Unknown.

Autobiography, a collection of the most instructive and amusing lives ever published (Volume 28) online

. (page 1 of 21)
Online LibraryUnknownAutobiography, a collection of the most instructive and amusing lives ever published (Volume 28) → online text (page 1 of 21)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


NYPL RESEARCH LIBRARIES



3 3433 08254778 1



AUTOBIOGRAPHY.

a Collection



OF THE



MOST INSTRUCTIVE AND AMUSING

LIVES

EVER PUBLISHED,

WRITTEN BY THE PARTIES THEMSELVES.



WITH BRIEF INTRODUCTIONS, AND COMPENDIOUS
SEQUELS, CARRYING ON THE NARRATIVE TO THE
DEATH OF EACH WRITER.



VOLUME XXVIIL VIDOCQ.



LONDON:

WHITTAKER, TREACHER, AND ARNOT,

AVE-M ARIA-LANE.



MDCCCXX3X-



LONDON:

PRINTED BY W. CLOWES;

Stamford-street.




f
-



i . ,

. ' ,

< . ,



TF
PUBLIC






j




TIE 32) (0) (0



M E M O I R S



VIDOCQ,

PRINCIPAL AGENT OF THE FRENCH POLICE,

UNTIL 1817 ;

AND NOW PROPRIETOR OF

/
THE PAPER MANUFACTORY AT ST. MANDE.

WRITTEN BY HIMSELF.

TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH.



La profession de voleur n'existerait pas, en tant que profession, si
les malheureux centre lesquels la justice a sevi une fois n'etaient pas
honnis, vilipendes, maltrait^s; lasociete" les contraint a se rassembler:
elle cre"e leur reunion, leurs mosurs, leur volonte et leur force.



IN FOUR VOLUMES.
VOL. IV.



LONDON :

WHITTAKER, TREACHER, AND ARNOT,

AVE-MARIA-LANE.

MDCCCXXIX.



CONTENTS,



CHAPTER XLVi;

PAGE

The three categories Science advances Crimes and
punishments Expiation without end Roberto ere-
dite experto The absurd penalty The ganaches and
the voltigeurs The purse The classic and romantic
The Rococo Moral toxicology Good and bad
mushrooms Monacography The system of Linnaeus
Monstrosities Researches of a classification A
nomenclature The Saladomates and the Balantioto-
mistes Chemical analysis The visit of the sage and
the treatise De famosis Pockets a la Boulard An
astrological receipt Argus and Kriareus Faith alone
can save us M. Prunaud, or the unexpected dis-
covery I can get 50 per Cent. The claim of the
emigre A domestic robbery The watch The lady
carried off M. Becoot and the Due de Modene The
English lady who flies away Return to the catego-
ries Let us begin with the Cambrioleur 1

CHAPTER XLVII.

THE CAMBRIOLEUH.

The costume of the city The habitual quid Houses
without a porter Curiosity of the lodgers The mid-
wives' messengers Waistcoats and cravats The
trophy of love Baskets and scuttles New faces
Tremble for Sunday Good advice Take a stick
Houses with a porter Pay your watchmen Cam-
brioleurs a la flan The fire-work and the nosegay
The caroubleur A short list of suspicious gentry



Tl CONTENTS,

PAGE

spies The nourrisseurs Conceal the openings-
Perfidious neighbours Oh ! my fine fellow, you are
known in spite of your handsome mask. 46

CHAPTER XLVII1.

The rendezvous Two notorious thieves The placard
Speaking too much is injurious The danger of a
local memory A juridical mistake M. Delaveau and
M. de Belleyme, or the evil genius and the good
genius Horrible consequences One reputation is as
good as another There is a mean path 53

CHAPTER XLIX.

I arrive from Brest The good woman Pity is not love
My first meal The father-in-law The Harlequin
and the persillade Suppers in the Rue Grenetat
My cambrioleiise I ally myself to ( clean out' a pawn-
broker Annette appears in the horizon Great dis-
comfiture I fall sick A theft to pay the apothecary
Henriette pays for the broken pots I see her
again A fugitive He gets the assistance of the guard
to carry off the treasure of the police Unjust suspi-
cions The fugitive is betrayed Memorable words
A colossal reputation The chef-d'oeuvre of the kind
Hang yourself, brave Crillon ! Go to England
and they will hang you , 55

CHAPTER L.1

Capdeville, or Monsieur Proteus The false farmer-
general Simplicity of M. Seguin ' Hay in the boots'
The widow well guarded Perseverance Monsieur
Fierval A walk The lover of nature The fortu-
nate country The universal panacea The fountain
of Jouvence One pinch, two pinches; how to make
use of them Miraculous virtues of the toute bonne
Great herborization ' Culling of simples' I shall be
Rosiere The Circe of St. Germain Stop thief!
murder ! guard ! fire ! A hole A great discovery
Disappointment of a broker The candid avowal
Look to your arm-chairs .,,,.,.,....,, 64



CONTENTS. VII

PAGE

CHAPTER LI.

A visit to Rouen Disgust of the world Whims of a
misanthrope Choice of a solitude Poets and her-
mits, nam secessum et otia qucerunt Plan of an ex-
cursion Strange scruple The love of patrimony
The feigned departure The danger of dining at Paris
The impressions and false keys He returns not
In whom can we place confidence ? 71

CHAPTER LIT.

Adele d'Escars The first step Borrowed name Fatal
inscription The office of manners and the crown-
piece The ladies of the house and the resting-place
Honour is like an island The measure of the prefect
and the claws of Satan A public avowal The de-
spair of parents M. de Belleyme The thieves en
herbe The chapter of cambrioleurs Good head and
good heart Liberal allowances A privation 74

CHAPTER LIII.

The pangs of solitude Love Living as man and wife
The excellent pupil A first attempt The breaking
in Where the devil is the money? Compensation
A scene of enthusiasm Life is a bed of eiderdown,
full of pleasure The danger of opposite windows
The perfidious curtains The reflection A bed. room
hussar The crusade The window blinds of curiosity
The judge's beard A chance occurreuce Sixteen
years' imprisonment 80

CHAPTER LIV.

The fruits of economy Plan of amendment The skilful
workwoman Precarious existence. Consequences of
prejudice The Mont de Piete Despair She must
die Cruel punishment The instruments of crime
Resistance to temptation ...,.,.,. , 86



v iii CONTENTS,

PAGE

CHAPTER LV.

The bureau of charity The door of the philanthropist
The dowager's equipage An accident The good
coalheaver The committee of succour The mob in
action The basket woman's collection Little people
have great virtues Like master like man The shirt-
s l eeve Victory proclaimed too soon The grand
figure The exempts Unheard of brutality The car-
rying off The carriage departs 89

CHAPTER LVI.

The inside of a coach Tv*o wretches La, Morgue and
the corps-de-garde False humanity The compas-
sionate soldiers The invincible Eighteenth The
good captain Who gives what he has, gives what he
can The return home A straw bed A delirium
The candle end Gratitude 99

CHAPTER LVIL

The kettle empty The audience and reading la Quoti-
dienne Break your arms and legs ! Have you a
curate ? Justice is there The tall figure again The
second breakfast 107

CHAPTER LVIII.

A priest should be humane The parsonage-house The
preparations for a gala The devotees Curiosity
The Abbe Tatillon, or the major-domo Te Deum
laudamus Regrets a la comete An indiscretion
Meddle with your own affairs , 110

CHAPTER LIX.

The Sacristan Demoiselle Marie, or the pass-word
The two Vicars, or the parallel The old and the new
Well-ordered charity The representation Regis-
ters of the civil state Picture of deep misery No



CONTENTS. IX

PAGE

one dies of hunger Malediction A general confes-
sion The tall figure again Impertinent allusion
Baptism and burial The charitable actor 115

CHAPTER LX.

The month too soon passed away Visit to benefactors
They have gone The mourning coaches The attend-
ants on funerals The apostrophes The lackeys
The chapel We owe truth to the dead The director
of the quadrilles The plain of Virtues The drum
beats Atrocious jestings A brawl The excommu-
nicant God! it is he Is it a vision? The vanities
of an impious creature The funeral-knell The two
folding-doors The clergy The corners of the pall
The tall figure appears again Hatred of the world.. 123

CHAPTER LXI.

A rambling brain Despair The charcoal-vender A
surpi'ise Every one for himself There is no longer
a God Final determination The closed door Pre-
caution The chafing-dish Unanimity Mind the
bomb Conscience The mouth utters, but the heart
has no participation An 'affair' the life of the holy. 135

CHAPTER LXII.

The morning-walk Ill-gotten gains bring nothing but
pains Castle in the air Gaiety The storm is pre-
paring Two keys The new-laid eggs and the fruit-
woman The unkind landlord A good deed brings
happiness Precautions 150

CHAPTER LXIII.

The treasure Anxious moments M. and Madame
Lombard The capricious lock The \vhale and the
elephant The knitting-needle Thieves The couple
rolled heels over head The locksmith The ring taken
out The apronSend for the Commissary 156



X CONTENTS.

CHAPTER LXIV.

PAGE

Great joy in the bouse A cloud the work of benevo-
lence Preparations for a breakfast The larder re-
plenished Honest projects The salt-cellar upset
The Commissary The search A visit from a lady
A recognition Return to St. Lazare Sentence for
life 163

CHAPTER LXV.

THE CHEVALIERS GRIMPANTS.

The donneurs de bonjours The library of a bonjourier
The thin shoes The sins of families Perpetual laugh-
ter The goupineur a la desserte The mistaken
forgers Advice to the reader 171

CHAPTER LXVI.

THE BONCARDIERS.

The boncardier on the look-out Keep a good dog
Advantages of disorder Children's playthings and
crockery The extended cord Detonating peas Re-
gular passports 177

CHAPTER LXVII.

THE DETOURNEURS AND DETOURNEUSES.

The good hiding-place The customer in a hurry Ma-
gic words The prtparateurs Boxes with double
bottoms Secret pockets The child on the counter
A woman who knew how to handle her feet Ad-
vice to jewellers The mendicant The chipeurs of
distinction , 182

CHAPTER LXVIII.

VOLEURS ET VoLEUSES SOUS CoMPTOIR.

Both sides of the way The watchmaker and the hatter
Dupes and accomplices La Connarde The dis-
pute , , ,..,,,,. 186



CONTENTS. XI

CHAPTER LXIX.

LES CAREURS.

PAGE

Take care of your money The woman Caron again
The liquor-merchant robbed The baker of the Rue
Martinville The pretended widows The priests of
Saint Gervais and Saint Medard The height of wick-
edness The gypsies 189

CHAPTER LXX.

LES ROULETIERS.

The obedient driver The bold robber The diadem of
the Queen of Naples The diamonds and the ball in
the Rue Frepillon The preservatives , 195

CHAPTER LXXI.

LES TIREURS.

The owner of the learned ass The Englishman at the
parade The Nonnes Eyes at the fingers' ends
Chicane The daring pickpocket The fog and the
repeater The man of business Efficacy of the pu-
nishment of death 193

CHAPTER LXXII.

LES FLOUEURS.

The money finders A good bottle of wine The Saint-
Jean Le verre en Jleurs The money-balance and
la triomphe 203

CHAPTER LXXIII.

LES EMPORTEURS.

The gentlemen who lose themselves The curiosities of
Paris The two cradles The officious Cicerone The
member of the university and the rattle-snake ...... 206



XU CONTENTS*

CHAPTER LXXIV.

LES EMPRUNTEURS.

Travelling post Portmanteau given in charge The ex-
ordium The aristocrats The ingots Splendid ope-
ration What embarrasses, harasses The deposit
The Little Soldier, and the madman of Cette Bril-
liants and sapphires M. Fromager The twin sisters 210

CHAPTER LXXV.

LES GRECES OR SOULASSES.

The pigeon The pieces of gold The case The forgot-
ton key The bullets 234

CHAPTER LXXVI.

LES RAMASTIQUES.

(Halves) The reader of posting bills The accommoda-
ting man Mishap to a cordon-bleu The husband and
wife, or the watch and chain A domestic breeze
Pickpocket and forger The will of the law 238

CHAPTER LXXVII.

LES ESCARPES, OR CARBONS DE CAMPAGNE.

Insinuating manners Good people The Cornu family
The prepared alibi The peripatetics The cripple 244

CHAPTER LXXVI II.

Salambier The Mayor's order The false allies Dogs
at fault A fortunate occurrence A fugue The Zero
of life The Alpha, Omega, and Beta 1816 248



MEMOIRS OF VIDOCQ.



CHAPTER XLV1.



The three categories Science advances Crimes 'and punishments
Expiation without end Roberto credite experts The absurd
penalty The gnnaches and the voltigeurs The purse The classic
and romantic The Rococo Moral toxicology Good and bad mush-
rooms Monacography The system of Linnaeus Monstrosities
Researches of a classification A nomenclature The Saladomatcs
and the Balantiotomistes Chemical analysis The visit of the sage
and the treatise De Famosis Pockets a la Boulard An astrological"
receipt Argus and Briareus Faith alone caa save us M. Pru-
uaud or the unexpected discovery I can get 50 per Cent. The
claim of the emigre A domestic robbery The watch The lady
carried off M. Becoot and the Due de Modene The English lady
who flies away Return to the categories Let us begin with the
Cambrioleur.



THIEVES form three great categories or classes, in which
may be found many divisions and subdivisions.

To the first of these categories belong thieves by pro-
fession, who are reputed incorrigible, although the
almost perpetual efficacy of the system which the North
Americans adopt towards their prisoners, proves that
there is no rogue so hardened but that he may be
brought to repentance and an honest mode of life.

A life of constant crime is ordinarily the result of a
first fault ; impunity encourages and incites, and pu-
nishment does not correct nor divert it. Impunity
may long favour the criminal, but sooner or later it has
its termination. Happy would it be, thrice happy, if
punishment (whatever be the nature of the crime) did

VOL. IV. B



2 MEMOIRS OF VIDOCQ.

not leave behind an indelible brand of disgrace. But
our European societies are so organized that inexpe-
rience has every means and temptation to become per-
verted. Does it succumb ? Justice is at work. Justice !
rather legislation. It strikes the blow, and whom does
it strike ? The poor, the ignorant, the unfortunate, to
whom the bread of education has been denied ; him in
whom no moral principle has been inculcated ; him to
whom the law has not been promulgated ; him who
could have no rules of conduct but those lessons of a
catechism so soon forgotten, because the child did not
understand it, and the man only finds in it, beneath a
mass of religious ceremonies, and formulae too little ex-
plained to be put in practice. Let us not be deceived :
in spite of the diffusion of light, the education of the
people is not yet completed, it is still to do. Science
is abroad, but she walks alone ; she advances for the
privileged classes ; she progresses for the rich. She
illumines only the upper regions, the lower are still in
darkness ; the poor go on hap-hazard and blindly : woe
to him who errs and mistakes the right road ! At each
step there are abysses, gulphs, barrier-obstacles, so much
the worse ! They have not the benefit of a beacon to
guide them. Find out your road, ye poor and humble !
if you do not find the proper one, your lives are the
forfeiture.

Have you wandered from the line ? would you retrace
your steps ? do you wish to do so in all sincerity and
earnestness? Vain desire your lives are forfeited
so wills the prejudiced. You are outcasts ; you are in-
corrigible ; Farias ; hope is no longer yours. The so-
ciety which condemns you, which excommunicates you,
has uttered its anathema against you. The judge has
sentenced you, and you shall have no more bread.

When the expiation is indefinite, why speak of tem-
porary punishment? The tribunal inflicts a punish-
ment, the duration of this chastisement is fixed ; but
when the sentence ceases to be in force, opinion still
exists, and always strikes, right or wrong, right and left.



MEMOIRS OP VIDOCQ. 3

The sentence of the law decrees that six months of a
man's life, six months of his liberty shall be sacrificed,
opinion annihilates all the rest. Oh ! ye who pronounce
sentence, tremble ! the sword of Themis inflicts incu-
rable wounds only : her blows, even when lightest, are
like the eating canker which destroys all, like the Greek
fire which consumes, but cannot be extinguished.

Our codes establish correctional punishments, and
the worst of all criminals are not those who deserve
punishment, but those who have undergone the law's
chastisement. How is it that we go on in a mode in-
verse to our aim ? It is because to ill use is not to
correct, but contrariwise to pervert and corrupt more
and more weak human nature ; it is to compel it to be-
come degraded, brutalized. I have seen criminals after
they have been freed from every sort of imprisonment.
I have seen thousands, but have never known one who,
during his captivity, had formed determinations or found
inducements to reform and lead a better life. Did they
propose to amend ? It was always from other and more
powerful reasons ; the remembrance of captivity only
aroused a feeling of irritation, spite, rage ; a vague re-
sentment, deep and without repentance. They recalled
to memory the rapacious porters, the ferocious jailers,
the still more savage turnkeys : they remembered the
iniquities, the tyrannies, the tyrants, or rather the tigers,
and will they tell us that these men are also made in
the image of God? It is downright blasphemy !

The freed prisoner, who proposes to maintain himself
by honesty, must have more than common virtue ; he
must have heroism, and even then what security has
he, if he possess nothing, that the whole world will not
shrink from him? he is a pestiferous being, a leper
which society avoids and shuns. Does it fear conta-
gion ? no, contagion is everywhere, at the Bagne as well
as under the gilded ceilings of the Chaussee d'Antin ; it
is pity that they dread, and they seize with eagerness
a plausible excuse to avoid it.

Since the liberated prisoner is irrevocably pro-

B 2



4 MEMOIRS OF VIDOCQ.

scribed, if he has not the courage to perish, it is neces-
sary that he take refuge somewhere ; an interdict is laid
on his return to your society, you repulse him, and whi-
ther can he betake himself? Into his own, and his own
is the enemy of yours. It is you then who increase the
number of malefactors : for the principle of all society
is mutually to assist each other. His peers will first
extend to him the hand of succour, but if they nourish
him to-day, it is on condition that to-morrow he will
rob you. It is you who have reduced him to this ex-
tremity ; do not complain, do not pity yourselves, but
if you retain any good feeling, pity him.

The business of a thief would not exist, not as a pro-
fession certainly, if the unhappy creatures against whom
justice has directed her power once, were not disgraced,
vilipended, ill-used; society compels them to herd
together; she constrains their re-union, their manners,
their will, and their power.

Let it not be thought that this thrusting out, this ex-
clusion of the freed convict is the result of a delicacy of
conventional feeling; this system is but the consequence
of hypocrisy. Is the liberated man rich? All the
world receives him with open arms ; there is no door
that is not open to him : he is received everywhere.
Roberto credite experte. I can speak from positive
knowledge. If he have a good table, and particularly a
well stocked cellar, he may calculate amongst his guests
magistrates, bankers, money-brokers, counsellors, nota-
ries : they will not blush to appear with him in public ;
they will call him their friend, he will be their very
good associate and companion, and the commissary, with
hat in hand, will not deem it a dishonour to take
him by the hand, quite the reverse.

The second class of robbers consists of a multitude of
weak creatures, who, placed on a rapid declivity, between
their passions and their wants, have not the power of
resisting those dangerous seductions that beset them and
lure them on to ruin by bad example. It is, for the most
part, amongst gamblers, that recruits are found to fill up



MEMOIRS OP VIDOCQ. 5

this distressing list, the members of which are on the
high way that leads to the scaffold. A crown thrown
of the green table is the overt act for him who does so ;
circumstances follow, he is compelled to become a forger,
thief, assassin, parricide ; those who authorize gambling
are accomplices and provokers to crime : the blood of
the infatuated being, and that which he sheds, is on your
head.

The individuals who range themselves in the third
class are the necessitous, whom misery alone has ren-
dered guilty. Society ought to be indulgent towards
them. The whole, with very few exceptions, only ask
to be at peace with the laws ; but formerly it was indis-
pensable that they should be at peace with their stomach.
Population is certainly too much narrowed, or rather
those who have the means are too egotistical as to their
appetite.

Should not punishment be graduated by necessity,
in proportion to the greater or inferior understanding
of the delinquent, in proportion to his situation? The
extent of his intellect, his abilities, cultivated or not, and
a crowd of other powerful motives which always more
or less destroy the free action of what comes afterwards ;
should they not be taken into consideration ? Punish-
ments are proportioned to crimes : true, but the same
crime is atrocious or excusable according as it is com-
mitted by a doctor of law, or a wild rustic of Basse-
Bretagne.

In a state of civilization with which we are not all
equally sharers, laws, that they may not be unjust in
their application, should be made like the soldiers 7
dress, of three sizes, with a great latitude to the judges'
discretion to decide according to the circumstances of
the case.

Thieves by profession are all those who, voluntarily
or not, have contracted a habit of appropriating to
themselves the property of another : they have but one
word, one thought plunder. This class includes from
the pickpocket to the highway robber ; from the usurer

B 3



6 MEMOIRS OF VIDOCQ.

to the dealer who deals in a palace, in the provisions of
an army.

We will not mention those who are not accused.
The others form ten or twelve quite distinct species
without counting the varieties ; then come the passers
from city to city. As to the object they propose to
themselves, thieves are everywhere pretty generally
alike : but it is not everywhere that they operate simi-
larly, they progress with the age they live in. Cartouche
now would only be a daring fellow, (ganache renforcee,)
and Coignard out of the Bagne would pass for an active
light-horseman (yoltigeur). The moving world has not,
to my knowledge, an academy, but yet possesses, like
the literary world its classics and romances ; the scheme
which formerly was " deep and knowing" is now but a
poor device. The purse covered with bells, whence
the toiler was to be prigged without one of the bells
sounding, this purse, which to our ancestors seemed a
trial so ingenious and dexterous, this purse is as Cor-
neille, as Racine, as Voltaire Rococo!!!

It is to the living that our moderns address 'them-
selves ; it is in nature that they make their first essays.
At their very first debut they do some master-stroke ;
in their estimation the ancients are as if they had never
been. There are no more models, no more copies, no
more routes traced out, no one imitates. The contest
is, who shall strike out for himself some novel mode of
proceeding. However, he is in a circle in which the
originals themselves must move. I have observed them,
I have seen their point of departure, I know how they
go, and whatever may be their evolutions or their
genius, all the sinuosities of their progress are known to
me beforehand. Through the thousand and one trans-
formations which are produced daily by the necessity
of escaping a searching surveillance, I have been able
to distinguish the character proper to each species ;
the physiognomy, language, habits, manners, dress,
arrangement, and details; I have studied all, remem-
bered all : and if an individual pass before me, if he be



MEMOIRS OF VIDOCQ. 7

a robber by profession, I will point him out, I will even
tell his line of business. Frequently from the inspection
of a single article of clothing I would more quickly de-
scribe a thief from head to heel than our celebrated
Cuvier, with two maxillaries and half-a-dozen vertebra,
can distinguish an antidiluvian animal or a fossil man.
There is in the garb of a rogue hieroglyphics which can
be decyphered with more certainty than those of which
M. de Figeac boasts of having given as the interpreta-
tion ad aperturam Ubri. There are equally in manners
tokens which are by no means equivocal; I ask par-
don of Lavater as well as of the renowned doctors
Gall and Spurzheim, in fact of all physiognomists or
phrenologists, past, present, and to come ; for, in the
monography that I am about to trace, I shall not heed
the irregularities of countenance, nor frontal protube-
rances, nor occipital bumps : the indications I shall fur-


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Online LibraryUnknownAutobiography, a collection of the most instructive and amusing lives ever published (Volume 28) → online text (page 1 of 21)