Archive for November, 2011


Louise de Budos, Duchess of Montmorency

Let us try to unravel this business.  Everything starts by a bewitchment, that is to say by a magic ring which appears to have made the Connetable fall under Louise’s charm.  She and her family are evidently convinced that certain objects can be loaded with power…

***

This could be considered just credulity.  But it is not only animists, throughout the world, who believe that matter is connected to something which goes beyond appearance.

***

Bewitchment is a reality, which often passes through the intermediary of an object, serving as a sort of “psychic condenser”…  Rings are very often the support for this force.  In Ancient Greece it was believed so much that priests were forbidden to wear them, so that their powers came only from the divinity…  In Oriental tales, there are prodigies operated by rings everywhere, that of Solomon notably, which commanded the whole of Nature and whose owner would be master of the world…

***

Bewitchment phenomena are of all times and of all civilizations.  Plato talks about some.  So do the Scriptures.

***

The year of Louise’s death is also that of one of the most resounding affairs of witchcraft in the XVIth Century, that of Father Aupetit, from Pageas in Limousin, who confessed under torture to have seen the devil.  Saint-Simon himself is also convinced that, in the case of Louise, Satan was at work, since like L’Estoile, one hundred years before, he speaks of a smell of sulphur, which filled the dead woman’s chamber.

***

The frightful position of the body when it is found could have been caused by an attack of hysteria or by diabolic possession, whose specialists would say that it engenders deployments of prodigious physical force, bodily violences and mutilations, which are medically inexplicable.

***

The rest of the story recalls the theme of the White Lady.  Grey or white, she is there to announce a death, to protect, or to comfort.  Like the one who helps the dying in a London hospital and who is seen so regularly, that Doctor Paul Turner had an investigation carried out, which concluded that the phenomenon was real.  The lady in question, dressed in grey, is standing at the foot of the bed or seated near the stove, and even gives glasses of water to the sick, but each of her apparitions ineluctably precedes the death of those who see her.  Even if everything indicates that the sick person will apparently recover…

***

Let us just say that she appears on the spatial scene when the temporal scene has already accomplished its revolution…  attracting the person living on borrowed time.

***

Louis Pauwels finds that the hypothesis which satisfies him the most is that of psychometric vision…

Psychometric vision is the perception, usually by a person endowed with mediumnic faculties, of images representing scenes which have unfolded in the past, at the same place.  These images are “true”, that is to say that they have an objective reality, exterior to the brain which capts them.  They usually appear through the intermediary of an object having belonged to the person who is seen like this.  As for the mechanism which provokes this projection of images, it is inexplicable…

***

That such images can form, appears to be of capital importance.  Not because they make perfectly forgotten people and situations resurge from the past, often with great precision.  Not even very much because they project the anecdotic or premonitory “double” of important historical events.  But because, in their way, they open the space-time lock that our limited concepts have put in place for so long…  Locking away powers, which, liberated, would allow Humanity to resolve a lot of problems that have been insoluble until now…

***

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Louise de Budos, Duchess of Montmorency

According to Saint-Simon, Louise de Budos died a victim of the Evil One.  As for Connetable de Montmorency’s re-marriage with Laurence de Dizimieu, it was due to another spell.

On the evening of the drama, pain caused by her niece’s death had thrown Laurence onto her lifeless body.  After having spent a long time kissing her remains, she had taken the beggar-woman’s ring off Louise’s finger.  She then immediately slipped it onto her own finger, like a pious relic…

The Connetable, lost in the pain of his suffering, returned straight to his castle, where all of the witnesses are able to see the sincerity of his despair.  And then, as soon as he starts to recover, he shows Laurence – whom he had never been able to stand before – a thousand marks of friendship.  She was pleased about these new dispositions and thought that they were because of his mourning.  But when she was preparing to leave for good, he asks her straight out to marry him.

Why?  Laurence is not rich and, on top of that, her face is quite ugly.  As for keeping her just to give a mother to his children, the Duke could have found closer relatives in his family and certainly less detested ones…  The first moment of astonishment over, Louise’s aunt, who is only 28, does not even consider refusing the dazzling offer made to her by the kingdom’s most eminent lord.  Who, at 65, still finds the most gallant letters in his mail from women offering themselves to him…

The Connetable is in such a hurry that he doesn’t even wait for Rome’s dispensation to fix his wedding date.  It is only some time after its celebration, that he thinks about turning to the Pope.  This mission is entrusted to Jean des Porcellets, Lord of Maillan, an important man in France’s South.  Rome scolds the Duke’s emissary, but accords its pardon.  On condition that a new marriage be held as soon as possible, this time according to the rules.

Meanwhile, during all this time, Laurence is not enjoying her happiness as she should.  She is continually asking herself questions.  How did love suddenly descend upon her prince?  One day, she comes to the conclusion that it is certainly her defunct niece’s ring that is at the origin of the miracle.  The friends in whom she confides laugh at her.  But as she is more and more tormented, they suggest that she simply get rid of it.  So, one day while she is walking in the gardens of Ecouen Castle, she throws the ring into a pond…

Almost at the same moment, Jean de Maillan returns from his Roman embassy.  The Connetable immediately receives him telling him that, not only is he not going to get married, but that he is even thinking of separating from Laurence as fast as possible.  The Pope, indignant at such extraordinary behaviour, then orders the Connetable to christianly marry immediately.  Long haggling begins.

Montmorency swears that if he can get rid of Laurence, who is despite everything his wife, he would never again marry, and would never again have children.  The Pope is inflexible and his power is so strong at this time that, on 18 April 1601, the marriage has to be publicly celebrated by the Bishop of Arles, at Beaucaire.

Laurence has hardly taken off her wedding-gown than her spouse demands an immediate separation…  With interdiction to ever set foot again in Chantilly…  To avoid being sued, Montmorency gives her an honourable revenue, but obliges her, as if in prey to an eternal resentment, to flee from castle to castle until his own death in 1614.

The Duke of Saint-Simon reports the Duchess' story in his "Memoires".

Half-mad and ignored at Court and in town, Laurence de Dizimieu lived another forty years.  As for Louise de Budos, who had known some extraordinary adventures while alive, she had some strange activity after her death, if we are to believe Saint-Simon.

“A tradition constantly believed in the House of Conde, says that Connetable Louise appears in the age that she had and with the clothes of her time, at the window of the Chantilly armoury, shortly before the death of the head of the House of Conde.  What is very certain is that, very few days before the smallpox of Madame the Duchess, a bastard of Louis XIV …[Louise-Francoise, known as Mademoiselle de Nantes, the daughter of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan, who married Louis, Duke of Bourbon, the grandson of the Great Conde, in 1685]… the Great Conde being at Chantilly which he seldom left, Vervillon, his equerry, coming back from shooting and arriving at the castle at sunset, saw at the open window of the armoury, opposite the Connetable’s statue, a woman dressed singularly, leaning and very advanced on this window, and who was looking so far down, that he was only able to see her face a little and imperfectly.  Vervillon, who knew all about the House’s tradition and who knew that this room was always locked and its windows too, was so struck by this that he stopped.  Turning to the groom who was following him, he asked him if he didn’t see something at the window and what it was.  The groom told him that he saw the same form.  Vervillon, sure that he wasn’t imagining it, advances, still looking at it until, being very close to the door, he could no longer see it.  Instead of going to his bedchamber, he dismounts at the Concierge’s place and asks him why the armoury is open.  The Concierge replies that it isn’t, denies it, presents his keys, goes up straight away with Vervillon, shows him the locked door of the armoury, and unlocks it:  they all enter, find doors and windows all closed and no-one inside.  Vervillon, very astonished, goes to his bedchamber, taking the Concierge with him, telling him what he had seen, then to Monsieur the Prince de Conti, then exiled at Chantilly, and has the groom speak before them.  By word of mouth, the thing comes to the principal people of the household and frightens them.  Vervillon had been for years with Monsieur the Prince, [and was] a good man, greatly estimed, [and had] greatly mingled with men and women of the world.  He has lived more than thirty years since this and still has a lot of considerable friends…

“Two days later, Monsieur the Prince de Conde learned that Madame the Duchess had smallpox at Fontainebleau, from whence the Court had left because of it.  He went to join her, fell ill straight away and very promptly died there on 11 December 1686…”

The apparitions of Louise de Budos’ ghost are also related by Madame de Sevigne.

***

To be continued.

The duchess’ ghost

Louise de Budos, Duchess of Montmorency

In the middle of the day, on 26 September 1598, a great cry of affliction rises in beautiful Chantilly Castle, which has only just been finished.  Louise de Budos, Duchess of Montmorency, has just expired, when she was perhaps going to give a second son to Connetable Henri, to perpetuate his race.  In Chantilly and Fontainebleau, where the Connetable has gone to deal with some business entrusted to him by Henri IV, people are stunned and pained.  Henri de Montmorency’s beloved spouse, so gentle and so beautiful, was only twenty-three years old.

Montmorency will return to his castle only for the funeral service and to ask the Feuillant Brothers to found a monastery at Chantilly.  Then, before retiring, desperate, inside his Mello house, he has the doors and windows of the room where the unfortunate Louise died, nailed shut.  Three months pass, then a rumour begins to run throughout the Oise countryside.  A rumour which appears incredible.  It is said inside noble and middle-class homes, as well as in the slums, that the Connetable has re-married.  It is even said that the new spouse is a certain Madame de Dizimieu, Louise’s aunt, who was already living in his home while the Duchess was alive.  And the sign of the cross is made, for this delay is too short and the union is contrary to canonic texts…

Pierre de l’Estoile, the great chronicler of the epoch, comments on the event like this:

“Died in this time at Chantilly, in the bloom of her years and of her age, Madame the Connetable, the flower of Court beauties, a hideous mirror of God’s justice in her end, which was with appalling despairs, fears and moanings, serving as instruction to this century’s courtiers of both sexes, to fear God and not to do as she did who gave herself to the devil, who paid him by her vanity and curiosity, vices which most of the lords and ladies of the Court today make their god!”

It can be seen that Pierre de l’Estoile makes no bones about accusing Louise de Budos of witchcraft.

The Duke of Saint-Simon reports the Duchess' story in his "Memoires".

One century later, Saint-Simon takes these facts and expands them with several witness reports.  Here is the strange story that the author of the famous Memoires makes of the event.  According to him, Louise de Budos, a young widow of eighteen, and her mother were beside the Connetable’s wife when she died in 1593.  Mother and daughter do what they can to relieve the pain of Montmorency who remains inconsolable for a long time.  One day when they are walking in the neighbourhood of Pezenas Castle, they meet a poor woman who asks for alms while holding a child in her arms.  Louise, moved at the sight of the baby, obliges her mother to give a few coins to the beggar-woman who gratefully thanks her and assures both women that if they wanted it, their charity would bear a thousand benedictions.  The condition is that they accept a ring that she holds out to them and which must be worn on the young widow’s finger.

Saint-Simon concludes:

“The advice was point by point followed and the Connetable married Louise de Budos”…

As we know, the story doesn’t end there and for five years little Louise and her great captain were perfectly happy.

Montmorency is frequently absent on campaigns beside the future Henri IV, who is doing what he can to hasten the time in France when every home will have chicken stew [poule au pot] on the menu.  Louise therefore often finds herself alone at Chantilly Castle which the Connetable has just had rebuilt.  One evening while she is with her aunt and the Count of Cramail, the entourage finds her complexion to be considerably altered.  Has she received some bad news about the Connetable?  Of course not, replies Louise who attempts to reassure her people.  A few days later, while she is on an after-dinner walk with these same two people, she suddenly leaves them, praying them not to move.  She advances towards a man who is standing at the corner of a pathway and seems to be waiting for her.  She joins him, stops beside him and talks to him for rather a long time.

When the man leaves, the aunt and Cramail join her, very intrigued.  The young woman appears so despondent that, this time, they have no doubts that she has just learnt some fatal news from the armies.  She again attempts to reassure them and is even more evasive and more depressed than the last time.

The next evening at dinner, when the desserts are about to be served, she is told that the man to whom she had spoken the day before is asking to speak to her again.  This visit appears to overwhelm her and she says aloud that she finds the man decidedly very pressing.  She prays that he be asked to wait, but leaves the table fairly quickly, firmly forbidding that anyone disturb her:  even if they were to hear some noise or the echoes of an eventual dispute, she insists.

Louise goes with her visitor to a study, situated near the Great Gallery, where she locks herself up with him.  The family, for the moment reduced, it is true, to her aunt and that gentleman, begin to find this comportment extraordinary.  For reasons which can appear just as singular to us, they leave her to confront the stranger for a whole twenty-four hours, and it is only in the evening after having held council with all of the people in charge of the castle, that they decide to knock on the door of the study.  It is locked from inside and they call and beg, but Louise does not answer.  They then resolve to break down the door.  A terrible sight awaits the witnesses:  Madame the Connetable is lying on the floor in a posture which freezes the witnesses in horror.  She is lying flat on her back, and her head has been twisted 180 degrees, so that her face is now completely turned toward the floor.  The face shows no sign of violence.

The unfortunate woman is of course dead and there reigns inside the room a sickening smell of sulphur.

To be continued.

A knight from the past – part 2

The knight who appeared in the Mons sky in 1914 inspired poems, songs and even a waltz.

There is no explanation for the appearance of a mediaeval knight in the middle of World War I. It could not be a collective hallucination for the apparition was seen by two groups of men who were too far away from each other to correspond or suggest it to each other.  The English would have had to scream during the noise of battle – and in German:

“Oh!  Look at the beautiful blond knight in armour, with no helmet, on a white horse!…”

It is unthinkable!

***

 American physicists from Princeton suggest (prudently) that it could be a contact between the universe which is invisible to our eyes where everything continues to exist forever, that we call the Past, and a few instants of the “Here-and-Now” which lasts only the blink of an eye and which we designate as the Present.  A lucky, accidental contact, which led a mediaeval knight to irrupt into the space-time of 18 August 1914.

***

Let us recall what Einstein said about the person who lived a few hours with people who had died thirty years before:

“This man tripped on Time like others miss a step on a staircase…”

[See https://marilynkaydennis.wordpress.com/2010/08/05/a-strange-concert/ and https://marilynkaydennis.wordpress.com/2010/08/07/a-strange-concert-part-2/ ]

The Tommies and the German soldiers perhaps also missed a step…  Some parapsychologists claim as well that wars, for reasons still inexplicable, seem to create a favourable climate for this type of phenomena…

***

Baron Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron's characteristic aeroplane was seen in 1940.

There are many other examples.  On all battlefields since the times of Antiquity, soldiers have seen prodigious things.  All chroniclers mention them.  Here is one example.  It dates from World War II.  In June 1940, an English aviator, Lieutenant Grayson, was on a night flight above Dover, in marvellous moonlight.  At one moment, he sees in front of him a bi-plane of a very old type.  Intrigued, he chases it, catches it and notes, astounded, that it is an old Fokker from World War I, entirely painted red and decorated with the Iron Cross.  Approaching even closer, he notices that this strange aeroplane bears an emblem on its fuselage:  a flying circus.  He could have fired then;  but – he would later say – this aeroplane seemed so weird to him that he didn’t dare.  Suddenly, the Fokker, which is flying ten metres ahead of him, disappears into thin air.  Very troubled, the Englishman returns to camp and recounts what he had seen.  His fellow pilots laughingly declare that it should be forbidden for RAF pilots to have whisky in their cockpits…

Years pass.  And one day in 1943, Lieutenant Grayson buys an old book on the Air War in 1914-1918.  He is astounded to discover the photograph of a red Fokker decorated with a “flying circus”.  Underneath the photo, it is explained that this was the bi-plane in which the Number One Ace of German Aviation flew during World War I.  He was the famous Baron Manfred von Richthofen, nicknamed The Red Baron because of the colour of his aeroplane.

Von Richthofen had been shot down with his Fokker on 21 April 1918.  What was he doing in a June 1940 fragment of space-time?

***

Another phenomenon during World War I: the British saw archers from the XVth Century fighting beside them. It was later learnt that some Germans had been found with wounds "like those which would have been made by ancient arrows".

A knight from the past

The knight who appeared in the Mons sky in 1914 inspired poems, songs and even a waltz.

On 18 August 1914, the German troops in the Mons region were trying to take a little hill.  Right from the start, their attacks, supported by strong artillery, were of extreme violence.  Troops swarmed from all sides, and the British, who were defending the position, seemed to be in a very bad situation.  It was obvious that the Germans, with much greater numbers, were going to take the mound.  An Uhlan regiment was already starting the final attack.  Suddenly, while the British were awaiting the clash with fixed bayonets, the assailants slowed, stopped, then fled as if struck with terror.

What had happened?

An extraordinary thing that the combatants would not soon forget, but which the High Command would only learn much later.  In fact, the officers present didn’t dare to report what they had seen.

For what they had seen was beyond imagination.

It took a nurse, Miss Phyllis Campbell, serving in an evacuation hospital, to overhear a conversation among some of the wounded who had fought on the hill, for the rumour of the prodigy to spread outside the regiment.

British soldiers talked for a long time about this extraordinary apparition.

All the men were vehemently talking, and the young girl thought that she heard them speaking of a “knight”.

She approached, smiling about it:

“Who is this knight?  Who have you given this nickname to?”

The soldiers stopped talking, like children caught in a forbidden act.

“Is it one of your officers?”

“No…”

“So, you’re hiding things from me?”

A gunner decides to tell her, but makes her swear that she will not laugh at them.  She swears.

“Well, this is going to seem unbelievable to you, but it’s the truth.  Yesterday, at the moment of the attack, I was on the hill with a battery.  Our fire was neither rapid enough, nor heavy enough to stop the Germans, and their advance was causing us some anguish.  At a certain moment, we saw an Uhlan regiment start to attack, and it was going to storm our position when, suddenly, a luminous cloud appeared between them and us.  We watched, astounded.  Then the light grew dimmer, the cloud grew thinner, and, in its place, there was…”

“There was what?”

“Something astounding…  You have to believe me, you will, won’t you?…  There was a warrior in armour on a white horse…

Miss Campbell looks at the other wounded men.  They all clamour that it is true;  they had all seen him.  The gunner continues:

“It was a knight, but he didn’t have a helmet.  You could see his long, blond hair very easily.  At the sight, the Germans stopped.  Then, he raised his sword toward them.  Taken with panic, they turned around and ran away without looking back…  We were just as stunned as the Germans were of course;  but we took advantage of their retreat to charge and push them back to Mons.  An hour later, reinforcements had arrived and our position on the hill was assured…”

“And the knight?”

“He disappeared while we were charging…  But it’s thanks to him that we won!”

On the following days, Miss Campbell hears this story dozens of times.  Very intrigued, which is understandable, – but still a bit sceptical – , she questions the men who had fought on the hill, seeking to know the exact circumstances surrounding the apparition.  All confirm the details given by the gunner:  the knight’s blond hair, the armour shining like gold, the white horse and the sparkling sword pointed at the Germans.

British nurses heard about the knight from wounded Tommies.

Miss Campbell, who had a Cartesian mind, finally thinks that all these soldiers must have been victims of a sort of collective hallucination.

Years go by, the war ends and the nurse goes back to England.

Then, one day, she takes part in an international gathering of the Red Cross.  There are nurses there from all the countries (both allies and enemies) which had fought each other for four years.

Miss Campbell meets a group of very friendly German ladies with whom she spends her evenings talking about the war.  Among these charming ladies, there is a nurse from Potsdam who, one evening while Miss Campbell is talking about the combats to which she had been connected, suddenly reacts:

“You were near Mons in August 1914!  So was I…  About that, I’m going to tell you an extremely strange story:  one day, our troops were attacking a little hill which was held by the British.  An Uhlan regiment was starting to attack when an extraordinary phenomenon occurred.  A sort of cloud was transformed into a giant cavalier mounted on a white horse.  This cavalier was in armour, like a knight of the Middle Ages, and was brandishing a sword.  At the sight of this fantastic person, the Uhlans were taken with fright and fled…”

Miss Campbell asks her who had told her this story.

“An officer from this Uhlan regiment whom I was nursing at Mons Hospital…”

Miss Campbell wants to know whether the officer had given any details on this mysterious knight.

“Yes, he told me that he wasn’t wearing a helmet and that he had long blond hair…  It’s strange, isn’t it?”

Then she bursts out laughing:

“If the British had only known that they owed their victory to an apparition!…”

“But they did know.”

And Miss Campbell recounts what the Tommies had seen.  She adds:

“Our soldiers thought that it was Saint George, the patron saint of England, who had come to the aid of the British Army…”

The German nurse says:

“That’s funny, our soldiers thought that it was the Devil…”

And the Ladies of the Red Cross had trouble going to sleep that night…

***

To be continued.

Music from Heaven – part 2

Rosemary Brown showing music "dictated" to her by Chopin.

The musicologists to whom Rosemary Brown’s partitions were shown have published their opinions.  Here are a few.  Richard Rodney Benett, for example, who is both a composer and a Debussy specialist, declared:

“We can all imitate Liszt on the piano, if we want to, but to invent a coherent piece of music which seems to go back to the roots of the composer’s style, is a lot more complicated.  Here, in general, the writing is extraordinarily sure and competent.  You can’t write this sort of music without years of training.  I myself would not be able to do some of the Beethovens or the Debussys…”

Humphrey Searle, a Liszt specialist declares about Mrs Brown:

“Most of the pieces that she has written are very interesting from the musical point of view.  It is evident also that she does not know the technique of pastiche.  I have to admit that the origin of the pieces is really what she says it is.  I am sure that she is perfectly sincere.”

He adds:

“Of the Liszt pieces, I prefer Grubelei, a remarkable work that could very well have been written by Liszt.”

***

This composition entitled "Grubelei" is considered to be a remarkable work that Liszt could very well have written.

Some musicologists are even more categorical.  The pianist John Lill, a Beethoven specialist says:

“I firmly believe the origins that Rosemary Brown gives to this music…  Composers try to show their style as clearly as possible, but it is obviously very difficult to transmit complex works from one dimension to another.  I think that Rosemary is exceptionally gifted as an intermediary.  When the conditions are right, she faithfully transcribes her correspondents’ intentions…”

Ian Parott, who teaches music at Wales University, goes even further.  After having studied Rosemary Brown’s partitions, he declared in January 1978:

“I personally think that this music comes from another dimension…  It is really paranormal music, I don’t see any other possibility…”

He also added:

“I would select three compositions as being among the best.  All three are remarkable in their way:  Grubelei (1969) by Liszt;  Movement of a sonata in do minor (1971) by Beethoven;  and the Revenant by Stravinski (1972).  Each one possesses subtle characteristics of these three so different personalities…  Would a ‘clever’ trickster be capable of obtaining such effects?  I doubt it!”

***

Rosemary Brown played a bit of piano, but was often incapable of playing the works dictated to her by the masters.

The hypothesis that Mrs Brown composed pastiches and that the whole business is only a mystification has been emitted.  This doesn’t hold up.  An enquiry proved that Mrs Brown had only just learnt to read music and studied a bit of piano.  A professor, Mrs Mary Firth, who holds a diploma from the Royal Academy of Music, and studied her case, declared:

“I tested her ear for music, her aptitudes in reading it, and made her go through all of the miserable tests that professors inflict on students.  I discovered, to my great surprise, that she seemed to have no fundamental musical capacity whatsoever.  In other words, she was incapable of writing down a simple melody that I played for her.  When I played two simple parts, she was totally lost!  I would add that, even if she had been to a Conservatorium of Music and had studied fugue and counterpoint, she would have had to have had genius to begin with, then an extraordinary talent for forgery.  For the Director of the B. B. C. had her manuscripts examined by experts, and it was discovered that the writing and the way in which the notes had been traced, corresponded to the way that each composer, for whom she said that she was the ‘intermediary’, did it.”

***

Rosemary Brown assures that Rachmaninov also visited her and composed a concerto for her.

Doctor Lloyd Wepper, the Director of the London College of Music gave his opinion:

“I am convinced that Rosemary Brown possesses an absolutely authentic medumnic faculty.  The music that she transmits is, quite evidently, in the style of the composers with whom she says she is in contact.  A student in music can learn to imitate the style of a composer from the past, but Rosemary does not possess the necessary musical knowledge.  Her music therefore seems to come from an unknown source…”

***

Mrs Brown was examined by psychiatrists who all declared that she was absolutely physically and mentally healthy, and perfectly well-balanced.

***

As for parapsychologists, Professor Tenhaeff of the University of Utrecht and his team submitted her to numerous tests.  He came to the conclusion that Rosemary Brown is certainly one of the most astonishing mediums of all time.  However, other parapsychologists thought that they were in presence of an exceptional case of cryptomnesia, which means that Mrs Brown was unconsciously delving into a secret part of her memory where all the musical works that she had heard since her birth were registered in a latent fashion.

It would therefore be a case of unconscious plagiarism.  But this hypothesis cannot be retained, for Mrs Brown would have to have attended an extraordinary number of concerts, which was absolutely not the case.  On top of which, all the musicologists who studied her partitions noted that the works that she claims to receive contain no reminiscence…

***

It has also been said that Mrs Brown has in her entourage a marvellous musician who helps her.  And Life magazine paid detectives to try to find this “clandestine composer”.  The investigation, which lasted for weeks, gave no result.

***

Mrs Brown claims that Einstein also sometimes comes to see her…

***

Before the Second World War, a young Italian from Catane, Iole Catera – who was twenty-two in 1937 – wrote music “under the dictation” of great deceased composers, notably Bellini and Johann Strauss.  This young girl, from a modest family, had never even learnt to read music.  Her case was studied by Doctor Salvatore Gueli, of Catane, a corresponding member of the academy of Medicine in Paris, who communicated many times about her.

She claimed “to see” in front of her, as clearly as if it were a printed document, a line of musical writing that she only had to copy onto the music paper.  As soon as she had finished, another line appeared, and so on until the end of the piece.  She also wrote melodies, sonatas, piano pieces, and even orchestra partitions which were played with success…  The enigma that she posed was never elucidated…

***

Charles Dickens

There are mediums who claim to receive poems from Victor Hugo or Sully Prudhomme, others who affirm that they are in contact with Maupassant or Merimee and we have already seen the young American boy who wrote the end of one of Dickens’ books, dictated by the author two years after his death…  But there are also cases in the medical domain, notably that of George Chapman, who had been an English fireman and lived in Aylesbury, a little town in the centre of Great Britain.  George Chapman claimed to be possessed by the spirit of a London doctor who died in 1937, Doctor Lang.  He treated people and obtained extraordinary cures.

Doctor Lang’s granddaughter went to see him to denounce the charlatan and even sue him.  But in his consulting-room, she almost fainted upon recognizing the voice, the gestures and the manner of her grandfather.  And when Chapman says to her:  “Hello, my little Susan” and evokes memories from her childhood, she starts to tremble and can only articulate:  “Yes, Grandpa…  No, Grandpa…”  After which, she went back home, completely overcome.  A few days later, George Chapman came to see her and pointed out three objects which had belonged to Doctor Lang, as if he recognized them.

Robert Barrat, who investigated him for Paris-Match, writes:

“Several thousand sick publicly attest that they have been ‘miraculously’ cured or that their state of health has improved thanks to the intervention of the doctor from the After-Life.

***

In the present state of our knowledge, these phenomena can only be explained by the hypothesis of a life after death.  At the end of his article on George Chapman, Robert Barrat excellently writes:

“Stripped of its body, something of man seems to continue to live in a different universe from ours, but with a few memories of terrestrial existence and the possibility, sometimes, of communicating with the mortals that we are.  This is what man has always believed.  In the History of Humanity, our Western civilization has been the first, for a few centuries, to doubt the existence, in the human being, of a spiritual principle surviving at the death of the body.  But the pendulum of History has begun the movement back.  A lot of great names in international science are questioning the arrogant dogmas of materialism.  Einstein believed in a divine force.  His most famous disciples think that matter could well be only concentrated spirit, and that light transmits information.  Matter, energy, light, heat, thought could be only different forms of a force that some call Universal Spirit and others God.”

***

Music from Heaven

Rosemary Brown showing music "dictated" to her by Chopin.

On 17 October 1968, listeners to the B . B. C.  were astounded to hear a presenter, Miss Monica Sims, announce that she was going to broadcast music that Liszt, Chopin and Beethoven had dictated from the After-Life to a certain Rosemary Brown…  The station then broadcast some unknown works where the style of each of the announced composers could be recognized.  The following day, thousands of letters arrived for the Director of the B. B. C.  The listeners, very troubled, were asking for information on Rosemary Brown.  Where did she come from?  Was she a cheat?  Had she received any musical instruction?  Had any musicologists studied the works that she claimed to have received from the great deceased musicians?  etc.,  etc.

To answer all these questions, the B. B. C. organized other programmes during which it was learnt that Rosemary Brown was a working-class housewife living in London, that she took care of her home, her cooking, her children, that she was a widow, that she had little money, that she had learnt to read music and play a bit of piano in her childhood, but that she knew nothing about the rules of musical composition…

It was also learnt that musicologists specialized in Liszt, Chopin and Beethoven, who came to say so themselves, had found in the works that she claimed to have received from the After-Life, the manner and even certain writing tics of the three composers…

This Etude was "inspired" by Franz Liszt to Rosemary Brown in 1977.

So, Rosemary Brown became a sort of star.  The Press consecrated articles to her, televisions showed her and Philips made records of some of her music.

However, many points remained obscure in Mrs Brown’s story…  To the point that an English editor asked her to recount what had happened to her.

The good woman went to work.  A few months later, she brought an enormous exercise book where, in a rather childish style, the most extraordinary story that could be imagined was related.

The editor published it without changing anything, and the book immediately had enormous success.  It was translated into French and published under the title En communication avec l’au-dela (Editions J’ai lu).  Guy Breton writes that to resume it would be to betray it and betray its author.  Therefore, he only cites some extracts from it.  The book begins like this [I have translated from the French version, as I do not possess the original English version]:

“The first time that I saw Franz Liszt, I was about seven and I was already familiar with the spirits of those that we call ‘the dead’.

“I was in the bedroom of a big, old house in London where I still live.  I was not frightened in the least when I saw him standing at the foot of my bed.  I was used to seeing ‘spirits’, that most people call ‘ghosts’, since my earliest childhood;  so nothing in these visions terrified me.

“During this first meeting, Liszt showed himself to me as an old man.  His long hair was very white and he was dressed in what I took for a sort of long black dress.  At seven years old, I didn’t know that it was a soutane…  His visit was very brief.  The only thing that he said to me that morning was that, in this world, he had been a composer and a pianist;  he added:  ‘When you grow up, I’ll come back and give you music…’

Rosemary Brown then recounted how, during the whole of her early childhood, she continued to see beings from another world.  Liszt of course appeared to her often.  Then she grew up, married, had children, without these visions ever ceasing.

Franz Liszt

In 1961, she became a widow.  She then became a cleaning lady in a school cantine.  Bad luck pursued her:  she had a fall and broke two ribs.  Obliged to remain at home, Mrs Brown, as a distraction, one day opened her piano, an instrument that she had not touched for a long time, and played a few tunes.  She writes:

“It was then that Liszt appeared beside me.  I soon realised that he was guiding my hands on the keyboard.  The music was executed with no effort on my part, and it was a melody that I had never heard before.

“Curiously, I was not at all surprised by this extraordinary event.  It all seemed natural and normal to me.  I said to myself:  ‘That’s very beautiful music’, taking pleasure in listening to the creation of a work that I perfectly knew was not mine.  Liszt hadn’t spoken, he just stayed beside me.  I was not in a trance, I was seeing him, fully conscious of what was happening.

“Afterwards, he continued to come back and communicate to me more and more musical partitions.  About how he did it, I can only say that he used my hands like a pair of gloves.  In fact, I couldn’t have played the piano correctly at this time through lack of practice…  With his help, however, my playing appeared technically correct.

“At this time, I didn’t write down the music given to me.  After a while, Liszt started to talk to me.  The notes were in my head or in my fingers;  he just told me the name of the piece that we were going to play together.”

***

This composition entitled "Grubelei" is considered to be a remarkable work that Liszt could very well have written.

After a while, Mrs Brown regretted being the only one to hear these compositions and wanted to write them down.  Unfortunately, she did not have sufficient knowledge to do it and made writing mistakes, noting for example a sharp so when it should have been a flat la …  Then she had an idea.  She writes:

“I realised that it was possible to ask Liszt for the necessary help, which greatly improved my writing…”

One day, Liszt comes with Frederic Chopin.

Frederic Chopin

“When Liszt came with Chopin for the first time, he introduced him to me very solemnly:  ‘My friend, Mr Frederic Chopin’.

Chopin then bowed very politely and said:  ‘Delighted!’

“Then, he stood back in a reserved manner while I sat down at the piano and worked with Liszt beside me.”

Chopin soon got into the habit of coming alone.

“With him, I work at the piano and don’t hear the music before it comes out.  The notes form gradually.  He tells me precisely the notes and the chords, and then we play them on the piano.  If I attempt a chord and my fingers are on a wrong note, Chopin gives me a slight push;  if I let him guide my fingers, he puts them on the right notes.  Chopin then exclaims:  ‘Ah! That’s very good!’

“But a great part of his new music is too difficult for me to play properly.  I make a lot of mistakes and I only obtain a vague idea of what it should be.  For example, I was asked to play at Albert Hall for Remembrance Day in 1970.  I asked Chopin if it was possible to give me a new piece of music.  It had to be something very short, for I was only allowed a few minutes.

“He immediately replied:  ‘Of course!’  And over the course of the following days, he came back with a brilliant little Etude, almost a bit too brilliant in my opinion.  It took weeks of practice for me to master this piece…”

Later, Mrs Brown would meet many other musicians through Liszt.

“Today, Liszt is the organizer and the director of a group of famous composers who visit me and give me their new compositions.  This group has twelve people for the moment:  Liszt, Chopin, Schubert, Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, Schumann, Debussy, Grieg, Berlioz, Rachmaninov and Monteverdi.  I have named them in the order that they came to me.  Others, like Albert Schweitzer, appeared briefly to me and gave me a few pages of music, but they haven’t come back for the moment.  Mozart, for example, only came three times.  Today, after six years of work, I have in my drawers around four hundred musical works (In 1978, she said to Joel Andre, during an interview published by Psi International, that she then had around six hundred…):  melodies, piano pieces, unfinished string quartets, the beginning of an opera, as well as outlines of concerti and symphonies…”

And, since 1968, these works pose an insoluble problem to musicologists throughout the world…

***

To be continued.

Charles Dickens

The book finally appears in November 1873 with this title:  End of the Mystery of Edwin Drood, followed by this extraordinary subtitle:  Dictated from the After-Life to Thomas James by Charles Dickens.

Naturally, the critics pounce on the book and snicker, ready to tear it to pieces.  Having read it, their amazement is without bounds.  They all have to admit that in this work can be found the style, the verve, the humour and all the mischievousness of the great English fiction writer, and one of them even writes:

“If it were not known that this book has been written by a young man from Brettleboro, it could be believed that it is by Charles Dickens himself…”

***

"The Mystery of Edwin Drood" appeared in monthly installments which were interrupted in June 1870 by Dickens' death.

Young Thomas James wrote absolutely nothing else.  He had left school at thirteen to become an apprentice printer and only just knew how to read and write.  Further, when he read anything, it was one of those magazines for adolescents filled with stories of Indians…  He had never opened one of Dickens’ books…

***

After the publication of End of the Mystery of Edwin Drood and in light of the critics’ enthusiasm, the editor, who didn’t believe a word of the story recounted by Mrs Blanck, and thought that he had found a young fiction writer full of talent and capable of following on from Dickens, ordered a second book from him…  Poor Thomas James refused, saying that he would never be able to imagine a story.  So the editor pulled a contract out of his pocket, promised him a lot of money and ordered him to get to work.  Tempted by the amount of money promised to him, Thomas finally agreed to try…  It was lamentable.  He was unable to write three lines correctly, and his personal career stopped there…

***

It could be thought that the book had been written by a professional writer, perhaps hiding amongst Mrs Blanck’s other lodgers.  However, if this author had existed and was capable of writing such a talented pastiche of Dickens’ style, he would not have remained hidden for long.  It’s not the sort of thing that a writer would do.

Some time ago, a book entitled La Chasse spirituelle was presented as an unedited work by Rimbaud.  It was an extraordinary, anonymous pastiche.  But the whole of the literary world soon found out who had written it.  It was Pascal Pia.

***

The Thomas James case was studied.  The man the most interested in it was the English fiction writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (father of Sherlock Holmes) who, in the last years of his life, was passionate about spiritism and the occult sciences.  Conan Doyle had Thomas James’ book studied by literary critics.  Their conclusion was that the author had acquired the style, the vocabulary and even the manner of thinking of Dickens.  Which appeared inexplicable to them, coming from a young, uncultured American boy…

***

It is not known what happened to Thomas James.  After the publication of his book, he returned to total obscurity.

***

Perhaps, in certain cases, we are “helped”…  And what if this “help” is what we call inspiration?

***

Charles Dickens

It is 8 June 1870, in a delightful home in Gadshill, between Rochester and Chatham, in Kent.  It is eight o’clock in the evening.  Near a window, which is open onto a garden filled with climbing roses, tulips and honeysuckle, a man with a beard like a fan is feverishly writing.  Fatigue, however, shows in the dark circles under his eyes, and veils his usually sparkling eyes.  From time to time, he stops, as if exhausted.  But he makes an effort, dips his pen into the ink and continues to set down words.

This man, who is working despite his illness, is one of the greatest English writers.  His name is Charles Dickens.

At the moment, he is writing a very curious book, a fantasy novel, entitled The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which, for the last five months, has been appearing in monthly episodes, and is passionately followed by an immense public.

Around midnight, Charles Dickens lays down his pen and sighs with relief.  He has just finished – with difficulty – the sixth chapter that he has to post to his editor the next morning.  There are six more left to write to recount the end of his hero’s strange adventure.  He’ll get back to it in a few days, when he has gathered a bit more strength.  For the moment, he is exhausted.  He blows out the candles and drags himself upstairs to bed.

Charles Dickens' house in Gadshill

The next morning, he is found dead in his bed.  He was 58.

News of Charles Dickens’ death causes considerable emotion throughout the whole world.  Andre Malraux recounts that, in all the homes of England, America, Canada, Australia, this death was announced to children like a death in the family, and that a little boy, who was very upset about it, then asks:

“Is Father Christmas going to die too?”

But, if the admirers that the author of David Copperfield counts throughout the world are extremely sad to learn of his disappearance, the thousands of readers who followed each month the episodes of The Mystery of Edwin Drood are even more upset.  For to their sadness is added an immense disappointment:  they will never know how this extraordinary book ends…  even in the form of a synopsis, Dickens not having left any plan for his work.

Two years pass, and the public gradually forgets Edwin Drood and his mystery…

Then comes 3 October 1872.  On this day, at Brettleboro, a little American town in the State of Vermont, an elderly lady, Mrs Blanck, who keeps a sort of boarding house and dabbles in spiritism, sees one of her lodgers enter her office, young Thomas P. James, employed by a printer.

The boy is pale and trembling.  Mrs Blanck tells him to sit down and asks him if he is ill.  He doesn’t answer straight away.  He seems very upset.  Finally, he raises his head and says:

“Mrs Blanck, have you ever heard of a writer called Charles Dickens?”

The old lady smiles:

“Of course I have!  Who hasn’t heard of the author of Mr Pickwick and Oliver Twist?…”

“He died, didn’t he?”

“Two years ago…  Why are you asking me this?”

Thomas James hesitates for a few seconds:

“Because…  a while ago, I was in my bedroom.  I was reading a magazine and…  how can I put this…  I felt a presence…  To the point that I turned around.  But there was no-one there…  So, I started reading again, but the feeling that someone was near me became so strong that my heart starting beating very fast.  So fast that I was afraid of having an attack, so I stretched out on my bed…  That’s when I heard a voice in my head…”

Mrs Blanck is literally captivated:

“And what did this voice say?”

“It said:  ‘I am Charles Dickens.  I have chosen you for some work.  Get up, take a paper and a pencil and sit down at your table.’

“I obeyed.  My hand then started to write words as if someone else was controlling it…  And here is what I wrote without even knowing what I was doing.”

And Thomas James shows a paper to Mrs Blanck who reads:

‘By dying, I left my book unfinished…  It’s title is “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”.  I have chosen you, Thomas, to finish it.  I shall come regularly to dictate the missing chapters to you…  I’ll be back this evening…’

Young Thomas James adds:

“I came to see you straight away, Mrs Blanck, because I know that you delve a bit into spiritism…  But I would never dare to tell this story to anyone else.  Never.  I would be too frightened that they would make fun of me…  What do you think I should do?”

Mrs Blanck is delighted:

“This is marvellous, Mr James!  This evening, you must sit at your table with paper and pencil.  The spirit of Dickens would be too unhappy if you refused to obey it…”

Thomas James promises and goes to the printers’.  That evening, he returns tired, dines with the other lodgers, then seeks out Mrs Blanck.  He tells her that he is a bit afraid and asks her if she would accompany him.

Enchanted, the elderly lady accepts.  A few seconds later, they are both in the young man’s bedroom.  Thomas James, seated at his table, pencil in hand, waits.

Suddenly – Mrs Blanck will tell it later – he starts to write very fast, without crossing out and

“as if he had difficulty following what was being dictated to him”.

When, after an hour, he suddenly stops, around fifteen sheets of paper have been filled.

And from then on, for days and days, alone or in front of witnesses, for Mrs Blanck is unable to hold her tongue and people sometimes come to watch the seances of communication with the After-Life, Thomas James will write hundreds of pages on which he will modify nothing.  He says that it doesn’t need any corrections and, anyway, he has no right to do it.

Some evenings, he only writes a few lines and his hand stops.  Sometimes, he covers with his childish handwriting – he left school at thirteen – more than thirty pages before going to bed.  Finally, in March 1873, after five months of work, the last six chapters of The Mystery of Edwin Drood are finished.  Thomas James gives the manuscript to Mrs Blanck who, assisted by the printer for whom her lodger works, starts to look for an editor.  It takes them months to find one.

To be continued.

A ward at Hotel-Dieu in Paris.

The triumph of Century of Light thinking will be fatal for the myth of the healer king, although at the article “scrofula” in Diderot’s Encyclopedie, only the miracles performed by the King of England are questioned.  There is no doubt that at this epoch, enlightened minds, including those which remain attached to absolute monarchy, now only see in the touching ceremony the persistence of a superstition born in dark ages.  Limited to a certain intellectual elite which still remains discrete on this point, questions about sacred royalty increase all throughout the XVIIIth Century, until the disappearance of the touching rite, firstly in England, then in France.

***

In England, James II, like his brother Charles II, sees many sick coming to him, more than four thousand in May 1685 alone.  Secretly attached to the project of restoring Roman Catholicism, he modifies the ritual in use since James I to go back to the liturgy contemporary to Henry VII, which includes prayers in Latin, invocations to the Virgin and the saints, and the tracing of the sign of the cross on the wounds.  As for William of Orange, he is totally sceptical about the healing power that many of his subjects persist in attributing to him.  He will not perform the touching of scrofula.  On the other hand, Queen Anne, raised to the throne in 1702, returns the following year to the tradition of the royal miracle.  One of her subjects, Jeremie Collier, the author of an Ecclesiastic History of Great Britain, notes that

“attempting to contest the reality of the healing power of the sovereigns, is to advance the worst excesses of scepticism, deny what our senses tell us and push incredulity to the point of ridiculousness”.

It is on 27 April 1714, three months before her death, that Queen Anne performs the miraculous rite for the last time.

The princes of the House of Hanover will not take on this ancient tradition.  The Whigs, who support the new dynasty, reject anything which could recall the sacred royalty of former times, which doubtless explains the rapid disappearance of the touching of scrofula.  The Elector of Hanover, James I’s great-grandson, who was raised in the strictest Protestantism, mounts the English throne in 1714 and naturally refuses to touch scrofula.  When an English lord asks him to perform the rite on his son, he does not hide his irritation and advises the annoying gentleman to go to the Stuart Pretender and ask him.  Which the gentleman does and sees his son cured, thereby becoming a fervent partisan of the Jacobite camp.  True or false, this story shows the state of mind which was prevalent at the time, both in this German Prince, a total stranger to England, and in part of British public opinion.

Exiled,  James II and his son continue, in France, Avignon and Italy, to perform the rite.  A Jacobite pamphlet calls the English to revolt and proclaims that they will be held

“for unworthy of the knowledge that they have of this marvellous power and the benefits that they can take from it, if they disdain it or neglect it”.

The partisans of the new dynasty reply through Doctor William Beckett who, in his Open and Impartial Enquiry on the Antiquity and the Efficacity of the Touching of Scrofula, opposes rational criticism to the superstition invoked by the partisans of the Stuarts.  In 1747, the author of a General History of England makes the mistake of slipping into his work a few lines in which he advances, speaking of the Heir to the Stuarts, that he is

“the eldest of the direct-line descendants of a race of kings who, in truth, over long centuries, have possessed the power of curing the scrofulous by the royal touch”.

This passage unleashes the Whig newspapers, and the City of London takes away the unfortunate author’s pension…  It must be pointed out that the son of James II appears threatening at this time and that, back in Scotland, he has again been touching scrofula.  The military defeat of Culloden would soon annihilate his hopes of regaining the throne.  The memory of the royal miracle disappears with the death of his brother, which occurs in Rome in 1807.  For Hume,

“the practice of touching was abandoned for the first time by the present dynasty, which observed that this custom was no longer capable of impressing the population and was ridiculous in the eyes of all men of good sense…”

The arrival of the Hanovers, which occurred in 1714, therefore dealt a fatal blow to the sacred dimension of English royalty.  The foreign nature of the new dynasty, and the absence of any reference to Divine Right in the Parliamentary system which will be put into place, will lead, earlier than in France, to the disappearance of the supernatural character attributed to political power.

***

The Kings of France continue to perform this rite throughout the XVIIIth Century.  Popular fervour remains since, in October 1722, the day after his Coronation, Louis XV touches two thousand, four hundred scrofulous people in the Saint-Remi park at Reims.  Under the reign of the Bien-Aime [Beloved] tradition is shaken up.  It is in fact accepted that the King can only proceed to the rite after having taken Communion.  But, several times, he is forbidden to take Communion by his Confessors, because of his amorous exploits.  This situation occurs at Easter in 1739 and 1740, and at Christmas in 1744.  This interruption of the miracle, consecutive to the King’s misconduct, has a very negative effect on public opinion.  And even more so in that at the same moment, the philosophers, as well as Montesquieu in his Lettres persanes, are beginning to ironise about the “magician King”.  As for Saint-Simon, he no longer hesitates to speak of

“this miracle that is claimed to be attached to our kings’ touch”.

For Voltaire, who takes William III of England for model,

“the time will come when reason will begin to make some progress in France, [and] will abolish this custom”.

Louis XVI still touched the scrofulous the day after his Coronation, but doubt is already installed perhaps, since the formula

“The King touches thee, God heals thee”

has been replaced by

“The King touches thee, may God heal thee”.

The nuance is significative of a certain scepticism as to the results of the miraculous treatment.

***

In 1825, Charles X wants to restore the splendours of the Reims Coronation and the question is raised as to whether or not to resuscitate the touching ceremony.  Many in the royal entourage oppose it for it is feared

“to furnish a pretext for derisions of incredulity”.

An Ultra priest, Abbot Desgenettes, and the Archbishop of Reims, Monsignor Latil, are however convinced of the necessity for

“mending the strands of time”.

Rejecting the wishes of the inhabitants of Corbeny who are clamouring for the King’s return to Saint Marcoul’s tomb, they gather all the scrofulous that they can find, in a hospice bearing the saint’s name, in Reims.  After a lot of hesitation, Charles X makes up his mind, on 31 May 1825, to touch the scrofula of around one hundred and twenty unfortunates who expect to be cured by him.  The chronicler of the Ultra gazette La Quotidienne prudently states that

“if the King, in accomplishing the duty imposed by ancient custom, approached these unfortunate people to heal them, his just mind made him feel that, if he could not cure the wounds of the body, he could at least sweeten the unhappiness of the soul”.

This will be the last performance of the royal rite, mocked by Beranger in his Sacre de Charles le Simple.

***

The time of sacred monarchy is definitely over but the triumph of rationalism has not dissipated the memories of ancient times.  In the general disenchantment in the world, the miracle of the healer kings still exercises, for all those who cultivate a “long memory” buried inside the deepest part of the collective memory of the European peoples, a certain power of fascination, a faraway echo of an order of things that has disappeared, a “nostalgia of the being” which is inseparable from belief in the mystery of the world.

***

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