Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Complete Celebrated Crimes by Alexander Dumas, Pere

Part 15 out of 33

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 3.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

return than at my departure, I will, as carefully as possible, paint
for you my physical and moral state, and I pray God to supplement my
words by His strength, so that my letter may contain an equivalent of
what yours brought to me, and may help you to reach that state of
calm and serenity to which I have myself attained.

"Hardened, by having gained power over myself, against the good and
ill of this earth, you knew already that of late years I have lived
only for moral joys, and I must say that, touched by my efforts,
doubtless, the Lord, who is the sacred fount of all that is good, has
rendered me apt in seeking them and in tasting them to the full. God
is ever near me, as formerly, and I find in Him the sovereign
principle of the creation of all things; in Him, our holy Father, not
only consolation and strength, but an unalterable Friend, full of the
holiest love, who will accompany me in all places where I may need
His consolations. Assuredly, if He had turned from me, or if I had
turned away my eyes from Him, I should now find myself very
unfortunate and wretched; but by His grace, on the contrary, lowly
and weak creature as I am, He makes me strong and powerful against
whatever can befall me.

"What I have hitherto revered as sacred, what I have desired as good
what I have aspired to as heavenly, has in no respect changed now.
And I thank God for it, for I should now be in great despair if I
were compelled to recognise that my heart had adored deceptive images
and enwrapped itself in fugitive chimeras. Thus my faith in these
ideas and my pure love far them, guardian angels of my spirit as they
are, increase moment by moment, and will go on increasing to my end,
and I hope that I may pass all the more easily from this world into
eternity. I pass my silent life in Christian exaltation and
humility, and I sometimes have those visions from above through which
I have, from my birth, adored heaven upon earth, and which give me
power to raise myself to the Lord upon the eager wings of my prayers.
My illness, though long, painful, and cruel, has always been
sufficiently mastered by my will to let me busy myself to some result
with history, positive sciences, and the finer parts of religious
education, and when my suffering became more violent and for a time
interrupted these occupations, I struggled successfully,
nevertheless, against ennui; for the memories of the past, my
resignation to the present, and my faith in the future were rich
enough and strong enough in me and round me to prevent my falling
from my terrestrial paradise. According to my principles, I would
never, in the position in which I am and in which I have placed
myself, have been willing to ask anything for my own comfort; but so
much kindness and care have been lavished upon me, with so much
delicacy and humanity,--which alas! I am unable to return--by every
person with whom I have been brought into contact, that wishes which
I should not have dared to frame in the mast private recesses of my
heart have been more than exceeded. I have never been so much
overcome by bodily pains that I could not say within myself, while I
lifted my thoughts to heaven, 'Come what may of this ray.' And great
as these gains have been, I could not dream of comparing them with
those sufferings of the soul that we feel so profoundly and
poignantly in the recognition of our weaknesses and faults.

"Moreover, these pains seldom now cause me to lose consciousness; the
swelling and inflammation never made great headway, and the fever has
always been moderate, though for nearly ten months I have been forced
to remain lying on my back, unable to raise myself, and although more
than forty pints of matter have come from my chest at the place where
the heart is. No, an the contrary, the wound, though still open, is
in a good state; and I owe that not only to the excellent nursing
around me, but also to the pure blood that I received from you, my
mother. Thus I have lacked neither earthly assistance nor heavenly
encouragement. Thus, on the anniversary of my birth, I had every
reason--oh, not to curse the hour in which I was born, but, on the
contrary, after serious contemplation of the world, to thank God and
you, my dear parents, for the life that you have given me! I
celebrated it, on the 18th of October, by a peaceful and ardent
submission to the holy will of God. On Christmas Day I tried to put
myself into the temper of children who are devoted to the Lord; and
with God's help the new year will pass like its predecessor, in
bodily pain, perhaps, but certainly in spiritual joy. And with this
wish, the only one that I form, I address myself to you, my dear
parents, and to you and yours, my dear brothers and sisters.

"I cannot hope to see a twenty-fifth new year; so may the prayer that
I have just made be granted! May this picture of my present state
afford you some tranquillity, and may this letter that I write to you
from the depths of my heart not only prove to you that I am not
unworthy of the inexpressible love that you all display, but, on the
contrary, ensure this love to me for eternity.

"Within the last few days I have also received your dear letter of
the 2nd of December, my kind mother, and the grind-duke's commission
has deigned to let me also read my kind brother's letter which
accompanied yours. You give me the best of news in regard to the
health of all of you, and send me preserved fruits from our dear
home. I thank you for them from the bottom of my heart. What causes
me most joy in the matter is that you have been solicitously busy
about me in summer as in winter, and that you and my dear Julia
gathered them and prepared them for me at home, and I abandon my
whole soul to that sweet enjoyment.

"I rejoice sincerely at my little cousin's coming into the world; I
joyfully congratulate the good parents and the grandparents; I
transport myself, for his baptism, into that beloved parish, where I
offer him my affection as his Christian brother, and call down on him
all the blessings of heaven.

"We shall be obliged, I think, to give up this correspondence, so as
not to inconvenience the grand-duke's commission. I finish,
therefore, by assuring you, once more, but for the last time,
perhaps, of my profound filial submission and of my fraternal
affection.--Your most tenderly attached


Indeed, from that moment all correspondence between Karl and his
family ceased, and he only wrote to them, when he knew his fate, one
more letter, which we shall see later on.

We have seen by what attentions Sand was surrounded; their humanity
never flagged for an instant. It is the truth, too, that no one saw
in him an ordinary murderer, that many pitied him under their breath,
and that some excused him aloud. The very commission appointed by
the grand-duke prolonged the affair as much as possible; for the
severity of Sand's wounds had at first given rise to the belief that
there would be no need of calling in the executioner, and the
commission was well pleased that God should have undertaken the
execution of the judgment. But these expectations were deceived: the
skill of the doctor defeated, not indeed the wound, but death: Sand
did not recover, but he remained alive; and it began to be evident
that it would be needful to kill him.

Indeed, the Emperor Alexander, who had appointed Kotzebue his
councillor, and who was under no misapprehension as to the cause of
the murder, urgently demanded that justice should take its course.
The commission of inquiry was therefore obliged to set to work; but
as its members were sincerely desirous of having some pretext to
delay their proceedings, they ordered that a physician from
Heidelberg should visit Sand and make an exact report upon his case;
as Sand was kept lying down and as he could not be executed in his
bed, they hoped that the physician's report, by declaring it
impossible for the prisoner to rise, would come to their assistance
and necessitate a further respite.

The chosen doctor came accordingly to Mannheim, and introducing
himself to Sand as though attracted by the interest that he inspired,
asked him whether he did not feel somewhat better, and whether it
would be impossible to rise. Sand looked at him for an instant, and
then said, with a smile--

"I understand, sir; they wish to know whether I am strong enough to
mount a scaffold: I know nothing about it myself, but we will make
the experiment together."

With these words he rose, and accomplishing, with superhuman courage,
what he had not attempted for fourteen months, walked twice round the
room, came back to his bed, upon which he seated himself, and said

"You see, sir, I am strong enough; it would therefore be wasting
precious time to keep my judges longer about my affair; so let them
deliver their judgment, for nothing now prevents its execution."

The doctor made his report; there was no way of retreat; Russia was
becoming more and more pressing, and an the 5th of May 1820 the high
court of justice delivered the following judgment, which was
confirmed on the 12th by His Royal Highness the Grand-Duke of Baden:

"In the matters under investigation and after administration of the
interrogatory and hearing the defences, and considering the united
opinions of the court of justice at Mannheim and the further
consultations of the court of justice which declare the accused, Karl
Sand of Wonsiedel, guilty of murder, even on his own confession, upon
the person of the Russian imperial Councillor of State, Kotzebue; it
is ordered accordingly, for his just punishment and for an example
that may deter other people, that he is to be put from life to death
by the sword.

"All the costs of these investigations, including these occasioned by
his public execution, will be defrayed from the funds of the law
department, on account of his want of means."

We see that, though it condemned the accused to death, which indeed
could hardly be avoided, the sentence was both in form and substance
as mild as possible, since, though Sand was convicted, his poor
family was not reduced by the expenses of a long and costly trial to
complete ruin.

Five days were still allowed to elapse, and the verdict was not
announced until the 17th. When Sand was informed that two
councillors of justice were at the door, he guessed that they were
coming to read his sentence to him; he asked a moment to rise, which
he had done but once before, in the instance already narrated, during
fourteen months. And indeed he was so weak that he could not stand
to hear the sentence, and after having greeted the deputation that
death sent to him, he asked to sit down, saying that he did so not
from cowardice of soul but from weakness of body; then he added, "You
are welcome, gentlemen; far I have suffered so much for fourteen
months past that you come to me as angels of deliverance."

He heard the sentence quite unaffectedly and with a gentle smile upon
his lips; then, when the reading was finished, he said--

"I look for no better fate, gentlemen, and when, more than a year
ago, I paused on the little hill that overlooks the town, I saw
beforehand the place where my grave would be; and so I ought to thank
God and man far having prolonged my existence up to to-day."

The councillors withdrew; Sand stood up a second time to greet them
on their departure, as he had done on their entrance; then he sat
down again pensively in his chair, by which Mr. G, the governor of
the prison, was standing. After a moment of silence, a tear appeared
at each of the condemned man's eyelids, and ran down his cheeks;
then, turning suddenly to Mr. G----, whom he liked very much, he
said, "I hope that my parents would rather see me die by this violent
death than of some slow and shameful disease. As for me, I am glad
that I shall soon hear the hour strike in which my death will satisfy
those who hate me, and those wham, according to my principles, I
ought to hate."

Then he wrote to his family.


"17th of the month of spring, 1820

"DEAR PARENTS, BROTHERS, AND SISTERS,--You should have received my
last letters through the grand-duke's commission; in them I answered
yours, and tried to console you for my position by describing the
state of my soul as it is, the contempt to which I have attained for
everything fragile and earthly, and by which one must necessarily be
overcome when such matters are weighed against the fulfilment of an
idea, or that intellectual liberty which alone can nourish the soul;
in a word, I tried to console you by the assurance that the feelings,
principles, and convictions of which I formerly spoke are faithfully
preserved in me and have remained exactly the same; but I am sure all
this was an unnecessary precaution on my part, for there was never a
time when you asked anything else of me than to have God before my
eyes and in my heart; and you have seen how, under your guidance,
this precept so passed into my soul that it became my sole object of
happiness for this world and the next; no doubt, as He was in and
near me, God will be in and near you at the moment when this letter
brings you the news of my sentence. I die willingly, and the Lord
will give me strength to die as one ought to die.

"I write to you perfectly quiet and calm about all things, and I hope
that your lives too will pass calmly and tranquilly until the moment
when our souls meet again full of fresh force to love one another and
to share eternal happiness together.

"As for me, such as I have lived as long as I have known myself--that
is to say, in a serenity full of celestial desires and a courageous
and indefatigable love of liberty, such I am about to die.

"May God be with you and with me!--Your son, brother, and friend,


From that moment his serenity remained un troubled; during the whole
day he talked more gaily than usual, slept well, did not awake until
half-past seven, said that he felt stronger, and thanked God for
visiting him thus.

The nature of the verdict had been known since the day before, and it
had been learned that the execution was fixed for the 20th of May
--that is to say, three full days after the sentence had been read to
the accused.

Henceforward, with Sand's permission, persons who wished to speak to
him and whom he was not reluctant to see, were admitted: three among
these paid him long and noteworthy visits.

One was Major Holzungen, of the Baden army, who was in command of the
patrol that had arrested him, or rather picked him up, dying, and
carried him to the hospital. He asked him whether he recognised him,
and Sand's head was so clear when he stabbed himself, that although
he saw the major only for a moment and had never seen him again
since, he remembered the minutest details of the costume which he had
been wearing fourteen months previously, and which was the full-dress
uniform. When the talk fell upon the death to which Sand was to
submit at so early an age, the major pitied him; but Sand answered,
with a smile, "There is only one difference between you and me,
major; it is that I shall die far my convictions, and you will die
for someone else's convictions."

After the major came a young student from Jena whom Sand had known at
the university. He happened to be in the duchy of Baden and wished
to visit him. Their recognition was touching, and the student wept
much; but Sand consoled him with his usual calmness and serenity.

Then a workman asked to be admitted to see Sand, on the plea that he
had been his schoolfellow at Wonsiedel, and although he did not
remember his name, he ordered him to be let in: the workman reminded
him that he had been one of the little army that Sand had commanded
on the day of the assault of St. Catherine's tower. This indication
guided Sand, who recognised him perfectly, and then spoke with tender
affection of his native place and his dear mountains. He further
charged him to greet his family, and to beg his mother, father,
brothers, and sisters once more not to be grieved on his account,
since the messenger who undertook to deliver his last wards could
testify in how calm and joyful a temper he was awaiting death.

To this workman succeeded one of the guests whom Sand had met on the
staircase directly after Kotzebue's death. He asked him whether he
acknowledged his crime and whether he felt any repentance. Sand
replied, "I had thought about it during a whole year. I have been
thinking of it for fourteen months, and my opinion has never varied
in any respect: I did what I should have done."

After the departure of this last visitor, Sand sent for Mr. G----,
the governor of the prison, and told him that he should like to talk
to the executioner before the execution, since he wished to ask for
instructions as to how he should hold himself so as to render the
operation most certain and easy. Mr. G---- made some objections, but
Sand insisted with his usual gentleness, and Mr. G---- at last
promised that the man in question should be asked to call at the
prison as soon as he arrived from Heidelberg, where he lived.

The rest of the day was spent in seeing more visitors and in
philosophical and moral talks, in which Sand developed his social and
religious theories with a lucidity of expression and an elevation of
thought such as he had, perhaps, never before shown. The governor of
the prison from whom I heard these details, told me that he should
all his life regret that he did not know shorthand, so that he might
have noted all these thoughts, which would have formed a pendant to
the Phaedo.

Night came. Sand spent part of the evening writing; it is thought
that he was composing a poem; but no doubt he burned it, for no trace
of it was found. At eleven he went to bed, and slept until six in
the morning. Next day he bore the dressing of his wound, which was
always very painful, with extraordinary courage, without fainting, as
he sometimes did, and without suffering a single complaint to escape
him: he had spoken the truth; in the presence of death God gave him
the grace of allowing his strength to return. The operation was
over; Sand was lying down as usual, and Mr. G---- was sitting on the
foot of his bed, when the door opened and a man came in and bowed to
Sand and to Mr. G----. The governor of the prison immediately stood
up, and said to Sand in a voice the emotion of which he could not
conceal, "The person who is bowing to you is Mr. Widemann of
Heidelberg, to whom you wished to speak."

Then Sand's face was lighted up by a strange joy; he sat up and said,
"Sir, you are welcome." Then, making his visitor sit down by his
bed, and taking his hand, he began to thank him for being so
obliging, and spoke in so intense a tone and so gentle a voice, that
Mr. Widemann, deeply moved, could not answer. Sand encouraged him to
speak and to give him the details for which he wished, and in order
to reassure him, said, "Be firm, sir; for I, on my part, will not
fail you: I will not move; and even if you should need two or three
strokes to separate my head from my body, as I am told is sometimes
the case, do not be troubled on that account."

Then Sand rose, leaning on Mr. G----, to go through with the
executioner the strange and terrible rehearsal of the drama in which
he was to play the leading part on the morrow. Mr. Widemann made him
sit in a chair and take the required position, and went into all the
details of the execution with him. Then Sand, perfectly instructed,
begged him not to hurry and to take his time. Then he thanked him
beforehand; "for," added he, "afterwards I shall not be able." Then
Sand returned to his bed, leaving the executioner paler and more
trembling than himself. All these details have been preserved by Mr.
G----; for as to the executioner, his emotion was so great that he
could remember nothing.

After Mr. Widemann, three clergymen were introduced, with whom Sand
conversed upon religious matters: one of them stayed six hours with
him, and on leaving him told him that he was commissioned to obtain
from him a promise of not speaking to the people at the place of
execution. Sand gave the promise, and added, "Even if I desired to
do so, my voice has become so weak that people could not hear it."

Meanwhile the scaffold was being erected in the meadow that extends
on the left of the road to Heidelberg. It was a platform five to six
feet high and ten feet wide each way. As it was expected that,
thanks to the interest inspired by the prisoner and to the nearness
to Whitsuntide, the crowd would be immense, and as some movement from
the universities was apprehended, the prison guards had been trebled,
and General Neustein had been ordered to Mannheim from Carlsruhe,
with twelve hundred infantry, three hundred and fifty cavalry, and a
company of artillery with guns.

On, the afternoon of the 19th there arrived, as had been foreseen, so
many students, who took up their abode in the neighbouring villages,
that it was decided to put forward the hour of the execution, and to
let it take place at five in the morning instead of at eleven, as had
been arranged. But Sand's consent was necessary for this; for he
could not be executed until three full days after the reading of his
sentence, and as the sentence had not been read to him till half-past
ten Sand had a right to live till eleven o'clock.

Before four in the morning the officials went into the condemned
man's room; he was sleeping so soundly that they were obliged to
awaken him. He opened his eyes with a smile, as was his custom, and
guessing why they came, asked, "Can I have slept so well that it is
already eleven in the morning?" They told him that it was not, but
that they had come to ask his permission to put forward the time;
for, they told him, same collision between the students and the
soldiers was feared, and as the military preparations were very
thorough, such a collision could not be otherwise than fatal to his
friends. Sand answered that he was ready that very moment, and only
asked time enough to take a bath, as the ancients were accustomed to
do before going into battle. But as the verbal authorisation which
he had given was not sufficient, a pen and paper were given to Sand,
and he wrote, with a steady hand and in his usual writing:

"I thank the authorities of Mannheim for anticipating my most eager
wishes by making my execution six hours earlier.

"Sit nomen Domini benedictum.

"From the prison room, May 20th, day of my deliverance.


When Sand had given these two lines to the recorder, the physician
came to him to dress his wound, as usual. Sand looked at him with a
smile, and then asked, "Is it really worth the trouble?"

"You will be stronger for it," answered the physician.

"Then do it," said Sand.

A bath was brought. Sand lay down in it, and had his long and
beautiful hair arranged with the greatest care; then his toilet being
completed, he put on a frock-coat of the German shape--that is to
say, short and with the shirt collar turned back aver the shoulders,
close white trousers, and high boots. Then Sand seated himself on
his bed and prayed some time in a low voice with the clergy; then,
when he had finished, he said these two lines of Korner's:

"All that is earthly is ended,
And the life of heaven begins."

He next took leave of the physician and the priests, saying to them,
"Do not attribute the emotion of my voice to weakness but to
gratitude." Then, upon these gentlemen offering to accompany him to
the scaffold, he said, "There is no need; I am perfectly prepared, at
peace with God and with my conscience. Besides, am I not almost a
Churchman myself?" And when one of them asked whether he was not
going out of life in a spirit of hatred, he returned, "Why, good
heavens! have I ever felt any?"

An increasing noise was audible from the street, and Sand said again
that he was at their disposal and that he was ready. At this moment
the executioner came in with his two assistants; he was dressed in a
long wadded black coat, beneath which he hid his sword. Sand offered
him his hand affectionately; and as Mr. Widemann, embarrassed by the
sword which he wished to keep Sand from seeing, did not venture to
come forward, Sand said to him, "Come along and show me your sword; I
have never seen one of the kind, and am curious to know what it is

Mr. Widemann, pale and trembling, presented the weapon to him; Sand
examined it attentively, and tried the edge with his finger.

"Come," said he, "the blade is good; do not tremble, and all will go
well." Then, turning to Mr. G----, who was weeping, he said to him,
"You will be good enough, will you not, to do me the service of
leading me to the scaffold?"

Mr. G---- made a sign of assent with his head, for he could not
answer. Sand took his arm, and spoke for the third time, saying once
more, "Well, what are you waiting for, gentlemen? I am ready."

When they reached the courtyard, Sand saw all the prisoners weeping
at their windows. Although he had never seen them, they were old
friends of his; for every time they passed his door, knowing that the
student who had killed Kotzebue lay within, they used to lift their
chain, that he might not be disturbed by the noise.

All Mannheim was in the streets that led to the place of execution,
and many patrols were passing up and down. On the day when the
sentence was announced the whole town had been sought through for a
chaise in which to convey Sand to the scaffold, but no one, not even
the coach-builders, would either let one out or sell one; and it had
been necessary, therefore, to buy one at Heidelberg without saying
for what purpose.

Sand found this chaise in the courtyard, and got into it with Mr.
G----. Turning to him, he whispered in his ear, "Sir, if you see me
turn pale, speak my name to me, my name only, do you hear? That will
be enough."

The prison gate was opened, and Sand was seen; then every voice cried
with one impulse, "Farewell, Sand, farewell!"

And at the same time flowers, some of which fell into the carriage,
were thrown by the crowd that thronged the street, and from the
windows. At these friendly cries and at this spectacle, Sand, who
until then had shown no moment of weakness, felt tears rising in
spite of himself, and while he returned the greetings made to him on
all sides, he murmured in a low voice, "O my God, give me courage!"

This first outburst over, the procession set out amid deep silence;
only now and again same single voice would call out, "Farewell,
Sand!" and a handkerchief waved by some hand that rose out of the
crowd would show from what paint the last call came. On each side of
the chaise walked two of the prison officials, and behind the chaise
came a second conveyance with the municipal authorities.

The air was very cold: it had rained all night, and the dark and
cloudy sky seemed to share in the general sadness. Sand, too weak to
remain sitting up, was half lying upon the shoulder of Mr. G-----,
his companion; his face was gentle, calm and full of pain; his brow
free and open, his features, interesting though without regular
beauty, seemed to have aged by several years during the fourteen
months of suffering that had just elapsed. The chaise at last
reached the place of execution, which was surrounded by a battalion
of infantry; Sand lowered his eyes from heaven to earth and saw the
scaffold. At this sight he smiled gently, and as he left the
carriage he said, "Well, God has given me strength so far."

The governor of the prison and the chief officials lifted him that he
might go up the steps. During that short ascent pain kept him bowed,
but when he had reached the top he stood erect again, saying, "Here
then is the place where I am to die!"

Then before he came to the chair on which he was to be seated for the
execution, he turned his eyes towards Mannheim, and his gaze
travelled over all the throng that surrounded him; at that moment a
ray of sunshine broke through the clouds. Sand greeted it with a
smile and sat down.

Then, as, according to the orders given, his sentence was to be read
to him a second time, he was asked whether he felt strong enough to
hear it standing. Sand answered that he would try, and that if his
physical strength failed him, his moral strength would uphold him.
He rose immediately from the fatal chair, begging Mr. G----to stand
near enough to support him if he should chance to stagger. The
precaution was unnecessary, Sand did not stagger.

After the judgment had been read, he sat down again and said in a
laud voice, "I die trusting in God."

But at these words Mr. G------ interrupted him.

"Sand," said he, "what did you promise?"

"True," he answered; "I had forgotten." He was silent, therefore, to
the crowd; but, raising his right hand and extending it solemnly in
the air, he said in a low voice, so that he might be heard only by
those who were around him, "I take God to witness that I die for the
freedom of Germany."

Then, with these words, he did as Conradin did with his glove; he
threw his rolled-up handkerchief over the line of soldiers around
him, into the midst of the people.

Then the executioner came to cut off his hair; but Sand at first

"It is for your mother," said Mr. Widemann.

"On your honour, sir?" asked Sand.

"On my honour."

"Then do it," said Sand, offering his hair to the executioner.

Only a few curls were cut off, those only which fell at the back, the
others were tied with a ribbon on the top of the head. The
executioner then tied his hands on his breast, but as that position
was oppressive to him and compelled him an account of his wound to
bend his head, his hands were laid flat on his thighs and fixed in
that position with ropes. Then, when his eyes were about to be
bound, he begged Mr. Widemann to place the bandage in such a manner
that he could see the light to his last moment. His wish was

Then a profound and mortal stillness hovered over the whole crowd and
surrounded the scaffold. The executioner drew his sword, which
flashed like lightning and fell. Instantly a terrible cry rose at
once from twenty thousand bosoms; the head had not fallen, and though
it had sunk towards the breast still held to the neck. The
executioner struck a second time, and struck off at the same blow the
head and a part of the hand.

In the same moment, notwithstanding the efforts of the soldiers,
their line was broken through; men and women rushed upon the
scaffold, the blood was wiped up to the last drop with handkerchiefs;
the chair upon which Sand had sat was broken and divided into pieces,
and those who could not obtain one, cut fragments of bloodstained
wood from the scaffold itself.

The head and body were placed in a coffin draped with black, and
carried back, with a large military escort, to the prison. At
midnight the body was borne silently, without torches or lights, to
the Protestant cemetery, in which Kotzebue had been buried fourteen
months previously. A grave had been mysteriously dug; the coffin was
lowered into it, and those who were present at the burial were sworn
upon the New Testament not to reveal the spot where Sand was buried
until such time as they were freed from their oath. Then the grave
was covered again with the turf, that had been skilfully taken off,
and that was relaid on the same spat, so that no new grave could be
perceived; then the nocturnal gravediggers departed, leaving guards
at the entrance.

There, twenty paces apart, Sand and Kotzebue rest: Kotzebue opposite
the gate in the most conspicuous spot of the cemetery, and beneath a
tomb upon which is engraved this inscription:

"The world persecuted him without pity,
Calumny was his sad portion,
He found no happiness save in the arms of his wife,
And no repose save in the bosom of death.
Envy dogged him to cover his path with thorns,
Love bade his roses blossom;
May Heaven pardon him
As he pardons earth!"

In contrast with this tall and showy monument, standing, as we have
said, in the most conspicuous spot of the cemetery, Sand's grave must
be looked far in the corner to the extreme left of the entrance gate;
and a wild plum tree, some leaves of which every passing traveller
carries away, rises alone upon the grave, which is devoid of any

As far the meadow in which Sand was executed, it is still called by
the people "Sand's Himmelsfartsweise," which signifies "The manner of
Sand's ascension."

Toward the end of September, 1838, we were at Mannheim, where I had
stayed three days in order to collect all the details I could find
about the life and death of Karl-Ludwig Sand. But at the end of
these three days, in spite of my active investigations, these details
still remained extremely incomplete, either because I applied in the
wrong quarters, or because, being a foreigner, I inspired same
distrust in those to whom I applied. I was leaving Mannheim,
therefore, somewhat disappointed, and after having visited the little
Protestant cemetery where Sand and Kotzebue are buried at twenty
paces from each other, I had ordered my driver to take the road to
Heidelberg, when, after going a few yards, he, who knew the object of
my inquiries, stopped of himself and asked me whether I should not
like to see the place where Sand was executed. At the same time he
pointed to a little mound situated in the middle of a meadow and a
few steps from a brook. I assented eagerly, and although the driver
remained on the highroad with my travelling companions, I soon
recognised the spot indicated, by means of some relics of cypress
branches, immortelles, and forget-me-nots scattered upon the earth.
It will readily be understood that this sight, instead of diminishing
my desire for information, increased it. I was feeling, then, more
than ever dissatisfied at going away, knowing so little, when I saw a
man of some five-and-forty to fifty years old, who was walking a
little distance from the place where I myself was, and who, guessing
the cause that drew me thither, was looking at me with curiosity.
I determined to make a last effort, and going up to him, I said, "Oh,
sir, I am a stranger; I am travelling to collect all the rich and
poetic traditions of your Germany. By the way in which you look at
me, I guess that you know which of them attracts me to this meadow.
Could you give me any information about the life and death of Sand?"

"With what object, sir?" the person to whom I spoke asked me in
almost unintelligible French.

"With a very German object, be assured, sir," I replied. "From the
little I have learned, Sand seems to me to be one of those ghosts
that appear only the greater and the more poetic for being wrapped in
a shroud stained with blood. But he is not known in France; he might
be put on the same level there with a Fieschi or a Meunier, and I
wish, to the best of my ability, to enlighten the minds of my
countrymen about him."

"It would be a great pleasure to me, sir, to assist in such an
undertaking; but you see that I can scarcely speak French; you do not
speak German at all; so that we shall find it difficult to understand
each other."

"If that is all," I returned, "I have in my carriage yonder an
interpreter, or rather an interpretress, with whom you will, I hope,
be quite satisfied, who speaks German like Goethe, and to whom, when
you have once begun to speak to her, I defy you not to tell

"Let us go, then, sir," answered the pedestrian. "I ask no better
than to be agreeable to you."

We walked toward the carriage, which was still waiting on the
highroad, and I presented to my travelling companion the new recruit
whom I had just gained. The usual greetings were exchanged, and the
dialogue began in the purest Saxon. Though I did not understand a
word that was said, it was easy for me to see, by the rapidity of the
questions and the length of the answers, that the conversation was
most interesting. At last, at the end of half an hours growing
desirous of knowing to what point they had come, I said, "Well?"

"Well," answered my interpreter, "you are in luck's way, and you
could not have asked a better person."

"The gentleman knew Sand, then?"

"The gentleman is the governor of the prison in which Sand was


"For nine months--that is to say, from the day he left the hospital--
this gentleman saw him every day."


"But that is not all: this gentleman was with him in the carriage
that took him to execution; this gentleman was with him on the
scaffold; there's only one portrait of Sand in all Mannheim, and this
gentleman has it."

I was devouring every word; a mental alchemist, I was opening my
crucible and finding gold in it.

"Just ask," I resumed eagerly, "whether the gentleman will allow us
to take down in writing the particulars that he can give me."

My interpreter put another question, then, turning towards me, said,

Mr. G---- got into the carriage with us, and instead of going on to
Heidelberg, we returned to Mannheim, and alighted at the prison.

Mr. G--- did not once depart from the ready kindness that he had
shown. In the most obliging manner, patient over the minutest
trifles, and remembering most happily, he went over every
circumstance, putting himself at my disposal like a professional
guide. At last, when every particular about Sand had been sucked
dry, I began to ask him about the manner in which executions were
performed. "As to that," said he, "I can offer you an introduction
to someone at Heidelberg who can give you all the information you can
wish for upon the subject."

I accepted gratefully, and as I was taking leave of Mr. G----, after
thanking him a thousand times, he handed me the offered letter. It
bore this superscription: "To Herr-doctor Widemann, No. III High
Street, Heidelberg."

I turned to Mr. G---- once more.

"Is he, by chance, a relation of the man who executed Sand? "I asked.

"He is his son, and was standing by when the head fell.".

"What is his calling, then?"

"The same as that of his father, whom he succeeded."

"But you call him 'doctor'?"

"Certainly; with us, executioners have that title."

"But, then, doctors of what?"

"Of surgery."

"Really?" said I. "With us it is just the contrary; surgeons are
called executioners."

"You will find him, moreover," added Mr. G----, "a very
distinguished young man, who, although he was very young at that
time, has retained a vivid recollection of that event. As for his
poor father, I think he would as willingly have cut off his own right
hand as have executed Sand; but if he had refused, someone else would
have been found. So he had to do what he was ordered to do, and he
did his best."

I thanked Mr. G----, fully resolving to make use of his letter, and
we left for Heidelberg, where we arrived at eleven in the evening.

My first visit next day was to Dr. Widernann. It was not without
some emotion, which, moreover, I saw reflected upon, the faces of my
travelling companions, that I rang at the door of the last judge, as
the Germans call him. An old woman opened the door to us, and
ushered us into a pretty little study, on the left of a passage and
at the foot of a staircase, where we waited while Mr. Widemann
finished dressing. This little room was full of curiosities,
madrepores, shells, stuffed birds, and dried plants; a double-
barrelled gun, a powder-flask, and a game-bag showed that Mr.
Widemann was a hunter.

After a moment we heard his footstep, and the door opened. Mr.
Widemann was a very handsome young man, of thirty or thirty-two, with
black whiskers entirely surrounding his manly and expressive face;
his morning dress showed a certain rural elegance. He seemed at
first not only embarrassed but pained by our visit. The aimless
curiosity of which he seemed to be the object was indeed odd. I
hastened to give him Mr. G----'s letter and to tell him what reason
brought me. Then he gradually recovered himself, and at last showed
himself no less hospitable and obliging towards us than he to whom we
owed the introduction had been, the day before.

Mr. Widemann then gathered together all his remembrances; he, too,
had retained a vivid recollection of Sand, and he told us among other
things that his father, at the risk of bringing himself into ill
odour, had asked leave to have a new scaffold made at his own
expense, so that no other criminal might be executed upon the altar
of the martyr's death. Permission had been given, and Mr. Widemann
had used the wood of the scaffold for the doors and windows of a
little country house standing in a vineyard. Then for three or four
years this cottage became a shrine for pilgrims; but after a time,
little by little, the crowd grew less, and at the present day, when
some of those who wiped the blood from the scaffold with their
handkerchiefs have became public functionaries, receiving salaries
from Government, only foreigners ask, now and again, to see these
strange relics.

Mr. Widemann gave me a guide; for, after hearing everything, I wanted
to see everything. The house stands half a league away from
Heidelberg, on the left of the road to Carlsruhe, and half-way up the
mountain-side. It is perhaps the only monument of the kind that
exists in the world.

Our readers will judge better from this anecdote than from anything
more we could say, what sort of man he was who left such a memory in
the hearts of his gaoler and his executioner.

by Alexander Dumas, Pere


By Alexandre Dumas, Pere




On Sunday, the 26th of November, 1631, there was great excitement in
the little town of Loudun, especially in the narrow streets which led
to the church of Saint-Pierre in the marketplace, from the gate of
which the town was entered by anyone coming from the direction of the
abbey of Saint-Jouin-les-Marmes. This excitement was caused by the
expected arrival of a personage who had been much in people's mouths
latterly in Loudun, and about whom there was such difference of
opinion that discussion on the subject between those who were on his
side and those who were against him was carried on with true
provincial acrimony. It was easy to see, by the varied expressions
on the faces of those who turned the doorsteps into improvised
debating clubs, how varied were the feelings with which the man would
be welcomed who had himself formally announced to friends and enemies
alike the exact date of his return.

About nine o'clock a kind of sympathetic vibration ran through the
crowd, and with the rapidity of a flash of lightning the words,
"There he is! there he is!" passed from group to group. At this cry
some withdrew into their houses and shut their doors and darkened
their windows, as if it were a day of public mourning, while others
opened them wide, as if to let joy enter. In a few moments the
uproar and confusion evoked by the news was succeeded by the deep
silence of breathless curiosity.

Then, through the silence, a figure advanced, carrying a branch of
laurel in one hand as a token of triumph. It was that of a young man
of from thirty-two to thirty-four years of age, with a graceful and
well-knit frame, an aristocratic air and faultlessly beautiful
features of a somewhat haughty expression. Although he had walked
three leagues to reach the town, the ecclesiastical garb which he
wore was not only elegant but of dainty freshness. His eyes turned
to heaven, and singing in a sweet voice praise to the Lord, he passed
through the streets leading to the church in the market-place with a
slow and solemn gait, without vouchsafing a look, a word, or a
gesture to anyone. The entire crowd, falling into step, marched
behind him as he advanced, singing like him, the singers being the
prettiest girls in Loudun, for we have forgotten to say that the
crowd consisted almost entirely of women.

Meanwhile the object of all this commotion arrived at length at the
porch of the church of Saint-Pierre. Ascending the steps, he knelt
at the top and prayed in a low voice, then rising he touched the
church doors with his laurel branch, and they opened wide as if by
magic, revealing the choir decorated and illuminated as if for one of
the four great feasts of the year, and with all its scholars, choir
boys, singers, beadles, and vergers in their places. Glancing
around, he for whom they were waiting came up the nave, passed
through the choir, knelt for a second time at the foot of the altar,
upon which he laid the branch of laurel, then putting on a robe as
white as snow and passing the stole around his neck, he began the
celebration of the mass before a congregation composed of all those
who had followed him. At the end of the mass a Te Deum was sung.

He who had just rendered thanks to God for his own victory with all
the solemn ceremonial usually reserved for the triumphs of kings was
the priest Urbain Grandier. Two days before, he had been acquitted,
in virtue of a decision pronounced by M. d'Escoubleau de Sourdis,
Archbishop of Bordeaux, of an accusation brought against him of which
he had been declared guilty by a magistrate, and in punishment of
which he had been condemned to fast on bread and water every Friday
for three months, and forbidden to exercise his priestly functions in
the diocese of Poitiers for five years and in the town of Loudun for

These are the circumstances under which the sentence had been passed
and the judgment reversed.

Urbain Grandier was born at Rovere, a village near Sable, a little
town of Bas-Maine. Having studied the sciences with his father
Pierre and his uncle Claude Grandier, who were learned astrologers
and alchemists, he entered, at the age of twelve, the Jesuit college
at Bordeaux, having already received the ordinary education of a
young man. The professors soon found that besides his considerable
attainments he had great natural gifts for languages and oratory;
they therefore made of him a thorough classical scholar, and in order
to develop his oratorical talent encouraged him to practise
preaching. They soon grew very fond of a pupil who was likely to
bring them so much credit, and as soon as he was old enough to take
holy orders they gave him the cure of souls in the parish of Saint-
Pierre in Loudun, which was in the gift of the college. When he had
been some months installed there as a priest-in-charge, he received a
prebendal stall, thanks to the same patrons, in the collegiate church
of Sainte-Croix.

It is easy to understand that the bestowal of these two positions on
so young a man, who did not even belong to the province, made him
seem in some sort a usurper of rights and privileges belonging to the
people of the country, and drew upon him the envy of his brother-
ecclesiastics. There were, in fact, many other reasons why Urbain
should be an object of jealousy to these: first, as we have already
said, he was very handsome, then the instruction which he had
received from his father had opened the world of science to him and
given him the key to a thousand things which were mysteries to the
ignorant, but which he fathomed with the greatest ease. Furthermore,
the comprehensive course of study which he had followed at the Jesuit
college had raised him above a crowd of prejudices, which are sacred
to the vulgar, but for which he made no secret of his contempt; and
lastly, the eloquence of his sermons had drawn to his church the
greater part of the regular congregations of the other religious
communities, especially of the mendicant orders, who had till then,
in what concerned preaching, borne away the palm at Loudun. As we
have said, all this was more than enough to excite, first jealousy,
and then hatred. And both were excited in no ordinary degree.

We all know how easily the ill-natured gossip of a small town can
rouse the angry contempt of the masses for everything which is beyond
or above them. In a wider sphere Urbain would have shone by his many
gifts, but, cooped up as he was within the walls of a little town and
deprived of air and space, all that might have conduced to his
success in Paris led to his destruction at Loudun.

It was also unfortunate for Urbain that his character, far from
winning pardon for his genius, augmented the hatred which the latter
inspired. Urbain, who in his intercourse with his friends was
cordial and agreeable, was sarcastic, cold, and haughty to his
enemies. When he had once resolved on a course, he pursued it
unflinchingly; he jealously exacted all the honour due to the rank at
which he had arrived, defending it as though it were a conquest; he
also insisted on enforcing all his legal rights, and he resented the
opposition and angry words of casual opponents with a harshness which
made them his lifelong enemies.

The first example which Urbain gave of this inflexibility was in
1620, when he gained a lawsuit against a priest named Meunier. He
caused the sentence to be carried out with such rigour that he awoke
an inextinguishable hatred in Meunier's mind, which ever after burst
forth on the slightest provocation.

A second lawsuit, which he likewise gained; was one which he
undertook against the chapter of Sainte-Croix with regard to a house,
his claim to which the chapter, disputed. Here again he displayed
the same determination to exact his strict legal rights to the last
iota, and unfortunately Mignon, the attorney of the unsuccessful
chapter, was a revengeful, vindictive, and ambitious man; too
commonplace ever to arrive at a high position, and yet too much above
his surroundings to be content with the secondary position which he
occupied. This man, who was a canon of the collegiate church of
Sainte-Croix and director of the Ursuline convent, will have an
important part to play in the following narrative. Being as
hypocritical as Urbain was straightforward, his ambition was to gain
wherever his name was known a reputation for exalted piety; he
therefore affected in his life the asceticism of an anchorite and the
self-denial of a saint. As he had much experience in ecclesiastical
lawsuits, he looked on the chapter's loss of this one, of which he
had in some sort guaranteed the success, as a personal humiliation,
so that when Urbain gave himself airs of triumph and exacted the last
letter of his bond, as in the case of Meunier, he turned Mignon into
an enemy who was not only more relentless but more dangerous than the

In the meantime, and in consequence of this lawsuit, a certain Barot,
an uncle of Mignon and his partner as well, got up a dispute with
Urbain, but as he was a man below mediocrity, Urbain required in
order to crush him only to let fall from the height of his
superiority a few of those disdainful words which brand as deeply as
a red-hot iron. This man, though totally wanting in parts, was very
rich, and having no children was always surrounded by a horde of
relatives, every one of whom was absorbed in the attempt to make
himself so agreeable that his name would appear in Barot's will.
This being so, the mocking words which were rained down on Barot
spattered not only himself but also all those who had sided with him
in the quarrel, and thus added considerably to the tale of Urbain's

About this epoch a still graver event took place. Amongst the most
assiduous frequenters of the confessional in his church was a young
and pretty girl, Julie by name, the daughter of the king's attorney,
Trinquant--Trinquant being, as well as Barot, an uncle of Mignon.
Now it happened that this young girl fell into such a state of
debility that she was obliged to keep her room. One of her friends,
named Marthe Pelletier, giving up society, of which she was very
fond, undertook to nurse the patient, and carried her devotion so far
as to shut herself up in the same room with her. When Julie
Trinquant had recovered and was able again to take her place in the
world, it came out that Marthe Pelletier, during her weeks of
retirement, had given birth to a child, which had been baptized and
then put out to nurse. Now, by one of those odd whims which so often
take possession of the public mind, everyone in Loudun persisted in
asserting that the real mother of the infant was not she who had
acknowledged herself as such--that, in short, Marthe Pelletier had
sold her good name to her friend Julie for a sum of money; and of
course it followed as a matter about which there could be no possible
doubt, that Urbain was the father.

Trinquant hearing of the reports about his daughter, took upon
himself as king's attorney to have Marthe Pelletier arrested and
imprisoned. Being questioned about the child, she insisted that she
was its mother, and would take its maintenance upon herself. To have
brought a child into the world under such circumstances was a sin,
but not a crime; Trinquant was therefore obliged to set Marthe at
liberty, and the abuse of justice of which he was guilty served only
to spread the scandal farther and to strengthen the public in the
belief it had taken up.

Hitherto, whether through the intervention of the heavenly powers, or
by means of his own cleverness, Urbain Grandier had come out victor
in every struggle in which he had engaged, but each victor had added
to the number of his enemies, and these were now so numerous that any
other than he would have been alarmed, and have tried either to
conciliate them or to take precautions against their malice; but
Urbain, wrapped in his pride, and perhaps conscious of his innocence,
paid no attention to the counsels of his most faithful followers, but
went on his way unheeding.

All the opponents whom till now Urbain had encountered had been
entirely unconnected with each other, and had each struggled for his
own individual ends. Urbain's enemies, believing that the cause of
his success was to be found in the want of cooperation among
themselves, now determined to unite in order to crush him. In
consequence, a conference was held at Barot's, at which, besides
Barot himself, Meunier, Trinquant, and Mignon took part, and the
latter had also brought with him one Menuau, a king's counsel and his
own most intimate friend, who was, however, influenced by other
motives than friendship in joining the conspiracy. The fact was,
that Menuau was in love with a woman who had steadfastly refused to
show him any favour, and he had got firmly fixed in his head that the
reason for her else inexplicable indifference and disdain was that
Urbain had been beforehand with him in finding an entrance to her
heart. The object of the meeting was to agree as to the best means
of driving the common enemy out of Loudon and its neighbourhood.

Urbain's life was so well ordered that it presented little which his
enemies could use as a handle for their purpose. His only foible
seemed to be a predilection for female society; while in return all
the wives and daughters of the place, with the unerring instinct of
their sex, seeing, that the new priest was young, handsome, and
eloquent, chose him, whenever it was possible, as their spiritual
director. As this preference had already offended many husbands and
fathers, the decision the conspirators arrived at was that on this
side alone was Grandier vulnerable, and that their only chance of
success was to attack him where he was weakest. Almost at once,
therefore, the vague reports which had been floating about began to
attain a certain definiteness: there were allusions made, though no
name was mentioned, to a young girl in Loudun; who in spite of
Grandier's frequent unfaithfulness yet remained his mistress-in-
chief; then it began to be whispered that the young girl, having had
conscientious scruples about her love for Urbain, he had allayed them
by an act of sacrilege--that is to say, he had, as priest, in the
middle of the night, performed the service of marriage between
himself and his mistress. The more absurd the reports, the more
credence did they gain, and it was not long till everyone in Loudun
believed them true, although no one was able to name the mysterious
heroine of the tale who had had the courage to contract a marriage
with a priest; and considering how small Loudun was, this was most

Resolute and full of courage as was Grandier, at length he could not
conceal from himself that his path lay over quicksands: he felt that
slander was secretly closing him round, and that as soon as he was
well entangled in her shiny folds, she would reveal herself by
raising her abhorred head, and that then a mortal combat between them
would begin. But it was one of his convictions that to draw back was
to acknowledge one's guilt; besides, as far as he was concerned, it
was probably too late for him to retrace his steps. He therefore
went on his way, as unyielding, as scornful, and as haughty as ever.

Among those who were supposed to be most active in spreading the
slanders relative to Urbain was a man called Duthibaut, a person of
importance in the province, who was supposed by the townspeople to
hold very advanced views, and who was a "Sir Oracle" to whom the
commonplace and vulgar turned for enlightenment. Some of this man's
strictures on Grandier were reported to the latter, especially some
calumnies to which Duthibaut had given vent at the Marquis de
Bellay's; and one day, Grandier, arrayed in priestly garments, was
about to enter the church of Sainte-Croix to assist in the service,
he encountered Duthibaut at the entrance, and with his usual haughty
disdain accused him of slander. Duthibaut, who had got into the
habit of saying and doing whatever came into his head without fear of
being called to account, partly because of his wealth and partly
because of the influence he had gained over the narrow-minded, who
are so numerous in a small provincial town, and who regarded him as
being much above them, was so furious at this public reprimand, that
he raised his cane and struck Urbain.

The opportunity which this affront afforded Grandier of being
revenged on all his enemies was too precious to be neglected, but,
convinced, with too much reason, that he would never obtain justice
from the local authorities, although the respect due to the Church
had been infringed, in his person he decided to appeal to King Louis
XIII, who deigned to receive him, and deciding that the insult
offered to a priest robed in the sacred vestments should be expiated,
sent the cause to the high court of Parliament, with instructions
that the case against Duthibaut should be tried and decided there.

Hereupon Urbain's enemies saw they had no time to lose, and took
advantage of his absence to make counter accusations against him.
Two worthies beings, named Cherbonneau and Bugrau, agreed to become
informers, and were brought before the ecclesiastical magistrate at
Poitiers. They accused Grandier of having corrupted women and girls,
of indulging in blasphemy and profanity, of neglecting to read his
breviary daily, and of turning God's sanctuary into a place of
debauchery and prostitution. The information was taken down, and
Louis Chauvet, the civil lieutenant, and the archpriest of Saint-
Marcel and the Loudenois, were appointed to investigate the matter,
so that, while Urbain was instituting proceedings against Duthibaut
in Paris, information was laid against himself in Loudun. This
matter thus set going was pushed forward with all the acrimony so
common in religious prosecutions; Trinquant appeared as a witness,
and drew many others after him, and whatever omissions were found in
the depositions were interpolated according to the needs of the
prosecution. The result was that the case when fully got up appeared
to be so serious that it was sent to the Bishop of Poitiers for
trial. Now the bishop was not only surrounded by the friends of
those who were bringing the accusations against Grandier, but had
himself a grudge against him. It had happened some time before that
Urbain, the case being urgent, had dispensed with the usual notice of
a marriage, and the bishop, knowing this, found in the papers laid
before him, superficial as they were, sufficient evidence against
Urbain to justify him in issuing a warrant for his apprehension,
which was drawn up in the following words:

"Henri-Louis, Chataignier de la Rochepezai, by divine mercy Bishop of
Poitiers, in view of the charges and informations conveyed to us by
the archpriest of Loudun against Urbain Grandier, priest-in-charge of
the Church of Saint-Pierre in the Market-Place at Loudun, in virtue
of a commission appointed by us directed to the said archpriest, or
in his absence to the Prior of Chassaignes, in view also of the
opinion given by our attorney upon the said charges, have ordered and
do hereby order that Urbain Grandier, the accused, be quietly taken
to the prison in our palace in Poitiers, if it so be that he be taken
and apprehended, and if not, that he be summoned to appear at his
domicile within three days, by the first apparitor-priest, or
tonsured clerk, and also by the first royal sergeant, upon this
warrant, and we request the aid of the secular authorities, and to
them, or to any one of them, we hereby give power and authority to
carry out this decree notwithstanding any opposition or appeal, and
the said Grandier having been heard, such a decision will be given by
our attorney as the facts may seem to warrant.

"Given at Dissay the 22nd day of October 1629, and signed in the
original as follows:

"HENRI-LOUIS, Bishop of Poitiers."

Grandier was, as we have said, at Paris when these proceedings were
taken against him, conducting before the Parliament his case against
Duthibaut. The latter received a copy of the decision arrived at by
the bishop, before Grandier knew of the charges that had been
formulated against him, and having in the course of his defence drawn
a terrible picture of the immorality of Grandier's life, he produced
as a proof of the truth of his assertions the damning document which
had been put into his hands. The court, not knowing what to think of
the turn affairs had taken, decided that before considering the
accusations brought by Grandier, he must appear before his bishop to
clear himself of the charges, brought against himself. Consequently
he left Paris at once, and arrived at Loudun, where he only stayed
long enough to learn what had happened in his absence, and then went
on to Poitiers in order to draw up his defence. He had, however, no
sooner set foot in the place than he was arrested by a sheriff's
officer named Chatry, and confined in the prison of the episcopal

It was the middle of November, and the prison was at all times cold
and damp, yet no attention was paid to Grandier's request that he
should be transferred to some other place of confinement. Convinced
by this that his enemies had more influence than he had supposed, he
resolved to possess his soul in patience, and remained a prisoner for
two months, during which even his warmest friends believed him lost,
while Duthibaut openly laughed at the proceedings instituted against
himself, which he now believed would never go any farther, and Barot
had already selected one of his heirs, a certain Ismael Boulieau, as
successor to Urbain as priest and prebendary.

It was arranged that the costs of the lawsuit should be defrayed out
of a fund raised by the prosecutors, the rich paying for the poor;
for as all the witnesses lived at Loudun and the trial was to take
place at Poitiers, considerable expense would be incurred by the
necessity of bringing so many people such a distance; but the lust of
vengeance proved stronger than the lust of gold; the subscription
expected from each being estimated according to his fortune, each
paid without a murmur, and at the end of two months the case was

In spite of the evident pains taken by the prosecution to strain the
evidence against the defendant, the principal charge could not be
sustained, which was that he had led astray many wives and daughters
in Loudun. No one woman came forward to complain of her ruin by
Grandier; the name of no single victim of his alleged immorality was
given. The conduct of the case was the most extraordinary ever seen;
it was evident that the accusations were founded on hearsay and not
on fact, and yet a decision and sentence against Grandier were
pronounced on January 3rd, 1630. The sentence was as follows: For
three months to fast each Friday on bread and water by way of
penance; to be inhibited from the performance of clerical functions
in the diocese of Poitiers for five years, and in the town of Loudun
for ever.

Both parties appealed from this decision: Grandier to the Archbishop
of Bordeaux, and his adversaries, on the advice of the attorney to
the diocese, pleading a miscarriage of justice, to the Parliament of
Paris; this last appeal being made in order to overwhelm Grandier and
break his spirit. But Grandier's resolution enabled him to face this
attack boldly: he engaged counsel to defend his case before the
Parliament, while he himself conducted his appeal to the Archbishop
of Bordeaux. But as there were many necessary witnesses, and it was
almost impossible to bring them all such a great distance, the
archiepiscopal court sent the appeal to the presidial court of
Poitiers. The public prosecutor of Poitiers began a fresh
investigation, which being conducted with impartiality was not
encouraging to Grandier's accusers. There had been many conflicting
statements made by the witnesses, and these were now repeated: other
witnesses had declared quite openly that they had been bribed; others
again stated that their depositions had been tampered with; and
amongst these latter was a certain priest named Mechin, and also that
Ishmael Boulieau whom Barot had been in such a hurry to select as
candidate for the reversion of Grandier's preferments. Boulieau's
deposition has been lost, but we can lay Mechin's before the reader,
for the original has been preserved, just as it issued from his pen:

"I, Gervais Mechin, curate-in-charge of the Church of Saint-Pierre in
the Market Place at Loudun, certify by these presents, signed by my
hand, to relieve my conscience as to a certain report which is being
spread abroad, that I had said in support of an accusation brought by
Gilles Robert, archpriest, against Urbain Grandier, priest-in-charge
of Saint-Pierre, that I had found the said Grandier lying with women
and girls in the church of Saint Pierre, the doors being closed.

"ITEM, that on several different occasions, at unsuitable hours both
day and night, I had seen women and girls disturb the said Grandier
by going into his bedroom, and that some of the said women remained
with him from one o'clock in the after noon till three o'clock the
next morning, their maids bringing them their suppers and going away
again at once.

"ITEM, that I had seen the said Grandier in the church, the doors
being open, but that as soon as some women entered he closed them.

"As I earnestly desire that such reports should cease, I declare by
these presents that I have never seen the said Grandier with women or
girls in the church, the doors being closed; that I have never found
him there alone with women or girls; that when he spoke to either
someone else was always present, and the doors were open; and as to
their posture, I think I made it sufficiently clear when in the
witness-box that Grandier was seated and the women scattered over the
church; furthermore, I have never seen either women or girls enter
Grandier's bedroom either by day or night, although it is true that I
have heard people in the corridor coming and going late in the
evening, who they were I cannot say, but a brother of the said
Grandier sleeps close by; neither have I any knowledge that either
women or girls, had their suppers brought to the said room. I have
also never said that he neglected the reading of his breviary,
because that would be contrary to the truth, seeing that on several
occasions he borrowed mine and read his hours in it. I also declare
that I have never seen him close the doors of the church, and that
whenever I have seen him speaking to women I have never noticed any
impropriety; I have not ever seen him touch them in any way, they
have only spoken together; and if anything is found in my deposition
contrary to the above, it is without my knowledge, and was never read
to me, for I would not have signed it, and I say and affirm all this
in homage to the truth.

"Done the last day of October 1630,
"(Signed) G. MECHIN."

In the face of such proofs of innocence none of the accusations could
be considered as established and so, according to the decision of the
presidial court of Poitiers, dated the 25th of May 1634, the decision
of the bishop's court was reversed, and Grandier was acquitted of the
charges brought against him. However, he had still to appear before
the Archbishop of Bordeaux, that his acquittal might be ratified.
Grandier took advantage of a visit which the archbishop paid to his
abbey at Saint-Jouin-les-Marmes, which was only three leagues from
Loudun, to make this appearance; his adversaries, who were
discouraged by the result of the proceedings at Poitiers, scarcely
made any defence, and the archbishop, after an examination which
brought clearly to light the innocence of the accused, acquitted and
absolved him.

The rehabilitation of Grandier before his bishop had two important
results: the first was that it clearly established his innocence, and
the second that it brought into prominence his high attainments and
eminent qualities. The archbishop seeing the persecutions to which
he was subjected, felt a kindly interest in him, and advised him to
exchange into some other diocese, leaving a town the principal
inhabitants of which appeared to have vowed him a relentless hate.
But such an abandonment of his rights was foreign to the character of
Urbain, and he declared to his superior that, strong in His Grace's
approbation and the testimony of his own conscience, he would remain
in the place to which God had called him. Monseigneur de Sourdis did
not feel it his duty to urge Urbain any further, but he had enough
insight into his character to perceive that if Urbain should one day
fall, it would be, like Satan, through pride; for he added another
sentence to his decision, recommending him to fulfil the duties of
his office with discretion and modesty, according to the decrees of
the Fathers and the canonical constitutions. The triumphal entry of
Urbain into Loudun with which we began our narrative shows the spirit
in which he took his recommendation.


Urbain Granadier was not satisfied with the arrogant demonstration by
which he signalised his return, which even his friends had felt to be
ill advised; instead of allowing the hate he had aroused to die away
or at least to fall asleep by letting the past be past, he continued
with more zeal than ever his proceedings against Duthibaut, and
succeeded in obtaining a decree from the Parliament of La Tournelle,
by which Duthibaut was summoned before it, and obliged to listen
bareheaded to a reprimand, to offer apologies, and to pay damages and

Having thus got the better of one enemy, Urbain turned on the others,
and showed himself more indefatigable in the pursuit of justice than
they had been in the pursuit of vengeance. The decision of the
archbishop had given him a right to a sum of money for compensation,
and interest thereon, as well as to the restitution of the revenues
of his livings, and there being some demur made, he announced
publicly that he intended to exact this reparation to the uttermost
farthing, and set about collecting all the evidence which was
necessary for the success of a new lawsuit for libel and forgery
which he intended to begin. It was in vain that his friends assured
him that the vindication of his innocence had been complete and
brilliant, it was in vain that they tried to convince him of the
danger of driving the vanquished to despair, Urbain replied that he
was ready to endure all the persecutions which his enemies might
succeed in inflicting on him, but as long as he felt that he had
right upon his side he was incapable of drawing back.

Grandier's adversaries soon became conscious of the storm which was
gathering above their heads, and feeling that the struggle between
themselves and this man would be one of life or death, Mignon, Barot,
Meunier, Duthibaut, and Menuau met Trinquant at the village of
Pindadane, in a house belonging to the latter, in order to consult
about the dangers which threatened them. Mignon had, however,
already begun to weave the threads of a new intrigue, which he
explained in full to the others; they lent a favourable ear, and his
plan was adopted. We shall see it unfold itself by degrees, for it
is the basis of our narrative.

We have already said that Mignon was the director of the convent of
Ursulines at Loudun: Now the Ursuline order was quite modern, for the
historic controversies to which the slightest mention of the
martyrdom of St. Ursula and her eleven thousand virgins gave rise,
had long hindered the foundation of an order in the saint's honour.
However, in 1560 Madame Angele de Bresse established such an order in
Italy, with the same rules as the Augustinian order. This gained the
approbation of Pope Gregory XIII in 1572. In 1614, Madeleine
Lhuillier, with the approval of Pope Paul V, introduced this order
into France, by founding a convent at Paris, whence it rapidly spread
over the whole kingdom, so-that in 1626, only six years before the
time when the events just related took place, a sisterhood was
founded in the little town of Loudun.

Although this community at first consisted entirely of ladies of good
family, daughters of nobles, officers, judges, and the better class
of citizens, and numbered amongst its founders Jeanne de Belfield,
daughter of the late Marquis of Cose, and relative of M. de
Laubardemont, Mademoiselle de Fazili, cousin of the cardinal-duke,
two ladies of the house of Barbenis de Nogaret, Madame de Lamothe,
daughter of the Marquis Lamothe-Barace of Anjou, and Madame
d'Escoubleau de Sourdis, of the same family as the Archbishop of
Bordeaux, yet as these nuns had almost all entered the convent
because of their want of fortune, the community found itself at the
time of its establishment richer in blood than in money, and was
obliged instead of building to purchase a private house. The owner
of this house was a certain Moussaut du Frene, whose brother was a
priest. This brother, therefore, naturally became the first director
of these godly women. Less than a year after his appointment he
died, and the directorship became vacant.

The Ursulines had bought the house in which they lived much below its
normal value, for it was regarded as a haunted house by all the town.
The landlord had rightly thought that there was no better way of
getting rid of the ghosts than to confront them with a religious
sisterhood, the members of which, passing their days in fasting and
prayer, would be hardly likely to have their nights disturbed by bad
spirits; and in truth, during the year which they had already passed
in the house, no ghost had ever put in an appearance--a fact which
had greatly increased the reputation of the nuns for sanctity.

When their director died, it so happened that the boarders took
advantage of the occasion to indulge in some diversion at the expense
of the older nuns, who were held in general detestation by the youth
of the establishment on account of the rigour with which they
enforced the rules of the order. Their plan was to raise once more
those spirits which had been, as everyone supposed, permanently
relegated to outer darkness. So noises began to be heard on the roof
of the house, which resolved themselves into cries and groans; then
growing bolder, the spirits entered the attics and garrets,
announcing their presence by clanking of chains; at last they became
so familiar that they invaded the dormitories, where they dragged the
sheets off the sisters and abstracted their clothes.

Great was the terror in the convent, and great the talk in the town,
so that the mother superior called her wisest, nuns around her and
asked them what, in their opinion, would be the best course to take
in the delicate circumstances in which they found themselves.
Without a dissentient voice, the conclusion arrived at was, that the
late director should be immediately replaced by a man still holier
than he, if such a man could be found, and whether because he
possessed a reputation for sanctity, or for some other reason, their
choice fell on Urbain Grandier. When the offer of the post was
brought to him, he answered that he was already responsible for two
important charges, and that he therefore had not enough time to watch
over the snow-white flock which they wished to entrust to him, as a
good shepherd should, and he recommended the lady superior to seek
out another more worthy and less occupied than himself.

This answer, as may be supposed, wounded the self-esteem of the
sisters: they next turned their eyes towards Mignon, priest and canon
of the collegiate church of Sainte-Croix, and he, although he felt
deeply hurt that they had not thought first of him, accepted the
position eagerly; but the recollection that Grandier had been
preferred before himself kept awake in, him one of those bitter
hatreds which time, instead of soothing, intensifies. From the
foregoing narrative the reader can see to what this hate led.

As soon as the new director was appointed, the mother superior
confided to him the kind of foes which he would be expected to
vanquish. Instead of comforting her by the assurance that no ghosts
existing, it could not be ghosts who ran riot in the house, Mignon
saw that by pretending to lay these phantoms he could acquire the
reputation for holiness he so much desired. So he answered that the
Holy Scriptures recognised the existence of ghosts by relating how
the witch of Endor had made the shade of Samuel appear to Saul. He
went on to say that the ritual of the Church possessed means of
driving away all evil spirits, no matter how persistent they were,
provided that he who undertook the task were pure in thought and
deed, and that he hoped soon, by the help of God, to rid the convent
of its nocturnal visitants, whereupon as a preparation for their
expulsion he ordered a three days' fast, to be followed by a general

It does not require any great cleverness to understand how easily
Mignon arrived at the truth by questioning the young penitents as
they came before him. The boarders who had played at being ghosts
confessed their folly, saying that they had been helped by a young
novice of sixteen years of age, named Marie Aubin. She acknowledged
that this was true; it was she who used to get up in the middle of
the night, and open the dormitory door, which her more timid room-
mates locked most carefully from within every night, before going to
bed--a fact which greatly increased their terror when, despite their
precautions, the ghosts still got in. Under pretext of not exposing
them to the anger of the superior, whose suspicions would be sure to
be awakened if the apparitions were to disappear immediately after
the general confession, Mignon directed them to renew their nightly
frolics from time to time, but at longer and longer intervals. He
then sought an interview with the superior, and assured her that he
had found the minds of all those under her charge so chaste and pure
that he felt sure through his earnest prayers he would soon clear the
convent of the spirits which now pervaded it.

Everything happened as the director had foretold, and the reputation
for sanctity of the holy man, who by watching and praying had
delivered the worthy Ursulines from their ghostly assailants,
increased enormously in the town of Loudun.


Hardly had tranquillity been restored when Mignon, Duthibaut, Menuau,
Meunier, and Barot, having lost their cause before the Archbishop of
Bordeaux, and finding themselves threatened by Grandier with a
prosecution for libel and forgery, met together to consult as to the
best means of defending themselves before the unbending severity of
this man, who would, they felt, destroy them if they did not destroy

The result of this consultation was that very shortly afterwards
queer reports began to fly about; it was whispered that the ghosts
whom the pious director had expelled had again invaded the convent,
under an invisible and impalpable form, and that several of the nuns
had given, by their words and acts, incontrovertible proofs of being

When these reports were mentioned to Mignon, he, instead of denying
their truth, cast up his eyes to heaven and said that God was
certainly a great and merciful God, but it was also certain that
Satan was very clever, especially when he was barked by that false
human science called magic. However, as to the reports, though they
were not entirely without foundation, he would not go so far as to
say that any of the sisters were really possessed by devils, that
being a question which time alone could decide.

The effect of such an answer on minds already prepared to listen to
the most impossible things, may easily be guessed. Mignon let the
gossip go its rounds for several months without giving it any fresh
food, but at length, when the time was ripe, he called on the priest
of Saint-Jacques at Chinon, and told him that matters had now come to
such a pass in the Ursuline convent that he felt it impossible to
bear up alone under the responsibility of caring for the salvation of
the afflicted nuns, and he begged him to accompany him to the
convent. This priest, whose name was Pierre Barre, was exactly the
man whom Mignon needed in such a crisis. He was of melancholy
temperament, and dreamed dreams and saw visions; his one ambition was
to gain a reputation for asceticism and holiness. Desiring to
surround his visit with the solemnity befitting such an important
event, he set out for Loudun at the head of all his parishioners, the
whole procession going on foot, in order to arouse interest and
curiosity; but this measure was quite needless it took less than that
to set the town agog.

While the faithful filled the churches offering up prayers for the
success of the exorcisms, Mignon and Barre entered upon their task at
the convent, where they remained shut up with the nuns for six hours.
At the end of this time Barre appeared and announced to his
parishioners that they might go back to Chinon without him, for he
had made up his mind to remain for the present at Loudun, in order to
aid the venerable director of the Ursuline convent in the holy work
he had undertaken; he enjoined on them to pray morning and evening,
with all possible fervour, that, in spite of the serious dangers by
which it was surrounded, the good cause might finally triumph. This
advice, unaccompanied as it was by any explanation, redoubled the
curiosity of the people, and the belief gained ground that it was not
merely one or two nuns who were possessed of devils, but the whole
sisterhood. It was not very long before the name of the magician who
had worked this wonder began to be mentioned quite openly: Satan, it
was said, had drawn Urbain Grandier into his power, through his
pride. Urbain had entered into a pact with the Evil Spirit by which
he had sold him his soul in return for being made the most learned
man on earth. Now, as Urbain's knowledge was much greater than that
of the inhabitants of Loudun, this story gained general credence in
the town, although here and there was to be found a man sufficiently
enlightened to shrug his shoulders at these absurdities, and to laugh
at the mummeries, of which as yet he saw only the ridiculous side,

For the next ten or twelve days Mignon and Barre spent the greater
part of their time at the convent; sometimes remaining there for six
hours at a stretch, sometimes the entire day. At length, on Monday,
the 11th of October, 1632, they wrote to the priest of Venier, to
Messire Guillaume Cerisay de la Gueriniere, bailiff of the Loudenois,
and to Messire Louis Chauvet, civil lieutenant, begging them to visit
the Ursuline convent, in order to examine two nuns who were possessed
by evil spirits, and to verify the strange and almost incredible
manifestations of this possession. Being thus formally appealed to,
the two magistrates could not avoid compliance with the request. It
must be confessed that they were not free from curiosity, and felt
far from sorry at being able to get to the bottom of the mystery of
which for some time the whole town was talking. They repaired,
therefore, to the convent, intending to make a thorough investigation
as to the reality of the possession and as to the efficacy of the
exorcisms employed. Should they judge that the nuns were really
possessed, and that those who tried to deliver them were in earnest,
they would authorise the continuation of the efforts at exorcism; but
if they were not satisfied on these two points, they would soon put
an end to the whole thing as a comedy. When they reached the door,
Mignon, wearing alb and stole, came to meet them. He told them that
the feelings of the nuns had for more than two weeks been harrowed by
the apparition of spectres and other blood-curdling visions, that the
mother superior and two nuns had evidently been possessed by evil
spirits for over a week; that owing to the efforts of Barre and same
Carmelite friars who were good enough to assist him against their
common enemies, the devils had been temporarily driven out, but on
the previous Sunday night, the 10th of October, the mother superior,
Jeanne de Belfield, whose conventual name was Jeanne des Anges, and a
lay sister called Jeanne Dumagnoux, had again been entered into by
the same spirits. It had, however, been discovered by means of
exorcisms that a new compact, of which the symbol and token was a
bunch of roses, had been concluded, the symbol and token of the first
having been three black thorns. He added that during the time of the
first possession the demons had refused to give their names, but by
the power of his exorcisms this reluctance had been overcome, the
spirit which had resumed possession of the mother superior having at
length revealed that its name was Ashtaroth, one of the greatest
enemies of God, while the devil which had entered into the lay sister
was of a lower order, and was called Sabulon. Unfortunately,
continued Mignon, just now the two afflicted nuns were resting, and
he requested the bailiff and the civil lieutenant to put off their
inspection till a little later. The two magistrates were just about
to go away, when a nun appeared, saying that the devils were again
doing their worst with the two into whom they had entered.
Consequently, they accompanied Mignon and the priest from Venier to
an upper room, in which were seven narrow beds, of which two only
were occupied, one by the mother superior and the other by the lay
sister. The superior, who was the more thoroughly possessed of the
two, was surrounded by the Carmelite monks, the sisters belonging to
the convent, Mathurin Rousseau, priest and canon of Sainte-Croix, and
Mannouri, a surgeon from the town.

No sooner did the two magistrates join the others than the superior
was seized with violent convulsions, writhing and uttering squeals in
exact imitation of a sucking pig. The two magistrates looked on in
profound astonishment, which was greatly increased when they saw the
patient now bury herself in her bed, now spring right out of it, the
whole performance being accompanied by such diabolical gestures and
grimaces that, if they were not quite convinced that the possession
was genuine, they were at least filled with admiration of the manner
in which it was simulated. Mignon next informed the bailiff and the
civil lieutenant, that although the superior had never learned Latin
she would reply in that language to all the questions addressed to
her, if such were their desire. The magistrates answered that as
they were there in order to examine thoroughly into the facts of the
case, they begged the exorcists to give them every possible proof
that the possession was real. Upon this, Mignon approached the
mother superior, and, having ordered everyone to be silent, placed
two of his fingers in her mouth, and, having gone through the form of
exorcism prescribed by the ritual, he asked the following questions
word for word as they are given,

D. Why have you entered into the body of this young girl?
R. Causa animositatis. Out of enmity.
D. Per quod pactum? By what pact?
R. Per flores. By flowers.
D. Quales? What flowers?
R. Rosas. Roses.
D. Quis misfit? By whom wert thou sent?

At this question the magistrates remarked that the superior hesitated
to reply; twice she opened her mouth in vain, but the third time she
said in a weak voice

D. Dic cognomen? What is his surname?
R. Urbanus. Urbain.

Here there was again the same hesitation, but as if impelled by the
will of the exorcist she answered--

R. Grandier. Grandier.
D. Dic qualitatem? What is his profession?
R. Sacerdos. A priest.
D. Cujus ecclesiae? Of what church?
R. Sancti Petri. Saint-Pierre.
D. Quae persona attulit
flores? Who brought the flowers?
R. Diabolica. Someone sent by the devil.

As the patient pronounced the last word she recovered her senses, and
having repeated a prayer, attempted to swallow a morsel of bread
which was offered her; she was, however, obliged to spit it out,
saying it was so dry she could not get it down.

Something more liquid was then brought, but even of that she could
swallow very little, as she fell into convulsions every few minutes.

Upon this the two officials, seeing there was nothing more to be got
out of the superior, withdrew to one of the window recesses and began
to converse in a low tone; whereupon Mignon, who feared that they had
not been sufficiently impressed, followed them, and drew their
attention to the fact that there was much in what they had just seen
to recall the case of Gaufredi, who had been put to death a few years
before in consequence of a decree of the Parliament of Aix, in
Provence. This ill-judged remark of Mignon showed so clearly what
his aim was that the magistrates made no reply. The civil lieutenant
remarked that he had been surprised that Mignon had not made any
attempt to find out the cause of the enmity of which the superior had
spoken, and which it was so important to find out; but Mignon excused
himself by saying that he had no right to put questions merely to
gratify curiosity. The civil lieutenant was about to insist on the
matter being investigated, when the lay sister in her turn went into
a fit, thus extricating Mignon from his embarrassment. The
magistrates approached the lay sister's bed at once, and directed
Mignon to put the same questions to her as to the superior: he did
so, but all in vain; all she would reply was, "To the other! To the

Mignon explained this refusal to answer by saying that the evil
spirit which was in her was of an inferior order, and referred all
questioners to Ashtaroth, who was his superior. As this was the only
explanation, good or bad, offered them by Mignon, the magistrates
went away, and drew up a report of all they had seen and heard
without comment, merely appending their signatures.

But in the town very few people showed the same discretion and
reticence as the magistrates. The bigoted believed, the hypocrites
pretended to believe; and the worldly-minded, who were numerous,
discussed the doctrine of possession in all its phases, and made no
secret of their own entire incredulity. They wondered, and not
without reason it must be confessed, what had induced the devils to
go out of the nuns' bodies for two days only, and then come back and
resume possession, to the confusion of the exorcists; further, they
wanted to know why the mother superior's devil spoke Latin, while the
lay sister's was ignorant of that tongue; for a mere difference of
rank in the hierarchy of hell did not seem a sufficient explanation
of such a difference in education; Mignon's refusal to go on with his
interrogations as to the cause of the enmity made them, they said,
suspect that, knowing he had reached the end of Ashtaroth's classical
knowledge, he felt it useless to try to continue the dialogue in the
Ciceronian idiom. Moreover, it was well known that only a few days
before all Urbain's worst enemies had met in conclave in the village
of Puidardane; and besides, how stupidly Mignon had shown his hand by
mentioning Gaufredi, the priest who had been executed at Aix: lastly,
why had not a desire for impartiality been shown by calling in other
than Carmelite monks to be present at the exorcism, that order having
a private quarrel with Grandier? It must be admitted that this way
of looking at the case was not wanting in shrewdness.

On the following day, October 12th, the bailiff and the civil
lieutenant, having heard that exorcisms had been again tried without
their having been informed beforehand, requested a certain Canon
Rousseau to accompany them, and set out with him and their clerk for
the convent. On arriving, they asked for Mignon, and on his
appearance they told him that this matter of exorcism was of such
importance that no further steps were to be taken in it without the
authorities being present, and that in future they were to be given
timely notice of every attempt to get rid of the evil spirits. They
added that this was all the more necessary as Mignon's position as
director of the sisterhood and his well-known hate for Grandier would
draw suspicions on him unworthy of his cloth, suspicions which he
ought to be the first to wish to see dissipated, and that quickly;
and that, therefore, the work which he had so piously begun would be
completed by exorcists appointed by the court.

Mignon replied that, though he had not the slightest objection to the
magistrates being present at all the exorcisms, yet he could not
promise that the spirits would reply to anyone except himself and
Barre. Just at that moment Barre came on the scene, paler and more
gloomy than ever, and speaking with the air of a man whose word no
one could help believing, he announced that before their arrival some
most extraordinary things had taken place. The magistrates asked
what things, and Barre replied that he had learned from the mother
superior that she was possessed, not by one, but by seven devils, of
whom Ashtaroth was the chief; that Grandier had entrusted his pact
with the devil, under the symbol of a bunch of roses, to a certain
Jean Pivart, to give to a girl who had introduced it into the convent
garden by throwing it over the wall; that this took place in the
night between Saturday and Sunday "hora secunda nocturna" (two hours
after midnight); that those were the very words the superior had
used, but that while she readily named Pivart, she absolutely refused
to give the name of the girl; that on asking what Pivart was; she had
replied, "Pauper magus" (a poor magician); that he then had pressed
her as to the word magus, and that she had replied "Magicianus et
civis" (magician and citizen); and that just as she said those words
the magistrates had arrived, and he had asked no more questions.

The two officials listened to this information with the seriousness
befitting men entrusted with high judicial functions, and announced
to the two priests that they proposed to visit the possessed women
and witness for themselves the miracles that were taking place. The
clerics offered no opposition, but said they feared that the devils
were fatigued and would refuse to reply; and, in fact, when the
officials reached the sickroom the two patients appeared to have
regained some degree of calm. Mignon took advantage of this quiet
moment to say mass, to which the two magistrates listened devoutly
and tranquilly, and while the sacrifice was being offered the demons
did not dare to move. It was expected that they would offer some
opposition at the elevation of the Host, but everything passed off
without disturbance, only the lay sister's hands and feet twitched a
great deal; and this was the only fact which the magistrates thought
worthy of mention in their report for that morning. Barre assured
them, however, that if they would return about three o'clock the
devils would probably have recovered sufficiently from their fatigue
to give a second performance.

As the two gentlemen had determined to see the affair to the end,
they returned to the convent at the hour named, accompanied by
Messire Irenee de Sainte-Marthe, sieur Deshurneaux; and found the
room in which the possessed were lying full of curious spectators;
for the exorcists had been true prophets--the devils were at work

The superior, as always, was the more tormented of the two, as was
only to be expected, she having seven devils in her all at once; she
was terribly convulsed, and was writhing and foaming at the mouth as
if she were mad. No one could long continue in such a condition
without serious injury to health; Barre therefore asked the devil-in-
chief how soon he would come out. "Cras mane" (To-morrow morning),
he replied. The exorcist then tried to hurry him, asking him why he
would not come out at once; whereupon the superior murmured the word
"Pactum" (A pact); and then "Sacerdos" (A priest), and finally
"Finis," or "Finit," for even those nearest could not catch the word
distinctly, as the devil, afraid doubtless of perpetrating a
barbarism, spoke through the nun's closely clenched teeth. This
being all decidedly unsatisfying, the magistrates insisted that the
examination should continue, but the devils had again exhausted
themselves, and refused to utter another word. The priest even tried
touching the superior's head with the pyx, while prayers and litanies
were recited, but it was all in vain, except that some of the
spectators thought that the contortions of the patient became more
violent when the intercessions of certain saints were invoked, as for
instance Saints Augustine Jerome, Antony, and Mary Magdalene. Barre
next directed the mother superior to dedicate her heart and soul to
God, which she did without difficulty; but when he commanded her to
dedicate her body also, the chief devil indicated by fresh
convulsions that he was not going to allow himself to be deprived of
a domicile without resistance, and made those who had heard him say
that he would leave the next morning feel that he had only said so
under compulsion; and their curiosity as to the result became
heightened. At length, however, despite the obstinate resistance of
the demon, the superior succeeded in dedicating her body also to God,
and thus victorious her features resumed their usual expression, and
smiling as if nothing had happened, she turned to Barre and said that
there was no vestige of Satan left in her. The civil lieutenant then
asked her if she remembered the questions she had been asked and the
answers she had given, but she replied that she remembered nothing;
but afterwards, having taken some refreshment, she said to those
around her that she recollected perfectly how the first possession,
over which Mignon had triumphed, had taken place: one evening about
ten o'clock, while several nuns were still in her room, although she
was already in bed, it seemed to her that someone took her hand and
laid something in it, closing her fingers; at that instant she felt a
sharp pain as if she had been pricked by three pins, and hearing her
scream, the nuns came to her bedside to ask what ailed her. She held
out her hand, and they found three black thorns sticking in it, each
having made a tiny wound. Just as she had told this tale, the lay
sister, as if to prevent all commentary, was seized with convulsions,
and Barre recommenced his prayers and exorcisms, but was soon
interrupted by shrieks; for one of the persons present had seen a
black cat come down the chimney and disappear. Instantly everyone
concluded it must be the devil, and began to seek it out. It was not
without great difficulty that it was caught; for, terrified at the
sight of so many people and at the noise, the poor animal had sought
refuge under a canopy; but at last it was secured and carried to the
superior's bedside, where Barre began his exorcisms once more,
covering the cat with signs of the cross, and adjuring the devil to
take his true shape. Suddenly the 'touriere', (the woman who
received the tradespeople,) came forward, declaring the supposed
devil to be only her cat, and she immediately took possession of it,
lest some harm should happen to it.

The gathering had been just about to separate, but Barry fearing that
the incident of the cat might throw a ridiculous light upon the evil
spirits, resolved to awake once more a salutary terror by announcing
that he was going to burn the flowers through which the second spell
had been made to work. Producing a bunch of white roses, already
faded, he ordered a lighted brazier to be brought. He then threw the
flowers on the glowing charcoal, and to the general astonishment they
were consumed without any visible effect: the heavens still smiled,
no peal of thunder was heard, and no unpleasant odour diffused itself
through the room. Barre feeling that the baldness of this act of
destruction had had a bad effect, predicted that the morrow would
bring forth wondrous things; that the chief devil would speak more
distinctly than hitherto; that he would leave the body of the
superior, giving such clear signs of his passage that no one would
dare to doubt any longer that it was a case of genuine possession.
Thereupon the criminal lieutenant, Henri Herve, who had been present
during the exorcism, said they must seize upon the moment of his exit
to ask about Pivart, who was unknown at Loudun, although everyone who
lived there knew everybody else. Barre replied in Latin, "Et hoc
dicet epuellam nominabit" (He will not only tell about him, but he
will also name the young girl). The young girl whom the devil was to
name was, it may be recollected, she who had introduced the flowers
into the convent, and whose name the demon until now had absolutely
refused to give. On the strength of these promises everyone went
home to await the morrow with impatience.


That evening Grandier asked the bailiff for an audience. At first he
had made fun of the exorcisms, for the story had been so badly
concocted, and the accusations were so glaringly improbable, that he
had not felt the least anxiety. But as the case went on it assumed
such an important aspect, and the hatred displayed by his enemies was
so intense, that the fate of the priest Gaufredi, referred to by
Mignon, occurred to Urbain's mind, and in order to be beforehand with
his enemies he determined to lodge a complaint against them. This
complaint was founded on the fact that Mignon had performed the rite
of exorcism in the presence of the civil lieutenant, the bailiff, and
many other persons, and had caused the nuns who were said to be
possessed, in the hearing of all these people, to name him, Urbain,
as the author of their possession. This being a falsehood and an
attack upon his honour, he begged the bailiff, in whose hands the
conduct of the affair had been specially placed, to order the nuns to
be sequestered, apart from the rest of the sisterhood and from each
other, and then to have each separately examined. Should there
appear to be any evidence of possession, he hoped that the bailiff
would be pleased to appoint clerics of well-known rank and upright
character to perform whatever exorcisms were needful; such men having
no bias against him would be more impartial than Mignon and his
adherents. He also called upon the bailiff to have an exact report
drawn up of everything that took place at the exorcisms, in order
that, if necessary, he as petitioner might be able to lay it before
anyone to whose judgment he might appeal. The bailiff gave Grandier
a statement of the conclusions at which he had arrived, and told him
that the exorcisms had been performed that day by Barre, armed with
the authority of the Bishop of Poitiers himself. Being, as we have
seen, a man of common sense and entirely unprejudiced in the matter,
the bailiff advised Grandier to lay his complaint before his bishop;
but unfortunately he was under the authority of the Bishop of
Poitiers, who was so prejudiced against him that he had done
everything in his power to induce the Archbishop of Bordeaux to
refuse to ratify the decision in favour of Grandier, pronounced by
the presidial court. Urbain could not hide from the magistrate that
he had nothing to hope for from this quarter, and it was decided that
he should wait and see what the morrow would bring forth, before
taking any further step.

The impatiently expected day dawned at last, and at eight o'clock in
the morning the bailiff, the king's attorney, the civil lieutenant,
the criminal lieutenant, and the provost's lieutenant, with their
respective clerks, were already at the convent. They found the outer
gate open, but the inner door shut. In a few moments Mignon came to
them and brought them into a waiting-room. There he told them that
the nuns were preparing for communion, and that he would be very much
obliged to them if they would withdraw and wait in a house across the
street, just opposite the convent, and that he would send them word
when they could come back. The magistrates, having first informed
Mignon of Urbain's petition, retired as requested.

An hour passed, and as Mignon did not summon them, in spite of his
promise, they all went together to the convent chapel, where they
were told the exorcisms were already over. The nuns had quitted the
choir, and Mignon and Barre came to the grating and told them that
they had just completed the rite, and that, thanks to their
conjurations, the two afflicted ones were now quite free from evil
spirits. They went on to say that they had been working together at
the exorcism from seven o'clock in the morning, and that great
wonders, of which they had drawn up an account, had come to pass; but
they had considered it would not be proper to allow any one else to
be present during the ceremony besides the exorcists and the
possessed. The bailiff pointed out that their manner of proceedings
was not only illegal, but that it laid them under suspicion of fraud
and collusion, in the eyes of the impartial: Moreover, as the
superior had accused Grandier publicly, she was bound to renew and
prove her accusation also publicly, and not in secret; furthermore,
it was a great piece of insolence on the part of the exorcists to
invite people of their standing and character to come to the convent,
and having kept them waiting an hour, to tell them that they
considered them unworthy to be admitted to the ceremony which they.
had been requested to attend; and he wound up by saying that he would
draw up a report, as he had already done on each of the preceding
days, setting forth the extraordinary discrepancy between their
promises and their performance. Mignon replied that he and Barre had
had only one thing in view, viz. the expulsion of the, demons, and
that in that they had succeeded, and that their success would be of
great benefit to the holy Catholic faith, for they had got the demons
so thoroughly into their power that they had been able to command
them to produce within a week miraculous proofs of the spells cast on
the nuns by Urbain Grandier and their wonderful deliverance
therefrom; so that in future no one would be able to doubt as to the
reality of the possession. Thereupon the magistrates drew up a
report of all that had happened, and of what Barre and Mignon had
said. This was signed by all the officials present, except the
criminal lieutenant, who declared that, having perfect confidence in
the statements of the exorcists, he was anxious to do nothing to
increase the doubting spirit which was unhappily so prevalent among
the worldly.

The same day the bailiff secretly warned Urbain of the refusal of the
criminal lieutenant to join with the others in signing the report,
and almost at the same moment he learned that the cause of his
adversaries was strengthened by the adhesion of a certain Messire
Rene Memin, seigneur de Silly, and prefect of the town. This
gentleman was held in great esteem not only on account of his wealth
and the many offices which he filled, but above all on account of his
powerful friends, among whom was the cardinal-duke himself, to whom
he had formerly been of use when the cardinal was only a prior. The
character of the conspiracy had now become so alarming that Grandier
felt it was time to oppose it with all his strength. Recalling his
conversation with the bailiff the preceding day, during which he had
advised him to lay his complaint before the Bishop of Poitiers, he
set out, accompanied by a priest of Loudun, named Jean Buron, for the
prelate's country house at Dissay. The bishop, anticipating his
visit, had already given his orders, and Grandier was met by Dupuis,
the intendant of the palace, who, in reply to Grandier's request to
see the bishop, told him that his lordship was ill. Urbain next
addressed himself to the bishop's chaplain, and begged him to inform
the prelate that his object in coming was to lay before him the
official reports which the magistrates had drawn up of the events
which had taken place at the Ursuline convent, and to lodge a
complaint as to the slanders and accusations of which he was the
victim. Grandier spoke so urgently that the chaplain could not
refuse to carry his message; he returned, however, in a few moments,
and told Grandier, in the presence of Dupuis, Buron, and a certain
sieur Labrasse, that the bishop advised him to take his case to the
royal judges, and that he earnestly hoped he would obtain justice
from them. Grandier perceived that the bishop had been warned
against him, and felt that he was becoming more and more entangled in
the net of conspiracy around him; but he was not a man to flinch
before any danger. He therefore returned immediately to Loudun, and
went once more to the bailiff, to whom he related all that had
happened at Dissay; he then, a second time, made a formal complaint
as to the slanders circulated with regard to him, and begged the
magistrates to have recourse to the king's courts in the business.
He also said that he desired to be placed under the protection of the
king and his justice, as the accusations made against him were aimed
at his honour and his life. The bailiff hastened to make out a
certificate of Urbain's protest, which forbade at the same time the

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest