Naturally, these phenomena meet with enormous incredulity. One morning, while Michel is resting in his room, a few sneering teenagers knock at his door. He opens. His visitors, without any explanation, ask him to go to sleep, which he immediately does. One of them asks him what he sees at the market. He answers, without waking:
“I see busy men and women, merchants of cantaloups and watermelons, of general items… I see a red dog carrying away a piece of cod that was soaking in a basin of water, in front of the Gravier grocery…”
One of the visitors goes straight away to the market and questions Monsieur Gravier who confirms that a dog has just stolen a piece of cod from him…
This story having been repeated, Louis Michel sees his reputation of “somnambulist-clairvoyant” (that’s the label given to him by his fellow apprentices) grow even more in the region. People come to ask for “consultations”. The young man receives them with kindness, goes to sleep with docility and describes events which are happening in places often very far away from Draguignan, with stupefying precision.
In 1836, he settles in Marseille where, although he is very discrete, his curious faculty is soon known and used by those around him. Here is what is later certified by one of his friends, Baron Louis de Bulow, former Minister of the Spanish Police:
“I swear on my honour to have seen Monsieur Louis Michel in natural magnetic sleep, many times during the two years that I have known him. Even though, in principle, I was not able to believe such an extraordinary faculty, I later became convinced, after a scrupulous examination, of the uncontestable existence of this precious faculty. And in support of this belief, may I be permitted to state one fact: I once sent him in magnetic sleep to Madrid where my spouse was then. He saw her. Having asked him what she was doing, he answered that she was in the company of another lady and that she was reading a brochure. Later, my spouse answered me in a letter that, at the moment when Mr Michel saw her, she really was reading a brochure in the company of one of her lady friends.”
This “vision” incites foreigners to come to ask the “clairvoyant” to go to their country during his sleep. It is then noticed that Louis Michel can make his mind travel to all parts of the world, and watch events unfolding just as well in Canada as in Moscow or Rio de Janeiro…
Such feats soon draw the attention of a few doctors who are curious about supernatural phenomena. Doctor Garcin of Draguignan, having studied the clairvoyant’s case, writes several articles for medical reviews. Which leads the very serious Revue britannique to publish, in its number of 30 December 1838, a text which is interesting to cite in its entirety:
“Monsieur Garcin, a French doctor in Draguignan, has noted, by multiple experiments, the gift of magnetic sleep provoked naturally in a young man of twenty-two, in circumstances that do not permit the suspicion and doubts in which the adversaries of the intimate sense too often shroud them. This individual, named Michel, a native of Figanieres, goes to sleep positively whenever he wants, and at any time of day or night; he has no other education than that acquired in village primary schools. It is enough to look fixedly at Michel to put him to sleep at once within the minute, whether he be lying in his bed or sitting on a chair in the middle of a numerous society. As soon as sleep comes, gunshots, or the pulling of Michel’s ears, do not trouble his rest. In this state, he soon passes, without the least difficulty, to a series of intellectual feats, of which we are going to make a rapid sketch, while confessing our deep humility toward the superior power who has placed such a mechanism in the animated frame of the man.
“Michel’s mind travels, according to the questioners, to the stars, to the antipodes, under the Earth’s crust; he describes, with a frightening rectitude of judgement, the places which he is made to visit in this diabolical way. He attaches himself firstly to the masses, the details depending on the fantasy of his questioners. Indicate to him a person who is absent whom he has never seen: in the instant, he describes his physical and moral portrait; he gives his horoscope, penetrates inside him, looks for the ill or infected part, indicates the most efficient remedy and prescribes the treatment. Michel is made to travel to places that he assuredly does not know, and his answers have given proof of a lucidity that the natural powers of Man’s organism do not seem to permit.
“He has perfectly recounted that the little town of Martigues was long and in three parts; that, near Saint-Chamas and on the Touloubre, the river which flows into the Carmargue lakes, there was a bridge and, on this bridge, a triumphal arch of Roman construction. In a castle situated above Salon, some people were playing cards at ten o’clock at night: he saw them. The arenas of Roman construction and the new canal at Arles were also indicated with surpising precision. But here is something even more marvellous which Mr Garcin delivers to the meditation of scholars and philosophers.
“Michel possesses the faculty of retrospection. He sees events which happened a long time ago, and that he could not have known. He was made to descend to the year 1833, and sent in search of the “Lilloise”. Michel discovers the corvette at the moment of her departure from Cherbourg; he stops her, 103 leagues from the French coast, because of bad weather; he arrives in Iceland with her in May 1835, leaves again on 13 June; he loses sight of her and only finds her again in May 1836, completely up North where there reigns an excessive cold, which prevents the inhabitants from showing themselves and telling him the name of the country in which he is travelling. The corvette leaves again; he only sees it again at the end of December 1837, in the most glacial country that he has crossed. An event, that he cannot define because of the cold that he is, himself, feeling in all his members, threatens the French ship with the greatest danger; he hears the cries of distress of the crew; the ship sinks; all disappear, all perish, not one man escapes, not even three cats who are on board!!! This accident happens 1,165 leagues from London.”
To be continued.