I never had given an inordinate amount of thought to him. Those who cause problems, or are otherwise lacking in their duty, are brought to my attention much more frequently than those who work competently at this profession. Perhaps this is a failing, but it is one that is difficult to change. I did, of course, know of him; I had even had numerous minor dealings with the man in the course of his tenure in Paris, dealing with this or that assignment of his. A greater sign, I think, is that I had not once heard a true ill word spoken towards the man by anyone in the service.
He was quite capable and efficient in his work- some would almost say he was too much so- but an admirable officer, for all that. He felt a personal duty to the law which he was sworn to uphold, and he worked unfailingly to live up to that duty.
When the letter reached my desk, it rather surprised me. Ten rather simple suggestions, laid out in a rigid, unfailing hand. I could not even claim to recognize that writing until I happened to glance at the signature. When I saw that signature, coupled with the time it was written, I must admit that I was rather shocked to realize what it must have been.
In my years on the force, I had certainly read, or at least glanced over, a number of such letters- those prefacing a suicide. They had to be taken as evidence, studied to make sure they were authentic, to rule out foul play and make sure the incident was truly what it appeared to be. This suicide note, however, was rather unique.
Many such notes outlined in detail the reasons why the perpetrator- and, indeed, victim- of such an action would commit what they ended up committing. This letter, written in the last moments of a man whose corpse was discovered only a day earlier by the Pont-au-Change, did not. It was merely, as I have previously mentioned, a short list of 'Observations for the Benefit of the Service'. Each point was brief, stated quite succinctly, in fact. All were worth looking into, as well. Just moments before taking his last earthly breath, he was still concerned about the well-being of the department for which he worked.
This, of course, offers insight into who the man was at heart, but sheds no light on the question, 'Why?' Earlier that evening, the man had come to me with a verbal report concerning his latest assignment. His true nature had been discovered by the insurrectionists while he was behind the barricade. He had not been killed, however, despite their intentions to do so. One insurgent, for a reason unknown, released him after offering to do the killing, saving him from, indeed, the brink of death.
Was this simple act of mercy what brought the inspector to do what he did hours later? I do not think, of course, that anyone will ever know the answer to this for certain, but I do not believe that it could. For one such action committed by a random unnamed insurrectionist to drive a respected member of the police force to suicide seems unlikely at best. And if it were not a random unnamed insurrectionist? Realistically, the odds of that member of the police force to have known that insurrectionist ahead of time are even more slim. If that were so, it would, in fact, be a coincidence of the highest order. Inquiries into the identities of the corpses found at the barricades revealed normal students and workmen. None had had any particularly ignoble secret in their background, and they would not likely have had any prior work related dealings with the inspector. Added to this, to the best of my knowledge, the man's social calls to anyone were infrequent at best, and all but nonexistent, at worst. His life was wrapped in his job. They were part and parcel of what he was.
That leads to another possibility. If, for some reason, he came to some supposition that he would be unable to continue in his work, he may have seen no other outlet for the rest of his life, either. I do not know what sort of event could have caused the man to arrive at such a conclusion, but if it were so, the ultimate consequence would not seem out of the question.
All of this is, certainly, mere conjecture. There is a marked absence of any evidence pointing in any way to the reasons that drove the man to do what he did. And without evidence, of course, policework is loathe to continue. Speculation is all that we survivors can do, because the truth, ultimately, drowned in the Seine in the early hours of June 7, 1832, along with one Inspector Javert.
Prefect of Police
July 13, 1832