Page:A French Volunteer of the War of Independence.djvu/181

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OF THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE.


persons to the scaffold. The Duke of Brunswick capitulated, retired, and repassed the frontier, to the indignation of the French princes and the 20,000 armed men who had followed them; to the disgust of all true soldiers,—men like General Clairfait;—and to the astonishment of all France and the Jacobins themselves, for the mob will never learn this eternal truth, that great events spring from the most trivial causes, and even from the lowest and most absurd motives.

Proh! pudor! A retreat was ordered in accordance with the capitulations, but the French hussars plundered the baggage of our rear guard. A dull grey sky, continual rain, mud in which horses sank to their bellies, and wagon wheels to the hub, were the sinister omens which accompanied our retrograde march. Add to these also the complaints and consternation of the inhabitants, who had indiscreetly welcomed us on our triumphant entrance, and who now feared to remain exposed to the vengeance of the bloodthirsty ruffians whose fury would know no bounds.