“Friends,” said he, addressing them from the market-house, “we have saved ourselves for a while from the grasp of the Republic. But for the battle of yesterday, every one here would have a brother, a son, or a cousin, now enrolled as a conscript in the army of the Convention. Many of yourselves would have been conscripts, and would have this morning waked to the loss of your liberty. We did much yesterday when we bound the hands of the soldiers; but we have much more to do than we have yet done. Already in Nantes and in Angers are they talking of what we yesterday performed. We shall doubtless have many friends in Nantes and Angers, but the Republic also has many friends in those towns, and the soldiers of the Republic are strong there. It will not be long before they hurry to St. Florent to avenge the disgrace of their comrades; and bitter will be their revenge if they take you unprepared. You have declared war against the Republic, and you must be prepared to fight it out to the end.”
“We will, we will,” shouted the people. “Down with the Republic—down with the Convention. Long live the King—our own King once again.”
“Very well, my friends,” continued Cathelineau, “so be it. We will fight it out then. We will combat with the Republic, sooner than be carried away from our wives, our children, and our sweethearts. We will fight for our own cures and our own churches; but our battle will be no holiday-work, it will be a different affair from that of yesterday. We must learn to carry arms, and to stand under them. You showed yesterday that you had courage—you must now show that you can join patience and perseverance to your courage.”
“We will, Cathelineau, we will,” shouted they “Tell us what we must do, Cathelineau, and we will do it.
“We must see,” continued he, “who will be our friends and our allies. St. Florent cannot fight single-handed against the Republic. There are others in Anjou, and Poitou also, besides ourselves, who do not wish to leave their homes and their fields. There are noblemen and gentlemen, our friends and masters, who will lead you better than I can.”
“No, no, Cathelineau is our general; we will follow no one but Cathelineau.”
“You will, my friends, you will; but we need not quarrel about that. Forte and I, with Peter Berrier, will visit those who we think will join us; but you must at once prepare yourselves. You must arm yourselves. We will distribute the muskets of the soldiers as far as they will go. You must prepare yourselves. If we do not at once attack the Republicans elsewhere, they will soon overwhelm us in St. Florent. We will go to Cholet—the men of Cholet will surely second us—they are as fond of their sons and their brethren as we are. Cholet will join us, and Beaupreau, and Coron, and Torfou. We will go and ask them whether they prefer the Republic to their homes—whether the leaders of the Convention are dearer to them than their own lords—whether their new priests love them, as the old ones did? And I know what will be their answer.”