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The Rouen parliament, feeling that it was
held accountable for its proceedings to a
high court of judicature, acting under the
direct authority of the King himself,
recognised at last, readily enough, that the
interests of its own reputation and the
interests of rigid justice were now intimately
bound up together; and applied itself
impartially, on this occasion at least, to the
consideration of Marie's case. As a necessary
consequence of this change of course, the
authorities of Caen began, for the first time,
to feel seriously alarmed for themselves. If
the parliament of Rouen dealt fairly by the
prisoner, a fatal exposure of the whole
party would be the certain result. Under
these circumstances, Procurator Revel and
his friends sent a private requisition to the
authorities at Rouen, conjuring them to
remember that the respectability of their
professional brethren was at stake, and
suggesting that the legal establishment of
Marie's innocence was the mistake of all
others which it was now most urgently
necessary to avoid. The parliament of Rouen
was, however, far too cautious, if not too
honest, to commit itself to such an atrocious
proceeding as was here plainly indicated.
After gaining as much time as possible by
prolonging their deliberations to the utmost,
the authorities resolved on adopting a middle
course, which on the one hand should not
actually establish the prisoner's innocence,
and, on the other, should not publicly expose
the disgraceful conduct of the prosecution at
Caen. Their decree, not issued until the
twelfth of March, seventeen hundred and
eighty-five, annulled the sentence of Procurator
Revel on technical grounds; suppressed
the further publication of the statement of
Marie's case, which had been drawn out by
the advocate Lecauchois, as libellous towards
Monsieur Revel and Madame Duparc; and
announced that the prisoner was ordered to
remain in confinement until more ample
information could be collected relating to the
doubtful question of her innocence or her
guilt. No such information was at all likely
to present itself (more especially after the
only existing narrative of the case had been
suppressed); and the practical effect of the
decree therefore was to keep Marie in prison
for an indefinite period, after she had been
illegally deprived of her liberty already from
August, seventeen hundred and eighty-one
to March, seventeen hundred and eight-five.
Who shall say that the respectable classes did
not take good care of their respectability on the
eve of the French Revolution!

Marie's only hope of recovering her freedom,
and exposing her unscrupulous enemies
to the obloquy and the punishment which
they richly deserved, lay in calling the
attention of the higher tribunals of the capital
to the cruelly cunning decree of the
parliament of Rouen. Accordingly, she once
more petitioned the Throne. The King
referred the document to his council; and the
council issued an order submitting the Rouen
decree to the final investigation of the
parliament of Paris.

At last, then, after more than three miserable
years of imprisonment, the victim of
Madame Duparc and Procurator Revel had
burst her way through all intervening
obstacles of law and intricacies of office, to
the judgment-seat of that highest law-court
in the country, which had the final power of
ending her long sufferings and of doing her
signal justice on her adversaries of all degrees.
The parliament of Paris was now to estimate
in all its importance the unutterable wrong
that had been inflicted on her; and the
eloquent tongue of one of the first advocates
of that famous bar was to plead her cause
openly before God, the king, and the country.

The pleading of Monsieur Fournel (Marie's
counsel) before the parliament of Paris,
remains on record. At the outset, he assumes
the highest ground for the prisoner. He
disclaims all intention of gaining her her
liberty by taking the obvious technical objections
to the illegal and irregular sentences of
Caen and Rouen. He insists on the necessity
of vindicating her innocence legally and
morally before the world, and of obtaining
the fullest compensation that the law allows
for the fearful injuries which the original
prosecution had inflicted on his client. In
pursuance of this design, he then proceeds to
examine the evidence of the alleged poisoning
and the alleged robbery, step by step, pointing
out in the fullest detail the monstrous
contradictions and improbabilities which have
been already briefly indicated in this narrative.
The course thus pursued, with signal
clearness and ability, leads, as every one who
has followed the particulars of the case from
the beginning will readily understand, to a
very serious result. The arguments for the
defence cannot assert Marie's innocence
without shifting the whole weight of suspicion,
in the matter of Monsieur de Beaulieu's
death by poisoning, on to the shoulders
of her mistress Madame Duparc.

It is necessary, in order to prepare the
reader for the extraordinary termination of
the proceedings, to examine this question of
suspicion in some of its most striking details.

The poisoning of Monsieur de Beaulieu may
be accepted, in consideration of the medical
evidence, as a proved fact, to begin with.
The question that remains is, whether that
poisoning was accidental or premeditated.
In either case, the evidence points directly at
Madame Duparc, and leads to the conclusion
that she tried to shift the blame of the
poisoning (if accidental) and the guilt of it
(if premeditated) from herself to her servant.

Suppose the poisoning to have been
accidental. Suppose arsenic to have been
purchased for some legitimate domestic purpose,
and to have been carelessly left in one of
the salt-cellars, on the dresserwho salts

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