Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

Art. II. Narrative of the Deportation, to Cayenne, of Barthélémy Pichegru, Willot, Marlois, La Rue, Ramel

, &c. &c. in conse, quence of the Revolution of the 18th Fructidor, (September 4, 1797.) Containing a Variety of important Facts relative to that Revolution, and to the Voyage, Residence, and Escape of Barthélémy, Pichegru, &c. &c. From the French of General Ramel, formerly Commandant of the Legislative Guard, 8vo. 48. sewed,

Wright. 1799. THAT

HAT the revolutions in France have brought many illustrious

characters into action, few will deny; and those men may surely be esteemed as such, who have manifested superior abilities in stations of high authority, during the most feverish period in that eventful country, and have been so fortunate as to preserve their characters free from reproach in the opinions of moderate and just men. When such distinguished individuals experience a reverse of fortune, curiosity is heightened by the most generous emotions. These observations apply, in a particular manner, to some of those whose sufferings are related in the narrative before us.

The events at Paris of the 4th of September, 1797, are very generally known, and not much detailed by the present writer; who briefly relates those circumstances in which he was personally concerned, as commander of the guard of the legislative body, The offence given by General Ramel was his refusal of obedience to orders sent by General Angereau, which were contrary to those that he had received from the legislative body: but there is little doubt that the station which he occupied was, of itself, a crime against the prevailing rulers sufficient to involve him among those whom they determined to proscribe. He was accordingly confined with the arrested deputies in the Temple. On the 8th of September (22d Fructidor) at two in the morning, they were taken out of prison, and put into four · carriages, which were placed on waggons secured with bars of iron on all sides; forming a kind of cage.

• When (says the author) we came down to the foot of the tower, we found Barthélémy between Angereau and Sotin, (the minister of the Police,) who, as he brought him to the Temple in his carriage, said to him, “Such is the nature of Revolutions! We triumph today; to-morrow, perhaps, your turn will come.” Barthélémy having asked him if no misfortune had happened, and whether the public tranquillity had not been disturbed ? Sotin replied, “ No; the dose was a good one; the people have swallowed the pill, and it has taken

This state apothecary judged but too well, as appeared in the sequel. Indeed, he seemed well versed in the principles of revolutionary politics; for some of the deputics, when first arrested, de. manding a sight of the order of the Directory, Sotin answered, “ It 1$ of very litile consequence, gentlemen, toʻshew you the orders ;

for

effect."

up,"

for when we conc to these extremities, it is the same thing whether we commit ourselves a little more, or a little less.

The fidelity of M. Barthélémy's servant deserves to be ranked among the instances of generous attachment, of which the approbation of mankind has perpetuated the remembrance.

• Le Tellier, servant to Barthélémy, came running up as we were getting into the carriages, with an order from the Directory, permitting him to accompany his master. He delivered it to Angereau, who, having read it, said, “ You are determined, then, to share the fate of these men, who are lost for ever. Whatever events await them, be assured they will never return.”. -“ My mind is made answered Le Tellier, “ I shall be but loo happy to share the misfortunes of my master.”—“ Well then," replied Angereau, “Go, fanatic, and perish with him.”-At the same time adding, “Soldiers, let this man he watched as closely as those miscreants." Le Tellier threw himself on his knees before his master, who was but too happy, at this awful moment, to press so affectionate a friend to his bosom. This worthy fellow has constantly shewn the same courage and attachment, and we have always treated and considered him as one of our companions.'

In the carriages before described, the prisoners (sixteen * in number), under a strong escort, were conveyed from Paris to Rochefort, and immediately embarked in a corvette, in order to be carried to Cayenne in South America. The brutal treatment and the variety of hardships which they endured, both before and after their embarkation, if they do not afford a proof of natural bad disposition in their conductors, certainly demonstrate the cruelty which results from that species of political sycophancy which is created by terror. During their voyage, the prisoners were allowed no other food than biscuit and gourganes (large beans) boiled ; and of this miserable diet, they had scarcely sufficient to preserve them from being famished. * Pichegru, Willot, Dossonville, and Ramel, were confined separately from the rest in one of the lower store.rooms. Their companions exclaimed against the separation; and Barthélémy and his faithful Le Tellier jumped down the hatchway with them, but were violently forced to return. Their bread was full of maggots : "the beans,' says the writer, were still more loathsome; for, whether from habitual filthiness, or from intentional ill will, they never brought us our backet of food, but we saw hairs and vermin swimming at the top.'-' One day,

• Barthélémy, Lafond, Ladebat, President of the Council of Elders; Murinais, Tronçon du Coudray, Barbé Marbois, Members of the Council of Elders; Pichegru, Willot, Bourdon de l'Oise, Aubry, Larue, Rovere, Ramel, Dossonville, Vilheurbois, Brothier, and Le Tellier.

Pichegru,

Pichegru, who was tormented with hunger, waited with impatience even for this coarse food ; and, when the boy brought the bucket, which was almost covered with hairs, pushed him. The boy fell into the bucket, and, being burned, cried aloud and called for help. Pichegru accused himself of the fact, but we would not allow that he alone was culpable, and the captain ordered us all four to be put in irons, and during the two first days with both feet.' Occasionally the sea captain (La Porte) threatened them with the discipline of a cat o nine tails. In the midst of these hardships, it was great consolation to find that some persons belonging to the ship were more humanely disposed; who, with no small risk to themselves, ventured by kind offices at different opportunities to alleviate the distresses of such confinement.-On first landing at Cayenne, their personal sufferings seemed to be at an end'; for the Governor' condoled with them on their misfortunes, they were provided with good accommodations, and they were left at full liberty :- but his transient humanity was shortly afterward effaced by a total change of conduct.' In consequence of farther communication with La Porte, captain of the ship, the exiles were confined to their apartments, and all intercourse was forbidden with the inhabitants, who had shewn much kindness of disposition towards them : particularly a rich mulatto woman of the name of Marie Rose, who, notwithstanding the danger, continued her good offices whenever opportunity permitted. • This lively concern, which she took in our fate, never abated. It was to Pichegru she always de. livered her little presents; and the General never failed to divide them with his companions in misfortune, who participated in the gratitude due to this excellent woman.'

On the 22d of November, ir days after their arrival, they were removed to the cánton of Sinamary, 30 leagues to the eastward of Cayenne ; in the fort at which place, they were confined during the remainder of their captivity, being lodged in miserable rooms that formerly were used as prisons for fugitive negroes and criminals. Some of the following particulars related of Jeannet, the Governor of Cayenne, when contrasted with his subsequent conduct, furnish a striking instance how much the being subject to a government of terror tends to debase the human character.

• Jeannet is a nephew of Danton. His external appearance is agreeable, his manners polite, and his countenance intelligent and animated. The flourishing state of the colony and the good order he has maintained are sufficient proofs of his abilities. His administration has always been firm, his conduct towards the planters just, though he has kept them in a state of dependence ; and the inhabitants confess, that to his management of the negrocs, whom he kept in subjection, while at the same time he acquired their love, they were indebted for the prceervation of their property.'

bitants

In this description, we see proofs of a disposition naturally good. He first learnt the events of the 18th Fructidor at Paris by an American slup, and was so much alarmed as to be on the point of quitting the colony. He doubted whether the Directory would be able to maintain their acts of violence: but, when he afterward understood that their authority was firmly established, he resigned himself to the ready obedience of any orders, and the commission of any acts, in order to lessen his apprehensions for his own safety.

The first care of the prisoners in their new situation was to clean out their rooms; which, not having been lately inhabited, were full of venomous insects.

. We were not secure from serpents that frequently crept into the fort.' Pichegru found one of uncommon size, which he killed; it was thicker than his arm, and lay concealed in the folds of his cloak. The insect that tormented us most severely was the chica or niguas, a species of bug, which enters the pores of the skin, and if it is not carefully removed, breeds there, and destroys the flesh so rapidly, as to render amputation necessary;'

The first who fell a victim to his sufferings, in this loathsome confinement, was General Murinais, the eldest of the company, and who was taken ill in a few days after their arrival,

No part of the narrative appears to us more curious and interesting, than the account given of the manner in which their time was occupied in this melancholy state of seclusion,

Notwithstanding the certainty, (says the author,) that we were now buried alive ; notwithstanding the fatal presages that surrounded als, each fortified his heart with resolution and nerved himself against the hard law of necessity: Political discussions and individual con. versations filled up much of our time, and our common misfortunes were inexhaustible sources of reflection and communication. God forbid I should here relate all the disputes of which I was witness ! - When men, whose opinions, professions, talents, and interests were as · different as their

ages and their passions, are thus reduced to the te. dious monotony of unvarying misery, their relative situation produces a constantly changing picture, which havever interesting and instructive, I shall not here attempt to pourtray.-Not even in the passive inactivity of common adversity, can those mirds harmonize, whose judgments and views have been so discordant when in action. I shall therefore confine myself to saying, that each contrived occupations for himself, or songht for amusements according to his own habits and inclinations. Marbois, the serenity of whose mind seemed to proportion itself without exertion to the multiplicity of our misfortunes, exhibited so much calmness and equanimity, that those who were not acquainted with him, might have imagined he was destitute

of

[ocr errors]

of sensibility. Having caused books to be purchased for him, he read a great deal. He also worked with his hands, and always for some useful or agreeable purpose.—He even contrived to make a violin, with which he set the negroes, who were very fond of him, to dance. One of them had been at St. Domingo during his administration there, and they all highly respected hin.

• Tronçon du Coudray, with equal fortitude, supported the present evils' without complaint. But he would neither preserve the calmness of his mind, nor be master of himself, nor keep silence relative to the events of the 18th Fructidor. That audacious tissue of crimes, and the impunity that attended them, still irritated his temper as much as on the first day of his fall

. He demanded his accusation, and asked for judges even of the echoes of Sinamary. He wrote memorials, and applied with so much assiduity, that his health was impaired by constant study. He wrote a funeral eulogium on his colfeague General Murinais, and assembled us to hear him pronounce it: This he did with the same solemnity and grateful eloquence that he displayed at the tribune of the Council of Elders ; and all the soldiers of the garrison, all the negroes; came to hear him. He took for his text: Super flumina Babylonis, illic sedimus et flevimus, donec recordamur Sion. His affecting eloquence, his full and harmonious voice, the animated picture he drew of the miseries of our native country, the brilliant glory with which he emblazoned the courage, the loyalty, the innocence, and the virtue of the deceased veteran, called forth tears from all our eyes, and the soldiers and negroes, who soon began to be affected, were at length so powerfully agitated that the fort re-echoed with their lamentations ! In consequence of this incident, Jeannet caused notice to be given, that whoever should endea. vour, by his discourse, to excite the pity of the soldiers or the nc. groes for the fate of the deported, should be instantly shot.'

The following account is given of General Pichegru :

• He still retained his accustomed firmness, ard shewed that conidence, that presentiment, as it were, of future amelioration, which naturally communicates itself to others, and in which I loved to participate. His principal occupation was learning English: and he preserved, amidst all his amusements and pursuits, his military tone and manners, by which he end avoured to overcome the tedious monotony of imprisonment. He was often singing, and we sang together such fragments as were applicable to our situation ; not plaintive or romântic effusions, but such as abounded in energy of expression or awakened military ardoar.'

At the time when Murinais died, Barthélémy was taken ill, and was removed to the hospital at Cayenne. In January, Bourdon became ill : application was made for his removal, but to no purpose, and he soon afterward died. The news from France placing the authority of the Directory beyond all doubt, Barthélémy was sent back, though not recovered. A proclamation was also published, denouncing the deported persons as royalistą. To discover what correspondence they

held,

« ForrigeFortsæt »