Saturday, October 15, 2011

Poem--The Loyalist of the Vendee

In the deadly chaos of the French Revolution, one dauntless group stood for God, King, Church, and Country: the Catholic and Royal Army. Drawn mostly from the regions of Vendee and Poitou, the Vendeans fought the revolutionaries for eighteen months until they were finally crushed. The Honorable George Sydney Smith wrote an excellent poem (especially the dauntless resolution present in XII.) about the youngest and best of the Vendean generals, Henri de la Rochejacquelein.

The Loyalist of the Vendee


Now, as there is a God in Heaven, and Jesu is his son,

And to Our Lady grace is given, and to the Holy One;

Now, as in sooth, the Church is truth; and if it be her will,

That false shall fail, and right prevail, and good outlast the ill


Then by this Heart, and by this Cross, and by our own Vendee;

By every feeling man can feel, or prayer that man can pray,

By hope in Him, round whom we kneel, I charge you all to swear

One last oath with Rochejacquelein, to dare as he will dare.


And if my words vaunt overmuch, and if I seem to say

That I shall be the boldest, or the foremost in the fray,

Full many a name of older fame, there are around, I know,

Talmont, Foret, Lescure, D'Elbee, and brave Cathelineau.


And many a gallant dalesman, and many a mountaineer,

To whom their Church, and King, and France, and Gentlemen are dear;

Not strong like theirs my strength shall be, my zeal shall be more

For they have only heard of that Paris I have seen.


Where Fraud, and Crime, and Marat reign, and the Triple Colours wave

O'er the Churches of Our Lady, and the Blessed Genevieve;

Where Agnus, Pix, and Crucifix, are made the wanton's spoil

And the bells which called to vespers, now call to blood and broil.


The Priest, those gentle Priests and good, your fathers loved to hear,

Sole type below, 'midst work and woe, of the God whom we revere.

There's not a street, trod under feet, they have not dyed with gore;

There's not a stone that does not own one martyrdom, or more.


The King, I saw the Accursed Cap on his anointed head;

And scoff, and scorn, and gibe, and jest, and mocking words were said;

But he took the nearest hand, and he laid it on his breast,

And he bade it count the pulses, and bade it thence learn rest.


The Queen, her proud lip curled with scorn, through all those fierce alarms,

Till Santerre came beside her with the Dauphin in his arms;

Then, her mien grew still and stately, though she shook in every limb;

Her fear was for her infant, her calmness was for him.


And then and there I swore Santerre should rue that bitter wrong;

And then and there I swore Santerre should learn my name ere long;

And that, this year, should Paris hear, of the loyal hearts and true,

In the Vendee, and the Bourbonnais, and the woodlands of Poitou.


Now, swore I right, or swore I wrong, it is for you to show,

For here is the white standard, and yonder is the foe:

And by your aid, that oath I made, oh, keep it as your own,

May yet restore, (like Joan's of yore,) the Lilies and the Throne.


Your pardon, Sirs, the rebel stirs, his vanguard is at hand,

Let others will, let me fulfill, what orders you command;

What if my years are but nineteen, oh, think what I have seen

O, think of that insulted King, and of that Hero Queen.


Then follow me, where'er it be, I make within the foe,

And if I flinch, or fail one inch, there straightway strike me low;

And if I fall, swear one and all, ye will avenge my loss.

Now, Charge! for de la Rochejacquelein, for the Heart, and for the Cross!

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