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HER GENERAL MERITS.

103

unlucky effect of imposing silence on the modest, and tempting the vain and ambitious to unnatural display and ostentation.

With all its faults, however, the portion of her book which we have been obliged to pass over in silence, is well worthy of as ample a notice as we have bestowed on the other parts of it, and would of itself be sufficient to justify us in ascribing to its lamented author that perfection of masculine understanding, and female grace and acuteness, which are so rarely to be met with apart, and never, we believe, were before united.

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MADAME DE LAROCHEJAQUELEIN.

(FEBRUARY, 1816.)

Mémoires de MADAME LA MARQUISE DE LAROCHEJAQUELEIN ;

avec Deux Cartes du Théatre de la Guerre de La Vendée. 2 tomes, 8vo.

Paris: 1815.

pp. 500.

This is a book to be placed by the side of Mrs. Hutchison's delightful Memoirs of her heroic husband and his chivalrous Independents. Both are pictures, by a female hand, of tumultuary and almost private wars, carried on by conscientious individuals against the actual government of their country :— and both bring to light, not only innumerable traits of the most romantic daring and devoted fidelity in particular persons, but a general character of domestic virtue and social gentleness among those who would otherwise have figured to our imaginations as adventurous desperadoes or ferocious bigots. There is less talent, perhaps, and less loftiness, either of style or of character, in the French than the English heroine. Yet she also has done and suffered enough to entitle her to that appellation; and, while her narrative acquires an additional interest and a truer tone of nature, from the occasional recurrence of female fears and anxieties, it is conversant with still more extraordinary incidents and characters, and reveals still more of what had been previously malignantly misrepresented, or entirely unknown.

Our readers will understand, from the title-page which we have transcribed, that the work relates to the unhappy and sanguinary wars which were waged against the insurgents in La Vendée during the first and maddest years of the French Republic: But it is proper for us to add, that it is confined almost entirely to the transactions of two years; and that the detailed narrative ends with the dissolution of the first Vendean army, before the proper formation of the Chouan force in Brit

WARS OF LA VENDÉE.

105

tany, or the second insurrection of Poitou ; though there are some brief and imperfect notices of these, and subsequent occurrences. The details also extend only to the proceedings of the Royalist or Insurgent party, to which the author belonged; and do not affect to embrace any general history of the war.

This hard-fated woman was very young, and newly married, when she was thrown, by the adverse circumstances of the time, into the very heart of those deplorable contests ;— and, without pretending to any other information than she could draw from her own experience, and scarcely presuming to pass any judgment upon the merits or demerits of the cause, she has made up her book of a clear and dramatic description of acts in which she was a sharer, or scenes of which she was an eyewitness, — and of the characters and histories of the many distinguished individuals who partook with her of their glories or sufferings. The irregular and undisciplined wars which it is her business to describe, are naturally far more prolific of extraordinary incidents, unexpected turns of fortune, and striking displays of individual talent, and vice and virtue, than the more solemn movements of national hostility; where every thing is in a great measure provided and foreseen, and where the inflexible subordination of rank, and the severe exactions of a limited duty, not only take away the inducement, but the opportunity, for those exaltations of personal feeling and adventure which produce the most lively interest, and lead to the most animating results. In the unconcerted proceedings of an insurgent population, all is experiment, and all is passion. The heroic daring of a simple peasant lifts him at once to the rank of a leader; and kindles a general enthusiasm to which all things become possible. Generous and gentle feelings are speedily generated by this raised state of mind and of destination ; and the perpetual intermixture of domestic cares and rustic occupations, with the exploits of troops serving without pay, and utterly unprovided with magazines, produces a contrast which enhances the effects of both parts of the description, and gives an air

106 LAROCHEJAQUELEIN—CANDOUR OF HER WORK.

of moral picturesqueness to the scene, which is both pathetic and delightful. It becomes much more attractive also, in this representation, by the singular candour and moderation — not the most usual virtue of belligerent females — with which Madame de L. has told the story of her friends and her enemies — the liberality with which she has praised the instances of heroism or compassion which occur in the conduct of the republicans, and the simplicity with which she confesses the jealousies and excesses which sometimes disgraced the insurgents. There is not only no royalist or antirevolutionary rant in these volumes, but scarcely any of the bitterness or exaggeration of a party to civil dissensions; and it is rather wonderful that an actor and a sufferer in the most cruel and outrageous warfare by which modern times have been disgraced, should have set an example of temperance and impartiality which its remote spectators have found it so difficult to follow. The truth is, we believe, that those who have had most occasion to see the mutual madness of contending factions, and to be aware of the traits of individual generosity by which the worst cause is occasionally redeemed, and of brutal outrage by which the best is sometimes debased, are both more indulgent to human nature, and more distrustful of its immaculate purity, than the fine declaimers who aggravaté all that is bad on the side to which they are opposed, and refuse to admit its existence in that to which they belong. The general of an adverse army has always more toleration for the severities and even the misconduct of his opponents, than the herd of ignorant speculators at home ;—in the same way as the leaders of political parties have uniformly far less rancour and animosity towards their antagonists, than the vulgar followers in their train. It is no small proof, however, of an elevated and generous character, to be able to make those allowances; and Madame de L. would have had every apology for falling into the opposite error, - both on account of her sex, the natural prejudices of her rank and education, the extraordinary sufferings to which she was subjected, and the singularly

HER EARLY HISTORY.

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mild and unoffending character of the beloved associates of whom she was so cruelly deprived.

She had some right, in truth, to be delicate and royalist, beyond the ordinary standard. Her father, the Marquis de Donnison, had an employment about the person of the King; in virtue of which, he had apartments in the Palace of Versailles ; in which splendid abode the present writer was born, and continued constantly to reside, in the very focus of royal influence and glory, till the whole of its unfortunate inhabitants were compelled to leave it, by the fury of that mob which escorted them to Paris in 1789. She had, like most French ladies of distinction, been destined from her infancy to be the wife of M. de Lescure, a near relation of her mother, and the representative of the ancient and noble family of Salgues in Poitou. The character of this eminent person, both as it is here drawn by his widow, and indirectly exhibited in various parts of her narrative, is as remote as possible from that which we should have been inclined, à priori, to ascribe to a young French nobleman of the old regime, just come to court, in the first flush of youth, from a great military school. He was extremely serious, bashful, pious, and self-denying, - with great firmness of character and sweetness of temper, — fearless, and even ardent in war, but humble in his pretensions to dictate, and most considerate of the wishes and sufferings of his followers. she was married in the nineteenth year of her age, in October 1790,- at a time when most of the noblesse had already emigrated, and when the rage for that unfortunate measure had penetrated even to the province of Poitou, where M. de Lescure had previously formed a prudent association of the whole gentry of the country, to whom the peasantry were most zealously attached. It was the fashion, however, to emigrate; and so many of the Poitevin nobility were pleased to follow it, that M. de Lescure at last thought it concerned his honour, not to remain longer behind; and came to Paris in February 1791, to make preparations for his journey to Coblentz. Here, however, he was requested by the

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