Emile Zola writes:
“When will they stop feeding us this rubbish! These so-called clairvoyancy phenomena are only traps for the gullible, just good enough to impress illiterate bigots.”
Mademoiselle Couedon’s star begins to dim. Parisians are fickle and are always ready to burn their idols.
And then, one evening in May 1896, the Countess de Maille receives the cream of French aristocracy in her Paris salon. There are more than one hundred guests bearing prestigious names. Mme de Maille tells them:
“I have a surprise for you. The famous clairvoyant, Mlle Couedon, is here…”
A bit shy, the young lady enters to applause and goes to sit in the centre of the salon. Everyone considers her with amused curiosity. As she is slow to start prophetising, they stamp their feet, chanting:
“Ecstasy! Ecstacy! Ecstasy!”
Then, the young clairvoyant suddenly falls back in her armchair and half-closes her eyes. Her cheeks flush and she chants:
Near the Champs-Elysees
I see a place not raised
Which is not for piety,
But which approaches it
In a sound of charity
Which is not the truth.
She stops for an instant. Her face contracts:
I see the fire rise
And the people scream,
I see like heaps of them.
The clairvoyant sways. She has to be supported. When her weakness passes, Henriette says that all of the people who are listening to her will be spared. Then she turns toward Count de Maille and announces to him that he will be touched, but “distantly”. Before retiring, the young clairvoyant adds that after this fire, she sees the death of a great lord…
Ten minutes afterwards, all of Mme de Maille’s guests have gone back to their worldly chatting.
And one year later, almost to the day, on 4 May 1897, the Bazar de la Charite, installed Rue Jean-Goujon, near the Champs-Elysees, takes fire. The crowd, panicked, runs screaming towards the too-narrow exits. Some are crushed, others fight, and everything burns, everything is consumed, everything is calcinated. There are more than one hundred dead, including the Duchess d’Alencon.
And, as Henriette predicted, none of Mme de Maille’s guests were among the victims. As for the Count, he is in mourning for a distant cousin.
Then, on 7 May, three days after the catastrophe, the Duke d’Aumale dies in Sicily upon learning of the death of his niece, the Duchess d’Alencon…
Gaston Mery, a journalist, had been present at Mme de Maille’s reception, and had noted Mlle Couedon’s words immediately. Count de Maille, himself, confirmed their exactitude in an article published by the newspaper Le Temps.
Mlle Couedon correctly predicted cyclones, railway catastrophes, duels between famous people, the disappearance of Felix Faure, the Russian Revolution…
She also made mistakes, for example, in announcing the return of a King in France.
In everyday life, Henriette Couedon was a happy, joyful, laughing, pious young girl, but in no way mystical. She read a lot and her favourite author was not Saint John of the Cross or Nostradamus, but Jules Verne… She had never been interested in occultism. She was in very good health and had never suffered from any nervous troubles. In other words, she was a wholesome, well-balanced young lady. Then, one day, her parents went with her to visit a friend, the famous Mme O., whom we have mentioned. This lady said that she was inspired by the Archangel Gabriel and had clairvoyancy gifts. However, for some time, her gift seemed to be diminishing. It is true that she made her clients pay her…
It is well-known that, very often, clairvoyants lose their gifts when they charge people money for using them…
On this particular day, Henriette was at Mme O.’s when, suddenly, she fell into an ecstasy which lasted several hours. Afterwards, she recounted that the Archangel Gabriel, disgusted by seeing Mme O. commercialising her clairvoyance, had come to announce to her that she had been chosen as the Angel’s spokesperson.
Guy Breton does not believe in the intervention of the Archangel Gabriel in this story; but he says that it is uncontestable that one day, for reasons which remain mysterious, Mlle Couedon’s comportment was completely transformed and she seemed to have acquired a certain clairvoyancy gift.
Mr Breton also thinks that anyone can predict that, in the weeks to come, there will be an earthquake somewhere, or a rail accident, the death of a famous man or social unrest… Which is why he attaches no importance to anything that she may have predicted before and after the evening of May 1896. But there is the extraordinary vision of the Bazar de la Charite fire. If this had been the only thing that she had “seen”, her case would still have been intriguing. For, at the time when she speaks about it, no project concerning a charity sale near the Champs-Elysees yet existed…
In the present state of our knowledge, it is impossible to explain how we are able to see a vision of a future event. However, there is one explanation given by parapsychologists: imagine a train turning around a mountain on its way to meet another train which is on the same line. Neither of these two trains knows of the other’s existence. They receive no alarm signal and their collision is certain. However, their destiny is unknown to them. While the catastrophe which is about to occur is absolutely obvious to an observer placed, for example, in an aeroplane, a few hundred metres above them. The clairvoyant is perhaps a person who is situated on a superior level.
Some scholars have seriously studied these problems. Among them, there is one of the greatest biologists of our time, Dr Alexis Carrel, Nobel prize-winner and author of L’Homme, cet inconnu. Here are his conclusions:
“Certain individuals appear susceptible to travelling in time. Clairvoyants perceive not only events which happen far away, but also past and future events. It could be said that their conscience projects its tentacles just as easily into time as into space. Or that, escaping physical continuum, they contemplate the past and the future, like a fly could contemplate a painting if, instead of walking on its surface, it flew a slight distance from it. The facts of prediction of the future lead us to the brink of an unknown world. They seem to indicate the existence of a principle capable of evolving outside our body’s limits.”