Figures Who Seem to Belong to a Different Time

Will a day pass, the nineteenth-century newspapers asked, that does not offer new proof of the persistence of our superstition?[1]

If there were any need to provide more examples of how much ignorance and credulity remain deeply rooted in the minds of the population, the facts we are about to present will demonstrate this sad truth, this brutalizing superstition, born of fear of the unknown, or the clumsy lures… dangled by the greedy in front of the superstitious and stupid masses.[2]

Figures who seem to belong to another time.[3] Contemporaries astonished that even in our own time there could be so much superstition and credulity in the population around us.[4] Superstition, in all its forms, endures almost as intensely at every level of society.[5]

We must fight against the prejudice and superstitions of isolated peasants.[6]

Of isolated regions, where superstition and prejudice still hold sway.[7] In certain provinces, civilization has hardly made one step forward in a hundred years – we have often reported sad examples of how the population of some regions wallow in a state of ignorance and superstition, and more than once the criminal justice system has come face to face with the deplorable consequences.[8]

Provinces of the south, for instance. Strange superstitions persist in the countryside between the Garonne and the Tarn.[9] But the banks of the Garonne river do not have a monopoly on the business of witchcraft. Provence is just as well-served as other provinces in this respect.[10]

Provinces of the north also. The Vendée, land of ardent faith, but also of deeply rooted superstition.[11]

Sorcery in the Sèvres.[12] The Somme and the Sarthe.[13]

Nice, Nantes, and Nancy.[14]  Not to mention Nantoin, Neuilly, and the Nord.[15]

The saints themselves were not untouched: Saint-Philibert, Saint-Lambert, and Saint-Georges-de-Pointindoux.[16]

Bisson, Bombon, Beaumont-du-Gâtinais, Bordeaux, Bayonne.[17] Mayenne.[18] Martaize.[19] Montouvrard.[20] Vienne, Valenciennes.[21] Lyon, Lorient, Lot-et-Garonne, the Dordogne, the Sologne, and Paris.[22]

“Is this possible?”

“Such things in our enlightened century?”

“Are we still in the middle ages?”

Yes, we are, the newspapers reply, and we will return there.[23]

What a curious time we live in, where science and mystery, modernism and bizarre beliefs mix.[24] How many peasants prefer a bus-ride to the magician to the path to church?[25]

There is no magical spell that can cure stupidity.[26]


[1] Le Petit Parisien, 15.02.1892.

[2] Gazette des Tribunaux, 19.01.1867, Le Petit Journal, 05.04.1867, Le Matin, 01.10.1890, Gazette des Tribunaux, 19.01.1867.

[3] Le Petit Journal, 11.12.1868.

[4] Gazette des Tribunaux, 31.03.1864.

[5] Le Petit Journal, 03.05.1872.

[6] Le Matin, 05.02.1938.

[7] Le Petit Journal, 10.12.1868.

[8] Gazette des Tribunaux, 20.05.1853.

[9] Le Matin, 22.01.1922.

[10] Gazette des Tribunaux, 17.05.1869.

[11] Le Matin, 02.04.1922.

[12] La Lanterne, 24.01.1921

[13]Le Matin, 23.04.1923, Le Matin, 05.02.1938

[14] Le Matin, 17.12.1926, Le Matin, 02.02.1933, La Croix, 04-5.11.1928.

[15] Le Matin, 29.01.1928, Le Matin, 06.11.1937, Dalloz, 1931, p.51.

[16] Le Matin, 18.09.1938, Le Matin, 24.07.1935, Le Radical, 05.03.1922.

[17] Le Matin, 21.01.1922, La Lanterne, 06.01.1926, Le Petit Parisien, 07.10.1931, Le Matin, 11.01.1920, Le Matin, 21.06.1914.

[18] Le Matin, 30.05.1930.

[19] Le Matin, 01.12.1932.

[20] Le Matin, 22.0.1926.

[21] Le Matin, 01.12.1932, Dalloz, 1931, p.51.

[22] Le Matin, 07.06.1939, Le Matin, 24.01.1922, Le Matin, 26.08.1937, Le Matin, 26.05.1930, Le Matin, 24.11.1886, Pooley, ‘Magical Capital’ (forthcoming).

[23] Le Matin, 25.01.1922.

[24] Le Matin, 29.04.1929.

[25] Le Matin, 12.10.1937.

[26] Le Matin, 25.01.1922.

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