Page images

set out for Quimper, and separated, some of them never to meet again. Salles, Cussy, and Girey Duprez, went to Kerveglan's house; Buzot was concealed near the town; Pétion and Guadet somewhere in the country not far from Quimper; whilst Riouffe, Barbaroux, and Louvet entered the town, where they escaped observation until they luckily succeeded in procuring a small brig, the captain of which engaged to convey them along the coast privately, with several of their friends, to the department of the Gironde, where, as Guadet, who was a native of Saint Emilion, near Bordeaux, assured them, they could not fail of being enthusiastically received. Those who acceded to this plan were Barbaroux, Buzot, Guadet, Pétion, Salles, Louvet, Valady and his friend.

The brig conveyed them to a place named Bec d'Ambès, in the Gironde, where a friend of Guadet then resided. They were no sooner landed than Guadet called at the house of his friend, who happened not to be at home. Whilst waiting, he proceeded with his companions to the next inn, and imprudently told his name. After taking some refreshment, they returned to the house, into which, being now admitted, they made themselves at home. But whilst at the inn, they had gathered information which, though Guadet declared that it could not be true, seriously alarmed them. It was confidently asserted that Bordeaux was in the power of the Jacobins, and that the town, in which they had hoped to be able to announce themselves openly, was so wholly submissive to the Mountaineers, that there was little if any chance of their finding in it a single place of refuge. Guadet, accompanied by Pétion, immediately resolved to go to Bordeaux, and examine into the truth of this report. He soon came back, to confess that the reality was even worse than they had imagined ; but again left them to seek a refuge for all in Saint Emilion, where his family resided. It was agreed that his friends should remain at the country-house, and there wait till he sent for them.

It happened that the innkeeper, their neighbour, was a fierce Jacobin, who, guessing what they were, determined to betray them. The preparations made to arrest them could not escape their notice. They immediately barricaded themselves in their abode, resolved to resist to the utmost. They were six in number, and their arms consisted of fourteen pistols, five sabres, and one gun. The gun and pistols they loaded, and calmly awaited an attack. Louvet and Barbaroux kept watch the whole night, but without being disturbed. The next day passed off, to their great surprise, as peacefully; but towards evening a messenger from Guadet arrived, stating that he had found a hiding-place for two only, and inviting them to lose no time in deciding which of their number these two should be. All declared that they would not accept of safety which was not for the whole of them, and immediately resolved to leave the house, trusting to Providence for the rest. They set out with a guide as secretly as possible, and as they reached the boat which was to convey them up the course of the Garonne, four hundred men, with two pieces of cannon, besieged the house they had just left, but found, to their great surprise and disappointment, that their intended captives had escaped.

When they fancied themselves far enough from their pursuers, the Girondins landed, and, after some consultation, separated. Louvet, Barbaroux, Valady and his friend, decided on going back to Paris; Pétion and Buzot trusted for their safety to chance; whilst Guadet and Salles wandered towards the Landes (broad sandy wastes), in the hope of finding some hiding-place. We will follow the first in their adventures.

They resolved to pass for tradesmen travelling on business; a pretence little likely to serve through a whole country which they had to cross, and where Barbaroux was well known by a countenance as remarkable as it was handsome. On the first night they lost their way, from a natural unwillingness for questioning strangers. Whilst they were in this dilemma, Barbaroux perceived a small parsonage, and immediately proposed to knock at the door, and inquire the road to the nearest town. The priest himself opened to them, and, after answering their questions, and looking at them attentively, said, “Come, confess it; you are good people in trouble?" It would have been useless to deny what there was little danger in acknowledging, and, without discovering themselves, they answered affirmatively. The worthy man immediately báde them enter, and when they were within, the tired wanderers experienced such a welcome as the traveller received of yore from the patriarchs. But on learning the names of his guests, both the joy and anxiety of their host increased. He was delighted that Barbaroux, with whose name he was familiar, was one of them; nor uld he disguise his uneasiness, much more on their account than on his own. He determined, however, at all risks, to shelter them as long as possible. This, unfortunately, was only for a few days. The rumour that the priest had persons concealed in his house was spread in the village, and soon gained ground. To his grief, he was reluctantly compelled to dismiss his visitors; but, unwilling to do this without at the same time providing them with some other place of refuge, he found means, by interceding for them with a friend, to get them concealed in a hay-loft, which proved but an indifferent abode after the comforts of his own house.

This loft had a few days before been filled with new hay, and in this Louvet, Barbaroux, and Valady (Valady's friend had left them whilst they were at the priest's) were obliged to hide, without even being able to keep their heads free or uncovered ; the loft being open to everybody, whilst two persons only were acquainted with the fact of their presence in it. The hay being newly mowed, it was intolerably warm, and the heat they were obliged to endure, although it was now October, was increased by the want of air. For three days the hapless Girondins were forgotten by their host, and being afraid to go out, they neither tasted any kind of food nor wetted their lips. At the end of the third day they were informed that their presence was suspected, and that they must leave the loft immediately. The night was both wet and cold, and they were obli to pass it in a wood, where they were drenched to the skin. Early the • next morning the good priest came to look for them, and, moved with compassion at the sight of their wretched state, insisted on taking them home with him, where he concealed them in another loft, from which they could easily escape into the fields.

Meanwhile Salles and Guadet, after having been thirty times refused an asylum, found one under the roof of Guadet's sisterin-law, Madame Bouquey, a lady who, with her husband, had left Paris on purpose to afford the fugitive Girondins a shelter. She lived in Saint Emilion, and her house communicated with the extensive caverns and grottos which abound in that place. In one of these grottos—which could only be reached by a kind of well thirty feet deep-Salles and Guadet were concealed. On hearing of the wretched state of Barbaroux, Louvet, and Valady, she immediately said, “Let them come. The only condition she imposed was, that they should not arrive till midnight. They accordingly left the good priest, and passed the night in the house of one of his friends, another priest, by whom they were most kindly received. Their feet, swollen with fatigue, were bathed in warm water; their hair and beards, which had grown long during their wanderings, trimmed and shaved; and instead of that which they had been compelled to wear for many a day, dry and cle linen was substituted, and every other kindness and attention shown to them.

From this house they proceeded to Madame Bouquey's, where they were no less kindly received. In a few days they learned that Buzot and Pétion had, within a fortnight, been compelled to change their asylum seven times. “Let them come,” again exclaimed Madame Bouquey, whose generous feelings would never allow her to consider the risk she ran. They came, and once more the whole seven found themselves united. But notwithstanding the efforts of their kind hostess, they were but indifferently fed. She received, as her allowance, à pound of bread a-day, such being then the scarcity in France. They accordingly slept till twelve o'clock, to spare a breakfast, and their dinner consisted of a soup made of vegetables. The day they spent in the grottos; and it was only at night that this generous woman, who, with the exception of Guadet, hardly knew them, could admit them into her own house, then securely closed, and where they found everything which she could imagine to con


tribute to their comfort, after the cheerless day they had passed. Although surrounded with persons who were dreadfully alarmed at the proximity of the Girondins, and who earnestly urged her to forego her dangerous humanity, Madame Bouquey's generous purpose of saving them was not shaken.

But soon, and to her deep grief, this kind-hearted woman was compelled to part from her guests. The importunities of her family at length prevailed, and once more the wanderers were sent adrift. Buzot, in his memoirs, which he began at Madame Bouquey's house, and which have been preserved, describes their miserable condition. They were not only extremely poor, but were scarcely provided with clothes. Barbaroux, Buzot, and Pétion, went away together, they knew not whither; Guadet, Salles, Valady, and Louvet, were equally ignorant of their destination. Their parting, which many reasons contributed to render affecting, took place in November 1793, a few days after the death of Madame Roland. Soon afterwards Valady resolved to leave his companions, and to proceed alone on his journey. A melancholy foreboding seemed to hang over him. As he slowly departed, his friends often looked sadly back after him, until his form disappeared in the gloom of the night, and the sound of his distant footsteps might no longer be heard. In a few days he was taken, and executed.

It was night, and the rain poured down in such torrents, that Louvet and his companions were soon wet through. Guadet then bethought him of a lady who was deeply indebted to him, and who had ever begged of him to consider her as his best friend. She lived not far off, and they immediately proceeded towards her house. When the servant opened the door to them, he feigned not to recognise Guadet, with whose person he was quite familiar. Guadet sent in his name; the lady refused to see him; he remonstrated, urging the almost fainting state of Louvet from a hurt leg, and begging to be at least admitted for a few hours, that they might warm their limbs. A refusal was once more returned. Louvet, whose anguish was increased by fatigue, now swooned away. Guadet knocked again at the inhospitable door, and in the name of humanity asked for some vinegar to restore his friend. It was also refused. Louvet at length recovered, and, after proceeding a little farther, declared that he would return to Paris, and no longer remain in the Gironde, where they were so ill-used; and all the intreaties of his friends could not change his resolution.

From this moment the fortunes of the Girondins were separated. Guadet, with his friend alles, found a refuge in the house of his father, but only for a short time. It happened that three Girondins, Biroteau, Cussy, and Grangeneuve, had been arrested some time before in Bordeaux, and executed. This immediately led the revolutionary agents to suspect that the rest were concealed in Saint Emilion. They ordered a search in the grottos; and they had inhabitants of the place, and even dogs, to assist them; but their search proved ineffectual. They also examined the house of Guadet's father, and in doing this, had reason to suspect there was a hiding-place. The sound of the snapping of a pistol confirmed their suspicions. Further concealment was useless; and Guadet and Salles, who were hidden within, immediately cried out that they would surrender. They were at once arrested, and with them Guadet's father, his brother, and an old aunt who lived in the house. Guadet and Salles were guillotined the next day at Bordeaux. Salles's last letter to his wife, whom he left destitute, and with three children, dependant on the charity of a good priest of Brittany, is most touching, and breathes the tenderest affection. Both behaved with uncommon firmness. Guadet addressed the crowd; but the drums, which were purposely beaten, prevented him from being heard, with the exception of his last words—“Citizens, you behold the last of your faithful representatives.” They died on the 19th of June 1794.

Buzot, Barbaroux, and Pétion, were meanwhile in the house of a priest of Saint Emilion; but he being unfortunately unable to conceal them long, sent word to Madame Bouquey that she must find some other hiding-place for her friends. The good lady was much perplexed, until she thought at last of a very humane and honest man, a hairdresser, in whom she knew she could confide. “I daresay,” said she, “ that Baptiste Troquart (such was his name) would keep them for some time.” Guadet's brother-this was before the arrest of Salles and Guadet-broke the subject to the hairdresser, who instantly agreed to receive them. This worthy man readily undertook, without prospect of remuneration, to conceal and attend to the wants of the three fugitives. They remained three months with him, receiving during that time every mark of kindness and attention. After working all day, Troquart would go out at night to find food for them, which, on account of the great scarcity of provisions, was no easy task. After long escaping the vigilance of the local authorities, their host received notice of the death of Guadet and Salles, and of domiciliary visits which daily took place in the neighbourhood. In short, it soon became evident that if the Girondins valued their lives, or his safety, they had no time to lose in effecting their escape. They left his house at night, accepting from him a loaf of bread, which was all that he could give. With this they set forward, ignorant where to go, but resolved never to be taken alive. The next morning, when they were in the vicinity of Castillon, in a corn-field, they perceived a vast crowd, occasioned by a fair in the neighbourhood, but which, at a distance, they mistook for battalions sent to arrest them. Barbaroux immediately endeavoured to blow out his brains, but only wounded himself in the attempt. The sound of the report of the pistol drew a woman to the spot, who



« PreviousContinue »