THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET A Sequel to “The Murder in the Rue Morgue” by Edgar Allan Poe

A Sequel to “The Murder in the Rue Morgue”
by Edgar Allan Poe

There are ideal series of events which run parallel with the real
ones. They rarely coincide. Men and circumstances generally modify the
ideal train of events, so that it seems imperfect, and its
consequences are equally imperfect. Thus with the Reformation; instead
of Protestantism came Lutheranism.

Novalis. Moral Ansichten.

Upon the original publication of “Marie Roget,” the footnotes now
appended were considered unnecessary; but the lapse of several years
since the tragedy upon which the tale is based, renders it expedient
to give them, and also to say a few words in explanation of the

general design. A young girl, Mary Cecilia Rogers, was murdered in the
vicinity of New York; and although her death occasioned an intense and
long-enduring excitement, the mystery attending it had remained
unsolved at the period when the present paper was written and
published (November, 1842). Herein, under pretence of relating the
fate of a Parisian grisette, the author has followed, in minute
detail, the essential, while merely paralleling the inessential, facts
of the real murder of Mary Rogers. Thus all argument founded upon
the fiction is applicable to the truth: and the investigation of the
truth was the object.
The “Mystery of Marie Roget” was composed at a distance from the
scene of the atrocity, and with no other means of investigation than
the newspapers afforded. Thus much escaped the writer of which he
could have availed himself had he been upon the spot and visited the
localities. It may not be improper to record, nevertheless, that the
confessions of two persons (one of them the Madame Deluc of the
narrative), made, at different periods, long subsequent to the
publication, confirmed, in full, not only the general conclusion,
but absolutely all the chief hypothetical details by which that
conclusion was attained.
THERE ARE few persons, even among the calmest thinkers, who have not
occasionally been startled into a vague yet thrilling half-credence in
the supernatural, by coincidences of so seemingly marvellous a
character that, as mere coincidences, the intellect has been unable to
receive them. Such sentiments- for the half-credences of which I speak
have never the full force of thought- such sentiments are seldom
thoroughly stifled unless by reference to the doctrine of chance,
or, as it is technically termed, the Calculus of Probabilities. Now
this Calculus is, in its essence, purely mathematical; and thus we
have the anomaly of the most rigidly exact in science applied to the
shadow and spirituality of the most intangible in speculation.
The extraordinary details which I am now called upon to make public,
will be found to form, as regards sequence of time, the primary branch
of a series of scarcely intelligible coincidences, whose secondary
or concluding branch will be recognized by all readers in the late
murder of MARY CECILIA ROGERS, at New York.
When, in an article entitled “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” I
endeavored, about a year ago, to depict some very remarkable
features in the mental character of my friend, the Chevalier C.
Auguste Dupin, it did not occur to me that I should ever resume the
subject. This depicting of character constituted my design; and this
design was thoroughly fulfilled in the wild train of circumstances
brought to instance Dupin’s idiosyncrasy. I might have adduced other
examples, but I should have proven no more. Late events, however, in
their surprising development, have startled me into some farther
details, which will carry with them the air of extorted confession.
Hearing what I have lately heard, it would be indeed strange should
I remain silent in regard to what I both heard and saw so long ago.
Upon the winding up of the tragedy involved in the deaths of
Madame L’Espanaye and her daughter, the Chevalier dismissed the affair
at once from his attention, and relapsed into his old habits of
moody revery. Prone, at all times, to abstraction, I readily fell in
with his humor; and continuing to occupy our chambers in the
Faubourg Saint Germain, we gave the Future to the winds, and slumbered
tranquilly in the Present, weaving the dull world around us into
But these dreams were not altogether uninterrupted. It may readily
be supposed that the part played by my friend, in the drama at the Rue
Morgue had not failed of its impression upon the fancies of the
Parisian police. With its emissaries, the name of Dupin had grown into
a household word. The simple character of those inductions by which he
had disentangled the mystery never having been explained even to the
Prefect, or to any other individual than myself, of course it is not
surprising that the affair was regarded as little less than
miraculous, or that the Chevalier’s analytical abilities acquired
for him the credit of intuition. His frankness would have led him to
disabuse every inquirer of such prejudice; but his indolent humor
forbade all further agitation of a topic whose interest to himself had
long ceased. It thus happened that he found himself the cynosure of
the political eyes; and the cases were not few in which attempt was
made to engage his services at the Prefecture. One of the most
remarkable instances was that of the murder of a young girl named
Marie Roget.
This event occurred about two years after the atrocity in the Rue
Morgue. Marie, whose Christian and family name will at once arrest
attention from their resemblance to those of the unfortunate
“cigar-girl” was the only daughter of the widow Estelle Roget. The
father had died during the child’s infancy, and from the period of his
death, until within eighteen months before the assassination which
forms the subject of our narrative, the mother and daughter had
dwelt together in the Rue Pavee Saint Andree;* Madame there keeping
a pension, assisted by Marie. Affairs went on thus until the latter
had attained her twenty-second year, when her great beauty attracted
the notice of a perfumer, who occupied one of the shops in the
basement of the Palais Royal, and whose custom lay, chiefly among
the desperate adventurers infesting that neighborhood. Monsieur Le
Blanc*(2) was not unaware of the advantages to be derived from the
attendance of the fair Marie in his perfumery; and his liberal
proposals were accepted eagerly by the girl, although with somewhat
more of hesitation by Madame.

* Nassau Street
*(2) Anderson

The anticipations of the shopkeeper were realized, and his rooms
soon became notorious through the charms of the sprightly grisette.
She had been in his employ about a year, when her admirers were thrown
into confusion by her sudden disappearance from the shop. Monsieur
Le Blanc was unable to account for her absence, and Madame Roget was
distracted with anxiety and terror. The public papers immediately took
up the theme, and the police were upon the point of making serious
investigations, when, one fine morning, after the lapse of a week,
Marie, in good health, but with a somewhat saddened air, made her
re-appearance at her usual counter in the perfumery. All inquiry,
except that of a private character, was of course, immediately hushed.
Monsieur Le Blanc professed total ignorance, as before. Marie, with
Madame, replied to all questions, that the last week had been spent at
the house of a relation in the country. Thus the affair died away, and
was generally forgotten; for the girl, ostensibly to relieve herself
from the impertinence of curiosity soon bade a final adieu to the
perfumer, and sought the shelter of her mother’s residence in the
Rue Pavee Saint Andree.
It was about five months after this return home, that her friends
were alarmed by her sudden disappearance for the second time. Three
days elapsed, and nothing was heard of her. On the fourth her corpse
was found floating in the Seine* near the shore which is opposite
the Quartier of the Rue Saint Andre, and at a point not very far
distant from the secluded neighborhood of the Barriere du Roule.*(2)

* The Hudson
*(2) Weehawken

The atrocity of this murder (for it was at once evident that
murder had been committed), the youth and beauty of the victim, and,
above all her previous notoriety, conspired to produce intense
excitement in the minds of the sensitive Parisians. I can call to mind
no similar occurrence producing so general and so intense an effect.
For several weeks, in the discussion of this one absorbing theme, even
the momentous political topics of the day were forgotten. The
Prefect made unusual exertions; and the powers of the whole Parisian
police were, of course, tasked to the utmost extent.
Upon the first discovery of the corpse, it was not supposed that the
murderer would be able to elude, for more than a very brief period,
the inquisition which was immediately set on foot. It was not until
the expiration of a week that it was deemed necessary to offer a
reward; and even then this reward was limited to a thousand francs. In
the meantime the investigation proceeded with vigor, if not always
with judgment, and numerous individuals were examined to no purpose;
while, owing to the continual absence of all clew to the mystery,
the popular excitement greatly increased. At the end of the tenth
day it was thought advisable to double the sum originally proposed;
and, at length, the second week having elapsed without leading to
any discoveries, and the prejudice which always exists in Paris
against the Police having given vent to itself in several serious
emeutes, the Prefect took it upon himself to offer the sum of twenty
thousand francs “for the conviction of the assassin,” or, if more than
one should prove to have been implicated, “for the conviction of any
one of the assassins.” In the proclamation setting forth this
reward, a full pardon was promised to any accomplice who should come
forward in evidence against his fellow; and to the whole was appended,
wherever it appeared, the private placard of a committee of
citizens, offering ten thousand francs, in addition to the amount
proposed by the Prefecture. The entire reward thus stood at no less
than thirty thousand francs, which will be regarded as an
extraordinary sum when we consider the humble condition of the girl,
and the great frequency, in large cities, of such atrocities as the
one described.
No one doubted now that the mystery of this murder would be
immediately brought to light. But although, in one or two instances,
arrests were made which promised elucidation, yet nothing was elicited
which could implicate the parties suspected; and they were
discharged forthwith. Strange as it may appear, the third week from
the discovery of the body had passed, and passed without any light
being thrown upon the subject, before even a rumor of the events which
had so agitated the public mind reached the ears of Dupin and
myself. Engaged in researches which had absorbed our whole
attention, it had been nearly a month since either of us had gone
abroad, or received a visitor, or more than glanced at the leading
political articles in one of the daily papers. The first
intelligence of the murder was brought us by G–, in person. He called
upon us early in the afternoon of the thirteenth of July, 18-, and
remained with us until late in the night. He had been piqued by the
failure of all his endeavors to ferret out the assassins. His
reputation- so he said with a peculiarly Parisian air- was at stake.
Even his honor was concerned. The eyes of the public were upon him;
and there was really no sacrifice which he would not be willing to
make for the development of the mystery. He concluded a somewhat droll
speech with a compliment upon what he was pleased to term the tact
of Dupin, and made him a direct and certainly a liberal proposition,
the precise nature of which I do not feel myself at liberty to
disclose, but which has no bearing upon the proper subject of my
The compliment my friend rebutted as best he could, but the
proposition he accepted at once, although its advantages were
altogether provisional. This point being settled, the Prefect broke
forth at once into explanations of his own views, interspersing them
with long comments upon the evidence; of which latter we were not
yet in possession. He discoursed much and, beyond doubt, learnedly;
while I hazarded an occasional suggestion as the night wore drowsily
away. Dupin, sitting steadily in his accustomed armchair, was the
embodiment of respectful attention. He wore spectacles, during the
whole interview; and an occasional glance beneath their green
glasses sufficed to convince me that he slept not the less soundly,
because silently, throughout the seven or eight leaden-footed hours
which immediately preceded the departure of the Prefect.
In the morning, I procured, at the Prefecture, a full report of
all the evidence elicited, and, at the various newspaper offices, a
copy of every paper in which, from first to last, had been published
any decisive information in regard to this sad affair. Freed from
all that was positively disproved, this mass of information stood
Marie Roget left the residence of her mother, in the Rue Pavee St.
Andree, about nine o’clock in the morning of Sunday, June the twenty
second, 18-. In going out, she gave notice to a Monsieur Jacques St.
Eustache,* and to him only, of her intention to spend the day with
an aunt, who resided in the Rue des Dromes. The Rue des Dromes is a
short and narrow but populous thoroughfare, not far from the banks
of the river, and at a distance of some two miles, in the most
direct course possible, from the pension of Madame Roget. St. Eustache
was the accepted suitor of Marie, and lodged, as well as took his
meals, at the pension. He was to have gone for his betrothed at
dusk, and to have escorted her home. In the afternoon, however, it
came on to rain heavily; and, supposing that she would remain all
night at her aunt’s (as she had done under similar circumstances
before), he did not think it necessary to keep his promise. As night
drew on, Madame Roget (who was an infirm old lady, seventy years of
age) was heard to express a fear “that she should never see Marie
again;” but this observation attracted little attention at the time.

* Payne

On Monday it was ascertained that the girl had not been to the Rue
des Dromes; and when the day elapsed without tidings of her, a tardy
search was instituted at several points in the city and its
environs. It was not, however, until the fourth day from the period of
her disappearance that any thing satisfactory was ascertained
respecting her. On this day (Wednesday, the twenty-fifth of June) a
Monsieur Beauvais,* who, with a friend, had been making inquiries
for Marie near the Barriere du Roule, on the shore of the Seine
which is opposite the Rue Pavee St. Andree, was informed that a corpse
had just been towed ashore by some fishermen, who had found it
floating in the river. Upon seeing the body, Beauvais, after some
hesitation, identified it as that of the perfumery-girl. His friend
recognized it more promptly.

* Crommelin

The face was suffused with dark blood, some of which issued from the
mouth. No foam was seen, as in the case of the merely drowned. There
was no discoloration in the cellular tissue. About the throat were
bruises and impressions of fingers. The arms were bent over on the
chest, and were rigid. The right hand was clenched; the left partially
open. On the left wrist were two circular excoriations, apparently the
effect of ropes, or of a rope in more than one volution. A part of the
right wrist, also, was much chafed, as well as the back throughout its
extent, but more especially at the shoulder-blades. In bringing the
body to the shore the fishermen had attached to it a rope, but none of
the excorations had been effected by this. The flesh of the neck was
much swollen. There were no cuts apparent, or bruises which appeared
the effect of blows. A piece of lace was found tied so tightly
around the neck as to be hidden from sight; it was completely buried
in the flesh, and was fastened by a knot which lay just under the left
ear. This alone would have sufficed to produce death. The medical
testimony spoke confidently of the virtuous character of the deceased.
She had been subjected, it said, to brutal violence. The corpse was in
such condition when found, that there could have been no difficulty in
its recognition by friends.
The dress was much torn and otherwise disordered. In the outer
garment, a slip, about a foot wide, had been torn upward from the
bottom hem to the waist, but not torn off. It was wound three times
around the waist, and secured by a sort of hitch in the back. The
dress immediately beneath the frock was of fine muslin; and from
this a slip eighteen inches wide had been torn entirely out-torn
very evenly and with great care. It was found around her neck, fitting
loosely, and secured with a hard knot. Over this muslin slip and the
slip of lace the strings of a bonnet were attached, the bonnet being
appended. The knot by which the strings of the bonnet were fastened
was not a lady’s, but a slip or sailors knot.
After the recognition of the corpse, it was not, as usual, taken
to the Morgue (this formality being superfluous), but hastily interred
not far from the spot at which it was brought ashore. Through the
exertions of Beauvais, the matter was industriously hushed up, as
far as possible; and several days had elapsed before any public
emotion resulted. A weekly paper,* however, at length took up the
theme; the corpse was disinterred, and a re-examination instituted;
but nothing was elicited beyond what has been already noted. The
clothes, however, were now submitted to the mother and friends of
the deceased, and fully identified as those worn by the girl upon
leaving home.

* The New York Mercury.

Meantime, the excitement increased hourly. Several individuals
were arrested and discharged. St. Eustache fell especially under
suspicion; and he failed, at first, to give an intelligible account of
his whereabouts during the Sunday on which Marie left home.
Subsequently, however, he submitted to Monsieur G–, affidavits,
accounting satisfactorily for every hour of the day in question. As
time passed and no discovery ensued, a thousand contradictory rumors
were circulated and journalists busied themselves in suggestions.
Among these, the one which attracted the most notice, was the idea
that Marie Roget still lived- that the corpse found in the Seine was
that of some other unfortunate. It will be proper that I submit to the
reader some passages which embody the suggestion alluded to. These
passages are literal translations from L’Etoile,* a paper conducted,
in general, with much ability.

* The New York Brother Jonathon, edited by H. Hastings Weld, Esq.

“Mademoiselle Roget left her mother’s house on Sunday morning,
June the twenty-second, 18-, with the ostensible purpose of going to
see her aunt, or some other connection, in the Rue des Dromes. From
that hour, nobody is proved to have seen her. There is no trace or
tidings of her at all…. There has no person, whatever, come forward,
so far, who saw her at all in that day, after she left her mother’s
door…. Now, though we have no evidence that Marie Roget was in the
land of the living after nine o’clock on Sunday, June the
twenty-second, we have proof that, up to that hour, she was alive.
On Wednesday noon, at twelve, a female body was discovered afloat on
the shore of the Barriere du Roule. This was, even if we presume
that Marie Roget was thrown into the river within three hours after
she left her mother’s house, only three days from the time she left
her home- three days to an hour. But it is folly to suppose that the
murder, if murder was committed on her body, could have been
consummated soon enough to have enabled her murderers to throw the
body into the river before midnight. Those who are guilty of such
horrid crimes choose darkness rather than light… Thus we see that if
the body found in the river was that of Marie Roget it could only have
been in the water two and a half days, or three at the outside. All
experience has shown that drowned bodies, or bodies thrown into the
water immediately after death by violence, require from six to ten
days for sufficient decomposition to take place to bring them to the
top of the water. Even where a cannon is fired over a corpse, and it
rises before at least five or six days’ immersion, it sinks again,
if left alone. Now, we ask, what was there in this case to cause a
departure from the ordinary course of nature?… If the body had
been kept in its mangled state on shore until Tuesday night some trace
would be found in shore of the murderers. It is a doubtful point,
also, whether the body would be so soon afloat, even were it thrown in
after having been dead two days. And, furthermore, it is exceedingly
improbable that any villains who had committed such a murder as is
here supposed, would have thrown the body in without weight to sink
it, when such a precaution could have so easily been taken.”
The editor here proceeds to argue that the body must have been in
the water “not three days merely, but, at least, five times three
days,” because it was so far decomposed that Beauvais had great
difficulty in recognizing it. This latter point, however, was fully
disproved. I continue the translation:
“What, then, are the facts on which M. Beauvais says that he had
no doubt the body was that of Marie Roget? He ripped up the gown
sleeve, and says he found marks which satisfied him of the identity.
The public generally supposed those marks to have consisted of some
description of scars. He rubbed the arm and found hair upon it-
something as indefinite, we think, as can readily be imagined- as
little conclusive as finding an arm in the sleeve. M. Beauvais did not
return that night, but sent word to Madame Roget, at seven o’clock, on
Wednesday evening, that an investigation was still in progress
respecting her daughter. If we allow that Madame Roget, from her age
and grief, could not go over (which is allowing a great deal), there
certainly must have been some one who would have thought it worth
while to go over and attend the investigation, if they thought the
body was that of Marie. Nobody went over. There was nothing said or
heard about the matter in the Rue Pavee St. Andree, that reached
even the occupants of the same building. M. St. Eustache, the lover
and intended husband of Marie, who boarded in her mother’s house,
deposes that he did not hear of the discovery of the body of his
intended until the next morning, when M. Beauvais came into his
chamber and told him of it. For an item of news like this, it
strikes us it was very coolly received.”
In this way the journal endeavored to create the impression of an
apathy on the part of the relatives of Marie, inconsistent with the
supposition that these relatives believed the corpse to be hers. Its
insinuations amount to this:- that Marie, with the connivance of her
friends, had absented herself from the city for reasons involving a
charge against her chastity; and that these friends upon the discovery
of a corpse in the Seine, somewhat resembling that of the girl, had
availed themselves of the opportunity to impress the public with the
belief of her death. But L’Etoile was again overhasty. It was
distinctly proved that no apathy, such as was imagined, existed;
that the old lady was exceedingly feeble, and so agitated as to be
unable to attend to any duty; that St. Eustache, so far from receiving
the news coolly, was distracted with grief, and bore himself so
frantically, that M. Beauvais prevailed upon a friend and relative
to take charge of him, and prevent his attending the examination at
the disinterment. Moreover, although it was stated by L’Etoile, that
the corpse was re-interred at the public expense,- that an
advantageous offer of private sepulture was absolutely declined by the
family,- and that no member of the family attended the ceremonial:-
although, I say, all this was asserted by L’Etoile in furtherance of
the impression it designed to convey- yet all this was
satisfactorily disproved. In a subsequent number of the paper, an
attempt was made to throw suspicion upon Beauvais himself. The
editor says:
“Now, then, a change comes over the matter. We are told that, on one
occasion, while a Madame B- was at Madame Roget’s house, M.
Beauvais, who was going out, told her that a gendarme was expected
there, and that she, Madame B., must not say any thing to the gendarme
until he returned, but let the matter be for him…. In the present
posture of affairs, M. Beauvais appears to have the whole matter
locked up in his head. A single step cannot be taken without M.
Beauvais, for, go which way you will you run against him…. For
some reason he determined that nobody shall have anything to do with
the proceedings but himself, and he has elbowed the male relatives out
of the way, according to their representations, in a very singular
manner. He seems to have been very much averse to permitting the
relatives to see the body.”
By the following fact, some color was given to the suspicion thus
thrown upon Beauvais. A visitor at his office, a few days prior to the
girl’s disappearance, and during the absence of its occupant, had
observed a rose in the key-hole of the door, and the name “Marie”
inscribed upon a slate which hung near at hand.
The general impression, so far as we were enabled to glean it from
the newspapers, seemed to be, that Marie had been the victim of a gang
of desperadoes- that by these she had been borne across the river,
maltreated, and murdered. Le Commerciel,* however, a print of
extensive influence, was earnest in combatting this popular idea. I
quote a passage or two from its columns:

* New York Journal of Commerce

“We are persuaded that pursuit has hitherto been on a false scent,
so far as it has been directed to the Barriere du Roule. It is
impossible that a person so well known to thousands as this young
woman was, should have passed three blocks without some one having
seen her; and any one who saw her would have remembered it, for she
interested all who knew her. It was when the streets were full of
people, when she went out…. It is impossible that she could have
gone to the Barriere du Roule, or to the Rue des Dromes, without being
recognized by a dozen persons; yet no one has come forward who saw her
outside of her mother’s door, and there is no evidence, except the
testimony concerning her expressed intentions, that she did go out
at all. Her gown was torn, bound round her, and tied; and by that
the body was carried as a bundle. If the murder had been committed
at the Barriere du Roule, there would have been no necessity for any
such arrangement. The fact that the body was found floating near the
Barriere, is no proof as to where it was thrown into the water…. A
piece of one of the unfortunate girl’s petticoats, two feet long and
one foot wide, was torn out and tied under her chin around the back of
her head, probably to prevent screams. This was done by fellows who
had no pocket-handkerchief.”
A day or two before the Prefect called upon us, however, some
important information reached the police, which seemed to overthrow,
at least, the chief portion of Le Commerciel’s argument. Two small
boys, sons of a Madame Deluc, while roaming among the woods near the
Barriere du Roule, chanced to penetrate a close thicket, within
which were three or four large stones, forming a kind of seat with a
back and footstool. On the upper stone lay a white petticoat; on the
second, a silk scarf. A parasol, gloves, and a pocket-handkerchief
were also here found. The handkerchief bore the name “Marie Roget.”
Fragments of dress were discovered on the brambles around. The earth
was trampled, the bushes were broken, and there was every evidence
of a struggle. Between the thicket and the river, the fences were
found taken down, and the ground bore evidence of some heavy burthen
having been dragged along it.
A weekly paper, Le Soleil,* had the following comments upon this
discovery- comments which merely echoed the sentiment of the whole
Parisian press:

* Philadelphia Saturday Evening Post, edited by C. I. Peterson, Esq.

“The things had all evidently been there at least three or four
weeks; they were all mildewed down hard with the action of the rain,
and stuck together from mildew. The grass had grown around and over
some of them. The silk on the parasol was strong, but the threads of
it were run together within. The upper part, where it had been doubled
and folded, was all mildewed and rotten, and tore on its being
opened…. The pieces of her frock torn out by the bushes were about
three inches wide and six inches long. One part was the hem of the
frock, and it had been mended; the other piece was part of the
skirt, not the hem. They looked like strips torn off, and were on
the thorn bush, about a foot from the ground…. There can be no
doubt, therefore, that the spot of this appalling outrage has been
Consequent upon this discovery, new evidence appeared. Madame
Deluc testified that she keeps a roadside inn not far from the bank of
the river, opposite the Barriere du Roule. The neighborhood is
secluded- particularly so. It is the usual Sunday resort of
blackguards from the city, who cross the river in boats. About three
o’clock, in the afternoon of the Sunday in question, a young girl
arrived at the inn, accompanied by a young man of dark complexion. The
two remained here for some time. On their departure, they took the
road to some thick woods in the vicinity. Madame Deluc’s attention was
called to the dress worn by the girl, on account of its resemblance to
one worn by a deceased relative. A scarf was particularly noticed.
Soon after the departure of the couple, a gang of miscreants made
their appearance, behaved boisterously, ate and drank without making
payment, followed in the route of the young man and girl, returned
to the inn about dusk, and re-crossed the river as if in great haste.
It was soon after dark, upon this same evening, that Madame Deluc,
as well as her eldest son, heard the screams of a female in the
vicinity of the inn. The screams were violent but brief. Madame D.
recognized not only the scarf which was found in the thicket, but
the dress which was discovered upon the corpse. An omnibus-driver,
Valence,* now also testified that he saw Marie Roget cross a ferry
on the Seine, on the Sunday in question, in company with a young man
of dark complexion. He, Valence, knew Marie, and could not be mistaken
in her identity. The articles found in the thicket were fully
identified by the relatives of Marie.

* Adam

The items of evidence and information thus collected by myself, from
the newspapers, at the suggestion of Dupin, embraced only one more
point- but this was a point of seemingly vast consequence. It
appears that, immediately after the discovery of the clothes as
above described, the lifeless or nearly lifeless body of St. Eustache,
Marie’s betrothed, was found in the vicinity of what all now
supposed the scene of the outrage. A phial labelled “laudanum,” and
emptied, was found near him. His breath gave evidence of the poison.
He died without speaking. Upon his person was found a letter,
briefly stating his love for Marie, with his design of
“I need scarcely tell you,” said Dupin, as he finished the perusal
of my notes, “that this is a far more intricate case than that of
the Rue Morgue; from which it differs in one important respect. This
is an ordinary, although an atrocious, instance of crime. There is
nothing peculiarly outre about it. You will observe that, for this
reason, the mystery has been considered easy, when, for this reason,
it should have been considered difficult, of solution. Thus, at first,
it was thought unnecessary to offer a reward. The myrmidons of G- were
able at once to comprehend how and why such an atrocity might have
been committed. They could picture to their imaginations a mode-
many modes- and a motive- many motives; and because it was not
impossible that either of these numerous modes or motives could have
been the actual one, they have taken it for granted that one of them
must. But the ease with which these variable fancies were entertained,
and the very plausibility which each assumed, should have been
understood as indicative rather of the difficulties than of the
facilities which must attend elucidation. I have before observed
that it is by prominences above the plane of the ordinary, that reason
feels her way, if at all, in her search for the true, and that the
proper question in cases such as this, is not so much ‘what has
occurred?’ as ‘what has occurred that has never occurred before?’ In
the investigations at the house of Madame L’Espanaye,* the agents of
G- were discouraged and confounded by that very unusualness which,
to a properly regulated intellect, would have afforded the surest omen
of success; while this same intellect might have been plunged in
despair at the ordinary character of all that met the eye in the
case of the perfumery girl, and yet told of nothing but easy triumph
to the functionaries of the Prefecture.

* See “Murder’s in the Rue Morgue.”

“In the case of Madame L’Espanaye and her daughter, there was,
even at the begining of our investigation, no doubt that murder had
been committed. The idea of suicide was excluded at once. Here, too,
we are freed, at the commencement, from all supposition of
self-murder. The body found at the Barriere du Roule was found under
such circumstances as to leave us no room for embarrassment upon
this important point. But it has been suggested that the corpse
discovered is not that of the Marie Roget for the conviction of
whose assassin, or assassins, the reward is offered, and respecting
whom, solely, our agreement has been arranged with the Prefect. We
both know this gentleman well. It will not do to trust him too far.
If, dating our inquiries from the body found, and then tracing a
murderer, we yet discover this body to be that of some other
individual than Marie; or if, starting from the living Marie, we
find her, yet find her unassassinated- in either case we lose our
labor; since it is Monsieur G- with whom we have to deal. For our
own purpose, therefore, if not for the purpose of justice, it is
indispensable that our first step should be the determination of the
identity of the corpse with the Marie Roget who is missing.
“With the public the arguments of L’Etoile have had weight; and that
the journal itself is convinced of their importance would appear
from the manner in which it commences one of its essays upon the
subject- ‘Several of the morning papers of the day,’ it says, ‘speak
of the conclusive article in Monday’s Etoile.’ To me, this article
appears conclusive of little beyond the zeal of its inditer. We should
bear in mind that, in general, it is the object of our newspapers
rather to create a sensation- to make a point- than to further the
cause of truth. The latter end is only pursued when it seems
coincident with the former. The print which merely falls in with
ordinary opinion (however well founded this opinion may be) earns
for itself no credit with the mob. The mass of the people regard as
profound only him who suggests pungent contradictions of the general
idea. In ratiocination, not less than in literature, it is the epigram
which is the most immediately and the most universally appreciated. In
both, it is of the lowest order of merit.
“What I mean to say is, that it is the mingled epigram and melodrame
of the idea, that Marie Roget still lives, rather than any true
plausibility in this idea, which have suggested it to L’Etoile, and
secured it a favorable reception with the public. Let us examine the
heads of this journal’s argument, endeavoring to avoid the incoherence
with which it is originally set forth.
“The first aim of the writer is to show, from the brevity of the
interval between Marie’s disappearance and the finding of the floating
corpse, that this corpse cannot be that of Marie. The reduction of
this interval to its smallest possible dimension, becomes thus, at
once, an object with the reasoner. In the rash pursuit of this object,
he rushes into mere assumption at the outset. ‘It is folly to
suppose,’ he says, ‘that the murder, if murder was committed on her
body, could have been consummated soon enough to have enabled her
murderers to throw the body into the river before midnight.’ We demand
at once, and very naturally, why? Why is it folly to suppose that
the murder was committed within five minutes after the girl’s quitting
her mother’s house? Why is it folly to suppose that the murder was
committed at any given period of the day? There have been
assassinations at all hours. But, had the murder taken place at any
moment between nine o’clock in the morning of Sunday and a quarter
before midnight, there would still have been time enough ‘to throw the
body into the river before midnight.’ This assumption, then, amounts
precisely to this- that the murder was not committed on Sunday at all-
and, if we allow L’Etoile to assume this, we may permit it any
liberties whatever. The paragraph beginning ‘It is folly to suppose
that the murder, etc.,’ however it appears as printed in L’Etoile, may
be imagined to have existed actually thus in the brain of its inditer:
‘It is folly to suppose that the murder, if murder was committed on
the body, could have been committed soon enough to have enabled her
murderers to throw the body into the river before midnight; it is
folly, we say, to suppose all this, and to suppose at the same time,
(as we are resolved to suppose), that the body was not thrown in until
after midnight’- a sentence sufficiently inconsequential in itself,
but not so utterly preposterous as the one printed.
“Were it my purpose,” continued Dupin, “merely to make out a case
against this passage of L’Etoile’s argument, I might safely leave it
where it is. It is not, however, with L’Etoile that we have to do, but
with truth. The sentence in question has but one meaning, as it
stands; and this meaning I have fairly stated, but it is material that
we go behind the mere words, for an idea which these words have
obviously intended, and failed to convey. It was the design of the
journalists to say that at whatever period of the day or night of
Sunday this murder was committed, it was improbable that the assassins
would have ventured to bear the corpse to the river before midnight.
And herein lies, really, the assumption of which I complain. It is
assumed that the murder was committed at such a position, and under
such circumstances, that the bearing it to the river became necessary.
Now, the assassination might have taken place upon the river’s
brink, or on the river itself; and, thus, the throwing the corpse in
the water might have been resorted to at any period of the day or
night, as the most obvious and most immediate mode of disposal. You
will understand that I suggest nothing here as probable, or as
coincident with my own opinion. My design, so far, has no reference to
the facts of the case. I wish merely to caution you against the
whole tone of L’Etoile’s suggestion, by calling your attention to
its ex-parte character at the outset.
“Having prescribed thus a limit to suit its own preconceived
notions; having assumed that, if this were the body of Marie, it could
have been in the water but a very brief time, the journal goes on to

All experience has shown that drowned bodies, or bodies thrown
into the water immediately after death by violence, require from six
to ten days for sufficient decomposition to take place to bring them
to the top of the water. Even when a cannon is fired over a corpse,
and it rises before at least five or six days’ immersion, it sinks
again if let alone.
“These assertions have been tacitly received by every paper in
Paris, with the exception of Le Moniteur.* This latter print endeavors
to combat that portion of the paragraph which has reference to
‘drowned bodies’ only, by citing some five or six instances in which
the bodies of individuals known to be drowned were found floating
after the lapse of less time than is insisted upon by L’Etoile. But
there is something excessively unphilosophical in the attempt, on
the part of Le Moniteur, to rebut the general assertion of L’Etoile,
by a citation of particular instances militating against that
assertion. Had it been possible to adduce fifty instead of five
examples of bodies found floating at the end of two or three days,
these fifty examples could still have been properly regarded only as
exceptions to L’Etoile’s rule, until such time as the rule itself
should be confuted. Admitting the rule, (and this Le Moniteur does not
deny, insisting merely upon its exceptions,) the argument of
L’Etoile is suffered to remain in full force; for this argument does
not pretend to involve more than a question of the probability of
the body having risen to the surface in less than three days; and this
probability will be in favor of L’Etoile’s position until the
instances so childishly adduced shall be sufficient in number to
establish an antagonistical rule.

* The New York Commercial Advertiser, Edited by Col. Stone.

“You will see at once that all argument upon this head should be
urged, if at all, against the rule itself; and for this end we must
examine the rationale of the rule. Now the human body, in general is
neither much lighter nor much heavier than the water of the Seine;
that is to say, the specific gravity of the human body, in its natural
condition, is about equal to the bulk of fresh water which it
displaces. The bodies of fat and fleshy persons, with small bones, and
of women generally, are lighter than those of the lean and
large-boned, and of men; and the specific gravity of the water of a
river is somewhat influenced by the presence of the tide from the sea.
But, leaving this tide out of the question, it may be said that very
few human bodies will sink at all, even in fresh water, of their own
accord. Almost any one, falling into a river, will be enabled to
float, if he suffer the specific gravity of the water fairly to be
adduced in comparison with his own- that is to say, if he suffer his
whole person to be immersed, with as little exception as possible. The
proper position for one who cannot swim, is the upright position of
the walker on land, with the head thrown fully back, and immersed; the
mouth and nostrils alone remaining above the surface. Thus
circumstanced; we shall find that we float without difficulty and
without exertion. It is evident, however, that the gravities of the
body, and of the bulk of water displaced, are very nicely balanced,
and that a trifle will cause either to preponderate. An arm, for
instance, uplifted from the water, and thus deprived of its support,
is an additional weight sufficient to immerse the whole head, while
the accidental aid of the smallest piece of timber will enable us to
elevate the head so as to look about. Now, in the struggles of one
unused to swimming, the arms are invariably thrown upward, while an
attempt is made to keep the head in its usual perpendicular
position. The result is the immersion of the mouth and nostrils, and
the inception, during efforts to breathe while beneath the surface, of
water into the lungs. Much is also received into the stomach, and
the whole body becomes heavier by the difference between the weight of
the air originally distending these cavities, and that of the fluid
which now fills them. This difference is sufficient to cause the
body to sink, as a general rule; but is insufficient in the case of
individuals with small bones and an abnormal quantity of flaccid or
fatty matter. Such individuals float even after drowning.
“The corpse, being supposed at the bottom of the river, will there
remain until, by some means, its specific gravity again becomes less
than that of the bulk of water which it displaces. This effect is
brought about by decomposition, or otherwise. The result of
decomposition is the generation of gas, distending the cellular
tissues and all the cavities, and giving the puffed appearance which
is so horrible. When this distension has so far progressed that the
bulk of the corpse is materially increased without a corresponding
increase of mass or weight, its specific gravity becomes less than
that of the water displaced, and it forthwith makes its appearance
at the surface. But decomposition is modified by innumerable
circumstances- is hastened or retarded by innumerable agencies; for
example, by the heat or cold of the season, by the mineral
impregnation or purity of the water, by its depth or shallowness, by
its currency or stagnation, by the temperament of the body, by its
infection or freedom from disease before death. Thus it is evident
that we can assign no period, with anything like accuracy, at which
the corpse shall rise through decomposition. Under certain
conditions this result would be brought about within an hour, under
others it might not take place at all. There are chemical infusions by
which the animal frame can be preserved forever from corruption; the
Bi-chloride of Mercury is one. But, apart from decomposition, there
may be, and very usually is, a generation of gas within the stomach,
from the acetous fermentation of vegetable matter (or within other
cavities from other causes), sufficient to induce a distension which
will bring the body to the surface. The effect produced by the
firing of a cannon is that of simple vibration. This may either loosen
the corpse from the soft mud or ooze in which it is imbedded, thus
permitting it to rise when other agencies have already prepared it for
so doing, or it may overcome the tenacity of some putrescent
portions of the cellular tissue, allowing the cavities to distend
under the influence of the gas.
“Having thus before us the whole philosophy of this subject, we
can easily test by it the assertions of L’Etoile. ‘All experience
shows,’ says this paper, ‘that drowned bodies, or bodies thrown into
the water immediately after death by violence, require from six to ten
days for sufficient decomposition to take place to bring them to the
top of the water. Even when a cannon is fired over a corpse, and it
rises before at least five or six days’ immersion, it sinks again if
let alone.’
“The whole of this paragraph must now appear a tissue of
inconsequence and incoherence. All experience does not show that
‘drowned bodies’ require from six to ten days for sufficient
decomposition to take place to bring them to the surface. Both science
and experience show that the period of their rising is, and
necessarily must be, indeterminate. If, moreover, a body has risen
to the surface through firing of cannon, it will not ‘sink again if
let alone,’ until decomposition has so far progressed as to permit the
escape of the generated gas. But I wish to call your attention to
the distinction which is made between ‘drowned bodies,’ and ‘bodies
thrown into the water immediately after death by violence: Although
the writer admits the distinction, he yet includes them all in the
same category. I have shown how it is that the body of a drowning
man becomes specifically heavier than its bulk of water, and that he
would not sink at all, except for the struggle by which he elevates
his arms above the surface, and his gasps for breath while beneath the
surface- gasps which supply by water the place of the original air
in the lungs. But these struggles and these gasps would not occur in
the body ‘thrown into the water immediately after death by
violence.’ Thus, in the latter instance, the body, as a general
rule, would not sink at all- a fact of which L’Etoile is evidently
ignorant. When decomposition had proceeded to a very great extent-
when the flesh had in a great measure left the bones- then, indeed,
but not till then, should we lose sight of the corpse.
“And now what are we to make of the argument, that the body found
could not be that of Marie Roget, because, three days only having
elapsed, this body was found floating? If drowned, being a woman,
she might never have sunk; or, having sunk, might have reappeared in
twenty- four hours or less. But no one supposes her to have been
drowned; and, dying before being thrown into the river, she might have
been found floating at any period afterwards whatever.
“‘But,’ says L’Etoile, ‘if the body had been kept in its mangled
state on shore until Tuesday night, some trace would be found on shore
of the murderers.’ Here it is at first difficult to perceive the
intention of the reasoner. He means to anticipate what he imagines
would be an objection to his theory- viz.: that the body was kept on
shore two days, suffering rapid decomposition- more rapid than if
immersed in water. He supposes that, had this been the case, it
might have appeared at the surface on the Wednesday, and thinks that
only under such circumstances it could so have appeared. He is
accordingly in haste to show that it was not kept on shore; for, if
so, ‘some trace would be found on shore of the murderers.’ I presume
you smile at the sequitur. You cannot be made to see how the mere
duration of the corpse on the shore could operate to multiply traces
of the assassins. Nor can I.
“‘And furthermore it is exceedingly improbable,’ continues our
journal, ‘that any villains who had committed such a murder as is here
supposed, would have thrown the body in without weight to sink it,
when such a precaution could have so easily been taken.’ Observe,
here, the laughable confusion of thought! No one- not even L’Etoile-
disputes the murder committed on the body found. The marks of violence
are too obvious. It is our reasoner’s object merely to show that
this body is not Marie’s. He wishes to prove that Marie is not
assassinated- not that the corpse was not. Yet his observation
proves only the latter point. Here is a corpse without weight
attached. Murderers, casting it in, would not have failed to attach
a weight. Therefore it was not thrown in by murderers. This is all
which is proved, if any thing is. The question of identity is not even
approached, and L’Etoile has been at great pains merely to gainsay now
what it has admitted only a moment before. ‘We are perfectly
convinced,’ it says, ‘that the body found was that of a murdered
“Nor is this the sole instance, even in this division of the
subject, where our reasoner unwittingly reasons against himself. His
evident object I have already said, is to reduce, as much as possible,
the interval between Marie’s disappearance and the finding of the
corpse. Yet we find him urging the point that no person saw the girl
from the moment of her leaving her mother’s house. ‘We have no
evidence,’ he says, ‘that Marie Roget was in the land of the living
after nine o’clock on Sunday, June the twenty-second.’ As his argument
is obviously an ex-parte one, he should, at least, have left this
matter out of sight; for had any one been known to see Marie, say on
Monday, or on Tuesday, the interval in question would have been much
reduced, and, by his own ratiocination, the probability much
diminished of the corpse being that of the grisette. It is,
nevertheless, amusing to observe that L’Etoile insists upon its
point in the full belief of its furthering its general argument.
“Reperuse now that portion of this argument which has reference to
the identification of the corpse by Beauvais. In regard to the hair
upon the arm, L’Etoile has been obviously disingenuous. M. Beauvais,
not being an idiot, could never have urged in identification of the
corpse, simply hair upon its arm. No arm is without hair. The
generality of the expression of L’Etoile is a mere perversion of the
witness’ phraseology. He must have spoken of some peculiarity in
this hair. It must have been a peculiarity of color, of quantity, of
length, or of situation.
“‘Her foot,’ says the journal, ‘was small- so are thousands of feet.
Her garter is no proof whatever- nor is her shoe- for shoes and
garters are sold in packages. The same may be said of the flowers in
her hat. One thing upon which M. Beauvais strongly insists is, that
the clasp on the garter found had been set back to take it in. This
amounts to nothing; for most women find it proper to take a pair of
garters home and, fit them to the size of the limbs they are to
encircle, rather than to try them in the store where they purchase.’
Here it is difficult to suppose the reasoner in earnest. Had M.
Beauvais, in his search for the body of Marie, discovered a corpse
corresponding in general size and appearance to the missing girl, he
would have been warranted (without reference to the question of
habiliment at all) in forming an opinion that his search had been
successful. If, in addition to the point of general size and
contour, he had found upon the arm a peculiar hairy appearance which
he had observed upon the living Marie, his opinion might have been
justly strengthened; and the increase of positiveness might well
have been in the ratio of the peculiarity, or unusualness, of the
hairy mark. If, the feet of Marie being small, those of the corpse
were also small, the increase of probability that the body was that of
Marie would not be an increase in a ratio merely arithmetical, but
in one highly geometrical, or accumulative. Add to all this shoes such
as she had been known to wear upon the day of her disappearance,
and, although these shoes may be ‘sold in packages,’ you so far
augment the probability as to verge upon the certain. What, of itself,
would be no evidence of identity, becomes through its corroborative
position, proof most sure. Give us, then, flowers in the hat
corresponding to those worn by the missing girl, and we seek for
nothing farther. If only one flower, we seek for nothing farther- what
then if two or three, or more? Each successive one is multiple
evidence- proof not added to proof, but multiplied by hundreds or
thousands. Let us now discover, upon the deceased, garters such as the
living used, and it is almost folly to proceed. But these garters
are found to be tightened, by the setting back of a clasp, in just
such a manner as her own had been tightened by Marie shortly
previous to her leaving home. It is now madness or hypocrisy to doubt.
What L’Etoile says in respect to this abbreviation of the garter’s
being an unusual occurrence, shows nothing beyond its own
pertinacity in error. The elastic nature of the clasp-garter is
self-demonstration of the unusualness of the abbreviation. What is
made to adjust itself, must of necessity require foreign adjustment
but rarely. It must have been by an accident, in its strictest
sense, that these garters of Marie needed the tightening described.
They alone would have amply established her identity. But it is not
that the corpse was found to have the garters of the missing girl,
or found to have her shoes, or her bonnet, or the flowers of her
bonnet, or her feet, or a peculiar mark upon the arm, or her general
size and appearance- it is that the corpse had each and all
collectively. Could it be proved that the editor of L’Etoile really
entertained a doubt, under the circumstances, there would be no
need, in his case, of a commission de lunatico inquirendo. He has
thought it sagacious to echo the small talk of the lawyers, who, for
the most part, content themselves with echoing the rectangular
precepts of the courts. I would here observe that very much of what is
rejected as evidence by a court, is the best of evidence to the
intellect. For the court, guiding itself by the general principles
of evidence- the recognized and booked principles- is averse from
swerving at particular instances. And this steadfast adherence to
principle, with rigorous disregard of the conflicting exception, is
a sure mode of attaining the maximum of attainable truth, in any
long sequence of time. The practice, in mass, is therefore
philosophical; but it is not the less certain that it engenders vast
individual error.*

* “A theory based on the qualities of an object, will prevent its
being unfolded according to its objects; and he who arranges topics in
reference to their causes, will cease to value them according to their
results. Thus the jurisprudence of every nation will show that, when
law becomes a science and a system, it ceases to be justice. The
errors into which a blind devotion to principles of classification has
led the common law, will be seen by observing how often the
legislature has been obliged to come forward to restore the equity its
scheme had lost.”- Landor.

“In respect to the insinuations levelled at Beauvais, you will be
willing to dismiss them in a breath. You have already fathomed the
true character of this good gentleman. He is a busy-body, with much of
romance and little of wit. Any one so constituted will readily so
conduct himself, upon occasion of real excitement, as to render
himself liable to suspicion on the part of the over-acute, or the
ill-disposed. M. Beauvais (as it appears from your notes) had some
personal interviews with the editor of L’Etoile, and offended him by
venturing an opinion that the corpse, notwithstanding the theory of
the editor, was, in sober fact, that of Marie. ‘He persists,’ says the
paper, ‘in asserting the corpse to be that of Marie, but cannot give a
circumstance, in addition to those which we have commented upon, to
make others believe.’ Now, without readverting to the fact that
stronger evidence ‘to make others believe,’ could never have been
adduced, it may be remarked that a man may very well be understood
to believe, in a case of this kind, without the ability to advance a
single reason for the belief of a second party. Nothing is more
vague than impressions of individual identity. Each man recognizes his
neighbor, yet there are few instances in which any one is prepared
to give a reason for his recognition. The editor of L’Etoile had no
right to be offended at M. Beauvais’ unreasoning belief.
“The suspicious circumstances which invest him, will be found to
tally much better with my hypothesis of romantic busy-bodyism, than
with the reasoner’s suggestion of guilt. Once adopting the more
charitable interpretation, we shall find no difficulty in
comprehending the rose in the key-hole; the ‘Marie’ upon the slate;
the ‘elbowing the male relatives out of the way’; the ‘aversion to
permitting them to see the body’; the caution given to Madame B-, that
she must hold no conversation with the gendarme until his return
(Beauvais); and, lastly, his apparent determination ‘that nobody
should have any thing to do with the proceedings except himself.’ It
seems to be unquestionable that Beauvais was a suitor of Marie’s; that
she coquetted with him; and that he was ambitious of being thought
to enjoy her fullest intimacy and confidence. I shall say nothing more
upon this point; and, as the evidence fully rebuts the assertion of
L’Etoile, touching the matter of apathy on the part of the mother
and other relatives- an apathy inconsistent with the supposition of
their believing the corpse to be that of the perfumery- girl- we shall
now proceed as if the question of identity were settled to our perfect
“And what,” I here demanded, “do you think of the opinions of Le
“That in spirit, they are far more worthy of attention than any
which have been promulgated upon the subject. The deductions from
the premises are philosophical and acute; but the premises, in two
instances, at least, are founded in imperfect observation. Le
Commerciel wishes to intimate that Marie was seized by some gang of
low ruffians not far from her mother’s door. ‘It is impossible,’ it
urges, ‘that a person so well known to thousands as this young woman
was, should have passed three blocks without some one having seen
her.” This is the idea of a man long resident in Paris- a public
man- and one whose walks to and fro in the city have been mostly
limited to the vicinity of the public offices. He is aware that he
seldom passes so far as a dozen blocks from his own bureau, without
being recognized and accosted. And, knowing the extent of his personal
acquaintance with others, and of others with him, he compares his
notoriety with that of the perfumery-girl, finds no great difference
between them, and reaches at once the conclusion that she, in her
walks, would be equally liable to recognition with himself in his.
This could only be the case were her walks of the same unvarying,
methodical character, and within the same species of limited region as
are his own. He passes to and fro, at regular intervals, within a
confined periphery, abounding in individuals who are led to
observation of his person through interest in the kindred nature of
his occupation with their own. But the walks of Marie may, in general,
be supposed discursive. In this particular instance, it will be
understood as most probable, that she proceeded upon a route of more
than average diversity from her accustomed ones. The parallel which we
imagine to have existed in the mind of Le Commerciel would only be
sustained in the event of the two individuals traversing the whole
city. In this case, granting the personal acquaintances to be equal,
the chances would be also equal that an equal number of personal
encounters would be made. For my own part, I should hold it not only
as possible, but as very far more probable, that Marie might have
proceeded, at any given period, by any one of the many routes
between her own residence and that of her aunt, without meeting a
single individual whom she knew, or by whom she was known. In
viewing this question in its full and proper light, we must hold
steadily in mind the great disproportion between the personal
acquaintances of even the most noted individual in Paris, and the
entire population of Paris itself.
“But whatever force there may still appear to be in the suggestion
of Le Commerciel, will be much diminished when we take into
consideration the hour at which the girl went abroad. ‘It was when the
streets were full of people,’ says Le Commerciel, ‘that she went out.’
But not so. It was at nine o’clock in the morning. Now at nine o’clock
of every morning in the week, with the exception of Sunday, the
streets of the city are, it is true, thronged with people. At nine
on Sunday, the populace are chiefly within doors preparing for church.
No observing person can have failed to notice the peculiarly
deserted air of the town, from about eight until ten on the morning of
every Sabbath. Between ten and eleven the streets are thronged, but
not at so early a period as that designated.
“There is another point at which there seems a deficiency of
observation on the part of Le Commerciel. ‘A piece,’ it says, ‘of
one of the unfortunate girl’s petticoats, two feet long, and one
foot wide, was torn out and tied under her chin, and around the back
of her head, probably to prevent screams. This was done by fellows who
had no pocket-handkerchiefs.’ Whether this idea is or is not well
founded, we will endeavor to see hereafter, but by ‘fellows who have
no pocket-handkerchiefs,’ the editor intends the lowest class of
ruffians. These, however, are the very description of people who
will always be found to have handkerchiefs even when destitute of
shirts. You must have had occasion to observe how absolutely
indispensable, of late years, to the thorough blackguard, has become
the pocket-handkerchief.”
“And what are we to think,” I asked, “of the article in Le Soleil?”
“That it is a vast pity its inditer was not born a parrot- in
which case he would have been the most illustrious parrot of his race.
He has merely repeated the individual items of the already published
opinion; collecting them, with a laudable industry, from this paper
and from that. ‘The things had all evidently been there,’ he says, ‘at
least three or four weeks, and there can be no doubt that the spot
of this appalling outrage has been discovered.’ The facts here
re-stated by Le Soleil, are very far indeed from removing my own
doubts upon this subject, and we will examine them more particularly
hereafter in connection with another division of the theme.
“At present we must occupy ourselves with other investigations.
You cannot fail to have remarked the extreme laxity of the examination
of the corpse. To be sure, the question of identity was readily
determined, or should have been; but there were other points to be
ascertained. Had the body been in any respect despoiled? Had the
deceased any articles of jewelry about her person upon leaving home?
If so, had she any when found? These are important questions utterly
untouched by the evidence; and there are others of equal moment, which
have met with no attention. We must endeavor to satisfy ourselves by
personal inquiry. The case of St. Eustache must be re-examined. I have
no suspicion of this person; but let us proceed methodically. We
will ascertain beyond a doubt the validity of the affidavits in regard
to his whereabouts on the Sunday. Affidavits of this character are
readily made matter of mystification. Should there be nothing wrong
here, however, we will dismiss St. Eustache from our investigations.
His suicide, however, corroborative of suspicion, were there found
to be deceit in the affidavits, is, without such deceit, in no respect
an unaccountable circumstance, or one which need cause us to deflect
from the line of ordinary analysis.
“In that which I now propose, we will discard the interior points of
this tragedy, and concentrate our attention upon its outskirts. Not
the least usual error in investigations such as this is the limiting
of inquiry to the immediate, with total disregard of the collateral or
circumstantial events. It is the malpractice of the courts to
confine evidence and discussion to the bounds of apparent relevancy.
Yet experience has shown, and a true philosophy will always show, that
a vast, perhaps the larger, portion of truth arises from the seemingly
irrelevant. It is through the spirit of this principle, if not
precisely through its letter, that modern science has resolved to
calculate upon the unforeseen. But perhaps you do not comprehend me.
The history of human knowledge has so uninterruptedly shown that to
collateral, or incidental, or accidental events we are indebted for
the most numerous and most valuable discoveries, that it has at length
become necessary, in any prospective view of improvement, to make
not only large, but the largest, allowances for inventions that
shall arise by chance, and quite out of the range of ordinary
expectation. It is no longer philosophical to base upon what has
been a vision of what is to be. Accident is admitted as a portion of
the substructure. We make chance a matter of absolute calculation.
We subject the unlooked for and unimagined to the mathematical
formulae of the schools.
“I repeat that it is no more than fact that the larger portion of
all truth has sprung from the collateral; and it is but in
accordance with the spirit of the principle involved in this fact that
I would divert inquiry, in the present case, from the trodden and
hitherto unfruitful ground of the event itself to the contemporary
circumstances which surround it. While you ascertain the validity of
the affidavits, I will examine the newspapers more generally than
you have as yet done. So far, we have only reconnoitred the field of
investigation; but it will be strange, indeed, if a comprehensive
survey, such as I propose, of the public prints will not afford us
some minute points which shall establish a direction for inquiry.”
In pursuance of Dupin’s suggestion, I made scrupulous examination of
the affair of the affidavits. The result was a firm conviction of
their validity, and of the consequent innocence of St. Eustache. In
the meantime my friend occupied himself, with what seemed to me a
minuteness altogether objectless, in a scrutiny of the various
newspaper files. At the end of a week he placed before me the
following extracts:
“About three years and a half ago, a disturbance very similar to the
present was caused by the disappearance of this same Marie Roget
from the parfumerie of Monsieur Le Blanc, in the Palais Royal. At
the end of a week, however, she re-appeared at her customary comptoir,
as well as ever, with the exception of a slight paleness not
altogether usual. It was given out by Monsieur Le Blanc and her mother
that she had merely been on a visit to some friend in the country; and
the affair was speedily hushed up. We presume that the present absence
is a freak of the same nature, and that, at the expiration of a week
or, perhaps, of a month, we shall have her among us again.”- Evening
Paper, Monday, June 23.*

* New York Express

“An evening journal of yesterday refers to a former mysterious
disappearance of Mademoiselle Roget. It is well known that, during the
week of her absence from Le Blanc’s parfumerie, she was in the company
of a young naval officer much noted for his debaucheries. A quarrel,
it is supposed, providentially, led to her return home. We have the
name of the Lothario in question, who is at present stationed in
Paris, but for obvious reasons forbear to make it public.”- Le
Mercure, Tuesday Morning, June 24.*

* New York Herald

“An outrage of the most atrocious character was perpetrated near
this city the day before yesterday. A gentleman, with his wife and
daughter, engaged, about dusk, the services of six young men, who were
idly rowing a boat to and fro near the banks of the Seine, to convey
him across the river. Upon reaching the opposite shore the three
passengers stepped out, and had proceeded so far as to be beyond the
view of the boat, when the daughter discovered that she had left in it
her parasol. She returned for it, was seized by the gang, carried
out into the stream, gagged, brutally treated, and finally taken to
the shore at a point not far from that at which she had originally
entered the boat with her parents. The villains have escaped for the
time, but the police are upon their trail, and some of them will
soon be taken.”- Morning Paper, June 25-*

* New York Courier and Inquirer

“We have received one or two communications, the object of which
is to fasten the crime of the late atrocity upon Mennais*; but as this
gentleman has been fully exonerated by a legal inquiry, and as the
arguments of our several correspondents appear to be more zealous than
profound, we do not think it advisable to make them public.”-
Morning Paper, June 28.*(2)

* Mennais was one of the parties originally arrested, but discharged
through total lack of evidence.
*(2) New York Courier and Inquirer

“We have received several forcibly written communications,
apparently from various sources, and which go far to render it a
matter of certainty that the unfortunate Marie Roget has become a
victim of one of the numerous bands of blackguards which infest the
vicinity of the city upon Sunday. Our own opinion is decidedly in
favor of this supposition. We shall endeavor to make room for some
of these arguments hereafter.”- Evening Paper, Tuesday, June 31.*

* New York Evening Post

“On Monday, one of the bargemen connected with the revenue service
saw an empty boat floating down the Seine. Sails were lying in the
bottom of the boat. The bargeman towed it under the barge office.
The next morning it was taken from thence without the knowledge of any
of the officers. The rudder is now at the barge office.”- Le
Diligence, Thursday, June 26.*

* New York Standard

Upon reading these various extracts, they not only seemed to me
irrelevant, but I could perceive no mode in which any one of them
could be brought to bear upon the matter in hand. I waited for some
explanation from Dupin.
“It is not my present design,” he said, “to dwell upon the first and
second of these extracts. I have copied them chiefly to show you the
extreme remissness of the police, who, as far as I can understand from
the Prefect, have not troubled themselves, in any respect, with an
examination of the naval officer alluded to. Yet it is mere folly to
say that between the first and second disappearance of Marie there
is no supposable connection. Let us admit the first elopement to
have resulted in a quarrel between the lovers, and the return home
of the betrayed. We are now prepared to view a second elopement (if we
know that an elopement has again taken place) as indicating a
renewal of the betrayer’s advances, rather than as the result of new
proposals by a second individual- we are prepared to regard it as a
‘making up’ of the old amour, rather than as the commencement of a new
one. The chances are ten to one, that he who had once eloped with
Marie would again propose an elopement, rather than that she to whom
proposals of an elopement had been made by one individual, should have
them made to her by another. And here let me call your attention to
the fact, that the time elapsing between the first ascertained and the
second supposed elopement is a few months more than the general period
of the cruises of our men-of-war. Had the lover been interrupted in
his first villainy by the necessity of departure to sea, and had he
seized the first moment of his return to renew the base designs not
yet altogether accomplished- or not yet altogether accomplished by
him? Of all these things we know nothing.
“You will say, however, that, in the second instance, there was no
elopement as imagined. Certainly not- but are we prepared to say
that there was not the frustrated design? Beyond St. Eustache, and
perhaps Beauvais, we find no recognized, no open, no honorable suitors
of Marie. Of none other is there any thing said. Who, then, is the
secret lover, of whom the relatives (at least most of them) know
nothing, but whom Marie meets upon the morning of Sunday, and who is
so deeply in her confidence, that she hesitates not to remain with him
until the shades of the evening descend, amid the solitary groves of
the Barriere du Roule? Who is that secret lover, I ask, of whom, at
least, most of the relatives know nothing? And what means the singular
prophecy of Madam Roget on the morning of Marie’s departure? – ‘I fear
that I shall never see Marie again.’
“But if we cannot imagine Madame Roget privy to the design of
elopement, may we not at least suppose this design entertained by
the girl? Upon quitting home, she gave it to be understood that she
was about to visit her aunt in the Rue des Dromes, and St. Eustache
was requested to call for her at dark. Now, at first glance, this fact
strongly militates against my suggestion;- but let us reflect. That
she did meet some companion, and proceed with him across the river,
reaching the Barriere du Roule at so late an hour as three o’clock
in the afternoon, is known. But in consenting so to accompany this
individual, (for whatever purpose- to her mother known or unknown,)
she must have thought of her expressed intention when leaving home,
and of the surprise and suspicion aroused in the bosom of her
affianced suitor, St. Eustache, when, calling for her, at the hour
appointed, in the Rue des Dromes, he should find that she had not been
there, and when, moreover, upon returning to the pension with this
alarming intelligence, he should become aware of her continued absence
from home. She must have thought of these things, I say. She must have
foreseen the chagrin of St. Eustache, the suspicion of all. She
could not have thought of returning to brave this suspicion; but the
suspicion becomes a point of trivial importance to her, if we
suppose her not intending to return.
“We may imagine her thinking thus- ‘I am to meet a certain person
for the purpose of elopement, or for certain other purposes known only
to myself. It is necessary that there be no chance of interruption-
there must be sufficient time given us to elude pursuit- I will give
it to be understood that I shall visit and spend the day with my
aunt at the Rue des Dromes- I will tell St. Eustache not to call for
me until dark- in this way, my absence from home for the longest
possible period, without causing suspicion or anxiety, will be
accounted for, and I shall gain more time than in any other manner. If
I bid St. Eustache call for me at dark, he will be sure not to call
before; but if I wholly neglect to bid him call, my time for escape
will be diminished, since it will be expected that I return the
earlier, and my absence will the sooner excite anxiety. Now, if it
were my design to return at all- if I had in contemplation merely a
stroll with the individual in question- it would not be my policy to
bid St. Eustache call; for, calling, he will be sure to ascertain that
I have played him false- a fact of which I might keep him forever in
ignorance, by leaving home without notifying him of my intention, by
returning before dark, and by then stating that I had been to visit my
aunt in the Rue des Dromes. But, as it is my design never to return-
or not for some weeks- or not until certain concealments are effected-
the gaining of time is the only point about which I need give myself
any concern.’
“You have observed, in your notes, that the most general opinion
in relation to this sad affair is, and was from the first, that the
girl had been the victim of a gang of blackguards. Now, the popular
opinion, under certain conditions, is not to be disregarded. When
arising of itself- when manifesting itself in a strictly spontaneous
manner- we should look upon it as analogous with that intuition
which is the idiosyncrasy of the individual man of genius. In
ninety-nine cases from the hundred I would abide by its decision.
But it is important that we find no palpable traces of suggestion. The
opinion must be rigorously the public’s own, and the distinction is
often exceedingly difficult to perceive and to maintain. In the
present instance, it appears to me that this ‘public opinion,’ in
respect to a gang, has been superinduced by the collateral event which
is detailed in the third of my extracts. All Paris is excited by the
discovered corpse of Marie, a girl young, beautiful, and notorious.
This corpse is found, bearing marks of violence, and floating in the
river. But it is now made known that, at the very period, or about the
very period, in which it is supposed that the girl was assassinated,
an outrage similar in nature to that endured by the deceased, although
less in extent, was perpetrated by a gang of young ruffians, upon
the person of a second young female. Is it wonderful that the one
known atrocity should influence the popular judgment in regard to
the other unknown? This judgment awaited direction, and the known
outrage seemed so opportunely to afford it! Marie, too, was found in
the river; and upon this very river was this known outrage
committed. The connection of the two events had about it so much of
the palpable, that the true wonder would have been a failure of the
populace to appreciate and to seize it. But, in fact, the one
atrocity, known to be so committed, is, if any thing, evidence that
the other, committed at a time nearly coincident, was not so
committed. It would have been a miracle indeed, if, while a gang of
ruffians were perpetrating, at a given locality, a most unheard- of
wrong, there should have been another similar gang, in a similar
locality, in the same city, under the same circumstances, with the
same means and appliances, engaged in a wrong of precisely the same
aspect, at precisely the same period of time! Yet in what, if not in
this marvellous train of coincidence, does the accidentally
suggested opinion of the populace call upon us to believe?
“Before proceeding farther, let us consider the supposed scene of
the assassination, in the thicket at the Barriere du Roule. This
thicket, although dense, was in the close vicinity of a public road.
Within were three or four large stones, forming a kind of seat with
a back and a footstool. On the upper stone was discovered a white
petticoat; on the second, a silk scarf. A parasol, gloves, and a
pocket-handkerchief were also here found. The handkerchief bore the
name ‘Marie Roget’. Fragments of dress were seen on the branches
around. The earth was trampled, the bushes were broken, and there
was every evidence of a violent struggle.
“Notwithstanding the acclamation with which the discovery of this
thicket was received by the press, and the unanimity with which it was
supposed to indicate the precise scene of the outrage, it must be
admitted that there was some very good reason for doubt. That it was
the scene, I may or I may not believe- but there was excellent
reason for doubt. Had the true scene been, as Le Commerciel suggested,
in the neighborhood of the Rue Pavee St. Andree, the perpetrators of
the crime, supposing them still resident in Paris, would naturally
have been stricken with terror at the public attention thus acutely
directed into the proper channel; and, in certain classes of minds,
there would have arisen, at once, a sense of the necessity of some
exertion to re-divert this attention. And thus, the thicket of the
Barriere du Roule having been already suspected, the idea of placing
the articles where they were found, might have been naturally
entertained. There is no real evidence, although Le Soleil so
supposes, that the articles discovered had been more than a very few
days in the thicket; while there is much circumstantial proof that
they could not have remained there, without attracting attention,
during the twenty days elapsing between the fatal Sunday and the
afternoon upon which they were found by the boys. ‘They were all
mildewed down hard,’ says Le Soleil, adopting the opinions of its
predecessors, ‘with the action of the rain and stuck together from
mildew. The grass had grown around and over some of them. The silk
of the parasol was strong, but the threads of it were run together
within. The upper part, where it had been doubled and folded, was
all mildewed and rotten, and tore on being opened.’ In respect to
the grass having ‘grown around and over some of them,’ it is obvious
that the fact could only have been ascertained from the words, and
thus from the recollections, of two small boys; for these boys removed
the articles and took them home before they had been seen by a third
party. But the grass will grow, especially in warm and damp weather
(such as was that of the period of the murder), as much as two or
three inches in a single day. A parasol lying upon a newly turfed
ground, might, in a single week, be entirely concealed from sight by
the upspringing grass. And touching that mildew upon which the
editor of Le Soleil so pertinaciously insists, that he employs the
word no less than three times in the brief paragraph just quoted, is
he really unaware of the nature of this mildew? Is he to be told
that it is one of the many classes of fungus, of which the most
ordinary feature is its upspringing and decadence within twenty-four
“Thus we see, at a glance, that what has been most triumphantly
adduced in support of the idea that the articles had been ‘for at
least three or four weeks’ in the thicket, is most absurdly null as
regards any evidence of that fact. On the other hand, it is
exceedingly difficult to believe that these articles could have
remained in the thicket specified for a longer period than a single
week- for a longer period than from one Sunday to the next. Those
who know any thing of the vicinity of Paris, know the extreme
difficulty of finding seclusion, unless at a great distance from its
suburbs. Such a thing as an unexplored or even an unfrequently visited
recess, amid its woods or groves, is not for a moment to be
imagined. Let any one who, being at heart a lover of nature, is yet
chained by duty to the dust and heat of this great metropolis- let any
such one attempt, even during the week-days, to slake his thirst for
solitude amid the scenes of natural loveliness which immediately
surround us. At every second step, he will find the growing charm
dispelled by the voice and personal intrusion of some ruffian or party
of carousing blackguards. He will seek privacy amid the densest
foliage, all in vain. Here are the very nooks where the unwashed
most abound- here are the temples most desecrate. With sickness of the
heart the wanderer will flee back to the polluted Paris as to a less
odious because less incongruous sink of pollution. But if the vicinity
of the city is so beset during the working days of the week, how
much more so on the Sabbath! It is now especially that, released
from the claims of labor, or deprived of the customary opportunities
of crime, the town blackguard seeks the precincts of the town, not
through love of the rural, which in his heart he despises, but by
way of escape from the restraints and conventionalities of society. He
desires less the fresh air and the green trees, than the utter license
of the country. Here, at the road-side inn, or beneath the foliage
of the woods, he indulges unchecked by any eye except those of his
boon companions, in all the mad excess of a counterfeit hilarity-
the joint offspring of liberty and of rum. I say nothing more than
what must be obvious to every dispassionate observer, when I repeat
that the circumstance of the articles in question having remained
undiscovered, for a longer period than from one Sunday to another,
in any thicket in the immediate neighborhood of Paris, is to be looked
upon as little less than miraculous.
“But there are not wanting other grounds for the suspicion that
the articles were placed in the thicket with the view of diverting
attention from the real scene of the outrage. And first, let me direct
your notice to the date of the discovery of the articles. Collate this
with the date of the fifth extract made by myself from the newspapers.
You will find that the discovery followed, almost immediately, the
urgent communications sent to the evening paper. These communications,
although various, and apparently from various sources, tended all to
the same point-viz., the directing of attention to a gang as the
perpetrators of the outrage, and to the neighborhood of the Barriere
du Roule as its scene. Now, here, of course, the suspicion is not
that, in consequence of these communications, or of the public
attention by them directed, the articles were found by the boys; but
the suspicion might and may well have been, that the articles were not
before found by the boys, for the reason that the articles had not
before been in the thicket; having been deposited there only at so
late a period as at the date, or shortly prior to the date of the
communications, by the guilty authors of these communications
“This thicket was a singular- an exceedingly singular one. It was
unusually dense. Within its naturally walled enclosure were three
extraordinary stones, forming a seat with a back and a footstool.
And this thicket, so full of art, was in the immediate vicinity,
within a few rods, of the dwelling of Madame Deluc, whose boys were in
the habit of closely examining the shrubberies about them in search of
the bark of the sassafras. Would it be a rash wager- a wager of one
thousand to one- that a day never passed over the heads of these
boys without finding at least one of them ensconced in the
umbrageous hall, and enthroned upon its natural throne? Those who
would hesitate at such a wager, have either never been boys
themselves, or have forgotten the boyish nature. I repeat- it is
exceedingly hard to comprehend how the articles could have remained in
this thicket undiscovered, for a longer period than one or two days;
and that thus there is good ground for suspicion, in spite of the
dogmatic ignorance of Le Soleil, that they were, at a comparatively
late date, deposited where found.
“But there are still other and stronger reasons for believing them
so deposited, than any which I have as yet urged. And, now, let me beg
your notice to the highly artificial arrangement of the articles. On
the upper stone lay a white petticoat; on the second, a silk scarf;
scattered around, were a parasol, gloves, and a pocket-handkerchief
bearing the name ‘Marie Roget.’ Here is just such an arrangement as
would naturally be made by a not over-acute person wishing to
dispose the articles naturally. But it is by no means a really natural
arrangement. I should rather have looked to see the things all lying
on the ground and trampled under foot. In the narrow limits of that
bower, it would have been scarcely possible that the petticoat and
scarf should have retained a position upon the stones, when
subjected to the brushing to and fro of many struggling persons.
‘There was evidence,’ it is said, ‘of a struggle; and the earth was
trampled, the bushes were broken,’- but the petticoat and the scarf
are found deposited as if upon shelves. ‘The pieces of the frock
torn out by the bushes were about three inches wide and six inches
long. One part was the hem of the frock and it had been mended. They
looked like strips torn off.’ Here, inadvertently, Le Soleil has
employed an exceedingly suspicious phrase. The pieces, as described,
do indeed look like strips torn off; but purposely and by hand. It
is one of the rarest of accidents that a piece is ‘torn off,’ from any
garment such as is now in question, by the agency of a thorn. From the
very nature of such fabrics, a thorn or nail becoming tangled in them,
tears them rectangularly- divides them into two longitudinal rents, at
right angles with each other, and meeting at an apex where the thorn
enters- but it is scarcely possible to conceive the piece ‘torn
off.’ I never so knew it, nor did you. To tear a piece off from such
fabric, two distinct forces, in different directions, will be, in
almost every case, required. If there be two edges to the fabric-
if, for example, it be a pocket-handkerchief, and it is desired to
tear from it a slip, then, and then only, will the one force serve the
purpose. But in the present case the question is of a dress,
presenting but one edge. To tear a piece from the interior, where no
edge is presented, could only be effected by a miracle through the
agency of thorns, and no one thorn could accomplish it. But, even
where an edge is presented, two thorns will be necessary, operating,
the one in two distinct directions, and the other in one. And this
in the supposition that the edge is unhemmed. If hemmed, the matter is
nearly out of the question. We thus see the numerous and great
obstacles in the way of pieces being ‘torn off’ through the simple
agency of ‘thorns’; yet we are required to believe not only that one
piece but that many have been so torn. ‘And one part,’ too, ‘was the
hem of the frock’! Another piece was ‘part of the skirt, not the
hem,’- that is to say, was torn completely out, through the agency
of thorns, from the unedged interior of the dress! These, I say, are
things which one may well be pardoned for disbelieving; yet, taken
collectedly, they form, perhaps, less of reasonable ground for
suspicion, than the one startling circumstance of the articles
having been left in this thicket at all, by any murderers who had
enough precaution to think of removing the corpse. You will not have
apprehended me rightly, however, if you suppose it my design to deny
this thicket as the scene of the outrage. There might have been a
wrong here, or more possibly, an accident at Madame Deluc’s. But, in
fact, this is a point of minor importance. We are not engaged in an
attempt to discover the scene, but to produce the perpetrators of
the murder. What I have adduced, notwithstanding the minuteness with
which I have adduced it, has been with the view, first, to show the
folly of the positive and headlong assertions of Le Soleil, but
secondly and chiefly, to bring you, by the most natural route, to a
further contemplation of the doubt whether this assassination has,
or has not, been the work of a gang.
“We will resume this question by mere allusion to the revolting
details of the surgeon examined at the inquest. It is only necessary
to say that his published inferences, in regard to the number of the
ruffians, have been properly ridiculed as unjust and totally baseless,
by all the reputable anatomists of Paris. Not that the matter might
not have been as inferred, but that there was no ground for the
inference:- was there not much for another?
“Let us reflect now upon ‘the traces of a struggle’; let me- ask
what these traces have been supposed to demonstrate. A gang. But do
they not rather demonstrate the absence of a gang? What struggle could
have taken place- what struggle so violent and so enduring as to
have left its ‘traces’ in all directions- between a weak and
defenceless girl and a gang of ruffians imagined? The silent grasp
of a few rough arms and all would have been over. The victim must have
been absolutely passive at their will. You will here bear in mind that
the arguments urged against the thicket as the scene, are
applicable, in chief part, only against it as the scene of an
outrage committed by more than a single individual. If we imagine
but one violator, we can conceive, and thus only conceive, the
struggle of so violent and so obstinate a nature as to have left the
‘traces’ apparent.
“And again. I have already mentioned the suspicion to be excited
by the fact that the articles in question were suffered to remain at
all in the thicket where discovered. It seems almost impossible that
these evidences of guilt should have been accidentally left where
found. There was sufficient presence of mind (it is supposed) to
remove the corpse, and yet a more positive evidence than the corpse
itself (whose features might have been quickly obliterated by
decay), is allowed to lie conspicuously in the scene of the outrage- I
allude to the handkerchief with the name of the deceased. If this
was accident, it was not the accident of a gang. We can imagine it
only the accident of an individual. Let us see. An individual has
committed the murder. He is alone with the ghost of the departed. He
is appalled by what lies motionless before him. The fury of his
passion is over, and there is abundant room in his heart for the
natural awe of the deed. His is none of that confidence which the
presence of numbers inevitably inspires. He is alone with the dead. He
trembles and is bewildered. Yet there is a necessity for disposing
of the corpse. He bears it to the river, and leaves behind him the
other evidences of his guilt; for it is difficult, if not impossible
to carry all the burthen at once, and it will be easy to return for
what is left. But in his toilsome journey to the water his fears
redouble within him. The sounds of life encompass his path. A dozen
times he hears or fancies he hears the step of an observer. Even the
very lights from the city bewilder him. Yet, in time, and by long
and frequent pauses of deep agony, he reaches the river’s brink, and
disposes of his ghastly charge- perhaps through the medium of a
boat. But now what treasure does the world hold- what threat of
vengeance could it hold out- which would have power to urge the return
of that lonely murderer over that toilsome and perilous path, to the
thicket and its blood-chilling recollections? He returns not, let
the consequences be what they may. He could not return if he would.
His sole thought is immediate escape. He turns his back forever upon
those dreadful shrubberies, and flees as from the wrath to come.
“But how with a gang? Their number would have inspired them with
confidence; if, indeed, confidence is ever wanting in the breast of
the arrant blackguard; and of arrant blackguards alone are the
supposed gangs ever constituted. Their number, I say, would have
prevented the bewildering and unreasoning terror which I have imagined
to paralyze the single man. Could we suppose an oversight in one, or
two, or three, this oversight would have been remedied by a fourth.
They would have left nothing behind them; for their number would
have enabled them to carry all at once. There would have been no
need of return.
“Consider now the circumstance that, in the outer garment of the
corpse when found, ‘a slip, about a foot wide, had been torn upward
from the bottom hem to the waist, wound three times around the
waist, and secured by a sort of hitch in the back.’ This was done with
the obvious design of affording a handle by which to carry the body.
But would any number of men have dreamed of resorting to such an
expedient? To three or four, the limbs of the corpse would have
afforded not only a sufficient, but the best possible, hold. The
device is that of a single individual; and this brings us to the
fact that ‘between the thicket and the river, the rails of the
fences were found taken down, and the ground bore evident traces of
some heavy burden having been dragged along it!’ But would a number of
men have put themselves to the superfluous trouble of taking down a
fence, for the purpose of dragging through it a corpse which they
might have lifted over any fence in an instant? Would a number of
men have so dragged a corpse at all as to have left evident traces
of the dragging?
“And here we must refer to an observation of Le Commerciel; an
observation upon which I have already, in some measure, commented.
‘A piece,’ says this journal, ‘of one of the unfortunate girl’s
petticoats was torn out and tied under her chin, and around the back
of her head, probably to prevent screams. This was done by fellows who
had no pocket-handkerchiefs.’
“I have before suggested that a genuine blackguard is never
without a pocket-handkerchief. But it is not to this fact that I now
especially advert. That it was not through want of a handkerchief
for the purpose imagined by Le Commerciel that this bandage was
employed, is rendered apparent by the handkerchief left in the
thicket; and that the object was not ‘to prevent screams’ appears,
also, from the bandage having been employed in preference to what
would so much better have answered the purpose. But the language of
the evidence speaks of the strip in question as ‘found around the
neck, fitting loosely, and secured with a hard knot.’ These words
are sufficiently vague, but differ materially from those of Le
Commerciel. The slip was eighteen inches wide, and therefore, although
of muslin, would form a strong band when folded or rumpled
longitudinally. And thus rumpled it was discovered. My inference is
this. The solitary murderer, having borne the corpse for some distance
(whether from the thicket or elsewhere) by means of the bandage
hitched around its middle, found the weight, in this mode of
procedure, too much for his strength. He resolved to drag the burthen-
the evidence goes to show that it was dragged. With this object in
view, it became necessary to attach something like a rope to one of
the extremities. It could be best attached about the neck, where the
head would prevent it slipping off. And now the murderer bethought
him, unquestionably, of the bandage about the loins. He would have
used this, but for its volution about the corpse, the hitch which
embarrassed it, and the reflection that it had not been ‘torn off from
the garment. It was easier to tear a new slip from the petticoat. He
tore it, made it fast about the neck, and so dragged his victim to the
brink of the river. That this ‘bandage,’ only attainable with
trouble and delay, and but imperfectly answering its purpose- that
this bandage was employed at all, demonstrates that the necessity
for its employment sprang from circumstances arising at a period
when the handkerchief was no longer attainable- that is to say,
arising, as we have imagined, after quitting the thicket (if the
thicket it was), and on the road between the thicket and the river.
“But the evidence, you will say, of Madame Deluc(!) points
especially to the presence of a gang in the vicinity of the thicket,
at or about the epoch of the murder. This I grant. I doubt if there
were not a dozen gangs, such as described by Madame Deluc, in and
about the vicinity of the Barriere du Roule at or about the period
of this tragedy. But the gang which has drawn upon itself the
pointed animadversion, although the somewhat tardy and very suspicious
evidence, of Madame Deluc, is the only gang which is represented by
that honest and scrupulous old lady as having eaten her cakes and
swallowed her brandy, without putting themselves to the trouble of
making her payment. Et hinc illae irae?
“But what is the precise evidence of Madame Deluc? ‘A gang of
miscreants made their appearance, behaved boisterously, ate and
drank without making payment, followed in the route of the young man
and the girl, returned to the inn about dusk, and re-crossed the river
as if in great haste.’
“Now this ‘great haste very possibly seemed greater haste in the
eyes of Madame Deluc, since she dwelt lingeringly and lamentingly upon
her violated cakes and ale,- cakes and ale for which she might still
have entertained a faint hope of compensation. Why, otherwise, since
it was about dusk, should she make a point of the haste? It is no
cause for wonder, surely, that even a gang of blackguards should
make haste to get home when a wide river is to be crossed in small
boats, when storm impends, and when night approaches.
“I say approaches, for the night had not yet arrived. It was only
about dusk that the indecent haste of these ‘miscreants’ offended
the sober eyes of Madame Deluc. But we are told that it was upon
this very evening that Madame Deluc, as well as her eldest son, ‘heard
the screams of a female in the vicinity of the inn.’ And in what words
does Madame Deluc designate the period of the evening at which these
screams were heard? ‘It was soon after dark’ she says. But ‘soon after
dark’ is, at least, dark; and ‘about dusk’ is as certainly daylight.
Thus it is abundantly clear that the gang quitted the Barriere da
Roule prior to the screams overheard(?) by Madame Deluc. And although,
in all the many reports of the evidence, the relative expressions in
question are distinctly and invariably employed just as I have
employed them in this conversation with yourself, no notice whatever
of the gross discrepancy has, as yet, been taken by any of the
public journals, or by any of the myrmidons of police.
“I shall add but one to the arguments against a gang, but this one
has, to my own understanding at least, a weight altogether
irresistible. Under the circumstances of large reward offered, and
full pardon to any king’s evidence, it is not to be imagined, for a
moment, that some member of a gang of low ruffians, or of any body
of men would not long ago have betrayed his accomplices. Each one of a
gang, so placed, is not so much greedy of reward, or anxious for
escape, as fearful of betrayal. He betrays eagerly and early that he
may not himself be betrayed. That the secret has not been divulged
is the very best of proof that it is, in fact, a secret. The horrors
of this dark deed are known only to one, or two, living human
beings, and to God.
“Let us sum up now the meagre yet certain fruits of our long
analysis. We have attained the idea either of a fatal accident under
the roof of Madame Deluc, or of a murder perpetrated, in the thicket
at the Barriere du Roule, by a lover, or at least by an intimate and
secret associate of the deceased. This associate is of swarthy
complexion. This complexion, the ‘hitch’ in the bandage, and the
‘sailor’s knot’ with which the bonnet-ribbon is tied, point to a
seaman. His companionship with the deceased, a gay but not an abject
young girl, designates him as above the grade of the common sailor.
Here the well-written and urgent communications to the journals are
much in the way of corroboration. The circumstance of the first
elopement as mentioned by Le Mercurie, tends to blend the idea of this
seaman with that of that ‘naval officer’ who is first known to have
led the unfortunate into crime.
“And here, most fitly, comes the consideration of the continued
absence of him of the dark complexion. Let me pause to observe that
the complexion of this man is dark and swarthy; it was no common
swarthiness which constituted the sole point of remembrance, both as
regards Valence and Madame Deluc. But why is this man absent? Was he
murdered by the gang? If so, why are there only traces of the
assassinated girl? The scene of the two outrages will naturally be
supposed identical. And where is his corpse? The assassins would
most probably have disposed of both in the same way. But it may be
said that this man lives, and is deterred from making himself known,
through dread of being charged with the murder. This consideration
might be supposed to operate upon him now- at late period- since it
has been given in evidence that he was seen with Marie- but it would
have had no force at the period of the deed. The first impulse of an
innocent man would have been to announce the outrage, and to aid in
identifying the ruffians. This, policy would have suggested. He had
been seen with the girl. He had crossed the river with her in an
open ferry-boat. The denouncing of the assassins would have
appeared, even to an idiot, the surest and sole means of relieving
himself from suspicion. We cannot suppose him, on the night of the
fatal Sunday, both innocent himself and incognizant of an outrage
committed. Yet only under such circumstances is it possible to imagine
that he would have failed, if alive, in the denouncement of the
“And what means are ours of attaining the truth? We shall find these
means multiplying and gathering distinctness as we proceed. Let us
sift to the bottom this affair of the first elopement. Let us know the
full history of ‘the officer,’ with his present circumstances, and his
whereabouts at the precise period of the murder. Let us carefully
compare with each other the various communications sent to the evening
paper, in which the object was to inculpate a gang. This done, let
us compare these communications, both as regards style and MS., with
those sent to the morning paper, at a previous period, and insisting
so vehemently upon the guilt of Mennais. And, all this done, let us
again compare these various communications with the known MSS. of
the officer. Let us endeavor to ascertain, by repeated questionings of
Madame Deluc and her boys, as well as of the omnibus-driver,
Valence, something more of the personal appearance and bearing of
the ‘man of dark complexion.’ Queries, skillfully directed will not
fail to elicit, from some of these parties, information on this
particular point (or upon others)- information which the parties
themselves may not even be aware of possessing. And let us now trace
the boat picked up by the bargeman on the morning of Monday the
twenty-third of June, and which was removed from the barge-office,
without the cognizance of the officer in attendance, and without the
rudder, at some period prior to the discovery of the corpse. With a
proper caution and perseverance we shall infallibly trace this boat;
for not only can the bargeman who picked it up identify it, but the
rudder is at hand. The rudder of a sail boat would not have been
abandoned, without inquiry, by one altogether at ease in heart. And
here let me pause to insinuate a question. There was no
advertisement of the picking up of this boat. It was silently taken to
the barge-office and as silently removed. But its owner or employer-
how happened he, at so early a period as Tuesday morning, to be
informed, without the agency of advertisement, of the locality of
the boat taken up on Monday, unless we imagine some connection with
the navy- some personal permanent connexion leading to cognizance of
its minute interests- its petty local news?
“In speaking of the lonely assassin dragging his burden to the
shore, I have already suggested the probability of his availing
himself of a boat. Now we are to understand that Marie Roget was
precipitated from a boat. This would naturally have been the case. The
corpse could not have been trusted to the shallow waters of the shore.
The peculiar marks on the back and shoulders of the victim tell of the
bottom ribs of a boat. That the body was found without weight is
also corroborative of the idea. If thrown from the shore a weight
would have been attached. We can only account for its absence by
supposing the murderer to have neglected the precaution of supplying
himself with it before pushing off. In the act of consigning the
corpse to the water, he would unquestionably have noticed his
oversight; but then no remedy would have been at hand. Any risk
would have been preferred to a return to that accursed shore. Having
rid himself of his ghastly charge, the murderer would have hastened to
the city. There, at some obscure wharf, he would have leaped on
land. But the boat- would he have secured it? He would have been in
too great haste for such things as securing a boat. Moreover, in
fastening it to the wharf, he would have felt as if securing
evidence against himself. His natural thought would have been to
cast from him, as far as possible, all that had held connection with
his crime. He would not only have fled from the wharf, but he would
not have permitted the boat to remain. Assuredly he would have cast it
adrift. Let us pursue our fancies. In the morning, the wretch is
stricken with unutterable horror at finding that the boat has been
picked up and detained at a locality which he is in the daily habit of
frequenting- at a locality, perhaps, which his duty compels him to
frequent. The next night, without daring to ask for the rudder, he
removes it. Now where is that rudderless boat? Let it be one of our
first purposes to discover. With the first glimpse we obtain of it,
the dawn of our success shall begin. This boat shall guide us, with
a rapidity which will surprise even ourselves, to him who employed
it in the midnight of the fatal Sabbath. Corroboration will rise
upon corroboration, and the murderer will be traced.”
[For reasons which we shall not specify, but which to many readers
will appear obvious, we have taken the liberty of here omitting,
from the MSS. placed in our hands, such portion as details the
following up of the apparently slight clew obtained by Dupin. We
feel it advisable only to state, in brief, that the result desired was
brought to pass; and that the Prefect fulfilled punctually, although
with reluctance, the terms of his compact with the Chevalier. Mr.
Poe’s article concludes with the following words.- Eds.*]

* Of the magazine in which the article was originally published.

It will be understood that I speak of coincidences and no more. What
I have said above upon this topic must suffice. In my own heart
there dwells no faith in praeter-nature. That Nature and its God are
two, no man who thinks will deny. That the latter, creating the
former, can, at will, control or modify it, is also unquestionable.
I say “at will”; for the question is of will, and not, as the insanity
of logic has assumed, of power. It is not that the Deity cannot modify
his laws, but that we insult him in imagining a possible necessity for
modification. In their origin these laws were fashioned to embrace all
contingencies which could lie in the Future. With God all is Now.
I repeat, then, that I speak of these things only as of
coincidences. And further: in what I relate it will be seen that
between the fate of the unhappy Mary Cecilia Rogers, so far as that
fate is known, and the fate of one Marie Roget up to a certain epoch
in her history, there has existed a parallel in the contemplation of
whose wonderful exactitude the reason becomes embarrassed. I say all
this will be seen. But let it not for a moment be supposed that, in
proceeding with the sad narrative of Marie from the epoch just
mentioned, and in tracing to its denouement the mystery which
enshrouded her, it is my covert design to hint at an extension of
the parallel, or even to suggest that the measures adopted in Paris
for the discovery of the assassin of a grisette, or measures founded
in any similar ratiocination would produce any similar result.
For, in respect to the latter branch of the supposition, it should
be considered that the most trifling variation in the facts of the two
cases might give rise to the most important miscalculations, by
diverting thoroughly the two courses of events; very much as, in
arithmetic, an error which, in its own individuality, may be
inappreciable, produces, at length, by dint of multiplication at all
points of the process, a result enormously at variance with truth.
And, in regard to the former branch, we must not fail to hold in
view that the very Calculus of Probabilities to which I have referred,
forbids all idea of the extension of the parallel,- forbids it with
a positiveness strong and decided just in proportion as this
parallel has already been long-drawn and exact. This is one of those
anomalous propositions which, seemingly appealing to thought
altogether apart from the mathematical, is yet one which only the
mathematician can fully entertain. Nothing, for example, is more
difficult than to convince the merely general reader that the fact
of sixes having been thrown twice in succession by a player at dice,
is sufficient cause for betting the largest odds that sixes will not
be thrown in the third attempt. A suggestion to this effect is usually
rejected by the intellect at once. It does not appear that the two
throws which have been completed, and which lie now absolutely in
the Past, can have influence upon the throw which exists only in the
Future. The chance for throwing sixes seems to be precisely as it
was at any ordinary time- that is to say, subject only to the
influence of the various other throws which may be made by the dice.
And this is a reflection which appears so exceedingly obvious that
attempts to controvert it are received more frequently with a derisive
smile than with any thing like respectful attention. The error here
involved- a gross error redolent of mischief- I cannot pretend to
expose within the limits assigned me at present; and with the
philosophical it needs no exposure. It may be sufficient here to say
that it forms one of an infinite series of mistakes which arise in the
path of Reason through her propensity for seeking truth in detail.


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