Abbildungen der Seite

from them, and put into the women's room ; but when morning came they entreated earnestly to return to them, but Mademoiselle de Fausse Lendry was assured that her uncle was safe, and they were told soon after that all who remained were pardoned. About twenty-two ladies were together, and were called to leave the prison, but the two who went first were at once butchered, and the sentry called out to the others, “ It is a snare, go back, do not show yourselves.” They retreated; but Marie de Sombreuil had made her way to her father, and when he was called down into the court, she came with him. She hung round him, beseeching the murderers to have pity on his gray hairs, and declaring that they must strike him only through her. One of the ruffians, touched by her resolution, called out that they should be allowed to pass if the girl would drink to the health of the nation. The whole court was swimming with blood, and the glass he held out to her was full of something red. Marie would not shudder. She drank, and with the applause of the assassins ringing in her ears, she passed with her father over the threshold of the fatal gates, into such freedom and safety as Paris could then afford. Never again could she see a glass of red wine without a shudder, and it was generally believed that it was actually a glass of blood that she had swallowed, though she always averred that this was an exaggeration, and that it had been only her impression before tasting it that so horrible a draught was offered to her.

The tidings that Mademoiselle de Sombreuil had saved her father came to encourage the rest of the ladies, and when calls were heard for Cazotte," Elizabeth flew out and joined her father, and in like manner stood between him and the butchers, till her devotion made the crowd cry “ Pardon !” and one of the men employed about the prison opened a passage for her, by which she, too, led her father away.

Madame de Fausse Lendry was not so happy. Her uncle was killed early in the day, before she was aware that he had been sent for, but she survived to relate the history of that most horrible night and day. The same work was going on at all the other prisons, and chief among the victims of La Force was the beautiful Marie Louise of Savoy, the Princess de Lamballe, and one of the most intimate friends of the queen. A young widow without children, she had been the ornament of the court, and clever learned ladies thought her frivolous, but the depth of her nature was shown in the time of trial. Her old father-in-law had taken her abroad with him when the danger first became apparent, but as soon as she saw that the queen herself was aimed at, she went immediately back to France to comfort her and share her fate.

Since the terrible roth of August, the friends had been separated, and Madame de Lamballe had been in the prison of La Force. There, on the evening of the ad of September, she was brought down to the tribunal, and told to swear liberty, equality, and hatred to the king and queen.

“I will readily swear the two former. I cannot swear the latter. It is not in my heart.”

“Swear! If not, you are dead.”

She raised her eyes, lifted her hands, and made a step to the door. Murderers closed her in, and pike thrusts in a few moments were the last “stage that carried from earth to heaven” the gentle woman who had loved her queenly friend to the death. Little mattered it to her that her corpse was soon torn limb from limb, and that her fair ringlets were floating round the pike on which her head was borne past her friend's prison window. Little matters it now even to Marie Antoinette. The worst that the murderers could do for such as these could only work for them a more exceeding weight of glory.

M. Cazotte was imprisoned again on the 12th of September, and all his daughter's efforts failed to save him. She was taken from him, and he died on the guillotine, exclaiming, “I die as I have lived, faithful to my God and to my king.” And the same winter, M. de Sombreuil was also imprisoned again. When he entered the prison with his daughter, all the inmates rose to do her honor. In the ensuing June, after a mock trial, her father and brother were put to death, and she remained for many years alone with only the memory of her past days.

[graphic][merged small][merged small]


HILE the greater part of France had been

falling into habits of self-indulgence, and from thence into infidelity and revolution, there was one district where the people had not forgotten to fear God and honor the king.

This was in the tract surrounding the Loire, the south of which is now called La Vendée, and was then termed the Bocage, or the Woodland. It is full of low hills and narrow valleys, divided into small fields, enclosed by high thick hedge-rows, so that when viewed from the top of one of the hills the whole country appears perfectly green, excepting near harvest-time, when small patches of golden corn catch the eye, or where here and there a churchtower peeps above the trees, in the midst of the flat red-tiled roofs of the surrounding village. The roads are deep lanes, often in the winter beds of streams, and in the summer completely roofed by the thick foliage of the trees, whose branches meet overhead.

The gentry of La Vendée, instead of idling their time at Paris, lived on their own estates in kindly intercourse with their neighbors, and constantly helping and befriending their tenants, visiting them at their farms, talking over their crops and cattle, giving them advice, and inviting them on holidays to dance in the courts of their castles, and themselves joining in their sports. The peasants were a hard-working, sober, and pious people, devoutly attending their churches, reverencing their clergy, and, as well they might, loving and honoring their good landlords.

But as the Revolution began to make its deadly progress at Paris, a gloom spread over this happy country. The Paris mob, who could not bear to see any one higher in station than themselves, thirsted for noble blood, and the gentry were driven from France, or else imprisoned and put to death. An oath contrary to the laws of their Church was required of the clergy, those who refused it were thrust out of their parishes and others placed in their room ; and throughout France all the youths of a certain age were forced to draw lots to decide who should serve in the Republican army.

This conscription filled up the measure. The Vendéens had grieved over the flight of their landlords, they had sheltered and hidden their priests, and heard their ministrations in secret; but when their young men were to be carried away from them, and made the defenders and instruments of those who were murdering their king, overthrowing their Church, and ruining their country, they could endure it no longer, but in the spring of 1793, soon after the execution of Louis XVI., a rising took place in Anjou, at the village of St. Florent, headed by a pedler named Cathelineau, and they drove back the Blues, as they called the revolutionary soldiers, who had come to enforce the conscription. They begged Monsieur de Bonchamp, a gentleman in the neighborhood, to take the command ; and, willing to devote himself to the cause of his king, he complied, saying as he did so, “We must not aspire to earthly rewards ; such would be beneath the purity of our motives, the holiness of our cause. We must not even aspire to glory, for a civil war affords none.

« ZurückWeiter »