To present Humanity in its full expression, was Schiller's intent in rewriting and adapting, in the form of a novel or a tale, according to the spirit of Enlightenment, these legal cases, taken from the exhaustive volumes of real life cases compiled by Pitaval. In eight remarkable legal cases which portray the human being in all his erring and excesses, we see the author reinterpreting, in the spirit of a human friendly observer, past legal judgements which call upon the use of newly discovered sociological field, as well as new legal principles, in order to reconcile Humanity with legality. The stated aim was then, to educate the citizen into making enlightened judgment about crimes and criminals, to allow him to behave as human and responsible judge of his fellows in society. The Brinvillier case The sad destiny of Jacob LeBrun The Guerre case A commercial contract with God The Gange case The LaPivardière case The odd couple A corrupt state employee
Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi lub dowolnej aplikacji obsługującej format:
Liczba stron: 550
The Pitaval Casebook
People complain in general that in the literature specifically determined for the literary circles, a very few writings really improve either the reader's head or heart. The ever growing need to read even among the popular classes which expect very little spiritual education from the state and hence turn to good writers for such nobler goals, will hence always be abused by the terrible practice of mediocre scribes and greedy publishers who will ever continue their trade even at the cost of any popular culture and morality.
There are also spiritless, tasteless and morally corrupting novels, dramatized historical accounts, so called ladies' literature and anything similar which make up a great part of the books in libraries and which will completely destroy the small, remaining portion of more healthier principles which our theatrical poets have spared.
If people asked what caused taste to give birth to this mediocrity; hence, people will find it grounded in the human general inclination for intense passion and complicated situations; specificities which often do not lack in the most terrible literary products. However, why should people not use for a glorious goal the same inclination which protects from anything damaging? It would not be a lesser gain for Truth when the better writers would degrade themselves by pointing out to the bad ones the finessethey used in acquiring their readership and advancing the good cause.
Until such finesse will be generally practiced, or until our public
will be enough cultivated to appreciate Truth, Beauty and Good without any foreign addition; an entertaining book will already have enough merit if it reaches its goal of assuring the minimum level of entertainment without causing the damaging consequences which people must experience in most writings of this kind. At least, so long as such literature will be read, a more terrible goal will not intervene and hence, it will still contain, somehow, some reality for the mind; it will still spread the seeds of more useful knowledge; it can be used to direct the reader's reflection towards worthwhile goals: hence one cannot deny its worth in the literary kind to which it belongs.
Of this kind is the current work for which I am giving a public testimony; and I believe not having to justify its publication. People will find in this work a choice of legal cases which level of interest in actions, artificial complication and diversity of subjects, are almost raised into novel-like accounts, and yet, still prepares for the historical truth. People see here the human being in the most complicated situations which unfolds one's whole expectation and which gives a pleasant occupation to the reader's divination abilities. The secret game of passion develops itself here before our eyes, and many rays of truth will be shed over the secret aspects of intrigues, over the machinations unraveled by the spiritual as well as the worldly authorities in their deceit.
Motives which are hidden to the observer's eye in normal life, become more visible in such occasions where life, freedom and possessions are at stake, and hence is the criminal judge in stand to throw deeper looks into the human heart.
In addition, the circumstantial legal procedure is far more capable to bring into light the secret motivation of human actions than it otherwise took place; and when the most complete account of a story about the last scenes of an event, about the true motives of the active players leaves us often unsatisfied; hence, a criminal procedure often unveils to us the most inner thoughts and reveals the most hidden weaving of bad intentions. This important gain for the human knowledge and human behaviour, which is uplifting enough in itself to qualify this work for a good recommendation, will be elevated to greatness through the many legal knowledge which this work spreads and which is made clear and interesting through the individuality of cases in which people used such knowledge.
The level of interest which these legal cases already insure in their content, will be even more enhanced by the way their were written. Their authors have also cared, whenever applicable, to share with the reader the ambiguity which often set the judge into error, in the sense that they showed the same care and artistry in presenting the arguments of the opposed parties, in hiding the intrigues until the last developments and through that, in driving the suspense to the highest level.
A faithful translation of the Pitaval casebook has already been published by this same editor and will be continued until the fourth volume. However, the larger goal of this work makes necessary a change in its literary style. As the greater public was preferably chosen as the readership; hence, it would have been counter-productive to hold onto the same legal details which the original publication has preferably used for legal experts. Through the shortenings which it suffered under the hands of the new translator, the account has already earned a different interest without for that reason suffering in its comprehension.
A selection from the Pitaval casebook might run between three to four volumes: however, people are resolved to also accept important legal cases from other writers and from other nations (particularly wherever possible, from our fatherland) and through that, to progressively raise this collection into a seasoned magazine for this genre. The degree of perfection which they should reach, lies, from now on, upon the public support and on the acceptance which this first attempt will have.
Mary Margaret of Aubray was the daughter of Lord Drogo of Aubray, a civil Lieutenant at the Châtelet, Paris. She married in 1651 the Marquis of Brinvillier, the son of Mister Gobelin, one of the richest presidents of the Account Committee. Both were of equal standing and fortune. The Marquis had a yearly income of 300 000 Pounds, his wife received a pension of 200 000 Pounds and was entitled to a considerable inheritance which she would have to share with a sister and two brothers after her father’s death. Being rich, however, was not the unique advantage of the Marquess. She was not lesser favoured by Nature than by chance. Of an average height, she had a round, friendly face in which grace and regularity of traits united with an expression of a soul totally pure and free of any passion, which gave it the highest attraction. This calmness predominating in all her traits was the true mirror of a soul which was innocent and did not know anger; it won her the trust of everyone with whom she was surrounded, while her Beauty captured all the hearts.
Her seducer would be a certain Mister Godin who called himself Saint Croix and was chief of the Trossi cavalry regiment. The Marquis of Brinvillier, as the highest commander in the Normandy regiment, made his acquaintance on the battlefield.
This Saint Croix was one of those knights of fortune who, because they themselves did not have anything, treated everyone else’s possession as their own. People spoke very suspiciously of his origins. People knew that he was born in Montauban; only that people doubted whether he really came from a good family, or was an illegitimate child from a good family. Luck has not favoured him very much; however, Nature was very generous with him.
He had a pleasant, spiritual face which easily inspired trust and inclination, and possessed the gift of a flexible mind which accepted any form with equal ease, and played so skillfully the role of the prudent person with whoever he precisely performs a deceit.
He was sensitive to human sufferings, attractive to the other gender to a point of generating passion, and jealous in love so much as to giving in himself to rage, even with persons who, because of their public profession, were justified to certain freedoms which could not be unknown to him. Deprived of the unlimited inclination for a dissipated life, because of lack of means, he was capable of any shameful act through which he hoped to win something. Some years before his death, he started to act like a bigot; and he was even supposed to have written suspicious books during this period. He spoke of God like a prophet, while serving him like a priest of Baal and gave himself under this mask which he only took away in the circle of his most trusted friends, the aspect of a totally saintly man, while he was the author and conjurer of the most abominable crimes.
The Marquis of Brinvillier who showed largesses in his lively inclination for pleasures, could only attract the attention of such a man. Attractive enough for Saint Croix to chase away from him his guardian angel! He did also not miss, soon enough, to get into the Marquis' favour through flattering. As soon as the military campaign was over, the Marquis led him to his house.
The husband's friend would, soon, become the wife's lover, and his principles found their ways with the Marquis's inclination which he knew to influence. The Marquis, very dissolute to pay attention to his wife, was totally careless about her behaviour; and the two lovers had free room to do whatever they wanted.
The Marquis brought, finally, his household into such a turmoil, that it would be allowed his wife to take back her fortune and to administer it herself.
With this last step, she believed herself justified to remove her life away from all further external scrutiny and to give in to her inclination without any constraint.
People spoke, soon, loudly about her frequent company with Saint Croix. The Marquis heard the rumours with the greatest indifference. Only that Lord of Aubray, for his daughter's honour, was more than worried about her marriage, and hence, decided to imprison her lover and arrested him as he, unsuspecting, precisely sat in a coach with the Marquess. He would spent a whole year at the Bastille.
In an unfortunate manner, this imprisonment gave in his hand the most terrible means for revenge. At the Bastille, he made the acquaintance of a certain Exili, an Italian who nurtured in him the desire for revenge and taught him, at the same time, the means to achieve it without being punished. “The Frenchs” he said, “act too honestly in their crimes, and also execute their revenge with so little skill that they always become the victim of their own revenge. They give the blow to their enemy with so much publicity that they attract themselves a far more horrible death than the one which they reserve for their enemy; while they, at the same time, lose fortune and honour. The Italians are more refined in their revenge.
They have made it into such an art that they could prepare poisons which cannot be traced even by the most skillful doctor. They are capable to cause a rapid or a long death, according to their goal. In both cases, no traces can be found; and even if some traces are found, hence are they so ambiguous that people can also prescribe them to the most common disease, and in the prevailing uncertainty about these undetermined symptoms which they find in their anatomical investigations, the doctors explain the patient's death not otherwise than with some general excuses,some hidden diseases, terrible fortuities, unhealthy vapors and so on, which they always have at hand. This is really the true art of knowing to account human being's crimes to Nature.”
Saint Croix seized with the greatest eagerness such a favourable occasion to arm himself with such invisible tools of revenge, through which he would satisfy not only his bitter hatred without any danger, but rather, at the same time, could also bring an immense fortune, at once, in the hands of a wife who would share it with him with pleasure. During his imprisonment, he had enough time to learn the Italian's horrible art thoroughly.
These lessons filled, now, the empty hours of the two prisoners. The skillfulness of the teacher and the zeal of the student, fueled by love, revenge and avidity in equal strength, gave wings to the progress of the last one, and even before he left the Bastille, he became a master in this infernal discovery.
The first victim which he chose was Lord Aubray, the Marquess' father. Apart from the fact that at a certain time, this severe judge of morals has disturbed him in the middle of his enjoyment when the husband was either completely blind, or hence totally indifferent; he was, now, standing again everywhere disturbingly in the way of his company with the Marquess and hindered him again to enjoy the sweet fruits of his passion which did not dampen with his imprisonment, but rather was even more exacerbated.
Two of the most excessive passions demanded from him, hence, at the same time, to get rid of such an over-imposing supervision. Only that it was not enough for him to murder his enemy; this enemy should die through the hand of his own daughter. And the Marquess was despicable enough to accept to be the executioner of her own father, only because it was burdensome to her to have his rigorous supervision and his constraints being constantly imposed upon her excesses.
It is unbelievable to what degree of vice a unique, dominating passion can lead a man. Made into a shameful villain by her voluptuous inclination, a daughter can suppress the strongest feeling which Nature has put in us, and resolve to be her father's murderer.
But this was still not enough! In order not to miss her blow, she resolved, beforehand, into some practice which was more abominable than the crime itself. Indoctrinated by the principles of her lover and anointed into the secrets of his infernal art, the Marquess practiced herself, long beforehand, into the most unheard of experiences to reach her goal even more securely.
Her first experiences, she practiced on animals. But her main intention was directed onto human beings; hence, she did not really enjoy these first experiences. She feared that the great difference between the human and animal body constitutions could make her art approximate. She undertook, hence, to previously study them onto human beings themselves! To this end, she distributed poisoned cookies among the poors, and even brought some of these deadly presents in church, to be able to observe with her own eyes the first effects of the same onto sick people.
In the meantime, as her intelligence did not allow her to witness all the effects and symptoms of the poison herself; hence, she resolved finally to make a test with her young maid. She gave her a dish with poisoned berries and pork. The unfortunate maid would become seriously ill, however, still did not die. A fact which would tell Saint Croix that his poison needed still some supplemental dose to be infallible.
She repeated these experiences still methodically with other people to study the effect of her poison on different bodies. Mme of Sévigné made the following descriptions in her letters about these experiences. “The Brinvilliers”, she said, “prepared for their guests sometimes poisoned dove pâté, not to kill them immediately, but rather only to see the effects of the poisons on them. Many more of them, however, died really of the poisons. The Knight of Guet has once taken such a dish. The poison acted upon him, however, very slowly; he died only two or three years later.
As this unfortunate woman was already in prison, she inquired whether he has actually died or not; and as people answered to her that he was still alive, she replied: ”He actually does have a tenacious life.” Lord of Rochefoucault told people that this was a truly authentic incident.”
Hardened already into vice by a range of such unheard-of abominations and confident of not missing her goal through a long exercise; she resolved, finally, to perform the blow against determined victims. It was not difficult for her to find the appropriate occasion. As a scholarly student of Saint Croix, she has made such rapid progressions in the art of deceiving people that she has already for long overcame the reluctance of killing her father who has been very irritated by her behaviour.
Since her lover was brought to Bastille, she has changed her conduct with so much fineness that her father, soon, again, would be completely reconciled with her; and as afterwards, she was also enough cautious not to allow him to guess the continuation of her affair with Saint Croix; hence, she possessed now his whole tenderness and his unlimited trust.
As one day he resolved to retire for a few days from his difficult office on his estate in Offemont, the Marquess had to accompany him. She has made herself indispensable to him. He had entrusted her with the care of his body which was already weakened by work and age; without her, he would not enjoy this pleasure of staying in the countryside. There, in this sacred place of haven, in the middle of the most moving sentimental atmosphere of fatherly love, the Marquess gave to her father the cup of death.
From the beginning, in order not to arouse the slightest suspicion, she immediately took care of her father. Who else could better care for such a dear life than such a tender daughter? She supervised herself all the soups to be prepared for him; she gave them to him with her own hands.
No trait in her face would betray the unnatural crime which was already prepared in her soul. Rather more, she seemed only to watch with redoubled vigilance over the wellbeing of her unfortunate father to whose destruction she already has prepared the stab. Finally, she believed to be secure enough to complete her deed. She put some poison in a soup which she brought herself to him, and she was monstrous enough to tender it to him with the expression of the most tender care for his health.
Not long afterward, hence, the poison made its effect. Lord Aubray suffered a violent spasm and an unbearable stomach pain; a deadly fever burned his body. Under the excuse of assisting him and giving him herself the medicines, his daughter did not leave him one moment unsupervised.
With the deepest expectation, she observed the effects of the poison. Her unique wish was to see death coming quickly; her unique fear, that the strong physical constitution of the unfortunate father might resist the poison. However, none of her facial expression did betray these satanic sentiments; rather more, she seemed to live intensely her father's sufferings. The sick father would be brought back to Paris and succumbed a few days from the strength of the poison.
Certain crimes, particularly crimes of this kind, are so abominable that people are far from suspecting them, or can not even once envision their possibility. No one could guess the true cause of the sudden death of the unfortunate father; no one could imagine that the daughter was the one who targeted his body. People showed to his children their compassion over the loss of such a honest father, and the beautiful, sorrowful daughter was surrounded by her closest relatives. This illusion under which she hid her inner joy, had totally the aspect of sincerity that everyone believed she felt the loss even more painfully than her other brothers and sister. However, she trusted herself to make up for this burdening constraint which she had to endure, in the arms of her abominable lover with whom she has already made beautiful plans to spend the heritage of the killed father in the best manner.
In the meantime, the Marquess' share of the inheritance, turned out not to conform to her expectation. Most of the inheritance was shared between her older brother who succeeded his father's office, and the younger one who was Member of Parliament. Saint Croix and his shameful accomplice saw their goals only half fulfilled. There were, hence, two persons staying in their way of being in possession of all the inheritance which they awaited by murdering the father. The death of the two brothers would hence be decided. In this case, the preemptive rights on the fatherly inheritance, law and the family promises to the sons, made up their death sentence.
Saint Croix undertook himself the completion of this plan. It was enough for him to have brought the Marquess into parricide, and through such act, has secured her discretion and her acceptance of every subsequent steps. What was still left to do, he wanted to achieve by himself.
Two henchmen at his sold, were the most infallible means for him to that end. The first one, named Martin, born in the same province as him, lived in his house and was a kind of butler. He could entrust to this man the most horrible enterprises, knowing that no difficulty would frighten him whenever it was about committing a crime. Fabricating false money was his main occupation; the time he had left, he spent in the most unrestrained excesses. A servant who, in fact, deserved to serve such a master! The other one, named LaChaussée, his former servant, possessed equally all the necessary dispositions to earn his trust perfectly.
The last one would be chosen as the tool. The Marquess found an occasion to hire him in the service of her younger brother who lived together with the older one. However, she hid to her brothers very carefully that this man, previously, was in relationship with Saint Croix, the same way as she, above all, also most painfully kept secret to them her own relationship with her lover.
The first attack should be directed at the civil Lieutenant. LaChaussée would be promised 200 Pistolswith the assurance of a lifelong support, if he would eliminate him off their way. The zeal with which this villain did his work, has however almost betrayed the whole plan.
Eager to fulfill his contract rapidly, and wanting not to fail his goal, he gave his victim too strong a dose. He brought to the civil Lieutenant a poisoned glass of water and wine. Hardly has this one brought it onto his lips, that he repelled it, frightened and shouted: “What have you given to me, villain? I believe you wanted to poison me!” He gave the glass to his secretary who tasted some of it in a spoon and assured that it tasted bitter and smelled like vitriol. The smallest confusion of the servant would betray everything. But criminals of that kind seldom lack the necessary presence of mind. Without the least losing his composure, LaChaussée took in hurry the glass and emptied it. “Apparently, he said, I took a glass in a hurry from which the Member of Parliament, early today, has taken his medicine, hence the bitter taste.” Hence, he got away with this incident with a mere reprimand, because of his negligence; and the incident aroused not any further suspicion.
However, this failed attempt, despite being linked with such a great danger, did not deter the plotters from continuing their plan. To execute it more securely, they decided to put in danger, at the same time, many more persons who were not specifically their target.
In the beginning of April 1670, the civil Lieutenant went onto his estate near Villequoy in Beausse, to spend the Easter holidays there. The Member of Parliament, accompanied by LaChaussée, travelled with him. One day, as a numerous company ate with them for lunch, seven persons would suddenly, at the same time, become sick from the meal. These were the ones who have eaten a stew which has been served them. All the others who did pass this specific dish remained healthy. The civil Lieutenant and the Member of Parliament were the first ones on whom the effect of the gift were seen. They would be seized by the most violent vomiting. On April 12th, they returned back to Paris, both with livid faces as if they were precisely enduring a long and severe illness again.
This incidence kept Saint Croix ready for the right moment when all the advantages which he has intentioned for himself in the crime would come. He exhibited two letters from the Marquess, the first one of 30 000 Pounds in his own name and the other one of 25 000 Pounds in Martin’s name. So great were hence the sums which the Marquess paid for the murder of her brothers!
In the meantime, the civil Lieutenant's condition would worsen day by day. He observed an insurmountable aversion for any dish and his vomiting continued. Three days before his death, he felt a raging fire in his stomach, which seemed to devour him totally. He died, finally, on June 17th, 1670. During his autopsy, people found the stomach and the bladder totally blackened and dried, as if they were burned by an intense fire; and the liver was deformed and gangrened. It was concluded that he must have been poisoned. But who should be the suspected man? People did not have yet the least suspicion.
The Marquess has taken the precaution, during this incident, to go to the countryside. Saint Croix reported to her, now, the death of the civil Lieutenant by adding: the Member of Parliament's condition would allow to hope that he soon will follow his brother.
In fact, the Member of Parliament had also the same symptoms as his brother. He must, however, still spend one month longer in this deplorable situation.
His mind was not lesser martyred by a painful fear, than his body by violent pains. Unceasingly suffering from inside and outside, he found every position uncomfortable. Staying in bed was a martyrdom to him; and yet, has he hardly left it, that he demanded to return there again to seek relief which he found only in the arms of death. People opened his corpse and found his stomach and liver in the same condition as his brother's. That LaChaussée was the murderer, he guessed so little for he bequeathed him a rather large sum of 300 Pounds in his will, which would be given to him without any difficulty.
Yet, the Marquess' thirst for inheritance was still not quenched. Until now, she has worked for half for her sister with whom she has to share their brothers' inheritance. To have everything for herself, this latter must also be gotten rid of, and hence, her work was still only half done, if a fourth murder would still not follow the previous three. She saw, hence, to it that her sister would also succumb with the namely weapons. Only that this one, warned by so many terrible examples which happened so rapidly, one after the others in her family, was on her guard and faced all the subsequent events with intelligent precaution.
However, the Marquess' husband would also be involved in the worst manner. “Lady Brinvillier”, told Lady Sévigné in her 270th letter, “wanted to marry Saint Croix and gave many times to her husband poison to be able to execute this plan. Saint Croix, however, who really did not have any envy to marry a woman who was equal to him in abomination, sought every time to hinder the execution of this plan, and brought him antidote. Only in this way would the unfortunate husband be able to maintain his life: targeted by two monsters, he would sometimes be poisoned, sometimes be given antidote.”
People were speaking, now, only about these three rapid death cases, and the circumstances under which they took place, did not allow any doubt that the father as well as the two sons have died of poisoning.
However, people only had empty presumptions about their authors. Saint Croix was not the least suspected. Every one believed that his relationship with the Marquess was already over for a long time; why should he, hence, have committed these crimes? LaChaussée was also not suspected. He has observed so much innocence in covering his culpability not lesser than as in executing the same crimes that it did not occur to anyone to prescribe them to him.
A fortuity uncovered, finally, the whole infernal plot. Saint Croix had, in truth, fulfilled his goal with the Aubray family.
Only that for a man whose desires would only become ever insatiable with every satisfaction, an art which offered such easy means to reach any goal, had too much attraction to be left aside unused immediately after the first attempt. Rather more, he now only furthered the study of the same art with even greater zeal. The poisons which he concocted were so fine that they could kill with a single inhalation; for that reason, he always wear during his preparations a glass mask to keep himself from the poisonous emanations. One day, however, his mask fell from his face, and he was killed on the spot.
No one knew whether he still had relatives. The authority allowed, hence, his belongings to be sealed and made an inventory of them. Among other things, was also discovered a small coffer in which, by its opening, people immediately found on its top a writing with the following content:
“I ask the person in whose hands this coffer could fall, to have the graciousness to deliver the same coffer, by hand, to the Marquess of Brinvillier, on the new Paul Street, because everything that it contains concerns her alone and belonged to her alone, and no other human being can have an interest in it apart from her. Should, however, this Lady already have died before me; hence, I ask that the same little coffer neither be opened, nor its content be tested, but rather, to burn it immediately with all its content.
Should, however, the person in whose hands this coffer shall fall, take as an excuse that people hence cannot know whether all this is true or not; hence, I swear to God whom I pray and to all that is sacred, that it is the real truth. Should such person, however, despite all this, act contrarily to my good intention and careful instructions; hence, I put the consequences on his conscience in this and the other world, while I declare that this is my last will.
Written in Paris, on May 25th, 1672, in the afternoon.
Signed by Saint Croix.
Further down was still written: “Parcel intentioned for Mister Penautier who should deliver it.”
The authority did not have any reluctance to examine the coffer; and we will, now, give our readers a description of its treasures under the protection of God and all that is most sacred, in the words of the affidavit communicated about it.
“1. In the little coffer was found a pack with eight seals of different types with the inscription: “Papers which are to be burned after my death, as they cannot be of any use to anyone. I ask very appropriately, for that reason, and I put it on the conscience of the person in whose hands they will fall, that he should follow the instructions, but without opening these letters.” In this pack were two other parcels which contained sublimated mercury.
“2. Another pack with six seals of different designs and labeled in the same manner, in which a half pound of sublimated mercury was equally found.
“3. A pack sealed and labeled in the same manner, with three smaller packs: the first contained half an ounce of mercury, the second two ounces of sublimated mercury and one fourth pound of Roman vitriol, and the third one contained calcined vitriol.
“4. A large square bottle containing a nettle in a clear water, but which as Mister Moreau, the doctor, assured, cannot be ascertained until it is analyzed.
“5. Another smaller bottle with the same clear water, on which bottom a white deposit was found. Mister Moreau made the same remark about it.
“6. A small pot of porcelain in which were two or three ounces of prepared opium.
“7. A folded paper container in which were found two drams of sublimated corrosive mercury.
“8. A box of infernal stones.
“9. A folded paper containing an ounce of opium.
“10. A three-ounce piece of Regulus Antimonii.
“11. A pack of powder on which cover was written: “To calm women's blood”. Mister Moreau said, it is made of dried quince burgeons and leaves.
“12. A pack with six different seals similar to the previous packs, in which twenty seven little pieces of folded paper were contained, each with the inscription: “various specific secrets.”
“13. A parcel with the same previous inscription, in which people found six different smaller packs addressed to different persons and contained together sixty five pounds of sublimated mercury.”
We add this list of poisons immediately to one of the reports which the doctors made about their investigations.
“Saint Croix's artificial poison” said one of the doctors, “amazed people after all the analysis made about it.
It is so well hidden that people could not recognize it; it is so finely made that it undermines all the knowledge of a doctor. These poisons were experimented mostly either with the elements, or with animals.
In water, the poison sinks on the bottom because of its weight; it catalyzes and sinks under. Under fire, all the foreign and harmless components are separated and washed away, only remains an acid, bitter substance. On animals, people remarked traces of their presence all over the whole body; it spreads all over the members, penetrates all the veins, burns and corrodes all the organs. Experiencing any of Saint Croix's poisons is destructive, pronouncing any rule about them uncertain and expressing any aphorism ridicule. They float on the water; they leave by the test of fire only a sweet, harmless substance, and are hidden in the animal bodies so skilfully that people cannot recognize them. People have done all kinds of tests with them.
First, from one of the bottles, people poured some drops onto wine stones and into sea water; however, the drops did not really catalyze on the bottom of the recipient in which people made the experiment.People made another experiment by pouring the namely water in a recipient full of warm sand; however, not any of the bitter smelling of the matter remained on the sand. The third attempt would be made with a young Indian hen, a pigeon and a dog. These animals died immediately afterwards. As people opened their corpses on the following day, really nothing more was found than a little dried blood in the heart. People made still another experiment with one of the white powder with a cat by giving it some of the poison with sheep bladder. It spitted for half an hour; and on the following day, people found it dead. People saw, however, in the autopsy that not a unique organ was attacked by the poison. A second experiment with the same powder would be undertaken on a pigeon which died also a short time afterwards. In the autopsy, people found nothing more than a little reddish water in the stomach.”
People could derive from these proofs how far Saint Croix has perfected himself, little by little, into this horrible art. In fact, with these means, he was the most dangerous man who could declare war to the whole world, to the whole human race and yet remain unpunished.
Apart from this range of the most fearful poisons; this little coffer also contained, to Lady Brinvillier's misfortune, all the papers written by her. People found in there, not only all the letters which she has written to him, but rather also the precise one written by her to Saint Croix for the payment of 30 000 Pounds.
In one of the letters, the Marquess wrote: “Decided to end my life, I have this evening taken something from the substance which your friendly hand has given to me. I used Glazer's formula. You see that I can sacrifice my life for you. However, I do not give up the wish of seeing you, maybe, again at a certain place to bid you a last farewell.” Apparently was this only one of the menaces which prevailed among the speech of irritated lovers, and usually is only the sign of a nearing reconciliation. However, people realized that between these two souls associated in the darkest crime, the best harmony has not always prevailed.
The Marquess learned, at the same time, of Saint Croix's death and the sealing of his belongings. The pain over the loss of her lover would be added to the nervousness caused by these parcels. As people will immediately see, the love between these two human beings who must have feared each other, has already for long dampened. And the fatal coffer left her, now, really not any time to think about something else. All the efforts she made to get hold of it, we read from the following eyewitnesses.
Peter Frater, Inspector Picard's scribe, said during the witness hearings that Lady Brinvillier came in the evening, around ten o’clock, in his master's house to speak with him. The scribe has answered to her that his master was already in bed. Then, she demanded that he should announce her to the Inspector, that she wanted to see him, because of the little coffer which was among the sealed belongings of Saint Croix and belonged to her, and which she wanted to claim back, unopened. The Inspector answered to her, through him, that he has already gone to bed; and has asked her to send a man, on the next morning, to pick up the little coffer.
Another witness named Cluet testified: Lady Brinvillier has said that her oldest brother was a good for nothing; if it only depended upon her, she would have already for long had him murdered by two noblemen, as he was still an Intendant in Orleans. She has been kind to Saint Croix only in order to obtain the little coffer from him, and she would have very much, after his death, given fifty golden Louis coins to anyone who could get it for her; she did not want anyone to see its content which was matter of importance only to her. When he told her afterwards that InspectorPicard has affirmed finding specific belongings in the little coffer, she became suddenly red, and has immediately sought to divert the conversation onto something else. He has also taken the freedom to ask her whether or not she did not have any share in the poisonings of which Saint Croix was suspected. She has then answered with visible confusion: “Why me?”.
At the same time, she was extremely ashamed and without knowing what she was talking about, added that she has been with Saint Croix long enough to be entitled to the little coffer, and if she will get it, she would allow her interlocutor to be hanged.
The Marquess saw, soon, distinctively enough, that it was too late to recover the little coffer.
It was in the hands of the authority, and she could not hope that it would be delivered to her without further investigation. Hence, to remove herself from the nearing danger, she resolved to seek her salvation by fleeing. She left suddenly Picpus where she was then staying in the night and fled to Lüttich.
Before she left, she took care still of an administrative procedure to be filed in her name with the seal department. This department reported the following in an affidavit: “Appears before us Alexander LaMare as representative of Lady Mary Margaret of Aubray, Marquess of Brinvillier and affirms that if in a small coffer, a signed letter of promise from a mentioned Marquess of Brinvillier promising a sum of 30 000 Pounds should be found, such a promise was obtained through malice and by surprise from her, and hence, she wished to declare it null and void.”
All these details gave grounds to enough suspicion against the Marquess that she has made common cause with Saint Croix. Only that suspicion were just not sufficient to convince people. At once, however, the judges received a new light through LaChaussée who delivered Justice in their hands through his silliness. He, namely, made objections to the seal department, because of particular claims which he still has to make upon Saint Croix. He claimed that during the seven years which he spent in his service, he has lent him hundreds of Pistols and hundreds of Thalers in silver coins which must be found in a linen purse behind the cabinet window, with Saint Croix's written statement confirming his testimony. People would further find in the same place a cession of 300 Pounds, established to a certain LaSerre, which he has received from the deceased Member of Parliament Aubray, and three receipts from his master, about one hundred Pounds each. He demanded hence these papers as well as his money back.
These precise indications of so many specific details which people found to be correct, allowed to presume that LaChaussée must have a very precise knowledge of what was contained in Saint Croix's cabinet. However, apparently only the most trusted friends had access to the cabinet, and one cannot become the trusted friend of such a human being without sharing his crimes. LaChaussée has, hence, through this step, aroused a strong suspicion against himself, which would still increase very much when he showed a great nervousness when people asked him what kind of discoveries would be made in the parcels.
Lady Villarceau, the widow of the younger civil Lieutenant of Aubray, considered these facts to be strong enough to accuse him unashamedly of her husband's poisoning. A decree for his imprisonment would, hence, be immediately issued. When he was arrested, they found poison with him. The trial began, hence, with the witness hearings. We want only to mention here some of the most remarkable ones from the great deal of eyewitnesses.
Lawrence Perette, an apprentice at Glazer's drugstore declared that he has often seen a lady in company of Saint Croix coming to his master's, whose servant once has said to him that her name was Lady Brinvillier, I would bet my head that she only comes to Glazer's to have him prepare a poison. He added that she ordered her coach, every time she was coming, to stop away from the drugstore.
The second witness was Amanda Huet, the pharmacist's daughter who had free entry at Marquess of Brinvillier's house and often went there. The following is her testimony: “One day, I found myself in the Marquess's anteroom when this one, still totally drunk, precisely came in to dissipate her drunkenness.
In this condition, she was so unsuspecting as to show me a box which she took from her coffer. “Here is something,” she said, “with which one can avenge on his enemies, it is also very efficient for inheritances!” I recognized it as being sublimated mercury, partly powder, partly solid.
When the Marquess awakened again after seven or eight hours, and the effects of wine were gone, I told her what happened. “That was only words spoken in the wind!” she replied, however, recommended me to observe total secrecy about it. Hence, she always made sure that this coffer be kept locked with the most extreme care, and told me to set it immediately into the fire, if she should die. As she once was embarrassed”, continued this witness, “she said that she will poison herself. Another time, as she was irritated against someone, she said: “There are means to kill opponents by the neck, all is needed is putting a bullet in a broth!”. I also very often saw LaChaussée in intimate conversations with the Marquess. “This is, hence, a brave young person,” she said one day to him, while rubbing his cheeks, “He has done a good job for me!”
A young lady, Villeray, testified that she has found LaChaussée in great confidence with the Marquess. After the death of the civil Lieutenant, she has seen both gathered alone, and two days after the death of the Member of Parliament, the Marquess even had to hide him behind her bed, because precisely Mister Cousté, the secretary of the deceased, was announcing his visit to her. LaChaussée himself avowed this detail in his second hearing. He had a letter from Saint Croix, he said, for the Marquess and has been concerned about Mister Cousté finding him, if he did not hide.
Cluet who, as already above mentioned, testified against the Marquess, added: “Even before the two young Lords Aubray's poisoning, he has one day said to Lady Brinvillier: “If the civil Lieutenant knew that LaChaussée has served with Saint Croix, he would have immediately dismissed him!” “My God!” she answered in hurry, “do not say anything to my brothers about it, I believe they would dismiss him from their house; and yet, I would rather see him earn something than serving in another house.”
Other witnesses told that during his master's illness, as LaChaussée was called by him, he has answered the following, using a terrible and despicable nickname which he has given his master: “He is already weak, but gives us still a lot to do, I know not when he will make his last farewell.” And after his death, as he has covered him with a linen, he has said the namely shameful words: “Now, he is dead! I will allow him to be buried; I have honestly shaken him; during his lifetime, I would have never sha-
The Tribunal of Châtelet kept, in the meantime, the proofs not for sufficient to pronounce the death sentence against him, and condemn him of first degree torture. However, Lady Villarceau made an appeal against this judgement which could be removing the criminal easily from the deserved punishment, if he only has enough courage to overcome torture and to deny his crime steadfastly. Afterwards, on March 4th, 1673, the criminal court would issue the following new judgement about LaChaussée: “it is solemnly and publicly declared that LaChaussée, accused and guilty of the crime of having killed with poison the civil Lieutenant and the Member of Parliament of Aubray, is being condemned to the well deserved punishment of being attached alive on a wheel and then to be dismembered. Before the execution, however, he should still be submitted to ordinary and extraordinary torture, in order to know from him the name of his accomplices. By the way, the Marquess of Brinvillier who disdained to appear before the judge, is condemned to be beheaded.”
During torture, he confessed his crimes and declared that he has specifically only been a commissioner for Saint Croix who gave him great rewards to execute his intentions. “The first time;” he added, “when Saint Croix gave poison to me, he said to me that he has already received the same poison from the Marquess whose brothers should be poisoned with it; however, after the act really took place, he said that Lady Brinvillier knew nothing about it.
This last information, however, seemed very improbable to me, for she spoke not only daily with me about poison, but rather wanted me also, after having completed the act, to flee and even gave me money in this intention. The poisoning of the two brothers,” he continued, “I executed with water and broths. I poured the reddish poison in the glass which I gave to the civil Lieutenant and the translucent poison in the pâté served in Villequoy.” People can conclude from that, that it took him many attempts to poison the two brothers. “Saint Croix,” he said finally still, “has also great envy to poison the Marquess's sister, and endeavoured to have a servant hired by her, who should have committed the act. Only that the attempt failed, either because a favourable fortuity took place, or because the young Lady Aubray, guessing the true cause of the sudden deaths in her family, distrusted everything which came through the hand, or the recommendation of her sister.”
Despite all this, this Lady supported her murdering sister by giving her money during her fleeing. Now, LaChaussée's death sentence would be immediately executed on the public place.
The whole weight of the accusation in the investigation was now falling upon the Marquess of Brinvillier. Everyone was convinced that she was guilty; people spoke her name with despite. In the meantime, she believed to escape from the arms of Justice by fleeing away in a foreign land.
But the asylum which Princes, moved by their feelings of humanity, grant even to those who have suppressed all feelings of humanity in themselves; the protection which will be assured for misdemeanors, is not a license to commit a crime before which Humanity itself was frightened: the authors of such crimes will be delivered to Justice, as soon as the reasons for the arrest would be presented to the regents.
People sent a Corporal from the mounted police, named Desgrais, to Lüttich, accompanied by some justice officers with a royal letter to the Council of the Sixty itself, in which the monarch demanded that the Marquess be delivered to him to allow the pertaining punishments to be executed upon her. The Council to which Desgrais presented the letter with an excerpt of the legal act, did not have any hesitation to give him immediately permission to arrest Lady Brinvillier.
Desgrais who heard that she has hidden in a cloister, kept it not for advisable to arrest her with force in this free zone. He could easily fail his whole goal. It was to be feared that a forceful capture in the cloister could be seen as desecration of a saintly place and could cause a riot in the city, and may snatch away from his hands his captive.
He found, hence, an outcome in a malice. Disguised as an Abbot, he called for the Marquess. He would be a French man, he said, and did not want to travel through Lüttich without visiting a Lady who equally aroused a general interest through her unfortunate destiny as a general admiration through her beauty. He played his role so well that he soon came to talk to her about love. He found a hearing by the Marquess. A cloister is a very uncomfortable place for the reliable encounters of two lovers. Desgrais proposed, hence, a trip in the countryside. His proposition would be accepted. Hardly were they, however, outside the city that the beloved Abbot suddenly transformed himself into a terrible Corporal of the mounted police, and gave her into the hands of his men who have waited her already there.
Vested with an order from the Council, which secured him a free entry, he went then immediately into the cloister and searched everything that he found in the Marquess' room. The Marquess was most worried by a coffer which he found under her bed. She asked very pressingly that people should give it back to her. But Desgrais was deaf enough to all her requests. Finally, she demanded only to have, at least, the papers which she called her confessions; but this would be denied her too. Even for the respect which people otherwise care to show for everything relating to the sacrament of confession, the Corporal could not determine himself to give back to her her handwritten papers. He held it for his rigorous officer's duty not only the criminal, but rather also everything that could serve to her conviction, to deliver to the hands of Justice.
The Marquess attempted, in the meantime, another means to save herself, or at least her coffer. She offered money to one of the guards to undertake a commission for her, and as this one was willing, hence she gave him a letter for a certain Theria with whom she has lived during her stay in Lüttich in very intimate company. In this letter, she asked him to come to help her most hurriedly and to save her from the hands of Desgrais; and in a second letter, she told him that her whole guard consist only of eight soldiers whom five resolved men can easily overcome. In a third letter, finally, she wrote to the beloved Theria that if he could not save her using force publicly; hence, he should at least come to stab to death some of her coach's horses, and take hold of the coffer, because otherwise it would be unmistakably lost.
None of these letters landed into Theria’s hands, because the guard betrayed her commission. It is only fortuitously that he found himself in Maastricht, when she would be brought to this city and made an attempt to corrupt her guards. He raised his rewards up to 1 000 Pistols, if they would make the Marquess escape. But they remained unmoved. As all hope for salvation seemed lost, the Marquess wanted, out of despair, to take her own life, and to this end, wanted to swallow a needle. One of her guards would, however, guess her intention and prevented her from executing it.
In the meantime, the Parliament received the order to send Member of Parliament Palluau to go to Rocroi and to hear immediately the Marquess. The goal of this order was either to hinder her from unravelling a cabal to her advantage, as she was almost in relationship with the whole Parliament, or not to give her time to think about her answers and to regain force, through making up skillful subterfuges, with other Members of Parliament. The commission would be correctly executed.
As soon as the Marquess arrived in Paris and was brought for custody in the Parliament prison, she turned to Mister Penautier who, as main cashier of the regular and spiritual authorities of Languedoc, disposed of a great income and had permission to keep an opulent table. Through these two advantages, he enjoyed overall respect and could, in fact, grant protection. He found himself, however, dragged into this story, but needed for himself his whole credibility.
A letter which the Marquess wrote to him from the Parliament prison, would be delivered and brought to him to his great embarrassment. She told him really frankly in this letter about the danger which was menacing her, of losing her life on the scaffold, and about the conduct which she was resolved to observe during her hearing. She has undertaken, she wrote, to deny everything and to confess nothing. She asked him, finally, still for an advice and sought his friends' influence to make prevail for her.
In line with this resolution, she has, in fact, already in the hearing in Rocroi, observed this behaviour and has denied everything stubbornly. She would know nothing about the letters which she has written after her imprisonment; and she would also not know of Saint Croix's little coffer which people showed to her. About the promissory note of 30 000 Pounds, she said that she has shown it to Saint Croix so that he could show it to her creditors, and this could be used as guarantee for the future expenses and collateral against the trials which people have set up against her. For that reason, he has given her a receipt which she, however, has lost in the meantime.
In prison, she affected a mental calmness which was totally foreign to her heart. She knew her crimes, and she also realized that her judges know all about them too. Unceasingly, the image of death which she expected, surrounded her, and in the moment when she seemed to play with an apparent calm a party of piquet, her unique thought was about committing suicide. She chose for this goal a means which she hoped, would curtail the attention of her guards most easily. She has fabricated a sharp tool with a very long tube and intended to use it without any outside help. She sought, so far, to introduce it in her body and pierce her own organs, resolved to remove herself, through the torments of such death, from the humiliation which the hands of Justice has prepared for her. People discovered, however, her plan and she would be prevented from achieving it.
The most important among the proofs existing against her, was her written confession in which information about the most secret details of her life would be kept. There is almost not any crime which she is not recognizing in those writings. Immediately in the introduction, she declared herself to be a murderer, and recognized that she has put fire in a house and has acquainted herself with excesses of all sorts, has indulged herself into all the disorders of voluptuousness and drunkenness without any restraint. “Lady Brinvillier told us in her confession,” wrote Lady Sévigné in her 269th letter and in fact, it is really true what she wrote about it, if otherwise what has been said about the case, was not always true, “that she ceased to be a virgin already in her seventh year, and has behaved all along in equal manner. She has poisoned her father, her brothers and once her children, and has even taken poison herself to find out an antidote against it. Medea herself would not have gone so far.
She has recognized among other confessions, her handwriting, a move which is not so intelligent; however, she affirmed that she has written these notes while experiencing the most violent fever, that they only constitute a series of senseless, clumsy discourse which people could not even read without laughing.” In the following letters, she added still: “People speak, now, of nothing else but Brinvillier. About what she said, what she did, how she behaved. Her parricide, she has presumably written in her confession in order not to forget it to her confessor. People must in fact confess that her littlest scruples about fearing to forget something, are laudable.”
The criminal found, in the meantime, a skillful defender in Mister Nivelle, a man who was equally famous for his intelligence and honesty as for his fundamental, scholarly knowledge and who deployed all the forces of his spirit to save his client. The following are the main defence which he presented for her:
“The Marquess was very wrong,” said he immediately in the preamble of his apology, “to allow such a reprehensible love to take root in her heart, and it is even more reproachable as she has chosen the most despicable of all human beings as the object of her tenderness. But she did not know him. He knew to deceive people and hid the most condemnable heart under the mask of a rigorous honesty.
“He alone was the author of the horrible destiny which the Marquess' family encountered; and this vicious person whom she loved so tenderly, whom she made into a confidant of her sufferings, in whose company she sought trust and relief, deeply wounded by the sudden and sad loss of her most loved and trusted persons; this villain was horrible enough, for while he dried her tears with one hand, he did broke her heart, one more time, with the other.
“He has sworn the downfall of her family, and he kept his oath. Deeply vexed by Lord Aubray's attitude who has taken him away from the arms of Love, to allow him to languish in a terrible prison, he has long nurtured a bitter revenge in his heart. Greed, finally, pushed him to take his resolution, to execute the revenge which he has already for long prepared. He would take hold of a great fortune, while he would, actually, only satisfy his hatred. Two motives which were strong enough to make such a dark soul capable of anything. It is true that the fortune did not fall into his hands; however, the Marquess whom he dominated totally, was a heiress and whatever was in her hands, he could dispose of, unlimitedly. She wanted this terrible event which gave her a fortune, fortune which she had to buy with such a great loss, and not knowing from what terrible hand she would receive this unfortunate present, she accused Nature itself, for having to share all this fortune which she would have rather bought with her own life, if it were only allowed her.
“In the letters which people have found in the infamous small coffer, there was not the least trace of the share which she has had in the gruesome acts committed by Saint Croix. However, is there really something to discover, since Saint Croix has already so carefully arranged everything for her? The highest trust of a tender love seems to have inspired these letters, they bore the mark of the frankest truthfulness, her whole heart is unravelled in there, and hence, people do not even find the littlest thing to suspect about her participation in these terrible murders.
Tysiące ebooków i audiobooków
Ich liczba ciągle rośnie, a Ty masz gwarancję niezmiennej ceny.
Napisali o nas:
Nowy sposób na e-księgarnię
Czytelnicy nie wierzą
Legimi idzie na całość
Projekt Legimi wielkim wydarzeniem
Spotify for ebooks