Murder in the Forest

In our previous post we met Paul-Louis Courier (1772-1825), an accomplished Hellenist and a brilliant writer of political pamphlets.  He was a sharp thorn in the side of the authorities, especially during the last decade of his life when he fearlessly attacked the abuses of the church and the state during the Restoration.  He was also a difficult personality, said to be harsh to his employees and neglectful of his wife.  He was murdered in the Forest of Larçay, about four kilometers west of his home at La Chavonnière.  No one was ever convicted of the crime, but a central question remains: was the murder a domestic affair involving angry servants, or a political assassination?  This post will examine both possibilities.

1.  Paul-Louis Courier, by Ary Scheffer (1795-1858)

Biking from Véretz to Tours, 20 km

Our route takes us from Place Paul-Louis Courier looking out on the Cher River at Véretz; to the town cemetery, where Courier and his first son are buried; to the monument in his honor in the Forêt de Larçay; to the inn where his murder was plotted; to a cafe in Saint-Avertin; and then to the Tours station.  To see our route, click here.

Particularly after the publication in 1821 of his Simple Statement (as described in our previous post), Courier was anathema to the French authorities.  He was harassed, spied upon, and imprisoned.  Fifty years later, with the advent of the Third Republic, the division of church and state envisaged in the Revolution of 1789 was gradually brought into effect, and Courier’s standing among civil authorities rose.

In 1871 the old Paris city hall (Hotel de Ville) was burned down during the Commune.  A decade later a new city hall was opened, featuring on its facade statues of 79 great French writers, artists, and scientists.[1]  Among them is Paul-Louis Courier, honored as a both a erudite scholar and an extraordinary pamphleteer.  In the photograph of the statue below, Courier holds a quill in his right hand across his breast, as if swearing fidelity to the truth.  In his left hand is what might be the cover page of his great Simple Discours pamphlet.

2.  Statue of Paul-Louis Courier, Paris City Hall

In preparing this post and the previous one, I was greatly aided by M. Jean-Pierre Lautman, the Secretary-General for the Society of Friends of Paul-Louis Courier (Société des amis de Paul-Louis Courier) and the author of an outstanding biography of the writer: Paul-Louis Courier, ou la plume indomptée (C.L.D., 2001).  On the title page, M. Lautman includes a citation from Albert Camus which sums up beautifully why a great scholar like Courier would also become a brilliant writer of popular political pamphlets:

“Everything which degrades culture shortens the road which leads to servitude.” (Tout ce qui dégrade la culture raccourcit le chemin qui méne à la servitude.)

I met for two fascinating hours with M. Lautman at his home in Saint-Avertin.   Two days later, at his invitation I attended a soirée littéraire at the Chateau de Cangé in Saint-Avertin, entitled Paul Louis Courier, épistolier. The soirée was led by M. Lautman and featured readings from Courier’s letters during the years (1793-1809) that he served in the army.  The invitation came from the Mayor of Saint-Avertin and the first Associate Mayor (1ère adjointe), responsible for culture.  The commitment of the relatively small towns of Touraine (Saint-Avertin has a population of 15,000) to preserve their cultural heritage is truly inspiring.

3.   Jean-Pierre Lautman at his home in Saint-Avertin

While I am thanking M. Lautman, it is probably a good time to thank the many good people of Touraine who have helped me in my efforts to write this blog.  There was the curator at a special exhibit on da Vinci at the Clos-Lucé who guided me through the master’s plans to construct a royal palace for François I at Romorantin and to build canals in the area around the proposed palace; the teacher who found me lost on the plateau above Véretz and guided me to the Place Paul-Louis Courier; and countless others.

On my first bike trip on the route we travel today, I found myself wandering about, unsure of which direction to go.  An elderly lady, I’ll call her Hélène, opened a window on the ground floor of her home, leaned out, and asked me if she could help.  We chatted a bit about who I was and what I was doing there, and then she gave my very precise directions to my next stop.  I offer warmest thanks to all the Hélènes who have guided me in the past and will do so in the future.

6.4 Hélène, who helped me find my way.

Back to our bikes: we leave Véretz going south on the rue Chaude, passing the Véretz church, where the elderly priest in Courier’s day enjoyed watching young people dance on Sunday afternoon, unlike the priest at Azay-sur-Cher, who forbade such dancing, drawing forth a brilliant pamphlet from Courier which we discussed in the previous post. Like the church at Azay-sur-Cher, the massive base of the bell tower is the oldest part of the Véretz church, dating from the 12th century.  Much of the current church was built in the early 15th century.

6.5 The church at Véretz, where the people could dance in the courtyard.

Continuing south on the rue Chaude, we soon arrive at the cemetery where Paul-Louis Courier and his first son, Paul-Etienne Courier, are buried, side by side.  His son was born on September 30, 1820, the day after the birth of the miracle child (“l’enfant du miracle”), the duc de Bordeaux, in line to be King Henry V.  As we saw in last week’s post, in his Simple Statement pamphlet Courier furiously denounced the proposal to buy the Chateau de Chambord for the infant prétendant with a public subscription: was his anger increased by difference in expectations for his own son, born at the same time?

6.5 5. Cemetery of Véretz, tombs of Paul-Etienne Courier (left) and Paul-Louis Courier.

Courier had two sons with his wife Herminie: the second, Louis-Esther, was born in October, 1824, six months before Courier’s death.  There was by now a clear estrangement between man and wife.  The following January, over Courier’s objections, Herminie left to live in Paris with her mother, taking Paul-Etienne with her and leaving Louis-Esther with a local nurse.  The estrangement, and the fact that she remarried after Courier’s death, explains why she does not lie with him in the Véretz cemetery.

The estrangement also led some to believe Herminie was involved in her husband’s death.  When they married in 1814 he was 42 and she had just turned 19.  During the five years before Courier’s death in 1825, his frequent absences in Paris and his apparent neglect of Herminie even when he was at home at La Chavonnière, led to her infidelity with one of the servants, Pierre Dubois.

Yet Herminie had no apparent motive for the murder.  When Courier was killed she was living comfortably with her mother in Paris and certainly had no desire to return to La Chavonnière on her own.  The inheritance laws of the day provided her no financial incentive for her husband’s death.  M. Lautman has suggested that the efforts to link Herminie to the murder arise from a desire by Courier’s critics to sully his reputation and turn attention away from the possibility that his death was organized for political reasons.

Leaving the cemetery, we head south and then east, crossing the TGV line from Paris (the same TGV line we saw two weeks ago in the first photograph of A Kidnapping at the Chateau.  We then turn south, cross the TGV line again, and enter two lovely forests on unpaved paths, first the Bois des Hâtes and then the Forest of Larçay (la Forêt de Larçay).

7. Allée Paul-Louis Courier in the Forest of Larçay

We head south on the Allée Paul-Louis Courier and come to the monument erected in his honor by Herminie in 1828 on the site of his murder.  She had the following words engraved on the stone:[2]

To the memory of Paul-Louis Courier murdered at this place on April 10, 1825.  While his earthly remains lie in Véretz, it was here that his last thought joined eternity.

6-8 Monument to Paul-Louis Courier in the Forest of Larçay.

During the occupation of France in World War II the Germans had soldiers in the Forest of Larçay.  The resistance had distributed some of Courier’s pamphlets, which speak of courage in the face of oppression.  Apparently the Germans did not like the message, and a German soldier fired his machine gun on the monument to Courier.  The damage was repaired by the City of Tours after the war.

So who murdered Paul-Louis Courier and why?  Following his death there were two trials.  In the first, Courier’s gamekeeper, Louis Frémont, was accused, and found not guilty in September, 1825.  Four years late a young shepherdess, Sylvine Grivault, accused a group of servants from la Chavonnière of having planned the crime, including Frémont, Pierre Dubois (Herminie’s former lover), and Pierre’s brother Symphorien, who had died in 1827.

During the trial Frémont admitted that he had fired the lethal shot; he was protected by double jeopardy, however, since he had been acquitted in the first trial.  All the other defendants were found not guilty by the jury on June 14, 1830, after just one-half hour of deliberation.  While the civil authorities condemned Frémont to a fine of 10,000 francs, he died just five days after the verdict in a hospital in Tours on June 19.[3]

Was there a political connection to the murder?  M. Lautman believes there is evidence to that effect, although it is not conclusive.[4]  While he is careful to hold the King, Charles X, blameless of the crime, he believes that it is unthinkable that the police services, who spied on Courier and had an informer in his household, were not aware of the planned crime before it happened.  And why would Frémont take the enormous risk of a murder which could benefit him little, unless he knew in advance that the police would look after him and the authorities would prevent a conviction?  These questions, alas, must remain unanswered unless new evidence arrives.

Murder in the forest, an unfaithful wife, political intrigue: sounds like another novel for Balzac.[5]  It was.  Balzac visited Touraine in 1824 and 1825 and knew one of the lawyers involved in the case.[6]  Although set in the Bourgogne region, rather than in Touraine, his novel The Peasants has a story line with elements in common with Courier’s experience, or at least the popular understanding thereof.

In Balzac’s tale, the Count of Montcornet, a general in the French army, is the owner of an estate, and hated by his servants for his rough treatment of them.  His wife is unfaithful to him, although with a journalist, not a field hand.   The inn at Le Chêne Perdu, where the Courier’s unhappy peasants gathered, has its parallel in the cafe “Grand-I-Vert” in the novel.

But Balzac’s Count is not murdered by the peasants; instead they murder the Count’s faithful warden, Michaud.  Arrayed against the Count are powerful political and financial interests, who eventually force him to give up his property.  There is perhaps an echo here of the powerful interests arrayed against Courier.  In any case, Balzac’s novel reeks of political intrigue and corruption of the sort which Courier denounced in his writings.

The TV series, La caméra explore the temps, which we first met two weeks ago in A Kidnapping at the Chateau, did a program entitled L’étrange mort de Paul-Louis Courier.  The tensions between Courier and his servants, and Courier and Herminie, are brought out clearly, and Herminie’s infidelity is explicitly portrayed.  The political hostility to Courier is evident, and in the police investigation of the murder we see the desire of senior police to eliminate any facts which point toward political involvement.  The movie, like M. Lautman’s book, leaves us with a suspicion of political engagement in the murder, but no proof.

A year after Courier’s death, the great novelist Stendhal paid tribute to him:

“Voltaire was a courtier while Paul-Louis Courier was an honest man.  From this angle he resembles Franklin.  M. Courier was remarkable for his courage, which can explain both his murder and the failure to convict the murderer … The last of our great writers.”[7]

By “honest man” Stendhal means that Courier spoke the truth to power in his day, and did not seek to win favor with those who held sway over an unjust society.  His courage may explain his murder: those in power may have taken revenge on a man who challenged their authority.

It is time to get back on our bikes and continue through the Forest of Larçay.  At the south end of the Allée Paul-Louis Courier a short detour east takes us around a small lake in the forest, with lovely views.

6-9 A small lake in the Forest of Larçay.

Heading east we come to a cluster of buildings in a district still called Le Chêne Perdu.  The building which housed the auberge where Courier’s conspiring peasants and servants met is still standing.

10. The building which housed the Auberge of the Chêne Perdu in Courier’s time

We pedal the 11 km back to Tours.  Our route heads north, over the TGV line we have crossed twice today already, and through some lovely rural country with horse farms.  As we head down the hill to the Cher, we approach the Saint-Avertin city hall.  Almost next door is a convenient rest stop, Le Saint-Avertin Bar.[8]  Nearby is a small lake in the flood plain of the Cher.

6-12 The Lake of Saint-Avertin

In the photograph we are looking east.  On our left is an island which serves as a public park.  On the horizon is a levee, beyond which is the Cher River.  Behind the trees on the right is the Clapotis restaurant, with tables looking out on the lake, where Josette and I have shared many a fine meal with family and friends.

Our route back to Tours takes us west to the Sanitas Bridge, where we cross the Cher and continue north to our final stop, the Tours train station.

Photograph 1 is from the Wiki Gallery, Photograph 2 is from the City of Paris website,  All other photographs were taken by the author.

[1] Of the 79, three are women, which is rather like their representation in the Pantheon, completed eight decades earlier, but still accepting new members.
[2] “A la mémoire de Paul-Louis Courier assassiné en cet endroit le 10 avril 1825. Sa dépouille mortelle repose à Véretz mais ici sa dernière pensée a rejoint l’éternité.”
[3]  For a compelling account of the two trials, see Jean-Pierre Lautman, Paul-Louis Courier, ou la plume indomptée (C.L.D., 2001), pp. 229-237.
[4] Lautman, pp. 237-240.
[5] Another novel, following A Murky Business (Une Ténébreuse Affaire, 1841) based on the Clement de Ries kidnapping, which we learned about two weeks ago in A Kidnapping at the Chateau.  The Peasants (Les Paysans) was published in 1856, after Balzac’s death.
[6] Véretz: Paul-Louis Courier,
[7] “Voltaire était un courtisan tandis que Paul-Louis Courier était un honnête homme.  Sous ce rapport, il ressemblait à Franklin. M. Courier était remarquable par son courage, ce qui explique assez son assassinat et le non-lieu de son assassin … Le dernier de nos grands écrivains.”  Cited in Alan Dejammet, Paul-Louis Courier (Fayard, 2009), p. 9.
[8] Le Saint-Avertin Bar, 15 rue Rochepinard, 02 47 27 06 17.

Shall We Dance?

“Shall we dance?
On a bright cloud of music shall we fly?”

In The King and I, Anna puts these questions to herself, but also to the King of Siam, who watches her.  She has come to Siam to teach his children, but now finds her feelings toward him confused.  How do you get to know a man better?  You dance with him.  And she does.  The King, who observes her with interest, begins to find that he shares her confused feelings.  A critical moment occurs when he insists that they dance like Westerners, with his hand around her waist.  To see the delightful scene from the 1956 film,[1] with Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner, click here.

Paul-Louis Courier, who lived at la Chavonnière in Véretz, understood the profound social importance of dance in his society, and he protested strongly in 1822 when the priest in Azay-sur-Cher forbade dancing in the public square around the church.   We will learn his fascinating story after a small bit of biking.

Biking from Azay-sur-Cher to Véretz, 18 km

Last we week ended our post on the bank of the Cher River at the Chateau de Beauvais, the site of the kidnapping in 1800 of Clement de Ris.  Today we will bike from the chateau to Véretz, also on the Cher; to see our route click here.  As we head east we approach the bridge over the Cher at Azay-sur-Cher.  On the previous post we saw the view from the bridge toward the west; had we turned around on the bridge, we would have had the view below.

1. The Cher River at Azay-sur-Cher, looking east.

In the upper right of the photo is a BMX (bicross in French) racing track.  Heading west from the Chateau de Beauvais we reach this BMX track; a sign says it was set up by the French Federation of Cycling (Féderation Française de Cyclism).

BMX followed motorcross, or off-road motor cycle racing (the cross comes from cross country running).  Motorcross grew in the 20th century alongside stunt motor cycling: remember Steve McQueen in The Great Escape, or Evel Knieval, who broke 433 bones (a Guinness record) jumping over barrels and canyons.  Kids watching this stuff on television began doing tricks on their bicycles, and eventually BMX (bicycle motorcross) was born.  The picture below shows 7 of the mandatory 8 lanes at the start of the race (just like a running track).  Part of the metal grill in the lower left is initially vertical; it drops to begin the race.  The bumps and curves in the dirt track make for an exciting race.  In the background is the Cher River.

2. BMX racing track at Azay-sur-Cher.

BMX appeared at the Olympics for the first time in 2008, with the French winning Gold and Silver in the women’s event, and finishing 8th in the men’s event (a Latvian man won the Gold, with Americans taking Silver and Bronze).  It is an extreme sport, with thrills and spills.  The picture below is from the 2005 European BMX Championships in Sainte-Maxime on the French Riviera.  The eight cyclists are clearly visible.

3. 2005 European BMX Championships.

Returning west to the bridge over the Cher, we head south up the hill to the center of Azay-sur-Cher, where we turn east on la rue de la Poste and bike to the town cemetery.  We conclude our story of A Kidnapping at the Chateau by visiting the Clément de Ris family monument, the rectangular monument shown below, with an inscription which begins: “A la mémoire de la famille Clément de Ris.”  We then return west on la rue de la Poste to the Eglise Sainte Marie-Madeleine in the center of town, where in 1822 the new priest forbade dancing on Sunday afternoon on the public square.

4. Monument to the family of Clément de Ris in the Azay-sur-Cher cemetery.

Paul-Louis Courier

The French Revolution of 1789 raised high hopes for ordinary people in the country.  The oppressive Ancien Régime of privileged nobles supported by a politically powerful Catholic Church was to be swept away, replaced by a republic with democratic institutions and liberty, equality, and fraternity for all.  Over the following century the transition to democracy was largely made, but it was slow going, with many fits and starts.  We saw in our last post, A Kidnapping at the Chateau, that the justice system could be horribly corrupt a decade after the revolution.

Things did not improve for civil liberties in the early years of the Restoration, when the Bourbon King Louis XVIII took the throne in 1814 after the defeat of Napoleon.  In particular, the Catholic Church regained much of the civil power it had lost in the Revolution, and together with the nobility and the King conducted an oppressive regime, a regime which Paul-Louis Courier fought against with a brilliant mind and an active pen.  He saw and denounced many examples of what Hamlet described in his famous soliloquy as “the oppressor’s wrong” and “the insolence of office.”  In one of his first political tracts, Courier wrote [2]:

“Justice, equality, providence! futile words with which they abuse us!  No matter where I look, I see only crime triumphant and innocence oppressed.”

Paul-Louis Courier was born in Paris in 1772. His parents soon moved to Touraine.  He was an ardent student and became well known for his expertise in Greek language and literature.  He served for 17 years (1792-1809) in Artillery in the army.  He married Herminie Clavier in 1814, bought the Forest of Larçay in 1815, and moved to Véretz in 1818, where he died in 1825.

We remember Courier best for his pamphlets, composed over the last decade of his life, denouncing the corruption and injustice in French society, written in a language widely praised in his day and ever since.  Stendhal wrote in 1825, “Of those writers alive today, M. Courier is perhaps the one who knows best his language, all its subtleties and elegance.”[3]

In 1821 he attacked the proposed acquisition of the Chateau de Chambord  by public subscription in a pamphlet entitled The Simple Statement of Paul Louis, winegrower at la Chavonnière.[4]  The towns of France were to vote on whether they should make a financial contribution toward the purchase of Chambord, so it could be given to the duc de Bordeaux, born the previous year, the Bourbon next in line for the throne and thus believed by royalists a strong candidate to be King one day.

This was too much for Courier, who while comfortable himself, lived amongst small landowners and labourers who struggled to get by while paying what he saw as oppressive taxes to the national government.   His Simple Statement was directed to the town council of Véretz, urging them to reject the subscription.  But he clearly had a wider audience in mind: he denounced the corruption of the court and the government, and made a fine case in economics for land ownership by the cultivators themselves, which was necessarily limited when large tracts of land like Chambord were held in a single noble family and kept as forests for hunting rather than fields for farming.

The duc de Bordeaux (who became le comte de Chambord in 1830 when the purchase of the chateau was concluded) was never King, but he came close.  With the death of the duc d’Angoulême in 1844 the legitimist wing of the monarchists proclaimed him the rightful king, Henry V, but his rights were not recognized by the various French governments during the next two decades.

After the disaster of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) and the fall of Emperor Napoleon III, the newly voted National Assembly of the Third Republic had a majority of Monarchists, and they sought to install Henry V in a constitutional monarchy.  It all failed, however, because Henry V rejected the Tricolour flag of the Revolution (still the French flag today), and insisted that France return to the white flag of the monarchy.  This was too much for many members of the National Assembly, and Henry V never ruled.  Courier would have been delighted.  In 1875 the Assembly voted new constitutional laws establishing a Chamber of Deputies, a Senate, and a President as head of state, and these three institutions continue to this day.

Courier’s Simple Statement pamphlet was not well received by the authorities, who seized the document and brought him to trial on a charge of outrage to public and religious morals.[5]   He thereby became a celebrity among progressive thinkers in Paris, writing to Herminie: “The more they persecute me, the greater my standing among the public” (Plus on me persécutera, plus j’aurai l’estime publique).  After the sentence was pronounced, the other great opponent of the abuses of the Restoration–poet, singer, and songwriter, Pierre-Jean de Béranger–agreed with Courier on the reputational value of imprisonment: “If I were M. Courier, I would not give up those two months of prison for 100,000 francs.” (A la place de M. Courier, je ne donnerais pas ces deux mois de prison pour cent mille francs).

Courier was condemned to two months in jail and entered the Sainte-Pélagie prison in Paris on October 11, 1821.  Upon his release, the vigneron de la Chavronnière continued to write more than farm, and to spend more time in Paris than in Véretz.  He would act on the national stage until his death.

In July, 1822, Courier published his “Petition for villagers who are prevented from dancing.”[6]  It was the excesses of the Restoration that infuriated him.  Courier probably favored a constitutional monarchy as opposed to a republic, and was not disrespectful of the Catholic faith or individual religious belief.  However, he wrote with passion and force against a monarchy surrounded by thousands of useless courtiers supported by heavy taxes on a struggling people, and against the massive intervention of the Church in civil life.

The case in question arose when a newly ordained priest arrived in 1821 in Azay-sur-Cher, and attempted, as he had been taught in the seminary of Tours, to impose the rules of the Ancien Regime.  He sought the support of the Prefect, who agreed, and the people were forbidden to dance on Sunday afternoon in the public square near the church.

5. The Church of Sainte Marie-Madeleine in Azay-sur-Cher

The church still stands, with a small square around it on the east side, alas now largely filled with cars.  The base of the steeple, the oldest part of the church, dates from the 12th century.  The nave was rebuilt in 1790.

6. The Chancel of Sainte Marie-Madeleine

The Chancel was renovated from 1850 to 1880; it has a lovely sculptured alter.  The central stained glass window is of Mairie-Madeleine. In the New Testament she is by far the most prominent of Jesus’ female followers; she was with Him at the Crucifixion and burial. She is often shown with a skull, as she is here.[7]  The skull may represent the inevitability of death and our need to prepare for it.

7. The Church of Saint Marie-Madeleine, seen from the east.

This view of the church, from the east side, shows the massive base of the steeple, and two of the three windows in the Chancel in the previous photograph.  There was room for dancing on this side of the church, too.

In his dancing Petition, Courier speaks of justice and morality.  It is only just that these hard working village folk, crushed for six days a week under the burden of earning their daily bread, be allowed a simple recreation on Sunday afternoon.  And the dancing supports morality among the young, who are able to meet members of the opposite sex in a public place, where they may be seen by their parents and others.  Dancing is a safe way to get to know one another, as the scene with Anna and the King shows us.  Courier praises the priest of Véretz, an elderly, educated, sensible man, who supports dancing in front of his church: “they dance in front of his door, and most often in front of him.”

The week after the pamphlet was issued, the police invaded Courier’s home at la Chavronnière and searched it, seizing copies of the offending document.   While a pile of accusations were drawn up against him, this time he was found not guilty at the trial.

It is high time we got back on our bikes at the church in Azay-sur-Cher and headed off to Véretz.  Our route takes us south and then northwest, to la Chavonnière, where Courier and his wife Herminie lived from 1818 until he was murdered in 1825, a crime which will be the subject of our next post.

8. La Chavronnière in Véretz, where Paul-Louis Courier lived from 1818 to 1825

Our route takes us down to the Cher River and the old section of Véretz, with some fine old buildings on narrow streets.  The one below is an example, with the church steeple visible in the background.

9. A home in old Véretz.

Paul-Louis Courier Square looks out on the Cher River in the heart of old Véretz.  There are several establishments where our bikers may get a drink or a light lunch.  On one edge of the square is a monument to Courier, which reads: “To Paul Courier, Champion of Common Sense and Liberty.”

10. Monument to Paul-Louis Courier in Véretz

On the left side of the photo is the Cher River.  Just off the photo to the right was a boat which caught my eye.

11. A boat in the Cher River at Véretz.

The boat has a large rudder and tiller; someone manning the tiller would need to look around the covered structure on the deck to see forward.  The boat’s form reminded me of boats used for painting on rivers by two great 19th-century artists, Charles-François Daubigny (who called his boat le botin) and Claude Monet, who used his boat at Argenteuil in the 1870s.  After Daubigny’s death in 1878, the city of Auvers-sur-Oise kept his boat for many years until it rotted.  They then were able to arrange the loan of Monet’s boat from the city of Argenteuil, and displayed it at the Daubigny Museum in Auvers, where I was able to take a picture of it in 2004.

12. Monet's boat at the Daubigny Museum in Auvers-sur-Oise, 2004

I visitied Auvers two years later and the boat was gone. The Daubigny house and museum are privately owned by a married couple. The wife told me in July 2006 that the house had been in her husband’s family for some time.  She said Monet’s boat had needed some repairs to protect it from the elements.  They had asked for financial help from the city of Argenteuil, which refused and took the boat back to put it in storage.  She did not know where the boat was but believed it was not on public display.

Photograph 3 is from the Wikimedia Commons,  All other photographs were taken by the author.

[1] Music by Richard Rodgers, Book and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.  I cannot resist a Rodgers and Hammerstein story: they were partners at bridge one day and Rodgers was playing the hand in a suit.  He drew trumps but mistakenly left one out.  Hammerstein, who saw the error, began to whistle “One Alone” from the 1926 Broadway show The Desert Song.  Rodgers played on, had a good trick needlessly trumped, and went down one.  Later, when Hammerstein castigated him for ignoring the obvious hint, the great musician replied, “So who knows from lyrics?”
[2] “Justice, équité, providence ! vains mots dont on nous abuse ! Quelque part que je tourne les yeux, je ne vois que le crime triomphant, et l’innocence opprimée.” Pétition aux deux Chambres (1816).
[3] Alain Dejammet, Paul-Louis Courier (Fayard, 2009), p.9.  “M. Courier est peut-être l’écrivain vivant qui connaît le mieux sa langeu, toutes ses finesses et délicatesses.”
[4] The full title was a lengthy one: Le Simple Discours de Paul Louis, vigneron de la Chavonniére, aux membres du Conseil de la Commune de Véretz, département d’Indre et Loire à l’occasion d’une souscription proposé par Son Excellence le Ministre de l’Intérieur pour l’acquistion de Chambord.  A fascinating description of the affair is to be found in Jean-Pierre Lautman, Paul-Louis Courier, ou la plume indomptée (C.L.D., 2001), Partie IV, Chapitre 3, “L’opposant irréductible,” pp. 193-208.  The quotations from Courier and Béranger are from this source.  I have benefited greatly from a lengthy discussion with M. Lautman, who has devoted the last two decades to the study of Courier.  See also Dejammet, pp. 426-432.
[5]  Thirty-five years later, Baudelaire was taken to trial on the same charge for Les Fleurs de Mal.
[6] Paul-Louis Courier, “Pétition pour des villageois que l’on empêche de danser,” (Editeur l’Insomniaque, 2007), pp. 21-37.  All citations from the petition are from this source.
[7] For examplse, Georges de la Tours (1593-1663) did four paintings of Marie-Madeleine, all with skulls.  My favorite is the painting in the Louvre, Magdalen of Night Light, 1640-45, 128 x 94 cm.