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A Residence in France During the Years 1792, 1793,

The Roman stoicism of Prieur accepted the implied homage


"The most unbridled pillage prevailed--officers, instead of attending to their duty, thought only of filling their portmanteaus, and of the means to perpetuate a war they found so profitable.--Many private soldiers made fifty thousand livres, and they have been seen loaded with trinkets, and exercising the most abominable prodigalities of every kind." Lequinio, War of La Vendee.

"The conquerors of the Bastille had unluckily a most unbridled ardour for pillage--one would have supposed they had come for the express purpose of plunder, rather than fighting. The stage coaches for Paris were entirely loaded with their booty." Report of Benaben, Commissioner of the Department of Maine and Loire.

--The carriages of the army were entirely appropriated to the conveyance of their booty; till, at last, the administrators of some departments were under the necessity of forbidding such incumbrances: but the officers, with whom restrictions of this sort were unavailing, put all the horses and waggons of the country in requisition for similar purposes, while they relaxed themselves from the serious business of the war, (which indeed was nearly confined to burning, plundering, and massacring the defenceless inhabitants,) by a numerous retinue of mistresses and musicians.

It is not surprizing that generals and troops of this description

were constantly defeated; and their reiterated disasters might probably have first suggested the idea of totally exterminating a people it was found so difficult to subdue, and so impracticable to conciliate.--On the first of October 1793, Barrere, after inveighing against the excessive population of La Vendee, which he termed "frightful," proposed to the Convention to proclaim by a decree, that the war of La Vendee "should be terminated" by the twentieth of the same month. The Convention, with barbarous folly, obeyed; and the enlightened Parisians, accustomed to think with contempt on the ignorance of the Vendeans, believed that a war, which had baffled the efforts of government for so many months, was to end on a precise day--which Barrere had fixed with as much assurance as though he had only been ordering a fete.

But the Convention and the government understood this decree in a very different sense from the good people of Paris. The war was, indeed, to be ended; not by the usual mode of combating armies, but by a total extinction of all the inhabitants of the country, both innocent and guilty--and Merlin de Thionville, with other members, so perfectly comprehended this detestable project, that they already began to devise schemes for repeopling La Vendee, when its miserable natives should be destroyed.*

* It is for the credit of humanity to believe, that the decree was not understood according to its real intention; but the nation has to choose between the imputation of cruelty, stupidity, or slavery-- for they either approved the sense of the decree, believed what was not possible, or were obliged to put on an appearance of both, in spite of their senses and their feelings. A proclamation, in consequence, to the army, is more explicit--"All the brigands of La Vendee must be exterminated before the end of October."

From this time, the representatives on mission, commissaries of war, officers, soldiers, and agents of every kind, vied with each other in the most abominable outrages. Carrier superintended the fusillades and noyades at Nantes, while Lequinio dispatched with his own hands a part of the prisoners taken at La Fontenay, and projected the destruction of the rest.--After the evacuation of Mans by the insurgents, women were brought by twenties and thirties, and shot before the house where the deputies Tureau and Bourbotte had taken up their residence; and it appears to have been considered as a compliment to these republican Molochs, to surround their habitation with mountains of the dead. A compliment of the like nature was paid to the representative Prieur de la Marne,* by a volunteer, who having learned that his own brother was taken amongst the enemy, requested, by way of recommending himself to notice, a formal permission to be his executioner.--The Roman stoicism of Prieur accepted the implied homage, and granted the request!!


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