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I, Pierre Riviere, having slaughtered my mother l

my sister, and my brother... ACase of Parricide in the 19th Century

Ediredby
Michel Foucault
Translated by Frank Jellinek
BY M ICHEL Jo'OUCAULT

Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age


of Reason
The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences
The Archaeology of Knowledge (and The Discourse on Lan
guage) Universiry of Nebraska Press
The Birth of the Ginie: An Archaeology of Medical Perception Lincoln and London
I, Pierre Riviere, having slaughtered my mother l

my sister, and my brother... ACase of Parricide in the 19th Century

Ediredby
Michel Foucault
Translated by Frank Jellinek
BY M ICHEL Jo'OUCAULT

Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age


of Reason
The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences
The Archaeology of Knowledge (and The Discourse on Lan
guage) Universiry of Nebraska Press
The Birth of the Ginie: An Archaeology of Medical Perception Lincoln and London
....

Copyrighl 1975 by Random House, Inc. Contents


All rights resen.ed
Originally published in France as Moi, Pirm Ri'L'Itrr ayant rgorgr ma mtn,
11IIl IOtIIf tt mon Inn . .. hy Editions Gallimard. Copyright 1973 by
Foreword VB
F.ditions Gallimard I Julliard .
Manufacturt.>d in thc L'nitl:d Stall's uf ,\mcri(.:"a
THE DOSSIER
Fits! Bison Book priming: December 1982 Crime and Arrest 3
Most r(,cent priming indicalt.:d by first digit bclo\\:
I 2 3 .. 5 6 7 8 9 10 2 The Preliminary Investigation 19
3 The Memoir 53
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data 122
4 Medico-legal Opinions
Mui, Pierre Ri rie re, ayanl Cgorgc rna mere, rna socur
et mon frere. English. 5 The Trial 137
I, Pierre Ri\'iere, hning slaughtered my mother, my sister, and my 6 Prison and Death 170
brotllcr.
Tran slation of: ,\ loi, Pierre Ri\ iere. ayanl egorge rna merc, rna socur et
mon frere. II NOTES
Rcprim. Originally published: :-':C\\ York : Pantheon Books, c1975.
I The AnimaJ, the Madman, and Death by I ean-
Includes bibliographical references.
I. Rhiere, Pierre. 111 15-1840. 2. Crime and criminals-France- PieT1'e PeteT and l eanne Favret 175
Biogfll phy. J. Parricidc-France-Case studies. oJ. :'Ik'dical juris. 2 Tales of Murder by A-lichel Foucault 199
prudcnCt.- ' France-Case studies. I. Foucault. ,\liche!. II. Title.
II \ '6248. R57:'11M I 3 1982 36.J.J'523"0924 [8] 828580 3 Extenuating Circumstances by Patricia Moulin 212
158:-': 08032--6857-2 (pbk.) .\ .\ CR2 4 Regicide and Parricide by Blandine BaTTet-
Kriegel 219
Pu blished by arrangcment with Pantheon B.:Mlks, a di\'ision of Random 5 The ParaJleI Lives of Pierre Riviere by Philippe
House. Inc. Riot 229
6 The Doctors and Judges by Robert Castel 250
7 The Intermittences of Rationality by Alexandre
Fontana 269

A bout the Editor 289

v
....

Copyrighl 1975 by Random House, Inc. Contents


All rights resen.ed
Originally published in France as Moi, Pirm Ri'L'Itrr ayant rgorgr ma mtn,
11IIl IOtIIf tt mon Inn . .. hy Editions Gallimard. Copyright 1973 by
Foreword VB
F.ditions Gallimard I Julliard .
Manufacturt.>d in thc L'nitl:d Stall's uf ,\mcri(.:"a
THE DOSSIER
Fits! Bison Book priming: December 1982 Crime and Arrest 3
Most r(,cent priming indicalt.:d by first digit bclo\\:
I 2 3 .. 5 6 7 8 9 10 2 The Preliminary Investigation 19
3 The Memoir 53
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data 122
4 Medico-legal Opinions
Mui, Pierre Ri rie re, ayanl Cgorgc rna mere, rna socur
et mon frere. English. 5 The Trial 137
I, Pierre Ri\'iere, hning slaughtered my mother, my sister, and my 6 Prison and Death 170
brotllcr.
Tran slation of: ,\ loi, Pierre Ri\ iere. ayanl egorge rna merc, rna socur et
mon frere. II NOTES
Rcprim. Originally published: :-':C\\ York : Pantheon Books, c1975.
I The AnimaJ, the Madman, and Death by I ean-
Includes bibliographical references.
I. Rhiere, Pierre. 111 15-1840. 2. Crime and criminals-France- PieT1'e PeteT and l eanne Favret 175
Biogfll phy. J. Parricidc-France-Case studies. oJ. :'Ik'dical juris. 2 Tales of Murder by A-lichel Foucault 199
prudcnCt.- ' France-Case studies. I. Foucault. ,\liche!. II. Title.
II \ '6248. R57:'11M I 3 1982 36.J.J'523"0924 [8] 828580 3 Extenuating Circumstances by Patricia Moulin 212
158:-': 08032--6857-2 (pbk.) .\ .\ CR2 4 Regicide and Parricide by Blandine BaTTet-
Kriegel 219
Pu blished by arrangcment with Pantheon B.:Mlks, a di\'ision of Random 5 The ParaJleI Lives of Pierre Riviere by Philippe
House. Inc. Riot 229
6 The Doctors and Judges by Robert Castel 250
7 The Intermittences of Rationality by Alexandre
Fontana 269

A bout the Editor 289

v
Foreword

WE HAD IN MIND a study of the practical aspects of the


relations between psychiatry and criminal justice. In the
course of our research we came across Pierre Riviere's casco
It was reported in the Annales d'hygiene pubJique et de
midecine legale in 1836. Like all the other reports pub-
lished in that journal, this comprised a summary of the facts
and the medico-legal expens' reports. There were, however,
a number of unusual features about it.
I. A series of three medical reports which did not reach
similar conclusions and did not use exactly the same kind
of analysis, each coming from a differem source and each
with a different status within the medical institution: a report
by a country general practitioner, a report by an urban
physician in charge of a large asylum, and a report signed
by the leading figures in contemporary psychiatry and
forensic medicine (Esquirol, Marc, Orfila, etc.).
2. A fairly large collection of COUrt exhibits including
statements by witnesses-all of them from a small vi llage
in Normandy-when questioned about the life, behavior,
character, madness or idiocy of the author of the crime.
3. Lastly, and most notably, a memoir, or rather the
fragment of a memoir, written by the accused himself, a
peasant some twenty years of age who claimed that he
could "only barely read and write" and who had undenaken

vii
Foreword

WE HAD IN MIND a study of the practical aspects of the


relations between psychiatry and criminal justice. In the
course of our research we came across Pierre Riviere's casco
It was reported in the Annales d'hygiene pubJique et de
midecine legale in 1836. Like all the other reports pub-
lished in that journal, this comprised a summary of the facts
and the medico-legal expens' reports. There were, however,
a number of unusual features about it.
I. A series of three medical reports which did not reach
similar conclusions and did not use exactly the same kind
of analysis, each coming from a differem source and each
with a different status within the medical institution: a report
by a country general practitioner, a report by an urban
physician in charge of a large asylum, and a report signed
by the leading figures in contemporary psychiatry and
forensic medicine (Esquirol, Marc, Orfila, etc.).
2. A fairly large collection of COUrt exhibits including
statements by witnesses-all of them from a small vi llage
in Normandy-when questioned about the life, behavior,
character, madness or idiocy of the author of the crime.
3. Lastly, and most notably, a memoir, or rather the
fragment of a memoir, written by the accused himself, a
peasant some twenty years of age who claimed that he
could "only barely read and write" and who had undenaken

vii
I, PIERRE RIVIERE ..

during his detention on remand to give "particulars and an basis of the material evidence without ever seemg Pierre
explanation" of his crime, the premeditated murder of his Riviere. And once the commutation of the sentence had
mother, his sister, and his brother. been granted, what they published in the Annales d'hygiene
A collection of this sort seemed to us unique among the was the whole or part of the dossier on the case.
contemporary printed documentation. To what do we owe Over and above these circumstances, however, a more
it? general debate emerges, in which the publication of this
Almost certainly not to the sensation caused by the case dossier by Esquirol and his colleagues was to have its effect.
itself. Cases of parricide were fairly common in the assize In 1836 they were in the very midst of the debate on the
couns in that period (ten to fifteen yearly, sometimes more). use of psychiatric concepts in criminal justice. To be more
Moreover, Fieschi's attempted assassination of the king and precise, they were at a specific point in this debate, for
his trial and the sentencing and execution of Lacenaire and lawyers such as Collard de Montigny, doctors such as
the publication of his memoirs practically monopolized the Urbain Coste, and more especially the judges and the courts
space devoted to criminal cases in the press at the time. The had been very strongly resisting (especially since 1827) the
Gazette des Tribunaux never gave the Riviere case more concept of "monomania" advanced by Esquirol (in 1808).
than a brief mention, in the main reproducing the Pilote du So much so that medical experts and counsel for the de-
Calvados. The Riviere case never became a classic of fense hesitated to use a concept which had a somewhat
criminal psychiatry like those of Henriette Cornier, Papa- dubious connotation of "materialism" in the minds of the
voine, or Leger. Apart from the article in the Annales courts and some juries. Around 1835 it looks as if doctors
d'hygjene, we have found practically no references to rather tended to produce medical reports based less directly
Riviere.' And Riviere's counsel, Berthauld, who was later on the concept of monomania, as if they wished to show
to become fairly well known, seems never to have alluded to simultaneously that reluctance to use it might lead to serious
his former client in his writings. miscarriages of justice and that mental illness could be
Riviere's case was not, then, a "notable crime." The manifested through a far wider symptomatology. In any
unusually full treatment in the Annales may be accounted case, the Riviere dossier as published by the Annales is
for by a combination of chance circumstances and general extremely discreet in its references to "monomania"; on the
considerations. Probably a doctor or some local notable in other hand, it makes very considerable use of signs, symp-
the Caen area drew the contemporary Paris experts' atten- toms, the depositions of witnesses, and very diverse types of
tion to the sentencing to death on November 12, 1835, of evidence.
a parricide considered by many to be a madman. They must There is, however, one fact about all this that is truly
have agreed to intervene when the petition of mercy was surprising, that while "local" or general circumstances led to
presented, on the basis of the records compiled for the the publication of a remarkably full documentation, full
purpose; in any event, they drew up their cenificate on the not only for that period, but even our own, on it and on the
unique document that is Riviere's memoir, an immediate
'The Journal de medecme et de chiTuTgie pTatique in 1836 sum- and complete silence ensued. What could have disconcerted
marized the anicle in the Annalel; Vingtrinier briefly mentioned Pierre the doctors and their knowledge after so strongly eliciting
Riviere's case in the E:zatnl!1l des compter de l'AdmmistTatiU1I de la
jtmice crimmelfe (1846, p. 9). their attention?

Vlll
"'
I, PIERRE RIVIERE ..

during his detention on remand to give "particulars and an basis of the material evidence without ever seemg Pierre
explanation" of his crime, the premeditated murder of his Riviere. And once the commutation of the sentence had
mother, his sister, and his brother. been granted, what they published in the Annales d'hygiene
A collection of this sort seemed to us unique among the was the whole or part of the dossier on the case.
contemporary printed documentation. To what do we owe Over and above these circumstances, however, a more
it? general debate emerges, in which the publication of this
Almost certainly not to the sensation caused by the case dossier by Esquirol and his colleagues was to have its effect.
itself. Cases of parricide were fairly common in the assize In 1836 they were in the very midst of the debate on the
couns in that period (ten to fifteen yearly, sometimes more). use of psychiatric concepts in criminal justice. To be more
Moreover, Fieschi's attempted assassination of the king and precise, they were at a specific point in this debate, for
his trial and the sentencing and execution of Lacenaire and lawyers such as Collard de Montigny, doctors such as
the publication of his memoirs practically monopolized the Urbain Coste, and more especially the judges and the courts
space devoted to criminal cases in the press at the time. The had been very strongly resisting (especially since 1827) the
Gazette des Tribunaux never gave the Riviere case more concept of "monomania" advanced by Esquirol (in 1808).
than a brief mention, in the main reproducing the Pilote du So much so that medical experts and counsel for the de-
Calvados. The Riviere case never became a classic of fense hesitated to use a concept which had a somewhat
criminal psychiatry like those of Henriette Cornier, Papa- dubious connotation of "materialism" in the minds of the
voine, or Leger. Apart from the article in the Annales courts and some juries. Around 1835 it looks as if doctors
d'hygjene, we have found practically no references to rather tended to produce medical reports based less directly
Riviere.' And Riviere's counsel, Berthauld, who was later on the concept of monomania, as if they wished to show
to become fairly well known, seems never to have alluded to simultaneously that reluctance to use it might lead to serious
his former client in his writings. miscarriages of justice and that mental illness could be
Riviere's case was not, then, a "notable crime." The manifested through a far wider symptomatology. In any
unusually full treatment in the Annales may be accounted case, the Riviere dossier as published by the Annales is
for by a combination of chance circumstances and general extremely discreet in its references to "monomania"; on the
considerations. Probably a doctor or some local notable in other hand, it makes very considerable use of signs, symp-
the Caen area drew the contemporary Paris experts' atten- toms, the depositions of witnesses, and very diverse types of
tion to the sentencing to death on November 12, 1835, of evidence.
a parricide considered by many to be a madman. They must There is, however, one fact about all this that is truly
have agreed to intervene when the petition of mercy was surprising, that while "local" or general circumstances led to
presented, on the basis of the records compiled for the the publication of a remarkably full documentation, full
purpose; in any event, they drew up their cenificate on the not only for that period, but even our own, on it and on the
unique document that is Riviere's memoir, an immediate
'The Journal de medecme et de chiTuTgie pTatique in 1836 sum- and complete silence ensued. What could have disconcerted
marized the anicle in the Annalel; Vingtrinier briefly mentioned Pierre the doctors and their knowledge after so strongly eliciting
Riviere's case in the E:zatnl!1l des compter de l'AdmmistTatiU1I de la
jtmice crimmelfe (1846, p. 9). their attention?

Vlll
"'
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

To be frank, however, it was not this, perhaps, that led to "preserve the honor of a family" by ascribing the crime
us ro spend more than a year on these documents. It ~vas to bizarre behavior or singularity; and, lastly, at the very
simply the beauty of Riviere's mem.oir. T~e utter astonish. center, there was Pierre Riviere, with his innumerable and
ment it produced in us was the starting pome. complicated engines of war; his crime, made to be written
and taJked about and thereby to secure him glory in death,
his narrative, prepared in advance and for the purpose of
leading on to the crime, his oral explanations to obtain
But we were still faced with the question of publication. credence for his madness, his text, written to dispel this lie,
I think that what committed us ro the work, despite all to explain, and to summon death, a text in whose beauty
our differences of interests and approaches, was that it was some were to see a proof of rationality (and hence grounds
a "dossier," that is to say, a case, an affair, an event that for condemning him to death) and others a sign of madness
provided the intersection of discourses that differed in origin, (and hence grounds for shutting him up for life).
form, organization, and function-the discourses of the can I think the reason we decided to publish these docu-
tonal judge, the prosecutor, the presiding judge of the ments was to draw a map, so to speak, of those combats, to
assize court, and the Minister of Justice; those roo of the reconstruct these confrontations and battles, to rediscover
country general practitioner and of Esquirol; and those of the interaction of those discourses as weapons of attack and
the villagers, with their mayor and parish priest; and, last defense in the relations of power and knowledge.
but not least, that of the murderer himself. All of them More specifically, we thought that the publication of the
speak, or appear to be speaking, of one and the same thing; dossier might furnish an example of existing records that
at any rate, the burden of all these discourses is the occur- are available for potential analysis.
rence on June 3. But in their totality and their variety they (a) Since the principle governing their existence and
form neither a composite work nor an exemplary text, but coherence is neither that of a composite work nor a legal
rather a strange COntest, a confrontation, a power relation, text, the outdated academic methods of textual analysis and
a batde among discourses and through discourses. And yet, all the concepts which are the appanage of the dreary and
it cannot simply be described as a single battle; for several scholastic prestige of writing on writing can very well be
separate combats were being fought out at the same time and eschewed in studying them.
intersected each other: The doctors were engaged in a com- (b) Documents like those in the Riviere case should
bat, among themselves, with the judges and prosecution, ~nd provide material for a thorough examination of the way in
with Riviere himself (who had trapped them by saymg which a particular kind of knowledge (e.g. medicine,
that he had feigned madness); the crown lawyers had their psychiatry, psychology) is formed and acts in relation to
own separate combat as regards the testimony of the medical institutions and the roles prescribed in them (e.g., the law
experts, the comparatively novel use of extenuating circum- with respect to the expert, the accused, the criminally in-
stances, and a range of cases of parricide that had been sane, and so on).
coupled with regicide (Fieschi and LouisPhilippe stand in (c) They give us a key to the relations of power,
the wings); the villagers of Aunay had their own combat to domination, and conAict within which discourses emerge
defuse the terror of a crime committed in their midst and and function, and hence provide material for a potential
x
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

To be frank, however, it was not this, perhaps, that led to "preserve the honor of a family" by ascribing the crime
us ro spend more than a year on these documents. It ~vas to bizarre behavior or singularity; and, lastly, at the very
simply the beauty of Riviere's mem.oir. T~e utter astonish. center, there was Pierre Riviere, with his innumerable and
ment it produced in us was the starting pome. complicated engines of war; his crime, made to be written
and taJked about and thereby to secure him glory in death,
his narrative, prepared in advance and for the purpose of
leading on to the crime, his oral explanations to obtain
But we were still faced with the question of publication. credence for his madness, his text, written to dispel this lie,
I think that what committed us ro the work, despite all to explain, and to summon death, a text in whose beauty
our differences of interests and approaches, was that it was some were to see a proof of rationality (and hence grounds
a "dossier," that is to say, a case, an affair, an event that for condemning him to death) and others a sign of madness
provided the intersection of discourses that differed in origin, (and hence grounds for shutting him up for life).
form, organization, and function-the discourses of the can I think the reason we decided to publish these docu-
tonal judge, the prosecutor, the presiding judge of the ments was to draw a map, so to speak, of those combats, to
assize court, and the Minister of Justice; those roo of the reconstruct these confrontations and battles, to rediscover
country general practitioner and of Esquirol; and those of the interaction of those discourses as weapons of attack and
the villagers, with their mayor and parish priest; and, last defense in the relations of power and knowledge.
but not least, that of the murderer himself. All of them More specifically, we thought that the publication of the
speak, or appear to be speaking, of one and the same thing; dossier might furnish an example of existing records that
at any rate, the burden of all these discourses is the occur- are available for potential analysis.
rence on June 3. But in their totality and their variety they (a) Since the principle governing their existence and
form neither a composite work nor an exemplary text, but coherence is neither that of a composite work nor a legal
rather a strange COntest, a confrontation, a power relation, text, the outdated academic methods of textual analysis and
a batde among discourses and through discourses. And yet, all the concepts which are the appanage of the dreary and
it cannot simply be described as a single battle; for several scholastic prestige of writing on writing can very well be
separate combats were being fought out at the same time and eschewed in studying them.
intersected each other: The doctors were engaged in a com- (b) Documents like those in the Riviere case should
bat, among themselves, with the judges and prosecution, ~nd provide material for a thorough examination of the way in
with Riviere himself (who had trapped them by saymg which a particular kind of knowledge (e.g. medicine,
that he had feigned madness); the crown lawyers had their psychiatry, psychology) is formed and acts in relation to
own separate combat as regards the testimony of the medical institutions and the roles prescribed in them (e.g., the law
experts, the comparatively novel use of extenuating circum- with respect to the expert, the accused, the criminally in-
stances, and a range of cases of parricide that had been sane, and so on).
coupled with regicide (Fieschi and LouisPhilippe stand in (c) They give us a key to the relations of power,
the wings); the villagers of Aunay had their own combat to domination, and conAict within which discourses emerge
defuse the terror of a crime committed in their midst and and function, and hence provide material for a potential
x
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

analysis of discourse (even of scientific discourses) which episodes; then, once it comes into the open, it lays a trap
may be both tactical and political, and therefore strategic. for everyone, including its contriver, since it is first taken
(d) Lastly, they furnish a means for grasping the power as proof that Riviere is not mad and then becomes, in the
of derangemem peculiar to a discourse such as Riviere's and hands of Es<juirol, Marc, and Orfila, a means of averting that
the whole range of tactics by which we can try to recon- death penalty which Riviere had gone (0 such lengths to call
stituce it, situate it, and give it its status as the discourse of down upon himself.
either a madman or a criminal. 3. As to Riviere's discourse, we decided not to interpret
it and not to subject it to any psychiatric or psychoanalytic
commentary. In the first place because it was what we used
as the zero benchmark to gauge the distance between the
Our approach (0 this publication can be explained as other discourses and the relations arising among them.
follows: Secondly, because we could hardly speak of it without in-
1. We have tried (0 discover all the material evidence in volving it in one of the discourses (medical, legal, psycho-
the case, and by this we mean not only the exhibits in evi- logical, criminological) which we wished to use as our
dence (only some of which were published in the Annales starting point in talking about it. If we had done so, we
d'bygiene pub/ique), but also newspaper articles and espe- should have brought it within the power relation whose
cially Riviere's memoir in its entirety. (The A7l11ales re- reductive effect we wished to show, and we ourselves should
printed only the second part of it.) Most of these documents have fallen into the trap it set.
were to be found in the Departmental Archives at Caen; Thirdly, and most importantly, owing to a sort of
J.ean-Pierre Peter did most of the research. (With the excep- reverence and perhaps, too, terror for a text which was to
[Jon of a few documents of minor interest, we are therefore carry off four corpses along with it, we were unwilling to
publishing everything we could find written by or about superimpose our own text on Riviere's memoir. We fell
Pierre Riviere, whether in prim or in manuscript.) under the spell of the parricide with the reddish-brown eyes.
2. In presenting the documents, we have refrained from 4. We have assembled a number of notes at the end of
employing a typological method (the coun file followed by the volume, some on the psychiatric knowledge at work in
the medical file), We have rearranged them more or less the doctors' reports, othcrs on the legal aspects of the case
in. chronological order around the events they are bound up (extenuating circumstances, the jurisprudence of parricide).
With-the crime, the examining judge's investigation, the yet othcrs on [he relations between the documentary levels
proceedings in the assize court, and the commutation of the (depositions, records, expert opinions), and others again
sentence. This throws a good deal of light on the confronta- on the narrative of the crimes.
tion of various types of discourse and the rules and results We are aware that we have neglected many major
of this confrontation. aspects. We could have gone into the marvelous document
A~d, placed as it is at the time of its writing, Riviere's of peasant ethnology provided by the first part of Riviere's
memOIr comes to aSSume the central position which is its narrative. Or we could have btought out the popular knowl-
d~e, as a mechanism which holds the whole together; edge and definition of madness whose outlines emerge
tnggered secretly beforehand, it leads on to all the earlier through the villagers' testimony.
xii xU>
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

analysis of discourse (even of scientific discourses) which episodes; then, once it comes into the open, it lays a trap
may be both tactical and political, and therefore strategic. for everyone, including its contriver, since it is first taken
(d) Lastly, they furnish a means for grasping the power as proof that Riviere is not mad and then becomes, in the
of derangemem peculiar to a discourse such as Riviere's and hands of Es<juirol, Marc, and Orfila, a means of averting that
the whole range of tactics by which we can try to recon- death penalty which Riviere had gone (0 such lengths to call
stituce it, situate it, and give it its status as the discourse of down upon himself.
either a madman or a criminal. 3. As to Riviere's discourse, we decided not to interpret
it and not to subject it to any psychiatric or psychoanalytic
commentary. In the first place because it was what we used
as the zero benchmark to gauge the distance between the
Our approach (0 this publication can be explained as other discourses and the relations arising among them.
follows: Secondly, because we could hardly speak of it without in-
1. We have tried (0 discover all the material evidence in volving it in one of the discourses (medical, legal, psycho-
the case, and by this we mean not only the exhibits in evi- logical, criminological) which we wished to use as our
dence (only some of which were published in the Annales starting point in talking about it. If we had done so, we
d'bygiene pub/ique), but also newspaper articles and espe- should have brought it within the power relation whose
cially Riviere's memoir in its entirety. (The A7l11ales re- reductive effect we wished to show, and we ourselves should
printed only the second part of it.) Most of these documents have fallen into the trap it set.
were to be found in the Departmental Archives at Caen; Thirdly, and most importantly, owing to a sort of
J.ean-Pierre Peter did most of the research. (With the excep- reverence and perhaps, too, terror for a text which was to
[Jon of a few documents of minor interest, we are therefore carry off four corpses along with it, we were unwilling to
publishing everything we could find written by or about superimpose our own text on Riviere's memoir. We fell
Pierre Riviere, whether in prim or in manuscript.) under the spell of the parricide with the reddish-brown eyes.
2. In presenting the documents, we have refrained from 4. We have assembled a number of notes at the end of
employing a typological method (the coun file followed by the volume, some on the psychiatric knowledge at work in
the medical file), We have rearranged them more or less the doctors' reports, othcrs on the legal aspects of the case
in. chronological order around the events they are bound up (extenuating circumstances, the jurisprudence of parricide).
With-the crime, the examining judge's investigation, the yet othcrs on [he relations between the documentary levels
proceedings in the assize court, and the commutation of the (depositions, records, expert opinions), and others again
sentence. This throws a good deal of light on the confronta- on the narrative of the crimes.
tion of various types of discourse and the rules and results We are aware that we have neglected many major
of this confrontation. aspects. We could have gone into the marvelous document
A~d, placed as it is at the time of its writing, Riviere's of peasant ethnology provided by the first part of Riviere's
memOIr comes to aSSume the central position which is its narrative. Or we could have btought out the popular knowl-
d~e, as a mechanism which holds the whole together; edge and definition of madness whose outlines emerge
tnggered secretly beforehand, it leads on to all the earlier through the villagers' testimony.
xii xU>
But the main point for us was co have the documents
published.

This work is the outcome of a joint research project by


a ream engaged in a seminar at the College de France. The
authors are Blandine Barret-Kriegel, Gilbert Burlet-Torvic,
Robert Castel, Jeanne Favret, Alexandre Fontana, Georgette
I
Legee, Patricia Moulin, Jean-Pierre Peter, Philippe Riot,
Maryvonne Saison, and myself.
We were aided in our research by Mme. Coisel and M.
Bruno at the Bibliotheque Nationale, M. Berce at the
The Dossier
Archives Nationales, M. G. Bernard and Mlle. Gral at the
Archives dcpartementales du Calvados, and Mme. Anne
Sohier of the Centre de Recherches historiques.
Pierre Riviere's memoir was published in pamphlet form
in the same year as the trial. There is no copy in the
Bibliotheque Nationale. The pamphlet contains the version
published in the Annales d'hygiene publique, but published
there on ly in part and with some erroT'S.
The whole file is to be found in the Archives du
Calvados, 2 U 907, Assises Calvados, Proces criminels. 4th
quarter J835.
M.F.
But the main point for us was co have the documents
published.

This work is the outcome of a joint research project by


a ream engaged in a seminar at the College de France. The
authors are Blandine Barret-Kriegel, Gilbert Burlet-Torvic,
Robert Castel, Jeanne Favret, Alexandre Fontana, Georgette
I
Legee, Patricia Moulin, Jean-Pierre Peter, Philippe Riot,
Maryvonne Saison, and myself.
We were aided in our research by Mme. Coisel and M.
Bruno at the Bibliotheque Nationale, M. Berce at the
The Dossier
Archives Nationales, M. G. Bernard and Mlle. Gral at the
Archives dcpartementales du Calvados, and Mme. Anne
Sohier of the Centre de Recherches historiques.
Pierre Riviere's memoir was published in pamphlet form
in the same year as the trial. There is no copy in the
Bibliotheque Nationale. The pamphlet contains the version
published in the Annales d'hygiene publique, but published
there on ly in part and with some erroT'S.
The whole file is to be found in the Archives du
Calvados, 2 U 907, Assises Calvados, Proces criminels. 4th
quarter J835.
M.F.
I
Crime and Arrest

I. REPORT BY THE CANTONAL JUDGE

THIS DAY, June 3, 1835. at one o'clock in the afternoon,


We, Frant;ois-Edouard Baudouin, cantonal judge of
Aunay, Louis-Leandre Langliney, our clerk, attending,
Being informed by the mayor of the commune of Aunay
that a fearful murder had juSt been committed in the said
commune of Aunay, at the village of la Faucrerie. at the resi-
dence of onc Picrre-Margrin Riviere, property owner and
farmer. absent from home since morning, as we were tOld,
we forthwith proceeded ro the said residence accompanied
by the mayor of Aunay and Messrs. Morin, doctor, and
Cordier, local health officer, both resident at Aunay, duly
summoned by us in accordance with the law. Having en-
tered the ground floor used as a large room in a house
bounded on the north by the local road from Aunay to
Saint-Vignal, lighted on the south by a casement window
and a door and to the north by a glazed door, we there
found three bodies lying on the ground, viz. (I) a woman
about forty years of age lying on her back opposite the
fireplace at which she had seemingly been busied at the time
she was murdered cooking a grue l which was still in a pot

l
I
Crime and Arrest

I. REPORT BY THE CANTONAL JUDGE

THIS DAY, June 3, 1835. at one o'clock in the afternoon,


We, Frant;ois-Edouard Baudouin, cantonal judge of
Aunay, Louis-Leandre Langliney, our clerk, attending,
Being informed by the mayor of the commune of Aunay
that a fearful murder had juSt been committed in the said
commune of Aunay, at the village of la Faucrerie. at the resi-
dence of onc Picrre-Margrin Riviere, property owner and
farmer. absent from home since morning, as we were tOld,
we forthwith proceeded ro the said residence accompanied
by the mayor of Aunay and Messrs. Morin, doctor, and
Cordier, local health officer, both resident at Aunay, duly
summoned by us in accordance with the law. Having en-
tered the ground floor used as a large room in a house
bounded on the north by the local road from Aunay to
Saint-Vignal, lighted on the south by a casement window
and a door and to the north by a glazed door, we there
found three bodies lying on the ground, viz. (I) a woman
about forty years of age lying on her back opposite the
fireplace at which she had seemingly been busied at the time
she was murdered cooking a grue l which was still in a pot

l
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

on the hearth. The woman was dressed in her ordinary presence and handed their report to us, which we have
clothes, her hair in disorder; the neck and the back of the attached to these presents after countersigning it and sealing
skull were slashed and "curlassed"; (2) a small boy aged it with the seal of the cantonal court.
seven or eight, dressed in a blue smock, trousers, stockings,
and shoes. lying prone face to the ground, with his head split
behind to a very great depth; (J) a girl dressed in a calico
print, stockings, no shoes or clogs, lying on her back, her 2. DEATH CERTIFICATE BY THE DOCTORS
feet on the threshold of the door giving on to the yard, WHO EXAMINED THE BODIES
pointing toward the south, her lace bobbins resting on her
stomach, her cotton cap at her feet as well as a large fistful This day, June 3, 1835,
of her hair which seems to have been torn out at the time We, Theodore Morin, doctor, and Thomas-Adrien
of the murder; the right side of the face and the neck Cordicre, health officer, residing at Aunay,
"cutlasscd" CO a very great depth. 1t would appear that the Proceeded at about twO o'clock in the afternoon, duly
unfornmate young person was working at her lace ncar the summoned by the cantonal judge of Aunay and the mayor
glazed door opposite to that where she fell, since her clogs of the village of la Faucterie in the commune of Aunay to
were still at the foot of the chair standing there. the house of one Pierre-Margrin Riviere, and having en-
This triple murder seems to have been committed with tered it found three bodies in the following condition:
an insrrumem with a cuning edge. I. A woman who we were told was a certain Victoire
The names of these victims are: the nrH, Victoire Brion, Brion, wife of the said Riviere, lying on her back, her feec
wife of Pierrej\ 1argrin Riviere; the second, Jules Riviere; resting against the hearth and slightly inclined, the right
the third, Victoire Riviere; the latter two being children of hand at her side. the fingers contracted, the left hand
the fimnamed. clenched on the breast, the clothes in fairly good order
Since the general rllmor accused the man Pierre Riviere, except for the headdress, a cotton cap spread under [he
son and brother of the murdered persons, as the perpetrator corpse's head; a huge pool of blood extended around the
of this crime. we informed the sergeant of the gendarmerie head; the right side and the from parr of the neck as well
stationed at Le j\lesnil Auzouf of this occurrence, after as the face were so slashed [hat the cervical \'ertebrae were
ascertaining that the presumed culprit had escaped imme- wholly severed from the trunk, the skin and the muscles
diately after the crime imputed to him, and required this on the left side still retaining the head; the parietal bone on
officer forthwith to seek and apprehend him if possible. the right side was completely crushed; the blow extended
We requested Messrs. Morin and Cordier to take all toward the crown of the skull and so deeply that the greater
steps they deemed necessary to investigate and certify the part of cerebral substance was separated from it; several
causes of death, with which request they complied after duly other blows had been struck all over the face and with such
taking the oarh required in such circumstances, drawing violence that the bones and muscles appeared as reduced to a
their attention to the fact rhac it was common knowledge mere pulp. Since the woman was with child, we procecded,
that the mother was pregnant. at the request of the authorities, to conduct an autopsy;
The medical officers completed their examination in our an incision having been made and the utcrus opened, we

4 5
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

on the hearth. The woman was dressed in her ordinary presence and handed their report to us, which we have
clothes, her hair in disorder; the neck and the back of the attached to these presents after countersigning it and sealing
skull were slashed and "curlassed"; (2) a small boy aged it with the seal of the cantonal court.
seven or eight, dressed in a blue smock, trousers, stockings,
and shoes. lying prone face to the ground, with his head split
behind to a very great depth; (J) a girl dressed in a calico
print, stockings, no shoes or clogs, lying on her back, her 2. DEATH CERTIFICATE BY THE DOCTORS
feet on the threshold of the door giving on to the yard, WHO EXAMINED THE BODIES
pointing toward the south, her lace bobbins resting on her
stomach, her cotton cap at her feet as well as a large fistful This day, June 3, 1835,
of her hair which seems to have been torn out at the time We, Theodore Morin, doctor, and Thomas-Adrien
of the murder; the right side of the face and the neck Cordicre, health officer, residing at Aunay,
"cutlasscd" CO a very great depth. 1t would appear that the Proceeded at about twO o'clock in the afternoon, duly
unfornmate young person was working at her lace ncar the summoned by the cantonal judge of Aunay and the mayor
glazed door opposite to that where she fell, since her clogs of the village of la Faucterie in the commune of Aunay to
were still at the foot of the chair standing there. the house of one Pierre-Margrin Riviere, and having en-
This triple murder seems to have been committed with tered it found three bodies in the following condition:
an insrrumem with a cuning edge. I. A woman who we were told was a certain Victoire
The names of these victims are: the nrH, Victoire Brion, Brion, wife of the said Riviere, lying on her back, her feec
wife of Pierrej\ 1argrin Riviere; the second, Jules Riviere; resting against the hearth and slightly inclined, the right
the third, Victoire Riviere; the latter two being children of hand at her side. the fingers contracted, the left hand
the fimnamed. clenched on the breast, the clothes in fairly good order
Since the general rllmor accused the man Pierre Riviere, except for the headdress, a cotton cap spread under [he
son and brother of the murdered persons, as the perpetrator corpse's head; a huge pool of blood extended around the
of this crime. we informed the sergeant of the gendarmerie head; the right side and the from parr of the neck as well
stationed at Le j\lesnil Auzouf of this occurrence, after as the face were so slashed [hat the cervical \'ertebrae were
ascertaining that the presumed culprit had escaped imme- wholly severed from the trunk, the skin and the muscles
diately after the crime imputed to him, and required this on the left side still retaining the head; the parietal bone on
officer forthwith to seek and apprehend him if possible. the right side was completely crushed; the blow extended
We requested Messrs. Morin and Cordier to take all toward the crown of the skull and so deeply that the greater
steps they deemed necessary to investigate and certify the part of cerebral substance was separated from it; several
causes of death, with which request they complied after duly other blows had been struck all over the face and with such
taking the oarh required in such circumstances, drawing violence that the bones and muscles appeared as reduced to a
their attention to the fact rhac it was common knowledge mere pulp. Since the woman was with child, we procecded,
that the mother was pregnant. at the request of the authorities, to conduct an autopsy;
The medical officers completed their examination in our an incision having been made and the utcrus opened, we

4 5
P""
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

found a female ferus which had reached about six and a pletely cut through. Above this first incision there were
half months of gestation. When opened, the stomach was several others in the same direction. but not so deep; they
found to be completely empty. We did ~ot car~~ OU~ ex- had been arrested by the ascending branch of rhe lower
amination further, the cause of death bemg positive Since, jaw; the face was scored in various directions with broad
as we have said, the head was almost separated from the and deep wounds, the lower jaw was almost severed toward
trunk; as the jugular and carotid arteries had been severed, the symphysis of the chin, the upper jaw was also severed
death must have been instantaneous. by a blow which, struck above the orbits, almost penetrated
2. Ly ing beyond the corpse described above was a the brain; an oblique incision from right to left completely
child seven or eight years of age who we were told was severed rhe nasal fossae. In accordance with these observa-
J ules Riviere ; he was lying face downward, still wearing tions. we consider that these many wounds, most of them
his clothes, the head in a great pool of blood; on both lateral mortal, made it unnecessary to conduct an autopsy of this
and posterior surfaces we observed broad and deep. incisions body. It is practically certain that these wounds were caused
which penetrated the brain to a considerable depth In several by a sharp instrument with a cutting edge.
directions as well as many blows which must have been This report, completed and drawn up on the day, month,
struck on the cerebellum, since the crown of the skull could and year aforesaid, which we hereby certify to be true and
easily be detached; a blow had also been struck on the nape
: of the neck without damaging the cervical vertebrae; several
other blows had been struck on the shoulders and had cut
authentic throughout, was delivered to the cantonal judge
immediately following our examinations.
(signed)
through the smock and other clothing; these last-mentioned
injuries, however, were not in themselves very serio.us; we
did not consider that we needed to proceed to examme the
splanchnic and thoracic cavities. the cause of death being J. STATEMENTS TO THE CANTONAL
positive-the brain and cerebellum being completely man- JUDGE BY WITNESSES OF THE CR IME
gled, the arteries traversing them had been entirely severed.
3. To the south of the room and near the corpse de- Marie Riviere, seventy-four:
scribed above was a young girl about eighteen years of age Today, between about eleven o'clock and half-past
lying on her back, shod only in her stockings,. her lace twelve. being at the door of my house which, as you see,
bobbins still lying at her left side. her garments dISOrdered, gives on to the same yard as the house in which the crime
her head bare; some of her spreading hair had been pulled was committed, on the further side of the said yard to rhe
out and was lying at her feet, her arms were almost crossed left I saw the girl Victoire Riviere at her door facing ou r
on her breast; the bib and kerchief had been torn away, yard being held by her brother by the hair. She seemed
which showed that the victim had put up some resistance to to be trying to run away. When I approached them Pierre
her murderer. At the right side of the neck were to be Riviere was holding a pruning bill in his hand and was
observed two broad and deep incisions; the first and lower raising it against his sister. I cried out: "Oh wretched boy,
one had severed not only the skin and muscles but also the what are you about to do," and tried to seize his arm, but
carotid anery, the second cervical vertebra had been com- at the same instant he gave his sister several blows on the
6
7

L
P""
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

found a female ferus which had reached about six and a pletely cut through. Above this first incision there were
half months of gestation. When opened, the stomach was several others in the same direction. but not so deep; they
found to be completely empty. We did ~ot car~~ OU~ ex- had been arrested by the ascending branch of rhe lower
amination further, the cause of death bemg positive Since, jaw; the face was scored in various directions with broad
as we have said, the head was almost separated from the and deep wounds, the lower jaw was almost severed toward
trunk; as the jugular and carotid arteries had been severed, the symphysis of the chin, the upper jaw was also severed
death must have been instantaneous. by a blow which, struck above the orbits, almost penetrated
2. Ly ing beyond the corpse described above was a the brain; an oblique incision from right to left completely
child seven or eight years of age who we were told was severed rhe nasal fossae. In accordance with these observa-
J ules Riviere ; he was lying face downward, still wearing tions. we consider that these many wounds, most of them
his clothes, the head in a great pool of blood; on both lateral mortal, made it unnecessary to conduct an autopsy of this
and posterior surfaces we observed broad and deep. incisions body. It is practically certain that these wounds were caused
which penetrated the brain to a considerable depth In several by a sharp instrument with a cutting edge.
directions as well as many blows which must have been This report, completed and drawn up on the day, month,
struck on the cerebellum, since the crown of the skull could and year aforesaid, which we hereby certify to be true and
easily be detached; a blow had also been struck on the nape
: of the neck without damaging the cervical vertebrae; several
other blows had been struck on the shoulders and had cut
authentic throughout, was delivered to the cantonal judge
immediately following our examinations.
(signed)
through the smock and other clothing; these last-mentioned
injuries, however, were not in themselves very serio.us; we
did not consider that we needed to proceed to examme the
splanchnic and thoracic cavities. the cause of death being J. STATEMENTS TO THE CANTONAL
positive-the brain and cerebellum being completely man- JUDGE BY WITNESSES OF THE CR IME
gled, the arteries traversing them had been entirely severed.
3. To the south of the room and near the corpse de- Marie Riviere, seventy-four:
scribed above was a young girl about eighteen years of age Today, between about eleven o'clock and half-past
lying on her back, shod only in her stockings,. her lace twelve. being at the door of my house which, as you see,
bobbins still lying at her left side. her garments dISOrdered, gives on to the same yard as the house in which the crime
her head bare; some of her spreading hair had been pulled was committed, on the further side of the said yard to rhe
out and was lying at her feet, her arms were almost crossed left I saw the girl Victoire Riviere at her door facing ou r
on her breast; the bib and kerchief had been torn away, yard being held by her brother by the hair. She seemed
which showed that the victim had put up some resistance to to be trying to run away. When I approached them Pierre
her murderer. At the right side of the neck were to be Riviere was holding a pruning bill in his hand and was
observed two broad and deep incisions; the first and lower raising it against his sister. I cried out: "Oh wretched boy,
one had severed not only the skin and muscles but also the what are you about to do," and tried to seize his arm, but
carotid anery, the second cervical vertebra had been com- at the same instant he gave his sister several blows on the
6
7

L
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

head with the bill and stretched her dead at his feet. All
this happened in less than a minute. He fled by the door
giving on the loca l road going toward the town of Aunay, 4. REPORT OF THE DISTRICT
at the same instant I put my head inside the house and saw PROSECUTOR ROYAL AT VIRE
the corpses of his mother and his little brother, I lost my
senses and set to crying Out my god what a terrible thing We, the District Prosecutor Royal at the civil court at
my god what a terrible thing. Several people ran up, but Vire, alerted by public report that a crime of deliberate
all those who live in the houses on our yard were absent murder had JUSt been commined in the commune of Aunay,
from their homes at that time. immediately proceeded to the scene accompanied by the
lieutenant of gendarmerie, after notifying the examining
Jean Postel, fifty, SeTVa1lt at M. Lero!'s: judge of our proceedings, and there did as follows:
About noon today coming back from gathering clover The cantonal judge of Aunay having, as he informed
which I was carrying on my head I heard in the road the us, certified the material fact of the crime by his report
widow Pierre Riviere crying out "oh my god what a terrible dated the day before yesterday, we considered it unneces-
thing! oh my god what a terrible thing!" At the same instant sary to proceed to an inquiry, which had become super-
I also heard another voice which I did not know cry out fluous; but since the most manifest evidence established that
They arc all dead; and on coming to the door of our stable the man Pierre Riviere, aged twenty, farmer at Aunay.
I saw Pierre Riviere. He held a bloodstained bill in his hand, deliberately put to death: (I) Marie-Anne Brion, wife of
his hand was also bloody. He said to me as he went off to- Riviere, his mother; (2) Marguerite Riviere. and (3) Jules
ward the village: take care that nothing happens to my Riviere. his brother and sister, we forthwith set about
mother. J heard this injunction without knowing what it securing his apprehension; in consequence, we required the
meant but as soon as I was given knowledge of the murder, mayors of the communes of Aunay, Roucamps, Plessis, and
I thought that it was his grandmother he meant. other neighboring communes [Q alert a number of national
guards with instructions to proceed to the apprehension of
Victoire Aimee Lerot, forty, wife of lean Andre: the said Pierre Riviere.
About noon today as I was about to enter my brother's Thereafter, we proceeded to the village of la Faucterie,
house, which is opposite the house of Pierre Margrin Riviere, where we collected the information on (he said Pierre
I saw Pierre Riviere, the son of the aforesaid, leaving his Riviere set out below.
house by the glazed door giving on the local road which We deemed it proper to hear the father, the grand-
goes to the village of Aunay. He held a bloodstained bill in mother, and one of the sisters of the accused person without
his hand; as he passed me, he said to me: "( have JUSt de- administering the oath to them, and the following is a sum-
livered my father from all his tribulations. I know that they mary of their statements.
will put me to death, but no matter," adding, "I commend From his childhood Pierre Riviere was an affliction to
my mother to you." his family, he was obstinate and taciturn; even being with
his parents was a burden to him. Never did he show a son's
affection for his father and mother. His mother especially

8 9
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

head with the bill and stretched her dead at his feet. All
this happened in less than a minute. He fled by the door
giving on the loca l road going toward the town of Aunay, 4. REPORT OF THE DISTRICT
at the same instant I put my head inside the house and saw PROSECUTOR ROYAL AT VIRE
the corpses of his mother and his little brother, I lost my
senses and set to crying Out my god what a terrible thing We, the District Prosecutor Royal at the civil court at
my god what a terrible thing. Several people ran up, but Vire, alerted by public report that a crime of deliberate
all those who live in the houses on our yard were absent murder had JUSt been commined in the commune of Aunay,
from their homes at that time. immediately proceeded to the scene accompanied by the
lieutenant of gendarmerie, after notifying the examining
Jean Postel, fifty, SeTVa1lt at M. Lero!'s: judge of our proceedings, and there did as follows:
About noon today coming back from gathering clover The cantonal judge of Aunay having, as he informed
which I was carrying on my head I heard in the road the us, certified the material fact of the crime by his report
widow Pierre Riviere crying out "oh my god what a terrible dated the day before yesterday, we considered it unneces-
thing! oh my god what a terrible thing!" At the same instant sary to proceed to an inquiry, which had become super-
I also heard another voice which I did not know cry out fluous; but since the most manifest evidence established that
They arc all dead; and on coming to the door of our stable the man Pierre Riviere, aged twenty, farmer at Aunay.
I saw Pierre Riviere. He held a bloodstained bill in his hand, deliberately put to death: (I) Marie-Anne Brion, wife of
his hand was also bloody. He said to me as he went off to- Riviere, his mother; (2) Marguerite Riviere. and (3) Jules
ward the village: take care that nothing happens to my Riviere. his brother and sister, we forthwith set about
mother. J heard this injunction without knowing what it securing his apprehension; in consequence, we required the
meant but as soon as I was given knowledge of the murder, mayors of the communes of Aunay, Roucamps, Plessis, and
I thought that it was his grandmother he meant. other neighboring communes [Q alert a number of national
guards with instructions to proceed to the apprehension of
Victoire Aimee Lerot, forty, wife of lean Andre: the said Pierre Riviere.
About noon today as I was about to enter my brother's Thereafter, we proceeded to the village of la Faucterie,
house, which is opposite the house of Pierre Margrin Riviere, where we collected the information on (he said Pierre
I saw Pierre Riviere, the son of the aforesaid, leaving his Riviere set out below.
house by the glazed door giving on the local road which We deemed it proper to hear the father, the grand-
goes to the village of Aunay. He held a bloodstained bill in mother, and one of the sisters of the accused person without
his hand; as he passed me, he said to me: "( have JUSt de- administering the oath to them, and the following is a sum-
livered my father from all his tribulations. I know that they mary of their statements.
will put me to death, but no matter," adding, "I commend From his childhood Pierre Riviere was an affliction to
my mother to you." his family, he was obstinate and taciturn; even being with
his parents was a burden to him. Never did he show a son's
affection for his father and mother. His mother especially

8 9
I. PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

was odious to him. At times he felt a wave of something apart, a savage not subject to the ordinary laws of sym-
like repulsion and frenz.y when she approached him .. pathy and sociability, for society was as odious to him as
Pierre Riviere displayed a harshness of character In all his family, thus he asked his father whether a man could
his habits which much distressed his family. He is remem- not live in the woods on plants and roots.
bered to have been seen in his childhood taking pleasure in Some notable traits emerge from a study of Pierre
crushing young birds between two stones and pursuing Riviere's physique: He is short, his forehead is narrow and
children of his age with instruments with which he threat- low; his black eyebrows arch and meet, he constantly
ened to kill them. keeps his head down. and his funive glances seem to shun
Sometimes he Red his parents' house and sought refuge meeting the gaze of others, as if for fear of betraying his
in quarries and spent the night there. Returning from these secret thoughts; his gait is jerky and he moves in bounds,
nocrurnal excursions he said that he had seen the devil and he leaps rather than walks.
had made a pact with him. After committing his crime, Pierre Riviere did not take
His aversion to women was constantly noted. to Right; he went out unconcernedly and, his hands stained
At times he talked to himself and became excited and with blood, went up to two persons to whom he said: "I
passIOnate. have just delivered my father. now he will no longer be
'Vhen he grew older, he eagerly took to the reading of unhappy," and he then went on his way calmly as if noth-
certain books, and his memory served him admirably in his ing had happened; his pruning bill was dripping with blood.
reading ... It seems that at one period he would spend all Such is the information which we gathered at the scene
night reading philosophical works. of the crime itself, in the presence of the cantonal judge of
From irreligion he turned to great piery, or at least to Aunay. M. Morin, doctor and member of the municipal
an outward show of devotion. council. Angot, tax collector at Aunay and captain in the
The jubilee held two years ago seems to have wrought national guard, and Benoit. lieutenant of gendarmerie, who
this change. have signed this report together with us, this June S, 18H.
His father caught him reading at night the Montpellier (signed)
Catechism (a work lent him by the parish priest of Aunay).
In the past year he twice took communion and took the And forasmuch as after completing our report we
sacrament at Easter. learned that the said Pierre Riviere was seen in the wood at
On Saturday, the thirtieth of last month, he put on his la Fontenelle, we summoned one Charles Derus, who, having
best clothes, and on the day of the crime, after changing sworn to speak the truth. declared as follows:
his clothes three times, he donned his Sunday best. Seeing The woman Guillemette, known as the dame of Hamard
which. his grandmother said to him: "But what arc you (canton of Evrecy), told me thar she had spoken with a
doing dressed up so fine?" To which he replied: "you will person who had given her circumstantial details about the
know this evening ... " That morning Pierre Riviere had murder committed in the village of la Faucterie; according
complained of feeling very unwell; his hean was paining to the information given her by one Villemet and the girl
him, he said. Bonnemaison, this person is none other than the said Pierre
Solitary. wild, and cruel, that is Pierre Riviere as seen Riviere.
from the moral point of view; he is. so to speak, a being (signed)

"
I. PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

was odious to him. At times he felt a wave of something apart, a savage not subject to the ordinary laws of sym-
like repulsion and frenz.y when she approached him .. pathy and sociability, for society was as odious to him as
Pierre Riviere displayed a harshness of character In all his family, thus he asked his father whether a man could
his habits which much distressed his family. He is remem- not live in the woods on plants and roots.
bered to have been seen in his childhood taking pleasure in Some notable traits emerge from a study of Pierre
crushing young birds between two stones and pursuing Riviere's physique: He is short, his forehead is narrow and
children of his age with instruments with which he threat- low; his black eyebrows arch and meet, he constantly
ened to kill them. keeps his head down. and his funive glances seem to shun
Sometimes he Red his parents' house and sought refuge meeting the gaze of others, as if for fear of betraying his
in quarries and spent the night there. Returning from these secret thoughts; his gait is jerky and he moves in bounds,
nocrurnal excursions he said that he had seen the devil and he leaps rather than walks.
had made a pact with him. After committing his crime, Pierre Riviere did not take
His aversion to women was constantly noted. to Right; he went out unconcernedly and, his hands stained
At times he talked to himself and became excited and with blood, went up to two persons to whom he said: "I
passIOnate. have just delivered my father. now he will no longer be
'Vhen he grew older, he eagerly took to the reading of unhappy," and he then went on his way calmly as if noth-
certain books, and his memory served him admirably in his ing had happened; his pruning bill was dripping with blood.
reading ... It seems that at one period he would spend all Such is the information which we gathered at the scene
night reading philosophical works. of the crime itself, in the presence of the cantonal judge of
From irreligion he turned to great piery, or at least to Aunay. M. Morin, doctor and member of the municipal
an outward show of devotion. council. Angot, tax collector at Aunay and captain in the
The jubilee held two years ago seems to have wrought national guard, and Benoit. lieutenant of gendarmerie, who
this change. have signed this report together with us, this June S, 18H.
His father caught him reading at night the Montpellier (signed)
Catechism (a work lent him by the parish priest of Aunay).
In the past year he twice took communion and took the And forasmuch as after completing our report we
sacrament at Easter. learned that the said Pierre Riviere was seen in the wood at
On Saturday, the thirtieth of last month, he put on his la Fontenelle, we summoned one Charles Derus, who, having
best clothes, and on the day of the crime, after changing sworn to speak the truth. declared as follows:
his clothes three times, he donned his Sunday best. Seeing The woman Guillemette, known as the dame of Hamard
which. his grandmother said to him: "But what arc you (canton of Evrecy), told me thar she had spoken with a
doing dressed up so fine?" To which he replied: "you will person who had given her circumstantial details about the
know this evening ... " That morning Pierre Riviere had murder committed in the village of la Faucterie; according
complained of feeling very unwell; his hean was paining to the information given her by one Villemet and the girl
him, he said. Bonnemaison, this person is none other than the said Pierre
Solitary. wild, and cruel, that is Pierre Riviere as seen Riviere.
from the moral point of view; he is. so to speak, a being (signed)

"
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

Note. The District Prosecutor Royal hereby requests


5. PERSO"AL PARTICULARS OF
cantonal judges to uansmit these particulars to the mayors
PIERRE RIVIE:.R, CHARGED
and rural police of their canton.
WITH MURDER

The District Prosecutor Royal of the district of Vire


hereby calls upon the officers of the criminal investigation 6. LETTER FROM THE MAYOR OF
department to conduct the most urgent investigation in AUNAY TO THE DISTRICr
order to proceed to the apprehension of the man Pierre PROSECUTOR ROYAL
Riviere, suspected of murdering his mother. his brother,
and one of his sisters. Aunay, June 24, 1835
His description follows: Sir,
Age 20 I have the honor to send you herewith the report which
Height 5 feet 6 inches has just been handed to me by the rural guard of my com
Hair and eyebrows black mune on his rerurn from the search for the murderer Pierre
Whiskers black and thin Riviere of whom I informed you in my letter of the 23rd
Forehead narrow instant. The attempt to seize and apprehend the said Riviere,
Nose ordinary though carried on with the utmost possible vigor, has been
Mouth ordinary unavailing.
Chin round Had the gendarmerie at Flers been sufficiently informed
Face oval and full about this occurrence, there is every reason to believe that
Complexion swanhy he would by now have been arrested, since he openly sat
Gaze furtive before the door of an innkeeper at the entry to the market
Head lowered, gait jerky town of Flers for at least three or four hours reading a
book. His aspect was such that there could be no doubt that
Dressed in a blue linen smock, cap. and ankle boots. he would have been capable of committing the murder.
RIVti:RE is without means; he begs. But he was taken for a mental defective, according to local
He was seen on the 21st of this month in the canton of report when they learned of the search being made for him;
FiefS, district of Damfront. and now that he is known throughout the district. it is
A warrant of arrest was issued for Pierre RIVIERE on safely to be presumed that it will not be long before he is
the tenth of this month by the examining judge of Vire, and brought to justice.
jf apprehended he is to be brought before this judge. Harson, Mayor of Aunay
At the district prosecutor's office, June 23, 1835.
ROBERT The rural guard's report states that Pierre Riviere was
District Prosecutor Royal seen by a cider seller outside Flers on the Toad to Domfront.

"
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

Note. The District Prosecutor Royal hereby requests


5. PERSO"AL PARTICULARS OF
cantonal judges to uansmit these particulars to the mayors
PIERRE RIVIE:.R, CHARGED
and rural police of their canton.
WITH MURDER

The District Prosecutor Royal of the district of Vire


hereby calls upon the officers of the criminal investigation 6. LETTER FROM THE MAYOR OF
department to conduct the most urgent investigation in AUNAY TO THE DISTRICr
order to proceed to the apprehension of the man Pierre PROSECUTOR ROYAL
Riviere, suspected of murdering his mother. his brother,
and one of his sisters. Aunay, June 24, 1835
His description follows: Sir,
Age 20 I have the honor to send you herewith the report which
Height 5 feet 6 inches has just been handed to me by the rural guard of my com
Hair and eyebrows black mune on his rerurn from the search for the murderer Pierre
Whiskers black and thin Riviere of whom I informed you in my letter of the 23rd
Forehead narrow instant. The attempt to seize and apprehend the said Riviere,
Nose ordinary though carried on with the utmost possible vigor, has been
Mouth ordinary unavailing.
Chin round Had the gendarmerie at Flers been sufficiently informed
Face oval and full about this occurrence, there is every reason to believe that
Complexion swanhy he would by now have been arrested, since he openly sat
Gaze furtive before the door of an innkeeper at the entry to the market
Head lowered, gait jerky town of Flers for at least three or four hours reading a
book. His aspect was such that there could be no doubt that
Dressed in a blue linen smock, cap. and ankle boots. he would have been capable of committing the murder.
RIVti:RE is without means; he begs. But he was taken for a mental defective, according to local
He was seen on the 21st of this month in the canton of report when they learned of the search being made for him;
FiefS, district of Damfront. and now that he is known throughout the district. it is
A warrant of arrest was issued for Pierre RIVIERE on safely to be presumed that it will not be long before he is
the tenth of this month by the examining judge of Vire, and brought to justice.
jf apprehended he is to be brought before this judge. Harson, Mayor of Aunay
At the district prosecutor's office, June 23, 1835.
ROBERT The rural guard's report states that Pierre Riviere was
District Prosecutor Royal seen by a cider seller outside Flers on the Toad to Domfront.

"
I, PIERRE RIVIERE.

He was looking in the hedges and hay fields for wild another piece of wood in the style of an arrow, having a
saffron bulbs to eat. The Flers rural guard's boy invited brad nail at one end. \Ve found in his cap a gun license
him in to give him a piece of bread. He declined with issued on October 30, 1829, to Lefevre, Jean-Denis, resid-
thanks several times and then accepted. He asked him ing at la Bigue; the said Riviere stated that he had found it
where he came from; he replied that he was from every- on the road at Jurques; we asked him what he had done with
where and afterwards said (hat he was from Aunay. the pruning bill he had used to commit the crime, he said he
had thrown it into a wheatfield not far from Aunay. Where-
after we locked him into oUr cell to be brought before the
proper authority, himself, two knives, a penknife, a stick
7. REPORT BY THE SERGEANT OF of sulphur, and a piece of string.
GENDARMERIE AT LANGANNERlE
Langannerie, the day and year aforesaid.
GIVING PARTICULARS OF THE
ARREST OF PIERRE RIVIERE (signed)

This day, July 2, 1835, at five o'clock in the morning,


We the undersigned, Ie Courtois, sergeant of gendar- 8. LETTER FROM THE DISTRICT
merie at rhe pOSt at Langannerie, department of Calvados, PROSECUTOR ROYAL AT FALAISE TO
hereby certify that being on the road in Langannerie we met THE DISTRICT PROSECUTOR ROYAL
:l person who appeared to us suspect; having approached AT VIRE
him, we asked him where he was from; he replied from
everywhere; where are you going? where God commands July 3, 1835
me. Having examined him, we recognized him as the man Sir,
Pierre Riviere, of the commune of Aunay, murderer of his I have the honor to inform you that the man Pierre
mother, his brother, and his sister, as described in the wanted Riviere whose particulars you sent me was apprehended
norice circulated by our superior officers and issued at the yesterday in one of the communes of my district. Today he
district prosecutor's office at Vire on June 10, 1835, stating is in the local jail. No sooner had he arrived than he tried
that a warrant was issued for the said Pierre Riviere. Having to escape from the jail, but steps have been taken to fore-
secured his person, we took him to our barracks and we stall and prevent such escape. He had several objects in his
asked his surname, first names, and place of residence and possession. I saw him this morning, but he did not wish to
he replied he was named Riviere, Pierre, residing at Aunay; answer any of the questions 1 put to him. 1 shall order
having asked him why he had killed his mother, he replied that he be transferred ro you and that the objects in his
that she had sinned in the sight of God. Having further possession be taken with him.
asked him the same question regarding his brother and his Renault, assistant,
sister, he said they had sinned by remaining with their p.p. the District Prosecutor Royal
mother. He was carrying a piece of wood to both ends of
which there was attached a cord in the form of a bow, and

'4 ,5
I, PIERRE RIVIERE.

He was looking in the hedges and hay fields for wild another piece of wood in the style of an arrow, having a
saffron bulbs to eat. The Flers rural guard's boy invited brad nail at one end. \Ve found in his cap a gun license
him in to give him a piece of bread. He declined with issued on October 30, 1829, to Lefevre, Jean-Denis, resid-
thanks several times and then accepted. He asked him ing at la Bigue; the said Riviere stated that he had found it
where he came from; he replied that he was from every- on the road at Jurques; we asked him what he had done with
where and afterwards said (hat he was from Aunay. the pruning bill he had used to commit the crime, he said he
had thrown it into a wheatfield not far from Aunay. Where-
after we locked him into oUr cell to be brought before the
proper authority, himself, two knives, a penknife, a stick
7. REPORT BY THE SERGEANT OF of sulphur, and a piece of string.
GENDARMERIE AT LANGANNERlE
Langannerie, the day and year aforesaid.
GIVING PARTICULARS OF THE
ARREST OF PIERRE RIVIERE (signed)

This day, July 2, 1835, at five o'clock in the morning,


We the undersigned, Ie Courtois, sergeant of gendar- 8. LETTER FROM THE DISTRICT
merie at rhe pOSt at Langannerie, department of Calvados, PROSECUTOR ROYAL AT FALAISE TO
hereby certify that being on the road in Langannerie we met THE DISTRICT PROSECUTOR ROYAL
:l person who appeared to us suspect; having approached AT VIRE
him, we asked him where he was from; he replied from
everywhere; where are you going? where God commands July 3, 1835
me. Having examined him, we recognized him as the man Sir,
Pierre Riviere, of the commune of Aunay, murderer of his I have the honor to inform you that the man Pierre
mother, his brother, and his sister, as described in the wanted Riviere whose particulars you sent me was apprehended
norice circulated by our superior officers and issued at the yesterday in one of the communes of my district. Today he
district prosecutor's office at Vire on June 10, 1835, stating is in the local jail. No sooner had he arrived than he tried
that a warrant was issued for the said Pierre Riviere. Having to escape from the jail, but steps have been taken to fore-
secured his person, we took him to our barracks and we stall and prevent such escape. He had several objects in his
asked his surname, first names, and place of residence and possession. I saw him this morning, but he did not wish to
he replied he was named Riviere, Pierre, residing at Aunay; answer any of the questions 1 put to him. 1 shall order
having asked him why he had killed his mother, he replied that he be transferred ro you and that the objects in his
that she had sinned in the sight of God. Having further possession be taken with him.
asked him the same question regarding his brother and his Renault, assistant,
sister, he said they had sinned by remaining with their p.p. the District Prosecutor Royal
mother. He was carrying a piece of wood to both ends of
which there was attached a cord in the form of a bow, and

'4 ,5
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

day morning we sent you an account, the police have not


yet been able to lay hands on him. He has probably caken
9. NEWSPAPER ARTICLES refuge in the woods near Aunay, from which he will be
compelled (0 emerge for want of sustenance, and he cannot
Pilote du Ca/vados, June 5,1835 fail to be arrested at any moment now.
Our correspondenr at Aunay sur Odon wrote yesterday,
June 3: An occurrence, or rather a dreadful crime, a triple Pilote du ealvados, June 17, 1835
crime, has spread alarm and dismay in our district: one Young Riviere, of Aunay, the perpetrator of the triple
Riviere, a carter, lived unhappily with his wife, something murder we have reported, has not yet been arrested. It is
of a shrew who was unwilling to live with him. As a result said that he was met a few days ago in a commune near
of these domestic broils. rhe Rivieres set up house separately, Aunay by a fish vendor who recognized him and notified
and of their five issue the wife had taken tWO children and the police of the encounter, but tOO late to enable them to
the husband three, the eldest of whom is the perpetratOr of arrest him. This, however, is simply a rumor. Many people
the crime I have ro report. This young man who, it is said, in the district believe that the wretched man has killed
has for some time seemed not to be in full possession of his himself and that his body will be found in some pond or
memal faculties, which were nO{ very strong to begin with, stream any day now.
seeing his father constandy plagued by his wife and wishing
ro relieve him, went fo his mother's house this morning and Pilote du Calvados, July 5, 1835
killed her with a pruning bill. The woman was seven months Pierre Riviere, of Aunay, the perpetrator of the triple
pregnant. Then he flung himself on his sister aged about murder of which we have had occasion to speak, was ar-
eighteen and then on his seven-year-old brother and slaugh- rested the day before yesterday, the second of July, by the
tered them. The head of this raving madman's mother sergeant of gendarmerie at Langannerie. At the time of his
was almOSt severed from her trunk. After committing this arrest he had on him a bow and arrow, two knives, and a
triple murder, the maniac took (0 flight, bue will probably penknife. A stick of sulphur was also found in his possession.
have been arrested by the time you receive my dispatch.
He is aged twenty. While the son was perpetrating his !oumal de Falaise, July 8, 1935
atrocious deed, his father, who is well thought of in the Pierre Riviere, of Aunay, murderer of his mother, his
district, was working his fields. As soon as they were ap- brother, and his sister, was arrested by the gendarmerie at
prised of the crime, the local authorities proceeded (0 the Langannerie on Thursday and was taken the same day to
scene of this frightful occurrence and drew up a report. the jail at Falaise. Th~ man had lived for a month in the
(Article reproduced practically word for word in the woods and fields. It seems that he bought bread for some
Gazette des Tribunaux, June 8-9, 1835.) days with some coins which he happened to be carrying at
the rime of the crime. Thereafter he fed on plants, leaves,
Pilote du ealvados, June 7,1835 and wild fruits. He states that he spent three days and three
Though he has been sought throughout the district, the nights in the wood at Cingalis before his arrest. He had made
man Riviere, of whose triple crime committed on Wednes- a bow and arrow there with which he tried to kill birds, bur

,6 '7
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

day morning we sent you an account, the police have not


yet been able to lay hands on him. He has probably caken
9. NEWSPAPER ARTICLES refuge in the woods near Aunay, from which he will be
compelled (0 emerge for want of sustenance, and he cannot
Pilote du Ca/vados, June 5,1835 fail to be arrested at any moment now.
Our correspondenr at Aunay sur Odon wrote yesterday,
June 3: An occurrence, or rather a dreadful crime, a triple Pilote du ealvados, June 17, 1835
crime, has spread alarm and dismay in our district: one Young Riviere, of Aunay, the perpetrator of the triple
Riviere, a carter, lived unhappily with his wife, something murder we have reported, has not yet been arrested. It is
of a shrew who was unwilling to live with him. As a result said that he was met a few days ago in a commune near
of these domestic broils. rhe Rivieres set up house separately, Aunay by a fish vendor who recognized him and notified
and of their five issue the wife had taken tWO children and the police of the encounter, but tOO late to enable them to
the husband three, the eldest of whom is the perpetratOr of arrest him. This, however, is simply a rumor. Many people
the crime I have ro report. This young man who, it is said, in the district believe that the wretched man has killed
has for some time seemed not to be in full possession of his himself and that his body will be found in some pond or
memal faculties, which were nO{ very strong to begin with, stream any day now.
seeing his father constandy plagued by his wife and wishing
ro relieve him, went fo his mother's house this morning and Pilote du Calvados, July 5, 1835
killed her with a pruning bill. The woman was seven months Pierre Riviere, of Aunay, the perpetrator of the triple
pregnant. Then he flung himself on his sister aged about murder of which we have had occasion to speak, was ar-
eighteen and then on his seven-year-old brother and slaugh- rested the day before yesterday, the second of July, by the
tered them. The head of this raving madman's mother sergeant of gendarmerie at Langannerie. At the time of his
was almOSt severed from her trunk. After committing this arrest he had on him a bow and arrow, two knives, and a
triple murder, the maniac took (0 flight, bue will probably penknife. A stick of sulphur was also found in his possession.
have been arrested by the time you receive my dispatch.
He is aged twenty. While the son was perpetrating his !oumal de Falaise, July 8, 1935
atrocious deed, his father, who is well thought of in the Pierre Riviere, of Aunay, murderer of his mother, his
district, was working his fields. As soon as they were ap- brother, and his sister, was arrested by the gendarmerie at
prised of the crime, the local authorities proceeded (0 the Langannerie on Thursday and was taken the same day to
scene of this frightful occurrence and drew up a report. the jail at Falaise. Th~ man had lived for a month in the
(Article reproduced practically word for word in the woods and fields. It seems that he bought bread for some
Gazette des Tribunaux, June 8-9, 1835.) days with some coins which he happened to be carrying at
the rime of the crime. Thereafter he fed on plants, leaves,
Pilote du ealvados, June 7,1835 and wild fruits. He states that he spent three days and three
Though he has been sought throughout the district, the nights in the wood at Cingalis before his arrest. He had made
man Riviere, of whose triple crime committed on Wednes- a bow and arrow there with which he tried to kill birds, bur

,6 '7
he had nor managed to hir any. This bow was found on him
when he was arrested. He claims that he committed the
crime by command of heaven ; that God the father appeared
to him amid his angels; that he was ablaze with light; that
he told him to do what he did and promised not to abandon
him. He shows no sign of emotion or repentance at the
2
recollection of his crime. He says that it was fated to
happen . To judge from what he says, he had thought our the
deed beforehand and had sharpened his ax several days be
The Preliminary
fore, awaiting the right moment. He claims to believe that
he will be set free and be sent back to the woods.
Riviere is of medium height, brownhaired, of a ruddy
Investigation
complexion. He keeps his eyes on the ground, furtively, and
seems to be afraid ro look those who speak to him in the
face. H e replies only in monosyllables. His answers evince I. FIRST INTERROGATION OF
religious mania or madness, but of a serious kind. He is a PIERRE RIVIRE (JULY 9, .835)
dOllr fanatic. He says that he read a great deal, especially
religious books. He has mentioned as his main reading the O N THIS NINTH DAY of July in the year one thousand eight
l\'fonrpell ier Catechism, lent him by his parish priest. He hundred and thirty-five, in the division of criminal investi-
followed the divine service with great exactitude, never gation of the court of first instance of the district of Vire,
played with young people of his own age, and had no before us Exupere Legrai n, the examining judge of the dis-
mistress and no wish for one. He is eating a great deal at trict aforesaid, assisted by Theodore Lebouleux, assistant to
present, like someone who has suffered a great dea l from the clerk of court; in Execution of the warrant of arrest
hunger. His sleep seems to be calm and his soul without from us issuing on the tenth day of June one thousand eight
remorse. hundred and thirty-five against one Pierre Riviere,
Such are the observations made at Falaise on this person There appeared the said Riviere, whom we interrogated
who is a monster of our time, if the act which he committed orally as follows:
is not the result of some mental derangement. He left this Question. \\fhat are your surname, first name, age, occupa-
morning for Vire where the preliminary investigadon is tion, and place of residence?
nearly completed. He will probably be tried at the next Answer. Pierre Riviere, aged twenty, farmer, born in the
Calvados assizes. (Article reproduced in large part by the commune of Courvaudon and resident in that of Aunay.
Gazette des Tribunaux, July 18, 1835.) Q. For what motive did you murder your mother, your
sister Vicroire, and your brother Jules?
A. Because God ordered me to justify His providence,
they were united.
Q. What do you mean by saying they were united?

'9
"
he had nor managed to hir any. This bow was found on him
when he was arrested. He claims that he committed the
crime by command of heaven ; that God the father appeared
to him amid his angels; that he was ablaze with light; that
he told him to do what he did and promised not to abandon
him. He shows no sign of emotion or repentance at the
2
recollection of his crime. He says that it was fated to
happen . To judge from what he says, he had thought our the
deed beforehand and had sharpened his ax several days be
The Preliminary
fore, awaiting the right moment. He claims to believe that
he will be set free and be sent back to the woods.
Riviere is of medium height, brownhaired, of a ruddy
Investigation
complexion. He keeps his eyes on the ground, furtively, and
seems to be afraid ro look those who speak to him in the
face. H e replies only in monosyllables. His answers evince I. FIRST INTERROGATION OF
religious mania or madness, but of a serious kind. He is a PIERRE RIVIRE (JULY 9, .835)
dOllr fanatic. He says that he read a great deal, especially
religious books. He has mentioned as his main reading the O N THIS NINTH DAY of July in the year one thousand eight
l\'fonrpell ier Catechism, lent him by his parish priest. He hundred and thirty-five, in the division of criminal investi-
followed the divine service with great exactitude, never gation of the court of first instance of the district of Vire,
played with young people of his own age, and had no before us Exupere Legrai n, the examining judge of the dis-
mistress and no wish for one. He is eating a great deal at trict aforesaid, assisted by Theodore Lebouleux, assistant to
present, like someone who has suffered a great dea l from the clerk of court; in Execution of the warrant of arrest
hunger. His sleep seems to be calm and his soul without from us issuing on the tenth day of June one thousand eight
remorse. hundred and thirty-five against one Pierre Riviere,
Such are the observations made at Falaise on this person There appeared the said Riviere, whom we interrogated
who is a monster of our time, if the act which he committed orally as follows:
is not the result of some mental derangement. He left this Question. \\fhat are your surname, first name, age, occupa-
morning for Vire where the preliminary investigadon is tion, and place of residence?
nearly completed. He will probably be tried at the next Answer. Pierre Riviere, aged twenty, farmer, born in the
Calvados assizes. (Article reproduced in large part by the commune of Courvaudon and resident in that of Aunay.
Gazette des Tribunaux, July 18, 1835.) Q. For what motive did you murder your mother, your
sister Vicroire, and your brother Jules?
A. Because God ordered me to justify His providence,
they were united.
Q. What do you mean by saying they were united?

'9
"
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

A. All three of them were in league to persecute my father. Q. To what other book do you refer?
Q. You JUSt told me that God had ordered you to commit A. I had read in the almanacs and geography books that
rhe three murders of which you are accused, bur you the earth is divided into several pans and I doubted that
knew full weU that God never orders a crime. if Adam was created on one of these parts it would have
A. God ordered Moses to slay the adorers of the golden been possible for his posterity to people the others.
calf, sparing neirher friends nor father nor son. Q. When did you conceive rhe execrable project which you
Q. Who taught you such things? put into effect on the third of June?
A. I read them in Deuteronomy. When he gave his blessing A. Two weeks before.
to the tribe of Levi Moses said: your grace and your Q. \Vhy and on what occasion did you frame such a design?
fullness have been given to the holy man whom you have A. Because my father was persecuted and I saw God who
chosen, who said to his father and his mother: I know ordered me to do it.
you not, and to his brother: I know nor who thou art. Q. Explain to me what you saw?
Those they are Lord who have kept thy laws and thine A. I was unable to work because of the persecutions my
alliance and will offer up incense to thee to appease thy father was suffering. I was in a field when God appeared
wrath. to me in the company of angels and gave me the order to
Q. You have read the Bible many times, then? justify his providence.
A. Yes, I have read Deuteronomy many times, and Num- Q. Long before the period of which you are telling me,
bers. you had displayed hatred toward your mother, your
Q. You drew most lamentable conclusions from passages in brothers and sisters, and even toward your father.
a book which you did not understand? A. I could not love my mother because of what she was
A. My father was being persecuted, it was fit to make one doing, but I had no evil design against her, and besides,
doubt God's providence. God's commandments forbade me to do her hann.
Q. When did you firSt become accustomed to read the Q. How did you come to believe later that there existed
Bible? quite contrary commandments?
A. A long time ago, two or three years. A. Because I was specially inspired by God as the Levites
Q. Did you also habitually read books of devotion? were, although those same commandments existed.
A. Yes I read the Montpellier Catechis1J1. Q. You claim to excuse your crimes by saying, which is
Q. Before thar you had read works of quite a different absurd and impious, that they were ordered by God;
sort? confess rather that, being unluckily born with a fero-
A. Yes, I leafed through the book called the Good Sense of cious character, you wished [0 steep yourself in the
Cure Meslier for about two hours. blood of your mother whom you had long abominated,
Q. What impression did reading that work make on you whom you abominated above all after she had conceived
and what did you see in it? the idea of obtaining a separation from your father's bed
A. I did not believe in religion at one time. I doubted it. and board.
That was nor rhe work that took away my religion, but A. I repeat: God ordered me to do what 1 did. The priest
it confirmed my doubts. had told my father to pray to God, assuring him that

'0
"
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

A. All three of them were in league to persecute my father. Q. To what other book do you refer?
Q. You JUSt told me that God had ordered you to commit A. I had read in the almanacs and geography books that
rhe three murders of which you are accused, bur you the earth is divided into several pans and I doubted that
knew full weU that God never orders a crime. if Adam was created on one of these parts it would have
A. God ordered Moses to slay the adorers of the golden been possible for his posterity to people the others.
calf, sparing neirher friends nor father nor son. Q. When did you conceive rhe execrable project which you
Q. Who taught you such things? put into effect on the third of June?
A. I read them in Deuteronomy. When he gave his blessing A. Two weeks before.
to the tribe of Levi Moses said: your grace and your Q. \Vhy and on what occasion did you frame such a design?
fullness have been given to the holy man whom you have A. Because my father was persecuted and I saw God who
chosen, who said to his father and his mother: I know ordered me to do it.
you not, and to his brother: I know nor who thou art. Q. Explain to me what you saw?
Those they are Lord who have kept thy laws and thine A. I was unable to work because of the persecutions my
alliance and will offer up incense to thee to appease thy father was suffering. I was in a field when God appeared
wrath. to me in the company of angels and gave me the order to
Q. You have read the Bible many times, then? justify his providence.
A. Yes, I have read Deuteronomy many times, and Num- Q. Long before the period of which you are telling me,
bers. you had displayed hatred toward your mother, your
Q. You drew most lamentable conclusions from passages in brothers and sisters, and even toward your father.
a book which you did not understand? A. I could not love my mother because of what she was
A. My father was being persecuted, it was fit to make one doing, but I had no evil design against her, and besides,
doubt God's providence. God's commandments forbade me to do her hann.
Q. When did you firSt become accustomed to read the Q. How did you come to believe later that there existed
Bible? quite contrary commandments?
A. A long time ago, two or three years. A. Because I was specially inspired by God as the Levites
Q. Did you also habitually read books of devotion? were, although those same commandments existed.
A. Yes I read the Montpellier Catechis1J1. Q. You claim to excuse your crimes by saying, which is
Q. Before thar you had read works of quite a different absurd and impious, that they were ordered by God;
sort? confess rather that, being unluckily born with a fero-
A. Yes, I leafed through the book called the Good Sense of cious character, you wished [0 steep yourself in the
Cure Meslier for about two hours. blood of your mother whom you had long abominated,
Q. What impression did reading that work make on you whom you abominated above all after she had conceived
and what did you see in it? the idea of obtaining a separation from your father's bed
A. I did not believe in religion at one time. I doubted it. and board.
That was nor rhe work that took away my religion, but A. I repeat: God ordered me to do what 1 did. The priest
it confirmed my doubts. had told my father to pray to God, assuring him that

'0
"
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

God would help him out of his uibulations. If he had so-called arrow you were carrymg when you were
not helped him, the existence of God and his justice arrested?
would have been in doubt. A. I was going to try to kill birds with it.
Q. Did you disclose to anyone what you claim happened in Q. And what were you going to do with the sulphur you
a field two weeks before your crime? had on you?
A. No. A. Use it for lighting fires in the woods.
Q. For fear that you might be deceived by a flight of ima- Q. So you were going to live in the woods?
gination why did you not think that it might be wise {Q A. Yes.
apply to some enlightened person for advice on your Q. You also had two knives in your possession?
notions? A. Yes, I usually kept two of them at my father's house and
A. I did not think that I should do so. of the two taken on me, I used one to grub up roots and
Q. You had however, as it seems, gone to confession some the other {Q scrape them.
time before, you had taken the sacrament at Easter, it Q. You are intelligent enough {Q know that you could not
was quite simple for you to consult your confessot, why possibly avoid the penalty inflicted by law on murderers
did you not do so, your three victims would still be alive and parricides, how is it that this idea did not deter you
if you had been wise enough {Q do that? from the crimes you committed?
A. I did not do it and I did not think I should. A. I obeyed God, I did not think there was anything wrong
Q. Is it not true that you sometimes displayed hatred of in justifying his providence.
your father? Q. You knew quite well that you were doing wrong since
A . That is not true. you took to flight immediately after your crimes, you
Q. You are accused of having in your childhood committed eluded all search for a long time and you even made
various acts of cold-blooded and deliberate cruelty, of preparations {Q live in the woods?
having, for instance. crushed young birds between two A. I recired into the woods to live there as a solitary.
stones and pursued your young playmates threatening Q. Why did you not retirc into the woods, if that was your
to put them {Q death with instruments you carried? intention, before murdering your relations?
A. I do not remember doing that, I only happened some- A. , did not have that intention before my deed; by my
times to kiJl birds by throwing stones at them, as school- deed I was consecrated to God and it was then that I
boys do to kill cocks. wished to become a solitary.
Q. What have you done with a book you were seen reading Q. So far you have tried to deceive the law, you have not
in the village of Flets after you ran away? given truth its due, you seemed ro be in a bener frame
A. I had no book with me. J read none. of mind yesterday, so tell us frankly today, what cause
Q. You arc trying to deceive the law on this point, for you could have led you to murder your mother, your sister,
were seen in the village of FIers with a book in your and your brother.
hand. A. T wish no longer to maintain the system of defense and
A. It may perhaps have been an old almanac, the onc I de- the part which I have been acting. I shall tell the truth,
scribed to you. I also had some sheets of paper. r did it {Q help my father OUt of his difficulties. I wished
Q. What were you going to do with the so-called bow and to deliver him from an evil woman who had plagued

'3
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

God would help him out of his uibulations. If he had so-called arrow you were carrymg when you were
not helped him, the existence of God and his justice arrested?
would have been in doubt. A. I was going to try to kill birds with it.
Q. Did you disclose to anyone what you claim happened in Q. And what were you going to do with the sulphur you
a field two weeks before your crime? had on you?
A. No. A. Use it for lighting fires in the woods.
Q. For fear that you might be deceived by a flight of ima- Q. So you were going to live in the woods?
gination why did you not think that it might be wise {Q A. Yes.
apply to some enlightened person for advice on your Q. You also had two knives in your possession?
notions? A. Yes, I usually kept two of them at my father's house and
A. I did not think that I should do so. of the two taken on me, I used one to grub up roots and
Q. You had however, as it seems, gone to confession some the other {Q scrape them.
time before, you had taken the sacrament at Easter, it Q. You are intelligent enough {Q know that you could not
was quite simple for you to consult your confessot, why possibly avoid the penalty inflicted by law on murderers
did you not do so, your three victims would still be alive and parricides, how is it that this idea did not deter you
if you had been wise enough {Q do that? from the crimes you committed?
A. I did not do it and I did not think I should. A. I obeyed God, I did not think there was anything wrong
Q. Is it not true that you sometimes displayed hatred of in justifying his providence.
your father? Q. You knew quite well that you were doing wrong since
A . That is not true. you took to flight immediately after your crimes, you
Q. You are accused of having in your childhood committed eluded all search for a long time and you even made
various acts of cold-blooded and deliberate cruelty, of preparations {Q live in the woods?
having, for instance. crushed young birds between two A. I recired into the woods to live there as a solitary.
stones and pursued your young playmates threatening Q. Why did you not retirc into the woods, if that was your
to put them {Q death with instruments you carried? intention, before murdering your relations?
A. I do not remember doing that, I only happened some- A. , did not have that intention before my deed; by my
times to kiJl birds by throwing stones at them, as school- deed I was consecrated to God and it was then that I
boys do to kill cocks. wished to become a solitary.
Q. What have you done with a book you were seen reading Q. So far you have tried to deceive the law, you have not
in the village of Flets after you ran away? given truth its due, you seemed ro be in a bener frame
A. I had no book with me. J read none. of mind yesterday, so tell us frankly today, what cause
Q. You arc trying to deceive the law on this point, for you could have led you to murder your mother, your sister,
were seen in the village of FIers with a book in your and your brother.
hand. A. T wish no longer to maintain the system of defense and
A. It may perhaps have been an old almanac, the onc I de- the part which I have been acting. I shall tell the truth,
scribed to you. I also had some sheets of paper. r did it {Q help my father OUt of his difficulties. I wished
Q. What were you going to do with the so-called bow and to deliver him from an evil woman who had plagued

'3
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

him continually ever since she became his wife, who was I knew he was not living with his mother, but with his
ruining him, who was driving him to such despair that father, but I had no knowledge that he took part in his
he was sometimes tempted to commit suicide. I killed parents' quarrels; I had never heard that his mother was
my sister Victoire because she took my mother's part. odious to him. I must point Out that I live in the market
I killed my brother by reason of his love for my mother (Own of Aunay, whereas the Riviere family lives in a hamlet
and my sister. a quarter of a league away, so that I have not been able to
get any other information except what I have just given you.
Here the accused gi,'cs in an orderly and methodical
manner a very detailed account which laStS for over two Zephyr Theodore Alorin, thirty-one, doctor of
hours. It is the account of the innumerable afflictions which, 1IIedicine:
according to him, his father suffered from his wife. Riviere I had never heard of Riviere before his crime; when I
promises co communicate to us in writing what he has seated saw him in the jail today, I did not rccollect having ever
to us by word of mouth. seen him before; since his crime I have heard from people
and from his father himself that he is of an obstinate char-
acter, and that when he had resolved to do something,
2. STATEMENTS BY WITNESSES nothing could (Urn him from it, not even the respect he bore
his father. It is said that the accused was constantly alone and
July 15, 18H had no ties whatsoever with the children of his age.
Micbel HaTSon , fifty-seven, property OWl1er, mayor I have no personal knowledge of any quarrels which
of the connmme of Atmay: may have arisen between the accused's father and mother,
I hardly knew Pierre Riviere before his crime, I have but everyone knows [hat rhey were on very bad terms, and
not seen him for twO years, or saw him without remarking the general opinion has always been that the wife was in
him; I have often heard about him as a hothead, an obstinate the wrong.
fellow who could nor be rurned from a thing by the remon- One Hamel of Beauquay told me that a few days before
strances of his father and his family if he was set on it. The the crime he had heard the accused speaking bizarrely, giv-
young man had no friend, according to what I have heard ing him the impression that he was cithcr mad or was trying
about him, he did not go to the inn three times in his life. to pass himself off as mad in order co avoid military sen,icc.
I have no personal knowledge of any quarrels which I can give no other informacion; the law might perhaps
there may have been between the accused's father and obtain some from the Riviere family's neighbors in the vil-
mother, but I have long heard that they did not get on well lage of la Faucterie.
together. They were living apart at the time of the crime.
Riviere the father is of a very mild disposition, and those Jean-Louis Suriray, forty-three, parish priest of tbe
who witnessed his many quarrels with his wife always said commune of Amzay:
she was in the wrong. The accused had always seemed to me a very gentle
I have not heard either before the crime or after it that character, he was held to be an idiot in his village and even
the accused was blamed for acts which showed any sign of a throughout the parish, but having talkcd to him sometimes,
propensity to cruelty. I did not think he was. On the contrary, I have always noted

'4 '5
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

him continually ever since she became his wife, who was I knew he was not living with his mother, but with his
ruining him, who was driving him to such despair that father, but I had no knowledge that he took part in his
he was sometimes tempted to commit suicide. I killed parents' quarrels; I had never heard that his mother was
my sister Victoire because she took my mother's part. odious to him. I must point Out that I live in the market
I killed my brother by reason of his love for my mother (Own of Aunay, whereas the Riviere family lives in a hamlet
and my sister. a quarter of a league away, so that I have not been able to
get any other information except what I have just given you.
Here the accused gi,'cs in an orderly and methodical
manner a very detailed account which laStS for over two Zephyr Theodore Alorin, thirty-one, doctor of
hours. It is the account of the innumerable afflictions which, 1IIedicine:
according to him, his father suffered from his wife. Riviere I had never heard of Riviere before his crime; when I
promises co communicate to us in writing what he has seated saw him in the jail today, I did not rccollect having ever
to us by word of mouth. seen him before; since his crime I have heard from people
and from his father himself that he is of an obstinate char-
acter, and that when he had resolved to do something,
2. STATEMENTS BY WITNESSES nothing could (Urn him from it, not even the respect he bore
his father. It is said that the accused was constantly alone and
July 15, 18H had no ties whatsoever with the children of his age.
Micbel HaTSon , fifty-seven, property OWl1er, mayor I have no personal knowledge of any quarrels which
of the connmme of Atmay: may have arisen between the accused's father and mother,
I hardly knew Pierre Riviere before his crime, I have but everyone knows [hat rhey were on very bad terms, and
not seen him for twO years, or saw him without remarking the general opinion has always been that the wife was in
him; I have often heard about him as a hothead, an obstinate the wrong.
fellow who could nor be rurned from a thing by the remon- One Hamel of Beauquay told me that a few days before
strances of his father and his family if he was set on it. The the crime he had heard the accused speaking bizarrely, giv-
young man had no friend, according to what I have heard ing him the impression that he was cithcr mad or was trying
about him, he did not go to the inn three times in his life. to pass himself off as mad in order co avoid military sen,icc.
I have no personal knowledge of any quarrels which I can give no other informacion; the law might perhaps
there may have been between the accused's father and obtain some from the Riviere family's neighbors in the vil-
mother, but I have long heard that they did not get on well lage of la Faucterie.
together. They were living apart at the time of the crime.
Riviere the father is of a very mild disposition, and those Jean-Louis Suriray, forty-three, parish priest of tbe
who witnessed his many quarrels with his wife always said commune of Amzay:
she was in the wrong. The accused had always seemed to me a very gentle
I have not heard either before the crime or after it that character, he was held to be an idiot in his village and even
the accused was blamed for acts which showed any sign of a throughout the parish, but having talkcd to him sometimes,
propensity to cruelty. I did not think he was. On the contrary, I have always noted

'4 '5
It PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

in him an aptitude for science and a most remarkable mem- to become an idiot, he displayed very great obstinacy, did
ory; but he seemed to have a skew in his imagination. not answer when called; he went to church alone and came
I have certainly heard people say that on occasion he back alone, he always looked as if he were ashamed, and
chased with a scythe a child who happened to be in his almost never talked to anyone, he constantly held his head
yard; but people also said that it was only in jest. Certainly down and looked askance, he sometimes swore at his horse
no one would have thought anything more of it had it for no good reason; I sometimes felt that his father was dis-
not been for the murders he has committed. tressed at his character, he used to say that he would never
It seems that several of the accused's neighbors have be able to make anything of him.
seen him do things at various times which could have been To my knowledge the accused showed no signs of
signs of a state of mental derangement. I can refer as wit- cruelty before his crime.
nesses to Gabriel-Pierre Retout, former mayor of Aunay, One of my children (my daughter) told me that she saw
Nicolas Riviere, Charles Grelley, Lami Binet, the wife of Pierre Riviere in our loft about three years ago talking
Louis Hebert, the widow Quesnel, and Pierre Fortin. loudly and twisting himself about in a strange way; she
saw him kissing the ground and waving his arms about.
When the accused noticed that he was observed, he ran off
July 16, 1835 and climbed down the back of the building, no doubt so as
Gabriel-Pierre Retout , sixty-three, property owner not to go back through the house, and then scaled a back
and fanner: wall enclosing the yard.
I hardly know the accused, and I cannot give you any Riviere the father is the mildest of men; in the quarrels
useful information about his character and past. I remember between him and his wife it was the wife who was in the
only that some six or seven years ago, when I was resting wrong.
in a field beside a road, I heard in the road something like the I had not heard at all before June third that Riviere was
voices of two men in a fury with one another and saying at odds with his mother. Bur his father did tell me one day
to one another: you are a rogue, I'll cut your throat, and that {he accused was more ill-disposed coward his wife
other such things; I was frightened and I got up to look than he was and that if he had his son Pierre's character,
through a gap in the hedge. I saw Pierre Riviere all by him- Victoire Brun would not be so easy in her mind .
self walking quietly by, making the frightful sound I have That is all I can tell you.
mentioned. What are you about then? I said to him; the
accused broke off his conversation, looked at me, and went Pierre, kno'l.J.'l11 as Lami Binet, fifty-nine, day -laborer:
on without answering me. \Nhen he was a short way away, T have worked with Riviere the father for a long time
I heard him begin carrying on again, but not so loudly. (about five or six years); Riviere the father caned pebbles
which T dug from a quarry; his son helped him to put them
Pierre Fortin, fifty, car penter: into a cart; when the father decided the cart was fully
I knew Riviere when he was a child, he seemed very enough loaded, he told his son, do not put any more Stones
eager to learn to read and write. When he was ten to twelve in; the accused went on as if he had not heard, the father
years old he did not seem the same any more, he appeared repeated it, but to no avail; he had to reach into the cart
,6 '7
It PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

in him an aptitude for science and a most remarkable mem- to become an idiot, he displayed very great obstinacy, did
ory; but he seemed to have a skew in his imagination. not answer when called; he went to church alone and came
I have certainly heard people say that on occasion he back alone, he always looked as if he were ashamed, and
chased with a scythe a child who happened to be in his almost never talked to anyone, he constantly held his head
yard; but people also said that it was only in jest. Certainly down and looked askance, he sometimes swore at his horse
no one would have thought anything more of it had it for no good reason; I sometimes felt that his father was dis-
not been for the murders he has committed. tressed at his character, he used to say that he would never
It seems that several of the accused's neighbors have be able to make anything of him.
seen him do things at various times which could have been To my knowledge the accused showed no signs of
signs of a state of mental derangement. I can refer as wit- cruelty before his crime.
nesses to Gabriel-Pierre Retout, former mayor of Aunay, One of my children (my daughter) told me that she saw
Nicolas Riviere, Charles Grelley, Lami Binet, the wife of Pierre Riviere in our loft about three years ago talking
Louis Hebert, the widow Quesnel, and Pierre Fortin. loudly and twisting himself about in a strange way; she
saw him kissing the ground and waving his arms about.
When the accused noticed that he was observed, he ran off
July 16, 1835 and climbed down the back of the building, no doubt so as
Gabriel-Pierre Retout , sixty-three, property owner not to go back through the house, and then scaled a back
and fanner: wall enclosing the yard.
I hardly know the accused, and I cannot give you any Riviere the father is the mildest of men; in the quarrels
useful information about his character and past. I remember between him and his wife it was the wife who was in the
only that some six or seven years ago, when I was resting wrong.
in a field beside a road, I heard in the road something like the I had not heard at all before June third that Riviere was
voices of two men in a fury with one another and saying at odds with his mother. Bur his father did tell me one day
to one another: you are a rogue, I'll cut your throat, and that {he accused was more ill-disposed coward his wife
other such things; I was frightened and I got up to look than he was and that if he had his son Pierre's character,
through a gap in the hedge. I saw Pierre Riviere all by him- Victoire Brun would not be so easy in her mind .
self walking quietly by, making the frightful sound I have That is all I can tell you.
mentioned. What are you about then? I said to him; the
accused broke off his conversation, looked at me, and went Pierre, kno'l.J.'l11 as Lami Binet, fifty-nine, day -laborer:
on without answering me. \Nhen he was a short way away, T have worked with Riviere the father for a long time
I heard him begin carrying on again, but not so loudly. (about five or six years); Riviere the father caned pebbles
which T dug from a quarry; his son helped him to put them
Pierre Fortin, fifty, car penter: into a cart; when the father decided the cart was fully
I knew Riviere when he was a child, he seemed very enough loaded, he told his son, do not put any more Stones
eager to learn to read and write. When he was ten to twelve in; the accused went on as if he had not heard, the father
years old he did not seem the same any more, he appeared repeated it, but to no avail; he had to reach into the cart
,6 '7
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

himself and throw out the pebbles he thought were (00 Three or four months ago, the accused, helped by his
much; but as soon as he had moved a little way off from the grandmother, was carting manure; instead of puning it at
cart, to get his horses ready to drive away, for instance, the foot of another dung heap, as his father had told him to,
Riviere the son put back into the cart the stones his father he set himself to drive the loaded cart to the top of the
had thrown out. The father complained a great deal about heap; the heap was about four feet high, and furthermore
this obstinacy and said it was a great misfortune ro have a it was on the edge of a hollow. I told the accused that he
son like that. would kill his horse. "I have said he was going to get up it,"
About the same time, one day I was there, the accused's he replied, "and up he must get"; "you're going to get up
father having told him to go and water his horse, the rhere," he told his horse, " for I have said you must." And
accused put the horse to rhe gallop straight across the fields, indeed he urged up his horse and managed to get the cart
the father ran after him and managed to bring him back. up, the horse was foundered, I really thought it was injured;
Half an hour later, and in spite of his parent's remonstrances, my husband and Riviere the father ran up and promptly un-
he again took the horse, though his father needed it at the harnessed the horse, which was in great danger ; the father
cime, and again rode off; Riviere the father told me that scolded the son, who made no reply.
shortly before this when he was in a field with his son, the About twO years ago, one day when I sat down beside
son told him that he was going to do like the horned beasts, the accused to talk to his grandmother, who had just spoken
that he was going to "scamper about"; and he said that in- to me, Riviere drew back abruptly as if very much alarmed.
deed the accused set off running across the fields, he lost His grandmother said to him: "\Vhat is the matter with
sight of him, and, after looking for him, found him in his you?" "Eh," he replied, "the devil! the devil!" He was
stable, without any clothes on; his father asked him why he asked what he meant, he answered that the devil was in the
was in such a state, it seems that he answered that he had fireplace. It seems rhar Riviere had often behaved in the
taken his shirt off because it was too wet. same way toward other women, of whom he had seemed
I can give you no more informacion. very much frightened.
The accused, to my knowledge, has always loved
Marguerite Col/eville, fifty-eight, wife of Louis Hebert, solitude, he often retired into places where he could not be
known as Laviolette, farmer: seen and only answered after he had been called many cimes.
I am a neighbor of the Riviere family, I have several One evening, his father looked for him for a long time, not
times seen the accused doing senseless and foolish things; I knowing what had become of him; he found him at last in
saw him one day cutting off the heads of cabbages in his his loft. I must point out that the father, very patient and
father's garden with a stick, and as he did so, he shouted out very mild by nature, never beat him.
the words: right, left, left, right; he did this again on several About two years ago, the accused was alone in the house
other occasions. with the widow Quesnel during his parems' absence; a jay
Pierre Riviere often went out in the evening and passed belonging to his brother Prosper to which he. who was then
in front of our house, crying our very loud and lamentably, unwell, was much anached, was found dead one morning.
ah, ah! When asked why he cried Out so, he replied in a The widow Quesnel accused Pierre Riviere of killing the
tone of voice which seemed to denote fright, euh! the devil! jay, he maintained that that was not true. Pierre Riviere
the devil! and forthwith began to laugh. gathered together some small children from the village and
,8
'9
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

himself and throw out the pebbles he thought were (00 Three or four months ago, the accused, helped by his
much; but as soon as he had moved a little way off from the grandmother, was carting manure; instead of puning it at
cart, to get his horses ready to drive away, for instance, the foot of another dung heap, as his father had told him to,
Riviere the son put back into the cart the stones his father he set himself to drive the loaded cart to the top of the
had thrown out. The father complained a great deal about heap; the heap was about four feet high, and furthermore
this obstinacy and said it was a great misfortune ro have a it was on the edge of a hollow. I told the accused that he
son like that. would kill his horse. "I have said he was going to get up it,"
About the same time, one day I was there, the accused's he replied, "and up he must get"; "you're going to get up
father having told him to go and water his horse, the rhere," he told his horse, " for I have said you must." And
accused put the horse to rhe gallop straight across the fields, indeed he urged up his horse and managed to get the cart
the father ran after him and managed to bring him back. up, the horse was foundered, I really thought it was injured;
Half an hour later, and in spite of his parent's remonstrances, my husband and Riviere the father ran up and promptly un-
he again took the horse, though his father needed it at the harnessed the horse, which was in great danger ; the father
cime, and again rode off; Riviere the father told me that scolded the son, who made no reply.
shortly before this when he was in a field with his son, the About twO years ago, one day when I sat down beside
son told him that he was going to do like the horned beasts, the accused to talk to his grandmother, who had just spoken
that he was going to "scamper about"; and he said that in- to me, Riviere drew back abruptly as if very much alarmed.
deed the accused set off running across the fields, he lost His grandmother said to him: "\Vhat is the matter with
sight of him, and, after looking for him, found him in his you?" "Eh," he replied, "the devil! the devil!" He was
stable, without any clothes on; his father asked him why he asked what he meant, he answered that the devil was in the
was in such a state, it seems that he answered that he had fireplace. It seems rhar Riviere had often behaved in the
taken his shirt off because it was too wet. same way toward other women, of whom he had seemed
I can give you no more informacion. very much frightened.
The accused, to my knowledge, has always loved
Marguerite Col/eville, fifty-eight, wife of Louis Hebert, solitude, he often retired into places where he could not be
known as Laviolette, farmer: seen and only answered after he had been called many cimes.
I am a neighbor of the Riviere family, I have several One evening, his father looked for him for a long time, not
times seen the accused doing senseless and foolish things; I knowing what had become of him; he found him at last in
saw him one day cutting off the heads of cabbages in his his loft. I must point out that the father, very patient and
father's garden with a stick, and as he did so, he shouted out very mild by nature, never beat him.
the words: right, left, left, right; he did this again on several About two years ago, the accused was alone in the house
other occasions. with the widow Quesnel during his parems' absence; a jay
Pierre Riviere often went out in the evening and passed belonging to his brother Prosper to which he. who was then
in front of our house, crying our very loud and lamentably, unwell, was much anached, was found dead one morning.
ah, ah! When asked why he cried Out so, he replied in a The widow Quesnel accused Pierre Riviere of killing the
tone of voice which seemed to denote fright, euh! the devil! jay, he maintained that that was not true. Pierre Riviere
the devil! and forthwith began to laugh. gathered together some small children from the village and
,8
'9
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

conducted a mock funeral, he buried the jay a few steps Two years ago, I was keeping the Riviere house during
from the house; he put on the grave an inscription of which his parents' absence; his brother Prosper had asked me to
I remember these words: " Here lies rhe body of the jay take great care of a jay to which he was much anached. I
Charlo, belonging to Prosper Riviere"; there were some told Pierre to ~ive him something to eat, which he did in my
more words which I do not remember; the accused was then presence; the Jay seemed to me to be quite well, at five
eighteen years old. o'clock next morning I found it dead in its cage. I accused
I cannot give any other information, I will only add Pierre of .kiUi.ng i:. he said that was not so, but he laughed
thar the accused was considered in the village to be an idiot. as he dented It; hiS tone and his looks convinced me that I
was right in. accusi?g him. That evening he gathered to-
Genevieve Riviere, thirty-six, widow of gether some little children, made a wooden cross, and buried
Jea1l QuerneJ, housewife: the jay after going through the motions of a funeral cere-
Riviere was constantly accustomed to retire into out- mony.
of-the-way places, he avoided company so much that when ~or nearly two years, Riviere worked in his loft, using
going to church or coming back, he did not go by the same a knife and some small tOols he got from the neighbors and
path as the other people; he talked to himself with his head some pieces of .wood whose use one could not guess at;
lifted, as if speaking to the uees; sometimes he uttered h~\~~ver, my chll~re? [Old me that it was a little like a gun;
terrifying cries. When asked what he was doing, he some- RIViere named thiS Instrument "Calibine." He went one
times answered that he was conversing with the fairies, day, followed by the village children, and buried it in a
sometimes rhat he was conversing with the devil. Several meadow. T\~o or thtee monrhs later he went, again fol-
rimes when he was by the fireplace, he called to me: come lowed by children, and dug it up again: this lattet scene
and see, come and see, when I went over, he said to me: occurred about two years ago.
see the devil there. Orher times, he said: see, look at
MoureJle grinding her teeth (Mourelle was an old mare Victor Marie, twenty-six, servant to Charles Grelley:
belonging to his father; he ofren talked of her). His parents About two years ago, I saw Pierre Riviere threaten one
concealed his bizarre behavior as much as they could; he of his brothers, who died eight or nine months ago, with a
seemed to be afraid of cats and hens, and above all of scythe he was holding; the chi ld was weeping and crying
women; often when I approached him, he drew back ou~; ~hat are you doing? I asked Pierre. Pierre stopped
abruptly as if frightened; if I asked him the reason for this pomtmg the scythe at his brother, but did not answer me'
behavior, he replied with a peal of laughter. It was the the child said to me: Pierre said he wanted to cut off my
reply he made whenever he was asked questions about his legs.
peculiar doings or was reproached for them. The accused, to my knowledge, often made a game of
Two weeks before the crime Riviere called to me as hc frightening children. One day, about a year ago, he took
was passing by my door: what do you want? I asked him. the son of Charles Grelley, in whose house 1 am a servant
I am going to sce the devil, he answered; he burst out laugh- and carried him into the manger where his horse was feed~
ing loudly and went on toward a spinney owned by his ing, saying he was going to give him to his horse to eat the
father. child came back to the house in tears and immediately'told

JO J'
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

conducted a mock funeral, he buried the jay a few steps Two years ago, I was keeping the Riviere house during
from the house; he put on the grave an inscription of which his parents' absence; his brother Prosper had asked me to
I remember these words: " Here lies rhe body of the jay take great care of a jay to which he was much anached. I
Charlo, belonging to Prosper Riviere"; there were some told Pierre to ~ive him something to eat, which he did in my
more words which I do not remember; the accused was then presence; the Jay seemed to me to be quite well, at five
eighteen years old. o'clock next morning I found it dead in its cage. I accused
I cannot give any other information, I will only add Pierre of .kiUi.ng i:. he said that was not so, but he laughed
thar the accused was considered in the village to be an idiot. as he dented It; hiS tone and his looks convinced me that I
was right in. accusi?g him. That evening he gathered to-
Genevieve Riviere, thirty-six, widow of gether some little children, made a wooden cross, and buried
Jea1l QuerneJ, housewife: the jay after going through the motions of a funeral cere-
Riviere was constantly accustomed to retire into out- mony.
of-the-way places, he avoided company so much that when ~or nearly two years, Riviere worked in his loft, using
going to church or coming back, he did not go by the same a knife and some small tOols he got from the neighbors and
path as the other people; he talked to himself with his head some pieces of .wood whose use one could not guess at;
lifted, as if speaking to the uees; sometimes he uttered h~\~~ver, my chll~re? [Old me that it was a little like a gun;
terrifying cries. When asked what he was doing, he some- RIViere named thiS Instrument "Calibine." He went one
times answered that he was conversing with the fairies, day, followed by the village children, and buried it in a
sometimes rhat he was conversing with the devil. Several meadow. T\~o or thtee monrhs later he went, again fol-
rimes when he was by the fireplace, he called to me: come lowed by children, and dug it up again: this lattet scene
and see, come and see, when I went over, he said to me: occurred about two years ago.
see the devil there. Orher times, he said: see, look at
MoureJle grinding her teeth (Mourelle was an old mare Victor Marie, twenty-six, servant to Charles Grelley:
belonging to his father; he ofren talked of her). His parents About two years ago, I saw Pierre Riviere threaten one
concealed his bizarre behavior as much as they could; he of his brothers, who died eight or nine months ago, with a
seemed to be afraid of cats and hens, and above all of scythe he was holding; the chi ld was weeping and crying
women; often when I approached him, he drew back ou~; ~hat are you doing? I asked Pierre. Pierre stopped
abruptly as if frightened; if I asked him the reason for this pomtmg the scythe at his brother, but did not answer me'
behavior, he replied with a peal of laughter. It was the the child said to me: Pierre said he wanted to cut off my
reply he made whenever he was asked questions about his legs.
peculiar doings or was reproached for them. The accused, to my knowledge, often made a game of
Two weeks before the crime Riviere called to me as hc frightening children. One day, about a year ago, he took
was passing by my door: what do you want? I asked him. the son of Charles Grelley, in whose house 1 am a servant
I am going to sce the devil, he answered; he burst out laugh- and carried him into the manger where his horse was feed~
ing loudly and went on toward a spinney owned by his ing, saying he was going to give him to his horse to eat the
father. child came back to the house in tears and immediately'told

JO J'
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

what had happened: the child had been so frightened that young birds and then stood in front of these poor beasts
for a long time he did not dare pass Riviere's door. staring at them and laughing.
I have heard people say that the accused often displayed
cruelty toward birds and frogs. he flayed the frogs and nailed Pierre Ar1lla1ld Quevilloll , twentY-four, farmer:
the birds alive to trees. I have often seen Riviere laughing without any reason, I
have seen him rolling on the ground, and when he was
Michel N alivel, thirty-eight, tow 111aker: asked why he was doing rhis, his only answer was to laugh;
Five or six years ago, I was at the Rivieres' and found I ha\'c nor known Riviere long. That is all I know.
Prosper Riviere, then six or seven years old, sitting in front
of the fire on a chair, his feet tied to the pothook and beneath Louis Hamel, fifty-eight, pumpha11d:
his feet a flame that was drawing and would soon burn him; I happened to see the accused about three weeks ago;
the child was already feeling the heat and was weeping; his it seemed to me that there was something extraordinary
father's aunt, who had her back to the fireplace, was so deaf about the way he looked at me that betokened madness, he
that she heard nothing; Pierre Riviere was walking round the refused to sit down at table with liS, though he was to help
room laughing heartily, a strange laugh, the laugh of idiots. [ us that day with his horse. A rope had to be tied to the top
hastened to untie or cut the cord binding the child's feet to of a tree we wanted to fell; I said to the accused jokingly,
the pothook, the fire had already singed his stockings, and I it is you Pierre who arc going fa tie the rope; I hardly sup-
saw that if I had not arrived in time, the unfortunate child's posed he could do that, the more so as rain was falling, and
legs would soon have been burned. I fiercely upbraided the workman who had elimbed other trees to tic the rope
Pierre (since the child had told me that it was Pierre who would himself have refused to climb that one at that time.
had tied him up) for what he had done, he did not answer me Riviere, however, did not need further urging and nimbly
and went on laughing strangely. climbed to the tOP of the beech, which was thirty foot high
On several occasions I saw him laughing, but always and almost without branchcs; he climbed a good way
with an idiot's laugh, for a quarter of an hour on end. beyond the point where the rope had to be fixed and climbed
He was accustomed to try to frighten children, and I down the tree very fast, letting himself fall ten or twelve
was afraid he would hurr them; when I went away, I al- feet. What he had done confirmed my idea that he was mad.
ways told people to take great care not to leave them in his That afternoon as he was driving his cart, I noticed
way, I had several times seen him put children on the edge that he was ill-treating his horses for no reason; when we
of the well and frighten them by telling them, I am going got to the top of the hill at Roncamps, I noticed that the
to drop you in or I am going to throw you in. tree on Riviere's cart had slipped on the horses' side and
Riviere did not like cats, one day he killed one be- that if the cart went down the slope (which is very steep)
longing to me and he used a dung hook to do it; I do n~t like that, the horses would be killed or maimed. I shouted
know what he did with the body, but I have heard hIS to him to stop; instead of obeying, he whipped up his horses
brothers and sisters say that he amused himself by torturing and he was so obstinate about it that I had to fling myself on
animals and when he had killed one he set to laughing at it him to Stop him; to all my upbraidings he answered only
like an idiot. I have been told that he crucified frogs and by laughing, with his head down and with the air of a

lJ
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

what had happened: the child had been so frightened that young birds and then stood in front of these poor beasts
for a long time he did not dare pass Riviere's door. staring at them and laughing.
I have heard people say that the accused often displayed
cruelty toward birds and frogs. he flayed the frogs and nailed Pierre Ar1lla1ld Quevilloll , twentY-four, farmer:
the birds alive to trees. I have often seen Riviere laughing without any reason, I
have seen him rolling on the ground, and when he was
Michel N alivel, thirty-eight, tow 111aker: asked why he was doing rhis, his only answer was to laugh;
Five or six years ago, I was at the Rivieres' and found I ha\'c nor known Riviere long. That is all I know.
Prosper Riviere, then six or seven years old, sitting in front
of the fire on a chair, his feet tied to the pothook and beneath Louis Hamel, fifty-eight, pumpha11d:
his feet a flame that was drawing and would soon burn him; I happened to see the accused about three weeks ago;
the child was already feeling the heat and was weeping; his it seemed to me that there was something extraordinary
father's aunt, who had her back to the fireplace, was so deaf about the way he looked at me that betokened madness, he
that she heard nothing; Pierre Riviere was walking round the refused to sit down at table with liS, though he was to help
room laughing heartily, a strange laugh, the laugh of idiots. [ us that day with his horse. A rope had to be tied to the top
hastened to untie or cut the cord binding the child's feet to of a tree we wanted to fell; I said to the accused jokingly,
the pothook, the fire had already singed his stockings, and I it is you Pierre who arc going fa tie the rope; I hardly sup-
saw that if I had not arrived in time, the unfortunate child's posed he could do that, the more so as rain was falling, and
legs would soon have been burned. I fiercely upbraided the workman who had elimbed other trees to tic the rope
Pierre (since the child had told me that it was Pierre who would himself have refused to climb that one at that time.
had tied him up) for what he had done, he did not answer me Riviere, however, did not need further urging and nimbly
and went on laughing strangely. climbed to the tOP of the beech, which was thirty foot high
On several occasions I saw him laughing, but always and almost without branchcs; he climbed a good way
with an idiot's laugh, for a quarter of an hour on end. beyond the point where the rope had to be fixed and climbed
He was accustomed to try to frighten children, and I down the tree very fast, letting himself fall ten or twelve
was afraid he would hurr them; when I went away, I al- feet. What he had done confirmed my idea that he was mad.
ways told people to take great care not to leave them in his That afternoon as he was driving his cart, I noticed
way, I had several times seen him put children on the edge that he was ill-treating his horses for no reason; when we
of the well and frighten them by telling them, I am going got to the top of the hill at Roncamps, I noticed that the
to drop you in or I am going to throw you in. tree on Riviere's cart had slipped on the horses' side and
Riviere did not like cats, one day he killed one be- that if the cart went down the slope (which is very steep)
longing to me and he used a dung hook to do it; I do n~t like that, the horses would be killed or maimed. I shouted
know what he did with the body, but I have heard hIS to him to stop; instead of obeying, he whipped up his horses
brothers and sisters say that he amused himself by torturing and he was so obstinate about it that I had to fling myself on
animals and when he had killed one he set to laughing at it him to Stop him; to all my upbraidings he answered only
like an idiot. I have been told that he crucified frogs and by laughing, with his head down and with the air of a

lJ
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

madman. My son has told me that when he went to school in the hearth the legs of your brother Prosper, and his
with Riviere, he saw him crucify ftOgs and birds and stand stockings were scorched and he would probably have
before them laughing until they were dead ; he habitually suffered a very dangerous burn if a neighbor had not Cut
carried nails and brads in his pocket for this purpose. the cord attaching his feet to the pothook?
A. That has been exaggerated: my brother was not hun at
all and was not in danger; it is possible that I tried to
July 17, 18H frighten him, but that was all. I must point out thar I
Charles Grel/ey, fortY-l1i1le, merchant: was accustomed to warm myself like that by putting
I can give you very little information about Riviere's my feet in a cord which I tied to the pothook; my little
character and past, for where I live is fairly far from his brother wanted to do the same and J helped him when
family 's. I will tell you only that he was generally held to he was seven.
be mad and that when people talked of him, they commonly Q. It seems that you long amused yourself by frightening
called him Riviere's idiot. lance saw him, he was then ten the little children who came ncar you?
or twelve years old, tear his pocket handkerchief by beating A. Yes, that often happened, but , did not mean them any
it against a thorn, he did it as if he was shredding tow. I harm.
have heard (but I have no personal knowledge of it) that he Q. That often happened; so one may think that you took
amused himself by torturing frogs and field mice when he pleasure in seeing their fright and hcaring thcir crics?
found them in the meadows. A. That amused me a little; but I repeat I did nOt wish ro
do them any harm.
Q. The investigation has proved against you certain acts
which would denote an instinct of ferocity in your
3. SECOND INTERROGATION OF character. As you yourself confess in your manuscript,
PIERRE RIVIf.RE (JULY 18, 1835) you have often crucified frogs and young birds; wh<lt is
the feeling that led you to do such things?
We, Exupere Legrain, examining judge as aforesaid. A. I took pleasure in them.
assisted by M. Bidaux, clerk of court, Q. You rook a very considerable pleasure, since it is estab-
Had brought before us from prison the man Riviere lished that you nearly always carried nails or brads in
and interrogated him as follows: your pockets in ordcr to procure an enjoymenr for
Q. Do the manuscript which you have handed to me and the which you wcrc avid whene\'cr you chanced to find
composition on which you have been engaged since one. It is evcn said that you spent hours on end con-
your interrogation on the ninth day of this month con- templating your victims and laughing as you watched
tain nothing but the truth? theif torments?
A. Yes. A. It is truc that I amused myself with that; it is possible
Q. There are some faCtS which you have not mentioned in that I laughed, yet I did not takc any very great pleasure
your memoir; for example, you have not said that one in it.
day you tied to the pothook when there was a fair blaze Q. Did you not onc day threaten one of your brothers thar

l4 15
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

madman. My son has told me that when he went to school in the hearth the legs of your brother Prosper, and his
with Riviere, he saw him crucify ftOgs and birds and stand stockings were scorched and he would probably have
before them laughing until they were dead ; he habitually suffered a very dangerous burn if a neighbor had not Cut
carried nails and brads in his pocket for this purpose. the cord attaching his feet to the pothook?
A. That has been exaggerated: my brother was not hun at
all and was not in danger; it is possible that I tried to
July 17, 18H frighten him, but that was all. I must point out thar I
Charles Grel/ey, fortY-l1i1le, merchant: was accustomed to warm myself like that by putting
I can give you very little information about Riviere's my feet in a cord which I tied to the pothook; my little
character and past, for where I live is fairly far from his brother wanted to do the same and J helped him when
family 's. I will tell you only that he was generally held to he was seven.
be mad and that when people talked of him, they commonly Q. It seems that you long amused yourself by frightening
called him Riviere's idiot. lance saw him, he was then ten the little children who came ncar you?
or twelve years old, tear his pocket handkerchief by beating A. Yes, that often happened, but , did not mean them any
it against a thorn, he did it as if he was shredding tow. I harm.
have heard (but I have no personal knowledge of it) that he Q. That often happened; so one may think that you took
amused himself by torturing frogs and field mice when he pleasure in seeing their fright and hcaring thcir crics?
found them in the meadows. A. That amused me a little; but I repeat I did nOt wish ro
do them any harm.
Q. The investigation has proved against you certain acts
which would denote an instinct of ferocity in your
3. SECOND INTERROGATION OF character. As you yourself confess in your manuscript,
PIERRE RIVIf.RE (JULY 18, 1835) you have often crucified frogs and young birds; wh<lt is
the feeling that led you to do such things?
We, Exupere Legrain, examining judge as aforesaid. A. I took pleasure in them.
assisted by M. Bidaux, clerk of court, Q. You rook a very considerable pleasure, since it is estab-
Had brought before us from prison the man Riviere lished that you nearly always carried nails or brads in
and interrogated him as follows: your pockets in ordcr to procure an enjoymenr for
Q. Do the manuscript which you have handed to me and the which you wcrc avid whene\'cr you chanced to find
composition on which you have been engaged since one. It is evcn said that you spent hours on end con-
your interrogation on the ninth day of this month con- templating your victims and laughing as you watched
tain nothing but the truth? theif torments?
A. Yes. A. It is truc that I amused myself with that; it is possible
Q. There are some faCtS which you have not mentioned in that I laughed, yet I did not takc any very great pleasure
your memoir; for example, you have not said that one in it.
day you tied to the pothook when there was a fair blaze Q. Did you not onc day threaten one of your brothers thar

l4 15
I, PIERRE RIVI~:RE . . .

you would CUt off his legs with a scythe you were do; accompanied by little children from the village, and
carrying; it was your brother Jean, now dead? conduccing a mock funeral ceremony, you went and
A. I never intended ro do him any harm; I do not remember buried the jay and even composed an epitaph for it?
the circumstance you speak of, but if it is true, it was A. That is true, I amused myself by doing that.
only a joke of mine. Q. \Vill you tell me what the epitaph was?
Q. It seems that you have a horror of cats and chickens? A. It was in these words:
A. Ves, I have long loathed cars and chickens and all ani- " H ere lier the body of Prorper'r jay Charlot. lIath'e
mals in genera l and that out of a hatred of bestiality. of the /O'1.;,,er paTt of the great Yor, died . .. "
Q. Vou have always been of an extremely obstinate disposi-
cion; why did you try, some weeks before your crime, I had put on the other side of the paper:
in spite of all urgings against ir, to make your horse "A 'l,;;hile fillee amollg the litling be ~.LiJr 111f1llbned.
harnessed fO a loaded cart mount a heap of dung, when Of the care of a human beillg he 'U'as the role object.
there was no need and when it was obvious that you Hope said that Olle day for hir lal/guage
would hurt or kill your horse? All the peopler amazed would come to pay him homafl,e.
A. I was convinced that it was possible to get the cart up AlId he ir dead! ... "
that heap of dung and the work would consequently go Q. Did you not tell your farber one day rhat YOll were
faster. going to "scamper about" like the horned beasts?
Q. At about the same period, when carting tree trunks A. Yes, sir, it was very hot, I told my father that fond rail
which, when you had reached the top of a slope, had off home ro get a drink; it was a joke of mine.
become so disarranged that they threatened to crush Q. But it has been said that YOllr father looked for you that
your horses, did you not insist on descending the slope day for a long time and found you in the stable stark
without changing the loading of your cart in any way; naked?
did you nor ill-treat your horses to make them go in A. That was another day; my clothes had been soaked
spite of rhe advice of 1\1. Hamel who saw the imminent through by a thunderstorm and as the house door was
danger that threatened your horses and had warned you not open yet, for my parents had not yet come back. J
about it? undressed in the stable.
A. That is not true; I sfOppcd my cart of my own accord Q. \.Vhy did you call an instrument of which you speak in
when I noticed that it was badly loaded. your manuscript, an instrument you intended for kill-
Q. About two years ago, you were crucl enough, it seems, ing birds, a Calibene?
to kill a jay belonging to your brother Prosper co which A. I imagined that word; I tried hard to find a name rhar
the unfortunate child, who was then unwell, was gready could not mean any other insrrument.
attached. Q. 'Vhy did you go and bury that instrument, followed
A. I had no part at all in the jay's death; I had fed it, the by the village children?
bird was fOO young to feed itself. A. When I buried it 1 was alone; when I went to dig it
Q. Vall were then at least eighteen years old; why at that up again. I told rhe village children what I was gOlllg
age did you do something which only children normally to do and they followed me.

)6 37
I, PIERRE RIVI~:RE . . .

you would CUt off his legs with a scythe you were do; accompanied by little children from the village, and
carrying; it was your brother Jean, now dead? conduccing a mock funeral ceremony, you went and
A. I never intended ro do him any harm; I do not remember buried the jay and even composed an epitaph for it?
the circumstance you speak of, but if it is true, it was A. That is true, I amused myself by doing that.
only a joke of mine. Q. \Vill you tell me what the epitaph was?
Q. It seems that you have a horror of cats and chickens? A. It was in these words:
A. Ves, I have long loathed cars and chickens and all ani- " H ere lier the body of Prorper'r jay Charlot. lIath'e
mals in genera l and that out of a hatred of bestiality. of the /O'1.;,,er paTt of the great Yor, died . .. "
Q. Vou have always been of an extremely obstinate disposi-
cion; why did you try, some weeks before your crime, I had put on the other side of the paper:
in spite of all urgings against ir, to make your horse "A 'l,;;hile fillee amollg the litling be ~.LiJr 111f1llbned.
harnessed fO a loaded cart mount a heap of dung, when Of the care of a human beillg he 'U'as the role object.
there was no need and when it was obvious that you Hope said that Olle day for hir lal/guage
would hurt or kill your horse? All the peopler amazed would come to pay him homafl,e.
A. I was convinced that it was possible to get the cart up AlId he ir dead! ... "
that heap of dung and the work would consequently go Q. Did you not tell your farber one day rhat YOll were
faster. going to "scamper about" like the horned beasts?
Q. At about the same period, when carting tree trunks A. Yes, sir, it was very hot, I told my father that fond rail
which, when you had reached the top of a slope, had off home ro get a drink; it was a joke of mine.
become so disarranged that they threatened to crush Q. But it has been said that YOllr father looked for you that
your horses, did you not insist on descending the slope day for a long time and found you in the stable stark
without changing the loading of your cart in any way; naked?
did you nor ill-treat your horses to make them go in A. That was another day; my clothes had been soaked
spite of rhe advice of 1\1. Hamel who saw the imminent through by a thunderstorm and as the house door was
danger that threatened your horses and had warned you not open yet, for my parents had not yet come back. J
about it? undressed in the stable.
A. That is not true; I sfOppcd my cart of my own accord Q. \.Vhy did you call an instrument of which you speak in
when I noticed that it was badly loaded. your manuscript, an instrument you intended for kill-
Q. About two years ago, you were crucl enough, it seems, ing birds, a Calibene?
to kill a jay belonging to your brother Prosper co which A. I imagined that word; I tried hard to find a name rhar
the unfortunate child, who was then unwell, was gready could not mean any other insrrument.
attached. Q. 'Vhy did you go and bury that instrument, followed
A. I had no part at all in the jay's death; I had fed it, the by the village children?
bird was fOO young to feed itself. A. When I buried it 1 was alone; when I went to dig it
Q. Vall were then at least eighteen years old; why at that up again. I told rhe village children what I was gOlllg
age did you do something which only children normally to do and they followed me.

)6 37
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .
Q. But why did you bury it?
A. I had worked on it for a long time, I did not want to body of the thrce victims was slashed in several directions
destroy it and, so as to keep it, I put it ~nder rhe earth. with broad and deep wounds, the blows on the unfortunate
Q. Do you recognize the bill I am shO\~mg you? woman Riviere had been struck with such force that bones
A. Yes, sir, it is the instrument of my crime. and muscles appeared reduced to a pulp, the doctors
Q. How, you wretch, docs not the sight of this instrument proceeded to perform an autopsy of her body and found a
cause you to shed a tear? female fetus which had reached about six and a half months
A. I am resigned to death. . of gestation.
Q. Do you at least regret commirring these fearful .crl~mes, The perpetrator of this crime was soon known, for the
steeping yourself in the blood of pan of your famlly~ Do woman Marie Riviere whose dwelling neighbors that of
you truly feel some remorse? . Anne Brion, wife of Riviere, had seen the murderer hold-
A. Yes, sir, an hour after my crime my conscience told me ing his sister Victorre Riviere by the hair and striking ~er
that I had done evil and I would not have done it over with a pruning bill several blows on the head whIch
again. stretched her dead at his feet. She cried out: Oh wretched
boy what are you about! but her cries could not arrest the
This intcrrogation having been read over to the said crime, for it had been consummated in less than a minute.
Riviere, he said that his replies are the truth, and he signed At the same moment two neighbors named Jean POStel
it together with us and the clerk; the investigation is here- and Victoire Aimee Letat, wife of Jean Andrc, saw Pierre
with concluded. Riviere leave his house by the glazed door giving on to the
local road; he was holding a bloodstained bill and told
them: "I have just delivered my father from all his tribula-
tions. I know that they will put me to death, but no marter."
4. APPLICATION TO PRE-TRIAL The gendarmerie immediately set about seeking the
COURT FOR COMMITTAL murderer, but were not able to locate him. It was not. until
.
the second day of July that he was arrested in the dlsmct
The District Prosecutor Royal at the civil COUrt at Vire, of Falaise by the sergeant of gendarmerie at Langannerie.
having taken cognizance of the criminal proceedings insti- Questioned by the examining judge at Vire about the
tuted against Pierre Riviere, herein set forth: motive which had led him to murder his mother, his brother,
On the third day of June laSt a serious crime was com- and his sister, Pierre Riviere replied that God had app.eared
mined in the commune of Aunay. The officers of the law to him in the company of angels and had ordered him to
proceeded forthwith to the scene of the occurrence and justify his providence. Bur when questioned further Riviere
found that Anne Victoire Brion, wife of Riviere, farmer abandoned rhis method of defense and stated that he had
at the village of la F aucteric in the commune of Aunay, wished to deliver his father from an evil woman who was
Jules Rivierc his son, and Victoire Riviere his daughter had driving him to such despair that he was somc~imes t.emptcd
been murdered in broad daylight in their house by means to commit suicide. He added that he had killed hiS sister
of a sharp instrument with a cutting edge. Every part of thc Victoire because she took his mother's part, and he gave as
the motive for the murder of his brother the latter's love
38
39
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .
Q. But why did you bury it?
A. I had worked on it for a long time, I did not want to body of the thrce victims was slashed in several directions
destroy it and, so as to keep it, I put it ~nder rhe earth. with broad and deep wounds, the blows on the unfortunate
Q. Do you recognize the bill I am shO\~mg you? woman Riviere had been struck with such force that bones
A. Yes, sir, it is the instrument of my crime. and muscles appeared reduced to a pulp, the doctors
Q. How, you wretch, docs not the sight of this instrument proceeded to perform an autopsy of her body and found a
cause you to shed a tear? female fetus which had reached about six and a half months
A. I am resigned to death. . of gestation.
Q. Do you at least regret commirring these fearful .crl~mes, The perpetrator of this crime was soon known, for the
steeping yourself in the blood of pan of your famlly~ Do woman Marie Riviere whose dwelling neighbors that of
you truly feel some remorse? . Anne Brion, wife of Riviere, had seen the murderer hold-
A. Yes, sir, an hour after my crime my conscience told me ing his sister Victorre Riviere by the hair and striking ~er
that I had done evil and I would not have done it over with a pruning bill several blows on the head whIch
again. stretched her dead at his feet. She cried out: Oh wretched
boy what are you about! but her cries could not arrest the
This intcrrogation having been read over to the said crime, for it had been consummated in less than a minute.
Riviere, he said that his replies are the truth, and he signed At the same moment two neighbors named Jean POStel
it together with us and the clerk; the investigation is here- and Victoire Aimee Letat, wife of Jean Andrc, saw Pierre
with concluded. Riviere leave his house by the glazed door giving on to the
local road; he was holding a bloodstained bill and told
them: "I have just delivered my father from all his tribula-
tions. I know that they will put me to death, but no marter."
4. APPLICATION TO PRE-TRIAL The gendarmerie immediately set about seeking the
COURT FOR COMMITTAL murderer, but were not able to locate him. It was not. until
.
the second day of July that he was arrested in the dlsmct
The District Prosecutor Royal at the civil COUrt at Vire, of Falaise by the sergeant of gendarmerie at Langannerie.
having taken cognizance of the criminal proceedings insti- Questioned by the examining judge at Vire about the
tuted against Pierre Riviere, herein set forth: motive which had led him to murder his mother, his brother,
On the third day of June laSt a serious crime was com- and his sister, Pierre Riviere replied that God had app.eared
mined in the commune of Aunay. The officers of the law to him in the company of angels and had ordered him to
proceeded forthwith to the scene of the occurrence and justify his providence. Bur when questioned further Riviere
found that Anne Victoire Brion, wife of Riviere, farmer abandoned rhis method of defense and stated that he had
at the village of la F aucteric in the commune of Aunay, wished to deliver his father from an evil woman who was
Jules Rivierc his son, and Victoire Riviere his daughter had driving him to such despair that he was somc~imes t.emptcd
been murdered in broad daylight in their house by means to commit suicide. He added that he had killed hiS sister
of a sharp instrument with a cutting edge. Every part of thc Victoire because she took his mother's part, and he gave as
the motive for the murder of his brother the latter's love
38
39
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

for his mother and his sister. He then gave in an orderly shown to satisfaction that he did on the third day of June
and methodical manner a very circumstantial account of the kill and murder (I) Anne Brion. wife of Riviere, his mother,
innumerable afflictions which, according to him, his father (2) Jules Riviere his brother, (3) Victoire Riviere his sister
had suffered from his wife since rhe first days of his marriage. and to order that the documents in the case be transmined
At a second interrogation Pierre Riviere persisted in this to the Regional Prosecutor at the Royal Court at Caen.
method of defense which he developed at great length in a Done at the District Prosecutor's Office this day, July
memoir which has been placed among the exhibits in 20, 1835
evidence. The District Prosecutor Royal
The investigation has gone carefully into Riviere's past,
and it has been found that from his earliest youth he had
the cruellest propensities. He took pleasure in frightening
children and torturing animals. He was accustomed to carry i. DECISION OF THE PRE-TRIAL COURT
nails and brads in his pockets for the purpose of attaching
the animals he tortured to trees, and lastly he admits that The Royal Court at Caen (sitring as a pre-trial court)
he had even invented an instrument of torture to kill birds. hereby issues the following decision:
Education was not able to correct Riviere's evil propen- Having considered the report addressed by the District
sities, for he received none; he learned only to read and Prosecutor Royal to the said Court on the proceedings
write, and no one took the trouble to set his mind on the against Pierre Riviere, aged twenty, farmer, residing at
right road. Gifted with a remarkable memory, he seems to Aunay, by the examining judge at the court of first instance
have drawn from his reading only examples calculated to of the district of Vire relating to a homicide with malice
justify his deed and to cause it to be a ririe to fame in men's aforethought,
eyes. His intelligence has degenerated so grossly that he Having duly considered all the documents in the case,
has raised murder to the level of a system and has made a which were read out by the clerk of COUrt and which ha\e
logic of the practice of crime. been placed on the table together with a memoir produced
Riviere is not a religious monomaniac as he tried to make by the accused,
out at first; nor is he an idiot, as some witnesses seemed to The district prosecutor and the clerk of court having
suppose him to be; so that in the eyes of the law he can withdrawn,
only be regarded as a cruel being who has folIowed the Having likcwise considered the arraignment signed on
promptings of evil, because, like all heinous criminals, he behalf of the district prosecutor by M. Lustigue, his assistant,
stifled the voice of conscience and did not struggle hard which is attached to the documents in evidcnce,
enough to control the propensities of his evil character. And having consulted together,
\ Vhercfore the District Prosecutor Royal requests that Considering that the weight of the evidence shows suf-
it may so please the Court in chambers to issue, in accord- ficiently that Pierre Riviere may be accused, primo, that he
ance with articles 133 and J 34 of the Code of Criminal did on the day of the third of June in the year one thol1sand
Procedure and 296 and 299 of the Penal Code, an order for eight hundred and thirty-five in the commune of Aunay
the detention of the aforesaid Pierre Riviere, it having been then and there wilfully commit a homicide on and against

4'
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

for his mother and his sister. He then gave in an orderly shown to satisfaction that he did on the third day of June
and methodical manner a very circumstantial account of the kill and murder (I) Anne Brion. wife of Riviere, his mother,
innumerable afflictions which, according to him, his father (2) Jules Riviere his brother, (3) Victoire Riviere his sister
had suffered from his wife since rhe first days of his marriage. and to order that the documents in the case be transmined
At a second interrogation Pierre Riviere persisted in this to the Regional Prosecutor at the Royal Court at Caen.
method of defense which he developed at great length in a Done at the District Prosecutor's Office this day, July
memoir which has been placed among the exhibits in 20, 1835
evidence. The District Prosecutor Royal
The investigation has gone carefully into Riviere's past,
and it has been found that from his earliest youth he had
the cruellest propensities. He took pleasure in frightening
children and torturing animals. He was accustomed to carry i. DECISION OF THE PRE-TRIAL COURT
nails and brads in his pockets for the purpose of attaching
the animals he tortured to trees, and lastly he admits that The Royal Court at Caen (sitring as a pre-trial court)
he had even invented an instrument of torture to kill birds. hereby issues the following decision:
Education was not able to correct Riviere's evil propen- Having considered the report addressed by the District
sities, for he received none; he learned only to read and Prosecutor Royal to the said Court on the proceedings
write, and no one took the trouble to set his mind on the against Pierre Riviere, aged twenty, farmer, residing at
right road. Gifted with a remarkable memory, he seems to Aunay, by the examining judge at the court of first instance
have drawn from his reading only examples calculated to of the district of Vire relating to a homicide with malice
justify his deed and to cause it to be a ririe to fame in men's aforethought,
eyes. His intelligence has degenerated so grossly that he Having duly considered all the documents in the case,
has raised murder to the level of a system and has made a which were read out by the clerk of COUrt and which ha\e
logic of the practice of crime. been placed on the table together with a memoir produced
Riviere is not a religious monomaniac as he tried to make by the accused,
out at first; nor is he an idiot, as some witnesses seemed to The district prosecutor and the clerk of court having
suppose him to be; so that in the eyes of the law he can withdrawn,
only be regarded as a cruel being who has folIowed the Having likcwise considered the arraignment signed on
promptings of evil, because, like all heinous criminals, he behalf of the district prosecutor by M. Lustigue, his assistant,
stifled the voice of conscience and did not struggle hard which is attached to the documents in evidcnce,
enough to control the propensities of his evil character. And having consulted together,
\ Vhercfore the District Prosecutor Royal requests that Considering that the weight of the evidence shows suf-
it may so please the Court in chambers to issue, in accord- ficiently that Pierre Riviere may be accused, primo, that he
ance with articles 133 and J 34 of the Code of Criminal did on the day of the third of June in the year one thol1sand
Procedure and 296 and 299 of the Penal Code, an order for eight hundred and thirty-five in the commune of Aunay
the detention of the aforesaid Pierre Riviere, it having been then and there wilfully commit a homicide on and against

4'
I, PIERRE RIVltRE . , ,

the person of Victoire Brion, wife of Riviere, his mother, had been seen dispatching his unfortunate sister on the
that he did commit the said homicide of his malice threshold of the door of the house in which his victims lived,
aforethought, though she was seeking to escape and uttering lamentable
seclI1Ido, that he did on the day aforesaid wilfully kill cries; somewhat further off, still holding the pruning bill he
Jules Riviere his brother and Victoire Riviere his sister, had just used to slaughter three of the members of his family,
that he did commit the said homicides of his malice he said to one of the neighbors as he was passing: I have
aforethought, delivered my father from all his tribulations. I know that I
and that the acts arc termed crimes in articles tWO am co die, but I have sacrificed my life for him.
hundred and eighty-five, tWO hundred and eighty-six, twO This murderer, this parricide was Pierre Riviere, aged
hundred and eighty-se\'en, and tWO hundred and eighty- twenty, considered by all those who knew him as an idiot.
nine of the Penal Code within the competence of the courts He was commonly called "Riviere's idiot" or "Riviere's
of assize, madman," Many characteristics were reponed of him which,
acceding to the request by the district prosecutor, to judge from what his neighbors and the friends of his
now therefore the Court hereby orders that the said family have said, denoted a complete lack of intelligence or
Riviere be committed for trial and that he be transferred to even aggravated mental derangement.
the Court of Assize of rhe department of Ca lvados at its Be this opinion as it may, the accused has certainly given
next session at Caen, for which purpose a bill of indictment the lie to it by the many tokens of intelligence and sagacity
sl1<111 be drawn up by the regional prosecutor, he has evinced since his arrest; Riviere, though, to judge by
likewise orders that all documents and writs be sent to appearances, he had originally resolved to give himself up to
the registry of the Royal Court at Caen and that the justice, though he had been to Vire several times while
warrant for the apprehension of the said Riviere issued in the geodannerie patrols were very actively trying CO find
chambers by the civil court of the district of Vire be and apprehend him; Riviere, though, if he is to be believed,
promptly and duly executed, he went co meet gendarmes when he saw any of them on
the terms of the said warrant being given hereunder: his way, was not arrested until the second day of July, even
On the twentieth day of July in the year one thousand though he had uaveled through most of the districts which
eil!"ht hundred and thirty-five the court of first instance of constitute the department of Calvados for twenty-nine days
rh~e district of Vire sitting in chambers issued the following without shelter and without bread, feeding on roots and
order: shellfish, traveling on roads used by a great many people, al-
I laving heard the report by the examining judge on the most without concealment and never being molested, and
proceedings instituted by the District Prosecutor Royal spending the nights in the woods; Riviere, having been
a2ainst Pierre Ri\'iere charged with the crimes hereinafter brought to the jail at Vire on the seventh day of July, was
S~t forth: interrogated 00 the ninth. At first he adopted the method of
On the third day of June last a number of horrible defense which would have probably secured his acquittal
crimes spread terror and dismay in the commune of Aunay. on the grounds of insanity if he had maintained it to the end,
A son had murdered his mother several months pregnant. A supported as it was by the reputation for idiocy and feeble-
brother had murdered his brother and his sister. The culprit mindedness he had gained among the inhabitants of Aunay

4' 43
I, PIERRE RIVltRE . , ,

the person of Victoire Brion, wife of Riviere, his mother, had been seen dispatching his unfortunate sister on the
that he did commit the said homicide of his malice threshold of the door of the house in which his victims lived,
aforethought, though she was seeking to escape and uttering lamentable
seclI1Ido, that he did on the day aforesaid wilfully kill cries; somewhat further off, still holding the pruning bill he
Jules Riviere his brother and Victoire Riviere his sister, had just used to slaughter three of the members of his family,
that he did commit the said homicides of his malice he said to one of the neighbors as he was passing: I have
aforethought, delivered my father from all his tribulations. I know that I
and that the acts arc termed crimes in articles tWO am co die, but I have sacrificed my life for him.
hundred and eighty-five, tWO hundred and eighty-six, twO This murderer, this parricide was Pierre Riviere, aged
hundred and eighty-se\'en, and tWO hundred and eighty- twenty, considered by all those who knew him as an idiot.
nine of the Penal Code within the competence of the courts He was commonly called "Riviere's idiot" or "Riviere's
of assize, madman," Many characteristics were reponed of him which,
acceding to the request by the district prosecutor, to judge from what his neighbors and the friends of his
now therefore the Court hereby orders that the said family have said, denoted a complete lack of intelligence or
Riviere be committed for trial and that he be transferred to even aggravated mental derangement.
the Court of Assize of rhe department of Ca lvados at its Be this opinion as it may, the accused has certainly given
next session at Caen, for which purpose a bill of indictment the lie to it by the many tokens of intelligence and sagacity
sl1<111 be drawn up by the regional prosecutor, he has evinced since his arrest; Riviere, though, to judge by
likewise orders that all documents and writs be sent to appearances, he had originally resolved to give himself up to
the registry of the Royal Court at Caen and that the justice, though he had been to Vire several times while
warrant for the apprehension of the said Riviere issued in the geodannerie patrols were very actively trying CO find
chambers by the civil court of the district of Vire be and apprehend him; Riviere, though, if he is to be believed,
promptly and duly executed, he went co meet gendarmes when he saw any of them on
the terms of the said warrant being given hereunder: his way, was not arrested until the second day of July, even
On the twentieth day of July in the year one thousand though he had uaveled through most of the districts which
eil!"ht hundred and thirty-five the court of first instance of constitute the department of Calvados for twenty-nine days
rh~e district of Vire sitting in chambers issued the following without shelter and without bread, feeding on roots and
order: shellfish, traveling on roads used by a great many people, al-
I laving heard the report by the examining judge on the most without concealment and never being molested, and
proceedings instituted by the District Prosecutor Royal spending the nights in the woods; Riviere, having been
a2ainst Pierre Ri\'iere charged with the crimes hereinafter brought to the jail at Vire on the seventh day of July, was
S~t forth: interrogated 00 the ninth. At first he adopted the method of
On the third day of June last a number of horrible defense which would have probably secured his acquittal
crimes spread terror and dismay in the commune of Aunay. on the grounds of insanity if he had maintained it to the end,
A son had murdered his mother several months pregnant. A supported as it was by the reputation for idiocy and feeble-
brother had murdered his brother and his sister. The culprit mindedness he had gained among the inhabitants of Aunay

4' 43
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

by some extravagant but misunderstood actions. He claimed mother's continual harassment of his father; in the second
that he had received the command to kill his mother, his a sketch of the character of the accused, a sketch drawn
brother, and his sister directly from God and for the purpose with a vigor which is simply astonishing and makes it most
of justifying I-lis providence. It was objected to him that regrettable that Riviere has by an atrocious act rendered
God never orders a crime, he replied with quotations from hencefonh useless to Society rhe gifts so liberally imparted
the Bible perfectly adapted to the posicion he was trying to co him by nature without any assistance whatever from
adopt; for three hours he persevered in trus method of education; a remarkable memory, a great aptitude for the
defense which he developed with a logic surprising in a sciences, a lively and strong imagination coupled with an
peasant boy who had received no education or at least had eagerness for instruction and the achievement of glory. In
learned only to read and write. Finally, however, when this latter part of his memoir Riviere states that he conceived
pressed by questions, he admined that he had hitherto been the project of his crimes a month before he committed
trying to decei\'e the law in order to give the impression that them and that for rhis purpose he had sharpened the bill he
he was afflicted with mental derangement. He further stated used. This bill was found in accordance with his directions
that he had killed his mother because she was constantly and has been placed among the exhibits.
tormenting his father, was ruining him, and was driving Thirteen witnesses were heard ...
him to despair, his sister because she rook her mother's parr, In these circumstances the documents in the case were
his brother because he loved his sister and his mother. Lacer transmitted to rhe district prosecutor's office on the twen-
he stated that he had murdered his brother because he wished tieth day of July, and that office stated its conclusions on
to draw his father's hatred upon himself and to relieve him the same day and date.
beforehand of the very slightest regret at his loss. Thereafter, the documents having been read out,
During his interrogation, after he abandoned his claim \ Vhereas it appears that rhe evidence shows a sufficient
that he had been urged to crime by divine inspiration, presumption that on rhe third day of June Pierre Riviere did
Riviere asked permission to set out, and did set our in an feloniously and wilfully and of his malice aforethought kill
orderly and methodical manner of which he could certainly and murder Alarie Anne Victoirc Brion, wife of Riviere, his
not have been supposed capable, the many quarrels which mother, VictOire Riviere his sister. and Jules Riviere his
according to him had arisen between his father and his brother,
mother, she being ill-tempered, shrewish, vicious, and gen- \Vhereas rhe facts constitutc the crime defined in articles
erally hated, he being a mild and peaceable man loved and twO hundred and eighty-fi,c. two hundred and eighty-six.
esteemcd by all. two hundred and eighty-se,en, and tWO hundred and
At a second interrogation, on the nineteenth day of eighty-nine of the Penal Code,
July, Riviere maintained his latcr admissions and the next Considering anicles one hundred and thirty-three and
day, the twentieth, he handed to the examining judge for one hundred and thirty-four of the Code of Criminal
inclusion with the documents of the case a written docu- Procedure,
ment of some fifty pages on which he had worked ever since Now therefore this Court. in conformity with the con-
he had emered the jail at Vireo This document is in twO clusions of the office of the district proseclltOr, hereby orders
parts; in the firSt the very circumstantial derails of his that the documents of the investigation shall be transmitted

45
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

by some extravagant but misunderstood actions. He claimed mother's continual harassment of his father; in the second
that he had received the command to kill his mother, his a sketch of the character of the accused, a sketch drawn
brother, and his sister directly from God and for the purpose with a vigor which is simply astonishing and makes it most
of justifying I-lis providence. It was objected to him that regrettable that Riviere has by an atrocious act rendered
God never orders a crime, he replied with quotations from hencefonh useless to Society rhe gifts so liberally imparted
the Bible perfectly adapted to the posicion he was trying to co him by nature without any assistance whatever from
adopt; for three hours he persevered in trus method of education; a remarkable memory, a great aptitude for the
defense which he developed with a logic surprising in a sciences, a lively and strong imagination coupled with an
peasant boy who had received no education or at least had eagerness for instruction and the achievement of glory. In
learned only to read and write. Finally, however, when this latter part of his memoir Riviere states that he conceived
pressed by questions, he admined that he had hitherto been the project of his crimes a month before he committed
trying to decei\'e the law in order to give the impression that them and that for rhis purpose he had sharpened the bill he
he was afflicted with mental derangement. He further stated used. This bill was found in accordance with his directions
that he had killed his mother because she was constantly and has been placed among the exhibits.
tormenting his father, was ruining him, and was driving Thirteen witnesses were heard ...
him to despair, his sister because she rook her mother's parr, In these circumstances the documents in the case were
his brother because he loved his sister and his mother. Lacer transmitted to rhe district prosecutor's office on the twen-
he stated that he had murdered his brother because he wished tieth day of July, and that office stated its conclusions on
to draw his father's hatred upon himself and to relieve him the same day and date.
beforehand of the very slightest regret at his loss. Thereafter, the documents having been read out,
During his interrogation, after he abandoned his claim \ Vhereas it appears that rhe evidence shows a sufficient
that he had been urged to crime by divine inspiration, presumption that on rhe third day of June Pierre Riviere did
Riviere asked permission to set out, and did set our in an feloniously and wilfully and of his malice aforethought kill
orderly and methodical manner of which he could certainly and murder Alarie Anne Victoirc Brion, wife of Riviere, his
not have been supposed capable, the many quarrels which mother, VictOire Riviere his sister. and Jules Riviere his
according to him had arisen between his father and his brother,
mother, she being ill-tempered, shrewish, vicious, and gen- \Vhereas rhe facts constitutc the crime defined in articles
erally hated, he being a mild and peaceable man loved and twO hundred and eighty-fi,c. two hundred and eighty-six.
esteemcd by all. two hundred and eighty-se,en, and tWO hundred and
At a second interrogation, on the nineteenth day of eighty-nine of the Penal Code,
July, Riviere maintained his latcr admissions and the next Considering anicles one hundred and thirty-three and
day, the twentieth, he handed to the examining judge for one hundred and thirty-four of the Code of Criminal
inclusion with the documents of the case a written docu- Procedure,
ment of some fifty pages on which he had worked ever since Now therefore this Court. in conformity with the con-
he had emered the jail at Vireo This document is in twO clusions of the office of the district proseclltOr, hereby orders
parts; in the firSt the very circumstantial derails of his that the documents of the investigation shall be transmitted

45
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

to the regional prosecutor at the Royal Coun at Caen and said Riviere was committed to the Assize Court of Cal'lados,
that Pierre Riviere, aged twenty, farmer, born in the com- which will hold its next session at Den.
mune of Courvaudon, residing in the commune of Aunay, The Regional Prosecutor has re-examined the docu-
cantonal administrative center, district of Vire, department ments in the case in the light of this decision and hereby
of Calvados, height one meter six hundred and twenty milli- declares that the following facts emerge therefrom: Between
cleven o'clock and noon on the third day of June of this
meters, hair and eyebrows black and scanty, forehead nar-
year Victoire Brion, wife of Riviere, Jules Riviere, a child
row, nose ordinary, eyes reddish-brown, face oval, mouth of eight, and Victoire Riviere, aged about eighteen, were
ordinary, chin round, beard light chestnut, complexion cruelly murdered at their residence in the commune of
swarthy, gaze furtive, head aslant, be apprehended and Aunay. The last-named was slaughtered before the eyes
taken into custody in the jail of this district until the Royal of a woman neighbor, for she had dragged her murderer
Court sha ll otherwise order. to the house door in her struggle with him. The per-
Given at Vire in chambers of the Court aforesaid on the petrator of this triple crime was none other than the son
days aforesaid, Maitres Legrain, examining judge, acting as of one of the victims and the brother of the other two.
president in the absence on leave of the regular judge; Taking advantage of the moment of panic caused by the
Hiberr, judge; Ozanne, barrister-at-Iaw and first assistant cries of the nrst witness of his crime, he went off calmly,
judge, sitting; M. Robert, Prosecutor Royal, attending, and apparently not even bent on flight, still armed with the
assisted by Theodore Le Bouleux, assistant to the clerk of bloodstained ax he had just used. He had disappeared
before there was any thought of securing his person, and
count
it was not known in what direction he had gone. The
And further orders that the said Riviere be taken to the nearest authorities were immediately summoned, and with
prison situate at Caen in accordance with article two hun- the aid of t\vo doctors they recorded the state in which
dred and thirty-three of the Code of Procedure, that he be the three corpses had been found. The mother was
entered on the prison calendar of reception in the custody stretched out near the hearth, and everything around her
of the said prison and that a copy of these presents as like- testified to the fact that she had been taken unawares
wise of the bill of indictment be served upon him. while busied with her housework; her head lay in a pool
Done at Caen, July 25, 1835 of blood, the bones in it were smashed as were those of
the face, which was horribly disfigured and bore the marks
of deep wounds. The vertebrae of the neck were broken,
and the head remained attached to the trunk only by the
6. BILL OF INDICTMENT muscles on the left side and a few shreds of skin; every-
thing, therefore, conspired to show the violence with
THE REGIONAL PROSECUTOR which he had wielded a heavy instrument with a cutting
at the Royal Court of Caen edge against her. This unfortunate woman was nearly
Hereby declares that in a decision delivered on July 25, seven months pregnant. Near her was lying the corpse of
1835, this Court sitting as a pre-trial court declared that her young son, and several deep wounds in the head, such
there are good and sufficient grounds for accusing one as the near-severance of a part of the crown of the skull,
Pierre Riviere, aged t\'1enty. born at Courvaudon, residing likewise showed that he had succumbed to similar violent
at Aunay, of acts termed crimes by the law and that the blows; several blows had also left their mark on the

47
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

to the regional prosecutor at the Royal Coun at Caen and said Riviere was committed to the Assize Court of Cal'lados,
that Pierre Riviere, aged twenty, farmer, born in the com- which will hold its next session at Den.
mune of Courvaudon, residing in the commune of Aunay, The Regional Prosecutor has re-examined the docu-
cantonal administrative center, district of Vire, department ments in the case in the light of this decision and hereby
of Calvados, height one meter six hundred and twenty milli- declares that the following facts emerge therefrom: Between
cleven o'clock and noon on the third day of June of this
meters, hair and eyebrows black and scanty, forehead nar-
year Victoire Brion, wife of Riviere, Jules Riviere, a child
row, nose ordinary, eyes reddish-brown, face oval, mouth of eight, and Victoire Riviere, aged about eighteen, were
ordinary, chin round, beard light chestnut, complexion cruelly murdered at their residence in the commune of
swarthy, gaze furtive, head aslant, be apprehended and Aunay. The last-named was slaughtered before the eyes
taken into custody in the jail of this district until the Royal of a woman neighbor, for she had dragged her murderer
Court sha ll otherwise order. to the house door in her struggle with him. The per-
Given at Vire in chambers of the Court aforesaid on the petrator of this triple crime was none other than the son
days aforesaid, Maitres Legrain, examining judge, acting as of one of the victims and the brother of the other two.
president in the absence on leave of the regular judge; Taking advantage of the moment of panic caused by the
Hiberr, judge; Ozanne, barrister-at-Iaw and first assistant cries of the nrst witness of his crime, he went off calmly,
judge, sitting; M. Robert, Prosecutor Royal, attending, and apparently not even bent on flight, still armed with the
assisted by Theodore Le Bouleux, assistant to the clerk of bloodstained ax he had just used. He had disappeared
before there was any thought of securing his person, and
count
it was not known in what direction he had gone. The
And further orders that the said Riviere be taken to the nearest authorities were immediately summoned, and with
prison situate at Caen in accordance with article two hun- the aid of t\vo doctors they recorded the state in which
dred and thirty-three of the Code of Procedure, that he be the three corpses had been found. The mother was
entered on the prison calendar of reception in the custody stretched out near the hearth, and everything around her
of the said prison and that a copy of these presents as like- testified to the fact that she had been taken unawares
wise of the bill of indictment be served upon him. while busied with her housework; her head lay in a pool
Done at Caen, July 25, 1835 of blood, the bones in it were smashed as were those of
the face, which was horribly disfigured and bore the marks
of deep wounds. The vertebrae of the neck were broken,
and the head remained attached to the trunk only by the
6. BILL OF INDICTMENT muscles on the left side and a few shreds of skin; every-
thing, therefore, conspired to show the violence with
THE REGIONAL PROSECUTOR which he had wielded a heavy instrument with a cutting
at the Royal Court of Caen edge against her. This unfortunate woman was nearly
Hereby declares that in a decision delivered on July 25, seven months pregnant. Near her was lying the corpse of
1835, this Court sitting as a pre-trial court declared that her young son, and several deep wounds in the head, such
there are good and sufficient grounds for accusing one as the near-severance of a part of the crown of the skull,
Pierre Riviere, aged t\'1enty. born at Courvaudon, residing likewise showed that he had succumbed to similar violent
at Aunay, of acts termed crimes by the law and that the blows; several blows had also left their mark on the

47
I, PIERRE RIVIERE, ..

shoulders and the nape of the neck. Lastly, near these guage authenticates his full and entire knowledge of what
twO corpses was rhat of rhe Rh'iere daughter; her !::tce he did and of his situation; some obscn'ations on the
bobbins overset and her clogs Ie[ near the window of the character, propensities, and habits of the accused lea"e
room showed that she had attempted to Ace; thc disorder no doubt about this.
of her clothing and some of her hair torn out and lying Pierre Riviere is twenn' ,'e:lrs old; from his childhood
beside her testified to the struggle she had put up, Several he gave signs of a S!l\"age ~h'aracter which to this day has
blows from the same instrument had cut deep into the led him to a"oid young persons of his age and seek
throat. and the face was also furrowed with broad slashes, solitude, Serious and reserved. the expression of his phys-
There was no doubt, therefore. about the causes of death iognomy like his attitudes shows the habit of reflection;
or the perpetrator of the crime. but what motives could he speaks littie-only when he is questioned-and his
have impelled the accused to such an atrocious deed? At answers are brief and precise. Gifted with a memory on
first the impossibility of accounting for them helped to which everything is re:ldil), engraved and from which
gain credence for the opinion that he had yielded to an nothing fades. he attracted notice among his fellows by
access of raving madness, The bizarre behavior of a his aptitude for learning, equalled only by his avidity for
character universall\" considered to be sullen and unsociable instruction. He has always shown the utmost eagerness to
and certain circumstances. which were little noticed when take advantage of cver;. opportunity to read books of
they seemed insignificant and were promptly distorted by every sort, and his taste for reading has often led him to
imperfect recollection and by prejudice against him, soon devote his nights to it,
rendered this opinion general. After wandering about for His predisposition to cruelty has at all times been rc-
a month. Riviere was arrested in the commune of Langan~ vealed bv his amusements' they customarily consisted in
nerie; he himself had aroused suspicion by his manner; he acts of barbarity to animais; he loved to sl;bject them to
made no resistance and did not try to conceal his identity, [OrNres. the sight of which filled him with gle~; ce~t.ain
This apparent unconcern and hi; admission of his crim'e, facts which tcstif" to a violent and coldl\' cruel disposition
with explanations which seemed to reveal mental de- have also been established; furthermore he is so headstrong
rangement, appeared for a moment to support the general and obstinate in what he wills that no one at all, not even
opinion of him, Bue rhe role of feigned madness was hard his father, has ever been able to sway him.
to sustain. There were already indications of his intelli- Such is the accused, taciturn :1Ild reAecth'c, with an
gence in everything that did not bear on the method of ardent. cruel. and violent imagination.
defense he had adopted. and the method itself smacked of All his life he had witnessed his plrcnts' domestic
calculation. so even at his first interrogation the accused quarrels; and-here he concurs with loc31 opinion-he
gave up representing himself as a religious fanatic to whom attributed to his mother's conduct the tribulations that
God who had appeared and urged his crime and proceeded made his father's life a continuous mis~r~'; so he had ta~en
to the most ci rcumstantial admissions. He had killed his the side of his father with whom he lived for a long time
mother to avenge his father for the wrongs she had long in l home apart from his mother's. These circumst:lOces
been doing him and so to ensure his tranquillity; his sister led the accused to harbor a hatred for her which re-
because she loved her mother and had always associated pentance and remorse have not wholly stiAed to .this da~'.
herself with the wrongs her mother had don~ her father; Daily witnessing his father's distresses and knowlllg thelf
his brother hecause he loved both of them. These crimes caus~. the thought of putting an end to them occurred to
he had meditated. calculated, and prepared, and his Jan- him. Once it had taken hold of an imagination somber and

49
I, PIERRE RIVIERE, ..

shoulders and the nape of the neck. Lastly, near these guage authenticates his full and entire knowledge of what
twO corpses was rhat of rhe Rh'iere daughter; her !::tce he did and of his situation; some obscn'ations on the
bobbins overset and her clogs Ie[ near the window of the character, propensities, and habits of the accused lea"e
room showed that she had attempted to Ace; thc disorder no doubt about this.
of her clothing and some of her hair torn out and lying Pierre Riviere is twenn' ,'e:lrs old; from his childhood
beside her testified to the struggle she had put up, Several he gave signs of a S!l\"age ~h'aracter which to this day has
blows from the same instrument had cut deep into the led him to a"oid young persons of his age and seek
throat. and the face was also furrowed with broad slashes, solitude, Serious and reserved. the expression of his phys-
There was no doubt, therefore. about the causes of death iognomy like his attitudes shows the habit of reflection;
or the perpetrator of the crime. but what motives could he speaks littie-only when he is questioned-and his
have impelled the accused to such an atrocious deed? At answers are brief and precise. Gifted with a memory on
first the impossibility of accounting for them helped to which everything is re:ldil), engraved and from which
gain credence for the opinion that he had yielded to an nothing fades. he attracted notice among his fellows by
access of raving madness, The bizarre behavior of a his aptitude for learning, equalled only by his avidity for
character universall\" considered to be sullen and unsociable instruction. He has always shown the utmost eagerness to
and certain circumstances. which were little noticed when take advantage of cver;. opportunity to read books of
they seemed insignificant and were promptly distorted by every sort, and his taste for reading has often led him to
imperfect recollection and by prejudice against him, soon devote his nights to it,
rendered this opinion general. After wandering about for His predisposition to cruelty has at all times been rc-
a month. Riviere was arrested in the commune of Langan~ vealed bv his amusements' they customarily consisted in
nerie; he himself had aroused suspicion by his manner; he acts of barbarity to animais; he loved to sl;bject them to
made no resistance and did not try to conceal his identity, [OrNres. the sight of which filled him with gle~; ce~t.ain
This apparent unconcern and hi; admission of his crim'e, facts which tcstif" to a violent and coldl\' cruel disposition
with explanations which seemed to reveal mental de- have also been established; furthermore he is so headstrong
rangement, appeared for a moment to support the general and obstinate in what he wills that no one at all, not even
opinion of him, Bue rhe role of feigned madness was hard his father, has ever been able to sway him.
to sustain. There were already indications of his intelli- Such is the accused, taciturn :1Ild reAecth'c, with an
gence in everything that did not bear on the method of ardent. cruel. and violent imagination.
defense he had adopted. and the method itself smacked of All his life he had witnessed his plrcnts' domestic
calculation. so even at his first interrogation the accused quarrels; and-here he concurs with loc31 opinion-he
gave up representing himself as a religious fanatic to whom attributed to his mother's conduct the tribulations that
God who had appeared and urged his crime and proceeded made his father's life a continuous mis~r~'; so he had ta~en
to the most ci rcumstantial admissions. He had killed his the side of his father with whom he lived for a long time
mother to avenge his father for the wrongs she had long in l home apart from his mother's. These circumst:lOces
been doing him and so to ensure his tranquillity; his sister led the accused to harbor a hatred for her which re-
because she loved her mother and had always associated pentance and remorse have not wholly stiAed to .this da~'.
herself with the wrongs her mother had don~ her father; Daily witnessing his father's distresses and knowlllg thelf
his brother hecause he loved both of them. These crimes caus~. the thought of putting an end to them occurred to
he had meditated. calculated, and prepared, and his Jan- him. Once it had taken hold of an imagination somber and

49
I, PIERRE RIVIERE ..

accustomed to hold firmly to the object which took kill and murder Jules Riviere, his brother, and Victoire
possession of it, this thought never left him; it became the Riviere, his sister.
subject of his constant preoccup;nion, his solitary medita- That he did commit the homicides afores:lid of his
tions. Ceaselessly beset as he was by this lethal purpose. all malice aforethought.
the powers of his ill-organized brain, heightened by read-
ing books which he misunderstood, wcre directed toward At the Regional Prosecutor's office
a purpose and its fulfillment, and his sanguinary instinct at Caen, on this day July 28, 1835
was to indicate to him the frightful means to accomplish it.
The death of his mother was thus resolved upon, as
well as those of the other victims. For sevcral days the
lethal weapon had been prepared and at hand. Twice, 7. NEWSPAPER ARTICLES
howc"cr, as he himself narrates. his ferocious courage
failed him; but at lengrh, on (he third of June. after watch- Le Pilote du Cnlvndo" July 17, 1835
ing all morning for the fa"orable opportunity, he con- Pierre Riviere was transferred to Vire two or three days
summated his crime, less extraordinary perhaps than its after his arreSt at Langannerie. The investigation has nearly
perpctrator's character and narrated bv him as cold- been completed and will Shortly be sent to the criminal
blooded!v as it was conceived. .
division of the Assize Court.
Ri\'ic~e was visited and observed in prison by a qualified
It is confidently stated by some that this murderer is a
doctor. In this professional practitioner's opinion nothing
aboU[ him reveals any sign of mental derangement. and kind of religious maniac or is trying to pass as such. With
cven if his flight after his crime and this attempt of his to very limited mental faculties and a somber character un-
pass for a madman in order to evade the ends of justice suited to his age, he claims that in consummating his triple
did not evidence 011 his part his perfect understanding of crime he was merely obeying a divine command. It seems
what he was doing and of the consequences which must that this wretched youth eager! y read books of devotion and
ensue, his rationality would yet be quite evident from a that it was from this reading that he derived the fanaticism
\'erv detailed memoir written bv him since his arrest. No that led him to crime for lack of sufficient discernment. It
do~bt many of the thoughts 'expressed in it denote a seems, tOO, that the guilty thinking which he has so fear-
deplorablc aberration of ideas and judgment, but it is far fully PUt inro execution was the result of a fixed idea, a
from being the work of a madman. and its style is not the species of monomania under which he had been laboring
least surprising thing in this singular composition.
for some time.
In consc{luence of these facts established by the docu-
In any event, the judicial investigation will bring out
ments in the case rhe said Pierre Ri\'iere is hereb.\' charged
(I) that he did on the third dav of June 1835. in the
this young madman's background, the degree of his intelli-
commune of Auna\". then and th~re feloniousl\" and wi 1- gence, and rhe fatal inspiration which impelled him to lay
fu][~' commit a h~mjcidc in and upon rhe . person of criminal hands on three members of his family.
Victoire Brion wife of Riviere, his mother. P.S. \Ve Jearn from the latest infonnation from Vire
That he did commit the homicide aforesaid of his about the Pierre Riviere case that after a long interrogation
malice aforethought by the examining judge he has ceased to represent himself
(2) That he did on the day aod at the place aforesaid as a religious maniac and has confessed that he was motivated

50
5'
I, PIERRE RIVIERE ..

accustomed to hold firmly to the object which took kill and murder Jules Riviere, his brother, and Victoire
possession of it, this thought never left him; it became the Riviere, his sister.
subject of his constant preoccup;nion, his solitary medita- That he did commit the homicides afores:lid of his
tions. Ceaselessly beset as he was by this lethal purpose. all malice aforethought.
the powers of his ill-organized brain, heightened by read-
ing books which he misunderstood, wcre directed toward At the Regional Prosecutor's office
a purpose and its fulfillment, and his sanguinary instinct at Caen, on this day July 28, 1835
was to indicate to him the frightful means to accomplish it.
The death of his mother was thus resolved upon, as
well as those of the other victims. For sevcral days the
lethal weapon had been prepared and at hand. Twice, 7. NEWSPAPER ARTICLES
howc"cr, as he himself narrates. his ferocious courage
failed him; but at lengrh, on (he third of June. after watch- Le Pilote du Cnlvndo" July 17, 1835
ing all morning for the fa"orable opportunity, he con- Pierre Riviere was transferred to Vire two or three days
summated his crime, less extraordinary perhaps than its after his arreSt at Langannerie. The investigation has nearly
perpctrator's character and narrated bv him as cold- been completed and will Shortly be sent to the criminal
blooded!v as it was conceived. .
division of the Assize Court.
Ri\'ic~e was visited and observed in prison by a qualified
It is confidently stated by some that this murderer is a
doctor. In this professional practitioner's opinion nothing
aboU[ him reveals any sign of mental derangement. and kind of religious maniac or is trying to pass as such. With
cven if his flight after his crime and this attempt of his to very limited mental faculties and a somber character un-
pass for a madman in order to evade the ends of justice suited to his age, he claims that in consummating his triple
did not evidence 011 his part his perfect understanding of crime he was merely obeying a divine command. It seems
what he was doing and of the consequences which must that this wretched youth eager! y read books of devotion and
ensue, his rationality would yet be quite evident from a that it was from this reading that he derived the fanaticism
\'erv detailed memoir written bv him since his arrest. No that led him to crime for lack of sufficient discernment. It
do~bt many of the thoughts 'expressed in it denote a seems, tOO, that the guilty thinking which he has so fear-
deplorablc aberration of ideas and judgment, but it is far fully PUt inro execution was the result of a fixed idea, a
from being the work of a madman. and its style is not the species of monomania under which he had been laboring
least surprising thing in this singular composition.
for some time.
In consc{luence of these facts established by the docu-
In any event, the judicial investigation will bring out
ments in the case rhe said Pierre Ri\'iere is hereb.\' charged
(I) that he did on the third dav of June 1835. in the
this young madman's background, the degree of his intelli-
commune of Auna\". then and th~re feloniousl\" and wi 1- gence, and rhe fatal inspiration which impelled him to lay
fu][~' commit a h~mjcidc in and upon rhe . person of criminal hands on three members of his family.
Victoire Brion wife of Riviere, his mother. P.S. \Ve Jearn from the latest infonnation from Vire
That he did commit the homicide aforesaid of his about the Pierre Riviere case that after a long interrogation
malice aforethought by the examining judge he has ceased to represent himself
(2) That he did on the day aod at the place aforesaid as a religious maniac and has confessed that he was motivated

50
5'
ro crime by the idea of avenging his father for the conduct
which, according to public opinion, Riviere's wife had long
displayed.

Le Pilote du en/vados, July 29, 1835


It is said that Pierre Riviere, the author of a triple murder
3
of the members of his family, has transmitted ro the judges
in charge of the proceedings instituted as a result of his
crime a very remarkable memoir. This young man, it was at
The Memoir
first confidently stated, was a kind of idiot who was pre-
sumed to have acted without properly understanding the
nature of his ferocious act. If what is said of his memoir is
to be believed, Riviere is probably far from devoid of in-
telligence, and the explanations he has given to the judges,
not in order to exculpate himself (for it seems that he con- TRANSLATOR'S NOTE
fesses both the crime and the intent) but in order to set out
the reasons which led him to his criminal act, prove on the IN THE ORIG I NAL FRENCH EDIT ION of this book, Pierre
concrary that the man who appears so simple-minded was Riviere's "memoir" was transcribed with the capital leerers
in reality far from it. It is stated that the memoir of which and punctuation exactly as they are in rhe manuscript. A few
we are speaking is wholly rational and written in such a changes were, however, made to facilitate reading.
way that it is impossible to say which is the more astonish- The problems connected with transcription were com-
ing, its author's memoir or his crime. mented upon in a footnote to the first section of the "Notcs."
(Article reproduced in the Gautte des TribUl1a/iX on This commentary may, however, be more pertinent at this
August 1, 18H.) point. It reads, in substance:
"An interesting question is why rhe original form of the
manuscript, with its shaky orthography and punctuation and
its vagueness in the use of capitals, was left as if stood when
it was printed in 1835. Hisrorians who have seen manu-
scripts of fhe late 18th or early 19rh centuries, in particular
manuscripts by doctors, who were after all persons of good
education, know that their orthography is frequently very
idiosyncratic. After all, too, the 'prescriptive and Repub-
lican schoolteacher' had not yet appeared on the scene to
standardize the formal detai ls of writing. But the printer's
foreman had already begun to set type in accordance with
his own uniform rules for spelling, punctuation, and the

53
ro crime by the idea of avenging his father for the conduct
which, according to public opinion, Riviere's wife had long
displayed.

Le Pilote du en/vados, July 29, 1835


It is said that Pierre Riviere, the author of a triple murder
3
of the members of his family, has transmitted ro the judges
in charge of the proceedings instituted as a result of his
crime a very remarkable memoir. This young man, it was at
The Memoir
first confidently stated, was a kind of idiot who was pre-
sumed to have acted without properly understanding the
nature of his ferocious act. If what is said of his memoir is
to be believed, Riviere is probably far from devoid of in-
telligence, and the explanations he has given to the judges,
not in order to exculpate himself (for it seems that he con- TRANSLATOR'S NOTE
fesses both the crime and the intent) but in order to set out
the reasons which led him to his criminal act, prove on the IN THE ORIG I NAL FRENCH EDIT ION of this book, Pierre
concrary that the man who appears so simple-minded was Riviere's "memoir" was transcribed with the capital leerers
in reality far from it. It is stated that the memoir of which and punctuation exactly as they are in rhe manuscript. A few
we are speaking is wholly rational and written in such a changes were, however, made to facilitate reading.
way that it is impossible to say which is the more astonish- The problems connected with transcription were com-
ing, its author's memoir or his crime. mented upon in a footnote to the first section of the "Notcs."
(Article reproduced in the Gautte des TribUl1a/iX on This commentary may, however, be more pertinent at this
August 1, 18H.) point. It reads, in substance:
"An interesting question is why rhe original form of the
manuscript, with its shaky orthography and punctuation and
its vagueness in the use of capitals, was left as if stood when
it was printed in 1835. Hisrorians who have seen manu-
scripts of fhe late 18th or early 19rh centuries, in particular
manuscripts by doctors, who were after all persons of good
education, know that their orthography is frequently very
idiosyncratic. After all, too, the 'prescriptive and Repub-
lican schoolteacher' had not yet appeared on the scene to
standardize the formal detai ls of writing. But the printer's
foreman had already begun to set type in accordance with
his own uniform rules for spelling, punctuation, and the

53
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

use of capitals when such manuscripts came to be printed. the life which my father and my mother led together since
Why, then, were these rules not employed with Riviere's their marriage. I was witness of the greater part of the
manuscript? \Vas the idea to show that it really was by a facts, and they are written at the end of this history; as
peasam, the parodic act of someone miming a discourse and regards the beginning I heard it recounted by my father
making a muddle of it because it does not fall within the when he talked of it with his friends and with his mother,
normal province of the written word? At all events, it is with me, and with those who had knowledge of it. I shall
symptomatic that the version we have was so badly tran- then tell how I resolved to commit this crime, what my
scribed at the time that Pierre Riviere is constancly saddled thoughts were at the time, and what was my intention. I
with mistakes and incoherences which arc belied by a com- shall also say what went on in my mind after doing this
parison with the manuscript itself. Almost any sort of non- deed, the life I led among people, and the places I was in
sensical errors could be ascribed to a peasant; hence the after the crime up to my arrest and what were the resolu-
copyist or the printer's foreman constantly fabricated more tions I took. All this work will be very crudely styled, for I
of them than there really were. They made such a confusion know only how to read and write; bur all I ask is that what
of commas and periods (though they are legible enough in I mean shall be understood, and I have written it all down
the manuscript) that the sentences become so inextricable as as best I can.
in fact to make up an i1lsensate text. The problem was,
therefore, to decide whether we should leave the text Summary of tbe tribulations and afflictio11S
within the province of its own special status by accurately whicb my father suffered at the
preserving its spontaneity or whether it, like the other hands of my mother
materials in the dossier, should be entitled to be given from 1813 to 18H
a correct form. But would that not mean correcting it? In
the end we decided (but we may well have been mistaken) My father was the second of the three sons of Jean
that time itself had conferred upon this text a sovereignty Riviere and Marianne CordeJ, he was brought up in honesty
so to speak empowering it to come forward in its own per- and religion. he was always of a mild and peaceable dis-
son without any lingering prejudice still attaching to it." position and affable toward all, and so was esteemed by all
who knew him. He was due for the draft in 1813. At that
Particulars and explanation time, as is known, all the lads went; after the quota had once
of been filled, some time later they looked over the numbers
the occurrence again and took the rest; bue those who had married before
on June 3 in Aunay at the village of la Faucterie this second call-up were exempted if they had done so. My
'l.llritten by uncle, my father's elder brother, was serving in the army,
the author of this deed and it was feared that in spite of his high number my father
might still be obliged to go, so it was decided that he should
I, Pierre Riviere, having slaughtered my mother, my sister, marry. An official who was a friend of his promised to warn
and my brother, and wishing to make known the motives him as soon as his quota was filled, but advised him in any
which led me to this deed, have written down the whole of case to take a betrothed in the meantime. Through his ac-

54 55
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

use of capitals when such manuscripts came to be printed. the life which my father and my mother led together since
Why, then, were these rules not employed with Riviere's their marriage. I was witness of the greater part of the
manuscript? \Vas the idea to show that it really was by a facts, and they are written at the end of this history; as
peasam, the parodic act of someone miming a discourse and regards the beginning I heard it recounted by my father
making a muddle of it because it does not fall within the when he talked of it with his friends and with his mother,
normal province of the written word? At all events, it is with me, and with those who had knowledge of it. I shall
symptomatic that the version we have was so badly tran- then tell how I resolved to commit this crime, what my
scribed at the time that Pierre Riviere is constancly saddled thoughts were at the time, and what was my intention. I
with mistakes and incoherences which arc belied by a com- shall also say what went on in my mind after doing this
parison with the manuscript itself. Almost any sort of non- deed, the life I led among people, and the places I was in
sensical errors could be ascribed to a peasant; hence the after the crime up to my arrest and what were the resolu-
copyist or the printer's foreman constantly fabricated more tions I took. All this work will be very crudely styled, for I
of them than there really were. They made such a confusion know only how to read and write; bur all I ask is that what
of commas and periods (though they are legible enough in I mean shall be understood, and I have written it all down
the manuscript) that the sentences become so inextricable as as best I can.
in fact to make up an i1lsensate text. The problem was,
therefore, to decide whether we should leave the text Summary of tbe tribulations and afflictio11S
within the province of its own special status by accurately whicb my father suffered at the
preserving its spontaneity or whether it, like the other hands of my mother
materials in the dossier, should be entitled to be given from 1813 to 18H
a correct form. But would that not mean correcting it? In
the end we decided (but we may well have been mistaken) My father was the second of the three sons of Jean
that time itself had conferred upon this text a sovereignty Riviere and Marianne CordeJ, he was brought up in honesty
so to speak empowering it to come forward in its own per- and religion. he was always of a mild and peaceable dis-
son without any lingering prejudice still attaching to it." position and affable toward all, and so was esteemed by all
who knew him. He was due for the draft in 1813. At that
Particulars and explanation time, as is known, all the lads went; after the quota had once
of been filled, some time later they looked over the numbers
the occurrence again and took the rest; bue those who had married before
on June 3 in Aunay at the village of la Faucterie this second call-up were exempted if they had done so. My
'l.llritten by uncle, my father's elder brother, was serving in the army,
the author of this deed and it was feared that in spite of his high number my father
might still be obliged to go, so it was decided that he should
I, Pierre Riviere, having slaughtered my mother, my sister, marry. An official who was a friend of his promised to warn
and my brother, and wishing to make known the motives him as soon as his quota was filled, but advised him in any
which led me to this deed, have written down the whole of case to take a betrothed in the meantime. Through his ac-

54 55
I, P ..: RRE RI\' IERE . . .

quaintance with F ramiois Ie Comte at Courvaudon my portion of the joint estate shall be deemed as constituting
father went and asked for Victoire Brion; their ages and a receipt for the joint estate. That the said wife under
fonunes more or less matched, she was promised him and the aforesaid authoriz.ation reserves the right to renounce
my father visited her for six months. Then he was warned the settlement in the form of joint estate at any time or in
that it was time he married, but my mother's parents were any manner should the dissolution of the said settlement
no longer in favor of it, their sons were dead in the service occur and shall recover exempt from all debts and encum-
and they feared being distressed yet again for their son-in- brances her portion aforementioned as well as e\erything
law. "Iy father then objected that if they were going to call which she may inherit, of which she shall give a satisfactory
it off they should have done so before. for now they would inventory in evidence. That should such dissolution of the
leave him in straits. My mother agreed with what my father joint estate occur in the lifetime of the spouses, the survivor
said and wepr because her parents opposed their union. shall in no way be deprived of his rights aforementioned to
When my father saw her weeping he thought to himself: she enjoy the personal properties of the spouse during his life-
loves me because she is weeping. Finally her parents made time. Such were the clauses of the contract. A few days
up their mind to it, and they went to sign the conrract in the later they were married by civil ceremony. And thereafter
presence of "laitre Le Bailly notary at Aunay. The clauses of in church. At the time of these latter acts my mother was
this contract stipulated that husband and wife should have a not of the same mind as formerly; they held no wedding
joint estate comprising al( movable property and immovable banquet, and on their marriage night they did nOt bed to-
property prescnt and future, that if one of the spouses pre- gether, because the recruiting board had not yet arrived,
deceased the other and no children were living at that time, and my morher said: he has only to get me with child and
the survivor should enjoy the whole of the estate owned by then leave, and then what will become of me? As this was
the spouse during his lifetime, and if there were children, reasonable, my father did not compel her to bed with him.
should enjoy his own properties only and the children the A few days later the board sat, my father produced his
other half. that the father and the mother of the future marriage certificate, and owing [Q some delay, he stayed in
wife shall contribute to the marriage settlement and that Caen three days longer than he expected. During this time
she herself shall contribute any movable and immovable my mother did not come to Aunay to sec what was happen-
property she may inherit from her father's and mother's ing. On his return from Caen my father stopped at Cour-
estate; that the said properties shall be managed and ad- vaudon, and this was the first time he bedded with her. I
ministered by the husband in conformity with the law will explain here how my family was composed, my father's
concerning the dowry system. The inalienability of these and my mother's. In my father's house at Aunay there
properties as specified in the civil code is also mentioned in were my grandfather and my grandmother, an aunt of my
the contract. It stipulated funher that the husband's mar- father's. my uncle who was ten years younger than my
riage portion was valued at 100 francs and the wife's portion father, five persons in all. At Courvaudon there were my
consisted of linen and personal effects of several sorts, a maternal grandparents and my mother, three in all. My
cupboard with two doors, a bed, bed linen and several paternal grandfather owned about 6 acres of land and my
other articles mentioned, the whole valued at the sum of father and my uncle worked this land as well as doing the
four hundred francs. That on the marriage day the said other work and some trading they engaged in. They had a

57
I, P ..: RRE RI\' IERE . . .

quaintance with F ramiois Ie Comte at Courvaudon my portion of the joint estate shall be deemed as constituting
father went and asked for Victoire Brion; their ages and a receipt for the joint estate. That the said wife under
fonunes more or less matched, she was promised him and the aforesaid authoriz.ation reserves the right to renounce
my father visited her for six months. Then he was warned the settlement in the form of joint estate at any time or in
that it was time he married, but my mother's parents were any manner should the dissolution of the said settlement
no longer in favor of it, their sons were dead in the service occur and shall recover exempt from all debts and encum-
and they feared being distressed yet again for their son-in- brances her portion aforementioned as well as e\erything
law. "Iy father then objected that if they were going to call which she may inherit, of which she shall give a satisfactory
it off they should have done so before. for now they would inventory in evidence. That should such dissolution of the
leave him in straits. My mother agreed with what my father joint estate occur in the lifetime of the spouses, the survivor
said and wepr because her parents opposed their union. shall in no way be deprived of his rights aforementioned to
When my father saw her weeping he thought to himself: she enjoy the personal properties of the spouse during his life-
loves me because she is weeping. Finally her parents made time. Such were the clauses of the contract. A few days
up their mind to it, and they went to sign the conrract in the later they were married by civil ceremony. And thereafter
presence of "laitre Le Bailly notary at Aunay. The clauses of in church. At the time of these latter acts my mother was
this contract stipulated that husband and wife should have a not of the same mind as formerly; they held no wedding
joint estate comprising al( movable property and immovable banquet, and on their marriage night they did nOt bed to-
property prescnt and future, that if one of the spouses pre- gether, because the recruiting board had not yet arrived,
deceased the other and no children were living at that time, and my morher said: he has only to get me with child and
the survivor should enjoy the whole of the estate owned by then leave, and then what will become of me? As this was
the spouse during his lifetime, and if there were children, reasonable, my father did not compel her to bed with him.
should enjoy his own properties only and the children the A few days later the board sat, my father produced his
other half. that the father and the mother of the future marriage certificate, and owing [Q some delay, he stayed in
wife shall contribute to the marriage settlement and that Caen three days longer than he expected. During this time
she herself shall contribute any movable and immovable my mother did not come to Aunay to sec what was happen-
property she may inherit from her father's and mother's ing. On his return from Caen my father stopped at Cour-
estate; that the said properties shall be managed and ad- vaudon, and this was the first time he bedded with her. I
ministered by the husband in conformity with the law will explain here how my family was composed, my father's
concerning the dowry system. The inalienability of these and my mother's. In my father's house at Aunay there
properties as specified in the civil code is also mentioned in were my grandfather and my grandmother, an aunt of my
the contract. It stipulated funher that the husband's mar- father's. my uncle who was ten years younger than my
riage portion was valued at 100 francs and the wife's portion father, five persons in all. At Courvaudon there were my
consisted of linen and personal effects of several sorts, a maternal grandparents and my mother, three in all. My
cupboard with two doors, a bed, bed linen and several paternal grandfather owned about 6 acres of land and my
other articles mentioned, the whole valued at the sum of father and my uncle worked this land as well as doing the
four hundred francs. That on the marriage day the said other work and some trading they engaged in. They had a

57
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

horse and lent to and were lem work horses by a man who cusromed ro lie awake. In this illness of my mother's her
also had one. My maternal grandfather owned about three breasts went bad and my father sucked them ro extract the
acres of land which he worked by hiring laborers by the poison, and then spat it out on the ground. During her ill-
day. The village of Ie Bouillon where he lived is a league ness my mother displayed conrempt and harshness espe-
distam from the village of la F aucterie where my father cially toward her mother, she maintained that she was not
lived. After the marriage my mother stayed on with her capable of doing anything for her; she then maintained that
parents at Courvaudon, and my father went there to do my paternal grandmorher was the only one who was able
what work there was to be done. [n the early days of his to look after her. \Vhen she asked her why she did not want
union with my mother he often went to visit her, but she it to be her mothcr, she answered: oh because she is so
received him with a coldness which put him out of counten- stupid. The illness my mother was then suffering from
ance; his father-in-law and mother-ill-law gave him a might have excused her if her conduct had not continued
wanner welcome. Because of this coldness my mother the same ever after. In this illness she had the Aux, she would
showed him he ceased visiting her as oCren as he had; his not let anyone put her own linen under her, she insisted on
mother was surprised to see that he was not so warm as the her mother's. After six months she recovered. i\ly father,
newly-wed usually are. But, she used to say to him, are you as I have said, did what work had to be done at Courvaudon
not going to Ie Bouillon this evening?--oh, said he, where and rhrollghout his entire marriage, except for the short time
do you think I should be going? In the marriage contract it she came to live with him, of which I shall speak shortly, he
was stipulated that my mother had some good pieces of only bedded with my mother when he went to till the land
furniture. But it is only a matter of course that people put there or to do some other work such as preparing grain,
that in contracts; she had none, and since she needed a bed felling wood, planting crees, making cider, etc. The follow-
and there was one for sale in a village not far away, she ing year, my mother being again with child, her parents
told my father she wanted it. He asked her whether she decided to send her {O her husband, and she let him know
would not rather have a new one, but she said no, and kept that she intended to live with him. My father was very
at him telling him that he would be toO late getting there. glad, and a closet was fixed up to put her household things
My father then thought he would buy it no matter what in. Aly father bought a cupboard and they brought over
the price, and he bought it for about what it was worth, al1 the furniturc my mother had at Courvaudon; she was
but during the sale other women told my mother that they to Jive with my father 's parents, and all be together. This
would not want secondhand rubbish, and she told my father went well for two or three months until her confinement
that she did not want it and it was too dear; he answered and she ga\e birth to a daughter named Victoire. Her ill-
her: but it is bought now, someone must usc it. She said ness was again serious and lasted three months, she was cared
she did not want it, my father said: it is not worth so much for as e\'cry sick person should be, my father and my paternal
fuss and took the bed away and had to resell it. At the grandmother spent their nights at it, and shc was given what
beginning of 1815 my mother gave birth to me, and the the doctor ordered, they got the brcad from the widow Ali-
birth made her very ill. My father took all proper care of chcl-GlIcrnier baker at Aunay. Despite all the care my
her. he did not go to bed for six weeks, he said at the time father and my grandmother {Ook of her, she heaped abuse
he would go to bed later, he could nOt sleep, he was ac- and mortifying words on her, my paternal grandmother was

59
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

horse and lent to and were lem work horses by a man who cusromed ro lie awake. In this illness of my mother's her
also had one. My maternal grandfather owned about three breasts went bad and my father sucked them ro extract the
acres of land which he worked by hiring laborers by the poison, and then spat it out on the ground. During her ill-
day. The village of Ie Bouillon where he lived is a league ness my mother displayed conrempt and harshness espe-
distam from the village of la F aucterie where my father cially toward her mother, she maintained that she was not
lived. After the marriage my mother stayed on with her capable of doing anything for her; she then maintained that
parents at Courvaudon, and my father went there to do my paternal grandmorher was the only one who was able
what work there was to be done. [n the early days of his to look after her. \Vhen she asked her why she did not want
union with my mother he often went to visit her, but she it to be her mothcr, she answered: oh because she is so
received him with a coldness which put him out of counten- stupid. The illness my mother was then suffering from
ance; his father-in-law and mother-ill-law gave him a might have excused her if her conduct had not continued
wanner welcome. Because of this coldness my mother the same ever after. In this illness she had the Aux, she would
showed him he ceased visiting her as oCren as he had; his not let anyone put her own linen under her, she insisted on
mother was surprised to see that he was not so warm as the her mother's. After six months she recovered. i\ly father,
newly-wed usually are. But, she used to say to him, are you as I have said, did what work had to be done at Courvaudon
not going to Ie Bouillon this evening?--oh, said he, where and rhrollghout his entire marriage, except for the short time
do you think I should be going? In the marriage contract it she came to live with him, of which I shall speak shortly, he
was stipulated that my mother had some good pieces of only bedded with my mother when he went to till the land
furniture. But it is only a matter of course that people put there or to do some other work such as preparing grain,
that in contracts; she had none, and since she needed a bed felling wood, planting crees, making cider, etc. The follow-
and there was one for sale in a village not far away, she ing year, my mother being again with child, her parents
told my father she wanted it. He asked her whether she decided to send her {O her husband, and she let him know
would not rather have a new one, but she said no, and kept that she intended to live with him. My father was very
at him telling him that he would be toO late getting there. glad, and a closet was fixed up to put her household things
My father then thought he would buy it no matter what in. Aly father bought a cupboard and they brought over
the price, and he bought it for about what it was worth, al1 the furniturc my mother had at Courvaudon; she was
but during the sale other women told my mother that they to Jive with my father 's parents, and all be together. This
would not want secondhand rubbish, and she told my father went well for two or three months until her confinement
that she did not want it and it was too dear; he answered and she ga\e birth to a daughter named Victoire. Her ill-
her: but it is bought now, someone must usc it. She said ness was again serious and lasted three months, she was cared
she did not want it, my father said: it is not worth so much for as e\'cry sick person should be, my father and my paternal
fuss and took the bed away and had to resell it. At the grandmother spent their nights at it, and shc was given what
beginning of 1815 my mother gave birth to me, and the the doctor ordered, they got the brcad from the widow Ali-
birth made her very ill. My father took all proper care of chcl-GlIcrnier baker at Aunay. Despite all the care my
her. he did not go to bed for six weeks, he said at the time father and my grandmother {Ook of her, she heaped abuse
he would go to bed later, he could nOt sleep, he was ac- and mortifying words on her, my paternal grandmother was

59
I, PIERRE RIVIERE .

no longer able (0 do anything with her, her mother came to hire himself out as a servant and bring her the money
from Courvaudon to see her and she maintained that only from his wages every year for her to do as she pleased
she could look after her; she demanded dishes of roast pork, with. A1y father said that since he had work to do on his
and several other indigestible things, and as my father and own land he would not hire out as a servant and then, seeing
my paternal grandmother 1 opposed it, she said that they how she created him, he resolved not to go back to see her
grudged it her, it was avarice, that they were letting her any more. Several persons among others my p-g-m and the
starve. My m-g-m came [0 see her and she said she must late Nicolle of Saint Agnan with whom he shared horses
have some, she made her cook it, and at last (0 satisfy her advised him to go back, and then he cold his brother and
they gave her what she wanted, and after she had parra ken Nicolle to go and work the field that was (0 be plowed at
of all these things, she was again seized with convulsions, Courvaudon without telling anyone about it and to come
it may be said that this greatly retarded her recovery. \ Vhen back afterwards, but they were seen there and my m-g-m
she began to get better, my m-g-m came (0 see her and said came and gave them something to eat, Some time later my
that she would like her to return (0 her, my m-g-f badly father was there cutting clover, my mother brought him
wanted to see her, she should be taken back in a carr. fvly some soup, and he said to her: will you kiss me? It is too
mother (00 said she wanted to return to her place and that much (rouble, she answered; ah well then said my father,
she would live at Aunay no longer. It was in vain that my cat you r soup for I do not want it, and he scythed all the
father remonstrated that it would be shameful to him if she clover without eating and rerurned hungry to Aunay. At
went back, she said she was absolutely set on it and if he that time, J do not know how it came abom, I was living
did not take her back her furniture, she would send for it. with my father at Aunay. I was three or four years old,
She then returned to her parents, and my father took her my mother came with her mother to fetch Ille, she found
back her furniture, he (Oak some of it by night because me in the meadow where they were haymaking, my p-g-m
people laughed at him. Now at that time my mother showed was holding me in her arms; then without saying a word to
a great dislike for my father, she put it about in Courvaudon anyone she took me and carried me off. As I cried our my
that she had returned only because rhey were letting her father ran after her, and said he would nor let her carry
starve, she lacked e\'erything, and during her illness they me away crying our like that, he would take me to Cour-
had milled two bushels of maslin without sifting it so that vaudon the next day on the horse; seeing which my mother
it shou ld last longer. 'Vhen my father went back there to said to her mother who was with her: hit him, hit him;
work she displayed all her dislike to him; he tried (0 win my m-g-m was rarher malicious, bur nothing in comparison
her over, he said to her: since you were unwilling [Q stay with my mother, she had a good heart and always wel-
with me would you like me to come and stay here with comed my father kindly, she took good care not to do what
your parents? ,Vhat would they do with you, she answered; my mother then told her. My mother therefore seeing that
he asked her what she wanted him to do, she wanted him my father did nor want her to take me away that day, started
scream ing in the streets: I want my chi ld back, I want my
1 I will not go on repe~[ing the words p~temal and matcnl~1 grand-
child back, and she went straight to rhe cantonal judge
father ~nd grandmother. I will designate them by these signs: paternal
grandfather p-g-f. pate mal grandmother p-g-m, matcmal grandfather at Villers to ask him whether my father had the right to
m-g-f. maternal grandmother m-g-m. keep her child from her. My father as he had promised took
60 6.
I, PIERRE RIVIERE .

no longer able (0 do anything with her, her mother came to hire himself out as a servant and bring her the money
from Courvaudon to see her and she maintained that only from his wages every year for her to do as she pleased
she could look after her; she demanded dishes of roast pork, with. A1y father said that since he had work to do on his
and several other indigestible things, and as my father and own land he would not hire out as a servant and then, seeing
my paternal grandmother 1 opposed it, she said that they how she created him, he resolved not to go back to see her
grudged it her, it was avarice, that they were letting her any more. Several persons among others my p-g-m and the
starve. My m-g-m came [0 see her and she said she must late Nicolle of Saint Agnan with whom he shared horses
have some, she made her cook it, and at last (0 satisfy her advised him to go back, and then he cold his brother and
they gave her what she wanted, and after she had parra ken Nicolle to go and work the field that was (0 be plowed at
of all these things, she was again seized with convulsions, Courvaudon without telling anyone about it and to come
it may be said that this greatly retarded her recovery. \ Vhen back afterwards, but they were seen there and my m-g-m
she began to get better, my m-g-m came (0 see her and said came and gave them something to eat, Some time later my
that she would like her to return (0 her, my m-g-f badly father was there cutting clover, my mother brought him
wanted to see her, she should be taken back in a carr. fvly some soup, and he said to her: will you kiss me? It is too
mother (00 said she wanted to return to her place and that much (rouble, she answered; ah well then said my father,
she would live at Aunay no longer. It was in vain that my cat you r soup for I do not want it, and he scythed all the
father remonstrated that it would be shameful to him if she clover without eating and rerurned hungry to Aunay. At
went back, she said she was absolutely set on it and if he that time, J do not know how it came abom, I was living
did not take her back her furniture, she would send for it. with my father at Aunay. I was three or four years old,
She then returned to her parents, and my father took her my mother came with her mother to fetch Ille, she found
back her furniture, he (Oak some of it by night because me in the meadow where they were haymaking, my p-g-m
people laughed at him. Now at that time my mother showed was holding me in her arms; then without saying a word to
a great dislike for my father, she put it about in Courvaudon anyone she took me and carried me off. As I cried our my
that she had returned only because rhey were letting her father ran after her, and said he would nor let her carry
starve, she lacked e\'erything, and during her illness they me away crying our like that, he would take me to Cour-
had milled two bushels of maslin without sifting it so that vaudon the next day on the horse; seeing which my mother
it shou ld last longer. 'Vhen my father went back there to said to her mother who was with her: hit him, hit him;
work she displayed all her dislike to him; he tried (0 win my m-g-m was rarher malicious, bur nothing in comparison
her over, he said to her: since you were unwilling [Q stay with my mother, she had a good heart and always wel-
with me would you like me to come and stay here with comed my father kindly, she took good care not to do what
your parents? ,Vhat would they do with you, she answered; my mother then told her. My mother therefore seeing that
he asked her what she wanted him to do, she wanted him my father did nor want her to take me away that day, started
scream ing in the streets: I want my chi ld back, I want my
1 I will not go on repe~[ing the words p~temal and matcnl~1 grand-
child back, and she went straight to rhe cantonal judge
father ~nd grandmother. I will designate them by these signs: paternal
grandfather p-g-f. pate mal grandmother p-g-m, matcmal grandfather at Villers to ask him whether my father had the right to
m-g-f. maternal grandmother m-g-m. keep her child from her. My father as he had promised took
60 6.
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

me to Courvaudon next day and distressed by all these have heard them talking to one another; it was no use my
troubles did not go back there; he was advised to return, he father remonstrating with my mother and saying that she
again rook the advice and cominued to go to work there shou ld show more respect to her mother, it was in vain,
and my mother played him every conceivable nasty trick she paid no heed. I stayed at Courvaudon for my first six
even taking away the pillow and feather cover from his years, I was witness of all these quarrels, I can say that J
side of the bed. At that time, my father and my uncle was not greatly attached to my mother, I loved my grand-
bought a thousand teus' worth of land and houses which father and my g-m much more, especially my g-f; he told
adjoined their property on their own account. They bor- me stories and I went walking with him, and he is generally
rowed half the money and my father is still paying the in- known as a good man, he carried on the occupation of a
teresr on it, as for the other half, they had some of it and carpenter, but at the time I am speaking of he no longer
they hoped to earn the rest, and my father had nearly paid wem out to work by the day, his legs would not carry
it off in spite of my uncle's illness and death in 1825 when him, he still worked in his shop, and there he was quiet,
a la\\!Suit unexpectedly arose about my mother's properties it was far enough away for him not to hear the clacking
of which I shall speak later. Although this may seem to have perperually going on in the house. My sister Victoire had
little bearing on the cause of this history I have nevertheless gone to live for some time with my father at Aunay, she
mentioned it, for my mother spread it about several times was about three or four years old, and my p-g-m who had
that my father was a wastrel and was letting his children once had a daughter whom she had lost at about that age
starve. There were imervals when my mother did not dis- seemed to see in my sister the resurrection of that child.
play such a dislike of my father, without however showing My mother wem to fetch her back, my father made the ob-
him much kindness, nothing but mortifying words to my jection I have spoken of, but he would have done better
father and my uncle when they wem to do the plowing or to say that she was dependent on him. I myself went to
else to bring them wood when they needed some, for my live with my father when 1 was ten and since then have
mother's parems did not gather enough and my father always stayed with him. In 1824 my mother gave birth to
gathered more than they did and brought them some when a boy named Jean, it was agreed that it would be my
they needed it. My uncle was more prone to anger than my p-g-m and J who should name him, my father being absent
father, he could not bear all my mother said to him; when at the time of the birth; my p-g-m went to Courvaudon,
I hear her nagging like that, he said, she drives me toO far, and after seeing my mother who was lying in, she examined
if she goes on I shall end by knocking her teeth in. Fearing the child, it was dressed in a few dirty rags, my p-g-m
lest he do that, my father told him not to go back there, so then said: oh I suppose we shall not dress him in his other
that it was mostly my father who afterwards went ro work cloches till tomorrow. Ah, said my mother, there is nothing
the land. In 1820 my mother gave birth to a daughter named else, lucky to have that. My p-g-m then understood that
Aimee and in 1822 to a boy named Prosper. I shall tell here she had done that knowing that it would be she who would
of the life my mother led with her parems, every day she name him. Filled with deep grief she returned to Aunay
quarrelled with her mother, not a word she said to her that and raId my uncle, who was then sick, all about it; ah,
was not by way of mortifying her, they blamed each other said he, is this to be more of the same, bring the poor little
constantly for fifty thousand things, as witness all who child here, he will not get bad examples. My g-m went to
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

me to Courvaudon next day and distressed by all these have heard them talking to one another; it was no use my
troubles did not go back there; he was advised to return, he father remonstrating with my mother and saying that she
again rook the advice and cominued to go to work there shou ld show more respect to her mother, it was in vain,
and my mother played him every conceivable nasty trick she paid no heed. I stayed at Courvaudon for my first six
even taking away the pillow and feather cover from his years, I was witness of all these quarrels, I can say that J
side of the bed. At that time, my father and my uncle was not greatly attached to my mother, I loved my grand-
bought a thousand teus' worth of land and houses which father and my g-m much more, especially my g-f; he told
adjoined their property on their own account. They bor- me stories and I went walking with him, and he is generally
rowed half the money and my father is still paying the in- known as a good man, he carried on the occupation of a
teresr on it, as for the other half, they had some of it and carpenter, but at the time I am speaking of he no longer
they hoped to earn the rest, and my father had nearly paid wem out to work by the day, his legs would not carry
it off in spite of my uncle's illness and death in 1825 when him, he still worked in his shop, and there he was quiet,
a la\\!Suit unexpectedly arose about my mother's properties it was far enough away for him not to hear the clacking
of which I shall speak later. Although this may seem to have perperually going on in the house. My sister Victoire had
little bearing on the cause of this history I have nevertheless gone to live for some time with my father at Aunay, she
mentioned it, for my mother spread it about several times was about three or four years old, and my p-g-m who had
that my father was a wastrel and was letting his children once had a daughter whom she had lost at about that age
starve. There were imervals when my mother did not dis- seemed to see in my sister the resurrection of that child.
play such a dislike of my father, without however showing My mother wem to fetch her back, my father made the ob-
him much kindness, nothing but mortifying words to my jection I have spoken of, but he would have done better
father and my uncle when they wem to do the plowing or to say that she was dependent on him. I myself went to
else to bring them wood when they needed some, for my live with my father when 1 was ten and since then have
mother's parems did not gather enough and my father always stayed with him. In 1824 my mother gave birth to
gathered more than they did and brought them some when a boy named Jean, it was agreed that it would be my
they needed it. My uncle was more prone to anger than my p-g-m and J who should name him, my father being absent
father, he could not bear all my mother said to him; when at the time of the birth; my p-g-m went to Courvaudon,
I hear her nagging like that, he said, she drives me toO far, and after seeing my mother who was lying in, she examined
if she goes on I shall end by knocking her teeth in. Fearing the child, it was dressed in a few dirty rags, my p-g-m
lest he do that, my father told him not to go back there, so then said: oh I suppose we shall not dress him in his other
that it was mostly my father who afterwards went ro work cloches till tomorrow. Ah, said my mother, there is nothing
the land. In 1820 my mother gave birth to a daughter named else, lucky to have that. My p-g-m then understood that
Aimee and in 1822 to a boy named Prosper. I shall tell here she had done that knowing that it would be she who would
of the life my mother led with her parems, every day she name him. Filled with deep grief she returned to Aunay
quarrelled with her mother, not a word she said to her that and raId my uncle, who was then sick, all about it; ah,
was not by way of mortifying her, they blamed each other said he, is this to be more of the same, bring the poor little
constantly for fifty thousand things, as witness all who child here, he will not get bad examples. My g-m went to
I, PI ERRE RI\'IERE . . .

the market town and ordered a cap and what was needed of to slander him; that surprises me, said the curate, I took
for dressing the child, the seamstress spent the night making Riviere for a respectal>le person. Finally he said to her,
them, and the next day he was baptized; my father had listen if you lived with him you would have what he has.
returned and asked my mother if one of the children who In the course of the day he saw my father and spoke to
were marc than she could manage should not be taken him of this matter, my father defended himself as best he
away, but she said she wished only the one who had just could and the curare did not put much faith in what my
been born to be taken; well, said my father, we shall t:tke mother had said. At that period there was a house for sa le
him and straight from the church, for it is on the way to beside my mother's houses at Couf\':ludon, she wanted it,
AunaYi when my mother saw that they were abom to but my father saw that they already had more houses th:tn
leave, she sa id to my father: oh I see that you want to leave they needed, and was afraid of rhe result of a lawsuit which
me to starve, and she was no longer willing that it should had just been brought concerning my mother's propenies,
be taken away. At that time my m-g-f was wholly infirm, and so was againsr buying this house, bur my m-g-m bought
he still had some money which he wanted to give my it on her own account and they used the money they had
father, preferring to entrust it to him rather than to his for it. The lawsuit which had JUSt been brought was about
wife and daughter, and that was done. He died in 1826. At a piece of land which my m-g-f had bought from a man
that time, my father wished to have some of his children whose wife had by her marriage contract a dowry of twelve
with himi my sister Aimee had shown a desire to come there, hundred francs encumbering it, and this mortgage had not
moreover my mother demanded grain to feed them, and she been paid off, it became more serious than had at first
sent the miller to get a sack of it; my father said there was been thought, my father and my mother went to consult
bread for his children at his home, they could come and several people who knew the law, and they were warned
cat it, and he gave no grain. Seeing which my mother, know- that they would cenainly be worsted in the suit, it was
ing he was friendly with the curates of Aunay, dressed up generally agreed however that it was robbery.
as a beggar and came to Aunay, she went into my father's This woman had never brought her husband any mar-
house, she accused him of being a wastrel and a lewd person, riage ponion, and as my mother wished to contest the suit,
he kept harlots; you pretend to be devouc, she told him, lawyers whom they consulted at eaen said that if they
but you do not tell your confessor everything, I am going proved that this woman had nor brought in anything she
to see him and tell him about your life; then addressing my could not claim anything, so rhe suit was hcard, but it w:ts
p-g-m she said to her: how wrong you were to bring him soon lost; my father as I have already said had friends,
up in vice like that, how nasty and filthy that is. Hearing they all offered him money to put his affairs in order and
such words, my p-g-m replied: oh what arc you saying, to prevent this land being sold, and he agreed to a com-
get out; well I am going, said my mother. Aly father had position, he had to pay 850 francs in all in costs. ,\I y mother
displayed only his usual mood at all these reproaches, always had an annuity whose redemption provided abour 200 frs,
mild and seeking to justify himself by explaining rhe truth. my father paid the rest, he had to borrow it all, and he was
My mother went straight to the late M. Grellay who was in debt for it for twO years. My p-g-m had an annuity of
then curate at Aunay. She raid him that her husband was 90 francs which her brothers had given her for her mar-
letting her starve to death, she lacked everything, he had riage; they redeemed a third of it, which made up nearly
other women besides her, indeed everything she could think the sum my father owed, so that it was my p-g-m's annuity
I, PI ERRE RI\'IERE . . .

the market town and ordered a cap and what was needed of to slander him; that surprises me, said the curate, I took
for dressing the child, the seamstress spent the night making Riviere for a respectal>le person. Finally he said to her,
them, and the next day he was baptized; my father had listen if you lived with him you would have what he has.
returned and asked my mother if one of the children who In the course of the day he saw my father and spoke to
were marc than she could manage should not be taken him of this matter, my father defended himself as best he
away, but she said she wished only the one who had just could and the curare did not put much faith in what my
been born to be taken; well, said my father, we shall t:tke mother had said. At that period there was a house for sa le
him and straight from the church, for it is on the way to beside my mother's houses at Couf\':ludon, she wanted it,
AunaYi when my mother saw that they were abom to but my father saw that they already had more houses th:tn
leave, she sa id to my father: oh I see that you want to leave they needed, and was afraid of rhe result of a lawsuit which
me to starve, and she was no longer willing that it should had just been brought concerning my mother's propenies,
be taken away. At that time my m-g-f was wholly infirm, and so was againsr buying this house, bur my m-g-m bought
he still had some money which he wanted to give my it on her own account and they used the money they had
father, preferring to entrust it to him rather than to his for it. The lawsuit which had JUSt been brought was about
wife and daughter, and that was done. He died in 1826. At a piece of land which my m-g-f had bought from a man
that time, my father wished to have some of his children whose wife had by her marriage contract a dowry of twelve
with himi my sister Aimee had shown a desire to come there, hundred francs encumbering it, and this mortgage had not
moreover my mother demanded grain to feed them, and she been paid off, it became more serious than had at first
sent the miller to get a sack of it; my father said there was been thought, my father and my mother went to consult
bread for his children at his home, they could come and several people who knew the law, and they were warned
cat it, and he gave no grain. Seeing which my mother, know- that they would cenainly be worsted in the suit, it was
ing he was friendly with the curates of Aunay, dressed up generally agreed however that it was robbery.
as a beggar and came to Aunay, she went into my father's This woman had never brought her husband any mar-
house, she accused him of being a wastrel and a lewd person, riage ponion, and as my mother wished to contest the suit,
he kept harlots; you pretend to be devouc, she told him, lawyers whom they consulted at eaen said that if they
but you do not tell your confessor everything, I am going proved that this woman had nor brought in anything she
to see him and tell him about your life; then addressing my could not claim anything, so rhe suit was hcard, but it w:ts
p-g-m she said to her: how wrong you were to bring him soon lost; my father as I have already said had friends,
up in vice like that, how nasty and filthy that is. Hearing they all offered him money to put his affairs in order and
such words, my p-g-m replied: oh what arc you saying, to prevent this land being sold, and he agreed to a com-
get out; well I am going, said my mother. Aly father had position, he had to pay 850 francs in all in costs. ,\I y mother
displayed only his usual mood at all these reproaches, always had an annuity whose redemption provided abour 200 frs,
mild and seeking to justify himself by explaining rhe truth. my father paid the rest, he had to borrow it all, and he was
My mother went straight to the late M. Grellay who was in debt for it for twO years. My p-g-m had an annuity of
then curate at Aunay. She raid him that her husband was 90 francs which her brothers had given her for her mar-
letting her starve to death, she lacked everything, he had riage; they redeemed a third of it, which made up nearly
other women besides her, indeed everything she could think the sum my father owed, so that it was my p-g-m's annuity
I, PIERRE RIVIERE ..

which was used to payoff my mother's properties. During bought a quarter of thatching straw from her; he had to take
the whole of this suit my mother was very kind {Q my fathcr, a long way round and he had to say that someone had
and from that time until two years ago there were no asked him for some thatching straw, and bought it at
serious quarrels between them. The year after this suit, in such-and-such a price, and my mother said hc could have it
1828 my mother gave birth to a boy named Julc; my sistcr free ... but he paid her and took the straw; for if he had
Aimee and my brother Prosper had come to live with my taken it without this precaution, she would always have
father. The following year my brothcr Jean also came to said that he would not have paid what it was worth; of all
live with him; my sister Victoirc and my brother Jule always the dealings he did for her she maintained that none of them
lived with my mothcr. At this period I went with my was done properly; whcn he bought it was always tOO dear,
farher to do the plowing, and I saw that the quarrels be- when he sold it was always tOO cheap, she flared up in a
tween my g-m and my mother werc still going on, but my rage at every trifle. One day when one of her neighbors
mother got the upper hand over my g-m who was growing had planted some stakes perhaps an inch or two insidc her
feeble, this poor good woman was completely miscrable, land, she rold my fathcr about it; unfortunately enough he
not only did she suffer from the continual quarrels, but said that no great harm was done, she set to abusing him
several persons report having seen my mothcr strike her and gOt into such a fury that she foamed at the mouth. ,
and drag her by the hair. My father never struck my mother come ro the last two years of (hc marriage, beginning in
except for slapping her sometimes in the big quarrels with 1833; my m-g-m was thcn confined to bed with the illness
him she started, of which I shall speak; but he said that if she died of, my mother had a dress made for my sister
he had bcen involved in quarrels like those he would have Vicroire, and as she passed by la F'aucterie every Saturday
been unable to hold back from striking her; my mothcr on the way to sell her buttcr at Aunay, she said as she went
furthermore ordered my sister Victoire never to obey my by that my sister Aimee should also have a dress made for
g-m so that they were lcagued together and both persecuted her; as my sister had enough dresses and my father had no
hcr. She told my father several times that she wished to money to spare, he answcred that therc was no need for the
divide up thc property and retire to one of thc other houscs presenr. Thc following Saturday my mother spcaking to
near, but my father said to her: do I want to dividc it up my p-g-m asked whether it had not been decided to get a
with you, is nOt everything for you? During their quarrels dress made, the answer was no. Ah, that is it, she said, people
my g-m had several times accused my mother of being un- do not mind spending so much on others; and she went off
faithful to her husband and reproached her for taking lovers, saying that, my p-g-m undcrstood that shc was accusing
but my father did not belicve a word of it, he said that my father again of debauchery and adultery; this proved
the troubles she was enduring made her imagine and say to be so the following Saturday, my mother whcn passing
such things. He did everything in his power to try to secure by came to see my father at the barn where hc was threshing
peacc and quiet with my mother, hc bought her cows, and with mc, my father had JUSt made a large shed and had
sold them when necd be, and thcy made up thc accounts finished painting the door as she arrived; ah, said she, you
liard by liard. My mother had a clump of osicr in her take far more trouble over your shed chan your house, have
garden, she sold it; if my father needed some bundles of you decidcd ro give me somc money to pay Bringon;2 my
withies, he paid the price she asked of him; one day he father said: but it is not the custom for me to supply you
A verJ mtllll coin. ( T,lInslllto,'s nott. ) 2 A dfllper .

66
I, PIERRE RIVIERE ..

which was used to payoff my mother's properties. During bought a quarter of thatching straw from her; he had to take
the whole of this suit my mother was very kind {Q my fathcr, a long way round and he had to say that someone had
and from that time until two years ago there were no asked him for some thatching straw, and bought it at
serious quarrels between them. The year after this suit, in such-and-such a price, and my mother said hc could have it
1828 my mother gave birth to a boy named Julc; my sistcr free ... but he paid her and took the straw; for if he had
Aimee and my brother Prosper had come to live with my taken it without this precaution, she would always have
father. The following year my brothcr Jean also came to said that he would not have paid what it was worth; of all
live with him; my sister Victoirc and my brother Jule always the dealings he did for her she maintained that none of them
lived with my mothcr. At this period I went with my was done properly; whcn he bought it was always tOO dear,
farher to do the plowing, and I saw that the quarrels be- when he sold it was always tOO cheap, she flared up in a
tween my g-m and my mother werc still going on, but my rage at every trifle. One day when one of her neighbors
mother got the upper hand over my g-m who was growing had planted some stakes perhaps an inch or two insidc her
feeble, this poor good woman was completely miscrable, land, she rold my fathcr about it; unfortunately enough he
not only did she suffer from the continual quarrels, but said that no great harm was done, she set to abusing him
several persons report having seen my mothcr strike her and gOt into such a fury that she foamed at the mouth. ,
and drag her by the hair. My father never struck my mother come ro the last two years of (hc marriage, beginning in
except for slapping her sometimes in the big quarrels with 1833; my m-g-m was thcn confined to bed with the illness
him she started, of which I shall speak; but he said that if she died of, my mother had a dress made for my sister
he had bcen involved in quarrels like those he would have Vicroire, and as she passed by la F'aucterie every Saturday
been unable to hold back from striking her; my mothcr on the way to sell her buttcr at Aunay, she said as she went
furthermore ordered my sister Victoire never to obey my by that my sister Aimee should also have a dress made for
g-m so that they were lcagued together and both persecuted her; as my sister had enough dresses and my father had no
hcr. She told my father several times that she wished to money to spare, he answcred that therc was no need for the
divide up thc property and retire to one of thc other houscs presenr. Thc following Saturday my mother spcaking to
near, but my father said to her: do I want to dividc it up my p-g-m asked whether it had not been decided to get a
with you, is nOt everything for you? During their quarrels dress made, the answer was no. Ah, that is it, she said, people
my g-m had several times accused my mother of being un- do not mind spending so much on others; and she went off
faithful to her husband and reproached her for taking lovers, saying that, my p-g-m undcrstood that shc was accusing
but my father did not belicve a word of it, he said that my father again of debauchery and adultery; this proved
the troubles she was enduring made her imagine and say to be so the following Saturday, my mother whcn passing
such things. He did everything in his power to try to secure by came to see my father at the barn where hc was threshing
peacc and quiet with my mother, hc bought her cows, and with mc, my father had JUSt made a large shed and had
sold them when necd be, and thcy made up thc accounts finished painting the door as she arrived; ah, said she, you
liard by liard. My mother had a clump of osicr in her take far more trouble over your shed chan your house, have
garden, she sold it; if my father needed some bundles of you decidcd ro give me somc money to pay Bringon;2 my
withies, he paid the price she asked of him; one day he father said: but it is not the custom for me to supply you
A verJ mtllll coin. ( T,lInslllto,'s nott. ) 2 A dfllper .

66
I, PIERRE RIVIERE .. ,

with moncy, give me, she said, what you owe me from the she could easily havc found one if she had wished, bur she
rest of the price of our calf; my father said you know that said that it would do quitc as well outside, my father stablcd
we have reckoned up and it came Out about c\en. ,\I y father it with one of the ncighbors, and thcn he prepared the pig,
had in fact bought a cow from her, and they had made up it was the custom that he should rake in a piece to tastC,
the account to within thirty or fony !Ous,! and my father this time he did not take any. '\Iy mother asked him why;
had also bought a cow for her which he had kept on his if I took any, he said, it would be on my way back to gi\'e
land; as it was sick, he had lost it and he did not rcckon it it to her who has a damn good arse, and thereupon my
against her. i\ty mother said to him: oh yes you would like mother said she thought the same, and my father went away
ro rob me, when you have money on hand you keep it, you at oncc. My mother did nor often go to confession, she had
old villain, you clapped-out old beast, you old whoremaster not taken the Eastcr sacrament for several years, bur since
you would rather support your goodwife, you starve your my father was friendly with the priest at Cou rvaudon she
children to support hers,4 you sow her land and plow it; went to confession, and also spokc to him abour my father,
bur, said my father, I have ro earn my living. i\ly mother accusing him of what I have already said she had reproached
told him, all you want is your fun, she is a forward bitch, him with, and she said that she wallted to come and takc care
she has a damn good arse, Sulpice told me so, you ought of her children whom he was starving to death. Some days
to be ashamcd of yourself, here you havc had my childrcn, later my father saw the priest who told him he had seen
but you must havc your goodwife toO, I want to come and his wife and that shc wished to come and live with him.
look after them, I do not mean to lct you starve them, I My father asked him did she not say some other things
will pur a Stop to your debauches, and she went off. too? Ah as to that, said the priest, we know you well, but
My father rhen told mc with tears in his cyes, I am sorry she wants to be with her children; my father said, I should
I gave so much money for the Champ-Poulain, that was like that too, but now the position is \'ery critical. You see
thc name of the plot of land hc had bought back from my her mother is vcry sick and may perhaps die of it, it would
mother. be better to wait till she is well again, or clse if she is set
In spite of c\crything she had said, she did not fail to on coming, get someone else in to take care of her; the
come and see my father on her way back from the market pricst thought that was right, and my m-g-m's illness
town and tell him to go and kill her pig, for my father was growing worse, she died a fortnight latcr. J\ly father paid
good at killing and salting pigs, and he went [here during what was needed for the funeral, and a few days later he
the wcek, and whcn hc got there he askcd where he should said to my mother, you wanted to come to mc, now there is
put his horse, my mother said there was no place for it, nothing to keep you, you can comc; howe\'er knowing her,
hc made her this proposal: if you wish to stay here, he told
3 1t is shameful 10 spe3k of such matters. but the judges 3nd the her, I will continue to come and do the plowing, and I will
law}'ers ~aid afrennnis that my mother was \'Cry badly truted. sec the do for you as before; no shc said I am going to pur a stop
order by rhe president of the coun obtained by my mother to seeure a
separation. the letter of the cantonal judgc of Villers. sc\'Ctal persons to your almsgiving, my fathcr said to her, YO ll still hold
at Courvalldon al~o said that my mother was a very ill~usccl wife. to your opinion, are you saying that to hurr mc or do you
~ She meant a woman in my father's village, who W:lS left a widow really believe it? But my mother still maintained it was so
with three children, ,he is a \'ery good woman. she owns a few roods
of I3nd and paid my father to work them. and said thar when he had come some time ago to make

68
I, PIERRE RIVIERE .. ,

with moncy, give me, she said, what you owe me from the she could easily havc found one if she had wished, bur she
rest of the price of our calf; my father said you know that said that it would do quitc as well outside, my father stablcd
we have reckoned up and it came Out about c\en. ,\I y father it with one of the ncighbors, and thcn he prepared the pig,
had in fact bought a cow from her, and they had made up it was the custom that he should rake in a piece to tastC,
the account to within thirty or fony !Ous,! and my father this time he did not take any. '\Iy mother asked him why;
had also bought a cow for her which he had kept on his if I took any, he said, it would be on my way back to gi\'e
land; as it was sick, he had lost it and he did not rcckon it it to her who has a damn good arse, and thereupon my
against her. i\ty mother said to him: oh yes you would like mother said she thought the same, and my father went away
ro rob me, when you have money on hand you keep it, you at oncc. My mother did nor often go to confession, she had
old villain, you clapped-out old beast, you old whoremaster not taken the Eastcr sacrament for several years, bur since
you would rather support your goodwife, you starve your my father was friendly with the priest at Cou rvaudon she
children to support hers,4 you sow her land and plow it; went to confession, and also spokc to him abour my father,
bur, said my father, I have ro earn my living. i\ly mother accusing him of what I have already said she had reproached
told him, all you want is your fun, she is a forward bitch, him with, and she said that she wallted to come and takc care
she has a damn good arse, Sulpice told me so, you ought of her children whom he was starving to death. Some days
to be ashamcd of yourself, here you havc had my childrcn, later my father saw the priest who told him he had seen
but you must havc your goodwife toO, I want to come and his wife and that shc wished to come and live with him.
look after them, I do not mean to lct you starve them, I My father asked him did she not say some other things
will pur a Stop to your debauches, and she went off. too? Ah as to that, said the priest, we know you well, but
My father rhen told mc with tears in his cyes, I am sorry she wants to be with her children; my father said, I should
I gave so much money for the Champ-Poulain, that was like that too, but now the position is \'ery critical. You see
thc name of the plot of land hc had bought back from my her mother is vcry sick and may perhaps die of it, it would
mother. be better to wait till she is well again, or clse if she is set
In spite of c\crything she had said, she did not fail to on coming, get someone else in to take care of her; the
come and see my father on her way back from the market pricst thought that was right, and my m-g-m's illness
town and tell him to go and kill her pig, for my father was growing worse, she died a fortnight latcr. J\ly father paid
good at killing and salting pigs, and he went [here during what was needed for the funeral, and a few days later he
the wcek, and whcn hc got there he askcd where he should said to my mother, you wanted to come to mc, now there is
put his horse, my mother said there was no place for it, nothing to keep you, you can comc; howe\'er knowing her,
hc made her this proposal: if you wish to stay here, he told
3 1t is shameful 10 spe3k of such matters. but the judges 3nd the her, I will continue to come and do the plowing, and I will
law}'ers ~aid afrennnis that my mother was \'Cry badly truted. sec the do for you as before; no shc said I am going to pur a stop
order by rhe president of the coun obtained by my mother to seeure a
separation. the letter of the cantonal judgc of Villers. sc\'Ctal persons to your almsgiving, my fathcr said to her, YO ll still hold
at Courvalldon al~o said that my mother was a very ill~usccl wife. to your opinion, are you saying that to hurr mc or do you
~ She meant a woman in my father's village, who W:lS left a widow really believe it? But my mother still maintained it was so
with three children, ,he is a \'ery good woman. she owns a few roods
of I3nd and paid my father to work them. and said thar when he had come some time ago to make

68
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

cider, he had caused her to have to pay for a day more to, to make a bit of money, truly that is ridiculous. I told her,
than need be for thc press, she knew that before he arrived he would sell it if hc wished, ah yes, said she, if he could;
in the morning he had been to fetch his whore,lI she also if you were dealing with some people, I told her, they would
spoke of it in front of my sister Aimee; my sister vainly treat you otherwise, but he makes you another proposal,
begged her in tears to desist from these ideas, and as to her stay on just as you were; ah yes, she said, and then when he
saying that my father had been to fetch that woman that has sold something, he will keep the money, I will not stay
was not true, it was another man from the village Nativel, there. My sister Victoirc appeared to be paying no heed to
who had been to fetch her; my mother replied, if Nativel the arguments I put forward, my father spread it around
went to fetch her he did not do it for nothing, he paid for that he wished to let the land, and then Pierre Ie Comtc
it, poor fool a whole lot of things go on, you do not notice his cousin came to ask him for it, he had land at Ie Bouillon
them. My father told my mother that since she wished to but no houses, he wishcd to set himself up and said that
come to him, they would have to let the land on lease; she that would suit him, my mother was quite willing, the
did not intcnd to do that, she said that they would leave price was agreed in her presence, and she received the wine;
the two girls there, they would see to the housework and this man leased all the plowing land as well as the meadow,
feed the animals; so that my mother was thinking she would with the main part of the prcmises in which my mother
come and go and would collect the money for the whole lived, two rooms, a loft, and a byre, the whole from roof to
lot; she was not content with enjoying the control of her foundation, for 250 francs a year with 50 francs' worth of
property all sown and tilled as it was, but she wanted to wine which he supplied free, the lease was for nine years,
manage my father's too, and she would not let him have his it stipulated that the tenant would fertilize the land in
way in anything at all, not even drink without her per- accordance with local usage, that he would be responsible
mission, a quart on Sundays with his friends; my fathcr for the upkeep of the houses, that he would replace any trees
said that the girls would not be respectable if they stayed which decayed with good ones, that he should have so
like that alone in a house, she should choose either to much straw on entering on occupation and that he would
conrinue staying there as before or that the land should leave the same amount, that he would have a felling of wood
be let, he asked her whether she would rather it should be two years before the end of the lease. There remained two
let as a whole or in plots, she said shc would rather it was main houses for letting which could bring in 60 francs.
let to a single tenant. As my father had enough furniture at Within a fortnight my mother no longer approved, she said
Aunay, he said to her that the furniturc at Courvaudon it was too cheap, and whenever my father went to Cour-
might be sold, she said she did not wish her furniture to be vaudon, for my mothcr was to stay there until Michaelmas
sold, well, said my father, it will not be sold. Some days when the tenant was to take occupancy, she told him that
later I went there to break up some wood at midday, she the contract must be cancelled, that her daughter was
mistook what I was doing, saying: oh he wanted to sell continually weeping and did not want to leave; my father
our furniture, it was doubtless his mother who advised him asked my sister if that was true, she said no. Seeing that my
mother still wanted to cancel the contract, my father spoke
S When my father went to work at CourV3udon he took aU the to the tenant, and they both went to see my mother and
tools in a can so as to have time to set everything to rights and then
had to travel a league, so that he did not get there till after daybreak. took their leases to her, then my father said to her, you can

7'
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

cider, he had caused her to have to pay for a day more to, to make a bit of money, truly that is ridiculous. I told her,
than need be for thc press, she knew that before he arrived he would sell it if hc wished, ah yes, said she, if he could;
in the morning he had been to fetch his whore,lI she also if you were dealing with some people, I told her, they would
spoke of it in front of my sister Aimee; my sister vainly treat you otherwise, but he makes you another proposal,
begged her in tears to desist from these ideas, and as to her stay on just as you were; ah yes, she said, and then when he
saying that my father had been to fetch that woman that has sold something, he will keep the money, I will not stay
was not true, it was another man from the village Nativel, there. My sister Victoirc appeared to be paying no heed to
who had been to fetch her; my mother replied, if Nativel the arguments I put forward, my father spread it around
went to fetch her he did not do it for nothing, he paid for that he wished to let the land, and then Pierre Ie Comtc
it, poor fool a whole lot of things go on, you do not notice his cousin came to ask him for it, he had land at Ie Bouillon
them. My father told my mother that since she wished to but no houses, he wishcd to set himself up and said that
come to him, they would have to let the land on lease; she that would suit him, my mother was quite willing, the
did not intcnd to do that, she said that they would leave price was agreed in her presence, and she received the wine;
the two girls there, they would see to the housework and this man leased all the plowing land as well as the meadow,
feed the animals; so that my mother was thinking she would with the main part of the prcmises in which my mother
come and go and would collect the money for the whole lived, two rooms, a loft, and a byre, the whole from roof to
lot; she was not content with enjoying the control of her foundation, for 250 francs a year with 50 francs' worth of
property all sown and tilled as it was, but she wanted to wine which he supplied free, the lease was for nine years,
manage my father's too, and she would not let him have his it stipulated that the tenant would fertilize the land in
way in anything at all, not even drink without her per- accordance with local usage, that he would be responsible
mission, a quart on Sundays with his friends; my fathcr for the upkeep of the houses, that he would replace any trees
said that the girls would not be respectable if they stayed which decayed with good ones, that he should have so
like that alone in a house, she should choose either to much straw on entering on occupation and that he would
conrinue staying there as before or that the land should leave the same amount, that he would have a felling of wood
be let, he asked her whether she would rather it should be two years before the end of the lease. There remained two
let as a whole or in plots, she said shc would rather it was main houses for letting which could bring in 60 francs.
let to a single tenant. As my father had enough furniture at Within a fortnight my mother no longer approved, she said
Aunay, he said to her that the furniturc at Courvaudon it was too cheap, and whenever my father went to Cour-
might be sold, she said she did not wish her furniture to be vaudon, for my mothcr was to stay there until Michaelmas
sold, well, said my father, it will not be sold. Some days when the tenant was to take occupancy, she told him that
later I went there to break up some wood at midday, she the contract must be cancelled, that her daughter was
mistook what I was doing, saying: oh he wanted to sell continually weeping and did not want to leave; my father
our furniture, it was doubtless his mother who advised him asked my sister if that was true, she said no. Seeing that my
mother still wanted to cancel the contract, my father spoke
S When my father went to work at CourV3udon he took aU the to the tenant, and they both went to see my mother and
tools in a can so as to have time to set everything to rights and then
had to travel a league, so that he did not get there till after daybreak. took their leases to her, then my father said to her, you can

7'
I, PIERRE RIYIER . , ,

cancel the contract if you wish, here arc the two deeds, but him saying that he was not able to PUt her our, that angered
rake warning that I shall not come back here again, you him and made him even more determined to hold to his
shall manage as beSt you please; my mother would nor cancel contract, and as my mother was still afraid, she had se\'eral
the Contracts, she said neither yes nor no, and my farher uees pruned in the month of August fcaring that he mioht
went off wirh the tenant taking their deeds with them; but take a~vantage of this; he came and informed my father
my mother persisted in saying that she would never leave about It;. but what could he do about it, he begged him to
her home. One day when I was there talking to my sister, I release hIm from the comraCt; but this tenant thought that
tOld her among other things that she would not be there a my father and my mQ[her were in agreement to withdraw
year hence, why will I not be here she said, we shall see from it; they are in agreement, he said, but they will not pull
whether Pierre Ie Comte will turn us Out of our house' wool over my eyes . .'tichaelmas came, my father wern to
bur, r said to her, he will certainly compel papa to turn you see this tenant. He offered him as much money as he wanted,
out. All, she said if papa did that to us, mama would always severa l persons went with my father and also pleaded for
hold it against him she would do all she could to harm him, :It laSt he made up his mind to give up the contract,
him; as r thought that the tenant would not compel my on condition that they drew up a deed stipulating that my
father, I answered my siste r: but if you stay there how will father would not lease to others, but the following Sunday
you fare, your papa will not go there any more to work the he came to say that he was going back on the arrangement,
land? 'Veil, she said, we will hire hands, if he had not my father then said to him: you can do what YOll like to
come back fifteen years ago all of us would have been happy, me, I shall not budge even if YOll ruin me. But what do YOll
mama was in no hurry for it. My father hoped that the expect me to do then, he answered, hey cousin' have you
tenant would not compel him, and it was then the beginning no head on your shoulders, and he well[ off saying that he
of the harvest; seeing that my mother persisted in wanting would see what to do about it and he registered his lease that
to stay, when she came to him and asked whether he wou ld week and showed it to my father who seeing that hc was
not bring in the grain, if you wish to have it brought here, behaving like this decided to go and remo\'c the furniture,
he said to her, I will go there; since thar was not agreeable Before that he went to see my mother and took with him
to her, she said several things and went away and my Franrrois Ie Comte of Courvaudon who was an ac<]uaint-
father said to her, away with you, you miserable old idiot; ance of my mother's to try to bring her to reason. It was
when she had gone. never, said he, have I said as much as all in vain, she said that no one should put her our, [hat
that to her. About that time my father made a journey to she would rather fight to the death. A few days later we
la Dclivrande and took with him my brother Prosper who left with the carr to go and fetch some pieces of furniture,
had bad eyes; my sister Victoire had shown some intenrion there were three of us, my father, Foucher with whom we
of going there, my father went to let her know, oh, she shared horses and I; as he passed by, my father asked the
said, we have no time to go running around, who will assistant to the mayor of the commune to come with him
work our land. My mother hired hands to get her harvest to remonstrate with her, and he came, he said he would
in, But the tenant who had leased the land seemed disposed not show himself in case she said nothing; when we gOt
to want ro hold to his contract, they talked with each there my father began by loading grain which was in sacks,
other somctimes, my mother and the tenant, and she defied 'That was what he customarily called him.

7' 73
I, PIERRE RIYIER . , ,

cancel the contract if you wish, here arc the two deeds, but him saying that he was not able to PUt her our, that angered
rake warning that I shall not come back here again, you him and made him even more determined to hold to his
shall manage as beSt you please; my mother would nor cancel contract, and as my mother was still afraid, she had se\'eral
the Contracts, she said neither yes nor no, and my farher uees pruned in the month of August fcaring that he mioht
went off wirh the tenant taking their deeds with them; but take a~vantage of this; he came and informed my father
my mother persisted in saying that she would never leave about It;. but what could he do about it, he begged him to
her home. One day when I was there talking to my sister, I release hIm from the comraCt; but this tenant thought that
tOld her among other things that she would not be there a my father and my mQ[her were in agreement to withdraw
year hence, why will I not be here she said, we shall see from it; they are in agreement, he said, but they will not pull
whether Pierre Ie Comte will turn us Out of our house' wool over my eyes . .'tichaelmas came, my father wern to
bur, r said to her, he will certainly compel papa to turn you see this tenant. He offered him as much money as he wanted,
out. All, she said if papa did that to us, mama would always severa l persons went with my father and also pleaded for
hold it against him she would do all she could to harm him, :It laSt he made up his mind to give up the contract,
him; as r thought that the tenant would not compel my on condition that they drew up a deed stipulating that my
father, I answered my siste r: but if you stay there how will father would not lease to others, but the following Sunday
you fare, your papa will not go there any more to work the he came to say that he was going back on the arrangement,
land? 'Veil, she said, we will hire hands, if he had not my father then said to him: you can do what YOll like to
come back fifteen years ago all of us would have been happy, me, I shall not budge even if YOll ruin me. But what do YOll
mama was in no hurry for it. My father hoped that the expect me to do then, he answered, hey cousin' have you
tenant would not compel him, and it was then the beginning no head on your shoulders, and he well[ off saying that he
of the harvest; seeing that my mother persisted in wanting would see what to do about it and he registered his lease that
to stay, when she came to him and asked whether he wou ld week and showed it to my father who seeing that hc was
not bring in the grain, if you wish to have it brought here, behaving like this decided to go and remo\'c the furniture,
he said to her, I will go there; since thar was not agreeable Before that he went to see my mother and took with him
to her, she said several things and went away and my Franrrois Ie Comte of Courvaudon who was an ac<]uaint-
father said to her, away with you, you miserable old idiot; ance of my mother's to try to bring her to reason. It was
when she had gone. never, said he, have I said as much as all in vain, she said that no one should put her our, [hat
that to her. About that time my father made a journey to she would rather fight to the death. A few days later we
la Dclivrande and took with him my brother Prosper who left with the carr to go and fetch some pieces of furniture,
had bad eyes; my sister Victoire had shown some intenrion there were three of us, my father, Foucher with whom we
of going there, my father went to let her know, oh, she shared horses and I; as he passed by, my father asked the
said, we have no time to go running around, who will assistant to the mayor of the commune to come with him
work our land. My mother hired hands to get her harvest to remonstrate with her, and he came, he said he would
in, But the tenant who had leased the land seemed disposed not show himself in case she said nothing; when we gOt
to want ro hold to his contract, they talked with each there my father began by loading grain which was in sacks,
other somctimes, my mother and the tenant, and she defied 'That was what he customarily called him.

7' 73
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

my mother said nothing and the assistant went away. My and crushed her, I said to her, but why did you join in too,
father asked for rhe key of a loft, and when she refused, do you not know all the things she has invented against
he took a chest which was in the house, my mother ob- him? She answered me: she has nor invented a rhing; my
jected; then he held her while I loaded it with the man father, with Fouchet, also spoke to her, he told her to advise
who was with us. As he held her she set to scratching his my mother to come to him instead of holding her back and
face and bit him in several places, my little brother Jule she replied that she continually advised her everyday to go
coming up, she told him: bite him, bite that wretch, my with him but could make no impression on her. My father
father told me he gOt his fingers in his mouth but did not also asked the thresher who was there if he was owed any-
dare clench his teeth on them; but seeing thac the child thing, he answered no. The next day my mother came to
was worrying him, I caught hold of him and carried him take back her cow, my father objected, she uttered several
into a neighboring house, we finished loading and went bad words against him and went on to say: you carried off
off. In the afternoon we went back, as we arrived the the chest, you thought you were carrying off the money
whole village came am of their doors, my mother set to but you shall not have it. Then addressing my g-m: you told
arguing, and my father climbed in a window to get into a him to come and rob me, it is your good virgin I alll sure
loft, then she seized him by the legs and pulled him down, who advised you to do that. And she went off at once to see
brOKe his watch-chain and fOre his clothes, he did not strike the canronal judge of Villers, who believed her and sent my
her at all, bllt he said he would shut her up in a house to father a letter drawn up in these terms: your wife com
keep her quiet, he caught hold of her to carry her away, plains that you went with carts yesterday to the residence
but her hands were free and she scratched him again even at which her late mother died whose sole and single heir
worse than the first time, then he seized her hands to take she is, rhat you removed the grain, cows, and furniture of
her into that house and she fell down purposely; he did not all kinds. It is my opinion that your wife was entitled to
drag her, as she said, but he tried to get her on her feet have an inventory made of the movable property in this
to take her there, my sister joined in to stop my father, estate and that you were not entitled to seize them without
and seeing that she was hindering him, I pulled her away any legal formalities, the more so because you were on
and slapped her several times while my father took my bad terms with her because you dragged her away by the
mother off, she was shouting and so was my sister: ven- arms and hands because she opposed your breaking and
geance, he is murdering me, he is killing me, vengeance entering. It is cerrain that if she laid an information against
my god vengeance. Once they were in the house, one of you she would obtain legal redress for the injuries committed
her cousins came and remonstrated with her, telling her by you against her. In order to avoid unpleasantness which
that she would do far better ro help us load and go with is always to be deplored between husband and wife' invite
her husband than do all these things. And that calmed you to come to my office at Lande at nine o'clock in the
her down a little. J\ ly father was so exhausted when he gOt morning on Sunday next to make an amicable settlement.
to his house chat he was spitting blood. He returned to Or else go to the cantonal judge of your commune who I
continue loading, my mother rook away some other things believe is likely to summons you and bring you to reason.
he wanted to carry off, he took some others instead and we My mother taking this letter showed it to the cantonal
went off. I spoke to my sister, she said that r had mistreated judge of Aunay, and thereafter came and gave it to my

74 75
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

my mother said nothing and the assistant went away. My and crushed her, I said to her, but why did you join in too,
father asked for rhe key of a loft, and when she refused, do you not know all the things she has invented against
he took a chest which was in the house, my mother ob- him? She answered me: she has nor invented a rhing; my
jected; then he held her while I loaded it with the man father, with Fouchet, also spoke to her, he told her to advise
who was with us. As he held her she set to scratching his my mother to come to him instead of holding her back and
face and bit him in several places, my little brother Jule she replied that she continually advised her everyday to go
coming up, she told him: bite him, bite that wretch, my with him but could make no impression on her. My father
father told me he gOt his fingers in his mouth but did not also asked the thresher who was there if he was owed any-
dare clench his teeth on them; but seeing thac the child thing, he answered no. The next day my mother came to
was worrying him, I caught hold of him and carried him take back her cow, my father objected, she uttered several
into a neighboring house, we finished loading and went bad words against him and went on to say: you carried off
off. In the afternoon we went back, as we arrived the the chest, you thought you were carrying off the money
whole village came am of their doors, my mother set to but you shall not have it. Then addressing my g-m: you told
arguing, and my father climbed in a window to get into a him to come and rob me, it is your good virgin I alll sure
loft, then she seized him by the legs and pulled him down, who advised you to do that. And she went off at once to see
brOKe his watch-chain and fOre his clothes, he did not strike the canronal judge of Villers, who believed her and sent my
her at all, bllt he said he would shut her up in a house to father a letter drawn up in these terms: your wife com
keep her quiet, he caught hold of her to carry her away, plains that you went with carts yesterday to the residence
but her hands were free and she scratched him again even at which her late mother died whose sole and single heir
worse than the first time, then he seized her hands to take she is, rhat you removed the grain, cows, and furniture of
her into that house and she fell down purposely; he did not all kinds. It is my opinion that your wife was entitled to
drag her, as she said, but he tried to get her on her feet have an inventory made of the movable property in this
to take her there, my sister joined in to stop my father, estate and that you were not entitled to seize them without
and seeing that she was hindering him, I pulled her away any legal formalities, the more so because you were on
and slapped her several times while my father took my bad terms with her because you dragged her away by the
mother off, she was shouting and so was my sister: ven- arms and hands because she opposed your breaking and
geance, he is murdering me, he is killing me, vengeance entering. It is cerrain that if she laid an information against
my god vengeance. Once they were in the house, one of you she would obtain legal redress for the injuries committed
her cousins came and remonstrated with her, telling her by you against her. In order to avoid unpleasantness which
that she would do far better ro help us load and go with is always to be deplored between husband and wife' invite
her husband than do all these things. And that calmed you to come to my office at Lande at nine o'clock in the
her down a little. J\ ly father was so exhausted when he gOt morning on Sunday next to make an amicable settlement.
to his house chat he was spitting blood. He returned to Or else go to the cantonal judge of your commune who I
continue loading, my mother rook away some other things believe is likely to summons you and bring you to reason.
he wanted to carry off, he took some others instead and we My mother taking this letter showed it to the cantonal
went off. I spoke to my sister, she said that r had mistreated judge of Aunay, and thereafter came and gave it to my

74 75
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

father, who was preparing to go and fetch the calf which entered into occupation and harvested the wheat, my father
was nOt sold, and he went to fetch it in the tip-cart, but also harvested his, and when at last he did not have so much
when he got there and my mothcr made furthcr objections, work to do he decided to hand ovcr rhe houses. Before
he returned without bringing anything with him, my mother that he told the tenant that he should go and see the cantonal
went and sold it two days later at Villers with her thresher. judge at Villers and ask him ro summon both his wife and
The cantonal judge of Alinay who had seen the letter said himself, but the judge replied that he had already written
when speaking to M. Riviere postmaster at Aunay and to ro the man and that he had not seen him, thar he believed
his brother: what the de\'il, this surprises me, I did not take that his wife was in the right and she stated a good case.
Riviere for a fellow like that; but they told him what the That since he had let his propeny, he could compel him
position was. Since it is a husband's duty to live with his to hand it over and demand compensation from him for
wife, when my father told the priest of Aunay that the what he had not enjoyed. This tenant replied that he did
tenant refused to cancel the contract, he had said he was not wam [Q put him to expense. \Vcll, said the judge, rhen
very glad to hear it. Then my father went to see the priest what are you asking for? And he left it at that. Some days
and showed him his face, ah, said the priest how I pity you later my father went with him to empty a house for him,
my poor Riviere. He also showcd him the Jetter he had re- and he said to my mother, would you like us, my father
ceived. The priest gave him a letter to go and consult a said to her, to put the furniture in your other houses which
lawyer of his acquaintance at Conde, Maitre D:wou. My are not let, you shall retire to them and you shall receive
father took his contract to him, and because of a clause the whole income from your property, bur she said no and
which appears in what I have said of it, he told him that it the furniture should be put out; what do you mean by OUf,
would be as well for him to draw up an inventory of the said my father, and what will come of that. But she in-
furniture. My father asked him how to do it, and he said: sisted that it should be put Out; when it was done he said
let your wife make the valuation herself. i\ly father had not to her, do you want it taken into the other houses, no, she
been able to explain his position to him, it may be judged by said; then my father shut up the house which had JUSt been
what I have already said of it whether this advice could be emptied, and went off with the tenant. But no sooner had
carried out. My father asked him how he could make her they gone when my mother and my sister put all the fur-
come to live with him, he told him: the national guard, if niture back inside, and my sister said as they put it in: no
the mayor was willing, or else the gendarmerie would see doubt they did that for fear we would not have enough
to the formalities. My father did not have time to go and work to do. During the week my father decided to take
see the cantonal judge at Villers on the Sunday, he was the mayor's assistant and some respectable persons with him
busy setting up boundary stones with one of his neighbors. and a locksmith, and to go and break the locks, empty the
The wheat had to be got in and the harvest was at its height. houses, shut them up, and take away all the furnirure. On
My father had no time to go and dispute and wrangle; he the night before the day on which he was to do all that,
made an inventory of the trees for the tenant, agreed that he wondered whether the tenant was still willing to make
he might fell the wood in the last year of the lease for the a settlement, for if he reimbursed him for all he had done and
trees which my mother had had cur, and gave him the paid compensation besides he would still be bener off than if
manure for the straw which he had agreed, so this tenant he compelled her to come to live with him. In the morning

77
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

father, who was preparing to go and fetch the calf which entered into occupation and harvested the wheat, my father
was nOt sold, and he went to fetch it in the tip-cart, but also harvested his, and when at last he did not have so much
when he got there and my mothcr made furthcr objections, work to do he decided to hand ovcr rhe houses. Before
he returned without bringing anything with him, my mother that he told the tenant that he should go and see the cantonal
went and sold it two days later at Villers with her thresher. judge at Villers and ask him ro summon both his wife and
The cantonal judge of Alinay who had seen the letter said himself, but the judge replied that he had already written
when speaking to M. Riviere postmaster at Aunay and to ro the man and that he had not seen him, thar he believed
his brother: what the de\'il, this surprises me, I did not take that his wife was in the right and she stated a good case.
Riviere for a fellow like that; but they told him what the That since he had let his propeny, he could compel him
position was. Since it is a husband's duty to live with his to hand it over and demand compensation from him for
wife, when my father told the priest of Aunay that the what he had not enjoyed. This tenant replied that he did
tenant refused to cancel the contract, he had said he was not wam [Q put him to expense. \Vcll, said the judge, rhen
very glad to hear it. Then my father went to see the priest what are you asking for? And he left it at that. Some days
and showed him his face, ah, said the priest how I pity you later my father went with him to empty a house for him,
my poor Riviere. He also showcd him the Jetter he had re- and he said to my mother, would you like us, my father
ceived. The priest gave him a letter to go and consult a said to her, to put the furniture in your other houses which
lawyer of his acquaintance at Conde, Maitre D:wou. My are not let, you shall retire to them and you shall receive
father took his contract to him, and because of a clause the whole income from your property, bur she said no and
which appears in what I have said of it, he told him that it the furniture should be put out; what do you mean by OUf,
would be as well for him to draw up an inventory of the said my father, and what will come of that. But she in-
furniture. My father asked him how to do it, and he said: sisted that it should be put Out; when it was done he said
let your wife make the valuation herself. i\ly father had not to her, do you want it taken into the other houses, no, she
been able to explain his position to him, it may be judged by said; then my father shut up the house which had JUSt been
what I have already said of it whether this advice could be emptied, and went off with the tenant. But no sooner had
carried out. My father asked him how he could make her they gone when my mother and my sister put all the fur-
come to live with him, he told him: the national guard, if niture back inside, and my sister said as they put it in: no
the mayor was willing, or else the gendarmerie would see doubt they did that for fear we would not have enough
to the formalities. My father did not have time to go and work to do. During the week my father decided to take
see the cantonal judge at Villers on the Sunday, he was the mayor's assistant and some respectable persons with him
busy setting up boundary stones with one of his neighbors. and a locksmith, and to go and break the locks, empty the
The wheat had to be got in and the harvest was at its height. houses, shut them up, and take away all the furnirure. On
My father had no time to go and dispute and wrangle; he the night before the day on which he was to do all that,
made an inventory of the trees for the tenant, agreed that he wondered whether the tenant was still willing to make
he might fell the wood in the last year of the lease for the a settlement, for if he reimbursed him for all he had done and
trees which my mother had had cur, and gave him the paid compensation besides he would still be bener off than if
manure for the straw which he had agreed, so this tenant he compelled her to come to live with him. In the morning

77
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

he told us what he intended and told me that he was still judge of Aunay and he summoned both of them to a re-
going through with it, and I should take the cart to the conciliation hearing, he remonstrated strongly with my
tenant's village, and if he made the settlement we should mother to no avail, she said she would think it over, she
go no farther and the tenant consented to this. They went and consulted Franc;ois Ic Conne at Courvaudon who
reckoned up all he had done. The land he had sown, the tried his best to bring her back to her duty, he told her
wine he had given, the registration of the lease, that all that she might set her mind at rcst, her husband would leave
added up to the sum of 119 francs and that much again for her to herself; she had seemed to have made up her mind,
cancelling the conrract, which made 238 francs; then the but one day she said to him that her daughter told her that
tcnant cancclled the leasc, and gave him a deed which the he would still have the right to come and plunder her some
mayor's assistant wrote out, saying that he cancelled the other time, and she wished to take out insurance, Le Comte
con{~act. I\1y poor father truly believed that he was quit, said to her: it will cost you moncy. \Vell, she said, if it puts
hc did not have the money, he went and borrowed it from me to expense he will be put to expense tOO, and that week
I-lebert, onc of his neighbors. r am tranquil now, however, she went to Vire, she returned with nothing done, but she
he said, let all my children come and kiss me, let her remain told those who inquired about her journey that it would
on her property as long as she wishes. All r wanted was the be time enough six months hence, and that she would eat up
poor linle fcllow 7 to stay on here, for as for the othet she all my father's property if she wanted. Then shc set about
is at the age of discrction. About a month later, my mother running up debts for him. She usually bought articles for
came to see him and said to him: now that you have played her own and my sister's dresses from Mme. Aod at Aunay.
all your stupid tricks, r have come to find out when you arc She had always duly paid for them, now shc no longer paid.
really going to give me back what you have takcn from The thresher whom my father had asked whether there was
me and let me have the management of my property; my any money owed to him came to see him at this time and
father answcred, you can be at rest now, your wheat is wid him that my mother refused w pay him twelve francs
in, you still have a cow, you are not in need,' leave me in she owed him, it was the same man who had pruned the
peace, yo~ need no longer fear I shall return to you; my uees. My father was somewhat surprised at this, then he
mother said, r want my land back, my father said I will said that it was not right that he should lose his money,
give it back to you if you are also willing to return what and he would go and see my mother with him and if she
I paid for you; but she said, and has always said since, would not pay him, he should take the cow and sell it to
that it was not true that my father had paid thc tenam get his pay; on the agreed day he went there and found
compensation, that they had agreed togcther to put her our, the threshcr in the house, and my mother and my sister in
tbat my fathcr made hcr get in the wheat, he had made her the byre one each side of the cow, thereupon he said a few
registcr the lease, and the deed they had made when he words to my mother, then he told thc thresher to get his
cancelled the contraCt with my father for so much money payment how he would. This man summoned him to a
was nothing but a put-up job. She went to sec the camonal conciliation hearing before the cantonal judge, bur my
mother went there too. Thc judge spoke only to her,' he
THe meant my brother Jule.
~
It is eertain that my mother had plenty of money. it COSt her 8 This judge conversing one day with Illy father ashd him whether
nothing to get her work done. and she had always sold various things. his wife was not an evil-liver and whether she did nOt love other men

7 79
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

he told us what he intended and told me that he was still judge of Aunay and he summoned both of them to a re-
going through with it, and I should take the cart to the conciliation hearing, he remonstrated strongly with my
tenant's village, and if he made the settlement we should mother to no avail, she said she would think it over, she
go no farther and the tenant consented to this. They went and consulted Franc;ois Ic Conne at Courvaudon who
reckoned up all he had done. The land he had sown, the tried his best to bring her back to her duty, he told her
wine he had given, the registration of the lease, that all that she might set her mind at rcst, her husband would leave
added up to the sum of 119 francs and that much again for her to herself; she had seemed to have made up her mind,
cancelling the conrract, which made 238 francs; then the but one day she said to him that her daughter told her that
tcnant cancclled the leasc, and gave him a deed which the he would still have the right to come and plunder her some
mayor's assistant wrote out, saying that he cancelled the other time, and she wished to take out insurance, Le Comte
con{~act. I\1y poor father truly believed that he was quit, said to her: it will cost you moncy. \Vell, she said, if it puts
hc did not have the money, he went and borrowed it from me to expense he will be put to expense tOO, and that week
I-lebert, onc of his neighbors. r am tranquil now, however, she went to Vire, she returned with nothing done, but she
he said, let all my children come and kiss me, let her remain told those who inquired about her journey that it would
on her property as long as she wishes. All r wanted was the be time enough six months hence, and that she would eat up
poor linle fcllow 7 to stay on here, for as for the othet she all my father's property if she wanted. Then shc set about
is at the age of discrction. About a month later, my mother running up debts for him. She usually bought articles for
came to see him and said to him: now that you have played her own and my sister's dresses from Mme. Aod at Aunay.
all your stupid tricks, r have come to find out when you arc She had always duly paid for them, now shc no longer paid.
really going to give me back what you have takcn from The thresher whom my father had asked whether there was
me and let me have the management of my property; my any money owed to him came to see him at this time and
father answcred, you can be at rest now, your wheat is wid him that my mother refused w pay him twelve francs
in, you still have a cow, you are not in need,' leave me in she owed him, it was the same man who had pruned the
peace, yo~ need no longer fear I shall return to you; my uees. My father was somewhat surprised at this, then he
mother said, r want my land back, my father said I will said that it was not right that he should lose his money,
give it back to you if you are also willing to return what and he would go and see my mother with him and if she
I paid for you; but she said, and has always said since, would not pay him, he should take the cow and sell it to
that it was not true that my father had paid thc tenam get his pay; on the agreed day he went there and found
compensation, that they had agreed togcther to put her our, the threshcr in the house, and my mother and my sister in
tbat my fathcr made hcr get in the wheat, he had made her the byre one each side of the cow, thereupon he said a few
registcr the lease, and the deed they had made when he words to my mother, then he told thc thresher to get his
cancelled the contraCt with my father for so much money payment how he would. This man summoned him to a
was nothing but a put-up job. She went to sec the camonal conciliation hearing before the cantonal judge, bur my
mother went there too. Thc judge spoke only to her,' he
THe meant my brother Jule.
~
It is eertain that my mother had plenty of money. it COSt her 8 This judge conversing one day with Illy father ashd him whether
nothing to get her work done. and she had always sold various things. his wife was not an evil-liver and whether she did nOt love other men

7 79
1, PIERRE RI\'I.ERE . . .

remonstrated with her again and said that she would do far passed by she asked him if he would corne soon to get in the
bettcr to go and li\'e with her husband, and she said that barley. He asked her if she thought he was stupid enough
she would come [Q him, and my father paid the rhresher. to go [Q so much trouble for someone who only sought
J\ly morher complained at this hearing that my father neg~ to vex hilll; well, my mother told him, you do that but it
lected working her land so as to work other people's.lo will not be twelve francs this time you will find, you will
The bystanders who heard these words turned them to find it is more than that, my father sa id to her, but if you
ridicule. They understood them in (WO ways, and my run up debts for me I shall come b:lck and fetch some
father thus becamt: the butt of the people's mockery. Marie pieces of furniture to pay them. \Vell, said she, we shall see.
Fortain said to him: oh I beg you do not appear before the And she went off. Fearing leSt she put her threats into
cantonal judge again when she summons you, people mock practice, my father went to consult a lawyer at Caen j\ Iaitre
at it so. My father went back to work at Courvaudon since Beaucher, to ask whether he could not advertise that no one
my mother said that she would come [Q live with him. should give her anything on credit or they would lose it
He asked her when she would come, oh soon, she said; so far as he was concerned. This lawyer cold him that that
thereupon my sister speaking up said [Q him: oh I shaH go would be dcfamacory, he would do better to make her
inca service on Saint Claire's day I shall, and she did not corne and live with him. i\ly father told him some of wh:u
venture ra say what she meant, at last she said: oh do you the position was. It is very unfortunate, he replied, bur
think we shall go there under your orders; my father keep- go and fetch her furniture one day when you know she
ing his temper said ra her/ I you said it was not you who is not there. My father left and went to consult another
were holding back your mother but T see that you are lawyer Maitre Pouillier; this lawyer raid him he must do
as bad as she is; it is nor me, she said, who made her come it in legal form and present a petition to the court to make
back fifteen years ago, it is you who should have left her her come and live with him, it was as much as to say he
in peace and stayed where you were at that time. My must have the devil ra Jive with him, and my father left
mother also said some words which revealed to my father it at that, he only warned the laborer who asked him
that she had no intention of leaving. Some days later as she whether it would not vex him if he worked for her: work
there as mueh as you like, my father told him, but do not
than him. Mv father said: no, that I have not suspected her of. It sur- count on me for your pay. He also warned i\lme. Aod
prises me, said the judge that ),ou tell me that she h:as no religion, that to whom she already owed 4S francs not to let her have
the w:lf ~he is she docs not love you, and yet she is no evil-Ih'er; my anything more without getting paid for it; but my mother
father said : 1 do not think so. hut she dOC'S not say the same of me; ah, so
that is it, said the judge. she is jealous. used more than one shop, and besides she bought from the
10 Some days before. when my mother w:as threatening to run up drapers who passed through her village, she bought grain
debts, my father had gone to Ie Bouillon, he had spoken to my sister and resold it, she raid a draper, Le Raux of COllrvalldon
who had told him that since he was leaving them like that my Illother
would run up an infinity of debts. she would borrow right and left and from who she wished to buy three or four cotton caps: tell
get everything she nC'Cded on -:redit. ,\1)' father said [0 her: but why my husband that lowe you twelve francs and you shall
did she nOt come to me when I wanted her [0, she all5wered she dOC'S not give me the rcst. This man would not let her have her caps,
want to Ike with her motherin-law. she wants to be in a sepan.te house:
and to put all our things in it.
she said the same to a woman shopkeeper whose name r
II Ask M. Fouehet. have forgotten. \ Vhile she was doing all these things, my

80 8,
1, PIERRE RI\'I.ERE . . .

remonstrated with her again and said that she would do far passed by she asked him if he would corne soon to get in the
bettcr to go and li\'e with her husband, and she said that barley. He asked her if she thought he was stupid enough
she would come [Q him, and my father paid the rhresher. to go [Q so much trouble for someone who only sought
J\ly morher complained at this hearing that my father neg~ to vex hilll; well, my mother told him, you do that but it
lected working her land so as to work other people's.lo will not be twelve francs this time you will find, you will
The bystanders who heard these words turned them to find it is more than that, my father sa id to her, but if you
ridicule. They understood them in (WO ways, and my run up debts for me I shall come b:lck and fetch some
father thus becamt: the butt of the people's mockery. Marie pieces of furniture to pay them. \Vell, said she, we shall see.
Fortain said to him: oh I beg you do not appear before the And she went off. Fearing leSt she put her threats into
cantonal judge again when she summons you, people mock practice, my father went to consult a lawyer at Caen j\ Iaitre
at it so. My father went back to work at Courvaudon since Beaucher, to ask whether he could not advertise that no one
my mother said that she would come [Q live with him. should give her anything on credit or they would lose it
He asked her when she would come, oh soon, she said; so far as he was concerned. This lawyer cold him that that
thereupon my sister speaking up said [Q him: oh I shaH go would be dcfamacory, he would do better to make her
inca service on Saint Claire's day I shall, and she did not corne and live with him. i\ly father told him some of wh:u
venture ra say what she meant, at last she said: oh do you the position was. It is very unfortunate, he replied, bur
think we shall go there under your orders; my father keep- go and fetch her furniture one day when you know she
ing his temper said ra her/ I you said it was not you who is not there. My father left and went to consult another
were holding back your mother but T see that you are lawyer Maitre Pouillier; this lawyer raid him he must do
as bad as she is; it is nor me, she said, who made her come it in legal form and present a petition to the court to make
back fifteen years ago, it is you who should have left her her come and live with him, it was as much as to say he
in peace and stayed where you were at that time. My must have the devil ra Jive with him, and my father left
mother also said some words which revealed to my father it at that, he only warned the laborer who asked him
that she had no intention of leaving. Some days later as she whether it would not vex him if he worked for her: work
there as mueh as you like, my father told him, but do not
than him. Mv father said: no, that I have not suspected her of. It sur- count on me for your pay. He also warned i\lme. Aod
prises me, said the judge that ),ou tell me that she h:as no religion, that to whom she already owed 4S francs not to let her have
the w:lf ~he is she docs not love you, and yet she is no evil-Ih'er; my anything more without getting paid for it; but my mother
father said : 1 do not think so. hut she dOC'S not say the same of me; ah, so
that is it, said the judge. she is jealous. used more than one shop, and besides she bought from the
10 Some days before. when my mother w:as threatening to run up drapers who passed through her village, she bought grain
debts, my father had gone to Ie Bouillon, he had spoken to my sister and resold it, she raid a draper, Le Raux of COllrvalldon
who had told him that since he was leaving them like that my Illother
would run up an infinity of debts. she would borrow right and left and from who she wished to buy three or four cotton caps: tell
get everything she nC'Cded on -:redit. ,\1)' father said [0 her: but why my husband that lowe you twelve francs and you shall
did she nOt come to me when I wanted her [0, she all5wered she dOC'S not give me the rcst. This man would not let her have her caps,
want to Ike with her motherin-law. she wants to be in a sepan.te house:
and to put all our things in it.
she said the same to a woman shopkeeper whose name r
II Ask M. Fouehet. have forgotten. \ Vhile she was doing all these things, my

80 8,
I, PIERRE RIVIERE ..

brother Jean fell sick in the month of July of a malady of bars told him. My mother went back to her house and did
the brain, he lasted only a fortnight.'~ Toward the end it not fail to put it about everywhere that my father had
was decided that his mother should be told nonetheless; it starved her child to death. and she continued to run up
was a ,\Ionda)', my mother went back home and came back debts, she warned the laborer that he should get paid as
on the Tuesday evening. during the night my brother was best he could. 'Vhen the shopkeepers asked her for money
seized every quarter hour with convulsions which made she said: get it from him who has taken my property, do
him writhe horribly. This child had already shown more you want me to make out a note. Fearing lest my fathcr
sociability to people than I or m)' brother Prosper. He might come and fetch something away she had her harvest
already helped in all sorts of work and my father loved him. threshed as soon as it was brought in, she had most of the
His sadness and dejection at this child's feet may be con- wheat threshed too early so as to get it in faster, she sold
ceived. In the meantime my mother gave him twO letters at every market at Aunay and [vreci, she paid the tax
one from Mme. Aod and the other from the tax collector collector only, for she was warned that he cou ld distrain
requiring her to pay her debts and she uttered the opinions upon the furniture in her house, the othe r creditors de-
I have reported above. Transfixed with grief my father manded money from my father, who seeing that he would
cried out: how sad is my plight, ah Lord will you visit yet be ruincd if he let all this continue resolved to go and
harsher tribulations upon me, yes my poor child you will fetch some pieces of furniture to see what that might lead
be tru ly happy when you have quitted this world, you will to. My g-m was extremely afflicted by all these things: ah,
go to heaven. IS J\ly g-m being present reproached him and she said to Marie Fortain, would I were in the graveyard,
then her blood mounted in her she became quite hoarse. ah must I have lived such a life of toil t4 and be recom-
The next day this chi ld expired, the neighbors tried to move pensed like this, why has the good God made me suffer so,
my father from beside him, no, he said, I will not leave why does he leave me so long on earth; Marie Fortain con-
him, and then seeing him dead: oh, he cried, my poor little soled her as best she cou ld and we went off my father and
Jean, and he said, no. mother, stay here, I am no longer lone market day to Evreci where we expected to find my
as strong as you, oh I shall leave this place. \Vhere will you mother and to take the calf and a pig we had. 'Vhen we gOt
go my poor son, my g-m said to him; then he flung himself there we mer my sister, bur my mother was also there not
on a bed and tore his hair; my sister Aimee Rung herself into far away. 1\ly father said that he was going to take the cow,
his arms; your daughter will never abandon you, the neigh- whereupon my sister set to crying: mama, mama, come
quick he is trying to take our cow; she came up and tried
12 1 forgOl to say th~t some time befon: this.. my sister came to
Aunay to buy a dress for hcr second communion; fearing that \lme. Aod to prevent it. my father caught her and shut himself up
would not gh-e her one she got it from Rabache. she took 29 fr2ncs' with her in the house, then she again scratched him and
worth and she told him she was not going to pay for il. he asked hcr bit him in several places, then she set to reproaching him
who she was. the seamstress who was with her uid: it is Riviere of ]a
Faucterie's daughter. Oh. \ ' 1.'1)' well. she said. take it. '\Iy hther having for the death of her child. Yes, said she, if I had known
come to know of this spoke to my siSler as she went by and asked her
who would pay for this dre~s; ah. she said. I will. but I musr have some J4 She spent her life in constant mil. her husband was bedridden for
money. Then she added: if you had not taken what we had. we should 20 years with an illness and wa~ unable to walk; of fO\lf children ~he had
have enough to buy fine dresses. r2iSl'd. and 10Hd. only one remained and she had 10 watch him being
13 \Vilness the ndghbors. treated like this.

" '3
I, PIERRE RIVIERE ..

brother Jean fell sick in the month of July of a malady of bars told him. My mother went back to her house and did
the brain, he lasted only a fortnight.'~ Toward the end it not fail to put it about everywhere that my father had
was decided that his mother should be told nonetheless; it starved her child to death. and she continued to run up
was a ,\Ionda)', my mother went back home and came back debts, she warned the laborer that he should get paid as
on the Tuesday evening. during the night my brother was best he could. 'Vhen the shopkeepers asked her for money
seized every quarter hour with convulsions which made she said: get it from him who has taken my property, do
him writhe horribly. This child had already shown more you want me to make out a note. Fearing lest my fathcr
sociability to people than I or m)' brother Prosper. He might come and fetch something away she had her harvest
already helped in all sorts of work and my father loved him. threshed as soon as it was brought in, she had most of the
His sadness and dejection at this child's feet may be con- wheat threshed too early so as to get it in faster, she sold
ceived. In the meantime my mother gave him twO letters at every market at Aunay and [vreci, she paid the tax
one from Mme. Aod and the other from the tax collector collector only, for she was warned that he cou ld distrain
requiring her to pay her debts and she uttered the opinions upon the furniture in her house, the othe r creditors de-
I have reported above. Transfixed with grief my father manded money from my father, who seeing that he would
cried out: how sad is my plight, ah Lord will you visit yet be ruincd if he let all this continue resolved to go and
harsher tribulations upon me, yes my poor child you will fetch some pieces of furniture to see what that might lead
be tru ly happy when you have quitted this world, you will to. My g-m was extremely afflicted by all these things: ah,
go to heaven. IS J\ly g-m being present reproached him and she said to Marie Fortain, would I were in the graveyard,
then her blood mounted in her she became quite hoarse. ah must I have lived such a life of toil t4 and be recom-
The next day this chi ld expired, the neighbors tried to move pensed like this, why has the good God made me suffer so,
my father from beside him, no, he said, I will not leave why does he leave me so long on earth; Marie Fortain con-
him, and then seeing him dead: oh, he cried, my poor little soled her as best she cou ld and we went off my father and
Jean, and he said, no. mother, stay here, I am no longer lone market day to Evreci where we expected to find my
as strong as you, oh I shall leave this place. \Vhere will you mother and to take the calf and a pig we had. 'Vhen we gOt
go my poor son, my g-m said to him; then he flung himself there we mer my sister, bur my mother was also there not
on a bed and tore his hair; my sister Aimee Rung herself into far away. 1\ly father said that he was going to take the cow,
his arms; your daughter will never abandon you, the neigh- whereupon my sister set to crying: mama, mama, come
quick he is trying to take our cow; she came up and tried
12 1 forgOl to say th~t some time befon: this.. my sister came to
Aunay to buy a dress for hcr second communion; fearing that \lme. Aod to prevent it. my father caught her and shut himself up
would not gh-e her one she got it from Rabache. she took 29 fr2ncs' with her in the house, then she again scratched him and
worth and she told him she was not going to pay for il. he asked hcr bit him in several places, then she set to reproaching him
who she was. the seamstress who was with her uid: it is Riviere of ]a
Faucterie's daughter. Oh. \ ' 1.'1)' well. she said. take it. '\Iy hther having for the death of her child. Yes, said she, if I had known
come to know of this spoke to my siSler as she went by and asked her
who would pay for this dre~s; ah. she said. I will. but I musr have some J4 She spent her life in constant mil. her husband was bedridden for
money. Then she added: if you had not taken what we had. we should 20 years with an illness and wa~ unable to walk; of fO\lf children ~he had
have enough to buy fine dresses. r2iSl'd. and 10Hd. only one remained and she had 10 watch him being
13 \Vilness the ndghbors. treated like this.

" '3
I, PIERRE RIVlERE ...
abom it 1 would have had him trepanned, at least people Courvaudon at the end of the week; my father went to
would have seen your evil doings; he slapped her, she set advertise the land to be let, for Michaelmas was approach-
to calling for vengeance once again. As I was trying [0 take ing; bur my mother was not satisfied with this arrangement,
the cow, my sister rried to prevent me by letting it loose, she wen[ back to Vire during the week and had the buck-
then I hit her several times with my whip handle, we took wheat threshed straight away without telling my father, she
a sack of barley with the cow, my father told the thresher made arrangements for all the grain to be sold before he
to go. and asked him how much was owing fa him, he said came to fetch her; he got the house ready as fast as he
he was owed 28 sous, and so we went off. ~ly mother ran could, and he learned of my mother's intention to sell
after us and caught up with us; my father then took her everything in the meantime. Then he took the carr and
arm as if they were going to a wedding banquet, she tWO persons from the village, and went to get the rest of the
dropped down purposely three times, and falling the third grain. He found the buckwheat still there, all the other
time, she slid her foot along her leg, all my father did to grain was overrhreshed, he also took a pig; while we were
her was to say, faith you lie down and set yourself well loading. he stayed with her in the house to keep her quiet,
enough for me to put you to rights but I am not in the we made rwo journeys; when we made the second my
mood. There were several persons who saw this scene. My mother was no longer there, she had gone to get her shoes
mother made use of it later in demanding her separation. mended; as we went away he tried to take some shcets and
Some days later she came [0 see my father to get him to give since my sistcr objected, he said thar they might JUSt as well
her back what he had taken from her. Pay your debts, he be brought in a few days, no she would not go to him, she
said to her, but she wanted to make a senlemenr under said, she was going to go off to put matters straight. And
which he would pay her debts, give her whar he had taken indeed she wenr back again to Vire, my father also went
from her, and pay her an annuiry so rhat she could remain back to see Maitre Foucaut to ask what to do about it, he
living on her land. Where do you expecr me ro get money asked him whether he had not seen her again, and told him
from, he said to her; do as the others, said my mother, get that she had come back twice. I have not seen her, he
ir from the bank. She went to see Malrre Foucaur ar Vire to answered, she must have gone to seek some other saint. The
obtain a separation, but he summoned my farher by letrer evening she came back from having her shoes mended my
to come and pur matters in order, my farher went [0 see sister said to her: go if you want to, but as for me I will
him and [Oak with him certificates of his conduct from rhe never go and live with a wretch like that who takes all our
priests of the twO communes, my mother was there and property from us. But my mother seeing that she would be
rhey agreed thar she should come and live with him, but obliged to come made several arrangements to continue to
he would pur her in a separate house with her furniture do mischief. The house being ready my father went to
and effects and thar my g-m should en[er the house only fetch her, accompanied by QucviUon who shared horses
with permission, or if she did enter ir, my mother should with us and Victor a servanr at M. Grellai's, he found very
return to her property ar Courvaudon, and that this house few pieces of furniture, there was no cooking POt, and
should be ready within tWO or three weeks at latest. My though my mother had run up all rhe debts which I have
father brought her back from Vire in the cart, and they spoken about, he found very few clothes. My mother made
agreed that he would go and thresh the buckwheat at fresh objections, she said he must pay her debts before she
I, PIERRE RIVlERE ...
abom it 1 would have had him trepanned, at least people Courvaudon at the end of the week; my father went to
would have seen your evil doings; he slapped her, she set advertise the land to be let, for Michaelmas was approach-
to calling for vengeance once again. As I was trying [0 take ing; bur my mother was not satisfied with this arrangement,
the cow, my sister rried to prevent me by letting it loose, she wen[ back to Vire during the week and had the buck-
then I hit her several times with my whip handle, we took wheat threshed straight away without telling my father, she
a sack of barley with the cow, my father told the thresher made arrangements for all the grain to be sold before he
to go. and asked him how much was owing fa him, he said came to fetch her; he got the house ready as fast as he
he was owed 28 sous, and so we went off. ~ly mother ran could, and he learned of my mother's intention to sell
after us and caught up with us; my father then took her everything in the meantime. Then he took the carr and
arm as if they were going to a wedding banquet, she tWO persons from the village, and went to get the rest of the
dropped down purposely three times, and falling the third grain. He found the buckwheat still there, all the other
time, she slid her foot along her leg, all my father did to grain was overrhreshed, he also took a pig; while we were
her was to say, faith you lie down and set yourself well loading. he stayed with her in the house to keep her quiet,
enough for me to put you to rights but I am not in the we made rwo journeys; when we made the second my
mood. There were several persons who saw this scene. My mother was no longer there, she had gone to get her shoes
mother made use of it later in demanding her separation. mended; as we went away he tried to take some shcets and
Some days later she came [0 see my father to get him to give since my sistcr objected, he said thar they might JUSt as well
her back what he had taken from her. Pay your debts, he be brought in a few days, no she would not go to him, she
said to her, but she wanted to make a senlemenr under said, she was going to go off to put matters straight. And
which he would pay her debts, give her whar he had taken indeed she wenr back again to Vire, my father also went
from her, and pay her an annuiry so rhat she could remain back to see Maitre Foucaut to ask what to do about it, he
living on her land. Where do you expecr me ro get money asked him whether he had not seen her again, and told him
from, he said to her; do as the others, said my mother, get that she had come back twice. I have not seen her, he
ir from the bank. She went to see Malrre Foucaur ar Vire to answered, she must have gone to seek some other saint. The
obtain a separation, but he summoned my farher by letrer evening she came back from having her shoes mended my
to come and pur matters in order, my farher went [0 see sister said to her: go if you want to, but as for me I will
him and [Oak with him certificates of his conduct from rhe never go and live with a wretch like that who takes all our
priests of the twO communes, my mother was there and property from us. But my mother seeing that she would be
rhey agreed thar she should come and live with him, but obliged to come made several arrangements to continue to
he would pur her in a separate house with her furniture do mischief. The house being ready my father went to
and effects and thar my g-m should en[er the house only fetch her, accompanied by QucviUon who shared horses
with permission, or if she did enter ir, my mother should with us and Victor a servanr at M. Grellai's, he found very
return to her property ar Courvaudon, and that this house few pieces of furniture, there was no cooking POt, and
should be ready within tWO or three weeks at latest. My though my mother had run up all rhe debts which I have
father brought her back from Vire in the cart, and they spoken about, he found very few clothes. My mother made
agreed that he would go and thresh the buckwheat at fresh objections, she said he must pay her debts before she
I. PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

came to live with him. My father said he had already paid had trusted my mother and she had deceived him; he was
some of them and would pay the rest. But he had no afflicted afresh at the sight of these debts; this letter had
inkling of a letter which my mother thought he had already been written by my sister Victoire. My father asked around
received. My father asked two women to come ro reason about these debts; Victor Bourse, to whom 10 frs was put
with her. And he went off with a cart, this time he took down, said she owed him about 30 SOlIS, he thought it
my brother Jule the whole way, and those wh~ w:re would be the same thing with the others, but except for the
with him could report about this, he took up thiS child 30 frs to Gaffe and the 17 frs to Sophie Riviere, he was
from rime to time and kissed him. Ah, my poor little Jule, obliged to pay the rest; I wiJl say that this Gaffe and Ie
he said, how happy I am, yes you are truly the dearest Comte brother of this t\larianne who is mentioned, and also
piece of furniture I wanted to fetch; at the seco.nd c~rt]oad, a mason at Hamars, all those people whom my mother went
when the women advised my mother to go With him, she to consult were bachelors, and not over-scrupulous with
began weeping, for weeping was quite a cus~om of hers, regard to purity. Some days after her coming. my mother
she said: ah he should have made me go while my poor and my sister Victoire and my tWO brothers my father
child was alive, he would not be dead; and they came my and I went to gather apples at Courvaudon, and at midday
sister and she. That evening though there had not been the quarrel broke out again, my father spoke of the letter,
time to get everything ready she insisted on going to bed he had not yet spoken of it to my mother, he asked why she
with her [WO children in her house. My father had come back persecuted him so, why she wanted him to pay for things
to see my g-m, she showed him a letter which had comc in which had nothing to do with the case, what had he done
the poSt. and rcceiving it had put my g-m to great distress; to her then, but she jeered at him and answered that be-
she had rolled on the ground and had beaten her body on cause he had not been willing to leave her in peace he would
the earth. Because of all the ills it caused I shall reproduce not gain as much as he thought. And she went off to her
it here. cousin's with my sister and my brother Jule; as my brother
Courvaudon, on ... memorandum of debts incurred Jule was weeping, for though this child was rather on my
in the year 18H. 40 francs to a draper at Hamars, 30 frs to mother's side, he also loved my father and was pleased
GotH, 10 frs to Vicror Bourse, 10 frs to a cobbler. 1.0 frs when he saw them in agreement, my father tried to hold
for masses, 17 frs ro Sophie Rivicre u 27 frs to t\hrlanne him back by caressing him, but he could not. Then he said
]e Comte and a sack 3 frs ro Rose Leminee 40 sous to to my brother Prosper: are you [00 going to leave me
Charles ]e Bas 8 sous to M. Ie Riche 48 SOllS to Sophie Ie and go away with them? No, he said, and all three of us
Cae" 70 sous to Pierre Bretoure. If these debts are not Stayed together. My father also spoke to Jacques Ie
paid within eight days a writ will issue and the debts for Comte's wife who was there and said to her: but what does
the year 1834 will also have to be paid and they are much she want of me that she is trying to ruin me like this, after
marc serious. All these debts were unknown to my father. I have taken so much trouble [0 get together what I have
besides those I have spoken of he had paid 25 frs to the for my children, I shall have to sell some land and after I
laborer whom he had told not to count on him. But this man have sold a piece that will still not be enough, if she goes
If;The schoolmistress who h3d !3ught m~' sister Vicwirc. on like this I shall have to sell some more pieces. there were
UI Their SC31llSUeSS for bcem:aking. tears in his eyes as he said this; this woman answered
86
I. PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

came to live with him. My father said he had already paid had trusted my mother and she had deceived him; he was
some of them and would pay the rest. But he had no afflicted afresh at the sight of these debts; this letter had
inkling of a letter which my mother thought he had already been written by my sister Victoire. My father asked around
received. My father asked two women to come ro reason about these debts; Victor Bourse, to whom 10 frs was put
with her. And he went off with a cart, this time he took down, said she owed him about 30 SOlIS, he thought it
my brother Jule the whole way, and those wh~ w:re would be the same thing with the others, but except for the
with him could report about this, he took up thiS child 30 frs to Gaffe and the 17 frs to Sophie Riviere, he was
from rime to time and kissed him. Ah, my poor little Jule, obliged to pay the rest; I wiJl say that this Gaffe and Ie
he said, how happy I am, yes you are truly the dearest Comte brother of this t\larianne who is mentioned, and also
piece of furniture I wanted to fetch; at the seco.nd c~rt]oad, a mason at Hamars, all those people whom my mother went
when the women advised my mother to go With him, she to consult were bachelors, and not over-scrupulous with
began weeping, for weeping was quite a cus~om of hers, regard to purity. Some days after her coming. my mother
she said: ah he should have made me go while my poor and my sister Victoire and my tWO brothers my father
child was alive, he would not be dead; and they came my and I went to gather apples at Courvaudon, and at midday
sister and she. That evening though there had not been the quarrel broke out again, my father spoke of the letter,
time to get everything ready she insisted on going to bed he had not yet spoken of it to my mother, he asked why she
with her [WO children in her house. My father had come back persecuted him so, why she wanted him to pay for things
to see my g-m, she showed him a letter which had comc in which had nothing to do with the case, what had he done
the poSt. and rcceiving it had put my g-m to great distress; to her then, but she jeered at him and answered that be-
she had rolled on the ground and had beaten her body on cause he had not been willing to leave her in peace he would
the earth. Because of all the ills it caused I shall reproduce not gain as much as he thought. And she went off to her
it here. cousin's with my sister and my brother Jule; as my brother
Courvaudon, on ... memorandum of debts incurred Jule was weeping, for though this child was rather on my
in the year 18H. 40 francs to a draper at Hamars, 30 frs to mother's side, he also loved my father and was pleased
GotH, 10 frs to Vicror Bourse, 10 frs to a cobbler. 1.0 frs when he saw them in agreement, my father tried to hold
for masses, 17 frs ro Sophie Rivicre u 27 frs to t\hrlanne him back by caressing him, but he could not. Then he said
]e Comte and a sack 3 frs ro Rose Leminee 40 sous to to my brother Prosper: are you [00 going to leave me
Charles ]e Bas 8 sous to M. Ie Riche 48 SOllS to Sophie Ie and go away with them? No, he said, and all three of us
Cae" 70 sous to Pierre Bretoure. If these debts are not Stayed together. My father also spoke to Jacques Ie
paid within eight days a writ will issue and the debts for Comte's wife who was there and said to her: but what does
the year 1834 will also have to be paid and they are much she want of me that she is trying to ruin me like this, after
marc serious. All these debts were unknown to my father. I have taken so much trouble [0 get together what I have
besides those I have spoken of he had paid 25 frs to the for my children, I shall have to sell some land and after I
laborer whom he had told not to count on him. But this man have sold a piece that will still not be enough, if she goes
If;The schoolmistress who h3d !3ught m~' sister Vicwirc. on like this I shall have to sell some more pieces. there were
UI Their SC31llSUeSS for bcem:aking. tears in his eyes as he said this; this woman answered
86
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

him that she could not but think that my mother had my g-m who was forbidden to enter her house; this woman,
always had in mind gaining the management of it and who had given the redemption of her annuity to buy back
getting herself a separate purse. In the evening my mother my mother's property,17 had therefore [0 cat alone, which
and the rest came back to la Faucterie. One Sunday my diStressed her very gready. One day when her resentments
father went to Hamars co speak to the draper, the 40 frs were gnawing her, and she had JUSt given a shirt to Prosper
was owed to him my father paid the next Saturday and and me, we were bedded in a closet near by, and she said:
received a receipt from this man saying that the debt was ah yes I have taken so much trouble to look after all of
discharged and that he would never give my mother or them, and ro bring them up as well as J could, and a fine
my sister Victoire anything on credit. On the Sunday he reward I get for it. And then I heard her knock her head
had gone to see him he returned to Aunay at vespers, and twO or three times against the table or the ground, yes, she
overcome by all these things was taken sick, he had to leave said, I feel like beating my body on the ground, ah must
the church, and went in to the widow Guernier's. !\I y the good God leave me to suffer so long, if there was
mother wanted the children my sister Victoire and my any water here I would drown myself in it. My siste r
brother Jule to sleep in the same house where she was. My Aimee who was with her said: lie down grandmother ]
father objected that it would not be good to put so many beg you; and she lay down. My mother still went on mak-
beds in the house and that there was a closet and other ing trouble. she said she had been brought there so that
places where they could be PUt to bed, my '.nother wou!d they could starve her to death, her daughter was daily
not have it so and these two unfortunate chIldren slept 10 pining away; she took hanks of thread and bundles of tow
the same bed with her. Some people said to my father: I to the shops, saying that she had to sell thcm to car. witness
would like to bed with her if only to put her in a rage. Mme. Le Gouix known as Leminee. My father was driven
My father put another bed in the house, my sister slept to despair by all these things, he gOt into the habit of talk-
in it, and he bedded with my mother, and as she would nor ing to hcr at the top of IUs voice when she oven.vhelmed
send Jule to bed anywhere else, all three of them bedded him with her arguments; then people saw him wirh a sad
together. Since their great quarrels my father had had no countenance talking to her, shouting loudly and speaking
carnal intercourse with her. Nevertheless if only to enrage softly but to no avail, my mother paid no heed. she was
her he wanted to tryon the first or second night. My sister delighted to see him so distressed. As he was quarrelling
Victoire heard. Then she said: oh my god my god what are with her one Saturday when people were passing by.
you doing to her? Look you, he said to her, what .bus~ness Hebert's wife came and told him to be silent. Everyone
of yours is it, I am doing to her what men do to their wives; passing by, she said, is talking about it. I have heard some
ah, she said, let her be since she does not want it. Yes, my say: oh, she is not getting used to it I think, and others but
father said to her, I :un going to leave her alonc too. He she is not so much in the wrong as you think, people say
bedded with her several nights and then seeing that she he beats her like a hunk of beef. Some time later she made
did not leave him any feather cover on his side or feathers various preparations. She washed some linen and repaired
in the pillow, and she was doing all she could to cause
mischief, he preferred to sleep in the other bed, and my L7 At the period when this annuiTY Wali redeemed, my mother even
said that my father was a wastrel, that he was leaving nOThing TO his
sister and my brother ever after bedded with my mother, ehildren, and that he was selling her annuities to suppon his goodwives'
she did the cooking, all of us went to live with her, except 'n<>_
88
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

him that she could not but think that my mother had my g-m who was forbidden to enter her house; this woman,
always had in mind gaining the management of it and who had given the redemption of her annuity to buy back
getting herself a separate purse. In the evening my mother my mother's property,17 had therefore [0 cat alone, which
and the rest came back to la Faucterie. One Sunday my diStressed her very gready. One day when her resentments
father went to Hamars co speak to the draper, the 40 frs were gnawing her, and she had JUSt given a shirt to Prosper
was owed to him my father paid the next Saturday and and me, we were bedded in a closet near by, and she said:
received a receipt from this man saying that the debt was ah yes I have taken so much trouble to look after all of
discharged and that he would never give my mother or them, and ro bring them up as well as J could, and a fine
my sister Victoire anything on credit. On the Sunday he reward I get for it. And then I heard her knock her head
had gone to see him he returned to Aunay at vespers, and twO or three times against the table or the ground, yes, she
overcome by all these things was taken sick, he had to leave said, I feel like beating my body on the ground, ah must
the church, and went in to the widow Guernier's. !\I y the good God leave me to suffer so long, if there was
mother wanted the children my sister Victoire and my any water here I would drown myself in it. My siste r
brother Jule to sleep in the same house where she was. My Aimee who was with her said: lie down grandmother ]
father objected that it would not be good to put so many beg you; and she lay down. My mother still went on mak-
beds in the house and that there was a closet and other ing trouble. she said she had been brought there so that
places where they could be PUt to bed, my '.nother wou!d they could starve her to death, her daughter was daily
not have it so and these two unfortunate chIldren slept 10 pining away; she took hanks of thread and bundles of tow
the same bed with her. Some people said to my father: I to the shops, saying that she had to sell thcm to car. witness
would like to bed with her if only to put her in a rage. Mme. Le Gouix known as Leminee. My father was driven
My father put another bed in the house, my sister slept to despair by all these things, he gOt into the habit of talk-
in it, and he bedded with my mother, and as she would nor ing to hcr at the top of IUs voice when she oven.vhelmed
send Jule to bed anywhere else, all three of them bedded him with her arguments; then people saw him wirh a sad
together. Since their great quarrels my father had had no countenance talking to her, shouting loudly and speaking
carnal intercourse with her. Nevertheless if only to enrage softly but to no avail, my mother paid no heed. she was
her he wanted to tryon the first or second night. My sister delighted to see him so distressed. As he was quarrelling
Victoire heard. Then she said: oh my god my god what are with her one Saturday when people were passing by.
you doing to her? Look you, he said to her, what .bus~ness Hebert's wife came and told him to be silent. Everyone
of yours is it, I am doing to her what men do to their wives; passing by, she said, is talking about it. I have heard some
ah, she said, let her be since she does not want it. Yes, my say: oh, she is not getting used to it I think, and others but
father said to her, I :un going to leave her alonc too. He she is not so much in the wrong as you think, people say
bedded with her several nights and then seeing that she he beats her like a hunk of beef. Some time later she made
did not leave him any feather cover on his side or feathers various preparations. She washed some linen and repaired
in the pillow, and she was doing all she could to cause
mischief, he preferred to sleep in the other bed, and my L7 At the period when this annuiTY Wali redeemed, my mother even
said that my father was a wastrel, that he was leaving nOThing TO his
sister and my brother ever after bedded with my mother, ehildren, and that he was selling her annuities to suppon his goodwives'
she did the cooking, all of us went to live with her, except 'n<>_
88
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

some shoes, we were making cider; and she saw my father that she would finally ruin him, my father said he would
busy one morning and she went off saying nothing to not do that; you let her do as she likes, we told him, you
anyone taking dresses and several things with her,. my let her spread false complaints. Ah, he said, I will not let
sister Victoire and my brother Jule followed her, my Sister her put about false complaints much longer you may be
carried her lace bobbins, people told my father, who was sure that will soon be over. Ah, my g-m said to him, you
at the press, and he ran after them. I went tOO to see what threaten that do you, very well I will threaten her too; and
would happen, and I found him coming back with the little she went off. My father then took off his cap and tore his
boyan his back, my mother was following rum, my father's hair, as though seized by a fit of rage and despair. Oh oh oh,
face and aspect were despairing, what he seemed to want to he said; I flung myself on him, ah my poor father, I said
say was: I give it all up I abandon all I have, there is only to him endure it. A moment later my sister Aimee came up
this poor tittle boy whom they shall not take away from in tears, what is happening, she said, my mother is up there
me, I want to keep rum and always take him with I~le; on weeping and wailing what has happened then? I leaned
the road I said to him: let them go where they will and over and whispered in her ear: go and fetch the priest, he
advertise that no one is to sell them anything. He did not means to kill himself. My sister went. And they came back
answer me, he was wholly taken up with his grief; when my g-m and she a little later. My g-m said to my father:
we came to the village my mother said to Jule: do not be he told Aimee to go and fetch the priest, do you want me
afraid I shall come back this evening and she went off. As to go. But he was calmer. And no one went. But these
we were supping my father said to Jule: do nOt go with notions took hold of him once more, I do not know if it
her any more she is only staying here in order to harm you was that day or some days later that he said these words:
my poor little one. And he kissed him. My mother ca.me though I am not resolute enough to take the way out of all
back with my sister that evening, there was no knowmg these persecutions, there are some who do it for far less rea-
what they had been doing, but my mother went on squ~b sons. Some time later this Marianne Ie Comte to whom
bling with my father, and jeered at the sadness which my mother said she owed a sack of wheat came in to get
overwhelmed him. The next day he was very busy at the her money for it. It was assuredly a trick which my mother
press, and as he had to go and work for Quevillon next and this woman had devised together, she may well have
day, I asked him whether it would not be wis:c to send and sold her a bushel, for when my father asked her how she
tell him that it could not be done, but he said no, and he had delivered it to her, she said she had delivered it bushel
pondered, at last he said: well, I give up I am leaving by bushel, that as to the first three bushels she had taken
everything, I shall throw myself down our well; he we~t them away one at a time on her back in a large bag, and
off, I followed him, and as my g-m was there also, he did with the last she had the miller's horse, and she had de-
not do it, he drank a glass of water and went back to the livered this bushel with a sack to carry it in, and she had
press; he agreed to let me tell Que~illon that ~e could not taken it away with her. My father asked my sister whether
go and work for him the next day; to the mormng we drew she had not helped my mother go and ferch this grain, she
off the marc, there were three of us, my father, my g-m said no but she had helped her eat it. My father told this
and J. \Ve talked of these goings-on of my mother's. and woman, who is reputed in those parts to be a cheat, that he
my g-m and T advised my father to put up a notice fearing would not pay her. i\ty mother told her to sue him and that
Residue, in tbiJ cast from tbe milking of cider. (Trl11lsllltor's 71ott .) she would swear black and blue if need be that she owed

9'
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

some shoes, we were making cider; and she saw my father that she would finally ruin him, my father said he would
busy one morning and she went off saying nothing to not do that; you let her do as she likes, we told him, you
anyone taking dresses and several things with her,. my let her spread false complaints. Ah, he said, I will not let
sister Victoire and my brother Jule followed her, my Sister her put about false complaints much longer you may be
carried her lace bobbins, people told my father, who was sure that will soon be over. Ah, my g-m said to him, you
at the press, and he ran after them. I went tOO to see what threaten that do you, very well I will threaten her too; and
would happen, and I found him coming back with the little she went off. My father then took off his cap and tore his
boyan his back, my mother was following rum, my father's hair, as though seized by a fit of rage and despair. Oh oh oh,
face and aspect were despairing, what he seemed to want to he said; I flung myself on him, ah my poor father, I said
say was: I give it all up I abandon all I have, there is only to him endure it. A moment later my sister Aimee came up
this poor tittle boy whom they shall not take away from in tears, what is happening, she said, my mother is up there
me, I want to keep rum and always take him with I~le; on weeping and wailing what has happened then? I leaned
the road I said to him: let them go where they will and over and whispered in her ear: go and fetch the priest, he
advertise that no one is to sell them anything. He did not means to kill himself. My sister went. And they came back
answer me, he was wholly taken up with his grief; when my g-m and she a little later. My g-m said to my father:
we came to the village my mother said to Jule: do not be he told Aimee to go and fetch the priest, do you want me
afraid I shall come back this evening and she went off. As to go. But he was calmer. And no one went. But these
we were supping my father said to Jule: do nOt go with notions took hold of him once more, I do not know if it
her any more she is only staying here in order to harm you was that day or some days later that he said these words:
my poor little one. And he kissed him. My mother ca.me though I am not resolute enough to take the way out of all
back with my sister that evening, there was no knowmg these persecutions, there are some who do it for far less rea-
what they had been doing, but my mother went on squ~b sons. Some time later this Marianne Ie Comte to whom
bling with my father, and jeered at the sadness which my mother said she owed a sack of wheat came in to get
overwhelmed him. The next day he was very busy at the her money for it. It was assuredly a trick which my mother
press, and as he had to go and work for Quevillon next and this woman had devised together, she may well have
day, I asked him whether it would not be wis:c to send and sold her a bushel, for when my father asked her how she
tell him that it could not be done, but he said no, and he had delivered it to her, she said she had delivered it bushel
pondered, at last he said: well, I give up I am leaving by bushel, that as to the first three bushels she had taken
everything, I shall throw myself down our well; he we~t them away one at a time on her back in a large bag, and
off, I followed him, and as my g-m was there also, he did with the last she had the miller's horse, and she had de-
not do it, he drank a glass of water and went back to the livered this bushel with a sack to carry it in, and she had
press; he agreed to let me tell Que~illon that ~e could not taken it away with her. My father asked my sister whether
go and work for him the next day; to the mormng we drew she had not helped my mother go and ferch this grain, she
off the marc, there were three of us, my father, my g-m said no but she had helped her eat it. My father told this
and J. \Ve talked of these goings-on of my mother's. and woman, who is reputed in those parts to be a cheat, that he
my g-m and T advised my father to put up a notice fearing would not pay her. i\ty mother told her to sue him and that
Residue, in tbiJ cast from tbe milking of cider. (Trl11lsllltor's 71ott .) she would swear black and blue if need be that she owed

9'
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

it to her. This woman summoned him to conciliation ecus, and it was stipulated that the tenant should have all
proceedings. My mother went with her. My father con- the vegetables in the garden, and that my father should
tended that she must have been seen carrying away the have the use of the cellar until the first day of the new year.
grain on her back and my sister must have helped her, the This comract did not suit my mother, no more than any
cantonal judge asked the woman whether she would affirm other, she said that this man should not have the use of it
on her soul that it was lawfully owed to her. As she seemed and she would pull up all the vegetables in the garden.
unwilling to do that, my mother said: well, you are an One day therefore when she had returned there and my
innocent, if it were me [ should be ready enough to affinn. father had gone to work, in the evening she told my sister
The judge concluded by saying: I see that this woman to cull the cabbages, she obeyed. My father said to her: but
is so scrupulous that she will not affinn so pay her and go what are you doing I forbid you to thin them out because
in peace, and my father paid her. The thresher whom my they are let, my sister said: Oh my faith they grow much
father had forbidden to go and work there any more and tOO thick; he made her Stop. But my mother seeing that
had settled with him for 28 rOlls had been to work there set to picking them herself and my father forbidding her
since then and wanted the rest paid him, the judge again she said: go on and talk, I am going to tOP them all, he
said he must pay and my father paid him.18 Sometimes when slapped her, then she set to crying: vengeance my god he is
my father was talking to the judge about my mother, the killing me; my sister Victoire ran up, I too and I saw my
judge said: look you, your wife has her weaknesses, you father trying to push her out of the garden; she kicked and
ought {Q spare her. These awards encouraged my mother punched him even after she was Out. Do I have to be so
to Rout my father and argue with him all the more. There ill~used, she said, by a wretch who is being [he death of me
is another cause for dispute that happened before this at night, but I shall come back and get our cabbages I shall
which I have omitted to mention. A man who was about get them when daylight comes. I came back with my father
{Q marry came during the period when my mother was and Quevillon by one way, and my mother and sister went
living with my father and asked him to let him one of the by another. When the last of the cider was being made,
houses to live in with his wife, this house was one of those my mother refused to let them take a cask which was at
which had not been let to the tenant of whom I have Courvaudon, and seeing that they did rake it she went to
spoken, there is a garden attached to this house. My mother consult a mason at Hamars to see how she could obtain a
was not willing to let at all. And the land he had advertised separation, and thereafter she kept going to consult people
was not let either because people did not care for it in view here and there and spread it about that her husband was
of the changes that kept happening, or because it was tOO being the death of her and that he beat her every day; some
late because Michaelmas had gone by, my father had plowed time after the laundry had been done my mother asked for
it that year. As to the house of which I am speaking which Some sheets to wash; she must have some left. My father
was a carpenter's shop and the celiar, it was let for ten asked her what she had done with them. She said very
little but my sister said: there were not so many as he said.
18 It is probable that this judge finally came to take my mother's It seems that my mother had taken all her beSt linen and
part to avoid her importunities. He was not in fact derelict in his duty had hidden it with her cousins at Courvaudon, for she
in complying with the rules, so my unforrunate father was left to his
fate and the mighty prevailed. knew that my father had to supply her with what she

9' 93
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

it to her. This woman summoned him to conciliation ecus, and it was stipulated that the tenant should have all
proceedings. My mother went with her. My father con- the vegetables in the garden, and that my father should
tended that she must have been seen carrying away the have the use of the cellar until the first day of the new year.
grain on her back and my sister must have helped her, the This comract did not suit my mother, no more than any
cantonal judge asked the woman whether she would affirm other, she said that this man should not have the use of it
on her soul that it was lawfully owed to her. As she seemed and she would pull up all the vegetables in the garden.
unwilling to do that, my mother said: well, you are an One day therefore when she had returned there and my
innocent, if it were me [ should be ready enough to affinn. father had gone to work, in the evening she told my sister
The judge concluded by saying: I see that this woman to cull the cabbages, she obeyed. My father said to her: but
is so scrupulous that she will not affinn so pay her and go what are you doing I forbid you to thin them out because
in peace, and my father paid her. The thresher whom my they are let, my sister said: Oh my faith they grow much
father had forbidden to go and work there any more and tOO thick; he made her Stop. But my mother seeing that
had settled with him for 28 rOlls had been to work there set to picking them herself and my father forbidding her
since then and wanted the rest paid him, the judge again she said: go on and talk, I am going to tOP them all, he
said he must pay and my father paid him.18 Sometimes when slapped her, then she set to crying: vengeance my god he is
my father was talking to the judge about my mother, the killing me; my sister Victoire ran up, I too and I saw my
judge said: look you, your wife has her weaknesses, you father trying to push her out of the garden; she kicked and
ought {Q spare her. These awards encouraged my mother punched him even after she was Out. Do I have to be so
to Rout my father and argue with him all the more. There ill~used, she said, by a wretch who is being [he death of me
is another cause for dispute that happened before this at night, but I shall come back and get our cabbages I shall
which I have omitted to mention. A man who was about get them when daylight comes. I came back with my father
{Q marry came during the period when my mother was and Quevillon by one way, and my mother and sister went
living with my father and asked him to let him one of the by another. When the last of the cider was being made,
houses to live in with his wife, this house was one of those my mother refused to let them take a cask which was at
which had not been let to the tenant of whom I have Courvaudon, and seeing that they did rake it she went to
spoken, there is a garden attached to this house. My mother consult a mason at Hamars to see how she could obtain a
was not willing to let at all. And the land he had advertised separation, and thereafter she kept going to consult people
was not let either because people did not care for it in view here and there and spread it about that her husband was
of the changes that kept happening, or because it was tOO being the death of her and that he beat her every day; some
late because Michaelmas had gone by, my father had plowed time after the laundry had been done my mother asked for
it that year. As to the house of which I am speaking which Some sheets to wash; she must have some left. My father
was a carpenter's shop and the celiar, it was let for ten asked her what she had done with them. She said very
little but my sister said: there were not so many as he said.
18 It is probable that this judge finally came to take my mother's It seems that my mother had taken all her beSt linen and
part to avoid her importunities. He was not in fact derelict in his duty had hidden it with her cousins at Courvaudon, for she
in complying with the rules, so my unforrunate father was left to his
fate and the mighty prevailed. knew that my father had to supply her with what she

9' 93
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

needed and hcr cousins came by on Saturday and conversed seems that one of your ncighbors must be ill-treating his
with her, one of them had told some people when my wife strangely, for she says some fine things about it. My
mother was still at Courvaudon that she was running up father knowing that she had said she was pregnant, could
debts and some pcople said that Riviere was such a kind not believe it, for, he said, she knows well enough how it is
man, but she said: I do not see that he is such a good man, with me, what she is thinking is that he cherishes his honor,
why did he not leave his wife in peace without taking all but if he sees something likc this, he will say: how can
she had, they had made hcr come and live with them, they such things be, he will not be able to contain himself, he
could not bear hcr, he should continue to work her land will beat me and I shall be able to obtain a separation. I
as he did without harassing her, was she not as attached to am sure, he went on, that she is putting something on her
her property as he to his. This cousin looked kindly on my belly to make her look big, I shall have to have a look at it;
father when she saw him, and she said in the town of he held forth in this strain before a large number of persons
Aunay that my mother was a wicked woman and tonnented a~ong them Hebert and his wife, the widow Quesnel,
her husband. My father and I listened at a place in the Victor servant at M. Grellai's and a cousin of my mother's
flooring to what my mother and my sister were saying to from Courvaudon, Guerin the rural guard, a knifegrinder
each other. I went and listened most often but I could at Aunay and the priest of Aunay; the priest told him not to
hear them only when they spoke loudly. One day when take any notice. My father said too: she says that I was the
my fathcr had said to my sister thac my g-m was hardly death of the ocher, but I shall tell her thac she will have to
able to work any morc, that she must have help in caring for account t~ me for the one she has in her belly. BlIt fearing
the cows and each in tum muSt go to get the provisions, my that he 'nlght be wrong I resolved to clear up this matter
other sister and she; when my mother returned she said f~r myself b~ listening; on~e I heard my mother and my
to her rcpeating my father's words in a mocking tone: oh Sister reckonmg up the time she would take for this
he said we should go and get the provisions, that his mother confinement by counting up the time the others had lasted.
is no longer able to work. ,,yhen my mother did the cook- My sister said too: you must nOt make any dress for him.
ing she did it as badly as she could, she put in the soup herbs at least until he is formed, and if he comes to ask for the
she knew my father did not like and mixed them with cap and people are there you will say: my faith, there is
ochers he liked. My father sometimes conversed with his none, have you given me any money to get one. That will
neighbors about all his tribulations, he told them of the be a fine joke, said my sister; then she imagined what my
linen she had hiddcn away, and he said: no doubt thcy want father might say and added mocking: ah, he will say to yo~.
to go back, let them go back where they will but do not ah you ha.ve. done this to shame me again, you are always
let them take little Jule with them, I do not want him to the same, If It had been anything else you would have been
follow them, I want him ro stay with me, after all they Sure to find something; my mother was being careful not to
cannot hatc him. My mother went to consult Maitre Blain be overheard and told her: be silent. My sister said not so
at Beauquay, she poured out her calumnies against my I?udly: do not keep worrying about it. Another time my
father, she also told him she was pregnant. There wcre sls.ter had been to Villers to take her lace, she came back
other persons at Maitre Blain's, it was soon spread about in Without having been paid. My mother said: how wretched
Aunay, and a man talking to one of our neighbors said: it I am to be in this position, I hope we shall not stay here

95
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

needed and hcr cousins came by on Saturday and conversed seems that one of your ncighbors must be ill-treating his
with her, one of them had told some people when my wife strangely, for she says some fine things about it. My
mother was still at Courvaudon that she was running up father knowing that she had said she was pregnant, could
debts and some pcople said that Riviere was such a kind not believe it, for, he said, she knows well enough how it is
man, but she said: I do not see that he is such a good man, with me, what she is thinking is that he cherishes his honor,
why did he not leave his wife in peace without taking all but if he sees something likc this, he will say: how can
she had, they had made hcr come and live with them, they such things be, he will not be able to contain himself, he
could not bear hcr, he should continue to work her land will beat me and I shall be able to obtain a separation. I
as he did without harassing her, was she not as attached to am sure, he went on, that she is putting something on her
her property as he to his. This cousin looked kindly on my belly to make her look big, I shall have to have a look at it;
father when she saw him, and she said in the town of he held forth in this strain before a large number of persons
Aunay that my mother was a wicked woman and tonnented a~ong them Hebert and his wife, the widow Quesnel,
her husband. My father and I listened at a place in the Victor servant at M. Grellai's and a cousin of my mother's
flooring to what my mother and my sister were saying to from Courvaudon, Guerin the rural guard, a knifegrinder
each other. I went and listened most often but I could at Aunay and the priest of Aunay; the priest told him not to
hear them only when they spoke loudly. One day when take any notice. My father said too: she says that I was the
my fathcr had said to my sister thac my g-m was hardly death of the ocher, but I shall tell her thac she will have to
able to work any morc, that she must have help in caring for account t~ me for the one she has in her belly. BlIt fearing
the cows and each in tum muSt go to get the provisions, my that he 'nlght be wrong I resolved to clear up this matter
other sister and she; when my mother returned she said f~r myself b~ listening; on~e I heard my mother and my
to her rcpeating my father's words in a mocking tone: oh Sister reckonmg up the time she would take for this
he said we should go and get the provisions, that his mother confinement by counting up the time the others had lasted.
is no longer able to work. ,,yhen my mother did the cook- My sister said too: you must nOt make any dress for him.
ing she did it as badly as she could, she put in the soup herbs at least until he is formed, and if he comes to ask for the
she knew my father did not like and mixed them with cap and people are there you will say: my faith, there is
ochers he liked. My father sometimes conversed with his none, have you given me any money to get one. That will
neighbors about all his tribulations, he told them of the be a fine joke, said my sister; then she imagined what my
linen she had hiddcn away, and he said: no doubt thcy want father might say and added mocking: ah, he will say to yo~.
to go back, let them go back where they will but do not ah you ha.ve. done this to shame me again, you are always
let them take little Jule with them, I do not want him to the same, If It had been anything else you would have been
follow them, I want him ro stay with me, after all they Sure to find something; my mother was being careful not to
cannot hatc him. My mother went to consult Maitre Blain be overheard and told her: be silent. My sister said not so
at Beauquay, she poured out her calumnies against my I?udly: do not keep worrying about it. Another time my
father, she also told him she was pregnant. There wcre sls.ter had been to Villers to take her lace, she came back
other persons at Maitre Blain's, it was soon spread about in Without having been paid. My mother said: how wretched
Aunay, and a man talking to one of our neighbors said: it I am to be in this position, I hope we shall not stay here

95
I, PIERRE RIVtERE ..

long my god. Then she added: did you notice whether the reproachable conduct so unhappy and persecuted so
shopkeeper paid the others who brought him lace as you cruelly by his wife. On Sunday when he was intoning the
did. Perhaps he has forbidden him to pay you. I took care Asperges, for my father sang at the mass, nearly fifty
not to tell my father all the things I had heard because of persons wept. During the week my father obtained certi-
the notions he had. Another time when my father had left ficates, one from the mayor of Aunay which stated par-
on a journey, I heard my mother and my sister wondering ticulars of his good conduct and the esteem he enjoyed; one
whether he had perhaps gone to tryout those with whom from the mayor of Courvaudon which contained the same
she had left her linen and the contracts for the tenure and further some particulars about my mother's conduct
of her lands; he is at Julie's, they said, or else with the and another written by the priest and signed by several
Pinote woman, he will ask them for the contracts or things inhabitants of the commune setting forth my father's con-
like that, ah but they will not give him them, they would duct toward his wife and various of the sacrifices he had
be great cowards if they did; though my mother was made in order to live in peace with her. My father also
pregnant she thought she could nevertheless start to in- took his marriage certificate, the settlement made before
stitute separation proceedings, then she refused to cook Maitre Foucaur, which he lost on the way and which
except for the two children who were still with her and was found and returned to him, the lease he had cancelled,
refused to take bread from my g-m where it was delivered, the letter with the debts which had been sent him, and he
and after going to take advice for three or four days, one appeared on the day after Ascension. He found the judge
day she went to her cousin's doubtless to fetch her money. predisposed in my macher's favor, almost no notice was
And the neX[ morning she left for Vice; I nmiced that when taken of his certificates. The judge even said when he saw
she went, a man was with her, he was no doubt one of the cert.ificate from Courvaudon: but it is against your wife
the local people who took her side; while she was away thac you had it made at Courvaudon. My father said that
my sister Victoire and my brother Jule stayed in the the mayor had made it out as he pleased. My mother again
house eating the bread she had bought for them; not wish- set to reproaching him for letting her child starve to death.
ing to come to us they went to live with my g-m after In tears my father explained to the judge what the state
that. That evening my father asked my sister why she of affairs was. He also produced the settlement made before
let the bread that was at her home go bad and went and Maitre Foucaut. The judge asked my mothcr why she
got other bread, ah, she replied, because we have the was not willing to keep to this settlement and told her thac
means to buy it. Then, he said pay your debts to Rabache she had three choices. Either to keep to this settlement, or
and elsewhere where you said you would pay when you to return to her properties at Courvaudon, or to bring an
had money. Why do you prevent your little brother from action. My mother said that if she returned to her property
coming to cat with us? T am not preventing him she said; she desired her husband to give back what he had taken
you lie, he said, you are preventing him. My mother came from her, her furniture, her money, her cows, her casks
back with a summons from the president of the court to and several other things she mentioned many of which
appear for conciliation proceedings. It was Maitre Ie Valois she had never had. My father said: I will give them all
writ-server at Saint-Georges who brought my father this back to you. They asked who would have the custody of
summons. Everyone was distressed to see a man of ir- the children. The judge said they should go where they

97
I, PIERRE RIVtERE ..

long my god. Then she added: did you notice whether the reproachable conduct so unhappy and persecuted so
shopkeeper paid the others who brought him lace as you cruelly by his wife. On Sunday when he was intoning the
did. Perhaps he has forbidden him to pay you. I took care Asperges, for my father sang at the mass, nearly fifty
not to tell my father all the things I had heard because of persons wept. During the week my father obtained certi-
the notions he had. Another time when my father had left ficates, one from the mayor of Aunay which stated par-
on a journey, I heard my mother and my sister wondering ticulars of his good conduct and the esteem he enjoyed; one
whether he had perhaps gone to tryout those with whom from the mayor of Courvaudon which contained the same
she had left her linen and the contracts for the tenure and further some particulars about my mother's conduct
of her lands; he is at Julie's, they said, or else with the and another written by the priest and signed by several
Pinote woman, he will ask them for the contracts or things inhabitants of the commune setting forth my father's con-
like that, ah but they will not give him them, they would duct toward his wife and various of the sacrifices he had
be great cowards if they did; though my mother was made in order to live in peace with her. My father also
pregnant she thought she could nevertheless start to in- took his marriage certificate, the settlement made before
stitute separation proceedings, then she refused to cook Maitre Foucaur, which he lost on the way and which
except for the two children who were still with her and was found and returned to him, the lease he had cancelled,
refused to take bread from my g-m where it was delivered, the letter with the debts which had been sent him, and he
and after going to take advice for three or four days, one appeared on the day after Ascension. He found the judge
day she went to her cousin's doubtless to fetch her money. predisposed in my macher's favor, almost no notice was
And the neX[ morning she left for Vice; I nmiced that when taken of his certificates. The judge even said when he saw
she went, a man was with her, he was no doubt one of the cert.ificate from Courvaudon: but it is against your wife
the local people who took her side; while she was away thac you had it made at Courvaudon. My father said that
my sister Victoire and my brother Jule stayed in the the mayor had made it out as he pleased. My mother again
house eating the bread she had bought for them; not wish- set to reproaching him for letting her child starve to death.
ing to come to us they went to live with my g-m after In tears my father explained to the judge what the state
that. That evening my father asked my sister why she of affairs was. He also produced the settlement made before
let the bread that was at her home go bad and went and Maitre Foucaut. The judge asked my mothcr why she
got other bread, ah, she replied, because we have the was not willing to keep to this settlement and told her thac
means to buy it. Then, he said pay your debts to Rabache she had three choices. Either to keep to this settlement, or
and elsewhere where you said you would pay when you to return to her properties at Courvaudon, or to bring an
had money. Why do you prevent your little brother from action. My mother said that if she returned to her property
coming to cat with us? T am not preventing him she said; she desired her husband to give back what he had taken
you lie, he said, you are preventing him. My mother came from her, her furniture, her money, her cows, her casks
back with a summons from the president of the court to and several other things she mentioned many of which
appear for conciliation proceedings. It was Maitre Ie Valois she had never had. My father said: I will give them all
writ-server at Saint-Georges who brought my father this back to you. They asked who would have the custody of
summons. Everyone was distressed to see a man of ir- the children. The judge said they should go where they

97
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

would. My father said: but sir she says she is pregnanr,IO My brothcr Jule did not scek the company of my father
who will have the custody of this child? He replied: your or mine or my brother Prosper's so much, he did not like
wife rather than you, it is she who will be suckling it. going on horseback so much as bcfore. 20 But he nevertheless
But that did not suit my mother who as has been seen in- came back with me, he came to my g-m's house severa l
tended to have this child and not to do a finger's turn for it times to eat with all five of liS, and he was friendly enough
in any way whatsoever. My father said: Settle it as you to US, bur he preferred my mother to my father. On the
like. She did not reply at all to what the judge said about Saturday after we returned from Vire my sister Victoire
it. This judge also said that if she wished [0 bring an action opened the cupboard and ga\'e her cousin who was passing
he would nOt refuse to authorize it but it would be a case by some more parcels to take away. After vespers on Sun-
which would cost a great deal of money. That was just day my father had visitors, several persons from Aunay
what pleased my mother as she knew that my father would came and had supper at my g-m's house. Then some of
have to give her money to sue him. On the way to Vire them left; and others stayed. There came a joiner of
M. Auguste Grellay had asked her why she wanted to ruin Courvaodon who lives in the village of Ie Bouillon where
her husband. One has to pay money, she had answered him, my mother used to live, he first went into her place and set
to get profit from everybody. But she did not take Out a to kissing her and petting her~ll then he went into the
writ that day. On the way back my father carried her be- other house and drank with my father and the others who
hind him on the horse from Cadeholle to Aunay. \Vhen she were there, they spoke of the carpenter's tools my mother
returned her disposition did not seem any better. \ Vhen my had given him, my father said thac she had said she had
father spoke ro her about the journey, a fine sight you asked h1m for them and he had not been willing to give
were, she told him, you looked like a convict from the them to her, and they both went to look for them. But she
hulks. And she went on going to hold further consultations said the same as the joiner, and my father was so dismayed
on the days following and getting bread from the bakers, that he set to shouting at her somewhat loudly. Mean-
when she gOt it the baker asked her whether her husband while the other people with whom I had stayed behind
had none. Yes, she said, but when you go to fetch a loaf, said: my faith he is not safe with all these lads she runs
there is an old woman there who makes a long face at you. around with everywhere. Then Ilcbe rt said to me straight
I did not eat with my mother or with my sister Victoire Out: never lea\'e your father lad, he will not leave you in
since the day my mother starred separation proceedings. the lurch. Alas I had quite different ideas. J\ly father came
back and the joiner too. The people had gone out into the
I'My hther no longer maint'ained the arguments I hal'e mentioned yard to take the air, the joiner said: oh I have fallen out
abcwe. he said to those to whom he had spoken about it that it was
possible ~he might be pregnant and that it might be by him. But he was with Riviere; my mother and my sister were peering Out
nel'er conl'inced that she really was; when he saw that her pregnancy of the door, it looked as if they were JUSt laughing at my
continued he said that since she often made journeys. she might perhal>S father's distress. The joiner sat down and drank, then he
try to say that ~he had gil-en birth during her tral'e!s and present him
with another child. that if she J:!~ve birth awa), from his house he would said he would sing a. song, well, said Fran!):ois Senecal, tell
have her visited. He also said that why she was doing that was to carry
20 This poor child. now I come to think back on it. already did
off effects without being seen and hide them with her gossips: when she
harrowine: all by himself.
eame back from Vire he said: that is the end of it, she was not 50 big
21 This joiner had come and done !he same selleral times since my
at Vire as she is every day.
nlorher h:ld come to live with my father.

99
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

would. My father said: but sir she says she is pregnanr,IO My brothcr Jule did not scek the company of my father
who will have the custody of this child? He replied: your or mine or my brother Prosper's so much, he did not like
wife rather than you, it is she who will be suckling it. going on horseback so much as bcfore. 20 But he nevertheless
But that did not suit my mother who as has been seen in- came back with me, he came to my g-m's house severa l
tended to have this child and not to do a finger's turn for it times to eat with all five of liS, and he was friendly enough
in any way whatsoever. My father said: Settle it as you to US, bur he preferred my mother to my father. On the
like. She did not reply at all to what the judge said about Saturday after we returned from Vire my sister Victoire
it. This judge also said that if she wished [0 bring an action opened the cupboard and ga\'e her cousin who was passing
he would nOt refuse to authorize it but it would be a case by some more parcels to take away. After vespers on Sun-
which would cost a great deal of money. That was just day my father had visitors, several persons from Aunay
what pleased my mother as she knew that my father would came and had supper at my g-m's house. Then some of
have to give her money to sue him. On the way to Vire them left; and others stayed. There came a joiner of
M. Auguste Grellay had asked her why she wanted to ruin Courvaodon who lives in the village of Ie Bouillon where
her husband. One has to pay money, she had answered him, my mother used to live, he first went into her place and set
to get profit from everybody. But she did not take Out a to kissing her and petting her~ll then he went into the
writ that day. On the way back my father carried her be- other house and drank with my father and the others who
hind him on the horse from Cadeholle to Aunay. \Vhen she were there, they spoke of the carpenter's tools my mother
returned her disposition did not seem any better. \ Vhen my had given him, my father said thac she had said she had
father spoke ro her about the journey, a fine sight you asked h1m for them and he had not been willing to give
were, she told him, you looked like a convict from the them to her, and they both went to look for them. But she
hulks. And she went on going to hold further consultations said the same as the joiner, and my father was so dismayed
on the days following and getting bread from the bakers, that he set to shouting at her somewhat loudly. Mean-
when she gOt it the baker asked her whether her husband while the other people with whom I had stayed behind
had none. Yes, she said, but when you go to fetch a loaf, said: my faith he is not safe with all these lads she runs
there is an old woman there who makes a long face at you. around with everywhere. Then Ilcbe rt said to me straight
I did not eat with my mother or with my sister Victoire Out: never lea\'e your father lad, he will not leave you in
since the day my mother starred separation proceedings. the lurch. Alas I had quite different ideas. J\ly father came
back and the joiner too. The people had gone out into the
I'My hther no longer maint'ained the arguments I hal'e mentioned yard to take the air, the joiner said: oh I have fallen out
abcwe. he said to those to whom he had spoken about it that it was
possible ~he might be pregnant and that it might be by him. But he was with Riviere; my mother and my sister were peering Out
nel'er conl'inced that she really was; when he saw that her pregnancy of the door, it looked as if they were JUSt laughing at my
continued he said that since she often made journeys. she might perhal>S father's distress. The joiner sat down and drank, then he
try to say that ~he had gil-en birth during her tral'e!s and present him
with another child. that if she J:!~ve birth awa), from his house he would said he would sing a. song, well, said Fran!):ois Senecal, tell
have her visited. He also said that why she was doing that was to carry
20 This poor child. now I come to think back on it. already did
off effects without being seen and hide them with her gossips: when she
harrowine: all by himself.
eame back from Vire he said: that is the end of it, she was not 50 big
21 This joiner had come and done !he same selleral times since my
at Vire as she is every day.
nlorher h:ld come to live with my father.

99
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

uS what it is about in a couplc of words, thc joiner began were a summary of my private life and the thoughts that
and sang a song which amounted to mocking my father have busied me to this day.
and laughing ,It his duplicity Isic j. The first c?uplet cndcd: In my early childhood, that is to say when I was about
let evcrything comc in and nothing go ou.t; In the sc.cond 7 or 8. I was very devout. I retired aside to pray (0 God
couplet it said: Lise was tired of always lemng. people In by and I refused the quaner-of~an~hour's refreshments during
the same door, after nine months someone simply had to the Rogation processions. I thought I would be a priest and
come Out. i\ly father then said: let us go i~ .we arc mo~e my father said that he would sec to it that I should be able
in a state for weeping than singing. The JOllier went III to become one. 1 learned sermons and I preached before
with us, he began to talk about the tools again and said: I several persons, among them Nicolas Riviere of our village
helped your wife bring in her grain and she said to Ille: and at the house of his brother the innkeeper at Aunay
well joiner you shall take the tools and then we shall. be before some gentlemen who were stopping there. I did
quits. Fran~ois Senecal said [0 him: what are you pestenng this for two or three years. \Vhat I had already read in~
us about now; and after staying a while longer he went off". spired me to do this. Later my ideas changed and I thought
Some women who were there spoke to my father and I shou ld be as other men. Neverthcless I displayed singl1lari~
my g-m of their troubles and they saw that they were ties. My schoolmates noticed this and laughed at me. I
truly distraught; these people, they said as they left, ~re ascribed their contempt to some actS of stupidity which I
certainly having their purgatory on earth. The ne.xt mornl~g had done since the beginnings and which, as I thought. had
my father left for Tesscl, my g-m expectc~ him back III discredited me for ever. I amuscd myself all by myself. I
the afternoon; but he did not come back till about three walked in our garden and since I had read some things
o'clock in the morning of Tuesday; oh, she said. what have about a.rmies, I imagined our cabbages drawn up in battie
you been doing all this time ~ have bcc~ waitin~ for )~ou array, I appointed leaders. and then I broke down sollie
and how worried I am; he said that havmg left mtendl11g of the cabbages to show they were dead or wounded. t\ly
to rcturn about six that evening, he had rested a little g~m said, it is astonishing, he loves the cabbages and he
on the way, he had gone to sleep, and when he woke up breaks them down. I amused myself with this for a long
he had gone the wrong way. he had walked nearly a league time, though I did not break down llIany of them. Riviere's
before he recognized where he was and had com~ back. eldest son known as Cadet saw me as he passed by. and
And that day he fell sick. My g-m told one of her neighbors almost every time he saw me afterwards. he asked me arc
about this and this woman said to her: it is all his tribulations you still fighting your cabbages? I was good at learning
th:n are tormcming and distressing him so much. H e did not to read and do arithmetic, but I did not get on so well with
feci fit to work, he lay down and rested, and he was s~ill writing. After I had stopped going to school I worked
distressed, distrait and thoughtful; several persons said: the land with my father; but that did not suit my inclina-
if he should fall sick he will nO[ recover. tion at alI. I had ideas of glory, I took great pleasure in
the end of the summary of my father's afflictions. reading_ At school they read the Royalllnont Bible, I read
in Numbers and Dcmeronomy, in the Gospel and the rest
r laving promised to explain my character and the of the New Testament. r read in almanacs and geography.
thoughts I had before and after this deed, I shall make as it r read in the Family Museum and a clergy ca lendar, some
'00
<0'
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

uS what it is about in a couplc of words, thc joiner began were a summary of my private life and the thoughts that
and sang a song which amounted to mocking my father have busied me to this day.
and laughing ,It his duplicity Isic j. The first c?uplet cndcd: In my early childhood, that is to say when I was about
let evcrything comc in and nothing go ou.t; In the sc.cond 7 or 8. I was very devout. I retired aside to pray (0 God
couplet it said: Lise was tired of always lemng. people In by and I refused the quaner-of~an~hour's refreshments during
the same door, after nine months someone simply had to the Rogation processions. I thought I would be a priest and
come Out. i\ly father then said: let us go i~ .we arc mo~e my father said that he would sec to it that I should be able
in a state for weeping than singing. The JOllier went III to become one. 1 learned sermons and I preached before
with us, he began to talk about the tools again and said: I several persons, among them Nicolas Riviere of our village
helped your wife bring in her grain and she said to Ille: and at the house of his brother the innkeeper at Aunay
well joiner you shall take the tools and then we shall. be before some gentlemen who were stopping there. I did
quits. Fran~ois Senecal said [0 him: what are you pestenng this for two or three years. \Vhat I had already read in~
us about now; and after staying a while longer he went off". spired me to do this. Later my ideas changed and I thought
Some women who were there spoke to my father and I shou ld be as other men. Neverthcless I displayed singl1lari~
my g-m of their troubles and they saw that they were ties. My schoolmates noticed this and laughed at me. I
truly distraught; these people, they said as they left, ~re ascribed their contempt to some actS of stupidity which I
certainly having their purgatory on earth. The ne.xt mornl~g had done since the beginnings and which, as I thought. had
my father left for Tesscl, my g-m expectc~ him back III discredited me for ever. I amuscd myself all by myself. I
the afternoon; but he did not come back till about three walked in our garden and since I had read some things
o'clock in the morning of Tuesday; oh, she said. what have about a.rmies, I imagined our cabbages drawn up in battie
you been doing all this time ~ have bcc~ waitin~ for )~ou array, I appointed leaders. and then I broke down sollie
and how worried I am; he said that havmg left mtendl11g of the cabbages to show they were dead or wounded. t\ly
to rcturn about six that evening, he had rested a little g~m said, it is astonishing, he loves the cabbages and he
on the way, he had gone to sleep, and when he woke up breaks them down. I amused myself with this for a long
he had gone the wrong way. he had walked nearly a league time, though I did not break down llIany of them. Riviere's
before he recognized where he was and had com~ back. eldest son known as Cadet saw me as he passed by. and
And that day he fell sick. My g-m told one of her neighbors almost every time he saw me afterwards. he asked me arc
about this and this woman said to her: it is all his tribulations you still fighting your cabbages? I was good at learning
th:n are tormcming and distressing him so much. H e did not to read and do arithmetic, but I did not get on so well with
feci fit to work, he lay down and rested, and he was s~ill writing. After I had stopped going to school I worked
distressed, distrait and thoughtful; several persons said: the land with my father; but that did not suit my inclina-
if he should fall sick he will nO[ recover. tion at alI. I had ideas of glory, I took great pleasure in
the end of the summary of my father's afflictions. reading_ At school they read the Royalllnont Bible, I read
in Numbers and Dcmeronomy, in the Gospel and the rest
r laving promised to explain my character and the of the New Testament. r read in almanacs and geography.
thoughts I had before and after this deed, I shall make as it r read in the Family Museum and a clergy ca lendar, some
'00
<0'
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

histories, that of Bonaparte, Roman history, a history of I imagined myself playing a role, I was forever filling my
shipwrecks, the Practica l Morals and several other things. head with personages I imagined. I saw quite well however
If I found even a scrap of newspaper to be used to wipe how people looked upon me, most of them laughed at me.
one's behind I read it, I also read in the Good Sense of I applied myself diligently to find out what 1 should do to
rhe Cure Melier, in Feller's philosophical catechism and the s[OP this and live in society, but I did not have tact enough
Montpellier Catechism. What I read about astronomy and to do that, I could not find the words to say, and I could
some other things which I had examined made me irreligious not appear sociable with the young people of my own age,
after three years. At that rime and before that I was con- it was above all when I met girls in company that I lacked
sumed by ideas of greatness and immortality, I I!sreemed words to address them, so some of them by way of jest ran
myself far better than others, and I have been ashamed to after me to kiss me. 1 was unwilling to go and see my rela-
say so until now, I thought I would raise myself above Dons, that is to say cousins, or my father's friends for fear
my condition. At this time carnal passion troubled me: I of the compliments that must be exchanged. Finding that I
believed that it was unworthy of me ever to think of could not manage to do such things, I got over it. And I
indulging it. Above all I had a horror of incest which despised in my heat[ those who despised me. I wished to
caused me to shun approaching the women of my family. revenge myself on Nicolas Margrie's daughter who had
When I thought I had come tOO close to them, [ made managed to kiss me by making a song about her honor which
signs with my hand as if to repair the haml I believed I I had resolved to scaner along the roads; I then thought I
had done. My father and my g-m were very much dis- could revenge myself on my other mockers by making up
tressed by these things which lasted for the space of a year. songs about all of them. I told Fonam, one of my friends,
My father said perhaps he has scruplesH but it is astonishing that I could revenge myself on all those people by making
for he no longer has any religion. When they asked me why writings about all of them, I could put them to scorn and
I made these signs, I tried to evade the questions by say- have them driven out of the district. Later I was several
ing that I was trying to drive away the devil. They said times tempted to call out someone in a duel. I also resolved
tOO that I had a horror of other women, for sometimes when [0 distinguish myself by making completely new instru -

they were beside my g-m and my sister, I withdrew else- ments, I wanted them to be created in my imagination. I
where. One day when Marianne Renaut who was then a resolved first to make a tool to kill birds such as had never
servant in our house opened the garden door, I promptly before been seen, I named it "calibene," 1 worked on it for
thrust my hand to my breech, though I was very far away. a long time on Sundays and in the evening, and finding that
Oh yes, she said, go on, hold your trousers right; but it was it did not succeed as I had expected, I went and buried it
not her I was afraid I would see when she opened the door, in a meadow and later I dug it up again and it is still on the
I was afraid it would be my g-m or my sister. These ideas Roor in one of the houses. I had also resolved to make an
faded away. But I was always preoccupied with my excel- instrument to churn butter all by itself and a carriage to go
lence, and on my solirary walks I made up stories in which all by itself with springs, which I wamed to produce only in
my imagination. I told these th ings to my friend Fortain and
22 Before my incredulity I had had other scruples, 1 feared dis- to Jean Buot who worked with us. I was more at case with
tractions in my prayers, so that I repeated the words an infinite number
of ti mes and made: absurd gestures and contortions. children of nine or ten than with people of my own age, I
00)
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

histories, that of Bonaparte, Roman history, a history of I imagined myself playing a role, I was forever filling my
shipwrecks, the Practica l Morals and several other things. head with personages I imagined. I saw quite well however
If I found even a scrap of newspaper to be used to wipe how people looked upon me, most of them laughed at me.
one's behind I read it, I also read in the Good Sense of I applied myself diligently to find out what 1 should do to
rhe Cure Melier, in Feller's philosophical catechism and the s[OP this and live in society, but I did not have tact enough
Montpellier Catechism. What I read about astronomy and to do that, I could not find the words to say, and I could
some other things which I had examined made me irreligious not appear sociable with the young people of my own age,
after three years. At that rime and before that I was con- it was above all when I met girls in company that I lacked
sumed by ideas of greatness and immortality, I I!sreemed words to address them, so some of them by way of jest ran
myself far better than others, and I have been ashamed to after me to kiss me. 1 was unwilling to go and see my rela-
say so until now, I thought I would raise myself above Dons, that is to say cousins, or my father's friends for fear
my condition. At this time carnal passion troubled me: I of the compliments that must be exchanged. Finding that I
believed that it was unworthy of me ever to think of could not manage to do such things, I got over it. And I
indulging it. Above all I had a horror of incest which despised in my heat[ those who despised me. I wished to
caused me to shun approaching the women of my family. revenge myself on Nicolas Margrie's daughter who had
When I thought I had come tOO close to them, [ made managed to kiss me by making a song about her honor which
signs with my hand as if to repair the haml I believed I I had resolved to scaner along the roads; I then thought I
had done. My father and my g-m were very much dis- could revenge myself on my other mockers by making up
tressed by these things which lasted for the space of a year. songs about all of them. I told Fonam, one of my friends,
My father said perhaps he has scruplesH but it is astonishing that I could revenge myself on all those people by making
for he no longer has any religion. When they asked me why writings about all of them, I could put them to scorn and
I made these signs, I tried to evade the questions by say- have them driven out of the district. Later I was several
ing that I was trying to drive away the devil. They said times tempted to call out someone in a duel. I also resolved
tOO that I had a horror of other women, for sometimes when [0 distinguish myself by making completely new instru -

they were beside my g-m and my sister, I withdrew else- ments, I wanted them to be created in my imagination. I
where. One day when Marianne Renaut who was then a resolved first to make a tool to kill birds such as had never
servant in our house opened the garden door, I promptly before been seen, I named it "calibene," 1 worked on it for
thrust my hand to my breech, though I was very far away. a long time on Sundays and in the evening, and finding that
Oh yes, she said, go on, hold your trousers right; but it was it did not succeed as I had expected, I went and buried it
not her I was afraid I would see when she opened the door, in a meadow and later I dug it up again and it is still on the
I was afraid it would be my g-m or my sister. These ideas Roor in one of the houses. I had also resolved to make an
faded away. But I was always preoccupied with my excel- instrument to churn butter all by itself and a carriage to go
lence, and on my solirary walks I made up stories in which all by itself with springs, which I wamed to produce only in
my imagination. I told these th ings to my friend Fortain and
22 Before my incredulity I had had other scruples, 1 feared dis- to Jean Buot who worked with us. I was more at case with
tractions in my prayers, so that I repeated the words an infinite number
of ti mes and made: absurd gestures and contortions. children of nine or ten than with people of my own age, I
00)
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

made them bows which I called albalesters, and I busied my- immersed in these latter days, his duplicity [sicl, the tribula-
self in trying to get one to go off. I was arrested with one dons he continually endured, all this affected me very
and though I said I had made it in order to pass for mad, yet deeply. All my ideas were directed coward these things and
it was not exactly that. At our home I made some go off but settled upon them. I conceived the fearful design which I
I took care to hide myself as well as I could. In myself I executed, I was meditating it for about a month before. I
found that this was not a necessity, I had read that it was wholly forgot the principles which should have made me
formerly used for hunting and even for fighting in war. respect my mother and my sister and my brother, I regarded
Some time ago I broke a pane of Nativel's window by shoot- my father as being in the power of mad dogs or barbarians
ing one off, I was ashamed in case they said it was me, my against whom I must take up arms, religion forbade such
two brothers were rhere. They were asked who had broken things, but I disregarded its rules, it even seemed to me that
it. They said they knew nothing about it, and they never God had destined me for this and that I would be executing
said that it was me. As it was soon suspected who it had his justice. r knew the rules of man and the rules of ordered
been, my father asked Jule if it was not me. This child society, but I deemed myself wiser than they, I regarded
always maintained that it was not. T crucified frogs and them as ignoble and shameful. I had read in Roman history,
birds, I had also invented another torture to put them to and I had found that the Romans' laws gave the husband the
death. It was to attach them to a tree with three sharp nails right of life and death over his wife and his children. I
through the belly. I called that enceepharating them, I took wished to defy the laws, it seemed to me that it would be a
the children with me to do it and sometimes I did it all by glory to me, that I should immortalize myself by dying for
myself. Two years ago I went to Sainte-Honorine all alone my father. I conjured up the warriors who died for their
on Saint Claire's day to observe the talk which the masters king and country, the valor of the srudents of the Poly-
and servants he ld together and to learn from it and do as thecnic [sic] college at the taking of Paris in 1814, and 1
much myself if I had the chance. I observed several persons, said to myself: these people died {Q uphold the cause of a
M. Viel of Guiberville among others, I saw him speak to man whom they did not know and who did not know them
several servants and hire one, I watched the people without either, who had never given them a thought, and I, I would
speaking to them, without knowing them and without their be dying to deliver a man who loves and cherishes me. The
knowing me. I often took a stroll through assemblages and example of Chatillon who alone held untO death the passage
markets all by myself without companions. I always had ideas through a street through which the enemy was swarming to
about learning things and bettering myself. I thought that if seize his king; the courage of Eleazar one of rhe j\1accabces
ever I came to have some money I would buy some books brothers who slew an elephant where he believed the enemy
and Abbe Gaultier's complete course23 of reading, writing, king to be, although he knew that he would be crushed
arithmetic, geometry, geography, history, music, the French, beneath the animal's weight; the example of a Roman
Latin and Italian languages, etc., the whole costing 60 frs. general whose name I do not remember who laid down his
I thought I would bener myself. Despite these ideas of life in the war against the Latins to uphold his cause. All
glory I cherished, I loved my father very much, his tribula- these things passed through my mind and invited me to
tions affected me sorely. The distress in which I saw him do my deed. The example of Henri de la Roguejacquelain
which I read recently seemed to me to have a great bearing
zs 1 had seen it mentioned in his geography book.

'05
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

made them bows which I called albalesters, and I busied my- immersed in these latter days, his duplicity [sicl, the tribula-
self in trying to get one to go off. I was arrested with one dons he continually endured, all this affected me very
and though I said I had made it in order to pass for mad, yet deeply. All my ideas were directed coward these things and
it was not exactly that. At our home I made some go off but settled upon them. I conceived the fearful design which I
I took care to hide myself as well as I could. In myself I executed, I was meditating it for about a month before. I
found that this was not a necessity, I had read that it was wholly forgot the principles which should have made me
formerly used for hunting and even for fighting in war. respect my mother and my sister and my brother, I regarded
Some time ago I broke a pane of Nativel's window by shoot- my father as being in the power of mad dogs or barbarians
ing one off, I was ashamed in case they said it was me, my against whom I must take up arms, religion forbade such
two brothers were rhere. They were asked who had broken things, but I disregarded its rules, it even seemed to me that
it. They said they knew nothing about it, and they never God had destined me for this and that I would be executing
said that it was me. As it was soon suspected who it had his justice. r knew the rules of man and the rules of ordered
been, my father asked Jule if it was not me. This child society, but I deemed myself wiser than they, I regarded
always maintained that it was not. T crucified frogs and them as ignoble and shameful. I had read in Roman history,
birds, I had also invented another torture to put them to and I had found that the Romans' laws gave the husband the
death. It was to attach them to a tree with three sharp nails right of life and death over his wife and his children. I
through the belly. I called that enceepharating them, I took wished to defy the laws, it seemed to me that it would be a
the children with me to do it and sometimes I did it all by glory to me, that I should immortalize myself by dying for
myself. Two years ago I went to Sainte-Honorine all alone my father. I conjured up the warriors who died for their
on Saint Claire's day to observe the talk which the masters king and country, the valor of the srudents of the Poly-
and servants he ld together and to learn from it and do as thecnic [sic] college at the taking of Paris in 1814, and 1
much myself if I had the chance. I observed several persons, said to myself: these people died {Q uphold the cause of a
M. Viel of Guiberville among others, I saw him speak to man whom they did not know and who did not know them
several servants and hire one, I watched the people without either, who had never given them a thought, and I, I would
speaking to them, without knowing them and without their be dying to deliver a man who loves and cherishes me. The
knowing me. I often took a stroll through assemblages and example of Chatillon who alone held untO death the passage
markets all by myself without companions. I always had ideas through a street through which the enemy was swarming to
about learning things and bettering myself. I thought that if seize his king; the courage of Eleazar one of rhe j\1accabces
ever I came to have some money I would buy some books brothers who slew an elephant where he believed the enemy
and Abbe Gaultier's complete course23 of reading, writing, king to be, although he knew that he would be crushed
arithmetic, geometry, geography, history, music, the French, beneath the animal's weight; the example of a Roman
Latin and Italian languages, etc., the whole costing 60 frs. general whose name I do not remember who laid down his
I thought I would bener myself. Despite these ideas of life in the war against the Latins to uphold his cause. All
glory I cherished, I loved my father very much, his tribula- these things passed through my mind and invited me to
tions affected me sorely. The distress in which I saw him do my deed. The example of Henri de la Roguejacquelain
which I read recently seemed to me to have a great bearing
zs 1 had seen it mentioned in his geography book.

'05
I, PIERRE RIVIERE ..

on my concerns. I-Ie was one of the leaders of the Vendeans, execution. I intended at first to write down the whole life of
he died in the twemy-first year of his age to uphold the my father and my mother practicaUy as it is written here,25
king's cause. I pondered his harangue to his soldiers as the to put an announcement of the deed at the beginning and my
battle began: if I advance, he said, follow me, if I retreat reasons for commining it at the end, and the way I intended
kill me, if I die avenge me. The latest book I read was a to flout the law, that I was defying it, that I was immortal-
history of shipwrecks lent to me by Leror. I found in it that izing myself and so forth; then to commit my deed, to take
when the sailors lacked vicruals, they sacrificed one of their my letter to the post, and then to take a gun I would hide
number and ate him to save the rest of the crew. I thought to beforehand and kill myself; I had got up for several nights
myself: I too will sacrifice myself for my father, everything to read the Montpellier Catechism; on the pretext of doing
seemed to invite me to this deed. Even with the mys- the same I got up and began to write the announcement of
tery of the redemption, I thought that it was easier to under- the beginning, but the next day my sister found out, I then
stand, I said: our Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross to told her that I was writing the We of my father and my
save mankind, to redeem him from the slavery of the devil, mother to present it to the judges or to a lawyer whom my
from sin and from eternal damnation, he was God, it was father would go and consult to show the manner in which he
for him to punish the men who had offended him; he could was treated by my mother or else even that it would only
therefore have pardoned them without suffering these be read to those of our acquaintance. My siste r, it was Aimee,
things; but as for me, I can deliver my father only by dying wanted to see what there was that had already been wrinen,
for him. \Vhen I heard that nearly fifty persons had wept I took great care not to show her, for it was the announce-
when my father had intoned the Asperges, I said in my ment of the beginning. She came back a little while later
heart: if strangers who have nothing to do with it weep, with my father and Quevillon, I hid it, she asked: is it im-
what should I not do, I who am his son. I therefore took this possible to see it then? I said that shp. mUSt wait till there
fearful resolution, I determined to kill all three of them, the was more written. But fearing that someone might read this
first twO because rhey were leagued to make my father announcement I burned it and I thought J would write the
suffer, as to the little boy I had twO reasons, one because he life without hiding from anyone and thac I would secretly
loved my mother and my sister, the other because I feared put in the reasons of the end and the beginning after this
that if I only killed the other tWO, my father though greatly life was written. So I got up to write a night or two but I
horrified by it might yet regret me when he knew that I almost always went to sleep and I could only write a little.
was dying for him, I knew that he loved that child who was Then I took another decision, J gave up writing, and I
very intelligent, I thought to myself he will hold me in such thought that after the murder I would come to Vire and
abhorrence that he wiiJ rejoice2~ in my death, and so he give myself up to the district prosecutor or the police inspec-
will li\'e happier being free from regrets. I laving there~ore tor; then I would make my declarations that I would die
taken these fatal resolutions I resolved (0 put them 111(0 for my father, that no matter how much they were in favor
24 In conHr'iation~ when people were speaking of robbers who were
up for judgment like Lemaire for example. some p.eople had said: pcr- 2$ As I intended to write this history before the crime and had
hap~ he wi!! not he PUt to death. because of his famil}' and so forth. I'll)' considered mOSt of the words thn I would PUt in it. jt will not be
falher had said, as for me. if 1 had a robber in my famil}'. I should be surprising to find harsh expressions in it whieh would seem to show that
J still harbored hnred toward my hapless victims.
"ery glad if they PUt him to denh.
I, PIERRE RIVIERE ..

on my concerns. I-Ie was one of the leaders of the Vendeans, execution. I intended at first to write down the whole life of
he died in the twemy-first year of his age to uphold the my father and my mother practicaUy as it is written here,25
king's cause. I pondered his harangue to his soldiers as the to put an announcement of the deed at the beginning and my
battle began: if I advance, he said, follow me, if I retreat reasons for commining it at the end, and the way I intended
kill me, if I die avenge me. The latest book I read was a to flout the law, that I was defying it, that I was immortal-
history of shipwrecks lent to me by Leror. I found in it that izing myself and so forth; then to commit my deed, to take
when the sailors lacked vicruals, they sacrificed one of their my letter to the post, and then to take a gun I would hide
number and ate him to save the rest of the crew. I thought to beforehand and kill myself; I had got up for several nights
myself: I too will sacrifice myself for my father, everything to read the Montpellier Catechism; on the pretext of doing
seemed to invite me to this deed. Even with the mys- the same I got up and began to write the announcement of
tery of the redemption, I thought that it was easier to under- the beginning, but the next day my sister found out, I then
stand, I said: our Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross to told her that I was writing the We of my father and my
save mankind, to redeem him from the slavery of the devil, mother to present it to the judges or to a lawyer whom my
from sin and from eternal damnation, he was God, it was father would go and consult to show the manner in which he
for him to punish the men who had offended him; he could was treated by my mother or else even that it would only
therefore have pardoned them without suffering these be read to those of our acquaintance. My siste r, it was Aimee,
things; but as for me, I can deliver my father only by dying wanted to see what there was that had already been wrinen,
for him. \Vhen I heard that nearly fifty persons had wept I took great care not to show her, for it was the announce-
when my father had intoned the Asperges, I said in my ment of the beginning. She came back a little while later
heart: if strangers who have nothing to do with it weep, with my father and Quevillon, I hid it, she asked: is it im-
what should I not do, I who am his son. I therefore took this possible to see it then? I said that shp. mUSt wait till there
fearful resolution, I determined to kill all three of them, the was more written. But fearing that someone might read this
first twO because rhey were leagued to make my father announcement I burned it and I thought J would write the
suffer, as to the little boy I had twO reasons, one because he life without hiding from anyone and thac I would secretly
loved my mother and my sister, the other because I feared put in the reasons of the end and the beginning after this
that if I only killed the other tWO, my father though greatly life was written. So I got up to write a night or two but I
horrified by it might yet regret me when he knew that I almost always went to sleep and I could only write a little.
was dying for him, I knew that he loved that child who was Then I took another decision, J gave up writing, and I
very intelligent, I thought to myself he will hold me in such thought that after the murder I would come to Vire and
abhorrence that he wiiJ rejoice2~ in my death, and so he give myself up to the district prosecutor or the police inspec-
will li\'e happier being free from regrets. I laving there~ore tor; then I would make my declarations that I would die
taken these fatal resolutions I resolved (0 put them 111(0 for my father, that no matter how much they were in favor
24 In conHr'iation~ when people were speaking of robbers who were
up for judgment like Lemaire for example. some p.eople had said: pcr- 2$ As I intended to write this history before the crime and had
hap~ he wi!! not he PUt to death. because of his famil}' and so forth. I'll)' considered mOSt of the words thn I would PUt in it. jt will not be
falher had said, as for me. if 1 had a robber in my famil}'. I should be surprising to find harsh expressions in it whieh would seem to show that
J still harbored hnred toward my hapless victims.
"ery glad if they PUt him to denh.
1, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

of women they would not triumph, and my father would be doing it; on the Saturday when I saw that my father and
quiet and happy thenceforth; I thought 1 would also say: my g-m had lefr for the town of Aunay and the three I
in formcr times onc saw Jaels against Siseras, Judiths against had resolved to kill were together in the house, I at once
Holoferneses, Charlotte Cordays against Marars; now it dressed in my Sunday clothes, but whcn I was ready, I saw
must be men who employ this mania, it is the women who that my mother and my brother had gone to the town; since
are in command now in this fine age which calls itself the I thought they would come back, and since my sister Aimee
age of enliglnenment, this nation which seems co be so avid asked me why I was dressed like that, I said I was going to
for liberty and glory obeys women, the Romans were far the town, and I went to pass the time until my mother re-
more civilized, the Hurons and the Hottentots, the Algon- turned; having seen her on the road coming back, I simply
quins, these peoples who arc said to be idiots arc even more wenr to the town and came back, on my return I found all
civiliz.ed, never have they debased strength, it has always three of them in the house, but I could not make up my
been the stronger in body who have laid down the law mind to kill them; I then said to myself: I am no coward
among themselves. J thought it would be a great glory to me yet I will never be able to do anything, I went infO the
co have thoughts opposed to all my judges, to dispute against garden; and I saw my father coming back; then r went and
the whole world, I conjured up Bonaparte in 1815. I also changed my clothes; my father and my g-m ~I sked me why
said to myself: that man sent thousands to their death to I was dressed up like that to go to the town, it would have
satisfy mere caprices, it is not right therefore that T should been better only to put my smock on over my other clothes;
let a woman live who is disturbing my father's peace and I said that my other clothes, particularly my trousers, were
happiness, I thought that an opportunity had come for me too ragged; they asked me no other questions; I thought that
to raise myself, that my name would make some noise in I would do this deed the next day at my leisure; but no
the world, that by my death I should cover myself with opportunity arose or if it arose I did not take it; in the
glory, and that in time to come my ideas would be adopted evening I was going to do it while there were visitors with
and I shou ld be vindicated. Thus I took this fatal decision. my father, for I thought that all those people would prevent
H owever I feared lest my father, who as I thought did not him from doing himself harm. \Vhen he saw that, I did not
have ideas as sublime as mine, might kill himself at the go and sup with them, but went and wandered about in the
sight of it; but I thought I would do it when he waS away gardens busying myself with my ideas; I had an opportunity,
and I would warn people to keep him away and once he I said to myself, but I was held back by what I then called my
had withstood the first shock, there would be no danger cowardice. As J could not make up Illy mind to it then,
afterwards. J also thought that since I would have to appear therefore, and saw that ir could no longer be done that day,
before the judges to defend my opinions, I must do this T weor with my farher and rhose who were still with him,
deed in my Sunday clothes so that I could leave for Vire as the joiner and the others of whom I have spoken. I thought
soon as it was consummated. I went to have my pruning I would do this deed during the week and that I would
bill sharpened on Sunday May 24 at Gabin the Blacksmith's hide to dress in my Sunday clothes, I knew that it cou ld
smithy at Aunay, who was accustomed to work for us; not be done rhe next day, we had to go and plow for
thar day I did nothing, I thought I would do it during Quevillon, it was J who went; but he was to come and plow
the week and I would put on my Sunday clothes before for us the day after, and it was ordinarily my father who

'0' "'9
1, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

of women they would not triumph, and my father would be doing it; on the Saturday when I saw that my father and
quiet and happy thenceforth; I thought 1 would also say: my g-m had lefr for the town of Aunay and the three I
in formcr times onc saw Jaels against Siseras, Judiths against had resolved to kill were together in the house, I at once
Holoferneses, Charlotte Cordays against Marars; now it dressed in my Sunday clothes, but whcn I was ready, I saw
must be men who employ this mania, it is the women who that my mother and my brother had gone to the town; since
are in command now in this fine age which calls itself the I thought they would come back, and since my sister Aimee
age of enliglnenment, this nation which seems co be so avid asked me why I was dressed like that, I said I was going to
for liberty and glory obeys women, the Romans were far the town, and I went to pass the time until my mother re-
more civilized, the Hurons and the Hottentots, the Algon- turned; having seen her on the road coming back, I simply
quins, these peoples who arc said to be idiots arc even more wenr to the town and came back, on my return I found all
civiliz.ed, never have they debased strength, it has always three of them in the house, but I could not make up my
been the stronger in body who have laid down the law mind to kill them; I then said to myself: I am no coward
among themselves. J thought it would be a great glory to me yet I will never be able to do anything, I went infO the
co have thoughts opposed to all my judges, to dispute against garden; and I saw my father coming back; then r went and
the whole world, I conjured up Bonaparte in 1815. I also changed my clothes; my father and my g-m ~I sked me why
said to myself: that man sent thousands to their death to I was dressed up like that to go to the town, it would have
satisfy mere caprices, it is not right therefore that T should been better only to put my smock on over my other clothes;
let a woman live who is disturbing my father's peace and I said that my other clothes, particularly my trousers, were
happiness, I thought that an opportunity had come for me too ragged; they asked me no other questions; I thought that
to raise myself, that my name would make some noise in I would do this deed the next day at my leisure; but no
the world, that by my death I should cover myself with opportunity arose or if it arose I did not take it; in the
glory, and that in time to come my ideas would be adopted evening I was going to do it while there were visitors with
and I shou ld be vindicated. Thus I took this fatal decision. my father, for I thought that all those people would prevent
H owever I feared lest my father, who as I thought did not him from doing himself harm. \Vhen he saw that, I did not
have ideas as sublime as mine, might kill himself at the go and sup with them, but went and wandered about in the
sight of it; but I thought I would do it when he waS away gardens busying myself with my ideas; I had an opportunity,
and I would warn people to keep him away and once he I said to myself, but I was held back by what I then called my
had withstood the first shock, there would be no danger cowardice. As J could not make up Illy mind to it then,
afterwards. J also thought that since I would have to appear therefore, and saw that ir could no longer be done that day,
before the judges to defend my opinions, I must do this T weor with my farher and rhose who were still with him,
deed in my Sunday clothes so that I could leave for Vire as the joiner and the others of whom I have spoken. I thought
soon as it was consummated. I went to have my pruning I would do this deed during the week and that I would
bill sharpened on Sunday May 24 at Gabin the Blacksmith's hide to dress in my Sunday clothes, I knew that it cou ld
smithy at Aunay, who was accustomed to work for us; not be done rhe next day, we had to go and plow for
thar day I did nothing, I thought I would do it during Quevillon, it was J who went; but he was to come and plow
the week and I would put on my Sunday clothes before for us the day after, and it was ordinarily my father who

'0' "'9
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

went to fetch him when he plowed for us, I thought I would three of them were in the house, but when I was dressed, I
execute this project while my father was away plowing; so saw that my brother Jule had just gone to school; then I
I went on the ~tonday to plow for Quevillon, he said he decide to put it off to another time; J was in the garden and
was not sure he could come and plow for us the next day, be- I was about to go back into the house I mentioned and I put
cause he had to borrow a horse to go to a meadow where on myoid clothes again when my sister Aimee saw me; and
three were needed on the \Vednesday, he could if we could since she saw me I went off, [ went over toward Beau<)uay
finish working the meadow where we were and go and har- and I resolved not to return until noon when they would all
row the meadow in the afternoon so that it would be quite three be together. But that was tOO long to wait, I returned
ready; that he would come and plow for us on the Tuesday, to the house resolved to put on myoid clothes again and to
but otherwise he would not be able to come. \ Vhen I heard do the deed without dressing in others. I thought to myself:
this I worked rhe horses as faSt as I could, and we finished what does it maner whether I am dressed well or ill, I shall
the field we were in, and in the afternoon we went and explain myself quite as well without wearing good clothes,
harrowed as he had said. Next day he came to plow for then I came back to the house; the widow Quesnel was in
us, but as my father had returned sick after spending the the yard; oh, she said to my g-m, here is Pierre back again;
night in the open, he could not go with him, and I had to I went and looked in the house where 1 had left myoid
go. At midday my father fclt somewhat better and asked me clothes, I found they had been taken away. I went into my
whether I would rather dig the garden or go back to plow, I g-m's house and found her weeping; where do you want to go
would dig; when I was in the yard after dinner, I said to my to, she said to me, if you do not think you arc earning enough
sister Aimee: sing us the canticle happy day, holy joy; why? with your father and want to go elsewhere, say so, without
she asked me; to learn the tune, I answered; and why, she going off like that and saying nothing [Q anyone, and what
said, do you want to learn the tune? J said: I should be very is more you have no money, what do you intend to do, you
glad to know it, and then she set to singing, and QueviJion want to abandon your father, yet you see how he is. Ah, said
said: oh that will do us all good I think. and he joked with the widow Quesnel, you are being the death of your poor
my sister; then he went off with my father to plow. But g-m who loves you so much, fall on her neck and kiss her.
again 1 did nothing that day, no great opportunity occurred, My g-m went on to say to me: why do you do it, your father
and then I took another resolution, 1 had to go and work for offered you all the advantages he could, when you were little
Quevillon the next day, 1 thought 1 would feign sickness he said he would sacrifice part of his property to make you
that morning so that my father should go. \ Vhen it was time ~ priest, he offered to have you taught a trade if you wished,
to get up that morning I therefore pretended to vomit, my If you want to leave him. he still will nor let you go with-
g-m came. I told her I was not feeling well and I was not OUt money; the widow Quesnel said: ah he is not backward
going to be able to go plowing and my father went though in helping you do your work, he can be happy with all of
he too was somewhat ill; about an hour later I got up and you if he wants to. My g-m said: ah he would have done
said t was a little better, J said 1 was going to work in the bener to go this morning instead of his father who is sick,
garden, then I secretly got hold of my Sunday clothes and he sees his position, if he leaves him, that will be yet another
took them into one of the other houses called Clinot's house, forceful argument his mother will have against his father in
then 1 dressed in my Sunday clothes; at that moment all her suit, she will tell the judges: he is so bad that his children

''0
'"
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

went to fetch him when he plowed for us, I thought I would three of them were in the house, but when I was dressed, I
execute this project while my father was away plowing; so saw that my brother Jule had just gone to school; then I
I went on the ~tonday to plow for Quevillon, he said he decide to put it off to another time; J was in the garden and
was not sure he could come and plow for us the next day, be- I was about to go back into the house I mentioned and I put
cause he had to borrow a horse to go to a meadow where on myoid clothes again when my sister Aimee saw me; and
three were needed on the \Vednesday, he could if we could since she saw me I went off, [ went over toward Beau<)uay
finish working the meadow where we were and go and har- and I resolved not to return until noon when they would all
row the meadow in the afternoon so that it would be quite three be together. But that was tOO long to wait, I returned
ready; that he would come and plow for us on the Tuesday, to the house resolved to put on myoid clothes again and to
but otherwise he would not be able to come. \ Vhen I heard do the deed without dressing in others. I thought to myself:
this I worked rhe horses as faSt as I could, and we finished what does it maner whether I am dressed well or ill, I shall
the field we were in, and in the afternoon we went and explain myself quite as well without wearing good clothes,
harrowed as he had said. Next day he came to plow for then I came back to the house; the widow Quesnel was in
us, but as my father had returned sick after spending the the yard; oh, she said to my g-m, here is Pierre back again;
night in the open, he could not go with him, and I had to I went and looked in the house where 1 had left myoid
go. At midday my father fclt somewhat better and asked me clothes, I found they had been taken away. I went into my
whether I would rather dig the garden or go back to plow, I g-m's house and found her weeping; where do you want to go
would dig; when I was in the yard after dinner, I said to my to, she said to me, if you do not think you arc earning enough
sister Aimee: sing us the canticle happy day, holy joy; why? with your father and want to go elsewhere, say so, without
she asked me; to learn the tune, I answered; and why, she going off like that and saying nothing [Q anyone, and what
said, do you want to learn the tune? J said: I should be very is more you have no money, what do you intend to do, you
glad to know it, and then she set to singing, and QueviJion want to abandon your father, yet you see how he is. Ah, said
said: oh that will do us all good I think. and he joked with the widow Quesnel, you are being the death of your poor
my sister; then he went off with my father to plow. But g-m who loves you so much, fall on her neck and kiss her.
again 1 did nothing that day, no great opportunity occurred, My g-m went on to say to me: why do you do it, your father
and then I took another resolution, 1 had to go and work for offered you all the advantages he could, when you were little
Quevillon the next day, 1 thought 1 would feign sickness he said he would sacrifice part of his property to make you
that morning so that my father should go. \ Vhen it was time ~ priest, he offered to have you taught a trade if you wished,
to get up that morning I therefore pretended to vomit, my If you want to leave him. he still will nor let you go with-
g-m came. I told her I was not feeling well and I was not OUt money; the widow Quesnel said: ah he is not backward
going to be able to go plowing and my father went though in helping you do your work, he can be happy with all of
he too was somewhat ill; about an hour later I got up and you if he wants to. My g-m said: ah he would have done
said t was a little better, J said 1 was going to work in the bener to go this morning instead of his father who is sick,
garden, then I secretly got hold of my Sunday clothes and he sees his position, if he leaves him, that will be yet another
took them into one of the other houses called Clinot's house, forceful argument his mother will have against his father in
then 1 dressed in my Sunday clothes; at that moment all her suit, she will tell the judges: he is so bad that his children

''0
'"
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

will nor stay with him; yet if he wishes to go, his father will and came into the woods I regained my full senses, ah, can
not hold him back; let him tell us and we shall not be it be so, J asked myself, monster thar I am! Hapless victims!
worried about where he is. can I possibly have done that, no it is bur a dream! ah bur
] evaded all my g-m's questions by saying it was nothing, ir is all too true! chasms gape beneath my feet, earth swallow
they were making much ado about very little, and I went me; I wept, I fell to the ground, I lay there, I gazed at the
off to the closet where I put on all myoId clOthes again, then scene, the woods, I had been there before. Alas, I said to
I went to dig in the garden tiB noon. My g-m came too to myself, little did I think I would one day be in this plight;
work a bed of peas, she asked me some more questions, to poor mother, poor sister, guilty maybe in some sort, but
which I kept answering that it was nothing and she should never did they have ideas so unworthy as mine, poor un-
not worry about it. Yes it is though, she said, it is something, happy child, who came plowing with me, who led the
when your father comes back I shall want you to explain horse, who already harrowed all by himself, they are anni-
it; well, I answered, I will explain to him this evening. My hilated forever these hapless ones. Nevermore will they be
g-m ceased questioning me. Noon came and she went off seen on earth! Ah heaven, why have you granted me
to milk the cows with my sister Aimee. My brother Jule existence, why do you preserve me any longer. I did not
had come back from school. Taking advantage of this op- stay long in that place, I could not stay at this spot, my
portunity J seized the bill, I went into my mother's house regrets faded somewhat as I walked on. It is not hard to
and I committed that fearful crime, beginning with my understand that I was no longer resolved to come to Vire
mother, then my sister and my little brother, after that I to maintain the ideas I have set forth above. My ideas
struck them again and again; Marie, Nativei's mother-in-law changed more than once in the month that passed between
came in, ah what are you doing, she said to me, go away, the crime and my arrest, I will report them with the places
I said to her, or I shall do as much to you. Then I went out where I went. As I said I first went into the woods of Aunay
into the yard and speaking to Nativel J said: Miche go and where aching with regret I went on not knowing whither I
make sure that my g-m does not do herself any harm, she went, when T reached the top of the wood of Aunay, T
can he happy now, I die to restore her peace and quiet, I went as J think toward Danvou; but I do not know whether
also spoke to Aimee Lerot and to Potel, Leror's servant, see I was far from it when I passed; that evening I was in a
to it, I said, that my father and my g-m do not do them- small wood near Cadehol, I lay down and gave myself over
selves a mischief, I die to restore them peace and quiet. Then to my despairing thoughts, I rose, and I went to reach the
I set off to go to Vire; as I wished to have the glory of being highroad, I passed through Cadehol and a little farther on
the first to announce this news there I did not want to go to I left the highroad on the right, I went by side roads, I
the town of Aunay, for fear T might be arrested there. I rested under a hedge, and on Thursday I went by places I
resolved to go by the woods of Aunay by a road on which I do not know all of them, I had not dined on the Wednes-
had been several times which passes near a place called les day, I ate various sorts of plants, such as cuckoo bread and
Vergccs, and to reach the road to Vire above rhe village at wild sorrel, I also gathered mushrooms, J had no money but
the foot of the wood of Aunay; I therefore rook that road f?urteen som which happened to be in my pocket at the
and J threw away my bill into a wheatfield near la Faucterie time T left. I came to T ourneur where I bought a pound of
and went off. As T went J felt this courage and this idea of bread, r followed the local road. As I was passing through a
glory that inspired me weaken, and when r had gone farther town, which I was told was Saint-Pierre, I heard a woman

"3
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

will nor stay with him; yet if he wishes to go, his father will and came into the woods I regained my full senses, ah, can
not hold him back; let him tell us and we shall not be it be so, J asked myself, monster thar I am! Hapless victims!
worried about where he is. can I possibly have done that, no it is bur a dream! ah bur
] evaded all my g-m's questions by saying it was nothing, ir is all too true! chasms gape beneath my feet, earth swallow
they were making much ado about very little, and I went me; I wept, I fell to the ground, I lay there, I gazed at the
off to the closet where I put on all myoId clOthes again, then scene, the woods, I had been there before. Alas, I said to
I went to dig in the garden tiB noon. My g-m came too to myself, little did I think I would one day be in this plight;
work a bed of peas, she asked me some more questions, to poor mother, poor sister, guilty maybe in some sort, but
which I kept answering that it was nothing and she should never did they have ideas so unworthy as mine, poor un-
not worry about it. Yes it is though, she said, it is something, happy child, who came plowing with me, who led the
when your father comes back I shall want you to explain horse, who already harrowed all by himself, they are anni-
it; well, I answered, I will explain to him this evening. My hilated forever these hapless ones. Nevermore will they be
g-m ceased questioning me. Noon came and she went off seen on earth! Ah heaven, why have you granted me
to milk the cows with my sister Aimee. My brother Jule existence, why do you preserve me any longer. I did not
had come back from school. Taking advantage of this op- stay long in that place, I could not stay at this spot, my
portunity J seized the bill, I went into my mother's house regrets faded somewhat as I walked on. It is not hard to
and I committed that fearful crime, beginning with my understand that I was no longer resolved to come to Vire
mother, then my sister and my little brother, after that I to maintain the ideas I have set forth above. My ideas
struck them again and again; Marie, Nativei's mother-in-law changed more than once in the month that passed between
came in, ah what are you doing, she said to me, go away, the crime and my arrest, I will report them with the places
I said to her, or I shall do as much to you. Then I went out where I went. As I said I first went into the woods of Aunay
into the yard and speaking to Nativel J said: Miche go and where aching with regret I went on not knowing whither I
make sure that my g-m does not do herself any harm, she went, when T reached the top of the wood of Aunay, T
can he happy now, I die to restore her peace and quiet, I went as J think toward Danvou; but I do not know whether
also spoke to Aimee Lerot and to Potel, Leror's servant, see I was far from it when I passed; that evening I was in a
to it, I said, that my father and my g-m do not do them- small wood near Cadehol, I lay down and gave myself over
selves a mischief, I die to restore them peace and quiet. Then to my despairing thoughts, I rose, and I went to reach the
I set off to go to Vire; as I wished to have the glory of being highroad, I passed through Cadehol and a little farther on
the first to announce this news there I did not want to go to I left the highroad on the right, I went by side roads, I
the town of Aunay, for fear T might be arrested there. I rested under a hedge, and on Thursday I went by places I
resolved to go by the woods of Aunay by a road on which I do not know all of them, I had not dined on the Wednes-
had been several times which passes near a place called les day, I ate various sorts of plants, such as cuckoo bread and
Vergccs, and to reach the road to Vire above rhe village at wild sorrel, I also gathered mushrooms, J had no money but
the foot of the wood of Aunay; I therefore rook that road f?urteen som which happened to be in my pocket at the
and J threw away my bill into a wheatfield near la Faucterie time T left. I came to T ourneur where I bought a pound of
and went off. As T went J felt this courage and this idea of bread, r followed the local road. As I was passing through a
glory that inspired me weaken, and when r had gone farther town, which I was told was Saint-Pierre, I heard a woman

"3
I. PIERRE: RIVIEi~E . . .

saying to another; have you heard of the sad event which in our house for a year and is now at Dupont'S the inn-
has happened at Aunay? Yes, replied the other, bur I do keeper at Juvigni noticed me as I was passing, and no doubt
not know if it is really true; ah yes, said the first, it is only she told these who were with her, for I heard people shout-
too true. That evening as I was in the fields near the main ing behind me: ah ah, here he is call the gendarmes; as I did
road between Ie Mesnil au Souf and Cadehol, I resolved to not turn round, she shouted two or three times, Pierre, oh
kill myself, the vision of my crime was not to be borne. Pierre; I came to the bend in the highroad and I met the
Fearing that they might perhaps accuse my father of com- same man who had questioned me on the Monday, there
plicity, of hiding me, or getting me away by one means or were no more shouts behind me, he said nothing to me, I
another, I thought to myself that it is necessary that my drank and ate a little cress at a stream where there is a
body be found, and as I ordinarily carried string and had bridge near Juvigni and went on my way. I passed through
some with me, I resolved to hang myself on a tree, I ex- Villers by night and on Thursday I was back in the woods at
amined some which might serve my purpose, but when I Ie Mesnil au Souf; I thought I could not go on in this fashion,
went to do it, the fear of the judgments of God restrained and feeling that it could only have been an aberration that
me, I spent all day Friday in this agitation, at last I resolved had brought me to commit this crime, I resolved to come and
to abide by my condition since the evil was irremediable, I give myself up to the law and be arrested at Vire, but I was
resolved to live on plants and roots until whatever events afraid to tell the exact truth; my first intention was however
might come; until the strawberries, blueberries and black- ro say that J repented but I had the idea of saying that I had
berries were ripe, I resolved to go to the seashore, and live been brought to it by visions, that absorbed as I was by all
there on crabs, mussels and oysters, I went off on the Friday my father's tribulations, I had seen spirits and angels who
evening, on Saturday morning I went a little way off the had told me to do it by God's order, I had been destined to
highroad, and I spent the day in the woods near Ie Mesnil au it from all time, and they would carry me up ro heaven after
Souf on the left as one goes from Vire to Caen, I traveled J had done this deed, that I had done it with these ideas;
the following nights except Tuesday when I walked by day, but that immediately afterward I had come to my senses and
and I came to Port. That day ncar the wood of Juvigni, on had repented, as it had in fact happened with the other things
Monday morning I had met a man who had asked me where I have spoken of. So during the night of Friday to Saturday
I was going and if I had papers, I had answered that I was I left the woods at Ie Mesnil au Souf, by night, for I did
going to Fonrenay, and he had asked me nothing further; I not wish to be arrested anywhere but at Vire, and Tarrived
was at Port on Tuesday afternoon as I said; I ate some on Saturday morning, I could not bring myself to denounce
crabs, and I could see that that would not do, I resolved myself, I would have preferred that someone should ask for
to go back to roots and wild saffron bulbs in the woods my papers. When I got there I lay down in a ditch, and
where I had been near Ie Mesnil au Souf, I went back seeing that no one said anything to me, I went to the upper
through Bayeux on Tuesday evening and I slept in a ditch part of the rue du Calvados, T walked around a little, and
near Cremel, I no longer cared greatly whether they arrested seeing that they did not arrest me, I asked the way to Cher-
me or not, and on \Vednesday I traveled by day, J asked for bourg, J had read that a soldier had swum for two leagues
two liards' worth of radishes on the bridge at Juvigni, they at sea to carry orders from Thoiras to Cardinal Richelicu,
had none, I went off. Marianne Beauvais who was a servant and r thought that I could also swim to some of the islands

"5
I. PIERRE: RIVIEi~E . . .

saying to another; have you heard of the sad event which in our house for a year and is now at Dupont'S the inn-
has happened at Aunay? Yes, replied the other, bur I do keeper at Juvigni noticed me as I was passing, and no doubt
not know if it is really true; ah yes, said the first, it is only she told these who were with her, for I heard people shout-
too true. That evening as I was in the fields near the main ing behind me: ah ah, here he is call the gendarmes; as I did
road between Ie Mesnil au Souf and Cadehol, I resolved to not turn round, she shouted two or three times, Pierre, oh
kill myself, the vision of my crime was not to be borne. Pierre; I came to the bend in the highroad and I met the
Fearing that they might perhaps accuse my father of com- same man who had questioned me on the Monday, there
plicity, of hiding me, or getting me away by one means or were no more shouts behind me, he said nothing to me, I
another, I thought to myself that it is necessary that my drank and ate a little cress at a stream where there is a
body be found, and as I ordinarily carried string and had bridge near Juvigni and went on my way. I passed through
some with me, I resolved to hang myself on a tree, I ex- Villers by night and on Thursday I was back in the woods at
amined some which might serve my purpose, but when I Ie Mesnil au Souf; I thought I could not go on in this fashion,
went to do it, the fear of the judgments of God restrained and feeling that it could only have been an aberration that
me, I spent all day Friday in this agitation, at last I resolved had brought me to commit this crime, I resolved to come and
to abide by my condition since the evil was irremediable, I give myself up to the law and be arrested at Vire, but I was
resolved to live on plants and roots until whatever events afraid to tell the exact truth; my first intention was however
might come; until the strawberries, blueberries and black- ro say that J repented but I had the idea of saying that I had
berries were ripe, I resolved to go to the seashore, and live been brought to it by visions, that absorbed as I was by all
there on crabs, mussels and oysters, I went off on the Friday my father's tribulations, I had seen spirits and angels who
evening, on Saturday morning I went a little way off the had told me to do it by God's order, I had been destined to
highroad, and I spent the day in the woods near Ie Mesnil au it from all time, and they would carry me up ro heaven after
Souf on the left as one goes from Vire to Caen, I traveled J had done this deed, that I had done it with these ideas;
the following nights except Tuesday when I walked by day, but that immediately afterward I had come to my senses and
and I came to Port. That day ncar the wood of Juvigni, on had repented, as it had in fact happened with the other things
Monday morning I had met a man who had asked me where I have spoken of. So during the night of Friday to Saturday
I was going and if I had papers, I had answered that I was I left the woods at Ie Mesnil au Souf, by night, for I did
going to Fonrenay, and he had asked me nothing further; I not wish to be arrested anywhere but at Vire, and Tarrived
was at Port on Tuesday afternoon as I said; I ate some on Saturday morning, I could not bring myself to denounce
crabs, and I could see that that would not do, I resolved myself, I would have preferred that someone should ask for
to go back to roots and wild saffron bulbs in the woods my papers. When I got there I lay down in a ditch, and
where I had been near Ie Mesnil au Souf, I went back seeing that no one said anything to me, I went to the upper
through Bayeux on Tuesday evening and I slept in a ditch part of the rue du Calvados, T walked around a little, and
near Cremel, I no longer cared greatly whether they arrested seeing that they did not arrest me, I asked the way to Cher-
me or not, and on \Vednesday I traveled by day, J asked for bourg, J had read that a soldier had swum for two leagues
two liards' worth of radishes on the bridge at Juvigni, they at sea to carry orders from Thoiras to Cardinal Richelicu,
had none, I went off. Marianne Beauvais who was a servant and r thought that I could also swim to some of the islands

"5
I, PIERRE RIVIERE ...
belonging to the English such as the isles of Jersai, Genesai, playing the role which I played at the beginning of my
Aurigni and Vig which I had seen in the geography book imprisonment. J thought: there were madwomen, and I have
and on the maps not far off the mainland of France, or I seen it in the Family I\luseum, madwomen who said that
should perish swimming, I must take the risk, so J wem back they were, one the queen of France, another the queen of
co la Papillonniere and wem a little way along the road I all places, another Pope Joan and claiming ro be inspired
had been shown. But seeing that what I was thinking of was by God to preach to the whole earth. I thought therefore
impossible and that even if I managed it I should not be saved that I must not say that I represented myself, I must say
after all, I resolved to rerurn to Vire, it was in the morning (hat I was inspired by God, I was his instrUmem and was
that I had reached it, I came back in the afternoon. I sat obeying his orders; that I had seen him and his angels too.
down at the tOP of the rue du CaJvados where there were I embraced this method of defense with great regret, but I
several gendarmes and several gentlemen and I asked a thought it would serve my purpose. I left the woods and
woman for the residence of the inspector of police, she said returned to Vire resolved to make gestures on the roads.
to me: I suppose it is the lord and master's house you want? However as I apprehended the result that might come of
She told me the street he livcd in, a gentleman who was it, I resolved first to use the little money I had, until then,
there also told me where it was. I went to where they had except for a pound of bread and twO liards' worth of wal-
told me; but as I did nOt know the house, and then feeling nuts, I had saved it for fear I might need it for something
loth to do it, I sat down on some logs the re near a church even more necessary than food; my belly was so empty
which is on the height; then I resolved to declare myself to that I bound it with my neckerchief so that I might walk
a gendarme I went back to where they were; I sat down in more easily, 1 passed through Vire this second time on a
from of them again, and seeing them still take no notice of Thursday morning and as I passed by I bought two pounds
me, I resolved to return to the woods and go on living the of bread and a roll, I foUowed the highroad to Conde, I did
life I had led rill then; I always slept out, and I only asked not know it, but it turned OUt that it was the right one. On
for alms at three houses near la Papillonniere and at one Friday I passed through Vassi, I lay down on the edge of a
house on the way back from Bayeux, and they all refused wheatfield near Vassi to see if they would arrest me, some
me. I went back from Vire where I was on Saturday to a people came and saw me and were astonished, but they did
small wood beyond the chapel of the Ave Maria, where I not arrest me; I arrived at Conde in the evening, and I
spent the day of Sunday, I are saffron bulbs there and the bought two rolls from a baker, I slept in a ditch and the next
next night I returned to the woods at Ic ;'\Iesnil au Souf, there day I took the road to Fier, I met a shopkeeper from Aunay
I are more plants and roots, I still tried to distract my mind whom I recognized from having seen him, he recognized me
from my misfortunes, reciting my prayers passed the time, also and said to me: here you are lad, where are you going
and furthermore I conrcmplated nature, I examined the like that, you will get yourself arrested, you have done
stars, I thought I should see HaUay's comet, 1 spent some someth.ing bad. my son, a very bad thing indeed. I pretended
days in these woods, and then finding anew that T would not to take any notice of what he said and went off, I had
not be able ro go on like that I resolved to be taken by the no more money and I set to eating saffron bulbs again, rhe
law. But r resolved to disguise the truth even more than I next day Sunday morning I met Laurent Grelby, known as
had disguised it the first time and J conceived the design of Ficet, near Fler driving some oxen and he said to me: Oh
lerrey, Guernrey , A/del7ley, Sark. (Tram/alor's 110ft.) Riviere you are going to get yourself arrested; I thought to

,,6 "7
I, PIERRE RIVIERE ...
belonging to the English such as the isles of Jersai, Genesai, playing the role which I played at the beginning of my
Aurigni and Vig which I had seen in the geography book imprisonment. J thought: there were madwomen, and I have
and on the maps not far off the mainland of France, or I seen it in the Family I\luseum, madwomen who said that
should perish swimming, I must take the risk, so J wem back they were, one the queen of France, another the queen of
co la Papillonniere and wem a little way along the road I all places, another Pope Joan and claiming ro be inspired
had been shown. But seeing that what I was thinking of was by God to preach to the whole earth. I thought therefore
impossible and that even if I managed it I should not be saved that I must not say that I represented myself, I must say
after all, I resolved to rerurn to Vire, it was in the morning (hat I was inspired by God, I was his instrUmem and was
that I had reached it, I came back in the afternoon. I sat obeying his orders; that I had seen him and his angels too.
down at the tOP of the rue du CaJvados where there were I embraced this method of defense with great regret, but I
several gendarmes and several gentlemen and I asked a thought it would serve my purpose. I left the woods and
woman for the residence of the inspector of police, she said returned to Vire resolved to make gestures on the roads.
to me: I suppose it is the lord and master's house you want? However as I apprehended the result that might come of
She told me the street he livcd in, a gentleman who was it, I resolved first to use the little money I had, until then,
there also told me where it was. I went to where they had except for a pound of bread and twO liards' worth of wal-
told me; but as I did nOt know the house, and then feeling nuts, I had saved it for fear I might need it for something
loth to do it, I sat down on some logs the re near a church even more necessary than food; my belly was so empty
which is on the height; then I resolved to declare myself to that I bound it with my neckerchief so that I might walk
a gendarme I went back to where they were; I sat down in more easily, 1 passed through Vire this second time on a
from of them again, and seeing them still take no notice of Thursday morning and as I passed by I bought two pounds
me, I resolved to return to the woods and go on living the of bread and a roll, I foUowed the highroad to Conde, I did
life I had led rill then; I always slept out, and I only asked not know it, but it turned OUt that it was the right one. On
for alms at three houses near la Papillonniere and at one Friday I passed through Vassi, I lay down on the edge of a
house on the way back from Bayeux, and they all refused wheatfield near Vassi to see if they would arrest me, some
me. I went back from Vire where I was on Saturday to a people came and saw me and were astonished, but they did
small wood beyond the chapel of the Ave Maria, where I not arrest me; I arrived at Conde in the evening, and I
spent the day of Sunday, I are saffron bulbs there and the bought two rolls from a baker, I slept in a ditch and the next
next night I returned to the woods at Ic ;'\Iesnil au Souf, there day I took the road to Fier, I met a shopkeeper from Aunay
I are more plants and roots, I still tried to distract my mind whom I recognized from having seen him, he recognized me
from my misfortunes, reciting my prayers passed the time, also and said to me: here you are lad, where are you going
and furthermore I conrcmplated nature, I examined the like that, you will get yourself arrested, you have done
stars, I thought I should see HaUay's comet, 1 spent some someth.ing bad. my son, a very bad thing indeed. I pretended
days in these woods, and then finding anew that T would not to take any notice of what he said and went off, I had
not be able ro go on like that I resolved to be taken by the no more money and I set to eating saffron bulbs again, rhe
law. But r resolved to disguise the truth even more than I next day Sunday morning I met Laurent Grelby, known as
had disguised it the first time and J conceived the design of Ficet, near Fler driving some oxen and he said to me: Oh
lerrey, Guernrey , A/del7ley, Sark. (Tram/alor's 110ft.) Riviere you are going to get yourself arrested; I thought to

,,6 "7
I, PIERRE RIVIERE, , .

myself, that is what I want, and without answering him I Souf by side roads and across the fields and I came in the
went on my way, I came to Fler, I crossed the market place morning to between Ie Plessis and les forges Virct, I spent
and came to the other side of the (Own near the last houses, (hc day on the banks of a rivcr and I sheltered under the
I lay down in the sun by the side of the road, I went farther, rocks for it was raining, the next night I followed the local
and in the afternoon I returned to the same place where I road, ] passed through les forges Virct, J went straight ahead
had lain down that morning. And in order to attract people's and I came to the highroad which as I believe goes from
attention, as well as to get something to eat I set to digging Conde to Halcour, I walked all day Saturday, I kept think-
for saffron bulbs in a ditch which runs beside the highroad, ing they would arrest me, meanwhile as I had hardly any
all those who passed by looked at me and were astonished, more money, I resolved to make a bow to kill birds and
but no one sought to arrest me, in the end twO men came up feed on them, or to amuse myself trying to kill some, and if
and one said to the other: there is a man who has been they should arrest me with it, it might rather serve than
here since this morning. The other came up to me as well harm the role I would be playing; but sincc I would have to
as the man with him, he asked me what I was doing there; cook any I could kill, as I passed through Haleour I bought
thereupon I answered him according to the system I had a watch glass which cost mc 4 SOllS to light a fire by the
adopted, that I was from everywhere, in the end I told. ~im sun, thinking it would have the samc effect as spectacles, but
that I had started from Aunay, but this man had no SUspIcion having tried it and seeing that it was no use I broke it. I had
of what I might be, he told me to come to his house and he taken the road from Halcour to Caen, r came to a town, I
would give me something to eat, he had to ask me more went into a shop, I bought two liards' worth of tinder, a
than once, at last I went there and he gave me some bread IOU'S worth of sulphur, I had Aims which I had gathcred on
and cider, then I left him, I went back through the town, the road and with my knife 1 could strike a spark, I had some
and I resolved to return to Vire and make more gestures on pages from a breviary and an almanac, which I happened to
the road, I went back through Conde that evening as the have on me when I left, J could use them for matches. I also
people were taking a stroll, and I slept near a limekiln a bought a sou's worth of walnuts, I went imo a baker's and
little above Conde, in the morning I left and I found, SO bought tWO pounds of griddle-cakc, in the afternoon I rested
som remaining from a roll of SOlIS near a smaJl town which in the mcadows by the hedges, and I caught a young lark, I
is on a height, and in view of this I resolved to wait some put the bird in my pocket and went on my way, I had only
more before deliberately getting myself taken, I went back four sour left, I spent them that c\cning on a quart of cider
through Vassi, and I stopped at an inn a little farther on, the and a small buttcr griddle-cake, and I spent the night in a
same one where the gendarmes stopped when they were rak- wheatfield; in the morning I passcd through Caen, I took
ing me to Vire, I ordered bread and eggs and cider, I s~nt the road to Falaise and wCnt into the woods near Langan-
14 sous thcrc and in the evening I went back through Vlre, nerie, I gathered some sticks of dry wood, J lighted a fire at
I bought 3 sow' worth of walnuts and I wcnt to a bakcr's the foot of a tree which prc"cmed the wind from putting it
whcre I bought six rolls, this baker told me, ~ t,he woman OUt, and J roasted rhe lark; it will pcrhaps be said that I also
selling walnuts had told me, to come and see hml If I needcd caught chickens and ducks and other things and took faggots
any anothcr timc, I went that night into the, woods a,t Ie from woodpiles; but the remains can still bc found in the
Mesnil au Souf, whcre I spent three days; dUring the mght wood where I lit my fire and a fcw sticks pilcd up, or if they
of Thursday to Friday I left and went from Ie Mesnil au are no longer there consult those who rcmoved them, all that
I, PIERRE RIVIERE, , .

myself, that is what I want, and without answering him I Souf by side roads and across the fields and I came in the
went on my way, I came to Fler, I crossed the market place morning to between Ie Plessis and les forges Virct, I spent
and came to the other side of the (Own near the last houses, (hc day on the banks of a rivcr and I sheltered under the
I lay down in the sun by the side of the road, I went farther, rocks for it was raining, the next night I followed the local
and in the afternoon I returned to the same place where I road, ] passed through les forges Virct, J went straight ahead
had lain down that morning. And in order to attract people's and I came to the highroad which as I believe goes from
attention, as well as to get something to eat I set to digging Conde to Halcour, I walked all day Saturday, I kept think-
for saffron bulbs in a ditch which runs beside the highroad, ing they would arrest me, meanwhile as I had hardly any
all those who passed by looked at me and were astonished, more money, I resolved to make a bow to kill birds and
but no one sought to arrest me, in the end twO men came up feed on them, or to amuse myself trying to kill some, and if
and one said to the other: there is a man who has been they should arrest me with it, it might rather serve than
here since this morning. The other came up to me as well harm the role I would be playing; but sincc I would have to
as the man with him, he asked me what I was doing there; cook any I could kill, as I passed through Haleour I bought
thereupon I answered him according to the system I had a watch glass which cost mc 4 SOllS to light a fire by the
adopted, that I was from everywhere, in the end I told. ~im sun, thinking it would have the samc effect as spectacles, but
that I had started from Aunay, but this man had no SUspIcion having tried it and seeing that it was no use I broke it. I had
of what I might be, he told me to come to his house and he taken the road from Halcour to Caen, r came to a town, I
would give me something to eat, he had to ask me more went into a shop, I bought two liards' worth of tinder, a
than once, at last I went there and he gave me some bread IOU'S worth of sulphur, I had Aims which I had gathcred on
and cider, then I left him, I went back through the town, the road and with my knife 1 could strike a spark, I had some
and I resolved to return to Vire and make more gestures on pages from a breviary and an almanac, which I happened to
the road, I went back through Conde that evening as the have on me when I left, J could use them for matches. I also
people were taking a stroll, and I slept near a limekiln a bought a sou's worth of walnuts, I went imo a baker's and
little above Conde, in the morning I left and I found, SO bought tWO pounds of griddle-cakc, in the afternoon I rested
som remaining from a roll of SOlIS near a smaJl town which in the mcadows by the hedges, and I caught a young lark, I
is on a height, and in view of this I resolved to wait some put the bird in my pocket and went on my way, I had only
more before deliberately getting myself taken, I went back four sour left, I spent them that c\cning on a quart of cider
through Vassi, and I stopped at an inn a little farther on, the and a small buttcr griddle-cake, and I spent the night in a
same one where the gendarmes stopped when they were rak- wheatfield; in the morning I passcd through Caen, I took
ing me to Vire, I ordered bread and eggs and cider, I s~nt the road to Falaise and wCnt into the woods near Langan-
14 sous thcrc and in the evening I went back through Vlre, nerie, I gathered some sticks of dry wood, J lighted a fire at
I bought 3 sow' worth of walnuts and I wcnt to a bakcr's the foot of a tree which prc"cmed the wind from putting it
whcre I bought six rolls, this baker told me, ~ t,he woman OUt, and J roasted rhe lark; it will pcrhaps be said that I also
selling walnuts had told me, to come and see hml If I needcd caught chickens and ducks and other things and took faggots
any anothcr timc, I went that night into the, woods a,t Ie from woodpiles; but the remains can still bc found in the
Mesnil au Souf, whcre I spent three days; dUring the mght wood where I lit my fire and a fcw sticks pilcd up, or if they
of Thursday to Friday I left and went from Ie Mesnil au are no longer there consult those who rcmoved them, all that
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

is to be found is I say only a few dry sticks gathered in rhe thing I had. 'Vhen he was about to put me in the cells, arc
wood and only the feathers from the lark. I came therefore you, he asked, the fellow who killed your mother? Yes, I
to these woods on Sunday; after eating the lark, I made a answered him, God inspired me, he ordered me to do it, I
bow and severaJ arrows. I had found a long nail on the road; obeyed his orders, and he is protecting me. Ah yes SO that
by dint of filing it with the less good of my knives I man- is it, he said, opening the door of the cell, go on my lad, get
aged to break its head off, and I put it on the end of one of in there. I afterwards maintained this method of defense at
the arrows (the other arrows are still there if they have not Falaise and at Conde, it was very painful for me to main-
been removed they are in the tree near which I made the rain such things and to say that I did not repent; when I
fire) then I used this weapon to try and kill birds, but I came to Vire I thought I would declare the truth, but when
could not manage this; if I had found any frogs too, I would I appeared before the Prosecutor Royal, I maintained the
have cut off their legs and roasted them, but I did not find same thing. 'Vllen they had left me by myself, I resolved
any. I spent four days in these woods, they are three small afresh to tell the truth, and I confessed to the jailer who
woods nOt very far from each other, in one of which many came and talked to me, and I told him that I intended to
strawberries grow, I are them, and I thought to myself, declare everything before my judges; but when I went to
either I shall be arrested, or I shall live in this way, or I shall my first interrogation before the examining judge, I could
die. Seeing some more woods, further along the road, I not yet make up my mind to it and I maintained the system
resolved to go and see if there was anything to cat in them of which [ have spoken until the jailer told what 1 had said
until other fruits were ripe in the woods where I was; and to him. I was very glad at his statement, it relieved me of a
I thought that until they arrested me, I would come and go great weight which was crushing me. Then without dis-
from one wood to another to get my food. So I left on the guising anything, I declared everything which had brought
Thursday morning, and I came to the town of Langannerie me to this crime. They told me to PUt all these things down
with my bow under my arm, as I was passing someone said: in writing, I have wriuen them down; now that I have
oh look, there is a fellow carrying a bow. I had soon passed made known all my monstrosity, and that all the explana-
through the town and was at the last houses, when a tions of my crime are done, I await the fate which is destined
gendarme who was not in uniform, passing near me, sur- for me, I know the article of the penal code concerning
veyed me, and asked me: where are you from my friend? parricide. I accept it in expiation of my faults; alas if only I
I replied in accordance with my system, 1 am from every- could see the hapless victims of my cruelty alive once more,
where.-Have you any papers-No--\Vhar arc you doing even if for that I must suffer the utmost torments; but no
here-God is conducting me, and I adore him-Ho, I it is vain, I can only follow them; so I therefore await the
believe I have some business with you, where are you from penalty I deserve, and the day \\;'hich shall put an end to
-I started from Aunay-'Vhat is your name-Riviere.- all my resentments.
Ah yes come with me 1 have something to say to you- THE END
What do you want of me-Come on come on I will tell
This manuscript begun on July 10, 1835 in the jail at Vire,
you. And then speaking to a woman who was I think from
and finished at the same place on the 21 st of the same month.
his household, oh, he said, it is the fellow from Aunay. He
PIERRE RIVIERE
took me into a room searched me and took charge of every-

'"
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

is to be found is I say only a few dry sticks gathered in rhe thing I had. 'Vhen he was about to put me in the cells, arc
wood and only the feathers from the lark. I came therefore you, he asked, the fellow who killed your mother? Yes, I
to these woods on Sunday; after eating the lark, I made a answered him, God inspired me, he ordered me to do it, I
bow and severaJ arrows. I had found a long nail on the road; obeyed his orders, and he is protecting me. Ah yes SO that
by dint of filing it with the less good of my knives I man- is it, he said, opening the door of the cell, go on my lad, get
aged to break its head off, and I put it on the end of one of in there. I afterwards maintained this method of defense at
the arrows (the other arrows are still there if they have not Falaise and at Conde, it was very painful for me to main-
been removed they are in the tree near which I made the rain such things and to say that I did not repent; when I
fire) then I used this weapon to try and kill birds, but I came to Vire I thought I would declare the truth, but when
could not manage this; if I had found any frogs too, I would I appeared before the Prosecutor Royal, I maintained the
have cut off their legs and roasted them, but I did not find same thing. 'Vllen they had left me by myself, I resolved
any. I spent four days in these woods, they are three small afresh to tell the truth, and I confessed to the jailer who
woods nOt very far from each other, in one of which many came and talked to me, and I told him that I intended to
strawberries grow, I are them, and I thought to myself, declare everything before my judges; but when I went to
either I shall be arrested, or I shall live in this way, or I shall my first interrogation before the examining judge, I could
die. Seeing some more woods, further along the road, I not yet make up my mind to it and I maintained the system
resolved to go and see if there was anything to cat in them of which [ have spoken until the jailer told what 1 had said
until other fruits were ripe in the woods where I was; and to him. I was very glad at his statement, it relieved me of a
I thought that until they arrested me, I would come and go great weight which was crushing me. Then without dis-
from one wood to another to get my food. So I left on the guising anything, I declared everything which had brought
Thursday morning, and I came to the town of Langannerie me to this crime. They told me to PUt all these things down
with my bow under my arm, as I was passing someone said: in writing, I have wriuen them down; now that I have
oh look, there is a fellow carrying a bow. I had soon passed made known all my monstrosity, and that all the explana-
through the town and was at the last houses, when a tions of my crime are done, I await the fate which is destined
gendarme who was not in uniform, passing near me, sur- for me, I know the article of the penal code concerning
veyed me, and asked me: where are you from my friend? parricide. I accept it in expiation of my faults; alas if only I
I replied in accordance with my system, 1 am from every- could see the hapless victims of my cruelty alive once more,
where.-Have you any papers-No--\Vhar arc you doing even if for that I must suffer the utmost torments; but no
here-God is conducting me, and I adore him-Ho, I it is vain, I can only follow them; so I therefore await the
believe I have some business with you, where are you from penalty I deserve, and the day \\;'hich shall put an end to
-I started from Aunay-'Vhat is your name-Riviere.- all my resentments.
Ah yes come with me 1 have something to say to you- THE END
What do you want of me-Come on come on I will tell
This manuscript begun on July 10, 1835 in the jail at Vire,
you. And then speaking to a woman who was I think from
and finished at the same place on the 21 st of the same month.
his household, oh, he said, it is the fellow from Aunay. He
PIERRE RIVIERE
took me into a room searched me and took charge of every-

'"
I, PIERRE RIVIERE .

acted on the brain in a way likely to have impaired its


functions.

/.
4 Like all persons of a bilious and melancholic tempera-
ment, Riviere is chary of speech. When asked questions,
he answers clearly, but briefly. The most surprising thing
about him is his concentration, from which it is hard to
distract him. After I had spoken to him at some length and
I,
Medico-legal had asked him a great many questions, he immediately
took up his pen again and continued writing his memoir
I as if he had not been interrupted. Nothing in his answers
Opinions indicates any derangement of the mental faculties. When
reminded of his crime, he speaks of it with a sort of tran-
quillity which is truly shocking.
I made no phrenological examinations, for this science
1. CERTIFICATE BY DR. BOUCHARD has not yet made much progress, and I must admit that my
acquaintance with it is too imperfect for me to venture to
I THE UNDERSIGNED, Doctor of Medicine, corresponding apply it in so serious a case.
member of the Royal Academy of Medicine and the But if I had to give an opmlOn on the cause of the
Athenee de medecine, Paris, hereby certify that I have crime, it would be as follows. Endowed with a bilious and
examined with the greatest care and on several occasions melancholic temperament, a frequent witness of his parents'
the man Pierre Riviere of the commune of Aunay charged quarrels, Riviere was deeply affected by his father's mis-
with the murder of his mother, his sister, and his brother. fortunes. Shunning society as he did, he was beset by the
The results of my observations are as follows: darkest ideas. They obsessed him and thereafter left him
Pierre Riviere is twenty years of age; his constitution no peace of mind. From that time on, Riviere wanted one
is good, he is of medium height, of sallow complexion, his thing only, to deliver his father, and in order to achieve
general aspect calm but gloomy, he will not look people his purpose he had to murder his mother. This obsession
straight in the face. He shows every sign of a bilious-melan- pursued him at all times; twice, it is true, his courage failed
cholic temperament. him at the very moment when he was on the point of
His health is ordinarily excellent, he eats and sleeps very committing the most heinous of crimes, but he still did
well. He has never had any skin diseases or hemorrhages not relinquish his fatal project. It was in solitude that he
recurring at regular intervals. Since he has never had any had conceived the idea of the crime; it was in solitude that
ailment of the blood, he has not contracted the habit of he went to steep himself once more before laying homicidal
being bled. His bowels habitually function very well. He hands upon his mother.
has never fallen on his head; he does not recall ever having To sum up:
been hit on it. In short, despite thorough questioning, I In Riviere's case no malady can have damaged the
have not been able to detect any malady which may have functions of his brain, and during my many visits to him

'" "3
I, PIERRE RIVIERE .

acted on the brain in a way likely to have impaired its


functions.

/.
4 Like all persons of a bilious and melancholic tempera-
ment, Riviere is chary of speech. When asked questions,
he answers clearly, but briefly. The most surprising thing
about him is his concentration, from which it is hard to
distract him. After I had spoken to him at some length and
I,
Medico-legal had asked him a great many questions, he immediately
took up his pen again and continued writing his memoir
I as if he had not been interrupted. Nothing in his answers
Opinions indicates any derangement of the mental faculties. When
reminded of his crime, he speaks of it with a sort of tran-
quillity which is truly shocking.
I made no phrenological examinations, for this science
1. CERTIFICATE BY DR. BOUCHARD has not yet made much progress, and I must admit that my
acquaintance with it is too imperfect for me to venture to
I THE UNDERSIGNED, Doctor of Medicine, corresponding apply it in so serious a case.
member of the Royal Academy of Medicine and the But if I had to give an opmlOn on the cause of the
Athenee de medecine, Paris, hereby certify that I have crime, it would be as follows. Endowed with a bilious and
examined with the greatest care and on several occasions melancholic temperament, a frequent witness of his parents'
the man Pierre Riviere of the commune of Aunay charged quarrels, Riviere was deeply affected by his father's mis-
with the murder of his mother, his sister, and his brother. fortunes. Shunning society as he did, he was beset by the
The results of my observations are as follows: darkest ideas. They obsessed him and thereafter left him
Pierre Riviere is twenty years of age; his constitution no peace of mind. From that time on, Riviere wanted one
is good, he is of medium height, of sallow complexion, his thing only, to deliver his father, and in order to achieve
general aspect calm but gloomy, he will not look people his purpose he had to murder his mother. This obsession
straight in the face. He shows every sign of a bilious-melan- pursued him at all times; twice, it is true, his courage failed
cholic temperament. him at the very moment when he was on the point of
His health is ordinarily excellent, he eats and sleeps very committing the most heinous of crimes, but he still did
well. He has never had any skin diseases or hemorrhages not relinquish his fatal project. It was in solitude that he
recurring at regular intervals. Since he has never had any had conceived the idea of the crime; it was in solitude that
ailment of the blood, he has not contracted the habit of he went to steep himself once more before laying homicidal
being bled. His bowels habitually function very well. He hands upon his mother.
has never fallen on his head; he does not recall ever having To sum up:
been hit on it. In short, despite thorough questioning, I In Riviere's case no malady can have damaged the
have not been able to detect any malady which may have functions of his brain, and during my many visits to him

'" "3
~I

I, PIERRE RIVIERE ..
after he was brought to Vire I observed. no sign of me~tal considers to be more fitted than anyone else to give him
derangement. The triple murder of which he was guIlty the benefit of. his advice since he is attached to one of the
can be ~scribedl I believe, only. to a st~te ?f m~mentary largest mental hospitals in France.
over-exCitement brought on by hlS father 5 tnbulauons. It is to this circumstance that lowe the honor of a
Vire, July 21, 1835 consultation by Maitre Bertauld, who expounded the matter
(signed) in detail to me and communicated to me the documents in
the case as well as the memoir written by Riviere and took
me to visit his client in prison for observation and interroga-
tion. The question he had asked me was soon clarified to
2. MEDICAL OPINION BY DR. VASTEL my satisfaction in the light of the documents and o! my
own observations, and I became deeply and fully convmced
On the third of June, a young man about twenty years that Riviere was not sane and that the act which the
of age killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with prosecution considered to be an atrocious crime was simply
premeditation and in cold blood. The~ he calmly. left. the the deplorable result of true mental alienation.
scene of this ghastly crime, showed himself to his neIgh- The reasons which led to my conviction and fonned
bors, and, drenched with blood, ax in hand, he announced the basis for my judgment derive from Riviere's external
to them that he had just delivered his father, r~commended appearance, his behavior as a whole, his origins and family,
him to their care, walked slowly away, and di~appeared. the state of his mental faculties since childhood, the very
A month later he was arrested on the htghroad and nature of the act committed by him and its attendant
taken to the jail at Vireo There, questioned by the District circumstances and, lastly, from all that has happened be-
Prosecutor Royal and the examining. judge, he .made a tween the occurrence and the present.
full confession, entered into every detatl and explamed the
motives on which he acted. At the request of these officers 1. Riviere's external appearance and habitual behavior
of the court, he himself wrote out a long
. memoir in which The subject is twenty years of age, of medium height,
he depicts himself with great truth. Fmally, he was trans- rounded forms, phlegmatic constitution, inexpressive fea-
ferred to the prison at Caen and brought before the Calva- tures; he habitually keeps his head, which is of average
dos assize court. size, lowered; the forehead is low and narrow, the eyebrows
A young barrister, reputed no less for his hum~ity and knitted, the gaze ill-assured, timid, and furtive, his speech
probity than his knowledge of the law and hIS talent, has something childish and unmanly about it; his answers
consented to undertake Riviere's defense, for the wretched are slow, he often smiles vacantly, his poise is awkward,
man's father protests that his son is mad and has .been his gait strange and jerky. To anyone observing him
known to be so ever since his childhood and has furmshed attentively and without preconceived notions it will soon
evidence of this to the young counsel for the defense, wh~, be evident that the subject is organized differently from
after long and mature consi~eration, has co~e to share his others, that he is an aberration from the ordinary condition
conviction. Before undertakmg the defense m court, how- and that he resembles, [ would not say the absolute idiots,
ever, he wishes to have the opinion of a doctor whom he but those semi-imbeciles whose faculties are very limited

"4 "5
~I

I, PIERRE RIVIERE ..
after he was brought to Vire I observed. no sign of me~tal considers to be more fitted than anyone else to give him
derangement. The triple murder of which he was guIlty the benefit of. his advice since he is attached to one of the
can be ~scribedl I believe, only. to a st~te ?f m~mentary largest mental hospitals in France.
over-exCitement brought on by hlS father 5 tnbulauons. It is to this circumstance that lowe the honor of a
Vire, July 21, 1835 consultation by Maitre Bertauld, who expounded the matter
(signed) in detail to me and communicated to me the documents in
the case as well as the memoir written by Riviere and took
me to visit his client in prison for observation and interroga-
tion. The question he had asked me was soon clarified to
2. MEDICAL OPINION BY DR. VASTEL my satisfaction in the light of the documents and o! my
own observations, and I became deeply and fully convmced
On the third of June, a young man about twenty years that Riviere was not sane and that the act which the
of age killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with prosecution considered to be an atrocious crime was simply
premeditation and in cold blood. The~ he calmly. left. the the deplorable result of true mental alienation.
scene of this ghastly crime, showed himself to his neIgh- The reasons which led to my conviction and fonned
bors, and, drenched with blood, ax in hand, he announced the basis for my judgment derive from Riviere's external
to them that he had just delivered his father, r~commended appearance, his behavior as a whole, his origins and family,
him to their care, walked slowly away, and di~appeared. the state of his mental faculties since childhood, the very
A month later he was arrested on the htghroad and nature of the act committed by him and its attendant
taken to the jail at Vireo There, questioned by the District circumstances and, lastly, from all that has happened be-
Prosecutor Royal and the examining. judge, he .made a tween the occurrence and the present.
full confession, entered into every detatl and explamed the
motives on which he acted. At the request of these officers 1. Riviere's external appearance and habitual behavior
of the court, he himself wrote out a long
. memoir in which The subject is twenty years of age, of medium height,
he depicts himself with great truth. Fmally, he was trans- rounded forms, phlegmatic constitution, inexpressive fea-
ferred to the prison at Caen and brought before the Calva- tures; he habitually keeps his head, which is of average
dos assize court. size, lowered; the forehead is low and narrow, the eyebrows
A young barrister, reputed no less for his hum~ity and knitted, the gaze ill-assured, timid, and furtive, his speech
probity than his knowledge of the law and hIS talent, has something childish and unmanly about it; his answers
consented to undertake Riviere's defense, for the wretched are slow, he often smiles vacantly, his poise is awkward,
man's father protests that his son is mad and has .been his gait strange and jerky. To anyone observing him
known to be so ever since his childhood and has furmshed attentively and without preconceived notions it will soon
evidence of this to the young counsel for the defense, wh~, be evident that the subject is organized differently from
after long and mature consi~eration, has co~e to share his others, that he is an aberration from the ordinary condition
conviction. Before undertakmg the defense m court, how- and that he resembles, [ would not say the absolute idiots,
ever, he wishes to have the opinion of a doctor whom he but those semi-imbeciles whose faculties are very limited

"4 "5
1!
I, PIERRE RIVIERE .

and who reveal their mental deficiency in their entire ex- ~alady. Indee~ heredity is one of the most potent causes
~ernal ~ppearance. Now, though no more imponance than 10 the productIon o~ ~adness;. this is emphasized by all the
15 du~ 15 to be attached to a man's physical constitution, author~ whose spec~alist. studies .ha~e given them an op-
I believe nonetheless that the light it throws on the state portumty to appreCiate Its morbid 1Ofluence' and if I had
of his intelligence should not be neglected, especially when to supp~rt this truth which they have so often stated by
the presumptions arising. from it are corroborated by a the. findmgs . from my own experience, I should say that,
large number of more weighty facts, as we shall see is the hav10g studied nearly eleven thousand madmen in the
case with Riviere as we proceed with this examination. course of rhi:reen years and spending as I do several hours
each day arrud thre~ hundred of these unfortunate beings,
2. Origin and family I have found heredity to be the most active and perhaps
. Rivi~re come~ from a f:mily in whi~h mental deficiency the most frequent cause in the production of mental
IS hereditary. HIs mother s brother died insane after dis- alienation. It is not necessary. therefore, to seek elsewhere
playing during his lifetime several of the same traits of the cause of the originally defective organization of
Riviere's brain.
madness which we shall mention shortly with regard to
his nephew, including his abhorrence of women. Two of
3. Condltion of his mental faculties since
his first cousins manifested numerous and habitual symp-
his childhood. Numerous signs of insanity.
toms of madness. His mother's disposition was so irritable,
her will was so obstinate and simultaneously so unstable, Born as he was with this unfortunate predisposition, it
she was so continually ill-narured and so extravagant that was ~ot lon~ before he confirmed what could be predicted
her husband could not, despite all the tonnents she heaped of hIm. Untll the age of four, the witnesses state he was
upon him, hold them against her, for he had long realized like other children of his age, but from that ~e on he
that her brain was deranged and that she was not capable was always held to be an idiot or imbecile. Thus he soon
of controlling her actions. Lastly, Riviere's brother is almost becam~ the butt ~nd laughingstock of the other children,
wholly an idiot, so much so that his parish priest has no and this, by making him even more timid and diffident,
hope of being able to let him make his communion because undo~btedly hampered the natural development of his
he is totally unable to get him to grasp the simplest truths emotIonal faculties; for it is noteworthy that not only was
of religion. The youth is, however, fifteen to eighteen he cold and unfeeling toward his parents, but he never
years old, and his emotional faculties are no more developed even had any playmate and lived in an isolation from af-
than his intellectual faculties, since. as Maitre Bertauld has ~ection most calculated to aggravate his mental and moral
observed, the disaster which he witnessed elicited from him mferiority. Instinctively seeking out the most extreme soli-
not a sigh nor a tear. tu~e, he spent entire days in the depths of disused quarries
Let us not, then, be surprised if We find, as we shall or m the reruot.est corne: of th~ loft, an~ there, meditating
shortly see, Riviere acting in the most aberrant manner and on the few, subJ~cts. of his reading and gifted with a highly
if we observe in him the external stamp of madness, since developed Imag1OatlOn coupled with a distorted judgment,
his origin and his consanguinity with so many madmen he grew attached to everything that smacked of the miracu-
certainly account for the presence in him of this cruel lous, neglected the positive, and bent his mind in a direction

,,6 "7
1!
I, PIERRE RIVIERE .

and who reveal their mental deficiency in their entire ex- ~alady. Indee~ heredity is one of the most potent causes
~ernal ~ppearance. Now, though no more imponance than 10 the productIon o~ ~adness;. this is emphasized by all the
15 du~ 15 to be attached to a man's physical constitution, author~ whose spec~alist. studies .ha~e given them an op-
I believe nonetheless that the light it throws on the state portumty to appreCiate Its morbid 1Ofluence' and if I had
of his intelligence should not be neglected, especially when to supp~rt this truth which they have so often stated by
the presumptions arising. from it are corroborated by a the. findmgs . from my own experience, I should say that,
large number of more weighty facts, as we shall see is the hav10g studied nearly eleven thousand madmen in the
case with Riviere as we proceed with this examination. course of rhi:reen years and spending as I do several hours
each day arrud thre~ hundred of these unfortunate beings,
2. Origin and family I have found heredity to be the most active and perhaps
. Rivi~re come~ from a f:mily in whi~h mental deficiency the most frequent cause in the production of mental
IS hereditary. HIs mother s brother died insane after dis- alienation. It is not necessary. therefore, to seek elsewhere
playing during his lifetime several of the same traits of the cause of the originally defective organization of
Riviere's brain.
madness which we shall mention shortly with regard to
his nephew, including his abhorrence of women. Two of
3. Condltion of his mental faculties since
his first cousins manifested numerous and habitual symp-
his childhood. Numerous signs of insanity.
toms of madness. His mother's disposition was so irritable,
her will was so obstinate and simultaneously so unstable, Born as he was with this unfortunate predisposition, it
she was so continually ill-narured and so extravagant that was ~ot lon~ before he confirmed what could be predicted
her husband could not, despite all the tonnents she heaped of hIm. Untll the age of four, the witnesses state he was
upon him, hold them against her, for he had long realized like other children of his age, but from that ~e on he
that her brain was deranged and that she was not capable was always held to be an idiot or imbecile. Thus he soon
of controlling her actions. Lastly, Riviere's brother is almost becam~ the butt ~nd laughingstock of the other children,
wholly an idiot, so much so that his parish priest has no and this, by making him even more timid and diffident,
hope of being able to let him make his communion because undo~btedly hampered the natural development of his
he is totally unable to get him to grasp the simplest truths emotIonal faculties; for it is noteworthy that not only was
of religion. The youth is, however, fifteen to eighteen he cold and unfeeling toward his parents, but he never
years old, and his emotional faculties are no more developed even had any playmate and lived in an isolation from af-
than his intellectual faculties, since. as Maitre Bertauld has ~ection most calculated to aggravate his mental and moral
observed, the disaster which he witnessed elicited from him mferiority. Instinctively seeking out the most extreme soli-
not a sigh nor a tear. tu~e, he spent entire days in the depths of disused quarries
Let us not, then, be surprised if We find, as we shall or m the reruot.est corne: of th~ loft, an~ there, meditating
shortly see, Riviere acting in the most aberrant manner and on the few, subJ~cts. of his reading and gifted with a highly
if we observe in him the external stamp of madness, since developed Imag1OatlOn coupled with a distorted judgment,
his origin and his consanguinity with so many madmen he grew attached to everything that smacked of the miracu-
certainly account for the presence in him of this cruel lous, neglected the positive, and bent his mind in a direction

,,6 "7
~I
,
I, PIERRE RIVIERE ...
the more vicious in that, since he never confided in anyone, example of every sort of delusion, he imagined that a
no one could correct his errors; thus he soon became fecundating fluid incessantly flowed from his person and
alienated in the truest sense. He was often overheard talk- could thus, in his own despite, render him guilty of crimes
ing to himself and conversing with invisible interlocutors, of incest and of others yet more revolting. So he lived
or laughing loudly, or uttering plaintive cries. At times he amid perpetual fears, he approached women only with great
was seen rolling on the ground, at others making the most reserve, and often recoiled with horror from the proximity
bizarre gestures. Religious ideas passed through his head, of his mother, his grandmother, or his sister when he
he sacrificed and tortured small animals to reproduce the thought he had come somewhat too near them. In order to
scenes of Christ's passion. Did the narration of some battle repair the harm he thought he had done and to prevent
strike his imagination, then in a species of frenzy he flung incest, he indulged in ridiculous motions in order to draw
himself upon the vegetables in the garden and smashed back into himself the supposed fecundating fluid which so
them, uttering loud cries as he did so. Did he entertain some greatly perturbed him. The neighborhood of a female
notion of power and superiority, then he sought to pm it animal infinitely disturbed him for the same reason, and
into effect by frightening unfortunate children. At times everyone who knew him was struck by the sort of alarm,
he threatened to cut them with his scythe, at others he even terror, he evinced whenever a hen or she-cat ap-
seized them and, holding them over a well, threatened to proached him.
drop them in; and on other occasions he ~as for fee?ing Is anything more required to show a characteristic case
them to his horse, and when he had suffiClently ternfied of madness and do I need to cite any more facts? Which
them, satisfied with the notion of his power he believed he of us knowing the faces described above would not have
had given them, he let them go, expressing his glee in peals considered Riviere insane and would not have concurred
of immoderate laughter. in the general opinion that designated him a madman?
The devil and the fairies held an important place in his
diseased brain, and by dint of thinking of them he cam~ to 4. The murder committed by Riviere and
believe that he saw and heard them. He held conversations attendant circumstances
and made paces with them, and, terrified by his own visions, The Riviere family was not a united one. His mother,
he often fled in terror crying out: alas! the devil, the devil! with her self-willed, imperious, and shrewish disposition,
Ever preoccupied as he was with bizarre ideas, he paid only for years on end made his father's life a burden to him.
distracted attention to the ordinary acts of life; he had to Constantly harassed and almost never getting any rest, the
be called several times over and pretty loudly at that before father became so violently distressed that he even thought
he answered, and such was his obstinacy that incredible of trying to commit suicide and thus rid himself of the
efforts were required to make him relinquish a piece of continual torments to which he could foresee no ending.
work once he had started on it. Incapable as he was of His son's imagination was so vivid that it could not fail
appraising the consequences of many of his a~tions, he to be struck by these things; they made a strong impression
often very nearly put his own and his horses' lives m danger upon him, excited him, and distorted the few sound ideas
by trying to perform work beyond the~ capability. he still had. He conjured up the human race bowed beneath
Lastly, just as if he had to represent m hImself alone an the yoke of women, suffering their shameful domination,
,,8
"9
~I
,
I, PIERRE RIVIERE ...
the more vicious in that, since he never confided in anyone, example of every sort of delusion, he imagined that a
no one could correct his errors; thus he soon became fecundating fluid incessantly flowed from his person and
alienated in the truest sense. He was often overheard talk- could thus, in his own despite, render him guilty of crimes
ing to himself and conversing with invisible interlocutors, of incest and of others yet more revolting. So he lived
or laughing loudly, or uttering plaintive cries. At times he amid perpetual fears, he approached women only with great
was seen rolling on the ground, at others making the most reserve, and often recoiled with horror from the proximity
bizarre gestures. Religious ideas passed through his head, of his mother, his grandmother, or his sister when he
he sacrificed and tortured small animals to reproduce the thought he had come somewhat too near them. In order to
scenes of Christ's passion. Did the narration of some battle repair the harm he thought he had done and to prevent
strike his imagination, then in a species of frenzy he flung incest, he indulged in ridiculous motions in order to draw
himself upon the vegetables in the garden and smashed back into himself the supposed fecundating fluid which so
them, uttering loud cries as he did so. Did he entertain some greatly perturbed him. The neighborhood of a female
notion of power and superiority, then he sought to pm it animal infinitely disturbed him for the same reason, and
into effect by frightening unfortunate children. At times everyone who knew him was struck by the sort of alarm,
he threatened to cut them with his scythe, at others he even terror, he evinced whenever a hen or she-cat ap-
seized them and, holding them over a well, threatened to proached him.
drop them in; and on other occasions he ~as for fee?ing Is anything more required to show a characteristic case
them to his horse, and when he had suffiClently ternfied of madness and do I need to cite any more facts? Which
them, satisfied with the notion of his power he believed he of us knowing the faces described above would not have
had given them, he let them go, expressing his glee in peals considered Riviere insane and would not have concurred
of immoderate laughter. in the general opinion that designated him a madman?
The devil and the fairies held an important place in his
diseased brain, and by dint of thinking of them he cam~ to 4. The murder committed by Riviere and
believe that he saw and heard them. He held conversations attendant circumstances
and made paces with them, and, terrified by his own visions, The Riviere family was not a united one. His mother,
he often fled in terror crying out: alas! the devil, the devil! with her self-willed, imperious, and shrewish disposition,
Ever preoccupied as he was with bizarre ideas, he paid only for years on end made his father's life a burden to him.
distracted attention to the ordinary acts of life; he had to Constantly harassed and almost never getting any rest, the
be called several times over and pretty loudly at that before father became so violently distressed that he even thought
he answered, and such was his obstinacy that incredible of trying to commit suicide and thus rid himself of the
efforts were required to make him relinquish a piece of continual torments to which he could foresee no ending.
work once he had started on it. Incapable as he was of His son's imagination was so vivid that it could not fail
appraising the consequences of many of his a~tions, he to be struck by these things; they made a strong impression
often very nearly put his own and his horses' lives m danger upon him, excited him, and distorted the few sound ideas
by trying to perform work beyond the~ capability. he still had. He conjured up the human race bowed beneath
Lastly, just as if he had to represent m hImself alone an the yoke of women, suffering their shameful domination,
,,8
"9
'I
I, PIERRE RIVIERE

enslaved to their caprices, He thought that it would be a jog from delusion to delusion, the madman decided on the
noble and glorious thing to deliver it from their sway. that bereavement of his whole family while wishing to procure
all that was needed was a generous example; that in all ages its happiness.
and during great crises men had come forward and had This resolution in itself, in my opinion. bears so pro-
dedicated themselves, and their names had been handed nounced a stamp of madness that it alone would suffice to
down to posterity. His memory furnished him with several declare Riviere mad. Never was distorted judgment carried
instances of voluntary self-dedication in the Old Testa- to greater lengths; never was the fanaticism of an unsound
ment, the very mystery of the Redemption presented itself mind more marked. For a long time, however, the
as a confinnacion of his ideas; if God himself had sacrificed wretched man's courage flinched, he could not make up
himself for men, all the more reason ought he to have to his mind, and he vainly reproached himself for his cow-
sacrifice himself for his fellow men; the gallantry of La- ardice. But at last the fatal day came, he donned his
rochejaquelin, the example of Charlotte Corday came to holiday clothes, had his sister sing a canticle beginning: "0
mind; he believed that he was inspired by God and was act- happy day! holy joy!" and, his mind wholly deranged, his
ing in His name, and, resolved to give his life to deliver weapon, an ax, in hand, he executed his mother, his sister,
men in general and his father in particular, he decided on and his young brother.
his mother's death. Soon, too, his sister'was included in this This fearful disaster, this human butchery, all this shed
lethal decision, for she had always lived with her mother blood and the fact that he was drenched in it troubled him
and had always taken her side; should she remain alive, she not a whit; he went out calmly, peaceably announced that
would continue to exercise a disastrous ascendancy over he had just delivered his father, and, the murderous steel
her father, so he must be delivered from her too, the still in his hand, calmly took the road to Vire, vaunting his
sacrifice must be complete. It is hardly conceivable that intention of himself declaring to his judges the great deed
delusion could be carried to greater lengths. yet Riviere- he had just performed.
went further. He imagined that no matter how tranquil Truly. I have never seen a more manifest case of in-
his father might be after these murders, he would never- sanity among the hundreds of monomaniacs I have treated;
theless not enjoy complete happiness; delivered by his son, so manifest indeed that one's heart feels pity far rather than
he would mourn him when his head had fallen to the law. horror for this wretched being.
This regret he must prevent, his father's happiness must I venture to think that no doubt in this respect would
be whole and entire, and he must even rejoice at his libera- ever have arisen had Riviere kept to his original project
tor's death. Did we not know it, we would never have and immediately presented himself to the legal authorities.
imagined the means which Riviere, still wrapped in his But no sooner had the wretched man walked on for some
delusions, resolved to employ to this end: it was to kill his time than the contrast between the aspect of the heavens
young brother too, the brother whom he tenderly loved and the calm of the woods he was traversing with the act
and who was loved tenderly by their unhappy father. ~e had just committed restored a ray of light to his clouded
VVhen I have committed this crime, said Riviere, my father mtellect; he came to a halt as if in terror at his own self,
will conceive such an abhorrence of it that he will no longer wondered whether it had not all been a horrible dream,
regret me and will even wish for my death. Thus, proceed- but, convinced in a moment or two that it was indeed the

'30 '3'
'I
I, PIERRE RIVIERE

enslaved to their caprices, He thought that it would be a jog from delusion to delusion, the madman decided on the
noble and glorious thing to deliver it from their sway. that bereavement of his whole family while wishing to procure
all that was needed was a generous example; that in all ages its happiness.
and during great crises men had come forward and had This resolution in itself, in my opinion. bears so pro-
dedicated themselves, and their names had been handed nounced a stamp of madness that it alone would suffice to
down to posterity. His memory furnished him with several declare Riviere mad. Never was distorted judgment carried
instances of voluntary self-dedication in the Old Testa- to greater lengths; never was the fanaticism of an unsound
ment, the very mystery of the Redemption presented itself mind more marked. For a long time, however, the
as a confinnacion of his ideas; if God himself had sacrificed wretched man's courage flinched, he could not make up
himself for men, all the more reason ought he to have to his mind, and he vainly reproached himself for his cow-
sacrifice himself for his fellow men; the gallantry of La- ardice. But at last the fatal day came, he donned his
rochejaquelin, the example of Charlotte Corday came to holiday clothes, had his sister sing a canticle beginning: "0
mind; he believed that he was inspired by God and was act- happy day! holy joy!" and, his mind wholly deranged, his
ing in His name, and, resolved to give his life to deliver weapon, an ax, in hand, he executed his mother, his sister,
men in general and his father in particular, he decided on and his young brother.
his mother's death. Soon, too, his sister'was included in this This fearful disaster, this human butchery, all this shed
lethal decision, for she had always lived with her mother blood and the fact that he was drenched in it troubled him
and had always taken her side; should she remain alive, she not a whit; he went out calmly, peaceably announced that
would continue to exercise a disastrous ascendancy over he had just delivered his father, and, the murderous steel
her father, so he must be delivered from her too, the still in his hand, calmly took the road to Vire, vaunting his
sacrifice must be complete. It is hardly conceivable that intention of himself declaring to his judges the great deed
delusion could be carried to greater lengths. yet Riviere- he had just performed.
went further. He imagined that no matter how tranquil Truly. I have never seen a more manifest case of in-
his father might be after these murders, he would never- sanity among the hundreds of monomaniacs I have treated;
theless not enjoy complete happiness; delivered by his son, so manifest indeed that one's heart feels pity far rather than
he would mourn him when his head had fallen to the law. horror for this wretched being.
This regret he must prevent, his father's happiness must I venture to think that no doubt in this respect would
be whole and entire, and he must even rejoice at his libera- ever have arisen had Riviere kept to his original project
tor's death. Did we not know it, we would never have and immediately presented himself to the legal authorities.
imagined the means which Riviere, still wrapped in his But no sooner had the wretched man walked on for some
delusions, resolved to employ to this end: it was to kill his time than the contrast between the aspect of the heavens
young brother too, the brother whom he tenderly loved and the calm of the woods he was traversing with the act
and who was loved tenderly by their unhappy father. ~e had just committed restored a ray of light to his clouded
VVhen I have committed this crime, said Riviere, my father mtellect; he came to a halt as if in terror at his own self,
will conceive such an abhorrence of it that he will no longer wondered whether it had not all been a horrible dream,
regret me and will even wish for my death. Thus, proceed- but, convinced in a moment or two that it was indeed the

'30 '3'
I, PIERRE RIVIERE

fearful reality, he gave way to the most violent fit of It is quite intelligible that once he contemplated the
despair. A glimmer of reason had returned and, the exalta- atrocious and insane act he had just committed in its true
tion of fanaticism dispelled, nature had resumed her sway, light, he should no longer have harbored the determination
and the parricide recognized himself for what he was. to go and boast of it to the legal authorities. Utterly
crushed by the weight of remorse, he wished that the earth
5. Riviere's behavior and feelings from the would swallow him. Life became a burden to him, he
murder to the present resolved to rid himself of it, and he was making prepara-
In this regard, there occurred in Riviere a mental tions to hang himself when the idea of divine justice
phenomenon so important that it merits dwelling upon. restrained him. From that moment to the time of his arrest
For a whole month he thought about the act he had just (exactly a month), he led a wandering life. At times, yield-
committed, pondered it, prepared for it, and worked out ing to the instinct of self-preservation, he hid in the depths
the means for putting it into execution, and yet he never of the woods; at others, on the contrary, weary of existence,
saw it in its true light. The more he thought of it, indeed, he longed for death and sought arrest, but nevertheless did
and the more tenaciously he grasped his project, the more not have the courage to denounce himself of his own ac-
fanatical did he become. But no sooner had he done the cord. Anyone who compares this weakening, this hesitation,
deed than the scales fell from his eyes, and all of a sudden this lack of resolution with Riviere's character at the
he became saner than he had ever been before. This can moment he committed his parricide will be convinced that
be seen as none other than the effect of a powerful shock his entire firmness of purpose, his grim determination were
to his entire nervous system, and since we daily witness the a transient and morbid mental state and that when it passed,
loss of sanity resulting from a powerful mental impact. we it left the wretched being as he really is, incapable of
ought not to be surprised to find its recovery in similar strength of mind, timid, and irresolute.
circumstances. Indeed, trus is by no means the first case The parricide he had committed constantly returned to
in point; all the authors who have written on the subject disturb his mind, and it appeared to him at length as what
of madness record analogous cases, and I could quote it actually was, an act of madness. He then recalled other
several examples, did I not fear that this might extend this tales of madmen he had read, decided to express the feelings
opinion to too great a length. "It often happens," M. Orfila which really guided him as if he still felt them, in order
states in his Treatise on Forensic Medicine, "that fits of to pass for insane if he was finally arrested, and when he
madness terminate abruptly after a grave mental dis- was, he indeed attempted this and sustained this role for
turbance and that a state of calm re-ensues when patients several days before the examining judge. But he could not
have successfully put into execution projects to which they make up his mind to go on with it for long; he came to see
attach great importance." Hoffbauer, one of the most it as a culpable pretense, confessed all his real feelings and,
celebrated forensic doctors in Gennany, states that "the at the judge's request, wrote a long memoir, which I must
recovery of sanity is often the sequel to the execution of now proceed to examine.
the project." I emphasize this fact because, from this I must first point out that the shift employed by
moment on, Riviere, though not yet perfectly sane, is Riviere in no way contradicts the previous fact of his in-
nevertheless a totally different person. sanity nor does it necessarily support the presumption that

'3' '33
I, PIERRE RIVIERE

fearful reality, he gave way to the most violent fit of It is quite intelligible that once he contemplated the
despair. A glimmer of reason had returned and, the exalta- atrocious and insane act he had just committed in its true
tion of fanaticism dispelled, nature had resumed her sway, light, he should no longer have harbored the determination
and the parricide recognized himself for what he was. to go and boast of it to the legal authorities. Utterly
crushed by the weight of remorse, he wished that the earth
5. Riviere's behavior and feelings from the would swallow him. Life became a burden to him, he
murder to the present resolved to rid himself of it, and he was making prepara-
In this regard, there occurred in Riviere a mental tions to hang himself when the idea of divine justice
phenomenon so important that it merits dwelling upon. restrained him. From that moment to the time of his arrest
For a whole month he thought about the act he had just (exactly a month), he led a wandering life. At times, yield-
committed, pondered it, prepared for it, and worked out ing to the instinct of self-preservation, he hid in the depths
the means for putting it into execution, and yet he never of the woods; at others, on the contrary, weary of existence,
saw it in its true light. The more he thought of it, indeed, he longed for death and sought arrest, but nevertheless did
and the more tenaciously he grasped his project, the more not have the courage to denounce himself of his own ac-
fanatical did he become. But no sooner had he done the cord. Anyone who compares this weakening, this hesitation,
deed than the scales fell from his eyes, and all of a sudden this lack of resolution with Riviere's character at the
he became saner than he had ever been before. This can moment he committed his parricide will be convinced that
be seen as none other than the effect of a powerful shock his entire firmness of purpose, his grim determination were
to his entire nervous system, and since we daily witness the a transient and morbid mental state and that when it passed,
loss of sanity resulting from a powerful mental impact. we it left the wretched being as he really is, incapable of
ought not to be surprised to find its recovery in similar strength of mind, timid, and irresolute.
circumstances. Indeed, trus is by no means the first case The parricide he had committed constantly returned to
in point; all the authors who have written on the subject disturb his mind, and it appeared to him at length as what
of madness record analogous cases, and I could quote it actually was, an act of madness. He then recalled other
several examples, did I not fear that this might extend this tales of madmen he had read, decided to express the feelings
opinion to too great a length. "It often happens," M. Orfila which really guided him as if he still felt them, in order
states in his Treatise on Forensic Medicine, "that fits of to pass for insane if he was finally arrested, and when he
madness terminate abruptly after a grave mental dis- was, he indeed attempted this and sustained this role for
turbance and that a state of calm re-ensues when patients several days before the examining judge. But he could not
have successfully put into execution projects to which they make up his mind to go on with it for long; he came to see
attach great importance." Hoffbauer, one of the most it as a culpable pretense, confessed all his real feelings and,
celebrated forensic doctors in Gennany, states that "the at the judge's request, wrote a long memoir, which I must
recovery of sanity is often the sequel to the execution of now proceed to examine.
the project." I emphasize this fact because, from this I must first point out that the shift employed by
moment on, Riviere, though not yet perfectly sane, is Riviere in no way contradicts the previous fact of his in-
nevertheless a totally different person. sanity nor does it necessarily support the presumption that

'3' '33
I, PIERRE RIVIi:RE .
he enjoys very developed I?ental faculties ..He did not of them which he has passed over in silence, and they are
invent the role of a madman m order to play It, he merely precisely those which. best establis~ his previous stat~ of
concealed the horror with which his parricide inspired insanity. Lastly, even If these memOIrS were a masterpIece,
him, and he declared to the judge the motives which truly as some people are pleased to claim, srill no positive con-
led him to act, but whose extravagance he fully realized clusion could be drawn from them with respect to their
only afterward. Is there anything surprising .in th: ~act author's unimpaired intelligence, since they were written
that the idea of the supreme penalty and an IgnominIous only after the parricide and since, moreover, it is a daily
punishment should cause him a momentary tremor when occurrence for the most irrational mental defectives to
he had recovered his sanity, though it did not restrain him write letters of the most rational sort.
at the time and he held them in contempt while his intellect The subject therefore seems to me to be still in such a
was obnubilated. "One can imagine," M. Orfila states, "that mental state at present that, despite the moral shock which
in such cases the fear of punishments, nonexistent at the has rid him of some of his manias, he is likely to be subject
time of the state of agitation, may very well succeed it." to further fits of madness whose results might perhaps be
And just as if that celebrated authority on forensic medi- as deplorable as the earlier ones. Society is therefore en-
cine had divined Riviere's behavior, he goes on to say: titled to demand, nOt the punishment of this wretched man,
"This is no bar to most of such patients' making a full con- since there can be no culpability in the absence of mental
fession later and not shunning the legal consequences; they freedom, but his restraint and confinement by administra-
say they are truly deserving of punishment for the atrocious tive process as the only means of having an easy mind
acts they have committed." This is precisely the language about what this madman may do in the future.
now employed by the wretched man with whom we are To sum up:
concerned. Riviere has suffered from mental deficiency since his
If we now proceed to examine Riviere's written early childhood.
memoirs, we shall find that, no matter how sane they are, The cause of this deficiency resides in Riviere's own
they do not give grounds for ascri~ing :0 him ~s many family, in which madness is hereditary.
faculties as might be thought at first 51ght; mdeed, smce the The circumstances amid which he lived aggravated
first part contains only an accurate narration of fact, they this initial defect still further.
hardly called for the exercise of more than one highly The madness was manifest in a large number of acts
developed faculty, to wit memory. Indeed, ~e recalls the previous to, and without connection with, the crime with
very slightest circumstances of facts which occurred which he is charged; there are many acts of this sort which
several years ago, and nothing escapes his memory. But, have been reported by a large number of witnesses and ~ad
besides the fact that a prodigious memory is very cor,n- caused Riviere to be generally reputed a madman and Im-
monly met with in the case of persons whose other facult1~s becile.
are very unevenly distributed, memory is also found b.rtl- His insanity could nor be more evident than ir is in the
liantly manifested in a large number of madme~. Nor 15 a manner in which he conceived his horrible project and in
complete relation of Riviere's. feelinw: and actions to be the motives which determined him to execute his young
sought in the second part of thiS narratlve. There are many brother.

'34 '35
I, PIERRE RIVIi:RE .
he enjoys very developed I?ental faculties ..He did not of them which he has passed over in silence, and they are
invent the role of a madman m order to play It, he merely precisely those which. best establis~ his previous stat~ of
concealed the horror with which his parricide inspired insanity. Lastly, even If these memOIrS were a masterpIece,
him, and he declared to the judge the motives which truly as some people are pleased to claim, srill no positive con-
led him to act, but whose extravagance he fully realized clusion could be drawn from them with respect to their
only afterward. Is there anything surprising .in th: ~act author's unimpaired intelligence, since they were written
that the idea of the supreme penalty and an IgnominIous only after the parricide and since, moreover, it is a daily
punishment should cause him a momentary tremor when occurrence for the most irrational mental defectives to
he had recovered his sanity, though it did not restrain him write letters of the most rational sort.
at the time and he held them in contempt while his intellect The subject therefore seems to me to be still in such a
was obnubilated. "One can imagine," M. Orfila states, "that mental state at present that, despite the moral shock which
in such cases the fear of punishments, nonexistent at the has rid him of some of his manias, he is likely to be subject
time of the state of agitation, may very well succeed it." to further fits of madness whose results might perhaps be
And just as if that celebrated authority on forensic medi- as deplorable as the earlier ones. Society is therefore en-
cine had divined Riviere's behavior, he goes on to say: titled to demand, nOt the punishment of this wretched man,
"This is no bar to most of such patients' making a full con- since there can be no culpability in the absence of mental
fession later and not shunning the legal consequences; they freedom, but his restraint and confinement by administra-
say they are truly deserving of punishment for the atrocious tive process as the only means of having an easy mind
acts they have committed." This is precisely the language about what this madman may do in the future.
now employed by the wretched man with whom we are To sum up:
concerned. Riviere has suffered from mental deficiency since his
If we now proceed to examine Riviere's written early childhood.
memoirs, we shall find that, no matter how sane they are, The cause of this deficiency resides in Riviere's own
they do not give grounds for ascri~ing :0 him ~s many family, in which madness is hereditary.
faculties as might be thought at first 51ght; mdeed, smce the The circumstances amid which he lived aggravated
first part contains only an accurate narration of fact, they this initial defect still further.
hardly called for the exercise of more than one highly The madness was manifest in a large number of acts
developed faculty, to wit memory. Indeed, ~e recalls the previous to, and without connection with, the crime with
very slightest circumstances of facts which occurred which he is charged; there are many acts of this sort which
several years ago, and nothing escapes his memory. But, have been reported by a large number of witnesses and ~ad
besides the fact that a prodigious memory is very cor,n- caused Riviere to be generally reputed a madman and Im-
monly met with in the case of persons whose other facult1~s becile.
are very unevenly distributed, memory is also found b.rtl- His insanity could nor be more evident than ir is in the
liantly manifested in a large number of madme~. Nor 15 a manner in which he conceived his horrible project and in
complete relation of Riviere's. feelinw: and actions to be the motives which determined him to execute his young
sought in the second part of thiS narratlve. There are many brother.

'34 '35
It is further manifest to the full in the calm manner in
which he put it into execution and in the way in which he
spoke of it immediately afterward.
The greater sanity he appears to evince since then is
accounted for by the powerful moral shock administered
5
by the blood he shed.
The writing of his memoirs does not in any way rule
out the existence of insanity prior to the parricide.
Lastly, Riviere's return to saner ideas may not last long,
The Trial
and if not guilty, he is at least dangerous and should be
confined in his own interest and above all in the interest
of society. A. THE ASSIZE COURT
L. VASTEL
Caen, October 25, 1835 1. INTERROGATION OF PIERRE RIVIERE
(A third report by medico-legal experts, that by the Paris BY THE PRESIDING JUDGE OF
doctors, has been placed, for convenience of presentation, THE ASSIZE COURT
in the section relating to the reprieve, pp. 163-6.)
August 4, 1835
THE PRESIDING JUDGE, Armand de Gournay, informs Rivi-
ere of the peremptory refusal by Maitre Aime Bardou,
member of the bar at Caen, chosen by the defendant, to
undertake his defense.
Pierre Riviere not having chosen any other counsel
("no, I have not chosen any and I do not think I should"),
Maitre Berthauld, barrister at Caen, is appointed counsel ex
officio.

2. THE MEMBERS OF THE JURY


The jury was composed of four persons described as
property owners, two doctors, two members of the Con-
seil general, a solicitor, a wine merchant, a merchant, and
a barrister.

37
It is further manifest to the full in the calm manner in
which he put it into execution and in the way in which he
spoke of it immediately afterward.
The greater sanity he appears to evince since then is
accounted for by the powerful moral shock administered
5
by the blood he shed.
The writing of his memoirs does not in any way rule
out the existence of insanity prior to the parricide.
Lastly, Riviere's return to saner ideas may not last long,
The Trial
and if not guilty, he is at least dangerous and should be
confined in his own interest and above all in the interest
of society. A. THE ASSIZE COURT
L. VASTEL
Caen, October 25, 1835 1. INTERROGATION OF PIERRE RIVIERE
(A third report by medico-legal experts, that by the Paris BY THE PRESIDING JUDGE OF
doctors, has been placed, for convenience of presentation, THE ASSIZE COURT
in the section relating to the reprieve, pp. 163-6.)
August 4, 1835
THE PRESIDING JUDGE, Armand de Gournay, informs Rivi-
ere of the peremptory refusal by Maitre Aime Bardou,
member of the bar at Caen, chosen by the defendant, to
undertake his defense.
Pierre Riviere not having chosen any other counsel
("no, I have not chosen any and I do not think I should"),
Maitre Berthauld, barrister at Caen, is appointed counsel ex
officio.

2. THE MEMBERS OF THE JURY


The jury was composed of four persons described as
property owners, two doctors, two members of the Con-
seil general, a solicitor, a wine merchant, a merchant, and
a barrister.

37
I, PIERRE RIVIERE

Hearings in court on November 11 and 12, 1835


3. WITNESSES AND CERTIFICATE FROM
Charge of parricide and fratricide
CERTAIN INHABITANTS OF AUNAY
Prisoner's astounding method of defense
(a) Thirteen witnesses were called for the prosecution.
(b) Nine witnesses were called for the defense. Pierre Riviere is a young man barely twenty-one years
(c) Certificate Transmitted to Riviere old; he seems dejected, but his features yet inspire some in-
We, municipal councilors and property owners of the' terest despite the heinousness of the crimes with which he is
commune of Aunay undersigned, hereby attest that to OUf charged. The court is crowded with spectators. We note
definite knowledge Pierre Riviere now charged with a on the bench the First President of the Assize Court and
triple homicide has consistently shown signs of a disposition the Regional Prosecutor; several doctors and teachers from
so gloomy, strange, and unforthcoming ever since the age the local secondary school are among the spectators. It is
of about twelve or (runeen that everyone who saw him as known beforehand that the question of the material facts
he passed by (for he had no personal relations with anyone- will be virtually eclipsed by the even more serious question
at all) could not but say: There goes Pierre Riviere's im- of the prisoner's discernment and rationality. The indict-
becile. We likewise attest that since the murders were ment is read out by the clerk of court; it is to the effect
committed everybody has expressed pity for the father that on the third of June this year in the town of Aunay
after his own fashion and we have all said among ourselves: he did kill and murder with a pruning bill his mother, his
Instead of one imbecile the poor father has two, for the sister, and his brother. In a memoir written by himself
murderer's brother, Prosper Riviere, aged about fourteen, Riviere confessed and explained his crime with all its at-
has an extremely defective intelligence bordering even on. tendant circumstances. He alleges that he believed that he
idiocy. was performing a praiseworthy action, though one ap-
(Fifty-two signatures authenticated by the mayor, parently condemned by the laws of God and man, because
November 4, 1835) he was willing to die for his father to whom he wished to
restore peace and quiet. Riviere the father was distressed
by his wife's conduct; the husband and wife lived apart.
The mother lived with her eighteen-year-old daughter
4. NEWSPAPER REPORTS OF THE TRIAL Victoire and her eight-year-old son Jules. Pierre Riviere
(a) Gazette des Tribunaux, Monday and Tuesday, No- remained with his father, a sister named Aimee, and an-
vember 16and 17,1835 other brother named Prosper. Riviere the father had a great
[This report recapitulates in substance a report pub- affection for little Jules; he was greatly distressed too, ac-
lished in the Pilote du Calvados on November 12,1835.] cording to the accused, on account of his domestic troubles.
[Here follow extracts from the memoir describing
Sessions of the Assize Court at Caen IDviere's meditations, the commission of the crime, and his
(From our special correspondent) subsequent repentance in the woods (see pp. 104-13), con-
M. Daigrement-Saint Mauvrieux [or Saint-Manvieux] siderably condensed. The same extracts were published in
presiding the Pilote du Calvados, November 12,1835.]

'3 8 '39
I, PIERRE RIVIERE

Hearings in court on November 11 and 12, 1835


3. WITNESSES AND CERTIFICATE FROM
Charge of parricide and fratricide
CERTAIN INHABITANTS OF AUNAY
Prisoner's astounding method of defense
(a) Thirteen witnesses were called for the prosecution.
(b) Nine witnesses were called for the defense. Pierre Riviere is a young man barely twenty-one years
(c) Certificate Transmitted to Riviere old; he seems dejected, but his features yet inspire some in-
We, municipal councilors and property owners of the' terest despite the heinousness of the crimes with which he is
commune of Aunay undersigned, hereby attest that to OUf charged. The court is crowded with spectators. We note
definite knowledge Pierre Riviere now charged with a on the bench the First President of the Assize Court and
triple homicide has consistently shown signs of a disposition the Regional Prosecutor; several doctors and teachers from
so gloomy, strange, and unforthcoming ever since the age the local secondary school are among the spectators. It is
of about twelve or (runeen that everyone who saw him as known beforehand that the question of the material facts
he passed by (for he had no personal relations with anyone- will be virtually eclipsed by the even more serious question
at all) could not but say: There goes Pierre Riviere's im- of the prisoner's discernment and rationality. The indict-
becile. We likewise attest that since the murders were ment is read out by the clerk of court; it is to the effect
committed everybody has expressed pity for the father that on the third of June this year in the town of Aunay
after his own fashion and we have all said among ourselves: he did kill and murder with a pruning bill his mother, his
Instead of one imbecile the poor father has two, for the sister, and his brother. In a memoir written by himself
murderer's brother, Prosper Riviere, aged about fourteen, Riviere confessed and explained his crime with all its at-
has an extremely defective intelligence bordering even on. tendant circumstances. He alleges that he believed that he
idiocy. was performing a praiseworthy action, though one ap-
(Fifty-two signatures authenticated by the mayor, parently condemned by the laws of God and man, because
November 4, 1835) he was willing to die for his father to whom he wished to
restore peace and quiet. Riviere the father was distressed
by his wife's conduct; the husband and wife lived apart.
The mother lived with her eighteen-year-old daughter
4. NEWSPAPER REPORTS OF THE TRIAL Victoire and her eight-year-old son Jules. Pierre Riviere
(a) Gazette des Tribunaux, Monday and Tuesday, No- remained with his father, a sister named Aimee, and an-
vember 16and 17,1835 other brother named Prosper. Riviere the father had a great
[This report recapitulates in substance a report pub- affection for little Jules; he was greatly distressed too, ac-
lished in the Pilote du Calvados on November 12,1835.] cording to the accused, on account of his domestic troubles.
[Here follow extracts from the memoir describing
Sessions of the Assize Court at Caen IDviere's meditations, the commission of the crime, and his
(From our special correspondent) subsequent repentance in the woods (see pp. 104-13), con-
M. Daigrement-Saint Mauvrieux [or Saint-Manvieux] siderably condensed. The same extracts were published in
presiding the Pilote du Calvados, November 12,1835.]

'3 8 '39
I, PIERRE RIVIERE .
The hearings merely confirmed the facts set out in the The jury was out for three hours; no doubt they wished
indictment. Pierre Riviere barely replies to the questions to read and assess the prisoner's memoir, which very prob-
he is asked and seems absorbed in the most gloomy ably furnished a singular contrast to the line of defense.
thoughts. When he is shown the bill still stained with his At a quarter to twO 0' clock in the morning they brought
victims' blood, he averts his gaze and he is heard to utter a in a verdict of guilty and, amid general stupefaction, the
long and dismal groan, and to say: I am in haste to die. He court sentenced Pierre Riviere to the penalty for parricides.
maintains his confessions entire. The defense is based on
the prisoner's state of insanity at the moment of committing (b) Annales d'hygiene plIbliqzte (1836, p. 201)
the act; and examination brought out some facts which, if M. Bouchard, being called to testify and being ques-
they do nor prove the complete derangement of his faculties, tioned as to whether Pierre Riviere was mentally defective,
at least testify to a notable enfeeblement of his intelligence. replied: Pierre Riviere is not ment~ly defective, f~r t~o
Pierre Riviere had received virtually no primary schooling; reaSons: (1) because a study of his physical constItutIOn
1 orII or ~~'mnocent " ; he was
he was regar ded as a sort 0 f "'di does not show any cause which might have damaged the
commonly called "Riviere's beast." Nevertheless, M. Bou- functions of his brain; (2) because his mental state cannot
chard, a doctor who visited him frequently at the jail at be classified in any of the categories accepted by the rele-
Vire, stated that he had not observed any symptom of mad- vant authorities. "Thus," M. Bouchard said, "Pierre Riviere
ness in the strict sense of the term; nor had he noted any is not a monomaniac, because he does not harbor delusions
homicidal monomania in the murderer. on one and only one subject; he is not a maniac, because
A very brisk and most interesting exchange on this topic he is not in an habitual state of agitation; he is not an idiot,
took place between M. Vastel, physician at the Bon Sauveur because he has written a wholly sane memoir; he is not in
lunatic asylum at Caen, as a witness for the defense, and a state of continuing insanity, as may readi! y be seen.
Drs. Trouve and Lebidois, called by the Presiding Judge in Therefore Pierre Riviere is not insane." Four doctors at-
the exercise of his full authority to call for additional in- tended the trial and were called. Two of them shared M.
formation. Vastel's conviction; twO supported that of M. Bouchard.
The prosecution's case was forcefully put by M. Loisel, Despite M. Berthauld's eloquent and sincere address for
the assistant regional prosecutor. Since the facts were con- the defense, the jury found Pierre Riviere guilty; and in
ceded by both parries, he was primarily conce~n~d to consequence, the unfortunate man was sentenced to the
establish by means of the whole tenor of the prehmmary penalty for parricides. Nevertheless, alanned perhaps by
investigation and the hearings in cOUrt, and in particular the excessive severity of the punishment inflicted on a man
by means of the prisoner's own memoir, that he was per- who, by their own admission, had never been in full po!~es
fectly capable of knowledge of good and evil, that he had sion of his reason, the jurymen met and drew up a petItIOn
fully comprehended his crime and that he was not afflicted for the commutation of the penalty.
with pronounced madness or homicidal monomania.
The defense entrusted to Maitre Berthauld, a young
barrister of the Caen bar, was urged with great talent, and
his efforts would have succeeded, had success been feasible.

'4'
I, PIERRE RIVIERE .
The hearings merely confirmed the facts set out in the The jury was out for three hours; no doubt they wished
indictment. Pierre Riviere barely replies to the questions to read and assess the prisoner's memoir, which very prob-
he is asked and seems absorbed in the most gloomy ably furnished a singular contrast to the line of defense.
thoughts. When he is shown the bill still stained with his At a quarter to twO 0' clock in the morning they brought
victims' blood, he averts his gaze and he is heard to utter a in a verdict of guilty and, amid general stupefaction, the
long and dismal groan, and to say: I am in haste to die. He court sentenced Pierre Riviere to the penalty for parricides.
maintains his confessions entire. The defense is based on
the prisoner's state of insanity at the moment of committing (b) Annales d'hygiene plIbliqzte (1836, p. 201)
the act; and examination brought out some facts which, if M. Bouchard, being called to testify and being ques-
they do nor prove the complete derangement of his faculties, tioned as to whether Pierre Riviere was mentally defective,
at least testify to a notable enfeeblement of his intelligence. replied: Pierre Riviere is not ment~ly defective, f~r t~o
Pierre Riviere had received virtually no primary schooling; reaSons: (1) because a study of his physical constItutIOn
1 orII or ~~'mnocent " ; he was
he was regar ded as a sort 0 f "'di does not show any cause which might have damaged the
commonly called "Riviere's beast." Nevertheless, M. Bou- functions of his brain; (2) because his mental state cannot
chard, a doctor who visited him frequently at the jail at be classified in any of the categories accepted by the rele-
Vire, stated that he had not observed any symptom of mad- vant authorities. "Thus," M. Bouchard said, "Pierre Riviere
ness in the strict sense of the term; nor had he noted any is not a monomaniac, because he does not harbor delusions
homicidal monomania in the murderer. on one and only one subject; he is not a maniac, because
A very brisk and most interesting exchange on this topic he is not in an habitual state of agitation; he is not an idiot,
took place between M. Vastel, physician at the Bon Sauveur because he has written a wholly sane memoir; he is not in
lunatic asylum at Caen, as a witness for the defense, and a state of continuing insanity, as may readi! y be seen.
Drs. Trouve and Lebidois, called by the Presiding Judge in Therefore Pierre Riviere is not insane." Four doctors at-
the exercise of his full authority to call for additional in- tended the trial and were called. Two of them shared M.
formation. Vastel's conviction; twO supported that of M. Bouchard.
The prosecution's case was forcefully put by M. Loisel, Despite M. Berthauld's eloquent and sincere address for
the assistant regional prosecutor. Since the facts were con- the defense, the jury found Pierre Riviere guilty; and in
ceded by both parries, he was primarily conce~n~d to consequence, the unfortunate man was sentenced to the
establish by means of the whole tenor of the prehmmary penalty for parricides. Nevertheless, alanned perhaps by
investigation and the hearings in cOUrt, and in particular the excessive severity of the punishment inflicted on a man
by means of the prisoner's own memoir, that he was per- who, by their own admission, had never been in full po!~es
fectly capable of knowledge of good and evil, that he had sion of his reason, the jurymen met and drew up a petItIOn
fully comprehended his crime and that he was not afflicted for the commutation of the penalty.
with pronounced madness or homicidal monomania.
The defense entrusted to Maitre Berthauld, a young
barrister of the Caen bar, was urged with great talent, and
his efforts would have succeeded, had success been feasible.

'4'
I, PIERRE RIviE:RE ...
ever, he averted his gaze at the sight of the bill still stained
5. REPORT BY THE PRESIDING JUDGE with blood, saying: I am in haste to die. His answers were
OF THE ASSIZE COURT TO THE invariably clear and exact, and he heard his sentence with
DIRECTOR OF CRIMINAL AFFAIRS t~e greatest. unconcern; it req?ired reiterated urgings by
his father, hiS confessor, and his counsel to induce him to
Wednesday 11. Jean Pierre Riviere, aged twenty, sign his appeal.
mer, born at Courvaudon, resident at Aunay It was established conclusively that Riviere had had no
being charged that he did feloniously, wilfully, and illness and had received no injuries that might have occa-
his malice aforethought kill and murder Victoire sioned any damage to his mental faculties.
wife of Riviere, his mother, his sister, and Jules Riviere, In his childhood Riviere's intelligence appeared defec-
brother tive; he had difficulty in learning to read and write. But
was sentenced to the penalty for parricides. his parish. prie.st, a pe~son of outstanding ability, very soon
(Here ilre described the bodies as found and the detected. m him considerable aptitudes, especially for the
cumstances attendant on the murders. See pp. 38-9 exact sCiences. He had a remarkably retentive memory,
43-5.J read all the books he could lay hands on with the utmost
In a very long memoir, the whole written by ~.:~::~ avidity, and forgot nothing of what he had read. He was
over a period of two weeks, he gave a very detailed a4 extre~ely dev?~t to begin with, .later wholly gave up the
of his mother's culpable behavior toward his father, practice of religIOn, but later agam returned to his original
feelings to which this behavior prompted him, the relBec:- sentiments. He has explained his conduct as follows: the
(ions which led him to frame the design of killing religious instruction I had received and the books of deva-
mother to ensure his father's peace, his hesitations, the tio~ had at first persuaded me of the truth of religion, a book
effons he had to make to steel himself to put it into exo:CIlf- enntled The Good Sense of the Cure Meslier had caused
rion, his repentance, the remorse which racked him, me ~o do~bt; the Montpellier Catechism and my own re-
manner in which he lived until his arrest, the th:~~)~~:, flectiOns dISpelled my doubts; and I acted in accordance with
which incessantly agitated him and his desire for the the feelings I experienced.
of a life which had become intolerable to him. All the local inhabitants who were most fitted by their
After admissions of this nature all that remained education, their social position, and their relations with
to discover whether Riviere was in possession of his re.son Pierre Riviere to give accurate infonnation depicted him as
at the time of committing the act, and it was toward of a gloomy and melancholic disposition, avoiding all so-
end that the preliminary investigation and the hearings . ~ety; he sometimes left his father's house to spend all night
court were directed. m the woods. He was regarded as an idiot, but no one ever
There is nothing noteworthy about Riviere's phvsi,OIt- observed any vicious propensities in him. Reliable witnesses
nomy; it would seem to indicate gentleness rather have reported facts which seemed to them to testify to his
propensity to cruelty. During the hearings in court it re- mental derangement. As a child Riviere nailed birds and frogs
mained as impassive as his demeanor; his mind appeared to a plank and gave way to imbecile laughter as he watched
calm and seemed not to be agitated by any feeling; how-- them die; Riviere himself says he imagined Jesus Christ's

'4' '43
I, PIERRE RIviE:RE ...
ever, he averted his gaze at the sight of the bill still stained
5. REPORT BY THE PRESIDING JUDGE with blood, saying: I am in haste to die. His answers were
OF THE ASSIZE COURT TO THE invariably clear and exact, and he heard his sentence with
DIRECTOR OF CRIMINAL AFFAIRS t~e greatest. unconcern; it req?ired reiterated urgings by
his father, hiS confessor, and his counsel to induce him to
Wednesday 11. Jean Pierre Riviere, aged twenty, sign his appeal.
mer, born at Courvaudon, resident at Aunay It was established conclusively that Riviere had had no
being charged that he did feloniously, wilfully, and illness and had received no injuries that might have occa-
his malice aforethought kill and murder Victoire sioned any damage to his mental faculties.
wife of Riviere, his mother, his sister, and Jules Riviere, In his childhood Riviere's intelligence appeared defec-
brother tive; he had difficulty in learning to read and write. But
was sentenced to the penalty for parricides. his parish. prie.st, a pe~son of outstanding ability, very soon
(Here ilre described the bodies as found and the detected. m him considerable aptitudes, especially for the
cumstances attendant on the murders. See pp. 38-9 exact sCiences. He had a remarkably retentive memory,
43-5.J read all the books he could lay hands on with the utmost
In a very long memoir, the whole written by ~.:~::~ avidity, and forgot nothing of what he had read. He was
over a period of two weeks, he gave a very detailed a4 extre~ely dev?~t to begin with, .later wholly gave up the
of his mother's culpable behavior toward his father, practice of religIOn, but later agam returned to his original
feelings to which this behavior prompted him, the relBec:- sentiments. He has explained his conduct as follows: the
(ions which led him to frame the design of killing religious instruction I had received and the books of deva-
mother to ensure his father's peace, his hesitations, the tio~ had at first persuaded me of the truth of religion, a book
effons he had to make to steel himself to put it into exo:CIlf- enntled The Good Sense of the Cure Meslier had caused
rion, his repentance, the remorse which racked him, me ~o do~bt; the Montpellier Catechism and my own re-
manner in which he lived until his arrest, the th:~~)~~:, flectiOns dISpelled my doubts; and I acted in accordance with
which incessantly agitated him and his desire for the the feelings I experienced.
of a life which had become intolerable to him. All the local inhabitants who were most fitted by their
After admissions of this nature all that remained education, their social position, and their relations with
to discover whether Riviere was in possession of his re.son Pierre Riviere to give accurate infonnation depicted him as
at the time of committing the act, and it was toward of a gloomy and melancholic disposition, avoiding all so-
end that the preliminary investigation and the hearings . ~ety; he sometimes left his father's house to spend all night
court were directed. m the woods. He was regarded as an idiot, but no one ever
There is nothing noteworthy about Riviere's phvsi,OIt- observed any vicious propensities in him. Reliable witnesses
nomy; it would seem to indicate gentleness rather have reported facts which seemed to them to testify to his
propensity to cruelty. During the hearings in court it re- mental derangement. As a child Riviere nailed birds and frogs
mained as impassive as his demeanor; his mind appeared to a plank and gave way to imbecile laughter as he watched
calm and seemed not to be agitated by any feeling; how-- them die; Riviere himself says he imagined Jesus Christ's

'4' '43
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

passion like this. He was seen several times beside himself and Pierre Riviere nourished the most tender affection for his
greatly agitated because he believed he was seeing the father, and rhe constant sight of rhe annoyances to which he
Devil and he also said that he conversed with the fairies was subjected and the miseries which assailed him seems to
on his nocturnal walks; he did so, he replied under ex- be the sale cause that, by overexciting his gloomy and
amination in court, to mock at those who believe in such melancholy imagination, caused him to conceive the horrible
absurdities. On several occasions he was seen knocking off project which he put into execution on June 3.
heads of cabbage in the garden with a stick, shouting: right, Riviere's memoir is wrinen with order, clarity, and
left; he was imagining himself, he said, an army general. precision; all his mother's wrongs to his father are narrated
For two years he worked in his loft constructing an instru- in the most scrupulous detail. It can be seen [hat Riviere
ment to kill birds. which he had named "CaLibine"; later he was tormented by an immoderate longing for glory and
went and buried it in a field followed by the village children. fame and that a chain of false reasonings supported by ex-
At the same period he buried a jay which had belonged to amples drawn from histOry led him to suppose that he would
his brother, carrying Out a mock religious ceremony; he was be performing a meritorious deed and would immonalize
then eighteen years of age. Several other facts of this nature himself by sacrificing his life to ensure his father's happiness.
denoting bizarre behavior or extravagance were related in This memoir indicates the simulmneous existence of very
court. great intelligence and the greatest possible aberration of
Ir has been established conclusively that Riviere had a judgment; though Riviere received only a village education,
great aversion to women and all female animals; he was the style is rolerably correct, and it contains passages of
particularly afraid of the sight of his female relations, and remarkable eloquence.
when he was asked the reason, he answered that from his In this memoir Riviere gives an explanation of the motive
reading of the Holy Scriptures he had conceived the greatest which led him to kill his young brother which differs from
horror of incest and bestiality and that he feared there was that which he gave in his earlier interrogations; he states
an invisible fluid which. despite himself, might bring that he killed his brother to make himself more odious ro
him into contact with WOmen or female animals when he his father and to ensure that his execution would cause him
was in their presence. no grief.
Two relations fairly closely akin to Riviere's father's Toward rhe close of the hearings several doctors were
wife died insane; one of them had been certified; they had a called to give their opinion on Riviere's mental state; rhree
similar aversion to women. One of Riviere's brothers aged of rhem considered that he was not sane when he acred,
thirteen or fourteen is considered completely idiotic. three took the opposite \'iew and. while acknowledging rhe
The hearings in court disclosed nothing to raise any bizarre aspects of his behavior and the aberration of his
presumption that Riviere was animated by any feeling of judgment, stared that they beJic\'ed that he had sufficient
hatred, revenge, jealousy, or greed toward his mother, his command of his reason ro discern the morality of his actions
brother, or his sister. The dissensions between Riviere's and to be responsible for rhem. The rwo doctors in charge
father and his wife were common knowledge, and every- of the Bon Sauveur lunatic asylum at Caen took a different
one thought that she was in the wrong; Riviere was pitied view.
for having to consort with such an ill-tempered woman. The jury, some of whose members were persons of out-

'44 '45
I, PIERRE RIVIERE . . .

passion like this. He was seen several times beside himself and Pierre Riviere nourished the most tender affection for his
greatly agitated because he believed he was seeing the father, and rhe constant sight of rhe annoyances to which he
Devil and he also said that he conversed with the fairies was subjected and the miseries which assailed him seems to
on his nocturnal walks; he did so, he replied under ex- be the sale cause that, by overexciting his gloomy and
amination in court, to mock at those who believe in such melancholy imagination, caused him to conceive the horrible
absurdities. On several occasions he was seen knocking off project which he put into execution on June 3.
heads of cabbage in the garden with a stick, shouting: right, Riviere's memoir is wrinen with order, clarity, and
left; he was imagining himself, he said, an army general. precision; all his mother's wrongs to his father are narrated
For two years he worked in his loft constructing an instru- in the most scrupulous detail. It can be seen [hat Riviere
ment to kill birds. which he had named "CaLibine"; later he was tormented by an immoderate longing for glory and
went and buried it in a field followed by the village children. fame and that a chain of false reasonings supported by ex-
At the same period he buried a jay which had belonged to amples drawn from histOry led him to suppose that he would
his brother, carrying Out a mock religious ceremony; he was be performing a meritorious deed and would immonalize
then eighteen years of age. Several other facts of this nature himself by sacrificing his life to ensure his father's happiness.
denoting bizarre behavior or extravagance were related in This memoir indicates the simulmneous existence of very
court. great intelligence and the greatest possible aberration of
Ir has been established conclusively that Riviere had a judgment; though Riviere received only a village education,
great aversion to women and all female animals; he was the style is rolerably correct, and it contains passages of
particularly afraid of the sight of his female relations, and remarkable eloquence.
when he was asked the reason, he answered that from his In this memoir Riviere gives an explanation of the motive
reading of the Holy Scriptures he had conceived the greatest which led him to kill his young brother which differs from
horror of incest and bestiality and that he feared there was that which he gave in his earlier interrogations; he states
an invisible fluid which. despite himself, might bring that he killed his brother to make himself more odious ro
him into contact with WOmen or female animals when he his father and to ensure that his execution would cause him
was in their presence. no grief.
Two relations fairly closely akin to Riviere's father's Toward rhe close of the hearings several doctors were
wife died insane; one of them had been certified; they had a called to give their opinion on Riviere's mental state; rhree
similar aversion to women. One of Riviere's brothers aged of rhem considered that he was not sane when he acred,
thirteen or fourteen is considered completely idiotic. three took the opposite \'iew and. while acknowledging rhe
The hearings in court disclosed nothing to raise any bizarre aspects of his behavior and the aberration of his
presumption that Riviere was animated by any feeling of judgment, stared that they beJic\'ed that he had sufficient
hatred, revenge, jealousy, or greed toward his mother, his command of his reason ro discern the morality of his actions
brother, or his sister. The dissensions between Riviere's and to be responsible for rhem. The rwo doctors in charge
father and his wife were common knowledge, and every- of the Bon Sauveur lunatic asylum at Caen took a different
one thought that she was in the wrong; Riviere was pitied view.
for having to consort with such an ill-tempered woman. The jury, some of whose members were persons of out-

'44 '45
1
'I,
It PIERRE RIV[ERE ..

standing education and intelligence, unanimously declared which nevertheless does not imply the full possession of
Riviere guilty, but six jurymen considered that extenuating reason, especially in the case of someone whose actions had
circumstances should be admitted. A reading of the memoir at times appeared acts of aberration?
seems to have had a considerable effect on this opinion. In the eyes of those who believe that Riviere is guilty in
The project framed beforehand by Riviere to kill his the fully accepted sense of the term, and this opinion is
mother, his sister, and his brother, the horror with which the supponed by the jury's verdict, his execution is an example
deed he was going to commit inspired him, his hesitations, peremptorily demanded by the interest of society; but this
his repentance, his fits of remorse, and his confessions are example can be salutary only insofar as no doubt arises
evidence that he comprehended the full atrocity of his act, about Riviere's full guilt, otherwise the effect it will produce
that he was aware of it, and that consequently he must be will only be undesirable.
declared guilty and convicted. Nevenheless, is Rivie~e to Should His Majesty deign to exercise the royal preroga-
be considered as a person to be treated on the same footing as tive of mercy in favor of Riviere, Riviere's mental state
the murderer who is motivated by the guilty passions which would be the sole ground; and should it be so exercised, I
ordinarily impel men to crime? He was not led to act by consider that his sentence should be commuted in such
personal interest, his motive was the misconceived desire to manner that he be placed under restraint for the rest of his
procure his father's happiness; if at the moment he acted he narurallife.
was in possession of his reason, his crime must be punished
with the full rigor of the law, regardless of any aberration
of judgment. But did not the very heinousness of the crime
and the lack of rational motive, coupled with the bizarre 6. NEWSPAPER ARTICLES AND
features of his character and the extravagance of some of his CORRESPONDENCE RELATING
actions, give rise to doubts about his mental state? Opinions TO THE TRIAL
were divided among the doctors, all equally trustworthy,
and among the members of the jury. The public which (a) Journal de Rouen et du Departement de la Seine-
followed the hearings of this case with the liveliest interest lnferieure, Sunday, November 15, 1835
is also divided on this point, and grave doubts would have
arisen in the minds of the members of the Court if they had Calvados Assize Court
been called upon to hand down a decision. Since Riviere Lacenaire and Riviere
has been so diversely judged by conscientious and e~ Our columns, like those of the newspapers of the capital,
lightened persons. there is reason to believe that there IS have been filled for the past three days with lengthy dis-
something about him which ought to preclude his being quisitions on a horrible case providing at once an abundant
regarded in the same way as other men guilty of equally harvest for curiosity and matter calculated to instil into the
atrocious actions; and if there are degrees of derangement mind the most harrowing reflections on mankind in general
of the mental faculties, may his crime not be ascribed to a and on the present state of our morality. The chief protag-
state of momentary overexcitement induced by his father's onist in the sordid drama supplies us with the spectacle of
misfonunes, a state which no doubt is not madness, but the most hideously criminal existence that could possibly

'47
1
'I,
It PIERRE RIV[ERE ..

standing education and intelligence, unanimously declared which nevertheless does not imply the full possession of
Riviere guilty, but six jurymen considered that extenuating reason, especially in the case of someone whose actions had
circumstances should be admitted. A reading of the memoir at times appeared acts of aberration?
seems to have had a considerable effect on this opinion. In the eyes of those who believe that Riviere is guilty in
The project framed beforehand by Riviere to kill his the fully accepted sense of the term, and this opinion is
mother, his sister, and his brother, the horror with which the supponed by the jury's verdict, his execution is an example
deed he was going to commit inspired him, his hesitations, peremptorily demanded by the interest of society; but this
his repentance, his fits of remorse, and his confessions are example can be salutary only insofar as no doubt arises
evidence that he comprehended the full atrocity of his act, about Riviere's full guilt, otherwise the effect it will produce
that he was aware of it, and that consequently he must be will only be undesirable.
declared guilty and convicted. Nevenheless, is Rivie~e to Should His Majesty deign to exercise the royal preroga-
be considered as a person to be treated on the same footing as tive of mercy in favor of Riviere, Riviere's mental state
the murderer who is motivated by the guilty passions which would be the sole ground; and should it be so exercised, I
ordinarily impel men to crime? He was not led to act by consider that his sentence should be commuted in such
personal interest, his motive was the misconceived desire to manner that he be placed under restraint for the rest of his
procure his father's happiness; if at the moment he acted he narurallife.
was in possession of his reason, his crime must be punished
with the full rigor of the law, regardless of any aberration
of judgment. But did not the very heinousness of the crime
and the lack of rational motive, coupled with the bizarre 6. NEWSPAPER ARTICLES AND
features of his character and the extravagance of some of his CORRESPONDENCE RELATING
actions, give rise to doubts about his mental state? Opinions TO THE TRIAL
were divided among the doctors, all equally trustworthy,
and among the members of the jury. The public which (a) Journal de Rouen et du Departement de la Seine-
followed the hearings of this case with the liveliest interest lnferieure, Sunday, November 15, 1835
is also divided on this point, and grave doubts would have
arisen in the minds of the members of the Court if they had Calvados Assize Court
been called upon to hand down a decision. Since Riviere Lacenaire and Riviere
has been so diversely judged by conscientious and e~ Our columns, like those of the newspapers of the capital,
lightened persons. there is reason to believe that there IS have been filled for the past three days with lengthy dis-
something about him which ought to preclude his being quisitions on a horrible case providing at once an abundant
regarded in the same way as other men guilty of equally harvest for curiosity and matter calculated to instil into the
atrocious actions; and if there are degrees of derangement mind the most harrowing reflections on mankind in general
of the mental faculties, may his crime not be ascribed to a and on the present state of our morality. The chief protag-
state of momentary overexcitement induced by his father's onist in the sordid drama supplies us with the spectacle of
misfonunes, a state which no doubt is not madness, but the most hideously criminal existence that could possibly

'47
I, PIERRE RIVIERE ...
be conceived. It is crime personified in all its cynicism, in its Of deliberate purpose and at no one's instigation, he
stark simplicity, so to speak, devoid of remorse, repentance sought to rid his fathe.r of a wife, his own mother, whose
or hopei it is Robert Macaire transformed into frightful irregular conduct was an object of opprobrium to the entire
reality, strutting in his bespattered cloak, swaggering in the family; he coupled it with the murder of his sister because
braggadocio of his legend of outrage, as he tells us the whole she sympathized with her mother and showed herself de-
tale of his murders with the shameless assurance and verbose serving of following in her steps; he supplemented it with
complacence of a writer of medieval romances conducting the murder of his brother because he, conversely, merited all
us through the labyrinths of a gothic castle, a Nero of his father's affection; and in determining to incur the penalty
corruption aspiring to be the keystone of the empire of of the scaffold, simply out of a desire to be of service to
evil, who, from his hover on the heights of Pandemonium, one of his parents, he wished to place him in a position, by
looked down in scorn on his accomplices, mere plebeian vinue of a diabolical compensation, whereby he would be
killers unendowed with genius like his own to show them- relieved from any form of gratitude toward his memory.
selves worthy of the dignity of the scaffold; yet his judges All this, it must be allowed, smacks of the delusion, the
confine themselves to a mere audit of his frauds, his puerile madness, the morbid exaltation of an unhinged brain. Yet the
cogging, like doctors devoting all their skills to eradicating prosecution cited Riviere's memoir, in which the concep-
the corns from the foot of a gangrenous leg already ripe for tion and logical deduction reproduced elsewhere in these
amputation. columns are Set out in detail, as a proof of the prisoner's
True, our contemporary frenetic literature has gone to sanity; and the Calvados jury, accepting the prosecution's
some lengths these days in the extravagance of satanic inven- arguments, brought in a verdict which led to Riviere's sen-
tions, but it has not advanced any further than the infernal tencing to death.
figure posturing at this moment in the Assize Court of the The jury found on their honor and on their conscience,
Seine. Shall it be said that the influence of our contemporary and it is not for us to censure the result of a legally con-
literature has engendered a unique monster? Or has this stituted verdict. But if we accept the fact that Riviere
literature been merely the learned study of an impure race could have acted with discernment in perpetrating his
suddenly bursting into full bloom under the afflatus of the threefold crime, what then is the moral condition of a society
sinister clime we are traversing? Both of these questions give which engenders characters so depraved as those of Riviere
rise to terrifying reflections when we plumb their depths. and Lacenaire? The latter representing egoism in its most
The Calvados Assize has taken it upon itself to present abject nudity, the former devotion in its most monstrous
us with a counter pan to the horrid melodrama which has . aberration; both culminating in sheer nihilism, one by the
just drawn to its close before the Assize Court of the Seine. denial of all law, all moral belief, the other by an epileptic
Young Riviere, who has lately" been tried at Caen-we over-stimulation of the organs of sensibility!
borrow an account of it from the Pilote du Calvados-had Those who still dream of a return to the past will not
killed his mother, his sister, and his small brother. What fail to invoke such lessons, which they will view as the
motive impelled him to this triple murder? He himself consequences of the latest victories of philosophy over the
informs us in the fragment of a memoir which we repro- Christian religion, and will redouble their efforts to restore
duce: it was with the sale intention, wholly spontaneous and Throne and Altar. And yet it is quite wrong to suppose
wholly disinterested, of rendering his father a service. that such cases furnish a justification for anathematizing

'4 8 '49
I, PIERRE RIVIERE ...
be conceived. It is crime personified in all its cynicism, in its Of deliberate purpose and at no one's instigation, he
stark simplicity, so to speak, devoid of remorse, repentance sought to rid his fathe.r of a wife, his own mother, whose
or hopei it is Robert Macaire transformed into frightful irregular conduct was an object of opprobrium to the entire
reality, strutting in his bespattered cloak, swaggering in the family; he coupled it with the murder of his sister because
braggadocio of his legend of outrage, as he tells us the whole she sympathized with her mother and showed herself de-
tale of his murders with the shameless assurance and verbose serving of following in her steps; he supplemented it with
complacence of a writer of medieval romances conducting the murder of his brother because he, conversely, merited all
us through the labyrinths of a gothic castle, a Nero of his father's affection; and in determining to incur the penalty
corruption aspiring to be the keystone of the empire of of the scaffold, simply out of a desire to be of service to
evil, who, from his hover on the heights of Pandemonium, one of his parents, he wished to place him in a position, by
looked down in scorn on his accomplices, mere plebeian vinue of a diabolical compensation, whereby he would be
killers unendowed with genius like his own to show them- relieved from any form of gratitude toward his memory.
selves worthy of the dignity of the scaffold; yet his judges All this, it must be allowed, smacks of the delusion, the
confine themselves to a mere audit of his frauds, his puerile madness, the morbid exaltation of an unhinged brain. Yet the
cogging, like doctors devoting all their skills to eradicating prosecution cited Riviere's memoir, in which the concep-
the corns from the foot of a gangrenous leg already ripe for tion and logical deduction reproduced elsewhere in these
amputation. columns are Set out in detail, as a proof of the prisoner's
True, our contemporary frenetic literature has gone to sanity; and the Calvados jury, accepting the prosecution's
some lengths these days in the extravagance of satanic inven- arguments, brought in a verdict which led to Riviere's sen-
tions, but it has not advanced any further than the infernal tencing to death.
figure posturing at this moment in the Assize Court of the The jury found on their honor and on their conscience,
Seine. Shall it be said that the influence of our contemporary and it is not for us to censure the result of a legally con-
literature has engendered a unique monster? Or has this stituted verdict. But if we accept the fact that Riviere
literature been merely the learned study of an impure race could have acted with discernment in perpetrating his
suddenly bursting into full bloom under the afflatus of the threefold crime, what then is the moral condition of a society
sinister clime we are traversing? Both of these questions give which engenders characters so depraved as those of Riviere
rise to terrifying reflections when we plumb their depths. and Lacenaire? The latter representing egoism in its most
The Calvados Assize has taken it upon itself to present abject nudity, the former devotion in its most monstrous
us with a counter pan to the horrid melodrama which has . aberration; both culminating in sheer nihilism, one by the
just drawn to its close before the Assize Court of the Seine. denial of all law, all moral belief, the other by an epileptic
Young Riviere, who has lately" been tried at Caen-we over-stimulation of the organs of sensibility!
borrow an account of it from the Pilote du Calvados-had Those who still dream of a return to the past will not
killed his mother, his sister, and his small brother. What fail to invoke such lessons, which they will view as the
motive impelled him to this triple murder? He himself consequences of the latest victories of philosophy over the
informs us in the fragment of a memoir which we repro- Christian religion, and will redouble their efforts to restore
duce: it was with the sale intention, wholly spontaneous and Throne and Altar. And yet it is quite wrong to suppose
wholly disinterested, of rendering his father a service. that such cases furnish a justification for anathematizing

'4 8 '49
i
,
f!I.I
.

philosophy. Philosophy is not to be judged by its relative


I, PIERRE RIVIERE ..

fragments, but by its operation as a whole, in the one aspect (b) Pilote du Caivados, November 15, 1835
destructive, creative in the other. What there was to destroy A reader sends us the following reflections on the sen-
in the old order had to be destroyed if a new edifice was tence recently passed by the assize court with a request
to be erected. The victory of philosophy over the Catholic for publication. Although the moral considerations set out
faith has produced within the moral order a dist~rbance in this letter diverge from our own views on this topic, we
of mind and a breach to which must perhaps be ascnbed all have thought it proper to lend the hospitality of our columns
the ills with which our society is at present afflicted. But to these remarks as at least one of the elements in the solution
these are wholly transient conditions, whose ill-effects :vm of a problem which has for some time been exercising the
be remedied by the advent of new beliefs, not by the revIval most distinguished moral philosophers of our age.
of beliefs now extinct. De Maistre, the author who has paid
the most eloquent testimony to the political and moral p?- Yet another capital sentence
teney of Catholicism in this age, whom th~ ~ost devout will "At a quarter past one in the morning today, after a
certainly not accuse of impiety and matenalIsm, has put on lengthy hearing and despite all efforts, more especially the
record in the Soirees de Saint Phersbourg these memorable eloquently expressed conviction of his young counsel,
words, which confirm our own appraisal: "We must .be Pierre Riviere, of the commune of Aunay, convicted as
prepared for an event in the divine ordering toward whIch charged of the triple murder of his mother, his brother
we are moving ever more rapidly, one which must needs and his sister, was sentenced by the Calvados assize court
strike all observers. The earth is devoid of religion, but the to the penalty for parricides.
human race can no longer remain in this plight ... But wait "Pierre Riviere is a young man who has not yet come
until the natural affinity of religion with science combines of age, belonging by birth and education to the poorest and
the two in the brain of a single man of genius. It will not be most numerous class of society; his external appearance,
long before a man of this sort appears, indeed he may per- his answers, and even his smile are marked by every sign of
haps already be here ... There is every si?n of I kno,:" no,~ idiocy; his aspect at first glance, moreover, is consistent
what great unity toward which we are making great stndes. with everything that the wimesses who were acquainted
We have merely to look around us to perceive that we with him testified about his past and with everything that
are living in times similar to those which preceded the could be presumed from the circumstances of his crime.
establishment of Christianity. This is the world's se~ond "But Riviere's misfortune was that his mental constitu-
experience of a society given over to .every sort of. unbndled tion was impaired and disorganized in a way that differed
material appetite. Our age once agalO bears th~ I~p~ess of from that of most of the madmen, maniacs, and mono-
all the infamies which sullied the Roman Emprre 10 itS de- maniacs whose custody the family hearth, the courts, and
cline, but let us not forget that the Empire's decli?e by. its the asylums dispute and so often virtually tear from each
operation prepared the way for the great <:athohc UOl~y, other's grasp. Riviere did not harbor an obsession, one single
which has itself moved aside to make room, m accord WIth obdurate idea, but was possessed by a number of strange
de Maistre's prophetic intuition, for a new, still greater, and ideas simultaneously and was dominated by them; he did
still finer unity. not appear to be afflicted with a complete and persistent
i
,
f!I.I
.

philosophy. Philosophy is not to be judged by its relative


I, PIERRE RIVIERE ..

fragments, but by its operation as a whole, in the one aspect (b) Pilote du Caivados, November 15, 1835
destructive, creative in the other. What there was to destroy A reader sends us the following reflections on the sen-
in the old order had to be destroyed if a new edifice was tence recently passed by the assize court with a request
to be erected. The victory of philosophy over the Catholic for publication. Although the moral considerations set out
faith has produced within the moral order a dist~rbance in this letter diverge from our own views on this topic, we
of mind and a breach to which must perhaps be ascnbed all have thought it proper to lend the hospitality of our columns
the ills with which our society is at present afflicted. But to these remarks as at least one of the elements in the solution
these are wholly transient conditions, whose ill-effects :vm of a problem which has for some time been exercising the
be remedied by the advent of new beliefs, not by the revIval most distinguished moral philosophers of our age.
of beliefs now extinct. De Maistre, the author who has paid
the most eloquent testimony to the political and moral p?- Yet another capital sentence
teney of Catholicism in this age, whom th~ ~ost devout will "At a quarter past one in the morning today, after a
certainly not accuse of impiety and matenalIsm, has put on lengthy hearing and despite all efforts, more especially the
record in the Soirees de Saint Phersbourg these memorable eloquently expressed conviction of his young counsel,
words, which confirm our own appraisal: "We must .be Pierre Riviere, of the commune of Aunay, convicted as
prepared for an event in the divine ordering toward whIch charged of the triple murder of his mother, his brother
we are moving ever more rapidly, one which must needs and his sister, was sentenced by the Calvados assize court
strike all observers. The earth is devoid of religion, but the to the penalty for parricides.
human race can no longer remain in this plight ... But wait "Pierre Riviere is a young man who has not yet come
until the natural affinity of religion with science combines of age, belonging by birth and education to the poorest and
the two in the brain of a single man of genius. It will not be most numerous class of society; his external appearance,
long before a man of this sort appears, indeed he may per- his answers, and even his smile are marked by every sign of
haps already be here ... There is every si?n of I kno,:" no,~ idiocy; his aspect at first glance, moreover, is consistent
what great unity toward which we are making great stndes. with everything that the wimesses who were acquainted
We have merely to look around us to perceive that we with him testified about his past and with everything that
are living in times similar to those which preceded the could be presumed from the circumstances of his crime.
establishment of Christianity. This is the world's se~ond "But Riviere's misfortune was that his mental constitu-
experience of a society given over to .every sort of. unbndled tion was impaired and disorganized in a way that differed
material appetite. Our age once agalO bears th~ I~p~ess of from that of most of the madmen, maniacs, and mono-
all the infamies which sullied the Roman Emprre 10 itS de- maniacs whose custody the family hearth, the courts, and
cline, but let us not forget that the Empire's decli?e by. its the asylums dispute and so often virtually tear from each
operation prepared the way for the great <:athohc UOl~y, other's grasp. Riviere did not harbor an obsession, one single
which has itself moved aside to make room, m accord WIth obdurate idea, but was possessed by a number of strange
de Maistre's prophetic intuition, for a new, still greater, and ideas simultaneously and was dominated by them; he did
still finer unity. not appear to be afflicted with a complete and persistent
III
~ I
I I, PIERRE RIVIE:RE . '
disability of mind; he was not deprived of all the mental classified as a monster, a monster with ferocious instincts
faculties, for some of them were, on the contrary, exuberant from whom society must imperatively be delivered-
and marvelously well developed; he possessed memory and without any reflection that an organization of this sort could
imagination to an extraordinary degree; the oue h~ applied not be truly comprehended by different, and indeed con-
solely to remembering his mother's vices and cnmes, the trary, organizations and without any awareness that un-
other he expended lavishly on insensate reveries and a?surd known and exceptional facts were being rejected only so
or ferocious projects, all of them, however, devOId of that general and commonplace facts might be accepted and
rationality Of foresight, all of them groundless and fruitless. appraised; without thought, indeed, that more than mere
"What was impaired and diseased was the faculty of hesitation was called for when, by way of cutting through
perceiving relationships and deducing their conse,quene,es, [he tangle of such questions, they would be cutting off a
in other words his judgment. He was endowed at bl!th Wlth man's head.
a false and erroneous judgment; nothing had remedied this "Who knows, either, whether Pierre Riviere's fearful act
deviation of the intellect; no one had tried to cure, or at was not based fundamentally on one of those fanaticisms
any rate had succeeded in curing, this mor~i~ me~tal state, of a powerful imagination which when aberrant become
in stifling the seed of death nurtured within ,him. E~er potent only for evil: fanaticisms in religion, in reasoning, in
since his childhood he shunned the human society which filial love? Has anyone sounded the depths of his heart and
alone could have modified and corrected it; he deliberately mind? Has any penetrating gaze succeeded in discerning
doomed himself to solitude, where his strange aversions and beneath the wrappings of idiocy and total prostration in
his blind passions burgeoned in the shadow,s, ~h~ books he which the prisoner was enveloped in court a nonnal reason
avidly consumed haphazard held out to hiS VIVid and un- and an enlightened intellect? Could his judges acquire, after
regulated imagination vast prospects pe,rpetually cl~uded a couple of hours of examination conducted at a distance
by a horde of contradictions. His intellIgence wearied or and amid the multifarious distractions of court proceedings,
dashed itself to pieces on chimerical illusions; his sensitivity any revelation of this vital and ill-starred mystery and any
expanded into insane but vivid hatreds and into an exclus~ve certainty that was the prerequisite for assuming public
and profound love, into that excessive and f~.tallove which responsibility for a capital sentence which counsel for the
was shortly to make of him, as he himself believed, a martyr defense had, perhaps too rashly, stigmatized in advance as
-or, as his judges decided, a monster. judicial murder?
''No Pierre Riviere was no more a monster than he was 'We will, of course, not go as far as that; we shall
a marty;; he was a wretched, a diseased, an unfinished being; ~onfine ourselves simply to throwing our scruples into the
he was an actor who was not fully aware of his actions and Judge's scales, leaving it to each to weigh his own sense of
consequently ought not to bear full responsibility for them. duty and the satisfaction of his conscience. But we deplore
Some doctors regarded him as an ordinary madman, others from the depths of our heart the fact that once again
were not able to recognize in his organization the traits of we have had to resort to the executioner to cure the maladies,
an insanity which had been already observed. And because ~ s?me cases the hereditary maladies, of persons and so-
his species of insanity was unknown and novel" b.ecause Cletles.
there was no word in the language to express thiS Imper- "Blood should answer for blood, it is said; it is no longer
fection of nature and this deplorable singularity, he was public vengeance that requires it, but the example, the

'5)
III
~ I
I I, PIERRE RIVIE:RE . '
disability of mind; he was not deprived of all the mental classified as a monster, a monster with ferocious instincts
faculties, for some of them were, on the contrary, exuberant from whom society must imperatively be delivered-
and marvelously well developed; he possessed memory and without any reflection that an organization of this sort could
imagination to an extraordinary degree; the oue h~ applied not be truly comprehended by different, and indeed con-
solely to remembering his mother's vices and cnmes, the trary, organizations and without any awareness that un-
other he expended lavishly on insensate reveries and a?surd known and exceptional facts were being rejected only so
or ferocious projects, all of them, however, devOId of that general and commonplace facts might be accepted and
rationality Of foresight, all of them groundless and fruitless. appraised; without thought, indeed, that more than mere
"What was impaired and diseased was the faculty of hesitation was called for when, by way of cutting through
perceiving relationships and deducing their conse,quene,es, [he tangle of such questions, they would be cutting off a
in other words his judgment. He was endowed at bl!th Wlth man's head.
a false and erroneous judgment; nothing had remedied this "Who knows, either, whether Pierre Riviere's fearful act
deviation of the intellect; no one had tried to cure, or at was not based fundamentally on one of those fanaticisms
any rate had succeeded in curing, this mor~i~ me~tal state, of a powerful imagination which when aberrant become
in stifling the seed of death nurtured within ,him. E~er potent only for evil: fanaticisms in religion, in reasoning, in
since his childhood he shunned the human society which filial love? Has anyone sounded the depths of his heart and
alone could have modified and corrected it; he deliberately mind? Has any penetrating gaze succeeded in discerning
doomed himself to solitude, where his strange aversions and beneath the wrappings of idiocy and total prostration in
his blind passions burgeoned in the shadow,s, ~h~ books he which the prisoner was enveloped in court a nonnal reason
avidly consumed haphazard held out to hiS VIVid and un- and an enlightened intellect? Could his judges acquire, after
regulated imagination vast prospects pe,rpetually cl~uded a couple of hours of examination conducted at a distance
by a horde of contradictions. His intellIgence wearied or and amid the multifarious distractions of court proceedings,
dashed itself to pieces on chimerical illusions; his sensitivity any revelation of this vital and ill-starred mystery and any
expanded into insane but vivid hatreds and into an exclus~ve certainty that was the prerequisite for assuming public
and profound love, into that excessive and f~.tallove which responsibility for a capital sentence which counsel for the
was shortly to make of him, as he himself believed, a martyr defense had, perhaps too rashly, stigmatized in advance as
-or, as his judges decided, a monster. judicial murder?
''No Pierre Riviere was no more a monster than he was 'We will, of course, not go as far as that; we shall
a marty;; he was a wretched, a diseased, an unfinished being; ~onfine ourselves simply to throwing our scruples into the
he was an actor who was not fully aware of his actions and Judge's scales, leaving it to each to weigh his own sense of
consequently ought not to bear full responsibility for them. duty and the satisfaction of his conscience. But we deplore
Some doctors regarded him as an ordinary madman, others from the depths of our heart the fact that once again
were not able to recognize in his organization the traits of we have had to resort to the executioner to cure the maladies,
an insanity which had been already observed. And because ~ s?me cases the hereditary maladies, of persons and so-
his species of insanity was unknown and novel" b.ecause Cletles.
there was no word in the language to express thiS Imper- "Blood should answer for blood, it is said; it is no longer
fection of nature and this deplorable singularity, he was public vengeance that requires it, but the example, the

'5)
'i"
'I,
,
I, PIERRE RIVIERE

i' 'salutary' example, as if lessons of this sort had ever trained "Riviere indeed believed he had a fluid such as that of
anything but murderers. Well, the fatal sentence has been which Dr. Esquirol speaks, which put him in 'carnal' (his
delivered; the blood will flow if it is not arrested in time; own adjective) contact with his grandmother, his sisters,
this will, simply though tardily, fulfill the piteous wish ex- all women, and even female animals; and accordingly he
pressed yesterday by the wretched man: 'I am in haste scrupulously shunned all females.
(6 die!' But may we be permitted to lodge our own appeal "To the prosecution the memoir which he wrote in jail
beside the legal appeal which will certainly be lodged on was the main argument to prove that Riviere was sane, and
his behalf; may we be permitted to associate the expression this observation may perhaps have been what determined
of our conscience with the expression of emotion by counsel the jury to declare him guilty. The jury were probably
for the defense and to cry to the judges before whom unable to believe that the mind of someone who evidenced a
Riviere will have again to appear or to the Sovereign who prodigious memory in narrating his father's misfortunes and
may be called upon to exercise his prerogative of mercy: his own ideas with such astonishing exactitude and sound
pity for him, pity, but not infamy; and, above all, not reasoning was insane. Bur it is precisely Riviere's highly
the scaffold!" developed memory and sound reasoning, so inconsistent
Caen, November 12, 1835. with all his usual habits, that a jury composed entirely of
medical men would have taken as the confirmation of his
(cJ Pilote du Calvados, November 21, 1835 state of mental disorder. To quote Dr. Esquirol again: 'In
A doctor at Caen who attended the hearings has melancholic delusion, which involves partial impairment of
the Pilote du Calvados a letter, the main passages from the understanding, there are defective sensations and ex-
which we reprint below: aggerated ideas about the object of passion, whereas on every
"Sir, other subject the patient reasons and acts perfectly ration-
"When the matter at issue is saving from the scaffold a ally.'
man whom one believes not to be guilty, I am sure that your "Thus, Riviere took as his s,tarting point fallacious and
columns will always be open to any ideas which may tend .to exaggerated ideas in deciding on his family's murder. But
that result. The sole question with whic~ I shall d~al ~: a capacious memory. all the more highly developed in that
Was Riviere in that state of mental dlSorder which 15 it daily called to his mind the facts which impelled him to
peculiarly apt to lead to murder? his fatal design, must have presided over the narration of
"The testimony of all his neighbors concurs in the f~ct all these facts with the soundness of judgment which this
that he customarily engaged in the kind of actions whlch disease permits. Bur the 1l1elancholic msanity is most mani-
Dr. Esquirol, the most learned physician in France, has fest in the reasonings which decided Riviere to carry out
called 71lell11lcholy (Dictiormaire des sciences 1l1edicaieSt his fatal project. His love for his father was excited to the
vol. 32, p. 155). 'Madmen of this sort,' says the learned highest degree; his every thought was directed toward free-
author, 'shun the world, and seek solitude; they belie:re ing him from the ever-recurring tribulations inflicted upon
that there exists in them a fluid which will put them 111 him by an evil-minded 'Wife. The exaggeration of filial love
contact with persons even at a distance who can imprison imperatively demanded that he sacrifice his own life on the
them and do them infinite harm.' scaffold. Esquirol goes on to say in this connection: 'The
'54 '55
'i"
'I,
,
I, PIERRE RIVIERE

i' 'salutary' example, as if lessons of this sort had ever trained "Riviere indeed believed he had a fluid such as that of
anything but murderers. Well, the fatal sentence has been which Dr. Esquirol speaks, which put him in 'carnal' (his
delivered; the blood will flow if it is not arrested in time; own adjective) contact with his grandmother, his sisters,
this will, simply though tardily, fulfill the piteous wish ex- all women, and even female animals; and accordingly he
pressed yesterday by the wretched man: 'I am in haste scrupulously shunned all females.
(6 die!' But may we be permitted to lodge our own appeal "To the prosecution the memoir which he wrote in jail
beside the legal appeal which will certainly be lodged on was the main argument to prove that Riviere was sane, and
his behalf; may we be permitted to associate the expression this observation may perhaps have been what determined
of our conscience with the expression of emotion by counsel the jury to declare him guilty. The jury were probably
for the defense and to cry to the judges before whom unable to believe that the mind of someone who evidenced a
Riviere will have again to appear or to the Sovereign who prodigious memory in narrating his father's misfortunes and
may be called upon to exercise his prerogative of mercy: his own ideas with such astonishing exactitude and sound
pity for him, pity, but not infamy; and, above all, not reasoning was insane. Bur it is precisely Riviere's highly
the scaffold!" developed memory and sound reasoning, so inconsistent
Caen, November 12, 1835. with all his usual habits, that a jury composed entirely of
medical men would have taken as the confirmation of his
(cJ Pilote du Calvados, November 21, 1835 state of mental disorder. To quote Dr. Esquirol again: 'In
A doctor at Caen who attended the hearings has melancholic delusion, which involves partial impairment of
the Pilote du Calvados a letter, the main passages from the understanding, there are defective sensations and ex-
which we reprint below: aggerated ideas about the object of passion, whereas on every
"Sir, other subject the patient reasons and acts perfectly ration-
"When the matter at issue is saving from the scaffold a ally.'
man whom one believes not to be guilty, I am sure that your "Thus, Riviere took as his s,tarting point fallacious and
columns will always be open to any ideas which may tend .to exaggerated ideas in deciding on his family's murder. But
that result. The sole question with whic~ I shall d~al ~: a capacious memory. all the more highly developed in that
Was Riviere in that state of mental dlSorder which 15 it daily called to his mind the facts which impelled him to
peculiarly apt to lead to murder? his fatal design, must have presided over the narration of
"The testimony of all his neighbors concurs in the f~ct all these facts with the soundness of judgment which this
that he customarily engaged in the kind of actions whlch disease permits. Bur the 1l1elancholic msanity is most mani-
Dr. Esquirol, the most learned physician in France, has fest in the reasonings which decided Riviere to carry out
called 71lell11lcholy (Dictiormaire des sciences 1l1edicaieSt his fatal project. His love for his father was excited to the
vol. 32, p. 155). 'Madmen of this sort,' says the learned highest degree; his every thought was directed toward free-
author, 'shun the world, and seek solitude; they belie:re ing him from the ever-recurring tribulations inflicted upon
that there exists in them a fluid which will put them 111 him by an evil-minded 'Wife. The exaggeration of filial love
contact with persons even at a distance who can imprison imperatively demanded that he sacrifice his own life on the
them and do them infinite harm.' scaffold. Esquirol goes on to say in this connection: 'The
'54 '55
I, PIERRE RIVI:EaE ..

moral sentiments not only retain their energy, but are raised
to the highest degree; filial devotion and gratitude are (d) Gazette des Tribunaux, November 25, 1835
carried to excess, such madmen seem to devote their whole The proceedings in the Riviere case reported in the
intelligence to strengthening their concentration upon the Pilote du Calvados have aroused such widespread concern
object of their delusion; the strength and subtlety of their throughout the country that we have felt that we should
reasonings in concentrating upon this object pass all con- agai.n. offer the h~spitality of our columns to the following
ception. They combine certain distorted ideas and there- addinonal reflectIons on this sad case, all the more so be-
after take them for truths, and on their basis they reason cause of our contributor's personal standing:
soundly and draw rational conclusions from them.' "Sir,
"Is this not the living image of Riviere? "If I had been called upon to pass upon Riviere, I would
"Exaggerated filial love leads him to give birth to the not have acquitted him; I would not have stood with
distorted and extravagant idea of making his father happy [he majority of the jury, but would have brought in a
by killing his mother; he knows that this premeditated verdict of guilty with extenuating circumstances, leaving
murder will entail his own death; but suddenly the examples it to the royal prerogative of mercy to spare him the stigma
of Jesus Christ, Judith. Charlotte Corday, etc., who dedi- of the scaffold or the brand of the convict prison.
cated themselves to death for mankind or their country, "This view I held at the outset, nor have I changed it;
spring to his mind. He loves his father as he loves his moreover. the matter is so serious and is engrossing the
country; and so he supposes that his action will be no less public mind to such a degree that there may be some merit
praiseworthy than those whose example inspires him. in each of us stating his opinion on it.
"Who but a madman could make such a comparison? But . <lFrom reading Riviere's interrogations and his replies
what reveals the ultimate degree of insanity in his act is III court I came to the conclusion that the man is rational.
the sacrifice of his brother Jules, tenderly loved by his To my mind, his childhood and the circumstances of his
father, with the idea that the father will be outraged by this crime showed that at times he was so inflamed by them that
heinous crime and so will not mourn for its perpetrator; he reached a state of insanity; and while I saw some tokens
is this not the maddest, the most aberrant reasoning that a ~f geni~s in the strange composition on which the prosecu-
lunatic could devise? Would not anyone whom he told of it non relIed as a weapon for use against him, I equally saw
have said: This man is mad? Yet this is the reasoning which some element of delusion. In the earlier part he recounts his
impelled Riviere to his frightful deed and would seem to father's misfortunes, and this is the rational part of it; in
qualify him for the lunatic asylum, not the cells. ~he latter part, where he comes to his crime, he is no longer
"Most of the doctors who attended the hearings concur 10 control of himself. He is an enthusiast, a fanatic, an un-
in these ideas. Three out of six who were called to give an happy creature demanding martyrdom as the reward for
opinion stated that it was a case of insanity; I am acquainted the blood he has shed.
with the views of five other doctors who were present in ".'1 knew well,' he says, Ithat in killing my mother,
court, all of whom also recognized it as a case of insanity my SlSter, and my brother I was infringing the laws of man
and are prepared so to certify." and the laws of morality, bur I knew too that my blood
F. (M.D.) would flow to requite the vengeance of society and I

'57
I, PIERRE RIVI:EaE ..

moral sentiments not only retain their energy, but are raised
to the highest degree; filial devotion and gratitude are (d) Gazette des Tribunaux, November 25, 1835
carried to excess, such madmen seem to devote their whole The proceedings in the Riviere case reported in the
intelligence to strengthening their concentration upon the Pilote du Calvados have aroused such widespread concern
object of their delusion; the strength and subtlety of their throughout the country that we have felt that we should
reasonings in concentrating upon this object pass all con- agai.n. offer the h~spitality of our columns to the following
ception. They combine certain distorted ideas and there- addinonal reflectIons on this sad case, all the more so be-
after take them for truths, and on their basis they reason cause of our contributor's personal standing:
soundly and draw rational conclusions from them.' "Sir,
"Is this not the living image of Riviere? "If I had been called upon to pass upon Riviere, I would
"Exaggerated filial love leads him to give birth to the not have acquitted him; I would not have stood with
distorted and extravagant idea of making his father happy [he majority of the jury, but would have brought in a
by killing his mother; he knows that this premeditated verdict of guilty with extenuating circumstances, leaving
murder will entail his own death; but suddenly the examples it to the royal prerogative of mercy to spare him the stigma
of Jesus Christ, Judith. Charlotte Corday, etc., who dedi- of the scaffold or the brand of the convict prison.
cated themselves to death for mankind or their country, "This view I held at the outset, nor have I changed it;
spring to his mind. He loves his father as he loves his moreover. the matter is so serious and is engrossing the
country; and so he supposes that his action will be no less public mind to such a degree that there may be some merit
praiseworthy than those whose example inspires him. in each of us stating his opinion on it.
"Who but a madman could make such a comparison? But . <lFrom reading Riviere's interrogations and his replies
what reveals the ultimate degree of insanity in his act is III court I came to the conclusion that the man is rational.
the sacrifice of his brother Jules, tenderly loved by his To my mind, his childhood and the circumstances of his
father, with the idea that the father will be outraged by this crime showed that at times he was so inflamed by them that
heinous crime and so will not mourn for its perpetrator; he reached a state of insanity; and while I saw some tokens
is this not the maddest, the most aberrant reasoning that a ~f geni~s in the strange composition on which the prosecu-
lunatic could devise? Would not anyone whom he told of it non relIed as a weapon for use against him, I equally saw
have said: This man is mad? Yet this is the reasoning which some element of delusion. In the earlier part he recounts his
impelled Riviere to his frightful deed and would seem to father's misfortunes, and this is the rational part of it; in
qualify him for the lunatic asylum, not the cells. ~he latter part, where he comes to his crime, he is no longer
"Most of the doctors who attended the hearings concur 10 control of himself. He is an enthusiast, a fanatic, an un-
in these ideas. Three out of six who were called to give an happy creature demanding martyrdom as the reward for
opinion stated that it was a case of insanity; I am acquainted the blood he has shed.
with the views of five other doctors who were present in ".'1 knew well,' he says, Ithat in killing my mother,
court, all of whom also recognized it as a case of insanity my SlSter, and my brother I was infringing the laws of man
and are prepared so to certify." and the laws of morality, bur I knew too that my blood
F. (M.D.) would flow to requite the vengeance of society and I

'57
I, PIERRE RIVIERE .

thought that when it was shed on the scaffold. it would investigation was totally silent, yet their appraisal seemed
consecrate my filial devotion.' to me absolutely essential for obtaining a correct notion of
"That thought is the whole essence of Riviere; he felt Riviere's behavior.
that the act was an evil one, but at the same time he felt for "I thought, too, that in so grave a case a careful study
his father's misfortune. It was because he was dominated would have been ~ade of the prisoner, and I expected to see
by the fever of his ardent and imperfect intelligence that several men of SCIence and with special knowledge come
he plunged into a blood bath, not for the pleasure of seeing forward to aid the jury in their decision with a wealth of
the blood flow, not because he had any interest in shedding observation tested by prior examination and cross-examina-
it, but because he believed that he would thus secure his ti?n: Yet only one person was in personal contact with
father's happiness. So much so that I venture to assert with Rl."lere long eno.ugh to enable him to give an opinion on the
the utmost conviction that such facts constitute, to my prIsoner: and thIS doctor, having found or having detected
mind, extenuating circumstances. no phYSical cause, s~ated that no malady existed. I give M. I

''While I appreciate the view that Riviere should be Bouchard full credit for his talent and conscientiousness ,I,
given back to his family and then placed in some institution, ?ut, to my ~nd, Riviere is too inarticulate to possibly b~ ,

I feel that those who hold that the interests of society Ju?ged by his conversation, invariably confined as it is to
require the unhappy man's confinement fail to take into brIef and terse answers to the questions asked him.
consideration the fact that this measure is not feasible in "I believe that what would really have been needed was
Riviere's case; for if a man is to be confined in an asylum, to scrutinize him in his every slightest action, to observe him
he must be certified as a lunatic. But if he is to be certified, closely in solitude, his postures, his gestures, and even his
he must be of age and in a habitual state of imbecility and sleep; but that would have required time and more than one
insanity. observer.
"Even supposing that Riviere were of age, would it "In the interest of truth I would most strongly urge
really be possible to find any court that would dare to decide far more thorough hearings than those which resulted in
that he is in a habitlt41 state of imbecility or insanity or Riviere's conviction; and if that is not to be, I hope that
would declare him to be in a habitual state of frenzy? It a v:ry full report on this case will be presented to His
would be impossible; all the more impossible because Majesty and that .he will find in his clemency some means to
Riviere, certified and declared incompetent today, might r7concde the claIms of humanity with the interests of so-
well be relieved of his incapacitation and be readmitted to Ciety.
society, only to sacrifice further victims. "I am all the more anxious for this outcome, should no
"Indeed, the hearings in court did not, and could not, other be feasible, in that I have come to know as a matter
come up to my expectations. I had thought that there would of observa:ion t~at books and isolation had already effected
be a careful examination into the question whether Riviere an appreciable Improvement in Riviere's heart and mind.
did in fact love his father deeply, whether aside from his Who knows. but that this unfortunate man, corrected by
father's domestic misfortunes, the prisoner had at any time goo~ e?ucatlon, may not some day repay the preservation
displayed a hatred of his mother, and whether he in fact of hIS hfe by some great service to mankind?
loved his young brother. On all these points the preliminary One of your subscribers"
1.~8 '59
I, PIERRE RIVIERE .

thought that when it was shed on the scaffold. it would investigation was totally silent, yet their appraisal seemed
consecrate my filial devotion.' to me absolutely essential for obtaining a correct notion of
"That thought is the whole essence of Riviere; he felt Riviere's behavior.
that the act was an evil one, but at the same time he felt for "I thought, too, that in so grave a case a careful study
his father's misfortune. It was because he was dominated would have been ~ade of the prisoner, and I expected to see
by the fever of his ardent and imperfect intelligence that several men of SCIence and with special knowledge come
he plunged into a blood bath, not for the pleasure of seeing forward to aid the jury in their decision with a wealth of
the blood flow, not because he had any interest in shedding observation tested by prior examination and cross-examina-
it, but because he believed that he would thus secure his ti?n: Yet only one person was in personal contact with
father's happiness. So much so that I venture to assert with Rl."lere long eno.ugh to enable him to give an opinion on the
the utmost conviction that such facts constitute, to my prIsoner: and thIS doctor, having found or having detected
mind, extenuating circumstances. no phYSical cause, s~ated that no malady existed. I give M. I

''While I appreciate the view that Riviere should be Bouchard full credit for his talent and conscientiousness ,I,
given back to his family and then placed in some institution, ?ut, to my ~nd, Riviere is too inarticulate to possibly b~ ,

I feel that those who hold that the interests of society Ju?ged by his conversation, invariably confined as it is to
require the unhappy man's confinement fail to take into brIef and terse answers to the questions asked him.
consideration the fact that this measure is not feasible in "I believe that what would really have been needed was
Riviere's case; for if a man is to be confined in an asylum, to scrutinize him in his every slightest action, to observe him
he must be certified as a lunatic. But if he is to be certified, closely in solitude, his postures, his gestures, and even his
he must be of age and in a habitual state of imbecility and sleep; but that would have required time and more than one
insanity. observer.
"Even supposing that Riviere were of age, would it "In the interest of truth I would most strongly urge
really be possible to find any court that would dare to decide far more thorough hearings than those which resulted in
that he is in a habitlt41 state of imbecility or insanity or Riviere's conviction; and if that is not to be, I hope that
would declare him to be in a habitual state of frenzy? It a v:ry full report on this case will be presented to His
would be impossible; all the more impossible because Majesty and that .he will find in his clemency some means to
Riviere, certified and declared incompetent today, might r7concde the claIms of humanity with the interests of so-
well be relieved of his incapacitation and be readmitted to Ciety.
society, only to sacrifice further victims. "I am all the more anxious for this outcome, should no
"Indeed, the hearings in court did not, and could not, other be feasible, in that I have come to know as a matter
come up to my expectations. I had thought that there would of observa:ion t~at books and isolation had already effected
be a careful examination into the question whether Riviere an appreciable Improvement in Riviere's heart and mind.
did in fact love his father deeply, whether aside from his Who knows. but that this unfortunate man, corrected by
father's domestic misfortunes, the prisoner had at any time goo~ e?ucatlon, may not some day repay the preservation
displayed a hatred of his mother, and whether he in fact of hIS hfe by some great service to mankind?
loved his young brother. On all these points the preliminary One of your subscribers"
1.~8 '59
I, PIERRE RIVIERE ..

(e) Pilo'e du enlvado" November 15, 1835


After constantly manifesting his desire for a speedy
ending ever since his conviction and in consequence ob- 2. EXTRACT FROM THE RECORD OF
durately refusing to appeal for his senren~e to th~ penalty THE COURT OF CASSATION
for parricides to be set aside, Pierre Riviere has ~elded to
the solicitations of his father, his confessor, and his counsel [The substance of the grounds of appeal on points of
law only and the considerations on whjch the Court rejected
and has signed his appeal.
(Reproduced in the Gazette des Tribunaux of Novem- them are summarized in the newspaper articles reproduced
below.]
ber 18.)

3. ARTICLES RELATING TO THE


REJECTION OF THE APPEAL
(a) Gazette des Tribunaux, January 17, 1836
The Coun of Cassation (Criminal Division) had before
B. THE APPEAL TO THE COURT it at its public hearings yesterday and today the appeal
OF CASSATION AND THE lodged by Riviere, sentenced by the Calvados Assize Coun
REPRIEVE to the penalty for parricides. It will be recalled that this
wretch determined to kill his mother and his brother be-
cause, as he believed, they stood in the way of his father's
1. NEWS ITEM happiness; after perpetrating this twofold crime Riviere
was struck by a no less deplorable thought: "I have killed,"
Pilote du Calvados, November 22,1835 said he to himself, "they will kill me and my father will be
Fallowing an attempted suicide by Pierre Riviere,. re- distressed by my death; I must spare him this grief by de-
cently convicted by the Calvados assize court, pr:cautlons priving him of a cherished daughter [sic]." And Riviere
have had to be taken, it is reported, to prevent lt5 recur- murders his sister [sic J so that he will become odious to
rence. He has therefore been placed in an observation cell. his father and so that on the day he is punished he will not
The wretched man seems wholly obsessed with the idea of have to mourn rum who had deprived him of all that he
the ignominy involved in mounting the scaffold before ~he held dearest on eanh. Several doctors were called and
eyes of a mass of beholders. He is wholly taken up with attested to the disorder of Riviere's intellect. But in view
thoughts of religion. of this triple murder the court passed the death sentence.
After Judge Merilhou had produced the documents at-
testing Riviere's insanity and the Court had scrutinized
them, Maitre Adolphe Chauveau addressed the Court on
,6,
I, PIERRE RIVIERE ..

(e) Pilo'e du enlvado" November 15, 1835


After constantly manifesting his desire for a speedy
ending ever since his conviction and in consequence ob- 2. EXTRACT FROM THE RECORD OF
durately refusing to appeal for his senren~e to th~ penalty THE COURT OF CASSATION
for parricides to be set aside, Pierre Riviere has ~elded to
the solicitations of his father, his confessor, and his counsel [The substance of the grounds of appeal on points of
law only and the considerations on whjch the Court rejected
and has signed his appeal.
(Reproduced in the Gazette des Tribunaux of Novem- them are summarized in the newspaper articles reproduced
below.]
ber 18.)

3. ARTICLES RELATING TO THE


REJECTION OF THE APPEAL
(a) Gazette des Tribunaux, January 17, 1836
The Coun of Cassation (Criminal Division) had before
B. THE APPEAL TO THE COURT it at its public hearings yesterday and today the appeal
OF CASSATION AND THE lodged by Riviere, sentenced by the Calvados Assize Coun
REPRIEVE to the penalty for parricides. It will be recalled that this
wretch determined to kill his mother and his brother be-
cause, as he believed, they stood in the way of his father's
1. NEWS ITEM happiness; after perpetrating this twofold crime Riviere
was struck by a no less deplorable thought: "I have killed,"
Pilote du Calvados, November 22,1835 said he to himself, "they will kill me and my father will be
Fallowing an attempted suicide by Pierre Riviere,. re- distressed by my death; I must spare him this grief by de-
cently convicted by the Calvados assize court, pr:cautlons priving him of a cherished daughter [sic]." And Riviere
have had to be taken, it is reported, to prevent lt5 recur- murders his sister [sic J so that he will become odious to
rence. He has therefore been placed in an observation cell. his father and so that on the day he is punished he will not
The wretched man seems wholly obsessed with the idea of have to mourn rum who had deprived him of all that he
the ignominy involved in mounting the scaffold before ~he held dearest on eanh. Several doctors were called and
eyes of a mass of beholders. He is wholly taken up with attested to the disorder of Riviere's intellect. But in view
thoughts of religion. of this triple murder the court passed the death sentence.
After Judge Merilhou had produced the documents at-
testing Riviere's insanity and the Court had scrutinized
them, Maitre Adolphe Chauveau addressed the Court on
,6,
~!!
.''
:

,"I . I, PIERRE RIVIERE .

behalf of the appellant. "The Court will of course appre- The rejection of this appeal in no way prejudices the
ciate," he said, "that I shall not advance before this Court question of the petition of mercy on behalf of the con-
grounds arising from the unfortunate Riviere's insanity; demned man which was drawn up at the same time. The
unfortunate indeed, for what greater misfortune can there be petition seems, indeed, to have been strongly reinforced
than to be deprived of reason? ... But though the Counsel by the report prepared by a considerable number of leading
General for the Crown told you in court not long ago that Paris medical experts, expressing the view that Pierre Riviere
a prisoner's impudent boasting strengthened the presumption is not in full possession of his mental faculties.
of guilt, I shall be permitted to invoke the unanimous
testimony of all that is most enlightened in science to interest
you in a family which has already been so cruelly afHicted."
Maitre Adolphe Chauveau then put forward several 4. REPORT BY A CONFERENCE OF
grounds for setting aside the conviction and in particular DOCTORS IN PARIS ON THE MENTAL
that the doctors called by virtue of the judge's full authority CONDITION OF PIERRE RIVIERE
in court to give their opinion and proceed with what
amounted to giving medical testimony had not taken the The undersigned, Esquirol, Head Physician at Charen-
oath required in such circumstances. He drew a distinction ton, Orfila, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Paris, Marc,
between witnesses called to testify by virtue of the judge's Court Physician to His Majesty, Pariset, permanent secre-
full authority and witnesses called to enlighten the court tary to the Royal Academy of Medicine, Rostan, professor
by means of their expert knowledge; the former are not in the Faculty of Medicine at Paris, Mitivie, doctor at la
required to take the oath, whereas the latter appear before Salpetriere, and Leuret, doctor of medicine.
the assize coun in the same circumstances as they appear Being called upon to state their opinion on the mental
during the preliminary investigation and so fall under the condition of Pierre Riviere before, during, and after the
terms of article 44 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, homicides by him committed for which he was recently
which requires the oath; for when the presiding judge calls sentenced to death by the Assize Court at Caen, have read
an expert, he proceeds to a further element in the investiga- and examined with the greatest care the documents to them
tion and in this particular case he is no more competent than communicated, consisting in: (I) an extract from the in-
the examining judge to exempt the expert from the oath he formation laid against Pierre Riviere and containing the
orders administered. official report of his arrest, the medical certificate concern-
The Deputy Counsel General for the Crown rebutted ing the examination of the bodies of his victims, information
these arguments; and the Court did not accept them. The on his previous life compiled by the District Prosecutor
Court disallowed the appeal and decided that witnesses and Royal at the civil court at Vire, the depositions of the wit-
even experts called by virtue of the judge's full authority nesses heard at the inquiry and a certificate by M. Bouchard,
are not required to take the oath. doctor at Vire; (2) "the detail and explanation of the oc-
CUrrence on June 3 at Aunay, village of la Faucterie, written
(b) Pilo'e du Calvados, January 20, 1836 by the author of this deed"; (3) the medical opinion by Dr.
[Reproduces the latter part of the report in the Gazette Vastel, doctor at Caen;
des Tribunaux above and continues:] Considering that Pierre Riviere always sought solitude,
16, 16J
~!!
.''
:

,"I . I, PIERRE RIVIERE .

behalf of the appellant. "The Court will of course appre- The rejection of this appeal in no way prejudices the
ciate," he said, "that I shall not advance before this Court question of the petition of mercy on behalf of the con-
grounds arising from the unfortunate Riviere's insanity; demned man which was drawn up at the same time. The
unfortunate indeed, for what greater misfortune can there be petition seems, indeed, to have been strongly reinforced
than to be deprived of reason? ... But though the Counsel by the report prepared by a considerable number of leading
General for the Crown told you in court not long ago that Paris medical experts, expressing the view that Pierre Riviere
a prisoner's impudent boasting strengthened the presumption is not in full possession of his mental faculties.
of guilt, I shall be permitted to invoke the unanimous
testimony of all that is most enlightened in science to interest
you in a family which has already been so cruelly afHicted."
Maitre Adolphe Chauveau then put forward several 4. REPORT BY A CONFERENCE OF
grounds for setting aside the conviction and in particular DOCTORS IN PARIS ON THE MENTAL
that the doctors called by virtue of the judge's full authority CONDITION OF PIERRE RIVIERE
in court to give their opinion and proceed with what
amounted to giving medical testimony had not taken the The undersigned, Esquirol, Head Physician at Charen-
oath required in such circumstances. He drew a distinction ton, Orfila, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Paris, Marc,
between witnesses called to testify by virtue of the judge's Court Physician to His Majesty, Pariset, permanent secre-
full authority and witnesses called to enlighten the court tary to the Royal Academy of Medicine, Rostan, professor
by means of their expert knowledge; the former are not in the Faculty of Medicine at Paris, Mitivie, doctor at la
required to take the oath, whereas the latter appear before Salpetriere, and Leuret, doctor of medicine.
the assize coun in the same circumstances as they appear Being called upon to state their opinion on the mental
during the preliminary investigation and so fall under the condition of Pierre Riviere before, during, and after the
terms of article 44 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, homicides by him committed for which he was recently
which requires the oath; for when the presiding judge calls sentenced to death by the Assize Court at Caen, have read
an expert, he proceeds to a further element in the investiga- and examined with the greatest care the documents to them
tion and in this particular case he is no more competent than communicated, consisting in: (I) an extract from the in-
the examining judge to exempt the expert from the oath he formation laid against Pierre Riviere and containing the
orders administered. official report of his arrest, the medical certificate concern-
The Deputy Counsel General for the Crown rebutted ing the examination of the bodies of his victims, information
these arguments; and the Court did not accept them. The on his previous life compiled by the District Prosecutor
Court disallowed the appeal and decided that witnesses and Royal at the civil court at Vire, the depositions of the wit-
even experts called by virtue of the judge's full authority nesses heard at the inquiry and a certificate by M. Bouchard,
are not required to take the oath. doctor at Vire; (2) "the detail and explanation of the oc-
CUrrence on June 3 at Aunay, village of la Faucterie, written
(b) Pilo'e du Calvados, January 20, 1836 by the author of this deed"; (3) the medical opinion by Dr.
[Reproduces the latter part of the report in the Gazette Vastel, doctor at Caen;
des Tribunaux above and continues:] Considering that Pierre Riviere always sought solitude,
16, 16J
.I
I, PIERRE RIvI1:RE .

that he was often seen talking to himself and conversing Far from concurring in the opinion of M. Bouchard in
with invisible interlocutors, roaring with laughter for no declaring Pierre Riviere sane because he is unable to classify
reasonable motive, hurling himself on cabbages and cutting his abnormal condition in any of the main categories of mad-
off their heads as if he had been fighting against men, saying ness, as if the categories established by nosographers were
that he saw the devil and conversed with him, not daring anything more than a method of classifying facts and
to approach any woman, even one of his own family, for thereby facilitating their study and that they do not have the
fear of polluting her with the emanations he believed flowed slightest pretension to impose immutable boundaries on
from his body, torturing animals in all sorts of ways and nature;
carrying a hammer and nails in his pocket for the purpose Taking into consideration the change which took place
of crucifying them, and having engaged in so many aberrant in Pierre Riviere's mental state shortly after the homicides,
actions from the age of four to the time when he put his his despair, his agonizing reflections, his hesitation about
mother, his brother, and his sister to death that he was going to denounce himself instead of proclaiming his
known throughout his district as Riviere's imbecile, madman,. triumph as he had purposed, his desire to take advantage
or beast; of the reputation for madness he had acquired in order to
Considering that the aforesaid Riviere comes be exonerated and his inability to sustain a role which was
family which numbers several lunacies among its far beyond his strength;
(one of his uncles died insane after manifesting Comparing this change with the change observed in
similar to those with which he himself was many mental defectives, especially homicidal monomaniacs
his first cousins showed habitual symptoms of and suicidal madmen who sometimes become calm and even
mother's character was extravagant and excessive to the rational again after accomplishing the act toward which
degree; one of his brother is almost wholly an idiot); they were impelled;
Considering that the motives which impelled D; _. Approving the conclusions set out in M. Vastel's report,
Riviere to kill his mother, his sister, and his brother, such Have reached complete agreement and hereby declare:
as to deliver his father from his domestic tribulations, to 1. That Pierre Riviere consistently showed signs of
free the world from the yoke of women, to win immortal- mental deficiency since the age of four;
ity by some brilliant feat, by imitating the of 2. That this mental deficiency persisted, though to a
Chatillon, Eleazar, or Laroche-Jacquelin or by less intense degree, after the homicides he committed;
himself like Jesus Christ for man's salvation, show a 3. That the homicides are due solely and exclusively to
deficiency of judgment; delusion.
Considering that the narrative of his life written by Done at Paris, December 25, 1835
Pierre Riviere demonstrates a profound and consistent aber~ Signed: Esquirol, Orfila, Marc, Pariset,
ration of his intellectual faculties and moral feelings, that- Rostan, Mitivie, and Leuret
the soundness of memory and the sequence in the ideas dis- Note. Suppose a visitor to a lunatic asylum is shown a man
played in this narration do not rule out mental deficiency of whom it could be truly said: "This patient often talks
since it frequently occurs in the narratives of maniacs or to himself, converses with the devil, fears that he may pol-
monomaniacs writing out the history of their malady; lute any woman he comes near with emanations given off by
,64 16 5
.I
I, PIERRE RIvI1:RE .

that he was often seen talking to himself and conversing Far from concurring in the opinion of M. Bouchard in
with invisible interlocutors, roaring with laughter for no declaring Pierre Riviere sane because he is unable to classify
reasonable motive, hurling himself on cabbages and cutting his abnormal condition in any of the main categories of mad-
off their heads as if he had been fighting against men, saying ness, as if the categories established by nosographers were
that he saw the devil and conversed with him, not daring anything more than a method of classifying facts and
to approach any woman, even one of his own family, for thereby facilitating their study and that they do not have the
fear of polluting her with the emanations he believed flowed slightest pretension to impose immutable boundaries on
from his body, torturing animals in all sorts of ways and nature;
carrying a hammer and nails in his pocket for the purpose Taking into consideration the change which took place
of crucifying them, and having engaged in so many aberrant in Pierre Riviere's mental state shortly after the homicides,
actions from the age of four to the time when he put his his despair, his agonizing reflections, his hesitation about
mother, his brother, and his sister to death that he was going to denounce himself instead of proclaiming his
known throughout his district as Riviere's imbecile, madman,. triumph as he had purposed, his desire to take advantage
or beast; of the reputation for madness he had acquired in order to
Considering that the aforesaid Riviere comes be exonerated and his inability to sustain a role which was
family which numbers several lunacies among its far beyond his strength;
(one of his uncles died insane after manifesting Comparing this change with the change observed in
similar to those with which he himself was many mental defectives, especially homicidal monomaniacs
his first cousins showed habitual symptoms of and suicidal madmen who sometimes become calm and even
mother's character was extravagant and excessive to the rational again after accomplishing the act toward which
degree; one of his brother is almost wholly an idiot); they were impelled;
Considering that the motives which impelled D; _. Approving the conclusions set out in M. Vastel's report,
Riviere to kill his mother, his sister, and his brother, such Have reached complete agreement and hereby declare:
as to deliver his father from his domestic tribulations, to 1. That Pierre Riviere consistently showed signs of
free the world from the yoke of women, to win immortal- mental deficiency since the age of four;
ity by some brilliant feat, by imitating the of 2. That this mental deficiency persisted, though to a
Chatillon, Eleazar, or Laroche-Jacquelin or by less intense degree, after the homicides he committed;
himself like Jesus Christ for man's salvation, show a 3. That the homicides are due solely and exclusively to
deficiency of judgment; delusion.
Considering that the narrative of his life written by Done at Paris, December 25, 1835
Pierre Riviere demonstrates a profound and consistent aber~ Signed: Esquirol, Orfila, Marc, Pariset,
ration of his intellectual faculties and moral feelings, that- Rostan, Mitivie, and Leuret
the soundness of memory and the sequence in the ideas dis- Note. Suppose a visitor to a lunatic asylum is shown a man
played in this narration do not rule out mental deficiency of whom it could be truly said: "This patient often talks
since it frequently occurs in the narratives of maniacs or to himself, converses with the devil, fears that he may pol-
monomaniacs writing out the history of their malady; lute any woman he comes near with emanations given off by
,64 16 5
I, PIERRE RIVIERE ...
his body; when at liberty, he was seen cutting off the heads to the extent of sacrificing himself for him, must have
of cabbages in the belief that he was cutting off men's heads; powerfully contributed to the disturbance and de-
he often carried a hammer and nails in his pocket to crucify rangement of his mental faculties, which were never
frogs or other animals; one day he tied a child's legs to the wholly sound."
pothook and would have burned him if someone had not in- The Caen doctors drew up a memorandum in favor
tervened in time; he was nicknamed throughout his district of Riviere presenting him as a prey to the singular
the madman, the imbecile, the beast; moreover, he knows monomania already mentioned above, namely, aversion
when he is doing wrong and has even written out the history to women and female animals. "Riviere," they wrote,
of his life very coherently," the visitor, no matter who he "is of a gloomy and taciturn disposition ... the only
was, will not dream for a moment of stating that this man time he brightens is when a death sentence is hung over
is in possession of his reason; and no judge or legal official his head, and then it is only to smile with self-satisfac-
would for a moment consider ordering his release. And if the tion, repeating four ill-made lines of verse which he had
patient concerned became homicidal inside the asylum, no composed for the funeral of a jay." The doctors signing
one would dream of sending him to the scaffold. Yet the this memorandum consider that "Riviere has never been
facts would be the same and only the places different. in possession of the full mental faculties which constitute
Pierre Riviere ought to have been placed in confinement; a rational being; the convicted man is a taciturn and
the young man was too ill to be left at large. reserved madman, a prey to obsessions, wholly lacking
L[euretJ in judgment, fearfully dangerous, yet deserving of the
royal clemency which they venture to petition may
light upon his disordered head."
In a" recent medical opinion on Riviere, Drs. Orfila,
5. REPORT TO HIS MAJESTY THE KING Marc, Rostan, Metivie, and Leuret state that the con-
BY THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE victed man is suffering from mental delusion.
The Presiding Judge of the Assize Court states in
Your Majesty, requesting a commutation of the penalty for Riviere:
I have the honor to submit to Your Majesty the re- "The public which followed the hearings in court with
port on the proceedings concerning Pierre RIVIERE, lively interest is also divided in its opinions, and grave I"
aged twenty-one. doubts would have arisen in the minds of the members II
[The report recapitulates the substance of the report of the Court if they had been called upon to hand down
by the Presiding Judge of the Assize Court to the Direc- a decision."
I
tor of Criminal Affairs, as far as the jury's verdict, with "If I were compelled to give my views," the Counsel
six jurymen suggesting that extenuating circumstances General