List Of Contents | Contents of Urbain Grandier, by Dumas, Pere
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authorised to visit the convent by the Bishop of Poitiers.  Barre'
replied that he would not hinder their coming in, as far as it
concerned him.

"We are here with the intention of entering," said the bailiff, "and
also for the purpose of requesting you to put one or two questions to
the demon which we have drawn up in terms which are in accordance
with what is prescribed in the ritual.  I am sure you will not
refuse," he added, turning with a bow to Marescot, "to make this
experiment in the presence of the queen's chaplain, since by that
means all those suspicions of imposture can be removed which are
unfortunately so rife concerning this business."

"In that respect I shall do as I please, and not as you order me,"
was the insolent reply of the exorcist.

"It is, however, your duty to follow legal methods in your
procedure," returned the bailiff, "if you sincerely desire the truth;
for it would be an affront to God to perform a spurious miracle in
His honour, and a wrong to the Catholic faith, whose power is in its
truth, to attempt to give adventitious lustre to its doctrines by the
aid of fraud and deception."

"Sir," said Barre, "I am a man of honour, I know my duty and I shall
discharge it; but as to yourself, I must recall to your recollection
that the last time you were here you left the chapel in anger and
excitement, which is an attitude of mind most unbecoming in one whose
duty it is to administer justice."

Seeing that these recriminations would have no practical result, the
magistrates cut them short by reiterating their demand for
admittance; and on this being refused, they reminded the exorcists
that they were expressly prohibited from asking any questions tending
to cast a slur on the character of any person or persons whatever,
under pain of being treated as disturbers of the public peace.  At
this warning Barre, saying that he did not acknowledge the bailiff's
jurisdiction, shut the door in the faces of the two magistrates.

As there was no time to lose if the machinations of his enemies were
to be brought to nought, the bailiff and the civil lieutenant advised
Grandier to write to the Archbishop of Bordeaux, who had once already
extricated him from imminent danger, setting forth at length his
present predicament; this letter; accompanied by the reports drawn up
by the bailiff and the civil lieutenant, were sent off at once by a
trusty messenger to His Grace of Escoubleau de Sourdis.  As soon as
he received the despatches, the worthy prelate seeing how grave was
the crisis, and that the slightest delay might be fatal to Grandier,
set out at once for his abbey of Saint-Jouinles-Marmes, the place in
which he had already vindicated in so striking a manner the upright
character of the poor persecuted priest by a fearless act of justice.

It is not difficult to realise what a blow his arrival was to those
who held a brief for the evil spirits in possession; hardly had he
reached Saint-Jouin than he sent his own physician to the convent
with orders to see the afflicted nuns and to test their condition, in
order to judge if the convulsions were real or simulated.  The
physician arrived, armed with a letter from the archbishop, ordering
Mignon to permit the bearer to make a thorough examination into the
position of affairs.  Mignon received the physician with all the
respect due to him who sent him, but expressed great regret that he
had not come a little sooner, as, thanks to his (Mignon's) exertions
and those of Barre, the devils had been exorcised the preceding day.
He nevertheless introduced the archbishop's envoy to the presence of
the superior and Sister Claire, whose demeanour was as calm as if
they had never been disturbed by any agitating' experiences.
Mignon's statement being thus confirmed, the doctor returned to
Saint-Jouin, the only thing to which he could bear testimony being
the tranquillity which reigned at the moment in the convent.

The imposture being now laid so completely bare, the archbishop was
convinced that the infamous persecutions to which it had led would
cease at once and for ever; but Grandier, better acquainted with the
character of his adversaries, arrived on the 27th of December at the
abbey and laid a petition at the archbishop's feet.  In this document
he set forth that his enemies having formerly brought false and
slanderous accusations, against him of which, through the justice of
the archbishop, he had been able to clear himself, had employed
themselves during the last three months in inventing and publishing
as a fact that the petitioner had sent evil spirits into the bodies
of nuns in the Ursuline convent of Loudun, although he had never
spoken to any of the sisterhood there; that the guardianship of the
sisters who, it was alleged, were possessed, and the task of
exorcism, had been entrusted to Jean Mignon and Pierre Barre, who had
in the most unmistakable manner shown themselves to be the mortal
enemies of the petitioner; that in the reports drawn up by the said
Jean Mignon and Pierre Barre, which differed so widely from those
made by the bailiff and the civil lieutenant, it was boastfully
alleged that three or four times devils had been driven out, but that
they had succeeded in returning and taking possession of their
victims again and again, in virtue of successive pacts entered into
between the prince of darkness and the petitioner; that the aim of
these reports and allegations was to destroy the reputation of the
petitioner and excite public opinion against him; that although the
demons had been put to flight by the arrival of His Grace, yet it was
too probable that as soon as he was gone they would return to the
charge; that if, such being the case, the powerful support of the
archbishop were not available, the innocence of the petitioner, no
matter how strongly established, would by the cunning tactics of his
inveterate foes be obscured and denied: he, the petitioner, therefore
prayed that, should the foregoing reasons prove on examination to be
cogent, the archbishop would be pleased to prohibit Barre, Mignon,
and their partisans, whether among the secular or the regular clergy,
from taking part in any future exorcisms, should such be necessary,
or in the control of any persons alleged to be possessed;
furthermore, petitioner prayed that His Grace would be pleased to
appoint as a precautionary measure such other clerics and lay persons
as seemed to him suitable, to superintend the administration of food
and medicine and the rite of exorcism to those alleged to be
possessed, and that all the treatment should be carried out in the
presence of magistrates.

The archbishop accepted the petition, and wrote below it:

"The present petition having been seen by us and the opinion of our
attorney having been taken in the matter, we have sent the petitioner
in advance of our said attorney back to Poitiers, that justice may be
done him, and in the meantime we have appointed Sieur Barre, Pere
l'Escaye, a Jesuit residing in Poitiers, Pere Gaut of the Oratory,
residing at Tours, to conduct the exorcisms, should such be
necessary, and have given them an order to this effect.

"It is forbidden to all others to meddle with the said exorcisms, on
pain of being punished according to law."

It will be seen from the above that His Grace the Archbishop of
Bordeaux, in his enlightened and generous exercise of justice, had
foreseen and provided for every possible contingency; so that as soon
as his orders were made known to the exorcists the possession ceased
at once and completely, and was no longer even talked of.  Barre
withdrew to Chinon, the senior canons rejoined their chapters, and
the nuns, happily rescued for the time, resumed their life of
retirement and tranquillity.  The archbishop nevertheless urged on
Grandier the prudence of effecting an exchange of benefices, but he
replied that he would not at that moment change his simple living of
Loudun for a bishopric.


The exposure of the plot was most prejudicial to the prosperity of
the Ursuline community: spurious possession, far from bringing to
their convent an increase of subscriptions and enhancing their
reputation, as Mignon had promised, had ended for them in open shame,
while in private they suffered from straitened circumstances, for the
parents of their boarders hastened to withdraw their daughters from
the convent, and the nuns in losing their pupils lost their sole
source of income.  Their, fall in the estimation of the public filled
them with despair, and it leaked out that they had had several
altercations with their director, during which they reproached him
for having, by making them commit such a great sin, overwhelmed them
with infamy and reduced them to misery, instead of securing for them
the great spiritual and temporal advantages he had promised them.
Mignon, although devoured by hate, was obliged to remain quiet, but
he was none the less as determined as ever to have revenge, and as he
was one of those men who never give up while a gleam of hope remains,
and whom no waiting can tire, he bided his time, avoiding notice,
apparently resigned to circumstances, but keeping his eyes fixed on
Grandier, ready to seize on the first chance of recovering possession
of the prey that had escaped his hands.  And unluckily the chance
soon presented itself.

It was now 1633: Richelieu was at the height of his power, carrying
out his work of destruction, making castles fall before him where he
could not make heads fall, in the spirit of John Knox's words,
"Destroy the nests and the crows will disappear."  Now one of these
nests was the crenellated castle of Loudun, and Richelieu had
therefore ordered its demolition.

The person appointed to carry out this order was a man such as those
whom Louis XI. had employed fifty years earlier to destroy the feudal
system, and Robespierre one hundred and fifty years later to destroy
the aristocracy.  Every woodman needs an axe, every reaper a sickle,
and Richelieu found the instrument he required in de Laubardemont,
Councillor of State.

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