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The Marquise de Ganges

The Marquise de Ganges

It is 1656, in the ancient quarter of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, whose narrow alley ways and high houses, the tops of which touch each other above the street, have always favourized the most equivocal fermentings of the mind.  In this sombre XVIIth Century, throughout which flames regularly devour witches, the little Rue d’Hautefeuille, bordered on one side by a disused Jewish cemetery and on the other by student lodgings, is no exception.  It could even be said that inside the few houses with little towers in this street, magi and fortune-tellers, adept in all types of mancies, are in charge of Paris.

One October afternoon, a young woman who is barely twenty years old, wearing deep mourning, has her carriage stop at the entrance to this little street.  If she wasn’t completely veiled, it could be seen that she is very beautiful.   So beautiful that the whole of the Court of the young Sun-King [Louis XIV] is ecstatic about it.  So beautiful that the Queen of Sweden, visiting Versailles, cannot refrain from saying:

“In all of the kingdoms that I have crossed, I have never met a woman who can compare to this beautiful Provencale!”

This beauty had been married at thirteen to an amiable officer fifteen years her senior.  She had very much loved him.  But he had recently died at sea after seven years of a happy union.  Now, his young widow is about to remarry, in obedience to her parents’ wishes.  This time her husband will be a gentleman of her own age, the Marquis de Ganges, Governor of Saint-Andre-de-Majencoules, an advanced post in the Cevennes.  The Marquis is also very beautiful, and so joyful!  Always dressed in the latest fashion, frequenting the best Parisian tailors, he is to be seen at Versailles at both the Petit and the Grand Risings.  He is always hunting, often in the King’s company.  He is exactly the same age as Louis XIV.  To resume, he is a perfect cavalier, who will go magnificently with this young, rich heiress…

Catherine Deshayes, wife of Monvoisin

Catherine Deshayes, wife of Monvoisin

A high oak door, flanked by torches, a flight of marble steps, and the young woman is at the lodgings of Catherine Deshayes, the wife of Monvoisin, whose profession is fortune-teller.  Upon entering the vestibule of the one whom the Greats, her clients, call La Voisin, the future Marquise has a moment’s hesitation.  She is shown a sinister hallway all hung in black and constellated with cabalistic signs.  But the maid leads her smilingly towards the magician’s lair.  The place has obviously been decorated by a succubus with refined taste and everything is intended to put the visitor in the right mood.  Between the standing statue of Belzebuth and a set of mirrors which allow people from the Past and from the Future to be seen, La Voisin lolls in an Egyptian armchair.  Fascinated, the young woman contemplates behind her a very crude allegory representing lust…

Draped in dark taffeta studded with little green dragons, her face hidden under a sort of nun’s cornette, La Voisin appears wary at first, and wants to know why the young woman has come to her.

“In a few days, I will have to make a capital decision.  I would like your spirits to advise me.”

The magician relaxes and tells her that she will ask them to answer her.  She asks her not to say anything but to write down, on the piece of paper that she hands to her, the questions that she wants to ask the spirits.  The young woman does not want to write anything down, fearing that the paper could be used against her.  La Voisin assures her that she will burn the paper before her eyes.

The young woman takes the pen which is being held out to her, backs away and writes two lines on the paper, which she then gives to the clairvoyant, who rolls it into a ball and drops it immediately into the mouth of a furnace where aromatic herbs are burning.  Using an elementary sleight-of-hand, La Voisin has of course hidden the paper on which is written:

“Am I young?  Am I beautiful?  Am I a girl, a woman, or a widow?  Should I marry or remarry?  Will I live a long life, will I soon die?”

She leaves, having made an appointment to return in three days.  The time needed by the spirits to come up with the answers.  The time needed by La Voisin to gather information from one of her many spies who investigate for her around Paris…

When the future Marquise returns, she hears this:

“You are young, you are beautiful, you are a widow.  Soon you will remarry…”

Then, touching the head of a stuffed salamander with big orange spots, she concentrates for a moment then says this, which is true clairvoyance:

“I have to tell you…  yes… I have to tell you, that you are going to die young!”

The young woman wants to know whether the cards ever make a mistake.  La Voisin replies that they rarely do.  The young woman begs her to try again.  The fortune-teller slowly rises and goes towards her oven.  In a recipient she takes a pinch of resin which she rolls in what appears to be incense, then throws the little ball into the fire.

A green and blue flame rises, which she carefully inspects.  She turns back toward the young woman.

“There is little hope…  You will die young from a violent death!”

***

To be continued.

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He was the runt of the litter.   His mother was a beauty queen with many prizes to her credit.

She had not been an enthusiastic participant in her mating with a much older dog at a distant kennel.  Her resentment had grown during her pregnancy and her owners had watched her very carefully during the whelping.  It was feared that she might decide to devour her puppies.

The thought might have crossed her mind, but she chose to just glare balefully at any human who came into sight.  Humans had betrayed her.  She, a prizewinning pedigree Pekinese bitch, who could trace her ancestors back to intimate companions to emperors, some of whom had even been suckled by the aristocratic ladies of the Court, had been humiliated.

She had been taken away from her territory, dumped unceremoniously into a strange room, and before she had had time to adjust to her new surroundings, That Dog had invaded her space.  And her person.  She had tried to refuse, both haughtily and very firmly, but it was his territory, so she had had to submit.  She could have fought him, but she was too frightened.  And bewildered.  Why had her humans done this to her?

The smell of him had lingered, even after her next shampoo.  It came back in waves.  Even now, after the birth of her puppies, she could still smell him.  Then there was The Runt.

He was much smaller than the others and she just knew that there was something wrong with him.  It wasn’t his size, nor the fact that his nose jutted out slightly – a hideous fault, which certainly didn’t come from her side.  (There was obviously bad blood in That Dog.)  It was something more subtle.  She couldn’t quite put her paw on it, but she knew that he shouldn’t be encouraged to live.

She tried to prevent him suckling.  Somehow, he managed to sneak to a teat while, exhausted, she was taking a well-earned nap.

After the puppies’ eyes had opened, humans started to visit the new mother.  They ooh-ed and ah-ed over the puppies – and ignored her completely.

Before her maternity, she had been the kennel’s star attraction.  Torn between indignation at being ignored and maternal pride, she decided that it was time to examine The Runt’s case more closely.

Apart from The Nose, everything about him was perfect show material.  His legs were beautifully bowed, his eyes bulged as they should, his socks were just the right height, his rusty markings were beautiful, his tail curled as it ought.  He was small of course, but the unavoidable defect was indubitably those few millimetres of Nose.  The perfect Pekinese nose is flat against the face, and this one wasn’t.

However, it wasn’t his physical appearance that repelled her.  It was something else.  A feeling.  He had to go.

She tried suffocation.  Pekinese jaws open to a surprising (and often very frightening) size.  She wrapped them around the runt’s neck and held her mouth shut.  She didn’t try to bite.  She just waited.  A kennel maid saw her and, with much shrieking, alerted the owners.  The Runt was removed from her jaws and she was accused of trying to bite off his head.  Which was quite untrue.  The time for eating him would have been at his birth.  It was much too late now.

She made a second attempt at suffocation a few days later, but was again thwarted.  After that, she was constantly watched, so she gave up trying to rid the world of her defective offspring.

***

My parents visited the kennel and were introduced to the now weaned Runt.  He had a very aristocratic pedigree name, but Daddy christened him Cheng with an acute accent on the “e”.  I don’t know why.  Was he trying to make the name sound French?  If so, why?  I don’t even know why he chose a Pekinese.  The only possible reason which comes to mind is that our next-door neighbours had a Pekinese.  An affable gentleman whose bulging eyes became completely blind and were further damaged by the poor old thing constantly running into things while roaring around the yard.  He was eventually helped to a merciful end.  However, when Cheng arrived home, our canine neighbour could still see and was very interested in the puppy next-door.

***

Cheng had been in our home for a few days and was poking his head into every cupboard he could reach, as soon as it was opened.  Mummy was kneeling in front of the open saucepan cupboard and Cheng’s head was inside.  Mummy sneezed.  The sound echoed through the cupboard and Cheng screeched, shot across the room, and cowered up against the wall, near the back door.  He was in the corner sitting on his backside with his front paws pawing the air.  Later, Mummy taught him to “clap hands” while in this position – a variation on this first pawing of the air.   However, he avoided going near the open saucepan cupboard again.

***

Cheng once appeared in a play.  I don’t remember the name of it, but the lady who carried him onstage (he was playing her lap-dog) was Miss Lorna Taylor.  I called her Auntie Lorna because, in our family, children did not address adults by their first names.  It was disrespectful.  Close family friends were given the honorary title of “aunt” or “uncle”.  Everyone else was Mr, Mrs or Miss.  We didn’t know any Lords, Ladies or knights at the time.

Cheng was usually taken home after his last scene in the play.  However, on the last night, he was allowed to take his curtain call with the rest of the cast.  Auntie Lorna carried him onstage and the audience applauded – and so did Cheng.  He sat up in Auntie Lorna’s arms and “clapped hands” with all his might.  The audience went wild.  It was his greatest moment.  He quite stole the curtain call from the other actors.

***

Cheng was my first dog and I loved him.  After a few years, he started biting anyone who entered his yard, including me.  He would come roaring down from the other end and fasten his teeth onto my calf.  I would drag him along with me as I walked.  Mummy was worried about it but, after he bit my face, his days with us were numbered.

For some time, he had been refusing to allow anyone to groom him and his long fur was matted.  We had bite marks on our hands from our attempts to even cut out some of the knots.

One day, I came home from school to find my mother in tears.  She had called the R.S.P.C.A. to take him away.  I thought that I would never forgive her.

She told me that, when the people had come for him, he had sat up and “clapped hands” for them.  The lady had said to Mummy, “How can you bear to part with him?”  Mummy had explained about the biting and refusal of grooming and recommended that they find a home for him without children.

***

It has been suggested that he might have suffered brain damage when his mother was trying to destroy him.  I now think that he could have been missing performing and was depressive.

***

I don’t know where he went.  I never saw him again.

I remember there being a photo of him onstage during his curtain call.  The photo was taken from the wings.  However, I haven’t been able to find it, and I don’t remember any other photos of him.

***

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.  Thank you WordPress for preparing this for me.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 51,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 12 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Don Allan is a well-loved columnist in Canberra and writes his column for The Chronicle. He has had censorship problems in the past, but this time, his column didn’t appear at all. I have re-blogged the missing article on my political blog (sadly neglected recently) called Smudges, Blots and Stains (http://mkdennis.wordpress.com).  I have tried to post a link directly to his article on his website but WordPress keeps attaching it to my blog so obviously it doesn’t work.  The name of the article is “The Zo Fable” and its date of publication on Don’s blog “Allan Takes Aim” is 2012/07/11.  You can get to his blog by scrolling down to my Blogroll and clicking on Allan Takes Aim.  I apologize, but it’s the best I can do.

Allan Takes Aim Blog

Because they could not find my column in this week’s Chronicle many people from Canberra and surrounding areas sent me an e-mail wishing me good health in case I had caught the dreadful new strain of flu currently laying many people low.

Thanks to all for your best wishes but let me assure you I am well and looking forward to posting a new column in next week’s Chronicle.

And let me say the same thanks to my overseas correspondents.

At the same time let me assure you also that you haven’t missed anything because I have since posted the missing column “The ZO Fable” to my website.

Regards to all,
Don

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Heather, aged 15, with her 13 year old sister.

Auntie Heather was born on 6 October 1918.  Her mother and father, my grandparents, had been courting for six years when they finally married on 5 January 1918.  This was because Pa (short for Papa, later for Grandpa) refused to marry while the other men were away at war.

Grandma had very nearly stood him up on their first “appointment” as she called their dates.  She had confided to a work colleague that she wasn’t really attracted to him and thought that she wouldn’t go.  Her colleague had encouraged her to meet him, saying “You never know, you might like him.”  Much later, she had confessed this hesitation to her husband, who had replied, “I knew where you lived!”

During the First World War, Australia’s soldiers were all volunteers.  Pa had volunteered but, although he passed muster on height and chest measurement, his request had been refused.  He wouldn’t say why.  Later, when the War dragged on and thousands of men were being killed or wounded, height and chest measurements were lowered and Pa thought that he might be accepted this time.  He was refused for the second time.  Grandma used to say that men who had volunteered and been refused should have been given some sort of badge to wear so that they didn’t receive dirty looks from passers-by in the street.  Pa played sport and looked like a strapping young man who just didn’t want to go to war.  After his death, Grandma found his application papers with CARDIAC written across them in red.

Heather at the beach.

So Grandma, who, at the age of sixteen had refused her first offer of marriage, finally had to wait until she was twenty-nine before being able to tie the knot.  Pa was thirty-five.

Their first child was born nine months and one day after the wedding, at home with the assistance of a midwife.  Grandma’s pregnancy had been a bit rough and so had the birth, but mother and daughter were doing well, even if both were very tired after the ordeal.  Grandma managed to say to the midwife, “I just saved my good name!”  To which the midwife snapped, “You would have saved your good name if she had been born three weeks ago!”

While Grandma was still weak, one of her husband’s aunts paid her a visit and enquired about the baby’s name.  Grandma replied that she was to be christened “Brenda”.  The aunt exclaimed, “Brenda!  Brenda!  Brindle!  Brindle cow!  If you call her Brenda, I’ll call her ‘Cowie'”  So Grandma, in her weakened state, agreed to change the name, and my aunt was named Heather Catherine.  Relatives sent white heather to her from Scotland the Brave.

Heather with her future husband.

When Grandma had recovered sufficiently to go for a walk with her baby in the perambulator (later shortened to “pram”) “an old biddy up the street” (Grandma’s words)  admired the little one, then proceeded to say insinuatingly, “My daughter had her baby one year after her wedding!”  Grandma rose to her full height of five feet two inches and replied icily, “Well, my daughter was born nine months and one day after my wedding!”  Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

The little girl had her mother’s blonde hair and blue eyes but her features were those of her father.  Later, a dark-haired hazel-green eyed sister came along and Pa, who would have loved to have fathered a son, refused to allow Grandma to risk her life a third time to try to have a boy.

Heather with her father and mother on her wedding day.

The girls grew up in a two-bedroom brick house, with a dog and an enormous aviary in the backyard.  The birds were Pa’s but the dog was everyone’s.  She was a black Pomeranian who loved to taunt the biggest dogs she could find on her walks, then, when chased by them, leap into Grandma’s arms and let her deal with them.  Grandma was not amused by this.  She wasn’t afraid of dogs, but an angry German Shepherd, still being insulted by the black curly bundle in her arms, was not a reassuring encounter.

The girls shared a bedroom and this arrangement displayed its limitations when the younger of the two went into a depression (known as a nervous breakdown then) and piled all the blame for her state on her sister Heather, who was twenty years old at the time.  Not only did young Heather have to assume the burden of her mentally ill sister at this time, the antagonism lasted for the rest of their lives.  Her sister continued to systematically blame her for everything that had gone wrong with her life and eventually stopped talking to her.  At the same time she did everything that she could to try to turn the rest of the family against her.  Fortunately, not always successfully.  Auntie Heather maintained a dignified silence through it all.

The family (left to right) Heather’s sister (my mother), me at 14, Grandma, Heather’s husband, her daughter at 10, and Heather.

Despite these problems, which hadn’t yet reached complete maturity when I was born, Auntie Heather became one of my godmothers.  She was consulted, including by her sister, my mother, for questions concerning the correct way to dress for a particular event.  The sisters even collaborated as a medical first-aid team during the Second World War.  Auntie Heather always knew what the text-book said to do and my mother always knew how to do it.  Things didn’t go as well when they tried to reverse the roles.  The whole family was on first-aid alert duty on the night that the Japanese attacked Sydney Harbour.  The siren was at the end of the street, a few houses away.  On the bus, on their way to work the next morning, the girls thought that people were joking when they heard them talking about the attack and the siren going off.  They had slept through the whole thing and could have been fined for it.

Same people, different places. We’re all a bit older.

Auntie Heather was the matriarch of the family.  She outlived her parents, her younger sister, her husband (a high-ranking Free Mason) and her only child, my cousin.  She died last Friday, 29 June, and will be cremated tomorrow, 4 July 2012, in Sydney.

She is survived by her four grandchildren and her son-in-law, but I am the only one left who knew her when she was a young woman.  Which is why I have written this.  All of the people in these photos, except for me, are now deceased.

I have never reblogged anything before, but this is too hysterically funny, so I just have to do it.  Dotty comments on each photo on her blog.  You must pop over to see it.

Notes From A She-Hermit ©™®

 

This Shitey Sunday Picture Post is all about LLAMAS AND THEIR HAIRSTYLES. Llama hair is a big money-raking part of the animal beauty industry along with pig plastic surgery (liposuction, tummy tucks, nose jobs), nail care for birds of prey (French polishing is very popular at the moment), and skincare for elephants and other dry animals, (Note: Non of the products are tested on humans. They swear they’re not).

 

 

THE OXFORD FLOP

for the young, educated llama who knows about

lonely clouds and daffodils.

*

*

THE POM-POM

for that special occasion

*

*

THE BUFFALO

I AM a buffalo. I AM.

*

*

THE CATWALK

London. Paris. Milan. New York.

(Please can I have a biscuit? Please? Just one?)

*

*

THE DISCO BOFF

Yes sir, I can boogey

all night looooooong.

*

*

THE SID VICIOUS

It’s a nice day for a WHITE WEDDING

*

*

THE GAWKY…

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Robespierre was presented as the new Messiah by a woman calling herself the "Mother of God".

Vadier would definitively condemn Robespierre by displaying a letter from a Geneva Notary, which proposes a supernatural Constitution to Robespierre.  It is the end.  After a three-hour battle, the High Priest of the Supreme Being is dead, killed by ridicule.

A few days later, on 9 Thermidor 1794, he who had wanted to bring back the Golden Age, via terror and the scaffold, perishes on the scaffold, amid songs, dances and cries of joy.

The day after this day when the Revolution falls, Catherine Theot is taken to the Petite Force Prison, and from there to the Plessis.  Robespierre had been opposed to her being harmed, and she now risks being persecuted as one of the tyrant’s accomplices.  Inside her gaol, covered in wounds, the origin of which cannot be explained, the Sibyl of the Rue Contrescarpe continues to prophesy…  She had vaticinated in her first prison:

“A great blow will strike me on the Pantheon hill, in a house next to the Ecole de Droit.  It will announce my rejuvenation and my transformation into an Immortal!”

Her prophecy as to the last place of her detention would reveal itself to be exact.  And what “great blow” does she mean?  To the questioners and gaolers who mock her, she says:

“Yes, I am going to die!  But not on the scaffold like you hope!  I shall die of my own death and unhappiness!  When I die, you will see!…  The ground will tremble, and it will collapse everywhere!…”

On 31 August, the visionary, surrounded by her faithful, enters into agony.  She dies peacefully at half-past seven.  At this precise instant, a formidable detonation shakes the walls of the prison.  The ground begins to tremble and all of the windows in Paris shatter while the doors of the prison next to the Luxembourg open on their own.

After the fall of Robespierre, Catherine Theot, considered as one of his admirers, was arrested and taken to the Petite Force Prison.

For a reason which was never elucidated, the Grenelle ammunition dump had just exploded, killing hundreds of people…

***

After this, the Mother of God’s gaolers took her prophecies seriously and, mad with terror, installed her body on a big parade bed, covered with flowers and surrounded by a thousand candles.  Of course, when they learned that it was the central ammunition dump which had exploded and that the Illuminated woman had nothing to do with it, they threw her body into the common grave and covered it with lime…

***

Robespierre had never seen her and didn’t even know that she existed.  The Atheist Party simply used her to ridicule Robespierre’s religious ideas.

***

This former pupil of the Oratorians, who owed to the Bishop of Arras his Bursary of Collegian and Student, lived right to the end surrounded by priests.  A fervent disciple of Rousseau, whom he had perhaps met in his Ermenonville retreat, he attacked Voltaire in all of his speeches, which caused great scandal among the Atheists.  At the Convention tribunal, where he purposely smattered his interventions with many resounding :  “May it not displease God!”  he said:

“To attack the cult, is to attack the morality of the People!”

Just before and at the beginning of the Revolution, the good God was never in better health.  When the churches start to be closed, people turn in frenzy to all forms of mysticism.  The most naive, or the craziest, revelations of somnambulists and necromancians, tarots and horoscopes, those of Mademoiselle Lenormand in particular, who has among her clients Saint-Just, Barere and Robespierre himself, who faints every time that he touches the Nine of Spades.  When in 1793, Saint Genevieve’s shrine is profaned, the Sans-Culottes of the neighbourhood want to raise in the church an “altar, where pious vestals would maintain a perpetual fire”.  In the families, Chaumette’s portrait placed between two candles is adored, and Petion, the President of the Convention, has his sect which finds him “very superior to Our Lord Jesus-Christ”.

At the precise moment that Catherine Theot breathed her last breath, the Grenelle ammunition dump exploded.

In the good aristocratic society, things are not much better.  The Duchess de Bourbon welcomes all that Paris counts in somnambulists, wizards, cabbalists and augures.  Every day, the prophet Elie holds conferences which are followed by a lot of people in the Tuileries garden.  People believe that they are followed by their guardian angel or persecuted by their guardian devil and those who do not give themselves up to magnetism, follow the prophetess Jeanne Labrousse, as far as Rome, where she goes to convert the Pope.

Catherine Theot also has success, as we have seen, with an imagination even more fertile than the others.  The Police find in her home a recipe for making a magical sword which renders invincible, but above all numerous rough copies of letters, all addressed to her “dear son” Robespierre in which she gratifies him with the name of “Guide des milices celestes” and “angel of the Lord”.

***

The only element which is in any way compromising for the Incorruptible, is the presence in the Theot’s home of Dom Gerle, the man in the white coat.

This strange person, a former Deputy of the Constituante, who had launched the visionary Suzanne Labrousse in Paris, would furnish Vadier with the only political element of his report.  It is a letter from Robespierre to the former Chartreux, in which he guarantees his patriotism and his revolutionary convictions and gives him as well “une carte de Surete”, a precious talisman, without which the slightest movement inside Paris can end at the Conciergerie.

***

In the Summer of 1794, anything was good for bringing down the Angel of Death who was only hanging on by public pressure.  The absolute Reign of Terror had arrived and anybody in France could be arrested at night, judged at noon and guillotined at four o’clock in the afternoon, without even having opened his or her mouth.  Atrocious times, when the Deputies didn’t dare sleep in their beds, continually changed places in the chamber during a sitting, spent their day running around in the streets and slipping into buildings with two entrances, to uncover spies.  Barras, in his Memoires, recounts that a Deputy, drunk with fatigue, was at his place, his forehead resting on his hand.  Suddenly he is seen to jump on his seat as if stung by a scorpion.  Simply because the Dictator had stared at him.  Trembling, decomposed, he turns to one of his colleagues and stammers:

“He’s going to believe that I’m thinking something!”

***

Inside, as well as outside, Robespierre had acquired immense prestige, to the point that he personified, all on his own, the Revolution.  And the Terror.  It was said at the Convention:

“If Robespierre asks for blood, blood will flow;  if he doesn’t, no-one else will dare ask for it!”

Women in particular added to it.  Widow Jaquin from Nantes, endowed with 40,000 pounds of rent, writes to him:

“You are my supreme divinity, I see you as my tutelary angel”

The Municipalities write to him that they throw themselves at his feet and that they sing Te Deums in his honour…

***

Until his death in 1828, the former Conventionnel Vadier would not cease to repeat in his Brussels exile the story of Catherine Theot and what he had been able to do with it.  He said with his inimitable Ariege accent:

“Robespierre, I annihilated him, I sank him, I struck him down in one blow…  Can you imagine it?!  He was saying that Atheism is aristocratic!”

The implacable Voltairian, who had brought down a man whose power surpassed by a great deal that of the Sun-King [Louis XIV] himself, died piously on the day of the Pentecost in 1828 and his body was presented at the Sainte-Gudule Cathedral, where the high clergy assembled to celebrate a solemn service for the repose of his soul…

***

Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) in 1886.

Meanwhile, in France, nothing has changed.  The great medical chiefs have absolute confidence in themselves, and despite the brilliant results that Joseph Lister continues to obtain in Edinburgh, the principle of asepsis is disdainfully rejected.  Today, one can look back sadly at the number of lives which would have been saved if Pasteur’s, Lister’s and Guerin’s advice on elementary hygiene had been adopted as soon as it was known.  Pasteur, a great one for shaking up ideas, outdoes himself in communications before the Academie de medecine, and battles on all fronts:

“If one examines a probe under the microscope, one finds on its surface ridges and valleys inside which are lodged dusts that the most minutious washing cannot completely remove.  The flame allows the entire destruction of these organic dusts.  So, in my laboratory where I am enveloped in germs of all sorts, I do not use an instrument without firstly passing it through the flame.”

Alas, for the eternal supporters of spontaneous generation, the germ is born in the patient, it does not come from the instruments.  Therefore, people continue to die under the Surgeon’s scalpel.

The room where one gives birth seems to the women of the people to be death’s antechamber.  They still recall in horror that, inside the Hopital de la Maternite de Paris, from 1st April to 10 May 1856, out of three hundred and forty-seven women having given birth, there were sixty-four deaths.  The hospital had to be closed, and the survivors were obliged to take refuge in the Hopital Lariboisiere, where almost all of them succumbed, pursued – it was said – by the epidemic.  Eight years later, in 1864, out of one thousand, five hundred and thirty women having given birth, there were three hundred and ten deaths.  It was another thirteen years before Tarnier, then at the head of the Maternite de Paris, put into practice Lister’s techniques, asepsis techniques which had already been adopted by Russia, Holland, Germany, Austria and Denmark, with the greatest success.  Doctor Roux evokes Pasteur’s state of mind during these incessant battles that he was having with the Doctors.  He is not content with just giving advice, criticizing (and, in passing, making permanent enemies among those who place their professional vanity higher than scientific progress), he works ceaselessly to demonstrate that which he is advancing.  He searches, he experiments and improves the technique of the culture of microbes in the laboratory, getting them to reproduce in his flasks, his test-tubes, in different nutritive media, such as the beer yeast bouillon.  This technique was initiated by a young German Medical Doctor who himself admitted being stimulated by Pasteur’s studies.  His name is Doctor Koch.  Assisted by his wife and daughter, this country Doctor, living in a little village in an eastern province, will bring direct proof that a defined type of microbe is at the origin of a defined type of illness, by developing a pure culture containing only one bacterial layer.  It is with this method that he would succeed, in 1882, in isolating the tuberculosis bacillus.

In Paris, Pasteur goes into hospitals, takes samples from sick people, with his sterilized test-tubes and pipettes.  When he is warned of the dangers of contagion, he replies:

“Life amongst danger is a real life, it is a great life, it is a life of sacrifice, it is a life of example, that which fecunds!”

He roars with holy anger against the Doctors who continue to dissert without acting:

“I’ll make them move!  They must come round to it, whatever it takes!”

In June 1877, he notices under his microsope a long filament, crawling and flexible, translucent to the point of easily not being seen and which, in his own words, “pushes aside the globules of blood like a serpent pushes aside grass in the bushes”.  It is the septic vibrion, discovered inside the deep veins of an asphyxiated horse.  From the peritone where it is rife, this moving thread passes into the blood after death.  A drop of this infected blood innoculated into another animal immediately provokes septicaemia in it.  But there is a problem:  this minuscule killer cannot stand oxygen, which destroys it.  How can it then act and make victims by passing through the air?  The Chemist cultivates the vibrion in a vacuum and in the presence of carbonic gas.  His experience in the seeding and dissemination of beer yeasts, and those of the silkworm maladies, allow him to work by comparisons.  As Emile Duclaux says:

“To the question:  is it a virus?  Is it a microbe?  Pasteur is better placed than anyone else to find an answer.  From his studies on beer, from his fights with his contradictors, he is armed with a technique already formed, with the knowledge and the manipulation of microbian species.”

In fact, the “so-called Chemist” permits himself to give courses on Methodology to his enemies.  Amedee Latour, a journalist from Union Medicale, who regularly follows the seances at the Academie de medecine, reports, amused, one of Pasteur’s clashes with a contradictor.  It is again a believer in spontaneous generation, but this time it is not a Medical Doctor, it is a Veterinary Surgeon, Colin,  professeur d’ecole from Alfort.  Colin describes his experiment:  he had innoculated the leg of an animal with blood from another animal which had died from anthrax.  The lymph gland nearest to the injection swelled, the innoculated animal is in turn ill, but Colin does not find bacteridies in the gland, or in the animal’s blood, and yet, it is infectious.  Pasteur asks him how he had examined the glandular liquid.  Colin replies with the microscope of course.  Pasteur tells him that, as his microscope only shows things four or five hundred times their size, this was not the right way to go about it.

“It was four or five square metres of your glass plate over which you should have passed your microscope to be able to perceive the one and only bacteridie which had escaped […] when you examined your gland.  It is by the culture of the bacteridies that one is able to arrive at the certitude of the opinions that I have advanced on anthrax.”

And the journalist concludes:

“What a valiant fighter Monsieur Pasteur is!”

To be continued.

Ferdinand Ossendowski

The Hutuktu of Narabanchi recounted this to me when I made a visit to his monastery at the beginning of 1921:

“When the King of the World appeared before the Lamas who were favourised by God, inside our monastery, thirty years ago, he made a prophecy relative to the fifty years to come.  Here it is:

‘ More and more, men will forget their souls and will occupy themselves with their bodies.  The greatest corruption will reign on the Earth.  Men will become like ferocious animals, thirsting for the blood of their brothers.  The Crescent will efface itself and its adepts will fall into mendicity and into perpetual war.  Its conquerors will be struck by the sun but will not rise twice;  the greatest misfortune will happen to them which will end in insults in the eyes of other peoples.  The crowns of kings, big and small, will fall:  one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight…  There will be a terrible war among all peoples.  The oceans will turn red…  the land and the bottom of the seas will be covered in bones…  kingdoms will be split up, entire peoples will die…  hunger, illness, crimes unknown to the laws, that never before the world has seen.  Then will come the enemies of God and the Divine Spirit who are in Man.  Those who take the hand of another will also perish.  The forgotten, the persecuted will rise up and will hold the attention of the whole world.  There will be fogs and tempests.  Denuded mountains will be covered in forests.  The Earth will quake…  Millions of men will exchange the chains of slavery and humiliations for hunger, illness and death.  The ancient roads will be covered in crowds going from one place to another.  The biggest, the most beautiful cities will perish by fire…  one, two, three…  The father will rise up against the son, the brother against the brother, the mother against the daughter.  Vice, crime, destruction of the body and of the soul will follow…  Families will be dispersed…  Fidelity and love will disappear…  From ten thousand men, only one will survive…  he will be naked, mad, without strength and will not know how to build a house or find food…  He will hurl like the furious wolf, will devour cadavers, will bite his own flesh, and will defy God in combat…  All the Earth will be empty.  God will turn away from it.  On it will spread only night and death.  Then I shall send a People, now unknown, who, with a strong hand, will tear out the weeds of madness and vice, and will lead those who remain faithful to the Spirit of Man in the battle against evil.  They will found a new life on the Earth that is purified by the death of nations.  In the fiftieth year, three great kingdoms only will appear, which will live happily for seventy-one years.  Afterwards, there will be eighteen years of war and destruction.  Then the Peoples of Agharti will come out of their Underground Caverns and will appear on the surface of the Earth.’

Later, travelling through Eastern Mongolia, towards Peking, I often asked myself:

Rene Guenon, in his work, "Le Roi du Monde", confirmed the existence of a Supreme Centre which apparently rules Humanity by occult means.

“What would happen?  What would happen if whole peoples, of different colours, religions, tribes began to emigrate towards the West?”

Now, at the time that I am writing these last lines, my eyes involuntarily turn toward this limitless heart of Asia over which is unwinding the trail of my wanderings.  Through the swirling snow or the sand storms of the Gobi, I see the face of the Hutuktu of Narabanchi while, in a calm voice, his slim hand showing me the horizon, he was opening for me the secret of his intimate thoughts.

Near Karakorum, on the banks of Ubsa-Nor, I see the immense multicoloured camps, the herds of horses and other animals, the blue yurtas of the Chiefs.  Above, I see the banners of Gengis-Khan, the Kings of Tibet, of Siam, of Afghanistan, and of the Indian Princes;  the sacred symbols of the Lamaist Pontiffs;  the coats-of-arms of the Khans, of the Olets and the simple symbols of the Mongol tribes of the North.  I do not hear the sound of an agitated crowd.  The singers are not singing the melancholic tunes of the mountains, of the plains and of the deserts.  The young cavaliers are not amusing themselves running, mounted on their rapid horses…  There are innumerable flocks of old men, of women and children, and, beyond, to the North and to the West, as far as the eye can see, the sky is red like the flame, one hears the grumbling and the bubbling of the fire, the ferocious noise of the battle which these warriors are leading, spilling their blood and that of others under this reddened sky!  Who is leading these flocks of old men without weapons?  I see a severe order, a deep and religious comprehension of the goal, patience, tenacity, a new emigration of peoples, the last march of the Mongols.

Karma has perhaps opened a new page in History.

And what will happen if the King of the World is with them?

But this great Mystery of Mysteries maintains its deep silence.

***

In the XVIIIth Century, it was believed that a woman sleeping naked on her bed could be fecunded by the South-West zephyr.

The whole History of procreation seems to have been marked by great misogyny.  Over two or three centuries, a completely specialized literature develops it, inspired at the same time by Scripture, scientific observation and philosophy.  Speaking of Woman, eminent Sorbonnards affirm:

“The humidity of her constitution renders her inapt for tasks which demand character”,

and,

“on top of which, one is not totally sure that she has a soul”…

It is for this reason that, out of prudence, the first human dissections are practised on women.

In 1595, an opuscule in Latin by the German philosopher Acidalius proclaims:

“Mulieres non esse homines”;  women are not part of humankind…

***

It is therefore understandable that parents are not ecstatic about the birth of a little girl…

In the XVIIIth Century, it was starting to be said that women carried eggs from which children were born.

From the IVth Century before the present era, since Aristotle, the woman is only the receptacle of the embryo deposited by the man.  She is a reproduction tool accorded to the man to relieve him of the burden of having to nourish this embryo and give birth to it.

This is why L’art de procreer des males, a book by Morel de Rubempre, still has, in 1824, great success and numerous re-editions.  It essentially takes up the elucubrations of Millot in 1802, of which the following is a sample:

“The husband must always lie on the woman’s left.  At the moment of the ejaculation, he must quickly pass his left hand under his spouse’s right buttock, and lift her up until her hip forms, with the suface on which she is lying, an angle of twenty-five to thirty degrees.  This is not all, things such as the height of the bed, the position of the husband, whether he is standing, and the wife lying down, for example, must be taken into account.  If he is himself lying down, he has to modify the firing angle of the “cannon of life” in function of the width of the opening of his spouse’s hips and the depth of the dent that they make in the mattress.”

The great Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, in his Histoire des anomalies, recounts seriously, in 1832, that sentiments can have a strong influence on the child before its birth.  For example, a little girl is born in Year III of the French Republic with, on her left breast, the mark of a Phrygian bonnet.  The Directoire also rewarded with a pension of four hundred francs a mother so patriotic as to have given birth to a female child bearing on her buttock a patriotic brevet and a revolutionary emblem.

The first serious refutations of the role of the imagination or fears, or of “cravings”, only go back to the middle of the XIXth Century.  In English maternities, pregnant women are then asked what has impressed their minds during their pregnancy and it is perceived that:

(1) – children are born without anomalies;

(2) – that if there are any anomalies, it is only after the birth that the mothers find any explanations.

However, these fears of another age still last today.  In 1971, a report on pregnancy and birth, established by Marie-Therese Miehe (collection “Diagnostics”) notes the following questions asked by young women:

“I saw a black man and I had a shock.  Will my child be born black?”

“I listened to a lot of music for nine months.  Will my child be a musician?”

“Do unsatisfied cravings cause malformations?”

We are far from having left the age of magic.

***

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