Love, Murder, and Suicide in the 19th Century

Love, murder, and suicide was something that happened in Lunéville, France, a commune in the Meurthe-et-Moselle department in France that is situated on the Meurthe River. It began when a 25-year-old man named Louis Darbois fell for a Mademoiselle Marie-Catherine Bermin in 1830. He belonged to the 2nd regiment of dragoons, who had a splendid reputation because during Napoleon Bonaparte‘s retreat at the Battle of Waterloo, they attacked and defeated a Prussian force in a skirmish at Sentis.

Site of Love, Murder, and Suicide in Lunéville in France, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Location of Lunéville in France. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Although Louis was in love with 19-year-old Bermin, she did not return his affections and decided to leave France and live in Vienna, the place of her father’s birth. Louis did not want her to go and tried everything to deter her from leaving, but his efforts were “in vain.” The more Louis thought about Marie-Catherine leaving, the more desperate he became until he was at last so distraught he avoided his companions and “his imagination became disturbed.”

Eventually, the day of her departure was set. It was at that point that Louis decided he had lost her forever, and, so, he wrote the following letter to his family:

“Receive my last farewell; when you read these lines I shall have ceased to live; may you ever be ignorant of the cause and details of my death.”

Next, Louis loaded a pistol and hid it under some rocks at the end of a walkway. He then went to Marie-Catherine’s house and asked her to take a walk with him. “She hesitated, as the agitated state of her lover surprised her; nevertheless, she complied.”

As they walked along, he tried to convince her to abandon her plans to leave. But nothing he said convinced her to change her mind. Eventually, the couple reached the spot where Louis had hidden the pistol, and realizing she was leaving him, he grabbed the pistol saying to her, “Well … thy death shall precede mine.”

Painting of a Napoleonic-era Dragoon of the 2nd Dragoon Regiment by Édouard Detaille, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Painting of a Napoleonic-era Dragoon of the 2nd Dragoon Regiment by Édouard Detaille. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Seeing the gun, Marie-Catherine fled in terror as Louis pursued her. Twice he pulled the trigger, but the pistol misfired. She ran towards a house and just as she reached it the gun went off, struck her, “and she fell pierced by two balls.”

Nearby was a regiment of dragoons. They heard the shots, ran towards the sound, discovered Marie-Catherine wounded, and saw Louis. He “had reloaded the pistol and was putting it into his mouth: they stopped, and seemed paralysed with astonishment.” Louis then pulled the trigger but the pistol misfired.

The dragoons regained their senses. Then, seeing Louis had failed in his suicide attempt, the dragoons wrestled him to the ground and carried him off to prison. However, he did not want to go, and along the way he wrestled free and jumped from a bridge hoping to kill himself. His suicide attempt did not work because the dragoons pulled him from the water unharmed.

Louis was deposited in prison, but now that Marie-Catherine was dead, he was more determined than ever to kill himself. His determination finally succeeded, for while imprisoned he tried suicide again. This time “he opened a vein, which caused his death.”

References:

  • “Murder and Suicide, in Morning Post, 7 April 1830

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