La Sorciere: The Witch of the Middle Ages
by Jules Michelet
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These were scarcely hidden from her at all. But as nothing came to Cadiere save by the way of spiritual insight, she fancied they had been told her in a revelation. Here her kindliness shone out. She felt a large compassion for the God who was thus outraged. And once again she imagined herself bound to atone for the rest, to save the sinners from the punishment they deserved, by draining herself the worst cruelties which the rage of devils would have power to wreak.

All this burst upon her on the 25th June, the Feast of St. John. She was spending the evening with the sisters in the novices' rooms. With a loud cry she fell backward in contortions, and lost all consciousness.

When she came to, the novices surrounded her, waiting eager to hear what she was going to say. But the governess, Madame Lescot, guessed what she would say, felt that she was about to ruin herself. So she lifted her up, and led her straight to her room, where she found herself quite flayed, and her linen covered with blood.

Why did Girard fail her amidst these struggles inward and from without? She could not make him out. She had much need of support, and yet he never came, except for one moment at rare intervals, to the parlour.

She wrote to him on the 28th June, by her brothers; for though she could read, she was scarcely able to write. She called to him in the most stirring, the most urgent tones, and he answers by putting her off. He has to preach at Hyeres, he has a sore throat, and so on.

Wonderful to tell, it is the abbess herself who brings him thither. No doubt she was uneasy at Cadiere's discovering so much of the inner life of the convent. Making sure that the girl would talk of it to Girard, she wished to forestal her. In a very flattering and tender note of the 3rd July, she besought the Jesuit to come and see herself first, for she longed, between themselves, to be his pupil, his disciple, as humble Nicodemus had been of Christ. "Under your guidance, by the blessing of that holy freedom which my post ensures me, I should move forward swiftly and noiselessly in the path of virtue. The state of our young candidate here will serve me as a fair and useful pretext."

A startling, ill-considered step, betraying some unsoundness in the lady's mind. Having failed to supplant Girard with Cadiere, she now essayed to supplant Cadiere with Girard. Abruptly, without the least preface, she stepped forward. She made her decision, like a great lady, who was still agreeable and quite sure of being taken at her word, who would go so far as even to talk of the freedom she enjoyed!

In taking so false a step she started from a true belief that Girard had ceased to care much for Cadiere. But she might have guessed that he had other things to perplex him in Toulon. He was disturbed by an affair no longer turning upon a young girl, but on a lady of ripe age, easy circumstances, and good standing; on his wisest penitent, Mdlle. Gravier. Her forty years failed to protect her. He would have no self-governed sheep in his fold. One day, to her surprise and mortification, she found herself pregnant, and loud was her wail thereat.

Taken up with this new adventure, Girard looked but coldly on the abbess's unforeseen advances. He mistrusted them as a trap laid for him by the Observantines. He resolved to be cautious, saw the abbess, who was already embarrassed by her rash step, and then saw Cadiere, but only in the chapel where he confessed her.

The latter was hurt by his want of warmth. In truth his conduct showed strange inconsistencies. He unsettled her with his light, agreeable letters, full of little sportive threats which might have been called lover-like. And yet he never deigned to see her save in public.

In a note written the same evening she revenged herself in a very delicate way. She said that when he granted her absolution, she felt wonderfully dissevered both from herself and from every other creature.

It was just what Girard would have wanted. His plots had fallen into a sad tangle, and Cadiere was in the way. Her letter enchanted him: far from being annoyed with her, he enjoined her to keep dissevered. At the same time, he hinted at the need he had for caution. He had received a letter, he said, warning him sharply of her faults. However, as he would set off on the 6th July for Marseilles, he would see her on the road.

She awaited him, but no Girard came. Her agitation was very great. It brought on a sharp fit of her old bodily distemper. She spoke of it to her dear Sister Raimbaud, who would not leave her, who slept with her, against the rules. This was on the night of the 6th July, when the heat in that close oven of Ollioules was most oppressive and condensed. At four or five o'clock, seeing her writhe in sharp suffering, the other "thought she had the colic, and went to fetch some fire from the kitchen." While she was gone, Cadiere tried by one last effort to bring Girard to her side forthwith. Whether with her nails she had re-opened the wounds in her head, or whether she had stuck upon it the sharp iron crown, she somehow made herself all bloody. The pain transfigured her, until her eyes sparkled again.

This lasted not less than two hours. The nuns flocked to see her in this state, and gazed admiringly. They would even have brought their Observantines thither, had Cadiere not prevented them.

The abbess would have taken good care to tell Girard nothing, lest he should see her in a plight so touching, so very pitiful. But good Madame Lescot comforted the girl by sending the news to the father. He came, but like a true juggler, instead of going up to her room at once, had himself an ecstatic fit in the chapel, staying there a whole hour on his knees, prostrate before the Holy Sacrament. Going at length upstairs, he found Cadiere surrounded by all the nuns. They tell him how for a moment she looked as if she was at mass, how she seemed to open her lips to receive the Host. "Who should know that better than myself?" said the knave. "An angel had told me. I repeated the mass, and gave her the sacrament from Toulon." They were so upset by the miracle, that one of them was two days ill. Girard then addressed Cadiere with unseemly gaiety: "So, so, little glutton! would you rob me of half my share?"

They withdraw respectfully, leaving these two alone. Behold him face to face with his bleeding victim, so pale, so weak, but agitated all the more! Anyone would have been greatly moved. The avowal expressed by her blood, her wounds, rather than spoken words, was likely to reach his heart. It was a humbling sight; but who would not have pitied her? This innocent girl could for one moment yield to nature! In her short unhappy life, a stranger as she was to the charms of sense, the poor young saint could still show one hour of weakness! All he had hitherto enjoyed of her without her knowledge, became mere nought. With her soul, her will, he would now be master of everything.

In her deposition Cadiere briefly and bashfully said that she lost all knowledge of what happened next. In a confession made to one of her friends she uttered no complaints, but let her understand the truth.

And what did Girard do in return for so charmingly bold a flight of that impatient heart? He scolded her. He was only chilled by a warmth which would have set any other heart on fire. His tyrannous soul wanted nothing but the dead, the merest plaything of his will. And this girl, by the boldness of her first move, had forced him to come. The scholar had drawn the master along. The peevish pedant treated the matter as he would have treated a rebellion at school. His lewd severities, his coolly selfish pursuit of a cruel pleasure, blighted the unhappy girl, who now had nothing left her but remorse.

It was no less shocking a fact, that the blood poured out for his sake had no other effect than to tempt him to make the most of it for his own purposes. In this, perhaps his last, interview he sought to make so far sure of the poor thing's discretion, that, however forsaken by him, she herself might still believe in him. He asked if he was to be less favoured than the nuns who had seen the miracle. She let herself bleed before him. The water with which he washed away the blood he drank himself,[113] and made her drink also, and by this hateful communion, he thought to bind fast her soul.

[113] This communion of blood prevailed among the Northern Reiters. See my Origines.

This lasted two or three hours, and it was now near noon. The abbess was scandalized. She resolved to go with the dinner herself, and make them open the door. Girard took some tea: it being Friday, he pretended to be fasting; though he had doubtless armed himself well at Toulon. Cadiere asked for coffee. The lay sister who managed the kitchen was surprised at this on such a day. But without that strengthening draught she would have fainted away. It set her up a little, and she kept hold of Girard still. He stayed with her, no longer indeed locked in, till four o'clock, seeking to efface the gloomy impression caused by his conduct in the morning. By dint of lying about friendship and fatherhood, he somewhat reassured the susceptible creature, and calmed her troubled spirits. She showed him the way out, and, walking after him, took, childlike, two or three skips for joy. He said, drily, "Little fool!"

* * * * *

She paid heavily for her weakness. At nine of that same night she had a dreadful vision, and was heard crying out, "O God! keep off from me! get back!" On the morning of the 8th, at mass she did not stay for the communion, deeming herself, no doubt, unworthy, but made her escape to her own room. Thereon arose much scandal. Yet so greatly was she beloved, that one of the nuns ran after her, and, telling a compassionate falsehood, swore she had beheld Jesus giving her the sacrament with His own hand.

Madame Lescot delicately and cleverly wrote a legend out of the mystic ejaculations, the holy sighs, the devout tears, and whatever else burst forth from this shattered heart. Strange to say, these women tenderly conspired to shield a woman. Nothing tells more than this in behalf of poor Cadiere and her delightful gifts. Already in one month's time she had become the child of all. They defended her in everything she did. Innocent though she might be, they saw in her only the victim of the Devil's attacks. One kind sturdy woman of the people, Matherone, daughter of the Ollioules locksmith, and porteress herself to the convent, on seeing some of Girard's indecent liberties, said, in spite of them, "No matter: she is a saint." And when he once talked of taking her from the convent, she cried out, "Take away our Mademoiselle Cadiere! I will have an iron door made to keep her from going."

Alarmed at the state of things, and at the use to which it might be turned by the abbess and her monks, Cadiere's brethren who came to her every day, took courage to be beforehand; and in a formal letter written in her name to Girard, reminded him of the revelation given to her on the 25th June regarding the morals of the Observantines. It was time, they said, "to carry out God's purposes in this matter," namely, of course, to demand an inquiry, to accuse the accusers.

Their excess of boldness was very rash. Cadiere, now all but dying, had no such thoughts in her head. Her women-friends imagined that he who had caused the disturbance would, perhaps, bring back the calm. They besought Girard to come and confess her. A dreadful scene took place. At the confessional she uttered cries and wailings audible thirty paces off. The curious among them found some amusement listening to her, and were not disappointed. Girard was inflicting chastisement. Again and again he said, "Be calm, mademoiselle!" In vain did he try to absolve her. She would not be absolved. On the 12th, she had so sharp a pang below her heart, that she felt as though her sides were bursting. On the 14th, she seemed fast dying, and her mother was sent for. She received the viaticum; and on the morrow made a public confession, "the most touching, the most expressive that had ever been heard. We were drowned in tears." On the 20th, she was in a state of heart-rending agony. After that she had a sudden and saving change for the better, marked by a very soothing vision. She beheld the sinful Magdalen pardoned, caught up into glory, filling in heaven the place which Lucifer had lost.

Girard, however, could only ensure her discretion by corrupting her yet further, by choking her remorse. Sometimes he would come to the parlour and greet her with bold embraces. But oftener he sent his faithful followers, Guiol and others, who sought to initiate her into their own disgraceful secrets, while seeming to sympathise tenderly with the sufferings of their outspoken friend. Girard not only winked at this, but himself spoke freely to Cadiere of such matters as the pregnancy of Mdlle. Gravier. He wanted her to ask him to Ollioules, to calm his irritation, to persuade him that such a circumstance might be a delusion of the Devil's causing, which could perchance be dispelled.

These impure teachings made no way with Cadiere. They were sure to anger her brethren, to whom they were not unknown. The letters they wrote in her name are very curious. Enraged at heart and sorely wounded, accounting Girard a villain, but obliged to make their sister speak of him with respectful tenderness, they still, by snatches, let their wrath become visible.

As for Girard's letters, they are pieces of laboured writing, manifestly meant for the trial which might take place. Let us talk of the only one which he did not get into his hands to tamper with. It is dated the 22nd July. It is at once sour and sweet, agreeable, trifling, the letter of a careless man. The meaning of it is thus:—

"The bishop reached Toulon this morning, and will go to see Cadiere.... They will settle together what to do and say. If the Grand Vicar and Father Sabatier wish to see her, and ask to see her wounds, she will tell them that she has been forbidden to do or say aught.

"I am hungering to see you again, to see the whole of you. You know that I only demand my right. It is so long since I have seen more than half of you (he means to say, at the parlour grating). Shall I tire you? Well, do you not also tire me?" And so on.

A strange letter in every way. He distrusts alike the bishop and the Jesuit, his own colleague, old Sabatier. It is at bottom the letter of a restless culprit. He knows that in her hands she holds his letters, his papers, the means, in short, of ruining him. The two young men write back in their sister's name a spirited answer—the only one that has a truthful sound. They answer him line for line, without insult, but with a roughness often ironical, and betraying the wrath pent-up within them. The sister promises to obey him, to say nothing either to the bishop or the Jesuit. She congratulates him on having "boldness enough to exhort others to suffer." She takes up and returns him his shocking gallantry, but in a shocking way; and here we trace a man's hand, the hand of those two giddy heads.

Two days after, they went and told her to decide on leaving the convent forthwith. Girard was dismayed. He thought his papers would disappear with her. The greatness of his terror took away his senses. He had the weakness to go and weep at the Ollioules parlour, to fall on his knees before her, and ask her if she had the heart to leave him. Touched by his words, the poor girl said "No," went forward, and let him embrace her. And yet this Judas wanted only to deceive her, to gain a few days' time for securing help from a higher quarter.

On the 29th there is an utter change. Cadiere stays at Ollioules, begs him to excuse her, vows submission. It is but too clear that he has set some mighty influences at work; that from the 29th threats come in, perhaps from Aix, and presently from Paris. The Jesuit bigwigs have been writing, and their courtly patrons from Versailles.

In such a struggle, what were the brethren to do? No doubt they took counsel with their chiefs, who would certainly warn them against setting too hard on Girard as a libertine confessor; for thereby offence would be given to all the clergy, who deemed confession their dearest prize. It was needful, on the contrary; to sever him from the priests by proving the strangeness of his teaching, by bringing him forward as a Quietist. With that one word they might lead him a long way. In 1698, a vicar in the neighbourhood of Dijon had been burnt for Quietism. They conceived the idea of drawing up a memoir, dictated apparently by their sister, to whom the plan was really unknown, in which the high and splendid Quietism of Girard should be affirmed, and therefore in effect denounced. This memoir recounted the visions she had seen in Lent. In it the name of Girard was already in heaven. She saw it joined with her own in the Book of Life.

They durst not take this memoir to the bishop. But they got their friend, little Camerle, his youthful chaplain, to steal it from them. The bishop read it, and circulated some copies about the town. On the 21st August, Girard being at the palace, the bishop laughingly said to him, "Well, father, so your name is in the Book of Life!"

He was overcome, fancied himself lost, wrote to Cadiere in terms of bitter reproach. Once more with tears he asked for his papers. Cadiere in great surprise vowed that her memoir had never gone out of her brother's hands. But when she found out her mistake, her despair was unbounded. The sharpest pangs of body and soul beset her. Once she thought herself on the point of death. She became like one mad. "I long so much to suffer. Twice I caught up the rod of penance, and wielded it so savagely as to draw a great deal of blood." In the midst of this dreadful outbreak, which proved at once the weakness of her head and the boundless tenderness of her conscience, Guiol finished her by describing Girard as nearly dead. This raised her compassion to the highest pitch.

She was going to give up the papers. And yet it was but too clear that these were her only safeguard and support, the only proofs of her innocence, and the tricks of which she had been made the victim. To give them up was to risk a change of characters, to risk the imputation of having herself seduced a saint, the chance, in short, of seeing all the blame transferred to her own side.

But, if she must either be ruined herself or else ruin Girard, she would far sooner accept the former result. A demon, Guiol of course, tempted her in this very way, with the wondrous sublimity of such a sacrifice. God, she wrote, asked of her a bloody offering. She could tell her of saints who, being accused, did not justify, but rather accused themselves, and died like lambs. This example Cadiere followed. When Girard was accused before her, she defended him, saying, "He is right, and I told a falsehood."

She might have yielded up the letters of Girard only; but in so great an outflowing of heart she would have no haggling, and so gave him even copies of her own.

Thus at the same time he held these drafts written by the Jacobin, and the copies made and sent him by the other brother. Thenceforth he had nothing to fear: no further check could be given him. He might make away with them or put them back again; might destroy, blot out, and falsify at pleasure. He was perfectly free to carry on his forger's work, and he worked away to some purpose. Out of twenty-four letters, sixteen remain; and these still read like elaborately forged afterthoughts.

With everything in his own hands, Girard could laugh at his foes. It was now their turn to be afraid. The bishop, a man of the upper world, was too well acquainted with Versailles and the name won by the Jesuits not to treat them with proper tenderness. He even thought it safest to make Girard some small amends for his unkind reproach about The Book of Life; and so he graciously informed him that he would like to stand godfather to the child of one of his kinsmen.

The Bishops of Toulon had always been high lords. The list of them shows all the first names of Provence, and some famous names from Italy. From 1712 to 1737, under the Regency and Fleury, the bishop was one of the La Tours of Pin. He was very rich, having also the Abbeys of Aniane and St. William of the Desert, in Languedoc. He behaved well, it was said, during the plague of 1721. However, he stayed but seldom at Toulon, lived quite as a man of the world, never said mass, and passed for something more than a lady's man.

In July he went to Toulon, and though Girard would have turned him aside from Ollioules and Cadiere, he was curious to see her nevertheless. He saw her in one of her best moments. She took his fancy, seemed to him a pretty little saint; and so far did he believe in her enlightenment from above, as to speak to her thoughtlessly of all his affairs, his interests, his future doings, consulting her as he would have consulted a teller of fortunes.

In spite, however, of the brethren's prayers he hesitated to take her away from Ollioules and from Girard. A means was found of resolving him. A report was spread about Toulon, that the girl had shown a desire to flee into the wilderness, as her model saint, Theresa, had essayed to do at twelve years old. Girard, they said, had put this fancy into her head, that he might one day carry her off beyond the diocese whose pride she was, and box-up his treasure in some far convent, where the Jesuits, enjoying the whole monopoly, might turn to the most account her visions, her miracles, her winsome ways as a young saint of the people. The bishop felt much hurt. He instructed the abbess to give Mdlle. Cadiere up to no one save her mother, who was certain to come very shortly and take her away from the convent to a country-house belonging to the family.

In order not to offend Girard, they got Cadiere to write and say that, if such a change incommoded him, he could find a colleague and give her a second confessor. He saw their meaning, and preferred disarming jealousy by abandoning Cadiere. He gave her up on the 15th September, in a note most carefully worded and piteously humble, by which he strove to leave her friendly and tender towards himself. "If I have sometimes done wrong as concerning you, you will never at least forget how wishful I have been to help you.... I am, and ever will be, all yours in the Secret Heart of Jesus."

The bishop, however, was not reassured. He fancied that the three Jesuits, Girard, Sabatier, and Grignet, wanted to beguile him, and some day, with some order from Paris, rob him of his little woman. On the 17th September, he decided once for all to send his carriage, a light fashionable phaeton, as it was called, and have her taken off at once to her mother's country-house.

By way of soothing and shielding her, of putting her in good trim, he looked out for a confessor, and applied first to a Carmelite who had confessed her before Girard came. But he, being an old man, declined. Some others also probably hung back. The bishop had to take a stranger, but three months come from the County (Avignon), one Father Nicholas, prior of the Barefooted Carmelites. He was a man of forty, endowed with brains and boldness, very firm and even stubborn. He showed himself worthy of such a trust by rejecting it. It was not the Jesuits he feared, but the girl herself. He foreboded no good therefrom, thought that the angel might be an angel of darkness, and feared that the Evil One under the shape of a gentle girl would deal his blows with all the more baleful effect.

But he could not see her without feeling somewhat reassured. She seemed so very simple, so pleased at length to have a safe, steady person, on whom she might lean. The continual wavering in which she had been kept by Girard, had caused her the greatest suffering. On the first day she spoke more than she had done for a month past, told him of her life, her sufferings, her devotions, and her visions. Night itself, a hot night in mid-September, did not stop her. In her room everything was open, the windows, and the three doors. She went on even to daybreak, while her brethren lay near her asleep. On the morrow she resumed her tale under the vine-bower. The Carmelite was amazed, and asked himself if the Devil could ever be so earnest in praise of God.

Her innocence was clear. She seemed a nice obedient girl, gentle as a lamb, frolicsome as a puppy. She wanted to play at bowls, a common game in those country-places, nor did he for his part refuse to join her.

If there was a spirit in her, it could not at any rate be called the spirit of lying. On looking at her closely for a long time, you could not doubt that her wounds now and then did really bleed. He took care to make no such immodest scrutiny of them as Girard had done, contenting himself with a look at the wound upon her foot. Of her trances he saw quite enough. On a sudden, a burning heat would diffuse itself everywhere from her heart. Losing her consciousness, she went into convulsions and talked wildly.

The Carmelite clearly perceived that in her were two persons, the young woman and the Demon. The former was honest, nay, very fresh of heart; ignorant, for all that had been done to her; little able to understand the very things that had brought her into such sore trouble. When, before confession, she spoke of Girard's kisses, the Carmelite roughly said, "But those are very great sins."

"O God!" she answered, weeping, "I am lost indeed, for he has done much more than that to me!"

The bishop came to see. For him the country-house was only the length of a walk. She answered his questions artlessly, told him at least how things began. The bishop was angry, mortified, very wroth. No doubt he guessed the remainder. There was nought to keep him from raising a great outcry against Girard. Not caring for the danger of a struggle with the Jesuits, he entered thoroughly into the Carmelite's views, allowed that she was bewitched, and added that Girard himself was the wizard. He wanted to lay him that very moment under a solemn ban, to bring him to disgrace and ruin. Cadiere prayed for him who had done her so much wrong; vengeance she would not have. Falling on her knees before the bishop, she implored him to spare Girard, to speak no more of things so sorrowful. With touching humility, she said, "It is enough for me to be enlightened at last, to know that I was living in sin." Her Jacobin brother took her part, foreseeing the perils of such a war, and doubtful whether the bishop would stand fast.

Her attacks of disorder were now fewer. The season had changed. The burning summer was over. Nature at length showed mercy. It was the pleasant month of October. The bishop had the keen delight of feeling that she had been saved by him. No longer under Girard's influence in the stifling air of Ollioules, but well cared-for by her family, by the brave and honest monk, protected, too, by the bishop, who never grudged his visits, and who shielded her with his steady countenance, the young girl became altogether calm.

For seven weeks or so she seemed quite well-behaved. The bishop's happiness was so great that he wanted the Carmelite, with Cadiere's help, to look after Girard's other penitents, and bring them also back to their senses. They should go to the country-house; how unwillingly, and with how ill a grace we can easily guess. In truth, it was strangely ill-judged to bring those women before the bishop's ward, a girl so young still, and but just delivered from her own ecstatic ravings.

The state of things became ridiculous and sorely embittered. Two parties faced each other, Girard's women and those of the bishop. On the side of the latter were a German lady and her daughter, dear friends of Cadiere's. On the other side were the rebels, headed by the Guiol. With her the bishop treated, in hopes of getting her to enter into relations with the Carmelite, and bring her friends over to him. He sent her his own clerk, and then a solicitor, an old lover of Guiol's. All this failing of any effect, the bishop came to his last resource, determined to summon them all to his palace. Here they mostly denied those trances and mystic marks of which they had made such boast. One of them, Guiol, of course, astonished him yet more by her shamelessly treacherous offer to prove to him, on the spot, that they had no marks whatever about their bodies. They had deemed him wanton enough to fall into such a snare. But he kept clear of it very well, declining the offer with thanks to those who, at the cost of their own modesty, would have had him copy Girard, and provoke the laughter of all the town.

The bishop was not lucky. On the one hand, these bold wenches made fun of him. On the other, his success with Cadiere was now being undone. She had hardly entered her own narrow lane in gloomy Toulon, when she began to fall off. She was just in those dangerous and baleful centres where her illness began, on the very field of the battle waged by the two hostile parties. The Jesuits, whose rearguard everyone saw in the Court, had on their side the crafty, the prudent, the knowing. The Carmelite had none but the bishop with him, was not even backed by his own brethren, nor yet by the clergy. He had one weapon, however, in reserve. On the 8th November, he got out of Cadiere a written power to reveal her confession in case of need.

It was a daring, dauntless step, which made Girard shudder. He was not very brave, and would have been undone had his cause not been that of the Jesuits also. He cowered down in the depths of their college. But his colleague Sabatier, an old, sanguine, passionate fellow, went straight to the bishop's palace. He entered into the prelate's presence, like another Popilius, bearing peace or war in his gown. He pushed him to the wall, made him understand that a suit with the Jesuits would lead to his own undoing; that he would remain for ever Bishop of Toulon; would never rise to an archbishopric. Yet further, with the freedom of an apostle strong at Versailles, he assured him that if this affair exposed the morals of a Jesuit, it would shed no less light on the morals of a bishop. In a letter, clearly planned by Girard, it was pretended that the Jesuits held themselves ready in the background, to hurl dreadful recriminations against the prelate, declaring his way of life not only unepiscopal, but abominable withal. The sly, faithless Girard and the hot-headed Sabatier, swollen with rage and spitefulness, would have pressed the calumnious charge. They would not have failed to say that all this matter was about a girl; that if Girard had taken care of her when ill, the bishop had gotten her when she was well. What a commotion would be caused by such a scandal in the well-regulated life of the great worldly lord! It were too laughable a piece of chivalry to make war in revenge for the maidenhood of a weak little fool, to embroil oneself for her sake with all honest people! The Cardinal of Bonzi died indeed of grief at Toulouse, but that was on account of a fair lady, the Marchioness of Ganges. The bishop, on his part, risked his ruin, risked the chance of being overwhelmed with shame and ridicule, for the child of a retail-dealer in the Rue de l'Hopital!

Sabatier's threatenings made all the greater impression, because the bishop himself clung less firmly to Cadiere. He did not thank her for falling ill again; for giving the lie to his former success; for doing him a wrong by her relapse. He bore her a grudge for having failed to cure her. He said to himself that Sabatier was in the right; that he had better come to a compromise. The change was sudden—a kind of warning from above. All at once, like Paul on the way to Damascus, he beheld the light, and became a convert to the Jesuits.

Sabatier would not let him go. He put paper before him, and made him write and sign a decree forbidding the Carmelite, his agent with Cadiere, and another forbidding her brother, the Jacobin.



We can guess how this alarming blow was taken by the Cadiere family. The sick girl's attacks became frequent and fearful. By a cruel chance they brought on a kind of epidemic among her intimate friends. Her neighbour, the German lady, who had trances also, which she had hitherto deemed divine, now fell into utter fright, and fancied they came from hell. This worthy dame of fifty years remembered that she, too, had often had unclean thoughts: she believed herself given over to the Devil; saw nothing but devils about her; and escaping from her own house in spite of her daughter's watchfulness, entreated shelter from the Cadieres. From that time the house became unbearable; business could not be carried on. The elder Cadiere inveighed furiously against Girard, crying, "He shall be served like Gauffridi: he, too, shall be burnt!" And the Jacobin added, "Rather would we waste the whole of our family estate!"

On the night of the 17th November, Cadiere screamed, and was like one choking. They thought she was going to die. The eldest Cadiere, the tradesman, lost his wits, and called out to his neighbours from the window, "Help! the Devil is throttling my sister!" They came running up almost in their shirts. The doctors and surgeons wanted to apply the cupping-glasses to a case of what they called "suffocation of the womb." While some were gone to fetch these, they succeeded in unlocking her teeth and making her swallow a drop of brandy, which brought her to herself. Meanwhile there also came to the girl some doctors of the soul; first an old priest confessor to Cadiere's mother, and then some parsons of Toulon. All this noise and shouting, the arrival of the priests in full dress, the preparations for exorcising, had brought everyone out into the street. The newcomers kept asking what was the matter. "Cadiere has been bewitched by Girard," was the continual reply. We may imagine the pity and the wrath of the people.

Greatly alarmed, but anxious to cast the fear back on others, the Jesuits did a very barbarous thing. They returned to the bishop, ordered and insisted that Cadiere should be brought to trial; that the attack should be made that very day; that justice should make an unforeseen descent on this poor girl, as she lay rattling in the throat after the last dreadful seizure.

Sabatier never left the bishop until the latter had called his judge, his officer, the Vicar-general Larmedieu, and his prosecutor or episcopal advocate, Esprit Reybaud, and commanded them to go to work forthwith.

By the Canon Law this was impossible, illegal. A preliminary inquiry was needed into the facts, before the judicial business could begin. There was another difficulty: the spiritual judge had no right to make such an arrest save for a rejection of the Sacrament. The two church-lawyers must have made these objections. But Sabatier would hear of no excuses. If matters were allowed to drag in this cold legal way, he would miss his stroke of terror.

Larmedieu was a compliant judge, a friend of the clergy. He was not one of your rude magistrates who go straight before them, like blind boars, on the high-road of the law, without seeing or respecting anyone. He had shown great regard for Aubany, the patron of Ollioules, during his trial; helping him to escape by the slowness of his own procedure. Afterwards, when he knew him to be at Marseilles, as if that was far from France, in the ultima thule or terra incognita of ancient geographers, he would not budge any further. This, however, was a very different case: the judge who was so paralytic against Aubany, had wings, and wings of lightning, for Cadiere. It was nine in the morning when the dwellers in the lane saw with much curiosity a grand procession arrive at the Cadieres' door, with Master Larmedieu and the episcopal advocate at the head, honoured by an escort of two clergymen, doctors of theology. The house was invaded: the sick girl was summoned before them. They made her swear to tell the truth against herself; swear to defame herself by speaking out in the ears of justice matters that touched her conscience and the confessional only.

She might have dispensed with an answer, for none of the usual forms had been observed: but she would not raise the question. She took the oath that was meant to disarm and betray her. For, being once bound thereby, she told everything, even to those shameful and ridiculous details which it must be very painful for any girl to acknowledge.

Larmedieu's official statement and his first examination point to a clearly settled agreement between him and the Jesuits. Girard was to be brought forward as the dupe and prey of Cadiere's knavery. Fancy a man of sixty, a doctor, professor, director of nuns, being therewithal so innocent and credulous, that a young girl, a mere child, was enough to draw him into the snare! The cunning, shameless wanton had beguiled him with her visions, but failed to draw him into her own excesses. Enraged thereat, she endowed him with every baseness that the fancy of a Messalina could suggest to her!

So far from giving grounds for any such idea, the examination brings out the victim's gentleness in a very touching way. Evidently she accuses others only through constraint, under the pressure of her oath just taken. She is gentle towards her enemies, even to the faithless Guiol who, in her brother's words, had betrayed her; had done her worst to corrupt her; had ruined her, last of all, by making her give up the papers which would have insured her safety.

The Cadiere brothers were frightened at their sister's artlessness. In her regard for her oath she gave herself up without reserve to be vilified, alas! for ever; to have ballads sung about her; to be mocked by the very foes of Jesuits and silly scoffing libertines.

The mischief done, they wanted at least to have it defined, to have the official report of the priests checked by some more serious measure. Seeming though she did to be the party accused, they made her the accuser, and prevailed on Marteli Chantard, the King's Lieutenant Civil and Criminal, to come and take her deposition. In this document, short and clear, the fact of her seduction is clearly established; likewise the reproaches she uttered against Girard for his lewd endearments, reproaches at which he only laughed; likewise the advice he gave her, to let herself be possessed by the Demon; likewise the means he used for keeping her wounds open, and so on.

The King's officer, the Lieutenant, was bound to carry the matter before his own court. For the spiritual judge in his hurry had failed to go through the forms of ecclesiastic law, and so made his proceedings null. But the lay magistrate lacked the courage for this. He let himself be harnessed to the clerical inquiry, accepted Larmedieu for his colleague, went himself to sit and hear the evidence in the bishop's court. The clerk of the bishopric wrote it down, and not the clerk of the King's Lieutenant. Did he write it down faithfully? We have reason to doubt that, when we find him threatening the witnesses, and going every night to show their statements to the Jesuits.

The two curates of Cadiere's parish, who were heard first, deposed drily, not in her favour, yet by no means against her, certainly not in favour of the Jesuits. These latter saw that everything was going amiss for them. Lost to all shame, at the risk of angering the people, they determined to break all down. They got from the bishop an order to imprison Cadiere and the chief witnesses she wanted to be heard. These were the German lady and Batarelle. The girl herself was placed in the Refuge, a convent-prison; the ladies in a bridewell, the Good-Shepherd, where mad women and foul streetwalkers needing punishment were thrown. On the 26th November, Cadiere was dragged from her bed and given over to the Ursulines, penitents of Girard's, who laid her duly on some rotten straw.

A fear of them thus established, the witnesses might now be heard. They began with two, choice and respectable. One was the Guiol, notorious for being Girard's pander, a woman of keen and clever tongue, who was commissioned to hurl the first dart and open the wound of slander. The other was Laugier, the little seamstress, whom Cadiere had supported and for whose apprenticeship she had paid. While she lay with child by Girard, this Laugier had cried out against him; now she washed away her fault by sneering at Cadiere and defiling her benefactress, but in a very clumsy way, like the shameless wanton she was; ascribing to her impudent speeches quite contrary to her known habits. Then came Mdlle. Gravier and her cousin Reboul—all the Girardites, in short, as they were called in Toulon.

But, do as they would, the light would burst forth now and then. The wife of a purveyor in the house where these Girardites met together, said, with cruel plainness, that she could not abide them, that they disturbed the whole house; she spoke of their noisy bursts of laughter, of their suppers paid for out of the money collected for the poor, and so forth.

They were sore afraid lest the nuns should speak out for Cadiere. The bishop's clerk told them, as if from the bishop himself, that those who spoke evil should be chastised. As a yet stronger measure, they ordered back from Marseilles the gay Father Aubany, who had some ascendant over the nuns. His affair with the girl he had violated was got settled for him. Her parents were made to understand that justice could do nothing in their case. The child's good name was valued at eight hundred livres, which were paid on Aubany's account. So, full of zeal, he returned, a thorough Jesuit, to his troop at Ollioules. The poor troop trembled indeed, when this worthy father told them of his commission to warn them that, if they did not behave themselves, "they should be put to the torture."

For all that, they could not get as much as they wanted from these fifteen nuns. Two or three at most were on Girard's side, but all stated facts, especially about the 7th July, which bore directly against him.

In despair the Jesuits came to an heroic decision, in order to make sure of their witnesses. They stationed themselves in an outer hall which led into the court. There they stopped those going in, tampered with them, threatened them, and, if they were against Girard, coolly debarred their entrance by thrusting them out of doors.

Thus the clerical judge and the King's officer were only as puppets in the Jesuits' hands. The whole town saw this and trembled. During December, January, and February, the Cadiere family drew up and diffused a complaint touching the way in which justice was denied them and witnesses suborned. The Jesuits themselves felt that the place would no longer hold them. They evoked help from a higher quarter. This seemed best available in the shape of a decree of the Great Council, which would have brought the matter before itself and hushed up everything, as Mazarin had done in the Louviers affair. But the Chancellor was D'Aguesseau; and the Jesuits had no wish to let the matter go up to Paris. They kept it still in Provence. On the 16th January, 1731, they got the King to determine that the Parliament of Provence, where they had plenty of friends, should pass sentence on the inquiry which two of its councillors were conducting at Toulon.

M. Faucon, a layman, and M. de Charleval, a councillor of the Church, came in fact and straightway marched down among the Jesuits. These eager commissioners made so little secret of their loud and bitter partiality, as to toss out an order for Cadiere's remand, just as they might have done to an accused prisoner; whilst Girard was most politely called up and allowed to go free, to keep on saying mass and hearing confessions. And so the plaintiff was kept under lock and key, in her enemies' hands, exposed to all manner of cruelty from Girard's devotees.

From these honest Ursulines she met with just such a reception as if they had been charged to bring about her death. The room they gave her was the cell of a mad nun who made everything filthy. In the nun's old straw, in the midst of a frightful stench, she lay. Her kinsmen on the morrow had much ado to get in a coverlet and mattress for her use. For her nurse and keeper she was allowed a poor tool of Girard's, a lay-sister, daughter to that very Guiol who had betrayed her; a girl right worthy of her mother, capable of any wickedness, a source of danger to her modesty, perhaps even to her life. They submitted her to a course of penance in her case specially painful, refusing her the right of confessing herself or taking the sacrament. She relapsed into her illness from the time she was debarred the latter privilege. Her fierce foe, the Jesuit Sabatier, came into her cell, and formed a new and startling scheme to win her by a bribe of the holy wafer. The bargaining began. They offered her terms: she should communicate if she would only acknowledge herself a slanderer, unworthy of communicating. In her excessive humbleness she might have done so. But, while ruining herself, she would also have ruined the Carmelite and her own brethren.

Reduced to Pharisaical tricks, they took to expounding her speeches. Whatever she uttered in a mystic sense they feigned to accept in its material hardness. To free herself from such snares she displayed, what they had least expected, very great presence of mind.

A yet more treacherous plan for robbing her of the public sympathy and setting the laughers against her, was to find her a lover. They pretended that she had proposed to a young blackguard that they should set off together and roam the world.

The great lords of that day, being fond of having children and little pages to wait on them, readily took in the better-mannered of their peasant's sons. In this way had the bishop dealt with the boy of one of his tenants. He washed his face, as it were; made him tidy. Presently, when the favourite grew up, he gave him the tonsure, dressed him up like an abbe, and dubbed him his chaplain at the age of twenty. This person was the Abbe Camerle. Brought up with the footmen and made to do everything, he was, like many a half-scrubbed country youth, a sly, but simple lout. He saw that the prelate since his arrival at Toulon had been curious about Cadiere and far from friendly to Girard. He thought to please and amuse his master by turning himself, at Ollioules, into a spy on their suspected intercourse. But after the bishop changed through fear of the Jesuits, Camerle became equally zealous in helping Girard with active service against Cadiere.

He came one day, like another Joseph, to say that Mdlle. Cadiere had, like Potiphar's wife, been tempting him, and trying to shake his virtue. Had this been true, it was all the more cowardly of him thus to punish her for a moment's weakness, to take so mean an advantage of some light word. But his education as page and seminarist was not such as to bring him either honour or the love of women.

She extricated herself with spirit and success, covering him with shame. The two angry commissioners saw her making so triumphant an answer, that they cut the investigation short, and cut down the number of her witnesses. Out of the sixty-eight she summoned, they allowed but thirty-eight to appear. Regardless alike of the delays and the forms of justice, they hurried forward the confronting of witnesses. Yet nothing was gained, thereby. On the 25th and again on the 26th February, she renewed her crushing declarations.

Such was their rage thereat, that they declared their regret at the want of torments and executioners in Toulon, "who might have made her sing out a little." These things formed their ultima ratio. They were employed, by the Parliaments through all that century. I have before me a warm defence of torture,[114] written in 1780, by a learned member of Parliament, who also became a member of the Great Council; it was dedicated to the King, Louis XVI., and crowned with the flattering approval of His Holiness Pius VI.

[114] Muyart de Vouglans, in the sequel to his Loix Criminelles, 1780.

But, in default of the torture that would have made her sing, she was made to speak by a still better process. On the 27th February, Guiol's daughter, the lay-sister who acted as her jailer, came to her at an early hour with a glass of wine. She was astonished: she was not at all thirsty: she never drank wine, especially pure wine, of a morning. The lay-sister, a rough, strong menial, such as they keep in convents to manage crazy or refractory women, and to punish children, overwhelmed the feeble sufferer with remonstrances that looked like threats. Unwilling as she was, she drank. And she was forced to drink it all, to the very dregs, which she found unpleasantly salt.

What was this repulsive draught? We have already seen how clever these old confessors of nuns were at remedies of various kinds. In this case the wine alone would have done for so weakly a patient. It had been quite enough to make her drunk, to draw from her at once some stammering speeches, which the clerk might have moulded into a downright falsehood. But a drug of some kind, perhaps some wizard's simple, which would act for several days, was added to the wine, in order to prolong its effects and leave her no way of disproving anything laid to her charge.

In her declaration of the 27th February, how sudden and entire a change! It is nothing but a defence of Girard! Strange to say, the commissioners make no remark on so abrupt a change. The strange, shameful sight of a young girl drunk causes no astonishment, fails to put them on their guard. She is made to own that all which had passed between herself and Girard was merely the offspring of her own diseased fancy; that all she had spoken of as real, at the bidding of her brethren and the Carmelite, was nothing more than a dream. Not content with whitening Girard, she must blacken her own friends, must crush them, and put the halter round their necks.

Especially wonderful is the clearness of her deposition, the neat way in which it is worded. The hand of the skilful clerk peeps out therefrom. It is very strange, however, that now they are in so fair a way, they do not follow it up. From the 27th to the 6th of March there is no further questioning.

On the 28th, the poison having doubtless done its work, and plunged her into a perfect stupor, or else a kind of Sabbatic frenzy, it was impossible to bring her forth. After that, while her head was still disordered, they could easily give her other potions of which she would know and remember nothing. What happened during those six days seems to have been so shocking, so sad for poor Cadiere, that neither she nor her brother had the heart to speak of it twice. Nor would they have spoken at all, had not the brethren themselves incurred a prosecution aiming at their own lives.

Having won his cause through Cadiere's falsehood, Girard dared to come and see her in her prison, where she lay stupefied or in despair, forsaken alike of earth and heaven, and if any clear thoughts were left her, possessed with the dreadful consciousness of having by her last deposition murdered her own near kin. Her own ruin was complete already. But another trial, that of her brothers and the bold Carmelite, would now begin. She may in her remorse have been tempted to soften Girard, to keep him from proceeding against them, above all to save herself from being put to the torture. Girard, at any rate, took advantage of her utter weakness, and behaved like the determined scoundrel he really was.

Alas! her wandering spirit came but slowly back to her. It was on the 6th March that she had to face her accusers, to renew her former admissions, to ruin her brethren beyond repair. She could not speak; she was choking. The commissioners had the kindness to tell her that the torture was there, at her side; to describe to her the wooden horse, the points of iron, the wedges for jamming fast her bones. Her courage failed her, so weak she was now of body. She submitted to be set before her cruel master, who might laugh triumphant now that he had debased not only her body, but yet more her conscience, by making her the murderess of her own friends.

No time was lost in profiting by her weakness. They prevailed forthwith on the Parliament of Aix to let the Carmelite and the two brothers be imprisoned, that they might undergo a separate trial for their lives, as soon as Cadiere should have been condemned.

On the 10th March, she was dragged from the Ursulines of Toulon to Sainte-Claire of Ollioules. Girard, however, was not sure of her yet. He got leave to have her conducted, like some dreaded highway robber, between some soldiers of the mounted police. He demanded that she should be carefully locked up at Sainte-Claire. The ladies were moved to tears at the sight of a poor sufferer who could not drag herself forward, approaching between those drawn swords. Everyone pitied her. Two brave men, M. Aubin, a solicitor, and M. Claret, a notary, drew up for her the deeds in which she withdrew her late confession, fearful documents that record the threats of the commissioners and of the Ursuline prioress, and above all, the fact of the drugged wine she had been forced to drink.

At the same time these daring men drew up for the Chancellor's court at Paris a plea of error, as it is called, exposing the irregular and blameable proceedings, the wilful breaches of the law, effected in the coolest way, first by the bishop's officer and the King's Lieutenant, secondly by the two commissioners. The Chancellor D'Aguesseau showed himself very slack and feeble. He let these foul proceedings stand; left the business in charge of the Parliament of Aix, sullied as it already seemed to be by the disgrace with which two of its members had just been covering themselves.

So once more they laid hands on their victim, and had her dragged, in charge as before of the mounted police, from Ollioules to Aix. In those days people slept at a public house midway. Here the corporal explained that, by virtue of his orders, he would sleep in the young girl's room. They pretended to believe that an invalid unable to walk, might flee away by jumping out of window. Truly, it was a most villanous device, to commit such a one to the chaste keeping of the heroes of the dragonnades.[115] Happily, her mother had come to see her start, had followed her in spite of everything, and they did not dare to beat her away with their butt-ends. She stayed in the room, kept watch—neither of them, indeed, lying down—and shielded her child from all harm.

[115] Alluding to the cruelties dealt on the Huguenots by the French dragoons, at the close of Louis the Fourteenth's reign.—TRANS.

Cadiere was forwarded to the Ursulines of Aix, who had the King's command to take her in charge. But the prioress pretended that the order had not yet come. We may see here how savage a woman who was once impassioned will grow, until she has lost all her woman's nature. She kept the other four hours at her street-door, as if she were a public show. There was time to fetch a mob of Jesuits' followers, of honest Church artizans, to hoot and hiss, while children might help by throwing stones. For these four hours she was in the pillory. Some, however, of the more dispassionate passers-by asked if the Ursulines had gotten orders to let them kill the girl. We may guess what tender jailers their sick prisoner would find in these good sisters!

The ground was prepared with admirable effect. By a spirited concert between Jesuit magistrates and plotting ladies, a system of deterring had been set on foot. No pleader would ruin himself by defending a girl thus heavily aspersed. No one would digest the poisonous things stored up by her jailers, for him who should daily show his face in their parlour to await an interview with Cadiere. The defence in that case would devolve on M. Chaudon, syndic of the Aix bar. He did not decline so hard a duty. And yet he was so uneasy as to desire a settlement, which the Jesuits refused. Thereupon he showed what he really was, a man of unswerving honesty, of amazing courage. He exposed, with the learning of a lawyer, the monstrous character of the whole proceeding. So doing, he would for ever embroil himself with the Parliament no less than the Jesuits. He brought into sharp outline the spiritual incest of the confessor, though he modestly refrained from specifying how far he had carried his profligacy. He also withheld himself from speaking of Girard's girls, the loose-lived devotees, as a matter well-known, but to which no one would have liked to bear witness. In short, he gave Girard the best case he could by assailing him as a wizard. People laughed, made fun of the advocate. He undertook to prove the existence of demons by a series of sacred texts, beginning with the Gospels. This made them laugh the louder.

The case had been cleverly disfigured by the turning of an honest Carmelite into Cadiere's lover, and the weaver of a whole chain of libels against Girard and the Jesuits. Thenceforth the crowd of idlers, of giddy worldlings, scoffers and philosophers alike, made merry with either side, being thoroughly impartial as between Carmelite and Jesuit, and exceedingly rejoiced to see this battle of monk with monk. Those who were presently to be called Voltairites, were even better inclined towards the polished Jesuits, those men of the world, than towards any of the old mendicant orders.

So the matter became more and more tangled. Jokes kept raining down, but raining mostly on the victim. They called it a love-intrigue. They saw in it nothing but food for fun. There was not a scholar nor a clerk who did not turn a ditty on Girard and his pupil, who did not hash up anew the old provincial jokes about Madeline in the Gauffridi affair, her six thousand imps, their dread of a flogging, and the wonderful chastening-process whereby Cadiere's devils were put to flight.

On this latter point the friends of Girard had no difficulty in proving him clean. He had acted by his right as director, in accordance with the common wont. The rod is the symbol of fatherhood. He had treated his penitent with a view to the healing of her soul. They used to thrash demoniacs, to thrash the insane and sufferers in other ways. This was the favourite mode of hunting out the enemy, whether in the shape of devil or disease. With the people it was a very common idea. One brave workman of Toulon, who had witnessed Cadiere's sad plight, declared that a bull's sinew was the poor sufferer's only cure.

Thus strongly supported, Girard had only to act reasonably. He would not take the trouble. His defence is charmingly flippant. He never deigns even to agree with his own depositions. He gives the lie to his own witnesses. He seems to be jesting, and says, with the coolness of a great lord of the Regency, that if, as they charge him, he was ever shut up with her, "it could only have happened nine times."

"And why did the good father do so," would his friends say, "save to watch, to consider, to search out the truth concerning her? 'Tis the confessor's duty in all such cases. Read the life of the most holy Catherine of Genoa. One evening her confessor hid himself in her room, waiting to see the wonders she would work, and to catch her in the act miraculous. But here, unhappily, the Devil, who never sleeps, had laid a snare for this lamb of God, had belched forth this devouring monster of a she-dragon, this mixture of maniac and demoniac, to swallow him up, to overwhelm him in a cataract of slander."

It was an old and excellent custom to smother monsters in the cradle. Then why not later also? Girard's ladies charitably advised the instant using against her of fire and sword. "Let her perish!" cried the devotees. Many of the great ladies also wished to have her punished, deeming it rather too bad that such a creature should have dared to enter such a plea, to bring into court the man who had done her but too great an honour.

Some determined Jansenists there were in the Parliament, but these were more inimical to the Jesuits than friendly to the girl. And they might well be downcast and discouraged, seeing they had against them at once the terrible Society of Jesus, the Court of Versailles, the Cardinal Minister (Fleury), and, lastly, the drawing-rooms of Aix. Should they be bolder than the head of the law, the Chancellor D'Aguesseau, who had proved so very slack? The Attorney-General did not waver at all: being charged with the indictment of Girard, he avowed himself his friend, advised him how to meet the charges against him.

There was, indeed, but one question at issue, to ascertain by what kind of reparation, of solemn atonement, of exemplary chastening, the plaintiff thus changed into the accused might satisfy Girard and the Company of Jesus. The Jesuits, with all their good-nature, affirmed the need of an example, in the interests of religion, by way of some slight warning both to the Jansenist Convulsionaries and the scribbling philosophers who were beginning to swarm.

There were two points by which Cadiere might be hooked, might receive the stroke of the harpoon.

Firstly, she had borne false witness. But, then, by no law could slander be punished with death. To gain that end you must go a little further, and say, "The old Roman text, De famosis libellis, pronounces death on those who have uttered libels hurtful to the Emperor or to the religion of the Empire. The Jesuits represent that religion. Therefore, a memorial against a Jesuit deserves the last penalty."

A still better handle, however, was their second. At the opening of the trial the episcopal judge, the prudent Larmedieu, had asked her if she had never divined the secrets of many people, and she had answered yes. Therefore they might charge her with the practice named in the list of forms employed in trials for witchcraft, as Divination and imposture. This alone in ecclesiastic law deserved the stake. They might, indeed, without much effort, call her a Witch, after the confession made by the Ollioules ladies, that at one same hour of the night she used to be in several cells together. Their infatuation, the surprising tenderness that suddenly came over them, had all the air of an enchantment.

What was there to prevent her being burnt? They were still burning everywhere in the eighteenth century. In one reign only, that of Philip V., sixteen hundred people were burnt in Spain: one Witch was burnt as late as 1782. In Germany one was burnt in 1751; in Switzerland one also in 1781. Rome was always burning her victims, on the sly indeed, in the dark holes and cells of the Inquisition.[116]

[116] This fact comes to us from an adviser to the Holy Office, still living.

"But France, at least, is surely more humane?" She is very inconsistent. In 1718, a Wizard is burnt at Bordeaux.[117] In 1724 and 1726, the faggots were lighted in Greve for offences which passed as schoolboy jokes at Versailles. The guardians of the Royal child, the Duke and Fleury, who are so indulgent to the Court, are terrible to the town. A donkey-driver and a noble, one M. des Chauffours, are burnt alive. The advent of the Cardinal Minister could not be celebrated more worthily than by a moral reformation, by making a severe example of those who corrupted the people. Nothing more timely than to pass some terrible and solemn sentence on this infernal girl, who made so heinous an assault on the innocent Girard!

[117] I am not speaking of executions done by the people of their own accord. A hundred years ago, in a village of Provence, an old woman on being refused alms by a landowner, said in her fury, "You will be dead to-morrow." He was smitten and died. The whole village, high and low, seized the old woman, and set her on a bundle of vine-twigs. She was burnt alive. The Parliament made a feint of inquiring, but punished nobody.—[In 1751 an old couple of Tring, in Hertfordshire, according to Wright, were tortured, kicked, and beaten to death, on the plea of witchcraft, by a maddened country mob.—TRANS.]

Observe what was needed to wash that father clean. It was needful to show that, even if he had done wrong and imitated Des Chauffours, he had been the sport of some enchantment. The documents were but too plain. By the wording of the Canon Law, and after these late decrees, somebody ought to be burnt. Of the five magistrates on the bench, two only would have burnt Girard. Three were against Cadiere. They came to terms. The three who formed the majority would not insist on burning her, would forego the long, dreadful scene at the stake, would content themselves with a simple award of death.

In the name of these five, it was settled, pending the final assent of Parliament, "That Cadiere, having first been put to the torture in both kinds, should afterwards be removed to Toulon, and suffer death by hanging on the Place des Precheurs."

This was a dreadful blow. An immense revulsion of feeling at once took place. The worldlings, the jesters ceased to laugh: they shuddered. Their love of trifling did not lead them to slur over a result so horrible. That a girl should be seduced, ill-used, dishonoured, treated as a mere toy, that she should die of grief, or of frenzy, they had regarded as right and good; with all that they had no concern. But when it was a case of punishment, when in fancy they saw before them the woeful victim, with rope round her neck, by the gallows where she was about to hang, their hearts rose in revolt. From all sides went forth the cry, "Never, since the world began, was there seen so villanous a reversal of things; the law of rape administered the wrong way, the girl condemned for having been made a tool, the victim hanged by her seducer!"

In this town of Aix, made up of judges, priests, and the world of fashion, a thing unforeseen occurred: a whole people suddenly rose, a violent popular movement was astir. A crowd of persons of every class marched in one close well-ordered body straight towards the Ursulines. Cadiere and her mother were bidden to show themselves. "Make yourself easy, mademoiselle," they shouted: "we stand by you: fear nothing!"

The grand eighteenth century, justly called by Hegel the "reign of mind," was still grander as the "reign of humanity." Ladies of distinction, such as the granddaughter of Mde. de Sevigne, the charming Madame de Simiane, took possession of the young girl and sheltered her in their bosoms.

A thing yet prettier and more touching was it, to see the Jansenist ladies, elsewhile so sternly pure, so hard towards each other, in their austerities so severe, now in this great conjuncture offer up Law on the altar of Mercy, by flinging their arms round the poor threatened child, purifying her with kisses on the forehead, baptizing her anew in tears.

If Provence be naturally wild, she is all the more wonderful in these wild moments of generosity and real greatness. Something of this was later seen in the earliest triumphs of Mirabeau, when he had a million of men gathered round him at Marseilles. But here already was a great revolutionary scene, a vast uprising against the stupid Government of the day, and Fleury's pets the Jesuits: a unanimous uprising in behalf of humanity, of compassion, in defence of a woman, a very child, thus barbarously offered up. The Jesuits fancied that among their own rabble, among their clients and their beggars, they might array a kind of popular force, armed with handbells and staves to beat back the party of Cadiere. This latter, however, included almost everyone. Marseilles rose up as one man to bear in triumph the son of the Advocate Chaudon. Toulon went so far for the sake of her poor townswoman, as to think of burning the Jesuit college.

The most touching of all these tokens in Cadiere's favour, reached her from Ollioules. A simple boarder, Mdlle. Agnes, for all her youthful shyness, followed the impulse of her own heart, threw herself into the press of pamphlets, and published a defence of Cadiere.

So widespread and deep a movement had its effect on the Parliament itself. The foes of the Jesuits raised their heads, took courage to defy the threats of those above, the influence of the Jesuits, and the bolts that Fleury might hurl upon them from Versailles.[118]

[118] There is a laughable tale which expresses the state of Parliament with singular nicety. The Recorder was reading his comments on the trial, on the share the Devil might have had therein, when a loud noise was heard. A black man fell down the chimney. In their fright they all ran away, save the Recorder only, who, being entangled in his robe, could not move. The man made some excuse. It was simply a chimneysweep who had mistaken his chimney.

The very friends of Girard, seeing their numbers fall off, their phalanx grow thin, were eager for the sentence. It was pronounced on the 11th October, 1731.

In sight of the popular feeling, no one dared to follow up the savage sentence of the bench, by getting Cadiere hanged. Twelve councillors sacrificed their honour, by declaring Girard innocent. Of the twelve others, some Jansenists condemned him to the flames as a wizard; and three or four, with better reason, condemned him to death as a scoundrel. Twelve being against twelve, the President Lebret had to give the casting vote. He found for Girard. Acquitted of the capital crime of witchcraft, the latter was then made over, as priest and confessor, to the Toulon magistrate, his intimate friend Larmedieu, for trial in the bishop's court.

The great folk and the indifferent ones were satisfied. And so little heed was given to this award, that even in these days it has been said that "both were acquitted." The statement is not correct. Cadiere was treated as a slanderer, was condemned to see her memorials and other papers burnt by the hand of the executioner.

There was still a dreadful something in the background. Cadiere being so marked, so branded for the use of calumny, the Jesuits were sure to keep pushing underhand their success with Cardinal Fleury, and to urge her being punished in some secret, arbitrary way. Such was the notion imbibed by the town of Aix. It felt that, instead of sending her home, Parliament would rather yield her up. This caused so fearful a rage, such angry menaces, against President Lebret, that he asked to have the regiment of Flanders sent thither.

Girard was fleeing away in a close carriage, when they found him out and would have killed him, had he not escaped into the Jesuits' Church. There the rascal betook himself to saying mass. After his escape thence he returned to Dole, to reap honour and glory from the Society. Here, in 1733, he died, in the perfume of holiness. The courtier Lebret died in 1735.

Cardinal Fleury did whatever the Jesuits pleased. At Aix, Toulon, Marseilles, many were banished, or cast into prison. Toulon was specially guilty, as having borne Girard's effigy to the doors of his Girardites, and carried about the thrice holy standard of the Jesuits.

According to the terms of the award, Cadiere should have been free to return home, to live again with her mother. But I venture to say that she was never allowed to re-enter her native town, that flaming theatre wherein so many voices had been raised in her behalf.

If only to feel an interest in her was a crime deserving imprisonment, we cannot doubt but that she herself was presently thrown into prison; that the Jesuits easily obtained a special warrant from Versailles to lock up the poor girl, to hush up, to bury with her an affair so dismal for themselves. They would wait, of course, until the public attention was drawn off to something else. Thereon the fatal clutch would have caught her anew; she would have been buried out of sight in some unknown convent, snuffed out in some dark In pace.

She was but one-and-twenty at the time of the award, and she had always hoped to die soon. May God have granted her that mercy![119]

[119] Touching this matter, Voltaire is very flippant: he scoffs at both parties, especially the Jansenists. The historians of our own day, MM. Cabasse, Fabre, Mery, not having read the Trial, believe themselves impartial, while they are bearing down the victim.


A woman of genius, in a burst of noble tenderness, has figured to herself the two spirits whose strife moulded the Middle Ages, as coming at last to recognise each other, to draw together, to renew their olden friendship. Looking closer at each other, they discern, though somewhat late, the marks of a common parentage. How if they were indeed brethren, and this long battle nought but a mistake? Their hearts speak, and they are softened. The haughty outlaw and the gentle persecutor have forgotten everything: they dart forward and throw themselves into each other's arms.—(Consuelo.)

A charming, womanly idea. Others, too, have dreamed the same dream. The sweet Montanelli turned it into a beautiful poem. Ay, who would not welcome the delightful hope of seeing the battle here hushed down and finished by an embrace so moving?

What does the wise Merlin think of it? In the mirror of his lake, whose depths are known to himself only, what did he behold? What said he in the colossal epic produced by him in 1860? Why, that Satan will not disarm, if disarm he ever do, until the Day of Judgment. Then, side by side, at peace with each other, the two will fall asleep in a common death.

* * * * *

It is not so hard, indeed, to bend them into a kind of compromise. The weakening, relaxing effects of so long a battle allow of their mingling in a certain way. In the last chapter we saw two shadows agreeing to form an alliance in deceit; the Devil appearing as the friend of Loyola, devotees and demoniacs marching abreast, Hell touched to softness in the Sacred Heart.

It is a quiet time now, and people hate each other less than formerly. They hate few indeed but their own friends. I have seen Methodists admiring Jesuits. Those lawyers and physicians whom the Church in the Middle Ages called the children of Satan, I have seen making shrewd covenant with the old conquered Spirit.

But get we away from these pretences. They who gravely propose that Satan should make peace and settle down, have they thought much about the matter?

There is no hindrance as regards ill-will. The dead are dead. The millions of former victims sleep in peace, be they Albigenses, Vaudois, or Protestants, Moors, Jews, or American Indians. The Witch, universal martyr of the Middle Ages, has nought to say. Her ashes have been scattered to the winds.

Know you, then, what it is that raises a protest, that keeps these two spirits steadily apart, preventing them from coming nearer? It is a huge reality, born five hundred years ago; a gigantic creation accursed by the Church, even that mighty fabric of science and modern institutions, which she excommunicated stone by stone, but which with every anathema has grown a storey higher. You cannot name one science which has not been itself a rebellion.

There is but one way of reconciling the two spirits, of joining into one the two churches. Demolish the younger, that one which from its first beginning was pronounced guilty and doomed as such. Let us, if we can, destroy the natural sciences, the observatory, the museum, the botanical garden, the schools of medicine, and all the modern libraries. Let us burn our laws, our bodies of statutes, and return to the Canon Law.

All these novelties came of Satan. Each step forward has been a crime of his doing.

He was the wicked logician who, despising the clerical law, preserved and renewed that of jurists and philosophers, grounded on an impious faith, on the freedom of the will.

He was that dangerous magician who, while men were discussing the sex of angels and other questions of like sublimity, threw himself fiercely on realities, and created chemistry, physics, mathematics—ay, even mathematics. He sought to revive them, and that was rebellion. People were burnt for saying that three made three.

Medicine especially was a Satanic thing, a rebellion against disease, the scourge so justly dealt by God. It was clearly sinful to check the soul on its way towards heaven, to plunge it afresh into life!

What atonement shall we make for all this? How are we to put down, to overthrow, this pile of insurrections, whereof at this moment all modern life is made up? Will Satan destroy his work, that he may tread once more the way of angels? That work rests on three everlasting rocks, Reason, Right, and Nature.

* * * * *

So great is the triumph of the new spirit, that he forgets his battles, hardly at this moment deigns to remember that he has won.

It were not amiss to remind him of his wretched beginnings, how coarsely mean, how rude and painfully comic were the shapes he wore in the season of persecution, when through a woman, even the unhappy Witch, he made his first homely flights in science. Bolder than the heretic, the half-Christian reasoner, the scholar who kept one foot within the sacred circle, this woman eagerly escaped therefrom, and under the open sunlight tried to make herself an altar of rough moorland stones.

She has perished, as she was certain to perish. By what means? Chiefly by the progress of those very sciences which began with her, through the physician, the naturalist, for whom she had once toiled.

The Witch has perished for ever, but not the Fay. She will reappear in the form that never dies.

Busied in these latter days with the affairs of men, Woman has in return given up her rightful part, that of the physician, the comforter, the healing Fairy. Herein lies her proper priesthood—a priesthood that does belong to her, whatever the Church may say.

Her delicate organs, her fondness for the least detail, her tender consciousness of life, all invite her to become Life's shrewd interpreter in every science of observation. With her tenderly pitiful heart, her power of divining goodness, she goes of her own accord to the work of doctoring. There is but small difference between children and sick people. For both of them we need the Woman.

She will return into the paths of science, whither, as a smile of nature, gentleness and humanity will enter by her side.

The Anti-natural is growing dim, nor is the day far off when its eclipse will bring back daylight to the earth.

* * * * *

The gods may vanish, but God is still there. Nay, but the less we see of them, the more manifest is He. He is like a lighthouse eclipsed at moments, but alway shining again more clearly than before.

It is a remarkable thing to see Him discussed so fully, even in the journals themselves. People begin to feel that all questions of education, government, childhood, and womanhood, turn on that one ruling and underlying question. As God is, so must the world be.

From this we gather that the times are ripe.

* * * * *

So near, indeed, is that religious dayspring that I seemed momently to see it breaking over the desert where I brought this book to an end.

How full of light, how rough and beautiful looked this desert of mine! I had made my nest on a rock in the mighty roadstead of Toulon, in a lowly villa surrounded with aloe and cypress, with the prickly pear and the wild rose. Before me was a spreading basin of sparkling sea; behind me the bare-topt amphitheatre, where, at their ease, might sit the Parliament of the world.

This spot, so very African, bedazzles you in the daytime with flashings as of steel. But of a winter morning, especially in December, it seemed full of a divine mystery. I was wont to rise exactly at six o'clock, when the signal for work was boomed from the Arsenal gun. From six to seven I enjoyed a delicious time of it. The quick—may I call it piercing?—twinkle of the stars made the moon ashamed, and fought against the daybreak. Before its coming, and during the struggle between two lights, the wonderful clearness of the air would let things be seen and heard at incredible distances. Two leagues away I could make everything out. The smallest detail about the distant mountains, a tree, a cliff, a house, a bend in the ground, was thrown out with the most delicate sharpness. New senses seemed to be given me. I found myself another being, released from bondage, free to soar away on my new wings. It was an hour of utter purity, all hard and clear. I said to myself, "How is this? Am I still a man?"

An unspeakable bluish hue, respected, left untouched by the rosy dawn, hung round me like a sacred ether, a spirit that made all things spiritual.

One felt, however, a forward movement, through changes soft and slow. The great marvel was drawing nearer, to shine forth and eclipse all other things. It came on in its own calm way: you felt no wish to hurry it. The coming transfiguration, the expected witcheries of the light, took not a whit away from the deep enjoyment of being still under the divinity of night, still, as it were, half-hidden, and slow to emerge from so wonderful a spell.... Come forth, O Sun! We worship thee while yet unseen, but will reap all of good we yet may from these last moments of our dream!

He is about to break forth. In hope let us await his welcome.



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Printed by Woodfall and Kinder, Angel Court, Skinner Street, London.


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