Page:Ninety-three.djvu/181

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177
NINETY-THREE.

CHAPTER VI.

THE SOUL OF THE EARTH ABSORBED BY MEN.

La Vendee during the revolt numbered no less than five hundred thousand men, women, and children. Half a million of soldiers, these were the figures given by Tuffin de la Rouarie.

The federalists gave their assistance; the Gironde was a party to la Vendée, la Lozère sent thirty thousand men to the Bocage. Eight departments united; five in Brittany, three in Normandy. Evreux, which fraternized with Caen, was represented in the rebellion by Chaumont, its mayor, and Gardembas, one of its leading men. Buzot, Gorsas, and Barbaroux, at Caen; Brissot, at Moulins; Chassann, at Lyons; Rabaut Saint-Etienne, at Nismes: Meillan and Duchâtel, in Brittany,—all these mouths blew the furnace.

There were two Vendées, Great Vendée, which carried on the forest war; and Little Vendée, which carried on the war of the thickets,—that was the slight difference which separated Charette from Jean Chouan, Little Vendée was innocent; Great Vendée was corrupt. Little Vendée was more important. Charette was made marquis, lieutenant-general of the king's armies and was decorated with the great cross of Saint Louis; Jean Chouan remained Jean Chouan. Charette inclined to the bandit, Jean Chouan was more of a knight-errant.

As for those magnanimous chiefs, Bonchamps, Lescure, la Rochejaquelein, they were mistaken. The great Catholic army was a foolish attempt; disaster was inevitable. Can one imagine a tempest of peasants attacking Paris? a coalition of villages besieging the Panthéon? a pack of Christmas carols and orisons barking around the Marseillaise? a crowd of sabots rushing on a legion of intellects? Le Mans and Savenay punished this madness. It was impossible for la Vendée to pass the Loire. She could accomplish anything except this stride. Civil war does not