Marx-Engels |  Lenin  | Stalin |  Home Page

Revelations Concerning the Communist Trial in Cologne by Karl Marx 1853

III. The Cherval Plot

Stieber, however, was able to make the most of his stolen treasure-trove. The papers that had come into his possession on August 5, 1851, led to the discovery of the so-called “Franco-German plot in Paris”. They contained six reports sent from Paris by Adolph Majer, an emissary of Willich-Schapper, as well as five reports from the leading district in Paris to the Willich-Schapper Central Authority. (Stieber’s testimony in the sitting of October 15) Stieber then went on a diplomatic pleasure trip to Paris and there he made the personal acquaintance of the great Carlier who in the recent notorious affair of the Gold Bullion Lottery had just delivered proof that though a great enemy of the Communists, he was an even greater friend of other people’s private property.

“Accordingly I went to Paris in September 1851. Carlier, the Prefect of Police there at the time, was most eager and ready to lend me his support.... With the aid of French police agents the threads laid bare in the London letters were speedily and surely traced; we were able to track down the addresses of the various leaders of the conspiracy and to keep all their movements, and especially all their meetings and correspondence, under observation. Some very sinister things came to light.... I was compelled to yield to Prefect Carlier’s demands and measures were taken during the night of September 4, 1851.” (Stieber’s testimony of October 18.)

Stieber left Berlin in September. Let us assume it was September 1. At best he could have arrived in Paris on the evening of the 2nd. On the night of the 4th measures were taken. Thirty-six hours remain then for the conference with Carlier and for the necessary steps to be taken. In these thirty-six hours not only were the addresses of the various leaders “tracked down”; but all their movements, all their meetings and all their correspondence were “kept under observation”, that is of course after their “addresses had been tracked down”. Stieber’s arrival not only inspires the “French police agents” with a miraculous “speed and sureness”, it also makes the conspiratorial leaders “eager and ready” to perpetrate so many movements, meetings and so much correspondence within twenty-four hours that already the following evening measures can be taken against them.

But it is not enough that on September 3 the addresses of the individual leaders should have been traced and all their movements, meetings and correspondence put under observation:

“French police agents,” Stieber swears, “found an opportunity to be present at the meetings of the conspirators and to hear their decisions about the plan of campaign for the next revolution.”

No sooner have the police agents observed the meetings than the observation gives them an opportunity to he present, and no sooner have they been present at one meeting than it becomes several meetings, and no sooner has it become several meetings than decisions are adopted about the plan of campaign during the next revolution — and all this on the same day. On that very same day when Stieber first meets Carlier, Carlier’s police discover the addresses of the various leaders, the various leaders meet Carlier’s police, invite them to their meetings that very day, hold a whole series of meetings on the same day for their benefit and cannot part from them without hastily adopting decisions on the plan of campaign for the next revolution.

However eager and ready Carlier might be — and no one will doubt his readiness to uncover a communist plot three months before the coup d'état — Stieber ascribes more to him than he could achieve. Stieber asks miracles of the police; he does not merely ask for them, he believes them; he does not merely believe them, he swears to them on oath.

“At the beginning of this venture, i.e. the taking of measures, first of all a French police inspector and I personally arrested the dangerous Cherval, the ringleader of the French Communists. He resisted vigorously and a stubborn struggle ensued.”

Thus Stieber’s testimony of October 18.

“Cherval made an attempt on my life in Paris, in my own home where he had broken in during the night. In the course of the ensuing struggle my wife, who came to my aid, was wounded.”

Thus Stieber’s further testimony of October 27.

On the night of the 4th, Stieber intervenes at Cherval’s dwelling and it comes to fisticuffs in which Cherval resists. On the night of the 3rd, Cherval intervenes at Stieber’s dwelling and it comes to fisticuffs in which Stieber resists. But it was precisely on the 3rd that a veritable entente cordiale obtained between conspirators and police agents as a result of which so many great deeds were performed in one day. It is now alleged that not only the conspirators were found out by Stieber on the 3rd, but Stieber too was found out on the 3rd by the conspirators. While Carlier’s agents discovered the addresses of the conspirators, the conspirators discovered Stieber’s address. While he played the role of an “observer” towards them, they pursued an active role towards him. While he was dreaming about their plot against the government, they were engaged in an assault on his person.

Stieber’s testimony of October 18 continues:

“In the course of the struggle” (this is Stieber on the attack) “I observed that Cherval was endeavouring to put a piece of paper into his mouth and swallow it. Only with great difficulty was it possible to retrieve one half of the paper, the other half being already devoured.”

So the paper was situated in Cherval’s mouth, between his teeth in fact, for only one half was retrieved, the other half having already been devoured. Stieber and his henchman, a police inspector or whoever, could only retrieve the other half by placing their hands in the jaws of the “dangerous Cherval”. Against such an onslaught biting was the most obvious method of defence that Cherval could adopt, and the Paris papers actually reported that Cherval had bitten Frau Stieber; in that scene however Stieber was assisted not by his wife but by the police inspector. On the other hand, Stieber declares that when Cherval assaulted him in his own home, it was Frau Stieber who had been wounded while coming to his aid. If one compares Stieber’s statements with the reports of the Paris papers it would appear that on the night of the 3rd Cherval bit Frau Stieber in an attempt to save the papers that Herr Stieber tore from between his teeth on the night of the 4th. Stieber will retort that Paris is a city of miracles and that long before him La Rochefoucauld had said that in France everything is possible.

Putting the belief in miracles to one side for a moment it seems that the first miracles arose because Stieber compressed into one day, September 3, a whole series of events that were in reality spread over a long period of time, while the latter miracles arose when he claimed of different events that happened in one place and on one evening that they occurred in two places on two evenings. Let us confront his tale from A Thousand and One Nights with the actual facts. But first one very strange fact, though by no means a miracle. Stieber tore from Cherval one half of the paper that had been swallowed. What was in the retrieved half? The whole that Stieber wanted.

“This paper,” he swears, “contained a vital instruction for Gipperich, the emissary in Strasbourg, together with his complete address.

Now for the facts of the matter.

We know from Stieber that he received the Dietz archive in a stout oil-cloth wrapping on August 5, 1851. On August 8 or 9, 1851, a certain Schmidt arrived in Paris. Schmidt, it seems, is the name inevitably assumed by Prussian police agents travelling incognito. In 1845-46 Stieber travelled through the Silesian Mountains under the name of Schmidt. Fleury, his London agent, went as Schmidt to Paris in 1851. Here he searched for the various leaders of the Willich-Schapper conspiracy and lit upon Cherval. He pretended that he had fled from Cologne rescuing the League’s cash-box with 500 talers. He produced credentials from Dresden and various other places and spoke about reorganising the League, uniting the different parties, as the schisms were caused solely by personal disagreements (the police preached unity and union even then), and promised to use the 500 talers to inject fresh life into the League. Schmidt gradually made the acquaintance of various leaders of the Willich-Schapper communities in Paris. He not only learned their addresses, but visited them, watched their post, observed their movements, found his way into their meetings and, as an agent provocateur, egged them on. Cherval in particular became more boastful than ever as Schmidt lavished more and more admiration on him, hailing him as the League’s great unknown, as the “Great Chief” who was only unaware of his own importance, a fate that had befallen many a great man. One evening when Schmidt went with Cherval to a meeting of the League, the latter read out his famous letter to Gipperich before sending it off. In this way Schmidt learned of Gipperich’s existence. “As soon as Gipperich returns to Strasbourg,” Schmidt observed, “we can give him an order for the 500 talers lying in Strasbourg. Here is the address of the man who is holding the money. Give me in exchange Gipperich’s address to send it as a credential to the man to whom Gipperich will present himself.” In this way Schmidt obtained Gipperich’s address. On the same evening a quarter of an hour after Cherval posted the letter to Gipperich, a message was sent by electric telegraph and Gipperich was arrested, his house was searched and the famous letter was intercepted. Gipperich was arrested before Cherval.

Some little while after this Schmidt informed Cherval that a man called Stieber who was a member of the Prussian police had arrived in Paris. He had not only learned his address but had also heard from a waiter in a café opposite that Stieber had conferred about having him (Schmidt) arrested. Cherval was the man who could give this wretched Prussian policeman a lesson he would not easily forget. “We'll throw him in the Seine” was Cherval’s answer. They agreed to gain entry into Stieber’s house the next day under some pretext or other in order to confirm that he was there and to make a mental note of his personal appearance. The next evening our heroes really set out on their expedition. As they approached their goal Schmidt expressed the opinion that it would be better if Cherval were to enter the house while he patrolled in front of it. “Just ask the porter for Stieber,” he went on, “and when Stieber lets you in tell him that you want to speak to Herr Sperling and ask him whether he has brought the expected bill of exchange from Cologne. Oh, and one thing more. Your white hat is too conspicuous, it is too democratic. There, take my black one.” They exchanged hats, Schmidt prepared to stand guard, Cherval pulled the bell-rope and found himself in Stieber’s house. The porter doubted whether Stieber was at home and Cherval was about to withdraw when a woman’s voice called from upstairs: “Yes, Stieber is at home.” Cherval followed the voice and the trail led to an individual wearing green spectacles who identified himself as Stieber. Cherval then produced the formula agreed on about Sperling and the bill of exchange. “That won’t do,” Stieber interrupted him quickly. “You come into my house, ask for me, are shown up, then you try to withdraw, etc. I find that is extremely suspicious.” Cherval answered brusquely. Stieber pulled the bell, several men appeared immediately, they surrounded Cherval, Stieber reached for his coat pocket from where a letter was visible. It did not in fact contain Cherval’s instructions to Gipperich, but it was a letter from Gipperich to Cherval. Cherval tried to eat the letter, Stieber attempted to take it from his mouth, Cherval hit out and bit and lashed out. Husband Stieber tried to save one half, wife Stieber the other half and an injury was all the reward she had for her zeal. The noise of the scene brought all the other tenants from their apartments. Meanwhile one of Stieber’s types had thrown a gold watch downstairs and while Cherval was shouting: “Spy!” Stieber and Co. screamed: “Stop thief!” The porter recovered the gold watch and the cry of “Stop thief!” became general. Cherval was arrested and on his way out he was met at the door not by his friend Schmidt but by four or five soldiers.

When confronted with the facts, all the miracles invoked by Stieber disappear. His agent Fleury had been at work for over three weeks, he not only laid bare the threads of the plot, he also helped to weave them. Stieber had only to arrive from Berlin and he could exclaim: Veni, vidi, vici! He could present Carlier with a ready-made plot and Carlier needed only to be “willing” to intervene. There was no need for Frau Stieber to be bitten by Cherval on the 3rd because Herr Stieber put his hand into Cherval’s mouth on the 4th. There was no need for Gipperich’s address and the appropriate instructions to be salvaged whole from the jaws of the “dangerous Cherval”, like Jonah from the whale’s belly, after they have been half eaten. The only miracle that remains is the miraculous faith of the jurymen to whom Stieber dares to serve up seriously such fairy tales. Genuine representatives of the obtuse thinking of loyal subjects!

“In prison, after I had shown Cherval to his great astonishment,” Stieber swears (in the sitting of October 18), “all his original reports which he had sent to London, he realised that I knew all and made a frank confession to me.”

The papers that Stieber showed Cherval at first were by no means his original reports to London. Only afterwards were these together with other documents from the Dietz archive sent to Stieber from Berlin. He first showed Cherval a circular signed by Oswald Dietz that Cherval had just received and a few of the most recent letters from Willich. How did Stieber get possession of these? While Cherval was occupied biting and fighting Herr and Frau Stieber the valiant Schmidt-Fleury hurried to Mme Cherval, an Englishwoman (Fleury being a German businessman in London naturally speaks English) and told her that her husband had been arrested, that the danger was great, that she should hand over his papers so that he might be compromised no further, and that Cherval had instructed him to give them to a third person. As proof that he came as a genuine emissary he showed her the white hat he had taken from Cherval because it looked too democratic. Thus Fleury obtained the letters from Mme Cherval and Stieber obtained them from Fleury.

At any rate he now had a more favourable base from which to operate than previously in London. He could simply steal the Dietz archive, but he could concoct Cherval’s evidence. Accordingly (in the sitting on October 18) he makes his Cherval expatiate about “contacts in Germany” as follows:

“He had lived in the Rhineland for a considerable time and more particularly he had been in Cologne in 1848. There he made the acquaintance of Marx and the latter admitted him to the League, which he then zealously propagated in Paris on the basis of elements already existing there.”

In 1846 Cherval was nominated and admitted to the League in London by Schapper at a time when Marx was in Brussels and was himself not yet a member of the League. [274] So Cherval could not be admitted to the same League by Marx in Cologne in 1848.

On the outbreak of the March revolution Cherval went to Rhenish Prussia for a few weeks but from there returned to London where he remained without interruption from the end of spring 1848 until the summer of 1850. He cannot therefore at the same time “have zealously propagated the League in Paris” unless Stieber, who performs chronological miracles, also finds spatial miracles within his powers and can even confer the quality of ubiquity on third persons.

Only after his expulsion from Paris did Marx come to know Cherval superficially along with a hundred other workers when he joined the Workers’ Society in Great Windmill Street in London in September 1849. So he cannot have met him in Cologne in 1848.

At first Cherval told Stieber the truth on all these points. Stieber tried to compel him to make false statements. Did he succeed? We have only Stieber’s testimony that he did, and that is a shortcoming. Stieber’s prime concern was, of course, to establish a fictitious connection between Cherval and Marx so as to establish an artificial connection between the accused in Cologne and the Paris plot.

Whenever Stieber is required to go into details about the connections and correspondence of Cherval and his colleagues with Germany, he takes good care not even to mention Cologne and instead speaks complacently and at length of Heck in Brunswick, Laube in Berlin, Reininger in Mainz, Tietz in Hamburg, etc., etc., in short of the Willich-Schapper party. This party, says Stieber, had “the League’s archive in its hands”. — Through a misunderstanding it changed from their hands to his. In the archive he found not one single line written by Cherval to anyone in London, let alone to Marx in person, before September 15, 1850, before the split of the London Central Authority.

With the help of Schmidt-Fleury he swindled Frau Cherval out of her husband’s papers. But again, he could not find a single line written by Marx to Cherval. To remedy this awkward state of affairs he makes Cherval write in his statement that

“he had fallen out with Marx because the latter had demanded that correspondence should still be sent to him even though the Central Authority was now situated in Cologne.”

If Stieber found no Marx-Cherval correspondence before September 15, 1850, this must be due to the fact that Cherval ceased all correspondence with Marx after September 15, 1850. Pends-toi, Figaro, tu n'aurais pas inventé cela!

The documents against the accused that had been laboriously brought together by the Prussian government and, in part, by Stieber himself during the year and a half that the investigation lasted refuted every suggestion of a connection between the accused and the Paris community or the Franco-German plot.

The Address from the London Central Authority of June 1850 proved that the Paris community was dissolved even before the split in the Central Authority. Six letters from the Dietz archive showed that after the Central Authority was transferred to Cologne the Paris communities were set up afresh by A. Majer, an emissary of the Willich-Schapper party. The letters of the leading district in Paris that were found in the archive proved that it was decidedly hostile towards the Cologne Central Authority. Finally, the French bill of indictment proved that all the acts Cherval and his associates were accused of did not occur until the year 1851. In the sitting of November 8 Saedt, despite the Stieberian revelations, found himself therefore reduced to the bare supposition that it was surely not impossible that the Marx party had at some time somehow been involved in some plot or other in Paris but that nothing was known of this plot or the time when it took place other than the fact that Saedt, acting on official instructions, deemed it possible. How dull-witted the German press must be to go on inventing stories of Saedt’s incisive intelligence

De longue main the Prussian police had sought to persuade the public that Marx and, through Marx, the accused in Cologne were involved in the Franco-German plot. During the Cherval trial Beckmann, the police spy, sent the following notice from Paris to the Kölnische Zeitung on February 25, 1852:

“Several of the accused have fled, among them a certain A. Majer, who is described as an agent of Marx and Co.”

Whereupon the Kölnische Zeitung printed a statement by Marx that “A. Majer is one of the most intimate friends of Herr Schapper and the former Prussian lieutenant Willich, and that he is a complete stranger to Marx”. Then, in his testimony of October 18, 1852, Stieber himself admitted:

“The members of the Central Authority expelled by the Marx party in London on September 15, 1850, sent A.Majer to France, etc.”

and he even divulged the contents of the correspondence between A. Majer and Willich-Schapper.

In September 1851 during the police campaign against aliens in Paris a member of the “Marx party”, Konrad Schramm, was arrested, together with 50 or 60 other people sitting in a café, and was detained for almost two months on the charge of being implicated in the plot instigated by the Irishman Cherval. On October 16 while still in the depot of the Prefecture of Police he received a visit from a German who addressed him as follows:

“I am a Prussian official. You are aware that all over Germany and especially in Cologne there have been many arrests following the discovery of a communist society. The mere mention of a person’s name in a letter is enough to bring about his arrest. The government is somewhat embarrassed by the large number of prisoners of whom it is uncertain whether or not they are really implicated. We know that you had no part in the complot franco-allemand but on the other hand you are very closely acquainted with Marx and Engels and are doubtless very well informed about all the details of the German communist connections. We would be greatly indebted to you if you could help us in this respect and give us more detailed information as to who is guilty and who innocent. In this way you could bring about the release of a large number of people. If you wish we can draw up an official document about your statement. You will have nothing to fear from such a statement,” etc., etc.

Schramm naturally showed this gentle Prussian official the door, protested to the French Ministry about such visits and was expelled from France at the end of October.

That Schramm was a member of the “Marx party” was known to the Prussian police from the official resignation found in the Dietz archive. That the “Marx party” had no connection with the Cherval plot, they themselves admitted to Schramm. If it was possible to establish a connection between the “Marx party” and the Cherval plot this could not be done in Cologne but only in Paris where a member of that party sat in gaol at the same time as Cherval. But the Prussian government feared nothing more than a confrontation of Cherval and Schramm, which was bound to nullify in advance the successful outcome they expected from the Paris trial with regard to the accused in Cologne. By his acquittal of Schramm the French examining magistrate ruled that the trial in Cologne was in no way connected with the Paris plot.

Stieber then made a last attempt:

“With reference to the above-mentioned leader of the French Communists, Cherval, we endeavoured, for a long time in vain, to discover Cherval’s true identity. It finally became clear from a remark made in confidence to a police agent by Marx that he had escaped from gaol in Aachen in 1845, where he was serving a sentence for forgery of bills, that he was then granted admittance to the League by Marx during the troubles of 1848 and that he went as an emissary from there to Paris.”

Just as Marx was unable to inform Stieber’s spiritus familiaris, the police agent, that he had admitted Cherval into the League in Cologne in 1848, for Schapper had admitted him into the League in London as early as 1846, or that he had induced him to live in London and at the same time to hawk propaganda around in Paris, so too, he was unable to inform Stieber’s alter ego, the police agent as such, that Cherval served a sentence in Aachen in 1845 and that he had forged bills, facts that he learnt only from Stieber’s testimony. Only a Stieber can allow himself such a hysteron proteron. Antiquity has bequeathed to us its dying warrior; the Prussian state will leave us its swearing Stieber.

Thus for a long, long time they had vainly endeavoured to discover Cherval’s true identity. On the evening of September 2 Stieber arrived in Paris. On the evening of the 4th Cherval was arrested, on the evening of the 5th he was taken from his cell to a dimly lit room. Stieber was there but in addition there was also a French police official present, an Alsatian who spoke broken German but understood it perfectly, had a policeman’s memory and was not favourably impressed by the arrogantly servile Police Superintendent from Berlin. In the presence of this French official the following conversation took place:

Stieber in German: “Now look here, Herr Cherval, we know what’s at the bottom of this business with the French name and the Irish passport. We know who you are, you are a Rhenish Prussian. Your name is K. and it is entirely in your own hands to escape the consequences by making a full confession,” etc., etc.

Cherval denied this.

Stieber: “Certain people who forged bills and escaped from Prussian gaols were extradited to Prussia by the French authorities. So I would again urge you to think carefully; the penalty is twelve years solitary confinement.”

The French police official: “We must give the man time to think it over in his cell.”

Cherval was led back to his cell.

Naturally enough Stieber could not afford to blurt out the truth, he could not admit publicly that he was trying to force false admissions from Cherval by conjuring up the spectre of extradition and twelve years solitary imprisonment.

And even now Stieber had still not been able to discover Cherval’s true identity. He still referred to him in front of the jury as Cherval and not as K. And that was not all. He did not know where Cherval really was. In the sitting of October 23 he had him still locked up in Paris. When in the sitting on October 27 Schneider II, counsel for the defence, pressed him to say “whether the afore-mentioned Cherval was at present in London?” Stieber answered that “he could not give any precise information on this point; and could only inform them of the rumour that Cherval had escaped in Paris”.

The Prussian government suffered its customary fate of being duped. The French government had allowed it to pull the chestnuts of the Franco-German plot out of the fire but not to eat them. Cherval had managed to gain the sympathy of the French government and a few days after the Paris Assizes it let him and Gipperich flee to London. The Prussian government had hoped that in Cherval it would have a tool for the trial in Cologne, whereas in fact it only provided the French government with yet another agent.[276]

One day before Cherval’s pretended flight he received a visit from a Prussian faquin dressed in a black tail-coat and cuffs, with a bristling black moustache, and sparse grey hair cut short, in a word, a very pretty fellow who, he was told later, was Police Lieutenant Greif and who indeed afterwards introduced himself as Greif. Greif had obtained access to him by means of an entrance ticket he had obtained (having by-passed the prefect of police) directly from the Minister of Police. The Minister of Police thought it great fun to deceive the dear Prussians.

Greif: “I am a Prussian official. I have been sent here to negotiate with you. You will never get out of here without our aid. I have a proposal to make to you. We need you as a witness in Cologne. If you submit a request to the French government to hand you over to Prussia they have agreed to grant permission. After you have fulfilled your obligations and the case is over we shall release you on your word of honour.”

Cherval: “I'll get out without your help.”

Greif (emphatically): “That is impossible!”

Greif also had Gipperich brought to him and proposed thar he should spend five days in Hanover as a communist emissary. Likewise without success. The next day Cherval and Gipperich escaped. The French authorities smirked, the telegraph brought the bad news to Berlin and as late as October 23 Stieber swore in court that Cherval was locked up in Paris, and as late as October 27 he could not give any information and had merely heard the rumour that Cherval had escaped “in Paris”. Meanwhile, Police Lieutenant Greif had visited Cherval in London three times during the Cologne proceedings in order to discover, among other things, Nette’s address in Paris in the belief that he could be bribed to testify against the defendants in Cologne. This plan misfired.

Stieber had his reasons for casting a veil of obscurity over his relations with Cherval. K. therefore remained Cherval, the Prussian remained Irish and Stieber does not know to this day where Cherval is and what is “his true identity”.*

* Even in the Black Book [277] Stieber still does not know who Cherval really is. It is written there, Part If, p. 38, under No. 111, Cherval: see Crämer; and under No. 116 Crämer: “as stated in No. 111, he has been very active in the Communist League under the name of Cherval. In the League he is also known as Frank. Under the name of Cherval he was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment by the Paris Assizes in February 1853” (this should read 1852) “but he soon escaped and fled to London.” So ignorant is Stieber in Part II where he provides an alphabetical, numbered list of suspects with their particulars. He has already forgotten that in Part I, p. 81 he has let slip the admission: “Cherval is the son of a Rhenish official called Joseph Krümer who” (who? the father or the son?) “abused his craft of lithography to forge bills, and was arrested for this but escaped from prison in Cologne” (false, it was Aachen!) “in 1844 and fled to England and later to Paris.” — Compare this with Stieber’s evidence before the jury quoted above. The plain fact is that the police are absolutely incapable of telling the truth. [Note by Engels to the edition of 1885]

In Cherval’s correspondence with Gipperich the trifolium Seckendorf-Saedt-Stieber had at last found what it was looking for:

Schinderhannes, Karlo Moor
Whom I took as model sure.

In order that Cherval’s letter to Gipperich might be deeply engraved upon the lethargic cerebral matter of the 300 top tax-payers whom the jury represented, it received the honour of being read aloud three times. Behind this harmless gipsy pathos no experienced person could fail to see the figure of the buffoon who tries to appear terrifying both to himself and others.

Cherval & Co., moreover, shared the general expectation of the democrats that the second [Sunday] of May 1852 would work miracles and so they decided to join the revolution on that day. Schmidt-Fleury had helped to bestow upon this fixed idea the form of a plan and so the activities of Cherval and Co. now came within the legal definition of a plot. Thus through them proof was provided that the plot that had not been perpetrated by the accused in Cologne against the Prussian government had at any rate been perpetrated by the Cherval party against France.

With the help of Schmidt-Fleury the Prussian government had sought to fabricate the semblance of a connection between the plot in Paris and the accused in Cologne, a connection to the reality of which Stieber then swore on oath. This trinity of Stieber, Greif, Fleury played the chief role in the Cherval plot. We shall see them at work again.

Let us then sum up:

A is a republican, B also calls himself a republican. A and B are enemies. B is commissioned by the police to construct an infernal machine. Whereupon A is dragged before the courts. If B rather than A has built the machine this is due to the enmity between A and B. In order to find proof of A’s guilt B is called as a witness against him. This was the comedy of the Cherval plot.

It will be readily understood that as far as the general public was concerned the logic of this was a flop. Stieber’s “factual” revelations dissolved amidst malodorous vapours; the complaint of the indictment board that “there was no factual evidence of an indictable offence” was as valid as ever. New police miracles had become necessary.