personal knowledge, the excessive folly which she was guilty of in persevering any longer in a hopeless cause.
On the 15th of May the duchess quitted the mansion, where she had filled the character of the host's female cousin. She proceeded thence to La Vendée, being under the necessity during her journey of putting on various disguises, and undergoing numerous and varied privations. Whilst here, she conveyed the intelligence of her visit to La Vendée to her friends in Paris. These friends appear to have been surprised at the ignorance on which the duchess acted, and so strongly did they feel the necessity of subjecting her to more prudent councils, that one of the most influential of that body, M. Berryer, was sent down to La Vendée to confer with her royal high
This gentleman arrived at Nantes on the 22d of May, 1832, and after an interview with Bourmont, he proceeded to pay a visit to the duchess. The description of this excursion is highly interesting, for it was attended with many adventures and dangers. At length, however, M. Berryer had the satisfaction of being accompanied by a Vendean chief, who conducted him to the actual residence of the duchess. This was a farm-house, surrounded by trees, and the party approached on that side of it which would enable them to gain the back door. As soon as they reached this spot the chief made a peculiar knock, which produced from the interior the natural interrogatory of “Who's there?” The chief significantly answered, Grand-poulot, the concerted pass-word. This compound expression cannot be converted into any English term; but its meaning, comprehends not only something like a great baby, but a great baby with a chicken heart. In fact it was the soubriquet of the present French king, even when Duke of Orleans. It is needless to say that upon the exhibition of this talisman, the door flew open, and the party entered. We give the sequel from the general's account.