List Of Contents | Contents of Urbain Grandier, by Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

superior, giving such clear signs of his passage that no one would
dare to doubt any longer that it was a case of genuine possession.
Thereupon the criminal lieutenant, Henri Herve, who had been present
during the exorcism, said they must seize upon the moment of his exit
to ask about Pivart, who was unknown at Loudun, although everyone who
lived there knew everybody else.  Barre replied in Latin, "Et hoc
dicet epuellam nominabit" (He will not only tell about him, but he
will also name the young girl).  The young girl whom the devil was to
name was, it may be recollected, she who had introduced the flowers
into the convent, and whose name the demon until now had absolutely
refused to give.  On the strength of these promises everyone went
home to await the morrow with impatience.


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

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

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

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

Thanks to this document, a change of parts took place: Mignon, the
accuser, became the accused.  Feeling that he had powerful support
behind him, he had the audacity to appear before the bailiff the same
day.  He said that he did not acknowledge his jurisdiction, as in
what concerned Grandier and himself, they being both priests, they
could only be judged by their bishop; he nevertheless protested
against the complaint lodged by Grandier, which characterised him as
a slanderer, and declared that he was ready to give himself up as a
prisoner, in order to show everyone that he did not fear the result
of any inquiry.  Furthermore, he had taken an oath on the sacred
elements the day before, in the presence of his parishioners who had
come to mass, that in all he had hitherto done he had been moved, not

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: