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LA VAUDERIE.

“ J'ay veu grant Vauderie
En Arras pulluler,
Gens plein de rederie
Par jugement brusler."

Joh. MOLINET. I would lay a trifle, gentle reader (any thing you please under a crown) that you do not recollect * what Vauderie is; and therein, some will say, “ your state is the more gracious.” For, exclusive of that, the thing is in itself, like the Knight's pancakes, "naught."—What, I pray you, is all knowledge, whether of good or of evil, but “the fruit of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste" brought into the world the censorship, the law of libel, and the Constitutional Society,-a fruit of which the Emperor of Austria sayeth to his subjects, "the less you eat, the better.” But, granting,—what cannot be disputed with a worse argument than three hundred thousand bayonets,—that the Emperor of Austria knows what's best for his own subjects (and his worst enemies cannot say that he dispraises the dish in order to have it all to himself), yet you and I, “my public,” are not, I thank Heaven for it, of his parish; and therefore, all new international law notwithstanding, under no necessity of crying at his sermons. I shall, then,–let the said Emperor take it as he pleases,-proceed to give you my notions on the subject of “ Vauderie ;" and it is the more necessary to know something of the matter, inasmuch as it is a relick of those good old times, which read so well in novels and in manifestoes, and for the revival of which, so much of the best blood in Christendom, ay, and what's more, of the best gold in Threadneedle-street, has been shed without stint or forbearance. Besides, I do not absolutely despair of .hearing a belief in Vauderie once more declared, as it was of old,"part and parcel of the common law of the land.”

To define Vauderie after the manner of lexicographers and encyclopedists, it is--in political economy a branch of finance,—in theology, an heresy,–in the arts, a method of aërial vectitation,--and in commerce, a species of barter, that is, or has been contraband, by all the laws of the civilized world. Now the practice of Vauderie is in this wise :

He, or she (for in this affair, the gender makes little difference), who would " Aller en Vauderie," must first make provision of a certain ointment, with which the palms of the hands must be anointed, as must also a small switch, which is then to be placed between the legs; when, forthwith the party is carried through the air, and brought to a vast assembly, where there stand tables loaded with good cheer, - but where,--saving your presence—the "evil one" presides "en vrai Amphitryon," in the form of a goat, with a monkey's (prehensile ?) tail. To this feast, however, you are not invited gratis. The price of admission is an act of homage (you cannot get into Almack's under a dozen at least, and plenty of antichambering to boot) which is paid to his

Observe, I do not say “don't know;" for none but your political critic has a right to presume on the ignorance of his reader, and to hector and rhodomontade, as if nobody ever read a book but himself. I observe the decencies of literature ; and if you will do me justice, so ; if not, have the goodness to write the next article yourself.

black highness under a form so extraordinary that I must give it you in the quaint old French of my author. Puis baisoient le diable en forme de boucq au derriere avec candeilles ardentes." This the country gentlemen must not expect me to translate; or to explain farther than by saying, that it is a middle term between doing homage to the Pope, and saluting one's grandmother. After this act of reverence to old horney,” the candidate for admission marks his disrespect for "all good angels,” by an attitude * which at Eton is considered as the last proof of canonical obedience to the powers that be. Here let me obiter remark, that the devil acts more fairly by his servants than the government of France; which when it purchases of the people an act of homage in the form of Vive le Roi, by a donative of tongues and sausages, bribes the poor dupes with money taken out of their own pockets ; whereas what the Devil gives for supper is beyond dispute his peculium, or private property, and a real largesse to his admirers.

These trifling ceremonies performed, you go to supper, “ with what appetite you may," and then—but I think I may as well translate no farther, «

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que les oreilles innocentes ne fussent aterties de si villaines choses.” By this time, reader, you will have formed a shrewd guess that Vauderie is nothing more nor less than that rather darkcoloured art, of which Sir Matthew Hale avers there is no doubting the reality, seeing that divers acts of parliament have been passed to punish its practice :-a species of non sequitur by the way, in the use of which that great lawyer is by no means singular: Credo quia impossibile est, being at least as much a maxim of law as of theology. The fact is, that the same fooleries and indecencies of which the royal hero of

Nigel” was wont to accuse the victims of his “ doings” against witchcraft, had in France, some century or more before, been imputed by an excess of malignity to a religious sect, known by the name of Vaudois, whose members were the precursors of Calvin and Luther. Barbarous as were the times, yet the humanity of the people revolted against persecution for conscience sake; and it was thought expedient by the supporters of establishments in that day to calumniate those innovators they hated and feared, before they ventured to destroy them.

Le Clercq, in his Mémoires, gives a curious account of a crusade against the Vaudois which took place in Arras in the year 1459, in which the bigotry and superstition of the inquisitors seem to have degenerated into a mere thirst for plunder. The principles adopted in the trial of those accused of this crime were the same which are known to have directed the ordinary proceedings of the Inquisition. The rack was employed, not only to extort confession of his own offences from the accused, but to force from him testimony for inculpating others. No one was permitted to succour an individual when once arrested ; and not even father, brother, mother, or sister, could interfere in the process, without subjecting themselves to be included in the accusation. The most insidious solicitations and false promises were held out to seduce those to confess, whom pain and fear could not overcome: and the confession once made was inevitably turned against the accused, and read to the people assembled at the execution, as a

* “ Puis monstroient le cu devers le ciel et le firmament, en despit de Dieu."

justification of the procedure, and a bar to sympathy or assistance. Thus every fresh victim became the instrument for putting on their trial all the individuals within the range of his personal knowledge; for as long as torture was applied, men were forced to give utterance to whatever passed through their minds; and the rack was continued till memory and imagination were exhausted ; and nothing new, either of truth or falsehood, remained to be extorted.

Thus the fanaticism of the people was preserved at its boiling point, and the suffragan Bishop of Arras, one of the most zealous in the conduct of these infamies, even lost his senses from the exaltation of his bigotry; unless, indeed, he became insane through the goading of a conscience ulcerated by reiterated murders. So heated was his imagination, that he continually declared in all assemblies that many bishops and cardinals were "en Vauderie ;" and that so numerous were those who thus allied themselves with the Devil, that they wanted but a sovereign prince to join them in order to overthrow the whole Christian world.

The horror excited in the public mind by these events, rendered Arras the scandal of all France. A citizen of that time could scarcely obtain a lodging in a public inn ; and such was the dread of the daily confiscations which in these cases followed conviction, that all who had lent money to an Arras merchant, hastened to call it in before the bishop and the feudal chief could seize on the debtor's effects, and divide the property between them.

Encouraged by their success, the inquisitors proceeded to attack persons of greater consequence; and amongst others they fixed upon a certain Seigneur de Beauffort, who, escaping from their search, appealed to the Duke of Burgundy. The duke, in consequence, assembled a council of the most learned men in his dominions to consult upon the case. Of these, some denied in toto the possibility of the offence; others credited the accusation, but attributed the phenomena to mental illusion, or to deceits practised on the credulous; while some held it “ blasphemous" to deny that supernatural agency, which was a direct corollary from the established religion. After this consultation a deputation was forwarded from these “ sad and learned" personages, to examine into the matter on the spot, and to superintend the processes going on before the Bishop at Arras. They were, by the Duke's order, accompanied by his herald Toison d'or ;" because, says the chronicle, it was asserted that “only the rich were accused, for the sake of confiscation, at which the Duke was greatly troubled."

What private instructions these men received, does not appear; but that they were hostile to the procedure, may be collected, from the more favourable treatment of the prisoners, and from the fact that no new processes were commenced after this time. Notwithstanding, however, the presence of the deputation, Beauffort and three other persons were condemned. Beauffort was sentenced to be scourged, to be confined for seven years, and to pay enormous fines to different churches and monasteries : two others were sentenced to similar punishments; and the fourth, who had resisted the rack with the greatest firmness, was burned alive. After a lapse of two years, Beauffort's family appealed to the Parliament of Paris ; and, armed with their warrant, and a good truop of horse, they forced the Bishop's

prison, and liberated the accused. But, notwithstanding all their interest and the right of their case, they never succeeded in reversing the sentence, or bringing the matter to a final decision. How many persons were burned under this infamous process is not stated; but from the context it should appear that the number was very great. According to Le Clercq's account, almost all the accused were brought to acknowledge their guilt, either by the torture, or the false promises of their persecutors, that, if they confessed, they would be let off with a short penance, whereas (it was intimated) they would certainly be burned if they persisted in a denial. When brought to the stake, many made loud complaints of this treachery, and publicly accused the prosecutors of their falsehood: but this declaration of innocence was, by the malice of the torturers, construed into a fresh cbedience to the Devil, “ de quelles choses," says our author, " je m'attens à Dieu.

Such then, gentle reader, was La Vauderie," which in its day was, no doubt, regarded as a useful prop to authority; and which, considering the tendency of events, may, as I have said, again become fashionable with the “ Eteignoirs" of the Holy Alliance. It is true that the judges of the land have recently declared against the reality of witchcraft in a very edifying manner; but I should like to hear Mr. Justice this, or My Lord Chief that, persist in such heresy, if a quintuple alliance should agree that La Vauderie is a valuable part of the social system, and one of the best pieces in the marqueterie of their religious mosaics. The revival of the penal laws against the black art in Europe might in various ways be turned to a good account ; and the measure might the more safely be adopted by the oi ev telet, the successors of Napoleon, as there is little apprehension that the weapon would be turned against themselves, common report and notoriety, amply testifying that they are “no conjurors." The Carbonari, for instance, those night-mares of despotism, might thus very conveniently be rendered formidable to all other old women, and put down without fear or hesitation. Their profession would give some colour to the charge; and no one could doubt that they were at least “bewitched," since their infatuation extends to offering offence to such rulers, and that, spurning at the numerous comforts provided by their paternal government, they presume to look for a gratior libertas than that which Italy enjoys under the pious sway of the father-in-law of the Ex-Emperor of France. But not to travel from home, are we not pestered with reprobates, who, in order “to raise the wind," would not hesitate to go twenty times to the Devil? which seems to come very nearly within the definition of the black art ; and would, in the eye of the law, render the offenders amenable to a more summary justice than is to be had under the insolvent act. The penal laws against witchcraft might likewise become supplementary to the libel laws, inasmuch as they would evidently embrace the case of those who sell themselves to the (printer’s) devil.

They might farther be turned to good account in keeping down a superfluous population. For if poverty be primâ facie evidence against those suspected of other crimes, why not in the case of witchcraft also ? Too many, indeed, of our countrymen are known to be driven on the

* Literally, Colliers.

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practice of various black arts by the pressure of the times; and nothing is more reasonable to suppose than that they who have not a guinea on the face of the earth, should be desirous to change their element, and mount into the air, if it were only to escape from their creditors. The very circumstance of their having the “ Devil in their pocket,”:would tell against them.

Not the smallest advantage derivable from this project would be the facility with which his Majesty's ministers might get rid of Mr. H— by burning him for a witch. For they might most conscientiously swear that he is consuming them night after night by a slow fire. This much, indeed, is certain, that more than one of them has shewn himself eager to draw blood from that gentleman, which could only proceed from their apprehension of his casting figures and preventing the butter from coming when they churn.

The revival of these laws would also operate against a certain institution for the subjugation of literature ; for assuredly, "the Devil was in” the parties who first hit on such a wild-goose scheme: and it is farther to be remarked, that the powers of casting their readers into a deep sleep, which are evinced by some of its members, exceed all that we read of the myrtle sprig which the Devil gave to Lewis's Monk, and can only be attributed to the same infernal agency. Another race of evil-doers, whose operations would be restrained by these laws, is that of the porter-brewers, whose cauldrons "bubble bubble, toil and trouble," with ingredients, than which the witches in Macbeth could produce nothing more deleterious. I need say nothing to the opponents of Catholic emancipation. The alliance of the Pope and the Devil is of ancient standing; and to deal with the one is plainly to deal with the other.

An attorney, they say, is “ match for the Devil ;” and his bill of costs, the Devil in propria persona.

These sable-suited gentry may therefore be safely trusted to the operations of the revived law, by which their bills and themselves will be committed to the same fire.

From these numerous advantages there are, to be sure, some drawbacks. The New Monthly Magazine, for instance, must forego all commerce with several “ comical Devils," who are wont to set their readers in a roar. Grimm's Ghost must no more be evoked ; and “the devilish good fun” of Peter Pindaric must thenceforward slumber in oblivion. Our readers will likewise no longer be " enchanted” by divine poesy.

Another important consideration is, that the Corinthians and Tom and Jerry boys will no more be permitted to " play the Devil;" which will be a heavy loss to society, "eclipsing the gaiety of nations," and diminishing the “ harmless amusement” of the worthiest members of the community.

All things, however, considered, the balance is decidedly in favour of the project; and as soon as Louis “ of the large stomach” shall have brought back the Inquisition into Spain, there is little room for doubt that a rider will be tacked to his next decree for abolishing the English Parliament, which shall enjoin all good Christians to believe in witchcraft, and condemn to the flames all that are Vauderie" with the dæmon of Liberty, possessed of a (reasoning) devil, or dare to utter the cabalistical word-Constitution.

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