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placed, to await identification, the bodies of those found dead in the streets or in the river. The practice, which seems to have fallen into desuetude in other prisons, maintained its ground in the prison of the Châtelet. In a dark, damp, poisonous room were thrown one upon another the corpses of unknown persons who had perished by murder or suicide, and there they remained till claimed by friends, who came, lantern in hand, to seek for their missing kindred. Trifling ameliorations were made. The corpses were stretched out, and the public looked at them through a small window made in the door of the room; but the general state of things was still horrible. The great Revolution, which changed so much else, left the Morgue untouched. Its history is interwoven with that of the epoch, and recalls some of the most hideous scenes of that great drama. Hither came the trunk of old Foulon, while the head, its mouth stuffed with the grass which he had told the people they might eat, went through the city aloft on the head of a pike. It was met in its course by Berthier, Foulon's son-in-law, whose dismembered body went also to the Morgue.
But the old Morgue was doomed. Peter, or, as he preferred to be called, Anaxagoras, Chaumette, the great inventor of the Worship of Reason, and of the law of Suspects, devised many other things in his day, being a man of versatile genius. True, his proposal to compel the whole French people to wear wooden shoes, and to live on potatoes, fell through; but before he himself had come to be "suspected," and had had his head shorn off, he had pronounced the condemnation of the Morgue of his day as a disgusting device of kings, and unworthy of a republic, which ought to have in its place a clean, well-ventilated building, with stone slabs, and running water, and full registers. It was only in 1804, eleven years later, that Chaumette's proposal was carried out by the opening, on the "first Fructidor," of a new Morgue on the quay of the Marché-Neuf. Considerable alterations were afterwards introduced. In 1830 it was reconstructed and enlarged; and still further changes in 1835 left the Morgue pretty much as it was at its closing a short time ago. What it was at the time of our last visit we may now describe.
Crossing the Pont au Change, a visitor on his way to the cathedral of Notre Dame would hold on, till, just before coming to the bridge leading off the island of the city, he would take the turning by the side of the river, the Quay of the Marché-Neuf, leading to the church. He would have taken very few steps in its direction before he found himself near a sombre,
low building, with its wide carriage-doors thrown quite open, showing the interior, paved like a stable. Through these doors would be passing, at busy times of the day, pumbers of people of both sexes, of all ages, and of every class; all, as they enter, turn to the left. Not knowing what to expect, the visitor, who has made it his rule in travelling to enter every open door, walks in with the rest. The faces he meets would not, except in rare cases, prepare him for what he is about to see. He also turns to the left; but for the moment his view is interrupted by a crowd, all looking earnestly at something on the other side of a sort of shop-window. The bonne, with her basket, has just run in on her way home from market; the workman in cap and blouse, who has a few minutes left after his meal for a pipe and a stroll; mothers with children in arms; perhaps even a well-dressed woman with her little son in the half-military costume of the schools,
anybody and everybody is there. At last some one who has had enough makes room, and then you advance, and, leaning your arms on a railing breast high, you can look through the window like the rest. Ten large slabs, arranged in two rows of five each, the upper parts of which, inclined towards the window, have brass plates let into them. How many of the slabs are occupied ? One, two, three-perhaps more. More frequently than those in front, the back ones; for on them are placed the bodies fished out of the Seine, and the river is the great purveyor of the Morgue. They lie there with their leather aprons, in a full light from above. To-day it is a fair girl, whose long hair hangs dank about her face and bosom, which seem flushed by exercise. She looks so calm, that you might think she slept another sleep than that of death. Near her lies a heavily-built fellow, who looks as if he had stumbled drunk into the canal. How long since? From a tap over the head the water drips constantly over the swollen black face
swollen out of all recognition—and trickles along the swollen black body and limbs. "Hold! how droll it is!" says the little collegian, turning away with his mother. The cap and blouse asks, appealingly, "Whether one can recognise objects like that?" A lively conversation goes on around. The age, the length of time since death, and the cause of death, are all discussed; and from the authoritative manner in which some persons express their opinion, it is easy to divine that they are regular frequenters of the place. The Morgue is their theatre and their literature. Hither they come for their "sensation" dramas and novels, and assuredly they get them. But the sensation must have dulled, for
one often hears obscene jests on the wretched objects lying before him. The greatest curiosity is excited by a half cylinder of gauze wire-work, covering one of the slabs. Is there anything under it? Something like the dim outline of a body is just discernible. Perhaps it is a subject which has to remain here for its allotted time, but which is too far gone for exhibition. If so, judging from what one does see there at times, it must be bad indeed.
Around, on hooks attached to a bar running above the slabs, are hung the clothes taken off the bodies which lie below. They are kept for months after the burial of the body, as still affording possible chances of recognition. On the wall facing the entrance is a notice requesting that any person who recognises a body will give information at the Greffe, and closing with an assurance that no expense is entailed by making such a declaration. In spite, however, of all the efforts of the authorities, a tradition still exists that there is a charge made to those who recognise bodies. This belief, which has arisen no one knows how, was contradicted by a police notice some years ago, and is, one might suppose, dying out; but it is said that persons frequently go away without giving the information they might afford through fear of the "Morgue dues." The belief may perhaps have arisen from the fact that the regulations do not permit the delivery of a body to friends, except through the intervention of the pompes funèbres, a measure dictated by considerations of public decency.
clothes of drowned persons, and another in which watches the one of the two attendants whose turn it is for night duty, and who must be ready to open at all hours.
Such was the old Morgue; in a few words we may describe some of the main features in the new one. It is situated, as we have said, behind the cathedral of Notre Dame: the entire establishment consists of a central pavilion, supported on either side by a building of lower relative height. To the central building the public are admitted by three wide arched doors opening into a large paved room, at the end of which, and separated from it by a large window or shop-front, is the room in which the bodies are laid out for exhibition. There are here twelve slabs of black marble, instead of the ten of the old Morgue; they are ranged in two rows; those at the back, over each of which is a water-tap, are destined, as formerly, for bodies found in the Seine. Behind the room in which the bodies are laid out is the "reception "-room, in which, as its name implies, bodies are received from without, and where, in Morgue phrase, their "toilette" is made. Next to this is the dead-house, with fourteen slabs of black marble, covered with closely-woven gauze cylinders. Beyond this is the dissecting-room, in which are made the necessary scientific examinations. In the other division are the washing and drying rooms, and a chamber in which the clothes of unrecognised bodies are kept during a year. These are carefully numbered; and as every unclaimed body is described and at last buried under a corresponding number, questions of identity can be referred to the registers, or may even lead, within a certain time, to exhumation. These arrangements seem to realise the ideal Morgue of the future of Chaumette, and are thought by judges to leave nothing to be desired.
On the right-hand side of the entrance is the greffe, or registry, where the registrar attends from ten to four. Is there another man in Europe who sits down to such a set of books? Not only has he to record the facts connected with the bodies brought to the Morgue, but letters are daily received containing descriptions of missing persons. Anxious families have perhaps read in the journals of the dis- The staff of the Morgue is not large. M. covery of a body resembling some dear lost Devergie is the medical inspector; M. Tardieu one, and their fears have to be calmed or con- undertakes the dissections; the registrar and firmed. Behind the greffe, towards the Seine, the two attendants complete the staff. The is the dissecting room. Next to this a room whole establishment is in connection with the in which is kept a dark-green cart, used for police. The regulations issued with regard to the transport of bodies to the cemetery, a duty the Morgue begin in 1712, and some of them performed at night by the attendant going off throw a curious light on the manners of their duty. By the side of this, again, is the lavoir, day. The rules issued in 1836 are very full, a large basin, breast high, filled with water, and provide for all the internal arrangements and provided with a wide stone margin. A of the building. The formalities to be obbody when received is placed on this stone and served on receiving a body, its display, medical washed by the attendants, by means of a hose. examination, delivery to friends, interment, The last room on the ground floor is the dead- the hours of opening the building, its ventilahouse, to which bodies are removed after exhi- tion, the drying and washing of the clothes, bition, or where they are placed when received and their final disposal,—all have their parain such a state as to render their exhibition graphs. Before 1830 the attendants lived in impracticable. Above is a room for drying the the Morgue; but an article in the regulations
Of the 2851 bodies, 1766 therefore are put down as suicides: 613 perished by accidents, 66 by murder, 381 by sudden death. The Morgue reflects the political history of Paris. A riot or revolution leaves a mark in its annals, In the period under consideration there is still a quantity wanting to make up the total, which is reached by adding the deaths caused by the
not come within M. Devergie's calculations, but we may state that the Coup d'état furnished the Morgue with 43 bodies.
From a calculation based on the population of Paris it is found that, in one way or another, 1 in every 5466 of its inhabitants comes to the Morgue. As might be supposed, the poorest quarters are most fully represented. In that of St. Avoye, the proportion is as high as 1 in 2482; in the rich quarter of the Chaussée d'Antin, as low as 1 in 9,152.
of 1836 expressly forbids them to introduce into their room their wives or children. They are not allowed even to prepare or take their meals in the building. The last articles contain instructions for keeping the registers and statistics; and it is from those for the decennial period 1836-1846, published by M. Devergie, that we extract the following facts :During the ten years, 3438 bodies, or por-events of May, 1839. December, 1851, does tions of bodies, were received at the Morgue; 94 portions of bodies, consisting of the remains of clandestine" dissection, and portions detached from bodies in the river. Deducting from the 3344 bodies those of newly-born children, there remain 2851; 2331 of them bodies of males, four and a half times as numerous as those of females, which figure for 520 only. Of these 2851,378 only remained unrecognised. That is, out of every 8 exhibited, 7 were identified; a rather surprising result, attributable partly, no doubt, to improved regulations, as in the period 1830-5, nearly two-thirds of the whole number exhibited remained unknown. Recognition takes place in different ways. registrar, as we have said, is constantly receiving descriptions of missing persons; these descriptions are compared with bodies which arrive at the Morgue, and in this way many come to be identified; others are recognised by persons who happen to look in at the Morgue; and a few are identified after burial by means of the clothes. Deducting 85 bodies thus recognised after burial during the ten years, we arrive at the singular result that the mean time required for identification is one day and fifty-four minutes.
By far the larger proportion of bodies are received by day; but the night watcher is not unfrequently called on to open.
From 20 to 50 are the ages which furnish the greatest number of bodies; taking equal periods, that from 30 to 40 gives a result slightly higher than the rest. From 80 to 85, ten bodies were received, and one, that of a woman, between 85 and 90. Street accidents are most probably the cause of death in these cases; but the kind of death is not given.
Any attempt to class the bodies according to the cause of death must be in some degree open to objection. Under what head are the bodies in the Seine to be classed? What proportion of them are to be put down as suicides? All, says M. Devergie, whether the fact of suicide has been proved or not; cases of accidental or provoked" fall into the river are too rare to affect the calculation sensibly; a statement which may be true with respect to the Seine with its broad quays, but which we should hesitate to accept if made with regard to the Thames.
M. Devergie has made the suicides the subject of special statistics, and he finds that selfmurder is 4 times as frequent in the male as in the female; a result differing from that obtained in former years, when it was found to be only three times as frequent. From 20 to 30 is the time of life at which suicide "attains its maximum of intensity." Needlewomen, labourers, and soldiers furnish more victims than other classes. Two-thirds of the males and five-sixths of the females seek death by drowning. Next in number come deaths by hanging and fire-arms, for men; for women, falls from a height and suffocation by charcoal. "From 20 to 30," we are told, man addresses himself by preference to fire-arms." Poverty, losses, disgust of life, bad conduct, domestic trouble, disappointment in love,—all figure as causes of suicide. The latter, while driving to a violent end one-sixth of the female is chargeable with the deaths of one-seventeenth only of the male suicides.
A curious result is, that April, May, June, and July are the months in which the crime is most common. It is least frequent in November, December, and January. The notes embodying the result of the doctor's observation of the bodies taken from the river, valuable as they are in a medico-legal point of view, are too horrible to be placed before the general reader.
A fête, as well as a revolution, will furnish the Morgue with batches of victims, to seek for whom whole families will come, weeping; but a body, or the fragments of a body, offering evidence of a peculiarly atrocious murder, will draw all Paris to the Morgue. In November 1814, the mutilated limbs of a man were discovered in different parts of Paris. Brought together, they were exposed at the
Morgue, whither flocked crowds so great that gendarmes had to be stationed to regulate the entry. Men of the highest rank came, and elegant ladies; and rich equipages were stationed at the Morgue doors. No discovery was made. A plaster cast was made of the limbs, which were buried, and a whole month elapsed. At the end of that time a woman, who had just risen from a dangerous illness, which had prevented her from going to the Morgue as every one else had done, heard of the murder. She dragged herself to the Morgue, and from the cast was able to identify the remains as those of Dautun. He had been murdered by his
But the great event in the annals of the Morgue took place in 1840. On the 17th of March, the body of a handsome little boy, of about ten years of age, was found in the suburbs of Paris with the throat fearfully cut. Hanging from his neck was a little silver medal gained at school, and in his pocket a top. All Paris, at the news of the murder, flocked to the Morgue to see "The Villette Child," as he was (and still is) called; but no one could solve the mystery of his death. The period during which exhibition of the body was possible was drawing to a close, when the authorities, to extend the time, had recourse to a plan till then unknown in the history of the Morgue, though proposals have since been made to adopt it as an ordinary regulation. A M. Gannal had recently discovered a method of preserving entire bodies from the effects of decomposition, by the injection of certain salts. His aid was called in, and the body was duly prepared. It was then clothed; a light touch of rouge was given to the cheeks, and, with the limbs in an easy position, the body was placed on a little white bed. Public curiosity was immensely excited; and those who would have shuddered at the thought of visiting the ordinary exhibitions of the Morgue, hastened to see "The Child of Villette." It was only after the lapse of six weeks that the murderer, a religious madman, was discovered, through the commission of other murders at Bordeaux. On the 2nd of June the little body was removed from the Morgue, and at Bordeaux the criminal and his victim were once more brought together.
It is scarcely in the legends of the Morgue that one would seek for subjects for light comedy; but a farce, which had some success, was based on an incident which occurred at the old Morgue in 1767. A traveller from Grand Cairo brought back with him a mummy. Passing through Fontainebleau, he arrived in Paris by the coche d'eau, a sort of barge. He unfortunately left his mummy behind him in
the barge; and the clerks, having opened the case, saw in it what they supposed to be the body of a murdered young man. A police officer and a surgeon who were called in agreed in the belief that a mysterious crime had been discovered. The body was carried to the Morgue, and immediate steps were taken for the apprehension of the supposed murderer. A hundred versions of the story, each more horrible than the last, were soon flying over the city. The proprietor of the mummy having meanwhile discovered his loss, returned to claim his property, and was forthwith arrested. An explanation soon convinced the officer of his mistake; but the mummy had been deposited at the Morgue, and could only be got out by the fulfilment of the due formalities, which helped to make the whole affair public.
We Londoners, who are accustomed to a different mode of procedure with regard to unclaimed bodies, are perhaps too apt to condemn hastily the horrible exhibitions of the Morgue. In justice to our neighbours, however, we ought not to lose sight of the fact that the obvious objections to the Morgue are fully appreciated by them. Its utility, however, is so universally acknowledged, that the objectors generally confine themselves to the question of its site; and it has been often proposed to remove the Morgue to a less frequented quarter' But French logic is unflinching; once grantand who can deny it ?—that the recognition of the bodies of suicides or murdered persons is earnestly to be desired in the interest of public morality, and it is not easy to find valid grounds of objection to the arguments of those who de mand that the Morgue shall be placed in the centre of Paris. If the Morgue is useless, say those who take this view-if the Morgue is useless, demolish it; if useful, you ought not to take measures which detract from its utility. Your object should be to encourage people to enter the Morgue, and you do this best by placing it in a populous and thronged quarter. "This condition," says M. Devergie, “is of so much importance that every other consideration ought to give way before it." If proof were wanted, it would be found in the fact that recognitions are not principally due to immediate friends. Two-thirds of the bodies identified are recognised by chance passers-by; and so true is this, that on Monday, the workman's holiday, almost as many bodies are identified as during the remainder of the entire week. It is also asserted that the greater number of those who have committed murder go to the Morgue to ascertain whether the body of their victim is there. This strange desire is known to the police, who accordingly have constantly their agents mixing with the crowd, and carefully
noting every gesture, every movement of the face that may betray recognition. They have, perhaps, scanned your face, reader, as you looked through the window at the sad sight! We have seen that about 300 bodies are annually brought to the Morgue, most of them from the Seine. How many are taken from the Thames and the canals in London, with a population much larger than that of Paris? But one does not hear of half of them. It may be said indeed that the public do not, as a rule, hear much about them, unless they are given to reading the dismal notices posted outside the police-stations, the headings of which, "Body found," are followed by a description, reading like a passport to another world. If we prefer losing the chance of detecting crime, or of restoring the body of a suicide to sorrowing friends, to tolerating the undoubtedly shocking exhibitions of the Morgue, let us at least acknowledge that there are two sides to the question.
THE time of year is on us again when crinoline will be coming into dangerous proximity to ball-room fires. Fain would we suggest thoughts of caution to our matrons and maidens; but experience has made us sceptical touching the efficacy of good advice, especially -must it be said ?-when the patients are ladies. On this particular matter we have largely catechised our fair friends, and have not yet found one to have been practically influenced by the advice given in the public papers.
Sydney Smith had great faith in the force of an illustrious example. He thought the moral lesson involved in the sacrifice of a Bishop or a Lord occasionally necessary, in order to keep alive our interest in the maintenance of the general security. And no doubt there is a great deal of truth in this notion.
So perhaps an illustrious example of death from the incautious use of inflammable garments, may have effect where mere advice would fail. There is a story of the kind which we should like to afficher in every boudoir throughout this realm—a story of death among courtiers, and deadly peril to a king; and all because they trifled with just the kind of risk that is involved in the incautious use of crinoline. The actual material in question was of another kind; but this makes no difference as to the main point. The folly to be deprecated is that of investing one's-self with trappings which, being highly inflammable, and so assumed as not to be easily shaken off, must, in case of their igniting, cause the tor
ture and death of the wearer; at least according to all reasonable expectation.
Poor Charles VI. of France is our hero, that unfortunate monarch whose reign was one scene of wrong and violence, of detriment to the country, aud misery to the people. Frenchmen, however, of old always persisted in loving their kings if they possibly could get the chance. In the exaltation of their loyalty they were especially attached to one whom it had pleased Providence to bereave of his reason, and who could exercise government only at lucid intervals. He was not to be blamed for the general confusion, and for his sake it was that they took all patiently. Their very grievances became the aliment of compassionate devotion. "How must the King suffer," they would say, "when he came to understand how ill his ministers behaved to the people!" Isabelle of Bavaria, his wicked consort, was not the sort of woman to trouble herself about other people's sorrows. King and people might go their way, be as mad as they pleased, or as wretched, provided she might be left to enjoy herself. As for her lord and master, she was willing to resign him to the blandishments of a "petite reine" and to seek compensation elsewhere. As for the people, she could not afford to bother herself about such canaille. What she did care for was her own will.
On a certain occasion she had a very fair excuse for extravagance, and set herself to make the most of the opportunity. A marriage was to be celebrated between one of her ladies and a gentleman of the court. The lady was one of her own Bavarians, and of course a special favourite. No one could blame her for being a little extravagant in honor of such an event, and accordingly she laid herself out to entertain on an unusual scale of magnificence.
In those days the popular taste demanded large doses of the grotesque. Religious processions were half caricature, and their solemn pomps of welcome to sovereign princes presented features that to us seem sufficiently inadmissible.
However each age has its code of toleration and appreciation. Such was the prescription of that age, and the Queen was not likely to be before the times in such matters. Accordingly she felt that her arrangements would be incomplete if they were to be simply matter of fact in character. She must have some burlesque, some practical joke, or the whole thing would be a failure. This was good as a standing rule; but on this particular occasion there were special reasons for being riotous, for the bride was a widow, and a widow's marriage is a fair opportunity for a charivari all the world over.