The celebrated Case and Trial of the Marquis de Gesvres, upon the com|plaint of his Lady, Mademoiselle de Mascranny, who, after three years Marriage, commenced a Suit against him, at Paris, for Imbecility and Im|potency.
THOUGH in point of morality and prudence, some people might think cases of this kind better concealed than displayed, the contrary is the fact; and further, the publication of such criminality as is generally the cause Page 127 of them, is loudly demanded by the united voices of justice and humanity. *
To place these assertions in a clear, and indubitable light, only let it be considered, to what trials the mo|desty of a woman is exposed, if united to a sham hus|band!—What cruel assaults and experiments has she not to sustain! The image of such a husband, lifeless as it is, cannot but kindle some kind of desire, yet, like the ap|ples of Tantalus, it can only torment.—And, as it is notorious, that the rage of a fumbler, is apt to hurry him into extravagancies, and even revenge; the life of a woman, hampered with such a one, may be highly en|dangered.—These imperfect men always seek to do away their own shame by criminating somebody else! There is a remarkable instance of this in the conduct of a King of Castile▪ But to return; all the while the con|nection of the parties in question, endured, it was plead|ed by the lady's advocate, that her husband wanted little else but power to perform his duty: always imitating, even the gestures, kind looks, postures, and in fine every thing but reality; so that there was not only a cohabita|tion, a condormetion, viz. a sleeping together; but also offers and essays of consummation, all in vain and with|out effect. The first legal step taken in this business, was to have a form of interrogation drawn up (and this was partly done by the commands of the lady's confessors) The lady in her charge, does not tax her husband with the want of the organs necessary for generation; but only urges, that these organs are absolutely destitute of mo|tion. This kind of imbecility, is what the Canons call frigidity.
When the Marquis was interrogated by the proper of|ficers, he readily answered every question but that, ask|ing Page 128 him, whether he had consummated his marriage! For this he demanded three days to make his reply, not|withstanding it was expressed in the brief, put into the hands of his counsel, that he had consummated it seven or eight hundred times!
The form of the Interrogations are as follow:
Interrogatory made by us Anthony Dorsanne, &c. offi|cial of Paris, by virtue of a Sentence of the 16th In|stant, at the request of Mademoiselle Mary-Magdalen Emilia de Mascranny, assisted as much as is requisite by Madame de Caumartin, and the Sieur Abbot de Mascranny, her guardians ad hoc, plaintiff. April, 1712.
I. Concerning his name, surname, age, quality, and habitation, after having taken an oath to deliver the truth?
Says, his name is Joachim-Bernard Potior, Chevalier, Marquis de Gesvres, &c. aged nineteen years and a half, living in the Street St. Augustin, in the parish of St. Roch.
II. Being asked, whether, since his marriage, he had done as much as in him lay to arrive at the end of the said marriage, and whether he had consummated it?
Said he had.
III. Whether it be not true, that finding himself un|able to consummate the marriage, he spent the first night in complimenting his wife, without going about to con|summate it, giving her to understand he was very much incommoded in his stomach, by having eaten part of an eel pye.
Said, that finding himself very much out of order with a sickness at his stomach, occasioned by having eaten part of an eel pye, he did not consummate the marriage that night.
IV. Whether he does not know that his valet de cham|bre, who, undoubtedly, was some how informed, that he was unable to consummate the marriage; said the next day to one of the chambermaids of Mademoiselle de Page 129 Mascranny, that he did not think his master had consum|mated the marriage, because he had heard say, that his c—dpiece was tied up, which is a sort of sorcery?
Answer, he knew nothing of it, and that he thought it was forged.
V. Whether it be not true that, the next day after he was married, being uneasy to find that he was unable to consummate the marriage, he pretended to be sick, and the better to make Mademoiselle de Mascranny believe so, affected, at his arrival at St Owen, whither they went to spend part of the day, to lie on the bed till eight in the evening, when he rose to a collation?
Answer, said it was true, that his illness continuing all the next day after he was married, he was obliged, when he arrived at St. Owen, to throw himself upon the bed.
VI. Whether it be not true, that returning to Paris at ten o'clock that night, he retired into his apartment, where he lay alone, for fear that if he should lie with Mademoiselle de Mascranny, she should perceive that his illness was feigned; and that to hinder her even from enquiring into his health, he had the precaution not to let her know that he would not lie with her.
Said, it was 〈◊〉 that his illness continuing, he made Mademoiselle de Gesvres acquainted with it, and went to lie in his own apartment.
VII. Whether, perceiving that Madame de Mascran|ny did not know what was the duty of married people, or the consummation of marriage, he did not turn her ignorance to his own advantage, and spent the following nights, Monday and Tuesday, in making her new pro|testations and compliments, and in embracing her amo|rously, without going about to consummate the marriage?
Said, the charge is false, and that he consummated the marriage, Monday and Tuesday.
VIII. Whether, on his setting out for the army, he did not testify all the tenderness imaginable, to Made|moiselle de Mascranny, and to give her more sensible Page 130 marks of his friendship, writ to her during his absence, two or three times a day?
Said, that this article is true.
IX. Whether he does not know that the Duke de Tresmes, his father, went the next day after his departure, to wait upon Mademoiselle de Mascranny at her toilette, to inform himself about what had passed between them; but finding her little acquainted with such things, and thereby judging that she was not likely to complain of the condition of his son, who, he knew, was unable to consummate the marriage, he retired without giving her any information upon that head?
Said, he had no knowledge of the fact contained in that article, and that he had heard his father say, that it was false.
X. Whether the same Madame de Mascranny, being informed that the Marquis would very shortly arrive from the army, went to meet him, according to his re|quest, and that being at Bourget, Madam de Revel, her aunt, did not take all opportunities of leaving them alone, thinking that in so doing, they obliged the Mar|quis, but, that then, there passed nothing particular be|tween them, the latter contenting himself with making great shows of endearment?
Said, that article was true, and that there was nothing particular between him and Mademoiselle de Gesvre•, because the place was not proper.
XI. Whether, being arrived at Paris, he did not lay with her, and pass the night in caresses, and new demon|strations of fondness without going about to consummate the marriage?
Said, the charge was false, and that he rendered her the duty of marriage.
XII. Whether, during his stay at Paris, he did not lie four or five times a week with her, without having ever consummated the marriage, contenting himself with em|bracing her tenderly, and feeling her?
Said, that he had laid with her all that time, and that he often rendered her the duties of marriage.
Page 131XIII. Whether one night in particular he did not take great care to wrap himself up in his shirt, and had the precaution to hold Madame de Mase anny by the hands, because she had writ him word, when he was at the army, she had been at the marriage of a lady of her acquaint|ance, who had taught her a great many things which be|fore she was ignorant of?
Said, he had laid with her that night, and rendered her then the duties of marriage.
XIV. Whether, during the six months, whilst he staid at Paris, he could not consummate the marriage, though he often went about to do it, always giving over after having hugged and embraced his wife, and nothing else.
Said it was false.
XV. Whether, when he went about to consummate the marriage, he did not feel great agi•ations, and that always finding himself unable to perform the action of marriage for want of erection, he gave over without do|ing any thing?
Said it was false, and that Mademoiselle de Gesvres, must needs remember to have often felt the effects of erection.
XVI. Whether the Duke de Tresmes, well knowing that he was impotent, had not shown himself very much concerned at the want of consummation, and often dis|coursed with Madame de Mascranny upon that subject, and testified his uneasiness to his son, who being disturbed at it, had desired his wife not to speak any more of it to his father, to which she replied, that it was not she who spoke of it, but the Duke of Trismes himself, who daily questioned her upon that article, and that he should desire him not to speak any more of it, for that she would not?
Said, he knew nothing of this article, and that he had only heard his father say, he had talked privately with the lady, but never concerning the impotence she com|plains of, being persuaded of the contrary.
Page 132XVII. Whether the said Sieur de Tresmes did often, in private, solicit him, the son, to do his endeavours to arrive at consummation, and did even desire Mademoi|selle de Mascranny to make some advances on her side, but that he tried in vain to arrive at consummation, find|ing himself in a natural impotence to do it?
Said, that the fact contained in this article is entirely false.
XVIII. Whether the next morning, as he was going out of his chamber, Madam de Rassicod having asked him, if he had done his wife well over, after having been so long absent from her? he did not reply, Ask my valet de chambre, and he will tell you; and that the valet de chambre immediately said, that the Marquis had told him as a secret, that he had r.....d the said Mademoiselle de Mascranny seven times that night, though he did not so much as go about to consummate the marriage, being unable to do it, but only fondled and groped her as usual?
Said, the whole fact contained in this article was forged.
XIX. Whether, as he staid five or six days at Gesvres, at the time of that first journey, he did not lay every night with Mademoiselle de Mascranny, without being ever able to consummate the marriage, and that for fear she should perceive his impotence he took great care to wrap himself up with two or three pairs of trowsers and breeches on at a time when he was up, and when he was with her in bed he did the same with his shirt, always taking the said Mademoiselle de Mascranny fast hold by the hands?
Said, no; and that as for the latter part of it, he never wrapped himself up with trowsers, or with his shirt; and that it is a fictitious story.
XX. Whether he had not formerly a rupture, with which he was very much incommoded, and was in the hands of a surgeon of Paris, and afterwards in those of a woman, who applied plaisters to his natural parts, in or|der to cure him of that rupture?
Said, that he had once a rupture, of which he was Page 133 cured, and that at present he suffered no inconveniency upon that account; that having had the said rupture at the age of two years, and that he had been told that he never had any plaisters applied to his natural parts.
XXI. Whether since he was in the hands of that wo|man he has felt no ail in his natural parts, that might hin|der their functions, or at least, whether he has no re|mains of it?
Said, that he never felt any ail, as he answered to the preceding article.
XXII. Whether the plaisters of a woman who had him in hand, being in all likelihood composed of astrin|gent medicines, to retain the parts which caused the open|ing in the rupture, did not affect the testicles, and shrink up the nerves which served for erection of the penis—so that he was no longer capable of erection?
Said the charge was false.
XXIII. Whether he would consent to have the said Mademoiselle de Mascranny visited, in order to justify what he advances, and to put a stop to the report of her being still a virgin?
Said, that the proposal was so contrary to decency and modesty, that he need make no answer to it.
XXIV. Whether his reasons to hinder Mademoiselle de Mascranny from being visited, are only specious pre|tences which he used to conceal the truth of the marri|age not being consummated?
Said, no; he having consummated the said marriage.
Interrogatories put to Mademoiselle de Mascranny.
I. Being asked concerning her name, sur-name, age, quality, and habitation, after having taken an oath to deliver nothing but truth—
She said, her name is Mary Magdalen Emilia de Mascranny, daughter of Messire Bartholomew Mascranny, master of requests of the Hostel du Roy, aged twenty years and a half, living at the Religieuses of Calvary, in the street of Vautgerrard.
Page 134II. Whether it was not at the persuasion of persons of ill dispositions, and who are enemies to the family of the said Marquis de Gesvres, that she engaged in the accu|sation of impotency, which she has entered against him?
Said, that she did not do it at the persuasion of any body, but only for the satisfaction of her conscience, and by the orders of her father confessors, who have re|fused her absolution ever since she was married, because of the state in which she lived with Monsieur de Gesvres.
III. Whether at the time of her marriage with the said Marquis de Gesvres, she was aged 17 years?
IV. Whether, that the third and fourth night after their marriage they lay together, and that the marriage was consummated those two nights?
Says, it is true that the third and fourth night after their marriage, the said Marquis de Gesvres lay with her; but that it is false that he either then or ever since con|summated the marriage.
V. Whether it be not true, that, though young, she was not ignorant what consummation of marriage was? And why, in several facta and articles upon which she caused the said Marquis de Gesvres to be interrogated, she affects to put on airs of an ignorance so little probable?
Said, it is certain that at that time she did not know what consummation of marriage was.
VI. Whether the tenderness she shewed for the Mar|quis, on the Wednesday following, at his departure for the army, and which she testified by her letters during the whole campaign, were the consequence and effect of the satisfaction she had received from their conjugal union?
Said, it is true she at that time testified by her letters a great deal of tenderness for the said Marquis de Ges|vres; but that it was not the effect of the satisfaction she had received from their conjugal union, but only because she thought it was enough that he was her husband, that they had been before the priest, and received the bene|diction of the church.
Page 135VII. Whether, at his return from the army, about the beginning of November, he lay with her the very night of his arrival, continued to do so for two months and a half, and often performed the duties of marriage?
Said, it is true that the said Marquis de Gesvres, at his return from the army about the beginning of Novem|ber, lay with her the very night of his arrival, and con|tinued to do so all the time set down in the article and more, but that it is absolutely false to say that he per|formed the duties of marriage, whatever efforts he might make to do it.
VIII. Whether, that at that time she thought her|self with child, and said so to several of the family.
Said, that she never thought herself with child, never told any body that she was so.
IX. Whether, that at his return from the army about St. Martin's day, he lay with her at St. Owen, that as he was getting into bed, he smelt an ill smell in the bed; that the said lady told him it was some tenches which were put to her sides, and that notwithstanding the disa|greeableness of the smell, he had the civility to stay with her, and to perform the act of marriage?
Said, it is true that he lay that night with her, the res|pondent, at St. Owen; but it is very false that he at that time performed the act of marriage.
X. Whether she can so flatter herself as to think any body will believe her when she says, that, during all that time, she had been ignorant of the condition of husband and wife, and that in order to be acquainted with it, she had any need to go to the wedding of a lady of her ac|quaintance, who taught her a great many things which before she knew nothing of?
Said, that she thinks she may flatter herself so far, since it is true.
XI. If it be not true, that the said Marquis being ar|rived at Gesvres, on All Saints day, staid there ten or twelve days, and that they lay together all that time like man and wife?
Said, it is true that the said Marquis de Gesvres lay Page 136 with her all the time set down in the article; but false that he either then or any time since, consummated the marriage, whatever attempts he might make to do it.
XII. Whether she will appeal to the persons who have seen the Marquis in a state of perfect erection?
Said, that the proposal is impertinent, and that she will appeal to none but the searchers.
XIII. Whether she will believe the servants and lan|dresses, who saw upon the cloths and in the shirts of the said Marquis de Gesvres, the tokens of the consumma|tion of their marriage?
Said, no; and that the proposal is as ridiculous as the preceding; since he never did consummate the marriage, and for proof of what she says, she demands to have her person visited.
It is to be observed, that these interrogatories were put into the hands of searchers, who were physicians, appointed for the purpose:—These they read over atten|tively to the parties before they proceeded to the visita|tion, or the inspection of the parts.—The names of the four physicians were:
The Sieur Gayant, physician, and the Sieur Mare|chall, surgeon to the King, nominated on the part of the Marquis; and on the part of the lady, the Sieur Hequet, physician, and the Sieur Chevalier, surgeon.—The for|mula of both parties follow, and first that of the Mar|quiss's searchers.
We have viewed, and carefully examined the Marquis de Gesvres, and find that his exterior parts serving for generation, have the requisite figure, size and dimensi|ons; but as these conditions are not sufficient for judg|ing of the consummation of marriage, because there is occasion for erection and ejaculation, which did not ap|pear to us, we cannot absolutely decide, whether he be able to discharge the conjugal duties or not.
Signed Gayant and Marechal.
We have observed, that all the parts of the Marquis de Gesvres, are of a fitting consistence, figure, number, and largeness for performing the matrimonial duties: but because all these conditions are not sufficient for esta|blishing virility, and his power to perform his duties, without the tokens of erection, which we saw nothing of, we are of opinion, that towards deciding whether he is capable of performing the matrimonial duties, there should appear in him some tokens of erection; and, be|cause those very tokens of erection would not be of force enough to ascertain the consummation of marriage, we are of opinion, that it would be proper to visit the body of Madam de Mascranny, his spouse.
(Signed) P. Hequet and J. Chevalier.
A third Report, including many other particulars, was produced shortly after.
The Report made in pursuance of an Order of Court.
We have, in a special manner, examined the exterior genital parts of the Marquis de Gesvres: we have ob|served, that he is advantageously provided with all his parts, having their natural consistence, colour, dimen|sion, and figure. But, because erection accompanied with firmness and some duration, is also absolutely neces|sary towards proving the virile power; and we did not observe any such thing in him, during our inspection, we suspend our judgment touching his potency. We do not, however, infer, that there is impotency in him, from our not having seen that token of virility; because it does not always appear, and there are men, to whom the presence of other men is an obstacle to the appear|ance of such a token. Therefore, we cannot decide concerning the potency of the Marquis de Gesvres, it being impossible to judge of such sort of things, without the tokens indicative thereof. It were to be wished, that the Marquis de Gesvres could have erection in our pre|sence, at some other time, and in some other place more favourable to him: we might then decide concerning his condition.
Page 138Upon this acknowledged perfection of the parts, with respect to figure only, did the Marquis move for the non suitment of his wife; but against him it was expressly pleaded by the lady•s advocate, that conformation alone, or the natural shape of the penis, is only a condition sine qua non; and that nothing was clearer than the posi|tion, "that figure and motion do not always meet in one and the same subject.—There may be motion without figure, and figure without motion—what proves the lat|ter beyond a doubt is, that the canon law has absolutely two different chapters, one entitled, de Frigidis of the cold, the other de Maleficiatis, of the ill-made. Those men, like the Marquis, it is evident, are called the frigid; but the operations of the ill-made, were suppo|sed to be hindered by sorcery.
It is curious to observe, that in cases of impotency, in one of the parties, canons recommend chastity to both! The canon we allude to, was made under Gregory I. but Gregory II. who succeeded him, was too wise to lay any restraint upon a woman's suing for a divorce; he contented himself by simply recommending the hus|band of an ill-organized wife, to turn the conjugal life into a fraternal one. Yet, persuaded that every body has not the gift of continency he concludes his discourse with these words: Sed quia hoc magnorum est, si non po|test se continere, nubat. But, because this is a great un|dertaking, if a person cannot contain himself he may marry again. The same thing that he allowed to the hus|band of a disabled wife, he granted to the wife of an im|potent husband, and the decrees of this pontiff are in ge|neral adhered to, at this present time.
But to return to the consideration of what it is that constitutes the characters of frigidity and ill-make: it is to be noticed, that the first is thus defined, in the canon we have referred to: frigidus is censetur qui licit habeat membrum, habet tamen invtile ad copulam, quia inerigi|b•le quod melius facto potest inspici buam •erbis exprimi▪ viz. They are to be accounted frigid, who have the vi|rile member perfect in form, but which is, notwithstand|ing, Page 139 unuseful for copulation, because incapable of erec|tion; which is a circumstance better understood by in|spection than explained with words. Such a member, saith the law, is good for nothing; because olli durae quies nervos affereus urget somnus. It is as it were dead, and sleeps a sleep of iron; that is, it wants that motive faculty which is the summit of its utility.—As visitations for the purposes of inspecting virility, are not known in this country, we shall be more particular in describing them—"They manage these things better in France," for there, very little depends upon the oath of the accu|sing party. The seachers, as we have before observed, are men, and generally those somewhat advanced in years; and in a business of this nature, they are instructed to lay aside the language of judges, and talk to the parties as cordial friends, officiously tending them their advice; and more than this, like a favourable judge, who some|times puts words in the mouth of a culprit at the bar, they sometimes point out methods and expedients to the impotent person, informing him how he may exhibit the token of virility in its best appearance. They addressed the Marquis de Gesvres in the following manner, when they paid him the visit of inspection. "Sir, we readily allow that the master of a law-office and four searchers, are by no means the most inviting objects to put nature in a good humour; and therefore, that not being the case at this present instant, send for us any morning, and call us into your chamber in the happy minute, when, with|in the privacy of four curtains, if that moment has not arrived, you shall wait for that favourable glance from nature's eye, which she never refuses long to persons of your age, who are not entirely under her displeasure.— Then happy shall we be to be witnesses of the alteration she shall have wrought in you."
Thus indulgently they dealt with the Marquis, but, after all their efforts, they could by no means give in their ultimatum as favourable:—there is no doubt but they made use of every incentive, for the French lawyers inform us, that in many cases the searchers did Page 140 not merely trust to the formation of the virile member in a state of flacidity, but would often prick it, to discover whether it had feeling or not. The duty of searchers is thus inculcated in one of the old law books: Debent in|spicere utrum homo moveatur ad libidinem; viz. they ought to see whether the man can be moved by lust.
Before we proceed any further, in order to enter into the spirit of the pleaders on both sides of this case, it will be necessary to shew the superior accuracy and circum|stantiailty of the French laws, by explaining some par|ticular terms, such as the Congress, the Visitation, &c. the former of which is simply nothing more than the act of copulation, in the presence of an ecclesiastical judge appointed to see it done: this ceremony has been of late abolished, because, in one case, it once led the judges into an error. And it has been since observed, that one happy or unhappy quarter of an hour, was sufficient to fix a man's fate in a trial of this kind for ever; as it was exceedingly difficult, if a person generally impotent, could not find himself capable once in the course of a few months!—Visitation or inspection has been the substitute for the Congress, which being a real and local state, is ever the same, and subject to no vicissitude. Again, the Congress depended upon the concurrence of two adverse parties, one of whom, the wife, as the coun|sel observed, might easily supplant the other, while the visitation requires no more of the wife than a little pa|tience, which she will gladly lend as a ransom for her modesty.
Copulation is also defined to consist of Motion, Pene|tration, and Expulsion; and consequently as the evi|dence of the latter could only be obtained by the wife's person, her evidence was always supposed to be sufficient and therefore, as Madam de Mascranny was supposed to say to her husband, "The end of your marrying me was to make me pass from my-maiden condition to that of a wife; yet, after a long cohabitation, after many attempts and endea|vours, you have left me the same as you found me; you are therefore culpable and insufficient."
Page 141Visitation, and the testimony or oath of the wife, was further preferred, on account of the little dependance that could be made on the external appearance and con|formation of the virile member in a man; and the canon law even illustrates the case of a lifeless member, in a simile from sacred writ, viz. for as the body without the spirit is dead, so also, &c. &c. Still it is apparent, that the evidence of a wife is not always to be depended upon, supposing her to be actuated by malice, or regard|less of an oath—The following case offers a shrewd su|spicion of an instance of this kind—"A husband becomes a father, loses a wife, and proceeds to a second marriage. After several months cohabitation with his second wife, he goes a voyage to sea. During his absence this second wife marries another man; and the first husband, at his return home, is saluted with an accusation of impotency, which he answers by saying, I have had a child of my first marriage; but the wife insists upon it, that the birth of that child was only owing to his wife's having to do with another man. Behold the state of this contest, in which it is visible, that the searchers could not reasonably doubt of the faculties of one who had been a father!"
Still to proceed, there is a very great latitude in the notions, that the French lawyers, as well as the canon law, entertain of a temporary impotency in a man. Ma|dam Mascranny's advocate insisted upon it, that the Mar|quis de Gesvres was afflicted with a palsy in the parts, and quotes Zachias, Tit. 9. Book ix. that author says he, tells us that a man's genitals sometimes fall into a palsy; that then there's an end of hope: all is lost! no resource left! And this not only when this evil seizes people who are upon the decline in point of years, but likewise when it attacks young folks: then says Zachias, nature loses the habitude of conveying the spirits towards the afflicted parts; and from thence it happens, that those spirits so entirely quit their channel, that they never resume it again. And this is doubtless the reason why that grave author, the great Petrone, who has spoken so ill of the Canonists, puts these words into the mouth of a lady dis|satisfied Page 142 with her favourite, paralisincave—Away, wretch! you are going into a palsy.
How justly, say the Canonists, does all this apply to the text and rule of the apostle: Vir non habet potestatem sui corporis sed mulier—A man hath not power over his own body, but the woman.
But, notwithstanding a superb and pompous appear|ance of ability, is often fallacious; yet such persons who can afford no such shew, are justly to be distrusted; and as the French advocate goes some length upon apparent capability, when the thing by no means exist, we shall therefore make use of that part of his plea verbatim: "It is undeniably true, and is confirmed by the experience of all mankind, that the difference between able women's men, and those that are frigid, is this: In the former, the penis is contracted and shrunk up, during the time that it does not actually stand; so that it is impossible to judge of its length and thickness unless it is erect and stiff. Whereas it is quite the contrary in those that are frigid, as in the carcase of a dead man. For such indeed have a penis, but it is never contracted or shrunk up; it has a continual length and thickness, (as in other men when it stands) but then it always hangs its head, and is incapable of a perfect and consistent erection.—See Zachias upon this head in chapter concerning the tokens of virility and impotency.
It has been observed, by all who have written concerning impotency, as well canonists as phy|sicians, that there are many men whose penis very readily rises, nay, lifts itself up in a most proud and ostentatious manner; but then it's fury is as soon spent; like a fire made of straw, the moment it ap|proaches its mistress's door, it basely falls down at the very threshold, and piteously vomi•s out its frothy soul (alluding to that verse of Tibullus, Janua difficilis dominae te verberet imber.) These kinds of impotents are not rare nor unfrequent. Hostiensis queries, whether they are to be ranked among the frigid, since their vice proceeds not from Page 143 the frigidity, but rather too much calidity of their blood. Of this sort of infirmity we have a noted instance in the Baron du Pont, mentioned by Ar|gentraeus.
This Lord was separated from his wife, Catha|rine de Parthenay, heiress of Soubise, for impo|tency, Argentraeus, in the article 429, of the cus|tom of Bretagne, gives this description of his im|potency: Quidam Juvenis valenti corpore uxorem inire non poterat, etsi benè nasutus, sed simul ac ner|vum admoverat, semen praecipitatâ sestinatione ejiciebat, ita ut nihil intrà injiceret, nec intromittere posset genitale. He was a young man of a hale con|stituon, but could not enter his wife's body, though rarely well hung; for so soon as he approached her with his penis, his semen flew off with such preci|pitation, that she was not at all the better for it, nor could his label of morality make its way into love's paradise.
Be that as it will, our inspectors warn us not to trust to the stiffness of the virile organ; there being in many an erective force, but not effective, because not solid, sober, and strong enough to hold out to the end; and therefore we must always consult the wife's person, if we would know what has been done by the man, whether at first sight he appears to be a man, or whether he does not. For though he appears to be a man, he is not presently to be concluded such, because there are some whose en|sign of manhood is a mere cheat, gives mighty hopes, but performs nothing. Again, though he does not appear a man, it does not follow, that he is not a man; because the tokens of manhood do sometimes lie hid, and sometimes pop out. And therefore, by inspecting the husband, no certain judgment can be made either for or against virility; but by inspect|ing the wife, both doubts are removed. For if in the wife, the seal of virginity appears to be broke, it is most certain, both that the husband has vigour, Page 144 nay, and an efficacious vigour; but if the seals re|main whole and unhurt, there is, say the canons, a certain and violent suspicion, that the vigour of the man, if it did exert itself, was fallacious; and if it did not exert itself, then there was the same sus|picion that nature had denied him it. And this suspicion, though presumptive, has the force of all undoubted proof, since the canons rely thereon, as appears per chapter Proposuisti, chapter Litterae, and by all the doctors, to a man."
Having now produced the substance of every argu|ment made use of upon this famous trial, on the part of the lady, we shall draw to a conclusion, with|out dwelling upon the arguments in favour of the Marquis, because they are merely desultory and so|phistical; and as such they were treated; for, not|withstanding all the influence of his family, and Madam Maintenon's interposition with the King on his behalf, nothing better could be obtained than an order from his Majesty, that Madam de Mascranny should continue to cohabit with the Marquis, till he was 25 year's of age; as his father, the Duke, assured the King, that he himself was impotent till that period.—The Duke's family were not the most opulent in France, but the Lady had an estate of 4000l. per year, besides a great sum in ready cash.
The second octavo volume of this trial, which like the present, is swelled up by a number of cases quite irrelative in any other eye than that of the law, contains examples of many artificial maiden-heads—descriptions of small orifices—supposed marks of virginity, impotency, &c.