Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Last days of Roland

Portrait by Bonneville. Musée des beaux-arts, Lyon
File:Roland de la Platière.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Yet another sorry end from the annals of the Revolution......

At the end of January 1793, three days after the execution of Louis XVI, Jean-Marie Roland de la Platière resigned his post as Minister of the Interior.  For four months he managed to lived quietly with his wife in the rue de la Harpe.  On 31st May 1793, his arrest was ordered.  He immediately slipped out of the house and took refuge with his friend the naturalist Louis-Augustin Bosc in the rue des Prouvaires.  Manon Roland, having petitioned energetically on his behalf,  was arrested at one o'clock the following morning. 

In the forêt de Montmorency

Roland remained hidden with Bosc throughout 1st June.  On the 2nd the whole of Paris was in arms, the bells sounded their alarm, patrols were out in the streets.  With all eyes  focused on the Convention,  Roland and Bosc left Paris unchallenged and reached the forêt de Montmorency where Bosc owned a country retreat, the former Priory of Sainte-Radegonde where he would go to botanise.

File:Foret de Montmorency - Cimetiere de Bosc 01.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
The prieuré du Bois Saint-Père, or prieuré de Sainte-Ragegonde, near the château de la Chasse in the forêt de Montmorency, was a foundation which dated back to the 12th century.  In December 1789 it was sold as a bien-ecclésiastique and bought by Bosc in the name of his friend Bancal des Issard,  deputy for Drôme.  It was described as having an room with an oven on the ground floor,  two rooms with chimneypieces on the first floor, plus the chapel and outbuildings. Today nothing remains.  A short walking tour in the Forest, the "Chemin du philosophe" takes in the surviving historical sights of the surrounding area: the Montmorency hunting lodge, the fountain of Sainte-Radegonde, and Bosc's private cemetery in the forest where he was buried in 1828.  
See Journal de François, post of 03-06-2019
Forêt de Montmorency: Le prieuré du Bois Saint-Père (journaldefrancois.fr)

In Rouen

Roland stayed at the priory for a fortnight until around 15th June. It is not known exactly when he left, but by the 22nd Bosc had informed Manon Roland that her husband was staying in Rouen in the apartment of their friends the Malortie sisters, in the rue des Ours. Whilst in Rouen Roland continued to correspond with his wife - though exactly how is uncertain; even when imprisoned at Saint-Pélagie she knew where her husband was and the miseries that consumed him.  Roland was tortured by his own predicament and Manon's infidelities.  She informed her lover Buzot that "the old uncle" had declined into a sorry moral state (letter of 6th July)  He had prepared an "exécration publique" against his rival which she only dissuaded him with the greatest difficulty from publishing (to Buzot, 31 August).  Yet  the besotted Roland still schemed futilely to rescue her from prison (to Buzot, 3rd and 6th July).

 In 1908 the local historian Armand Le Corbeiller lived in the Malortie house at 15 rue des Ours.  At this time the attic windows set in the roof still betrayed the building's 17th-century origin.  The sisters' father had moved into the property in 1738.  In the 1760s Roland, who lived in Rouen at the time, was one of a group of young men, probably friends of Malortie's son Nicolas, who congregated there. At one point he was engaged to the youngest  sister, who had died prematurely.  More recently, in 1781 and 1784, Manon had stayed with the surviving two sisters.  After Roland's suicide the younger sister was incarcerated at Gravelines, but she was released after Thermidor.  In 1795 they became guardians to the Rolands' orphaned daughter Eudora. 
For more details, see:
Armand Le Corbeiller's article of 1908 and  Claude Perroud in Études sur les Roland, vol.2.

15 rue des Ours on Google maps
Today this part of the rue des Ours, in central Rouen, has been completely redeveloped.  I spotted this plaque commemorating the Rolands outside no. 15 - not sure if it's official though.  


On Sunday 10th November 1793 Roland learned of Manon's impending execution, "qu'on allait engorger ma femme", and resolved to die himself. "With extraordinary courage" (according to the historian Claude Perroud) he held a consultation with his friends. He considered returning to Paris to turn himself over dramatically to the Convention  and perish, like Manon,  under the blade of the guillotine.  But this would ruin their daughter Eudora, since the property of those condemned by the Revolutionary authorities was liable for confiscation.  Instead he determined to commit suicide, out in the open, at a distance from those whom he might incriminate.

The château de Coquetot, from an old postcard  
Today the château de Conquetot, where Roland committed suicide, still survives, but is in private hands and not accessible to the public. 

He burned his papers and took his leave at six o'clock that evening.   On the morning of the following day, Monday 11th November, his body was discovered by a passerby eighteen kilometres away.  It lay just off main road from Rouen to Paris, in the woodland avenue leading up to the château de Cocquetot in Bourg-Bedouin.  At one o'clock in the afternoon the local Justice of the Peace arrived, accompanied by the Mayor of nearby Radepont and a surgeon.  Roland was found to have plunged the blade of his sword-stick into his left side.  He then seems to have pulled out the weapon and stabbed himself a second time.  He may even have fallen upon the knife, since, according to the procès-verbal, it was deeply embedded as far as the  dorsal vertebrae, "into which it was firmly fixed".  His pocket contained two cartes de sûreté and various papers, one of which mentioned the address of the Malortie sisters in Rouen. Another contained Roland's famous final letter:

Pdf (reseau-canope.fr)

 " Not fear, but indignation.

" I left my place of refuge as soon as I learned  that my wife was to be killed; I will not remain on an earth burdened with crimes . . . . "


"Whoever finds me lying here, respect my remains; they are those of a man who died as he lived, virtuous and honest.

"A day will come, and it is not so far off,  when you will have a terrible judgment to bear. Await that day.  You will then be able to act in full knowledge of the cause and will recognise the justice of this warning.

"May my country, finally, abhor so many crimes and return to humane and social feelings.

" J. M. ROLAND."

Suicide of Roland, Bridgman Images (Private Collection)

The representatives in Rouen, Legendre and Delacroix, who  were hastily informed, arrived on the 12th.  Legendre was able to identity Roland by sight. He was buried on the spot where  he was found. Legendre ordered a marker to be erected, with an inscription announcing his crime to the world; but this was never furnished, if indeed it was seriously intended. In 1851 a local historian, Fallue,  encountered an elderly eyewitness: without any coffin, Roland had been buried at night by the light of two lanterns.   Fifty-eight years later, all trace was erased.   In 1908 the local archaeological society instigated official attempts to recover Roland's body, and transfer it to the Pantheon, but no remains were ever recovered.
Old photograph showing Roland's sword-stick which was at one time on display in the museum in Rouen 
Bulletin of the Académie de Villefranche en Beaujolais, 1978 pdf (free.fr)

See Lenotre, p.193:
This stick is in the Rouen Museum, in the room devoted to French arms. The catalogue contains the following indication of its origin :
 Roland de la Platiere's dagger-stick, and with which he committed suicide on November 10th, 1793, on the territory of the Commune of Radepont or Bourg-Bandouin (Eure). This object, which was preserved by M. Mauchretien, juge de, paix at Pont-Saint-Pierre, who drew up the report relating to the removal of the body, was made over by his son, M. Mauchretien, 153, Rue des Charrettes, Rouen.

Lenotre notes that the stick was ornamented with a brass knob, and by touching a spring divided into two unequal parts, in each of which was fixed an eighteen inch blade. These weapons, when the stick was closed, slipped conjointly into two sheaths in juxtaposition. 


M. Fallue, "Note sur la sépulture du ministre Roland" Revue de Rouen,  1852, p.81-86
Revue de Rouen et de Normandie - Google Books

Claude Perroud, "Note critique sur les dates de l'exécution de Madame Roland et du suicide de Roland", Études sur les Roland, vol. 1 (1900),  p.287  
Études sur les Roland. Tome 1  Internet Archive
_____, "Les demoiselles Malortie" vol. 2, p. 197

Armand Le Corbeiller, "La Maison des Malortie et le séjour de Roland  à Rouen", Bulletin; Amis des monuments rouennais (1908), p. 45-82

G. Lenotre, "The death of Roland ", Romances of the French Revolution, trans.Lees (1909)
Romances of the French revolution Internet Archive

J. Furet, Jean-Marie Roland, ministre girondin (1754 [sic, pour 1734]-1793) (1910)


Roland's suicide plan

Account by Luc-Antoine Derozière de Champagneux, a lawyer and journalist from Rouen who had been an intimate friend of the Rolands. 

[Roland] had been at the home of the Malortie sisters in Rouen since 24th June 1792. They did not hesitate to give him sanctuary, even though it would have cost them their lives if this act of humanity had been discovered.

At the news of the death of his wife, which was impossible to hide from him, Roland fell into such a state of crisis that it was feared that his final end had come . However, he regained his senses, and with them felt the full weight of despair.  The arguments and concern of his friends did nothing to lessen his pain. It was impossible for him to survive without the woman he loved so much.   In order not to compromise the sisters he decided to carry out his plan away from their house.

When his friends were convinced that they could not dissuade Roland, they had the courage to deliberate with him on the sort of death to choose.  It is from their own mouth that I learned these and I can testify to their truth.

At first sight, one might be tempted to condemn as insensitive their participation in this consultation; but theirs was a sublime demonstration of friendship and virtue; they did not to abandon the unhappy Roland in a crisis which might have driven away less dedicated friends.

Two plans were discussed: according to the one Roland would return incognito to Paris, make himself known in the midst of the Convention, and use the element of surprise to deliver truths he believed were useful to his country.  He would then demand to die on the scaffold where his wife had perished. The second plan was to retreat several leagues from Rouen and deliver the fatal blow himself. Roland at first favoured the first option, since  it offered the prospect of making his death more useful and glorious; but he changed his mind when he realised that his goods would be confiscated and his daughter reduced to penury. He therefore decided to commit suicide. He asked for a pen, wrote for a quarter of an hour, then took a sword-stick, and said his final farewells to his friends.

It was six o'clock on 15th November when Roland left his sanctuary.  He followed the road to Paris as far as Bourg-Baoudoin, about four leagues from Rouen, then he he took an avenue leading to the house of the C. Normand,  sat down on the verge and plunged into his chest the knife which he had brought with him. No doubt his death was swift, but he embraced it so peacefully that he did not even change position; the next day several passersby, who saw him sitting propped up against a tree, assumed that he was asleep.
"Preliminary discourse" to Campagneux's edition of the works of Madame Roland, published in Year VIII (p.lxxxvi-lxxxvii)

Discovery of the body of Roland; engraving by Levachez after Jean Duplessis-Bertaux

Official reports:

1.  Procès-verbal concerning the removal of the body of Roland, drawn up by  Mauchrétien, Justice-of-the-Peace at Pont-Saint-Pierre. Copied from the Radepont registers for 1793.  

In an avenue in the woodland about thirty to forty paces from the main road from Rouen to Paris, we found a dead body lying on its back on the verge. It was wearing a rough fustian coat, a waistcoat the front of which was made of the same material, a fine linen shirt, a pair of black cloth breeches, black silk stockings, and a pair of shoes fastened with black silk laces.  We instructed Brossier the surgeon to proceed to an immediate examination.  Brossier observed that the body was a man of about sixty years. Death had been caused by two knife wounds in the epigastric region on the left side. The wounds were about an inch ("une pouce") long,  about an inch apart and between three and five inches deep. The diaphragm, the wall of the stomach and a portion of the liver had been pierced, resulting in extensive  hemorrhaging in the abdomen.   In the lower wound was lodged a lance in the form of the blade of a knife, which had penetrated as far as the dorsal vertebrae and was firmly held there, having entered the bone....

Since it appeared from the documents found on him, that this could be Roland, the ex-minister, we deferred permission to bury the body and transferred it to a house in Radepont, to which officials were summoned. 
(Published in Perroud, "Note critique", p.292-4).

2. Report of Legendre to the Convention, dated 23 brumaire. (13th November 1793) 

Fellow citizens, we were informed yesterday evening that a man had been found dead five leagues from here, on the main road from Paris to Rouen. We were advised that papers had been found in his pockets which gave rise to the suspicion that this was Roland, former Minister of the Interior. We ordered that one of us should be taken there immediately. Legendre arrived during the night;  he had the body shown to him and easily recognised the former Minister Roland, who had killed himself to escape the blade of the law.  The Justice-of-the-Prsvr submitted to us four items which had been found in his pockets.  The first contained an apology for his life and death, with prophetic imprecations; two others were cards from his sections;  the forth was the address of a person whom he no doubt intended to stay with in Rouen;  she is under arrest.  We required the Justice-of the-Peace to bury him where he was found.   The National Convention will perhaps find it necessary to place a post on the grave with an inscription in order to mark for posterity the tragic end of a perverted minister who poisoned public opinion; who paid dearly for his reputation as a virtuous man; and who was chief of a criminal coalition who wanted to save the tyrant and annihilate the Republic.

See Champagneux, p.lxxxvi-lxxxvii. . A curé who had been present at the time related to Champagneux that the provocations Legendre had addressed Roland's dead body had made him shiver with horror.  Champagneux wondered what could have inspired such hatred,  since Legendre had been Roland's  butcher and had always been treated by him with exemplary courtesy. 


THE flat where Mme. Roland and her husband settled down in January 1793, on their leaving the Ministry, was on the second floor of a house in the Rue de la Harpe, opposite the Church of Saint-Côme.  The building which had an exit into the Rue des Maçons-Sorbonne was a large one. Their little apartment looked on to the courtyard; its rental was 450 livres; and the tenants had signed a lease for six years, dating from Easter 1792. A six years' lease at such a time!

The somewhat cramped rooms were tastefully furnished. In the drawing-room were arm-chairs and bergères, upholstered in Utrecht velvet, surrounding an Erard pianoforte, then a still little known instrument.  The windows were covered with checked white and yellow cotton curtains, in front of which were draped other larger curtains in yellow taffetas. The bedroom was furnished in exactly the same style but in blue; there were the same bergères and the same little checked curtains [Archives of the Seine. Dom: 124-3-44]

The Rolands had two servants : a valet de chambre named Louis Lecoq and an honest Picardian of about thirty-four, Marguerite Fleury.  Fleury  - it was by her surname that the family called her - carried out the duties of femme de chambre, cook, and confidential maid. She had been thirteen years in Mme. Roland's service, had been present at her daughter's birth, and followed her wherever she went.  Little Eudora was over eleven years old when her parents went to live in the Rue de la Harpe.  She was placed under the care of a governess, Mlle. Mignot, whom Roland, however, soon afterwards dismissed. 

Long were the hours and dreary was existence, during the early months of 1793, in this poor little flat, poor, that is, compared to the fine Ministry of the Interior which they had just left. Since their fall they had been left almost entirely to themselves. To declare, a year before, that you were a friend of Roland was equivalent to classing yourself with enthusiasts; now -  such progress had the Revolution made - it was an act of incivism, and you ran the risk of proscription.  A few intimate friends, however, still had the courage to cross his threshold: Bosc, a friend of twelve years' standing and the most faithful, Brissot, Louvet, and Buzot.  The Rolands knew, moreover, that they were threatened, and their great desire was to retire to their Clos estate, in the Beaujolais, where formerly, "in a rustic and rather wild retreat," they had lived a few years which then appeared to be monotonous, but which now seemed full of sweetness.  But how were they to leave Paris?  Was not Roland a sort of hostage?  His papers had already been seized on the night of March 31st.  Now he was in daily fear ; and on certain occasions the danger seemed so imminent that he sought an exile for his wife and child in the suburbs, it is believed at Champigny.

Nor was this the least of his troubles.  Mme. Roland loved Buzot with an impetuosity worthy of her heroic soul. She had struggled and the conflict had been fierce.  "When a woman possesses both love and virtue," says La Rochefoucauld, " how much she is to be pitied!" Mme. Roland had nobly disclosed this chaste passion to her aged husband, and had confessed that she no longer felt for him anything more than "the feelings of a sensitive daughter for a virtuous father."  The unfortunate man, who adored her, was tortured with jealousy, yet was bound to bow his head.  What could he say?  Of what could he reproach a woman of this stamp, guilty only of loving?  What possible issue was there to this family drama? Take her away to a place of refuge far from Paris? But flight meant self-denunciation; it meant immediate arrest and the scaffold. Give her her freedom and disappear?  It is said that Roland resolved on this; but he loved her so much that his heart failed him: he could not resign himself to the idea of parting.

No story is better known than this; but none is more tragic, and one wonders what the evenings of husband and wife must have been during that spring of 1793 as they sat in the blue bedroom of the Rue de la Harpe, with the windows, looking on to the quiet courtyard, open: she, dreaming of the other; he, watching her, his soul torn to shreds; full of love, rage, esteem, and admiration for the woman who so loyally was breaking his heart. When silence reigned, how ominous it must have seemed; what confidences they must have exchanged when they spoke! And thus they reached the point of wishing that one of the sentries whom they could hear pacing the street in the distance would stop at their door, break into the house, and drag them away.

One day, the 31st of May, it happened.  Since morning, Paris had been crowded with armed troops directing their steps towards the Convention.  But one cannot relate, after Madame Roland, the incidents of that famous day: her journey in a cab to the Assembly, her vain attempts to enter, and her return home, where the door-keeper, Lamarre, whispered to her that Roland, after having taken refuge in the flat of M. Cauchoix, the landlord, at the bottom of the courtyard, had slipped out through the Rue des Maçons door.  Then came her journey through Paris in search of her husband, whom she doubtless discovered at Bosc's, in the Rue des Prouvaires; her fresh attempt to enter the Convention, her return, jolting through the streets, and her typical anecdote relating to the cabman, whose only thought, on that day of agitation, was for a poor lost dog which persisted in following his cab.  Finally, there was her return to the Rue de la Harpe, her arrest during the night, and her immediate imprisonment at the Abbaye.  What a feeling of joy there must have been in her heart when she realised that, without fear of succumbing to it, she could unreservedly express her love, since, between her and the man she loved, there was exile and the bars of a prison! In those passionate letters which, by some unknown means, she got to Buzot, then in hiding at Caen, she refers to her husband, news of whom she had succeeded in obtaining.  So as not to discourage "the man the most beloved by the most loving woman, ''  she led Buzot to hope that perhaps at an early date she would be free [Letter of 31st August 1793]  What a relief it would be to be delivered from the tormenting constraint of life in common with her husband -  from marital obligations! " Thanks be to heaven," she wrote, " for having substituted my present chains for those I formerly wore. . . . How I cherish these irons which leave me free to love you wholly, to think of you ceaselessly." [Letter of 7th July , 1793].

Roland, saved by Bosc, wandered about for twenty days before finding a place of refuge.

Bosc was a tender-hearted man. He also was slightly in love with Madame Roland, and knowing that he could not hope to see it returned he had long since decided to be simply the most devoted and faithful of friends.  He consoled himself by botanising.  Whenever he had a half-day to spare he took the Montmorency conveyance and, with vasculum slung over his shoulder, wandered into the forest to collect plants.  His friend Bancal, the member of the Convention - another intimate friend and suitor of Madame Roland - had bought there, at the beginning of the Revolution, a sort of hermitage, hidden in the forest, called the Priory of Sainte-Radegonde, and which he placed at Bosc's disposal. It consisted of a garden of seven arpents.  an ancient chapel with a steeple, and a small house, with a room and a cellar on the ground floor and two bedrooms on the first floor. Thus, almost, the Hermitage of Sainte-Radegonde still remains. On Sundays Bosc used to leave the Rue des Prouvaires for this solitary spot and spend the day there searching for plants amongst the underwood.

As soon as he heard of his friend's arrest, on June 1st, he hastened to the Rue de la Harpe and found the household in great alarm; the good-natured Fleury in tears, and little Eudora in despair. Taking the child, he placed her under the charge of the wife of a deputy, Mme. Creusé-Latouche, who occupied, in the Rue Hautefeuille, an ancient house known as the Maison des trois tourelles.   He then returned home, where Roland was anxiously awaiting him.  On June 2nd, whilst an army of eighty thousand patriots was blockading the Convention, whilst the tocsin was being sounded and soldiers were scouring the streets,  Bosc succeeded in passing the city gate with the proscript and in reaching Sainte-Radegonde, where the ex-minister remained in hiding for twelve days.

A longer sojourn could not be thought of.  How could an isolated house that was almost always closed be supplied with provisions without arousing suspicion? Bosc, who had contrived to carry on his back to Madame Roland a basketful of flowers from the Hermitage, hit on the idea of taking the ex-minister to Rouen, where he knew of a safe hiding-place.  The journey lasted six days, but how it was made is unknown.  All we know is that, from June 20th, Roland was in such a place of retreat at Rouen that nobody could suspect he was there.

Before his marriage he had lived several years in Normandy and had fallen passionately in love with a young girl of Rouen, Mlle. Malortie, who had since died.  He had kept up relations with this young lady's two sisters,  who lived very quietly in the Rue aux Ours. 

Mlles. Malortie were no longer young in 1793.  Sensible and pious, but without bigotry, they had taken part until 1790 in the management of the finances of the chapter of the Cathedral, of which their father had been receiver-general.  They were not well-to-do, and in order to make ends meet it was even necessary for them to do sewing. These good- natured women, doubtless consulted by Bosc, courageously opened their door to Roland.

Irritated by inaction and tortured by recollections, his life there was a five months' nightmare, every hour quickening his anguish.  All his political friends were either proscribed or dead ; his dream of liberty and justice had vanished ; he was in despair at seeing the revolution which he had so ardently desired, and which he had served with so much abnegation, end in anarchy  and blood.  But nothing was so bitter to this shattered, doleful, and suspicious old man as his jealousy, haunted as he was by the image of his wife whose love, at the height of its passion, went out to another, to a man who, not yet thirty- three, was active and courageous.  With the pitiless cruelty of indifference, she made no attempt to hide her feelings. He knew that to her and the man she loved he was "the old uncle,' such being the name by which she referred to him in her letters to Buzot, and which he conjectured were as ardent as their young hearts, as eloquent as love itself.  So, in his anger, he decided to hold his rival up to the people's execration by means of "a poisoned document", and forthwith set to work on this savage, splenetic, and detestable task, which, however, brought relief to his sorrow. . . . But even this revenge was refused him.  Madame Roland, hearing of what he was doing, showed displeasure, and the wretched man - vanquished - destroyed the manuscript.  Triumphantly, she immediately informed Buzot of the good news. " Le vieil oncle" she wrote, " is horribly depressed ; he declines in a terrible manner. Sophie (herself) has got him to burn the testament of which you know, and which, on your account, so affected her.  It was not an easy undertaking, but, as she demanded it, he made this last sacrifice. . . ." [Letter of 31st August]

From this time the proscript entered upon a period of terrible inactivity. He no longer wrote and he never went out. What disclosures did he make to his two old friends ? What reproaches did he utter? I cannot say.  But "he found that life was torture, and such he made it to those around him." Yet he did not wish to die, for, however wretched his existence might be, it was an obstacle to his rival's happiness.  Through desire for vengeance and in a spirit of despair and hatred he persisted in living.

On November 10th - a Sunday afternoon - he heard that his wife, who had been brought before the revolutionary tribunal two days before, in the morning, had been condemned to death. How was the news brought to him ? Doubtless through the same mysterious channel that had served to keep up relations with Paris during the past five months; but perhaps simply by some Parisian newspaper printed on the evening of the 8th and distributed in Rouen on the morning of the 10th.

Roland did not concern himself. A consultation was immediately held with Mlles. Malortie with the object of deciding what he was to do.  He was now quite ready to die, but undecided as to the form his death should take. How, he asked, could he make it useful to the Republic ? One plan particularly took his fancy: that of setting out for Paris, striving to reach it without being detected, slipping into the Convention, suddenly appearing, some fine day, in the tribune to put the debased Assembly to shame, and, then, perishing under the same knife that had just guillotined his wife. But to deliver himself up in this manner would ruin Eudora, since the property of the condemned was confiscated by the nation. This idea was therefore rejected and suicide decided upon. The question remained : Where was he to die? Far from Rouen, so as not to compromise the friends who had provided him with an asylum. How was he to kill himself? And when? As soon as possible.

Terrifying must it have been to hear these two old maids speaking of such things to this poor man, to whom they were, however, greatly attached, but whom they knew was so wretched that they could not find a word to dissuade him from his project.  At night-fall he gravely and deliberately burnt his letters; and, with his friends looking on, sat down to write. He wrote for a quarter of an hour, folded the paper, and put it in his pocket; then rose, put on his overcoat, a long frock coat made of coarse beige fustian, and took a stick which Bosc had given him some months before.  This stick was ornamented with a brass knob, and by touching a spring divided into two unequal parts, in each of which was fixed an eighteen inch blade.  These weapons, when the stick was closed, slipped conjointly into two sheaths in juxtaposition. 

Roland prepared to leave the house.  It is difficult to imagine the looks that were exchanged at that moment, the last words of recommendation that were spoken, the vain but very natural objections that perhaps were made, objections based on the bad weather, the fatigue he would feel, and the uncertainty of finding a place to eat.  Then, at six o'clock, when the darkness had gathered in, came farewells and departure, the sound of feet descending the staircase, the closing of a door, and silence . . . Finally, there was the solitude of the two old maids, the evening passed under the light of the lamp, whilst the rain beat against the window- panes, and they thought, with a shiver, of the dead man who but a short time before had been with them.

The proscript tramped through the muddy streets. For the first time for five months he breathed in the open air and rubbed shoulders with his fellow men. It does not appear that anyone noticed this tragic old man with quaker-like face, flat white hair, long grey coat, breeches and black stockings, walking through the moonless night. He wandered into the streets surrounding the Cathedral, reached the quay,  followed the old Cours Dauphin, and began to mount the steep hill of Sainte-Catherine. The wind was violent and the rain fell in a lashing downpour. The road, doubtless, was deserted.  Moreover, the main road to Paris which Roland was following did not then, as now, pass through the villages of Blosseville, Mesnil-Esnard, Saint- Pierre de Franqueville, and Boos. Bending a little to the left, it passed the hamlets of Mouchel, Lefaux, and the Bergerie farm.  This ancient way did not touch the new road until La Lande was reached, half an hour before reaching Bourg-Baudouin.

It must have been about ten o'clock at night when Roland reached La Lande three long leagues from Rouen.  Tired and depressed as he is shown in his wife's correspondence, and unaccustomed to walking, he advanced along the wet, slippery road with difficulty staggered almost under the squalls of wind.  And what thoughts escorted him! His dearly beloved wife, bound with cords; her beautiful brown hair cut by the rough hands of the executioner's assistant; her fresh white neck imprisoned by the brutal guillotine and severed amidst a terrible splashing of blood. What was he going to do?  And where was his daughter?  Who had undertaken to tell her of her mother's death? Who, in two days' time, would tell her of that of her old father? And this nightmare followed him. Why not end it, once and for all? He had already, during his long journey, seen many spots along the roadside which he had doubtless said were suitable for what he had to do.  But he put it off and continued to advance.

When La Lande was passed, he walked for a quarter of an hour and reached some houses on his left  - the extremity of the village of Mesnil-Raoul. On the other side was a wood, the first he had met since leaving Rouen -  a wood in which, that stormy night, the wind howled with rage. A quarter of an hour later, at a turning in the road, he caught sight of a covered path leading into the underwood.  This sinister spot, this dark avenue, made him decide. He left the road and entered it.

It was a road leading to the Château de Cocquetot, belonging to Citizen Normand and situated within the Commune of Radepont.  The spot was little frequented, for it was not until late the next morning that a passer-by saw the body,  face upwards, some thirty to forty yards from the main road.  It was not until one o'clock that the juge de paix of Pont- Saint-Pierre was informed.  He proceeded to Cocquetot, accompanied by his clerk, the Mayor of Radepont, and a surgeon. The last-named examined the body and found that death had been caused by two dagger wounds in the left side.  In one of them the weapon was still sticking, and at such a depth that it touched the dorsal vertebrae" in which it was firmly fixed."  The body was undressed, and whilst the doctor continued his examination, the juge de paix searched the pockets of the deceased's great-coat.  In them he found two cartes de section and a few papers, including the address of " Mlles. Malortie, Rue aux Ours, at Rouen", and the famous letter the text of which, now to be seen in a glass case in the museum at the National Archives, has been so often quoted :

" Whoever may find me lying here, respect my remains those of a man who died as he lived, virtuous and honest.

" A day will come and it is not far off when you will have to pass a terrible judgment. Await that day. You will then be able to act with a full knowledge of the matter and will recognise the justice of this warning.

"May my country, finally, abhor so many crimes and return to humane and social feelings.

" J. M. ROLAND."

On another fold of the letter were the words :

" Not fear, but indignation.

" I leave my place of retreat on hearing that my wife is to be guillotined ; I do not desire to remain any longer on an earth burdened with crimes . . . . "

On learning, in this manner, that the suicide was a noteworthy man, the Mayor of Radepont sent a messenger to Legendre, the member of the Convention, who was then at Rouen on a mission.  Awaiting his arrival, the body was carried to the Château de Cocquetot, where it was placed on a large table in a low-ceilinged room and covered with a shroud.  It remained there the whole night and part of the next day, the 12th.  When Legendre arrived and had officially authenticated the identity of the deceased - "thanks to his knowledge of the said Roland's physique" - he ordered that he should be buried on the very spot where he had committed suicide; and even expressed a wish "that there should be placed above the ditch a stake bearing an inscription informing posterity of the tragic end of a perverse minister who had poisoned public opinion, bought most dearly the reputation of a virtuous man, and who was the leader of a criminal coalition whose object was to save the tyrant and destroy the Republic.' And having delivered himself of this phrase, he returned to Rouen to throw one of the Mlles. Malortie into prison.

Nobody, however, went to the expense of putting up this sign of infamy.  Roland's body was buried somewhere there, but the exact spot is unknown. An old wood-cutter who was present at the interment, and who was still alive about 1852, said it was "thirty yards from the road,"  which leads one to believe that Legendre's order was, in this respect, strictly carried out. Local tradition has it that the body was buried upright in the ditch, but neither of this nor its mound, which long pointed out the place, is there trace or recollection.

A few days before her mother's execution, little Eudora left Mme. Creusé-Latouche's and was boarded, under a borrowed name, with a Mme. Godefroid. There it was that Bosc told her of the two terrible events which made her an orphan.  As soon as the Terror had come to an end and he dare show himself again, he appointed himself the child's guardian, and it was under his charge that she returned to the flat in the Rue de la Harpe, where, on the night of May 31st, 1793, she had been torn from her mother's arms.

The verification of the contents of the flat took place on January 7th, 1795. Notwithstanding the laconicism of the inventories, they give us some idea of what the young girl's feelings must have been on entering that apartment, full of relics of her parents.  Her mother's summer dresses were still hanging in the wardrobes:  two dresses en chemise, one in linon and the other in coarse muslin ; a cap in linon trimmed with lace; a dress en chemise in striped taffetas and a deshabille in pique, both of them old; two trimmed muslin dressing-gowns; two pairs of corsets, one in muslin, the other in linon, and both the worse for wear; a pierrot in flesh- coloured taffetas, etc."" x Passing to the wardrobe in which the austere Roland kept his clothes, there were found " two old round hats, two old pairs of shoes, and a pair of worn black breeches . . ." Bosc obtained for the child the right of keeping out of the sale any objects she required for her personal use, so Eudora chose "two little medallions with engraved heads ; a pencil portrait under glass in a gilt frame"; some furniture, linen, and the Erard piano, which had been given to her, it appeared, on January 1st, 1793, as a New Year's gift. [Archives de la Seine]

This heritage came in the nick of time.  Guardian and ward were almost without a bite to eat an inconvenience which Bosc hardly felt at all, being passionately in love. He had loved the mother so deeply that he quite naturally came to have an affection for Eudora.  She was barely fourteen years of age, whereas he was on the verge of forty.  Someone, doubtless, made him see that he really ought to wait until the child was of an age to reason before declaring himself, for he immediately asked Mlle. Malortie, who had been out of prison since the 9th of Thermidor, to come to Paris, and on her doing so placed the girl under her charge.

This was at the end of November 1795. In order to reach Rouen, Eudora had to pass along the Bourg-Baudouin road, within thirty yards of the ditch into which Roland's body had been thrown.  She lived in the flat in the Rue aux Ours which her father had left to commit suicide. Everybody, in those days, lived in the midst of tragic recollections; and people had become so accustomed to them that they were no longer disturbed by phantasms.

As to the ever amorous Bosc, he decided to leave the country, and as he was without resources he set out on foot for Bordeaux, where he embarked on a sailing vessel for America. When he returned to France two years later he was still suffering from his chronic complaint; but during his absence friends had hurriedly married Eudora, who had become Mlle. Champagneux.

Bosc died in 1823.  His wish was to be buried at his beloved Hermitage of Sainte-Radegonde, in the Forest of Montmorency. Eudora Roland survived him thirty years: she died in Paris, in the Rue de Fleurus, on July 19th, 1858. 

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