"Superstition: A Singular Motive for Murder" (1868)

The Evening Telegraph [PA] 24 Dec. 1868
A Singular Motive for Murder.
     The great case of poisoning at the Assize Court of Aix, France, discloses a most wonderful jumble of crime, ignorance, and superstitious piety. Three women in the condition of thriving shopkeepers, one of whom is young, handsome, and wealthy, confess to having got rid of their husbands by means of drugs and potions, supplied for the purpose by a cunning man and woman – fortune-tellers and vendors of charms. Some of the prisoners say-and the state of their mental development render the statement credible enough-they did not think they were poisoning their husbands, but only understood that they were to be bewitched in such a way that death would be the result . The prisoner Joye, a herbalist, who supplied the poison, arsenic and belladonna, gave directions to one of the women that after the powder had been administered she should buy a black ribbon, put it around her neck, and recite a pater noster, and when she came to the words, ‘in earth as it is in heave,’ her husband would die as if by enchantment. One of the wives had scruples, not of conscience, but of prudence, and expressed fears to her mother that she would certainly be found out. The mother comforted and encouraged her by the assurance that if she would buy a wax candle and burn it before the altar of the famous Chapel of Notre Dame de la Garde at Marseilles, the Virgin would protect her from discovery. The fortune-telling woman, Madame Lambert, tireuse des cartes, who introduced the three murderous wives, all unknown to each other, to the seller of simples, was in the habit of visiting sick children, making the sign of the cross on their foreheads, and muttering prayers. Aix is crowd with visitors and reporters from all parts of France and Belgium.”