Tag Archive: health


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.

The Count of Saint-Germain.

During a dinner, from which Saint-Germain is absent, the Duke de Choiseul, France’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, suddenly turns to his wife and asks her why she is not drinking.  Madame de Choiseul replies:

“Because Monsieur de Saint-Germain’s diet without wine suits me admirably!”

The Duke erupts in violent anger and orders his wife to stop following “the follies of such an equivocal man”.  The Bailie of Solar then asks:

“Is it true that the Government doesn’t know whence comes a man who lives in France in such distinguished fashion?”

Choiseul replies with a ferocious air:

“Without a doubt we do know!”

It is at this dinner that is formed the animosity which would now divide partisans and adversaries of the Count.  As an intelligent, sly man, Choiseul is very careful not to use a process which could discredit Saint-Germain in the King’s eyes, by showing him for example that he is mistaken in trusting him.  Since this is France, a much more redoubtable weapon must be used.  And to wield this weapon, he hires Gauwe, an actor exceptionally gifted as an imitator, who is entrusted with making fun of Saint-Germain.  Made-up and his hair powdered, wearing false diamonds and taking the same accent as the Count, he wanders through the Marais telling the most extravagant stories.  He says for example:

“Jesus Christ.  I knew him very intimately…  He was the best man in the world, but he was romanesque and thoughtless.  I often predicted to him that he would finish badly!”

Hearing such ridiculous things, his auditors could only believe that they were in the presence of a liar…

The Duke also made up a story about the Count’s elixir and his longevity and had it spread everywhere.  In town and at Court, it was said that a Baroness, who was very old, bought a phial of this miraculous water, that she locked it inside a cupboard, telling her chambermaid not to touch it.  To be sure that she wouldn’t, she told her that it was an extremely drastic remedy…  against colic.  The lady goes out and, in the middle of the night, the soubrette experiences violent intestinal pain.  She rushes to the phial, and drinks more than half of it.  As the liquid is very light-coloured, she replaces what she has drunk with water and goes to lie down on the lady’s sofa, in prey to an irresistable need to sleep.  When, early in the morning, the mistress of the house returns home and calls her women to undress her, she comes across a little girl of three or four lying on the sofa sucking her thumb and kicking her legs…

As a man of superior intelligence, Saint-Germain laughs at these roasts and even enters into his enemies’ games.

One day when he is visiting Madame de Marchais, he throws his hat and sword on a piece of furniture upon entering, sits down at the piano and executes a piece of music which is very much applauded.  He is asked the name of the composer.  He says gravely:

“I don’t know.  All that I know is that I heard this march during the entry of Alexander the Great into Babylon!”

***

Louis XV also seemed to be indifferent to the charlatanesque stories circulating about the Count.  However, he forbids anyone to mock him in his presence and defies his protege’s detractors by locking himself up for long hours with him, while ministers and those seeking favours wait outside the door.

In 1774, the Count of Saint-Germain had predicted to Marie-Antoinette the fall of Royalty and the creation of a Rebublic whose sceptre would be the executioner’s axe…

The declared hatred of the Kingdom’s most powerful man is therefore incapable of doing anything against Saint-Germain.  For years, the King entrusts him, not only with his worries, but also with important secret missions.  In England, he meets Walpole and, in Holland, he treats with Louis of Brunswick who is his close friend.  In all the countries that he traverses, he accedes to the foot of the thrones, warns or advises the sovereigns, and the greatest personalities show him their esteem.  But if he only returns to France to prophesy the future death of Marie-Antoinette on the scaffold, it is because the attacks of Choiseul, who secretly dreams of supplanting the King, finish by becoming too heavy for him to bear.  If they do not succeed in tarnishing his image with Louis XV, they at least discredit him in the eyes of posterity, which believed for a long time in the legend of the imposter, a Saint-Germain who was a master of frauds and falsifications…

In the last years of a reign which ends in debacle, his adventurous path through Europe is studded with disappearances which sometimes last for years.  In 1760, he is in England and the London Chronicle consecrates an article to him in which it praises his riches and talks lengthily about his talents…  As for the secret of his birth, the austere British paper affirms that it will be revealed only after his death and this secret “will astonish the world even more than the prodigies of his life”

***

For the moment, the mystery remains.  And that is a good thing.  For at the moment of prophesying in Paris Marie-Antoinette’s death on the scaffold and then disappearing, the Count de Saint-Germain says that he will only come back to France in a few generations.  To warn it, before dying for good, of the terrible dangers which threaten it.  So…

***

Louis XV was certainly not a king as abominable as the pampleteers tried to paint him, and perhaps Saint-Germain was slightly less angelic than some – including the King – believed…

***

Not only was Louis XV very intelligent, but he also sincerely wanted to better the lives of the poor whom his great-grandfather, the Sun King, Louis XIV, had seriously harmed…  It is true that he became discouraged too quickly, but it is also true that he pulled himself together in the second half of his reign.  Although it justifies nothing, Parliament’s permanent opposition, along with that of the Party of the Privileged, to all of his reforms, contributed a lot to explaining his failure.  He also had a big heart, we must recall…  He wanted the regicide Damiens to be pardoned.  It was argued, as always, raison d’Etat.  And it is also because he was a man with a big heart that he became so sincerely attached to Saint-Germain…

***

To be continued.

The Count of Saint-Germain.

When the Count of Saint-Germain is not singing or giving concerts and advice, about hygiene in particular, he is receiving confidences from the ladies and telling stories made more piquant in that the scene is always set in the Court of Francois I, Philippe le Bel, the Kings of the Middle Empire, the Grand Vizirs or the Sublime Porte.  With such veracity that Saint-Germain appears truly to have been there.  The question of his age and the reasons for his longevity again rise to the surface.

A conversation that he has one day with a young, incredulous Marquise finishes unsettling everybody…  He says to the pretty lady as she enters the salon in which he is:

“How happy I am to meet at last someone of your noble family!  I was very close to your grandfather’s great-grandfather…  He fought beside me at the Battle of Marignan!  Mortally wounded, he entrusted me with making sure that his gold cross was returned to his wife.  In those troubled times, I was only able to succeed in this mission by using an intermediary…  Did that cross really get there?”

Looking fearfully at this ghost who claims to have fought at Marignan, the lady stammers:

“But, Monsieur…  We effectively keep amongst our relics a cross which was given to us, a long time ago, by an unknown man, but no-one outside the family knows this detail!”

“No-one, except myself, Madame.  And I am happy to know that this precious piece of jewellery arrived at its destination!”

The young Marquise, stunned, her blood curdled, of course goes to swell the ranks of those who believe in the supernatural longevity of the Count.  Although in this last case, a coincidence could have been possible.  This is, however, unthinkable in the case of the Countess de Cergy, who is the first to recognize him in public, and to loudly proclaim it in front of witnesses…

Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour, seen here with Voltaire, both greatly estimed Saint-Germain.

Having one day met him at the home of Madame de Pompadour, she starts by staring at him for a long time.  The witnesses say, with the insistence of the major witness in a trial whose testimony could decide the life or death of the accused…  Controlling a sort of sacred fear, she finally asks him:

“I beg you, Monsieur, would you please tell me whether Monsieur your father resided in Venice around the year 1700… “

The Count replies with detachment:

“No, Madame.  I lost my father well before that.  But I, myself, was living in Venice at the end of the last century and at the beginning of this one.  I had the honour of courting you, and you had the goodness to find pretty a few barcarolles of my composition which we sang together.”

“Excuse my frankness, but that is not possible;  the Count de Saint-Germain of the epoch was forty-five and you are certainly that age now, right at this moment!”

The Count replies with a smile:

“Madame, do not be mistaken…  I am very old!”

“But you would have to be nearly a hundred!”

“That is not impossible!”

The Count then starts to recount to Madame de Cergy, who is very oppressed, a multitude of details connected to the stay that they made together in the Venitian State.  As he proposes to mention others, the lady, who has already had recourse to her smelling salts, exclaims:

“No, no…  I am quite convinced, but you are quite an extraordinary man…  an extraordinary devil!”

Saint-Germain exclaims in a voice which appears to some to be strange:

“No more qualifications!

But he takes control of himself and the old Countess de Cergy, whom death seems to have forgotten on Earth, continues:

“When I was the wife of the Ambassador to Venice, fifty years ago, I am sure that I saw you with the same face.  But you were calling yourself Marquis Baletti then… ”

“And Madame the Countess de Cergy still has a memory that is as fresh as fifty years ago!”

“I owe this advantage to an elixir that you gave me at our first interview… ”

“And did the Marquis de Baletti have a bad reputation?”

“On the contrary, he was a man who was very good company… ”

“Well then, since there are no complaints about him, I adopt him as my grandfather!”

Saint-Germain is joking.  However, he leaves almost immediately, as if painful memories were coming back to him…

That an elixir of long life could exist, and that the Count could possess the secret of it, causes considerable gossip in Paris.  For some, the eminent position that the Count occupies in the King’s immediate entourage, then seems justified.  What sort of elixir is it and how is it made?  At the Court, the best informed assure that it is the drinkable gold of the Rose-Croix thaumaturgists, the absolute panacea against ageing and illness.  Opposing those whom this news exalts, the envious and the jealous would very much like to know, finally, what this Count thinks to achieve in France, since he seeks neither position nor honours.  To most of them, Saint-Germain opposes a disdainful silence.  When others, taking a detour, ask him if he isn’t mostly a man of Science and mention a formula which appears to them to resume all of that time’s knowledge, he loses his temper and says haughtily:

“You don’t know what you’re talking about!  I’m the only one who can talk about this matter.  I have deeply studied it!… “

But the next moment, a sort of shiver of fear passes over him.  He then seems worried and, unwillingly replies, as he does to Louis XV who asks him to explain the disappearance of Prosecutor Dumas:

“It is impossible for me to answer…   By doing so I would expose myself, and you too, to the greatest danger… “

[See https://marilynkaydennis.wordpress.com/2010/08/27/the-count-of-saint-germain-and-maitre-dumas/

and https://marilynkaydennis.wordpress.com/2010/08/28/the-count-of-saint-germain-and-maitre-dumas-part-2/ ]

Such answers confirm his enemies in their suspicions, by making them believe that he has a grave secret in his life and that the trust that Louis gives to a man who appears to have fallen from another planet could reveal itself to be very dangerous.  Leading them is the Duke de Choiseul, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, the man who directed, in fact, France’s politics with the authority of a Prime Minister, for many long years.

To be continued.

The Count of Saint-Germain.

At the time, the rumours about the Count of Saint-Germain’s age did not necessarily give him a good reputation.  But as he accomplished all his visible religious duties, was very charitable and had the purest of life-styles, Marshal de Belle-Isle does not hesitate to present him to the King.  There then occur the sad events which lead to the death of Madame de Chateauroux at the age of twenty-seven.  The Count arrives at her bedside as fast as he can.  However, upon arriving in the lady’s apartments, he tells the King that he can do nothing.  The Bien-Aime wants to know why.  The Count replies that it is too late.

Questioned later on the reasons for his attitude, in an affair where the empirics with pointed hats would have blown all the smoke of their false science, Saint-Germain replies:

“If I had cured the Duchess, I would have become responsible for all of the violent deaths which could have arrived after that…  Each family would have ordered me to perform a miracle and woe betide me if I had failed in the enterprise!  That is how men are, quite egoistic… “

A very pertinent answer at an epoch where the horrors of La Brinvilliers and the Affair of the Poisons were still in everyone’s memory.  But the astonishing thing is that the monarch, far from blaming him for this admission of helplessness, does not want to do without him from then on.  How do we explain this?  Of course, the Count knows the smallest secrets of the European Gotha, and at first, it is above all the tales of the secret failings of some of the greats which amuse the King, and their genealogical mishaps, which the Count’s prodigious memory instantaneously restitutes.  Madame de Pompadour, who has quickly replaced the unfortunate Duchess in Louis’ heart, is his surest ally, for, none better that he can dissipate the monarch’s neurasthenia, which he contracted young, and which will make Abbot Galiani say:

“He has the worst job, the job of king, as much against his will as possible… “

Between the Duke de Chaulnes whom she calls “mon cochon” [my pig] and Madame d’Amblimont who is “mon torchon” [my rag], she finds in Saint-Germain the man of wit, mysterious and unsettling, the living remedy against this spleen which, from 1750, she is officially entrusted with dissipating…

Soon, the Count is in all of the secret discussions and the King demands that he be among those privileged people whom he takes with him to the country residences where Madame de Pompadour succeeds in creating the illusion of a home for her royal lover.  There, he finally ceases to be timid and dares to confess, with intelligence and vivacity, everything that obsesses him, above all this ungovernable France, whose refusals and seditions have dulled all his good dispositions from the beginning of his reign.  His fear of death too, that Saint-Germain tries to dissipate by initiating him into the hidden mysteries of Nature…

Soon, the King consents to renounce his sad debaucheries and to no longer occupy himself with tapistery works or stews that he cooks himself, but to apply himself to the Great Art…  Louis XV, alchemist!  This is the prodigy that Saint-Germain succeeds in performing inside two laboratories at the Trianon, where he firstly teaches the King to melt and distill.  To a delighted Duke des Deux-Ponts, Louis XV one day shows a diamond of the finest water, weighing twelve carats.  He says:

“I melted 24 carats of little diamonds, which gave me this which has been reduced to 12 by having it polished!”…

But what the King appreciates above all in Saint-Germain is his frank speech which cleanses him of the lies and hypocrisy of the Court.  In front of Monsieur de Brancas and Abbot Bernis, the Count tells him straight out that, to have any estime for men, you must be neither a Confessor, a Minister, nor Lieutenant de Police.  Louis enquires about King.  Saint-Germain answers:

“You saw, Sire, the fog a few days ago?  One couldn’t see four paces ahead.  Kings are surrounded by even thicker fogs, which give birth all around them to plotters, unfaithful ministers and all those who agree everywhere to make them see things in a different aspect to reality!”

And, it is true that Saint-Germain always gives disinterested advice.  Never is he seen to promote someone and never does he solicite a favour.  Around 1756, Louis XV has installed for him at Chambord, in the shade of the 365 chimneys of the biggest castle in the kingdom, a much bigger laboratory, where the Count also has working some alchemists whom he brought with him after a trip to Germany.  Pure self-interest from a sovereign who is hoping to fill his very empty coffers in this way?  Perhaps.  But when his works on the making of gold from a vile metal reveal themselves to be not profitable enough, the King still gives him his friendship.  In exchange, it is true, for a few services…

In 1756, Louis XV had an alchemical laboratory installed in Chambord Castle so that Saint-Germain could work in peace.

During one of these “little suppers”, where everyone lets himself go in the greatest gaiety, and where it is not even forbidden to mock the King, on condition that it is witty, France’s master asks him suddenly:

“It appears, Monsieur, that you have also succeeded in finding the secret for making the faults in diamonds disappear… ”

“I have been able to do it sometimes, Sire… ”

“In that case, you are the man to make me earn four thousand pounds on this one, for my jeweller, while estimating this diamond at six thousand pounds, told me that without the fault it would be worth ten!… “

Saint-Germain examines the stone.

“It’s a big fault.  But it is not impossible to remove it.  I shall bring this stone back to Your Majesty in two weeks… “

Two weeks later, Saint Germain presents the King with a diamond of the most perfect purety.  The Court jeweller carefully examines it, weighs it and notices that the difference in weight is almost nothing.  He says:

“Truly, Monsieur, you must be a wizard!”

Monsieur de Gontaut is immediately sent to the Paris jeweller and receives 9,600 pounds for it.

To be continued.

The Count of Saint-Germain.

During a visit that the Baron de Gleichen makes to the Count of Saint-Germain, the Count reveals to him his treasure collections.

“There were, among other things, an opal of monstrous size, a white sapphire the size of an egg and a quantity of diamonds and stones of a colour and size that were even more surprising in that they weren’t at all in settings.”

In his famous Memoires, the Baron makes a big thing of this visit.  Because it is a totally exceptional favour accorded to him by Saint-Germain.  Rare are those who are able to enter the doors of his Marais hotel, filled, the Baron notes, with paintings by masters, among which he recognizes some Murillos and some Raphaels…

The extreme reticence with which he receives does not prevent the Count from being one of the most acclaimed men in Paris.  Precisely because of the mystery with which he surrounds himself, and of certain habits which appear frankly unheard-of to the marquises…

Everyone remembers the menus of the Grand Century.  However, while his guests stuff themselves with meats, fish, poultry, and attack after that pieces of venaison, whose strong odour fills the nostrils, the Count eats sparingly or, most often, doesn’t even unfold his serviette.  And what does he do while the others over-eat?  The Count of Saint-Germain talks, but there again, in a very different manner to that of the brilliant masters of calembours or the witty people of the epoch, reporting the day’s anecdote.  He goes back in time and describes the slightest circumstances of History, with so many details and such extraordinary clarity, that they believe that they are listening to a witness of that time.  When they press him to deliver his sources, he says that everything is in his prodigious memory, and when it is pointed out to him that it is not possible to make certain scenes so life-like, with such precision, without making it up – unless he has himself lived them – he agrees that he is perhaps older than he looks…

Added to his abstinence, the delicacy of his speech, which can be heard by the most chaste ears, creates an image of him which excites the beautiful marquises even more.  For, if they swallow laxative pills, if they even consent to become vegetarians for a short time, they would also love to keep him with them for a while, after supper.

But neither beauty, nor opulence, nor the rank of the mistress of the house succeed:  never does Saint-Germain pass a night outside his own residence, and very rare are those who have seen him up beyond midnight.  He is not known to have any lover or mistress, and this is perhaps what most troubles those who know him.  For, if he impresses by his lifestyle and his behaviour, he also seduces – infinitely – by his presentation…  Countess d’Adhemar writes in her souvenirs on Marie-Antoinette:

“His haughty, spiritual, sagacious  physionomy was the first thing to strike the eye.  He had a slim, graceful figure, delicate hands, lovely feet, elegant legs accentuated by tautly-pulled silk stockings.  His very tight breeches also displayed the rare perfection of his shape;  his smile showed the most beautiful teeth in the world, a pretty dimple decorated his chin, his hair was black, his eyes gentle and penetrating.  Oh!  What eyes!  I have never seen anywhere such eyes…”

For a man who came from nowhere and was always wanting to disappear, that is a portrait which gives him reality and presence!  Without in any way removing the mystery of his origins…  To the question which only a Highness dares to ask (Princess Amelie, sister to Frederic II of Prussia), he answers:

“I am, Madame, from a country which has never had a man of foreign origin for sovereign!”

The answer is sibylline to say the least…  When they insist, like the Baron de Gleichen, it is learnt that in his childhood he had been surrounded by a numerous suite, that he strolled on magnificent terraces, in a delicious climate, “as if he had been the Prince and Heir to a King of Grenada in the time of the Moors”

This symbolic figure, taken from an alchemical work, is supposed to represent, according to some authors, “the birth, by the union of cosmic forces”, of exceptional beings such as the Count of Saint-Germain.

Such a mysterious extraction permits, of course, to play around a bit with official identity.  In 1743, when he appears for the first time in Paris, with his air of grand young man in fashion and well-dressed, no-one at first bothers to enquire about his age.  The first to ask the question, to himself at first, will be Jean-Philippe Rameau, the genial composer, a serious mind if ever there was one.  All on his own, he personifies all of the music of the Grand Century, and he devoted himself so completely to his Art and to the responsibilities entrusted to him by kings, that strictly nothing is known about his private life.  Yet, one evening, when he is playing the clavecin in the rich home of the financier La Popeliere, he notices an elegant gentleman in the centre of a cluster of grand ladies dressed in green peking and canary tail.  He appears to be forty-five and is wearing a jacket of cinnamon cloth shot with green, the buttons of which are throwing out a thousand fires in the light of the candelabra.

The elderly master has himself served with a little sorbet, and then almost dies from shock.  The man comes, without any ceremony, to relay him at the clavecin and, in full light, there can be no more doubt:  he is certain of having seen this gentleman when he, himself, was just a simple organist for the Jesuits of the Rue Saint-Jacques.  The motive for his surprise is simple:  since this epoch, the man’s face has absolutely not changed.  Rameau, on the other hand, has become dry and wrinkled, already bent over with age.  A rapid calculation reveals to him that this meeting took place thirty-five years before and that, at the epoch, the person appeared to be forty!  He is told that it is a certain Count of Saint-Germain, and the incident marks the composer so strongly, that he talks about it all over Paris.  Some, who know him to be a bit wheezy, say that he is becoming senile as well, and joke about it at the dinner parties.  Others, knowing his good sense, begin to reflect.  Then to talk, when a certain Morin, Secretary of the Danish Legation, assures in turn that he had well known this gentleman too, that it was in Holland, many years ago, and that since all this time the Count, who was already a mature man then, had not taken on one wrinkle…

To be continued.

This is the only portrait that exists of the Count of Saint-Germain.

Sent to Frankfurt to represent Louis XV, Marshal de Belle-Isle was so active there and displayed such magnificence, that the Germans were slightly stunned…  In all ways, Monsieur the Duke had shown himself to be worthy of Superintendant Fouquet, his temerarious and unfortunate father-in-law.  So much so that the King of Prussia had been unable to stop himself from saying:

“It must be agreed that Marshal de Belle-Isle is Germany’s legislator!”

Alas!  A sudden reversal of fortune favourises his old enemy Maria-Theresa of Austria, against whom, like Cato the Ancient stubbornly working on Carthage’s destruction, he had succeeded in launching Europe’s armies.  So, here is this great captain abandoned by the Prussians, locked up in Prague and ordered to sound the retreat…  The Golden Fleece bestowed upon him in Frankfurt by Karl VII, who owed him his throne, is this evening a very poor protection against the stormy weather!   Freezing cold in his retreat, the Marshal is also suffering from atrocious rhumatisms which are attacking his lumbar region and all of his members.  Bitten by icy cold rain, and by the Central European gales even in his bed, he lives drugged, surrounded by a perpetual ballet of mediocre doctors, despairing of ever seeing the gentle climate of France again…  Then, one evening, he hears of a man who says that he is related to the House of Hesse and who, having learnt of his problems, claims to be able to cure him in five days.  In the necessity in which he finds himself, Belle-Isle has to try and, his back pressed against the damask of an armchair – his last luxury! – he receives this magician.

The unknown man orders him to lie down.  He imposes his hands on the Duke’s body and makes circles over it with a white jade wand.

The man of war wants to know what these mummeries are and whether he is trying to tie his laces.

The man wittily replies:

“Even the devil couldn’t tie such a temperament…  from what I’ve heard!  You are going to stop eating and take only three spoonfuls per day of this orgeat.  It’s an extract of emerald mixed with a few follicles of sene.”

“You want to kill me, Monsieur de Saint-Germain!”

“Drink up!  The greatest princes have confidence in me, and have had for a long time!  Anyway, I leave you this as security…”

The unknown man, who has good manners and is dressed with as much care as simplicity, places a round lacquered box on a table, bows gracefully and disappears.  When the Duke opens the box, he discovers, astounded, the glittering flames of rubies, topazes, emeralds and diamonds, three or four of which are at least ten carats each…

A few months later, after having saved the essential of his reputation and his armies, Marshal de Belle-Isle is back at Versailles.  He is very happy to have his feet close to some burning logs, far from draughts, finally behind his coromandel screens;  while, on his sofas, marquises are teary-eyed at the story of his exploits…

But in this December 1744, terrible news spreads through Versailles.  Madame de Chateauroux, Louis XV’s  gracious favourite, is dying, poisoned by a dish of mushrooms.

The Duke sends a lackey to fetch the Count de Saint-Germain.

Belle-Isle had been so pleased with the treatment given to him one year previously by his mysterious visitor, that he had brought him back with him to Paris and installed him in the Marais, of which he has rapidly become the toast.  Each day that passes increases his popularity and good society continues to discover his talents, the depth of which blows their minds…

Despite his accent, Monsieur de Saint-Germain speaks the most careful French, and those who have tested him more deeply in the language domain have been able to see that he speaks as well Italian, Spanish, English and Portuguese with confounding purety.  It is also known that he excellently touches the clavecin, but when he plays the violin, he becomes absolutely prodigious…

People sometimes wonder whether it is only one violin that he is holding in his hands and not two or three!  He is able to produce such sonorities that he makes crystal objects explode if care has not been taken to remove them.  Philidor assures that this is great Art, and the great Rameau himself maintains that his Preludes are incomparable.

But the Count has other talents.  Firstly, he paints almost as well as Latour or Van Loo.  But his vast compositions, whose subjects are marvellously like the originals, bathe in colours, the secret of which he knows, and whose brilliance and permanence are those of precious stones.  He explains the success of this new technique by his knowledge of chemistry and physics, and highly educated people, like the father of Madame de Genlis, have to admit that, in these matters, his knowledge is much greater than theirs…

Stung, they have sent scholars to him, but they have only been able to incline before his knowledge of the exact Sciences.  Discovering along the way that Monsieur de Saint-Germain is also extremely well-versed in the language of Homer and Virgil, and that he writes and speaks Sanskrit, Chinese and Arabic with a perfection that makes his claim of having spent a lot of time in Asia and the Orient easily believable.  But his Science can also render him amiable.  To the pretty women of the Court, he offers magic boxes.  By exposing them to the fire’s heat, the agatha which decorates them fades and leaves in its place a shepherdess carrying a basket of flowers.  If the lid is again heated, the stone reappears…  He also knows how to make delicious sweets, which have the form of fruits, and book-bindings, which he constellates with little precious stones.  For precious stones seem to flow from the hands of this scintillating man…  He carries them on him, dissimulating them with exquisite taste under ribbons and laces.  Nonetheless, if he is asked, he doesn’t hesitate to show them.  The other day, during a gala at Versailles, his garters, his shoe-buckles, his snuff-box in gold encrusted with diamonds of the finest water, passed among all of the pretty hands and Monsieur de Gontaut could not help saying:

“But there’s more than two hundred thousand francs worth here!”

To be continued.

Observers must be very prudent. These luminous balls, photographed by an amateur astronomist, on 7 January 1974, at Saint-Vallier-de-Thiey (Alpes-Maritimes) in France, were due, in fact, to the reverberation of car headlights on the clouds.

At Delphos, in the Kansas wheat plains, the Johnson Farm is one of the biggest in the region.  On 2 November 1971, the farmer’s son, Ronald Johnson, aged 16, is watching a flock of sheep with his dog Tex.  In the declining daylight, he suddenly sees, 25 metres in front of him, an object in the form of a mushroom, constellated with multicoloured lights.  It is suspended in the air, around 50 centimetres from the ground, and its approximate diameter is 3 metres.  This object is so brilliantly lit that he can discern no detail, but Ronald notices that it is making a noise like an “old washing machine that is vibrating”.  Hypnotised, the young man observes it for several minutes, until the object becomes even more brilliant at its base and takes off at prodigious speed.  It takes Ronald a good moment to get back his sight.  The first thing that he sees before running back to the house is his dog, who during the whole time that the apparition lasted, had remained perfectly motionless and silent.

When his parents come out of the house, they also see the flying object.  It is already very high in the sky and has, at this moment, a size comparable with that of the full moon.  Ronald and his parents then go to the place where the object had landed.  On the slightly damp ground, they discover a circle which is emitting a faint glow.  The lower branches of the neighbouring trees are also glowing.  One of the investigators, Mr Ted Philipps, would indicate that, at the place where the engine had been, “the ground was strange to the touch, forming a sort of crust, like a crystallized coating”.

Mrs Johnson reported that her hands, which had touched the ground at this place, had remained numb for nearly two weeks.  Thirty days later, the circle was still visible, and the snow that had fallen in between had melted only inside the circle, where the ground had also become hard as if vitrified.

Inside this sort of crater, the investigators notice the presence of an abundant white powder around thirty centimetres thick.

The young Johnson would suffer from a prolonged eye irritation, migraine headaches and terrible nightmares, during which he called his parents, screaming:  “It’s gone!  It’s gone!”

***

There are immeasurable difficulties to be overcome in interstellar voyages.  To go to the star that is the closest to the Earth, it would take nearly nine years, on condition to travel at the speed of light.  However, the fantastic distances which separate the stellar bodies have an advantage:  the number of stars and galaxies which fill the universe is incredibly astounding as well…

It seems totally improbable that, among the thousands and thousands of millions of planets, ours is the only one to possess the privilege of life and intelligence, in absolute contradiction with the teachings of the law of great numbers and all that we know about the formation of our solar system…

***

On the evening of 30 August 1951, this strange UFO squadron, which silently flew over Lubbock (Texas) USA, was observed and photographed by many people.

Let us retain only the figures advanced by R. S. Harrington, of the United States Naval Observatory.  In 1978, this scholar was able to determine that the stars in our galaxy alone, which benefited from an ecosphere similar to that of the Earth, were of the number of 52 million million.

That is to say, a possibility of gravitating, without being perturbed too much by the radiations or the gravitations of the stars which, like our Sun, accompany the course of the planets.

***

This possibility is far from being sufficient to give life.  There must be a certain number of other conditions, but there are thirty million million stars similar to our Sun in our galaxy…

There would have to be other stars associated with these suns.  But there are six million million of those.  However, this is still not enough to give birth to the most modest bacterium.

Stars can differentiate themselves other than by their mass, their luminosity or their power of association.  By their chemical composition in particular, which allows them to group together.  Some in the central regions of the galaxies, others on their periphery.  At the end of complex metamorphoses, which occur through terrifying cataclysms (cosmic collisions which lead to chain reactions during which millions of millions of stars sink into the famous “black holes”), the stars divide themselves into different “populations”.  Precisely according to the place that they occupy in the whole of the galaxy.  Only those which escape the frightful central clashing have a chance of becoming “stars of population I”…

Among these, only the stars of the second generation, such as our Sun, which formed five million million years ago – when our galaxy was already twice as old – contain water, ammoniac and methane which permit the formation of ice, rocks and metals.  Therefore, are able to engender planetary systems similar to ours.

This still leaves 5.2 million million carbon copies of our Sun…  They also have to have planets to receive their fecund radiations…  However, in the state of our knowledge, we are absolutely incapable of saying how many planetary systems similar to ours there are…

***

We can, however, take our solar system as a reference and, starting from its characteristics, make a certain number of simulations on a computer.  The American Astronomist S. H. Dole did this very well.  He still found a figure close to 2.6 million million stars.  By refining the conditions of inhabitability, we find that the number of inhabitable planets in our galaxy gradually diminishes…

Our last figure is 650 million.  Which is considerably less than the figure retained by the Astronomer Carl Sagan, who goes up to a million million…

These are all only worlds where the molecules, characteristic for life, could eventually form.  We have to leave these planets time to sufficiently age, so that the infinitely slow and complicated process of life is able to establish itself.  From the rudimentary cells of bacteria to ours, which needed dry ground to develop, the number of planets capable of housing them falls a lot more again.  And from the inferior species of animals to those which we are, finally capable to develop a technological civilization, the number becomes really derisory:  530,000.

***

To be continued.

This photo of an UFO taken on 18 December 1966 above Lake Tiorati, New York State, by Vincent Parna, was recognized as authentic after a minutious examination.

On this particular night, around 4:00 a.m., Doctor N. is woken suddenly by appalling cries.  He immediately realises that they are coming from his son’s bedroom.  The child is fourteen months old and is sleeping at the other end of the apartment.

Doctor N. leaps from his bed and falls to his knees with a cry of pain:  three days earlier, he had hurt his leg while breaking a piece of wood.  He rises and rushes, limping, towards his son’s bedroom.  The child is standing in his bed, visibly terrified and is pointing to the window.  The father looks and distinctly sees flashes of red light which are penetrating through the closed shutters.  He tells his son that it is nothing.  Just a storm in the making.  Papa is going to prepare a bottle for him…

Before going to the kitchen, Doctor N., more intrigued than he appears, goes towards a big, glass bay-window situated on the South side of his villa.  On his right, that is to say, on the West side, he notices the same flashes underneath the rolling shutters which are half-way down.  He opens the window onto the house’s vast terrace and then sees that it is raining, but that the weather is not at all stormy.  So where are these reddish fulgurations coming from?  By leaning out of the window, he finally sees distinctly the origin of the phenomenon:  the red, opalescent flashes are being emitted by two flying objects, in the form of a disc, the top of which is of a shiny silvery colour while underneath it is a very luminous red…

Greatly impressed, the doctor notices that the flashes surge in intervals of about one second and that when the luminous pulsation which runs along the two discs arrives at maximum intensity, a brief explosion occurs.  Now, he sees the flying objects move together towards the left and stop at the centre of the vast countryside which can be seen from the southern side of the villa.  It also seems to the witness that the two discs are slowly moving closer to each other.  It is by following with his eyes the shafts of light that they are emitting downward and which are lighting up the lawn and the uneven ground which is beyond the garden, that he becomes certain that the two discs will end up crashing into each other…  An instant later, they are exactly opposite the open window and the doctor then sees very distinctly their slim edges enter into contact and the discs fuse immediately, ceasing to emit their luminous signals.  At the height of his eyes, it seems to him, the witness only now sees one disc which continues to advance towards him.  Fascinated, he tries to move backwards towards the interior of the room but, as if struck with paralysis, he can’t.

This luminous UFO photographed on 8 August 1965 by James Lucci of Beaver, Pennsylvania, had, according to estimations by witnesses, a diameter of around 13 metres.

He then sees the disc tip slowly into a vertical position and take on the appearance of an enormous coin standing on its side.  The shaft of red light appears again and passes across the window in front of which is the doctor.  At the moment when the shaft is about to reach him, he hears a sort of explosion and the disc appears to “dematerialize”.  The witness then sees nothing more than a big whiteish halo which was perhaps only, he would later say, a retinian impression, a remnant image of the disc which subsisted for a few minutes then evaporated as if dispersed by the wind.

It is only a little later, upon leaving the state of shock in which he was, that Doctor N. recalls as well that the disc bore several antennae and that the luminous shaft which was diffracting through layers of fog had a perfectly cylindrical form…

The doctor managed to return to his bedroom and woke his wife who had heard nothing.  He recounted to her all that he had just seen and while he was speaking, she put back into place the bandage wrapped around his leg.  She noticed then that the important bruise that he had there had totally disappeared and he, himself, realised that the pain that he was still feeling when he had risen had also disappeared.  Even better, the sequels of a war wound which had resulted in a slight paralysis of the right side, which made standing upright difficult, had also disappeared, and the proof that it was not just a passing impression, was that the doctor could now stand just on his right leg which he had been totally incapable of doing until then…

Aime Michel, the man who in France was the one who knew the most about the problem of unidentified flying objects and who was the first to determine that they obeyed the rule of orthotaenia (that is to say that their different apparitions in a given region can be connected by a straight line) visited this doctor, sixteen days after the observation that he had made of the flying saucer.  This man, who asks, like many other witnesses, that his anonymat be carefully respected, appeared terribly tired and bewildered and had lost several kilos.  He recounted to Aime Michel that the day after the apparition of the two UFOs, he had suffered from violent cramps in the abdominal area and that about ten days after the event, a strange triangular mark had formed around his navel.  One of his dermatologist colleagues had not been able to give any explanation and on 17 November 1968, sixteen days after his adventure, this mark of perfectly geometrical form, was still visible.

Questioning him further, Aime Michel learned that, in the night of 13 November, the witness had dreamt of a triangle in connection with a flying disc…  As a man who knew about paranormal things, the writer immediately thought of a psychsomatic explanation:  as is the case for certain people with light stigmata, Doctor N.’s subconscious could very well have suscitated this curious pigmentation of the skin.  But a few days later, this hypothesis was seriously defeated…  A triangle of the exact dimension and colour, had also appeared on his son’s abdomen.

At the end of 1970, the detectives, including Aime Michel, who had faithfully followed the doctor’s life and noted all of their observations, drew up a first report.

The handicap of the right leg had not reappeared and the sequels of the wound that he gave himself on the leg in 1968 had also disappeared.

The triangle, on the other hand, became visible regularly on both the father and the son and this sort of intermittent tattoo remained visible for three days – in the case of the son, even when he was on holidays at his grandmother’s who knew nothing of this story.

The people in this family’s entourage, also questioned by Aime Michel, have also noted important changes of a psychological order in the doctor’s household.  They say that both the husband and the wife now have a different conception of existence and that they have a tendency to give to all of the events that they experience a mystical prolongation.  Since the famous night, Doctor N. observes that he is capable of having transmissions of thought, whether he is receiving or emitting.  He has even noticed that he has entered several times into levitation and that the clocks and electrical circuits in his house inexplicably break down…

***

To be continued.

Hindsight – First Memory

Mum and I at the beach.

My foot’s stuck.  My fists clutch the cream cot’s flat, wooden bars.  I’ve done this before.  At least twice.  Maybe more.

The room is dim.  The blinds are down.  There’s grey light in the rectangle of the open door.  I can’t get that foot out!  I pull myself up on the right foot, my body off-balance.  I cling to the bars, find my balance…  then the left foot gets stuck!  Every time!

My right leg is shaking.  I try again.  Not quite.  The sheet and blanket are holding my foot.

To the right, there’s a bedside table.  Then the double bed.  This is Nan Dennis’ house.  We live in this room.  There’s a big mirror on the wardrobe door.  I lean to try to see myself.  I lean too far and nearly fall.  My left foot unfolds.  My body wobbles.  I hang on tight!  I crow with surprise.  How did I do that?  I’m standing up!  On both legs!

I look up with a joyful smile and see the silhouette in front of the grey light.  I know who that is!  That’s my Mummy!  I laugh to share my joy.  She doesn’t move.  She doesn’t talk.  She doesn’t tell me how clever I am.  She just stands in the doorway, her full skirt a triangle from waist to mid-calf.  And I’m happy and smiling and laughing and crowing…  And there’s no face.  Just the motionless silhouette…

***

A few years later, I tell my mother about the first time I stood up and how happy I was.  She frightens me in some way.  Perhaps she screams at me.  I know that she tells me I’m lying.  I can’t possibly remember back that far!

But I do.

***

Even more years later, I mention it again.  What’s wrong with Mummy?  There’s fear.  Hers and mine.  I don’t understand.  And I’m a liar again.  I can’t remember!  I was too young!

But I wasn’t.  And I do.

***

Later again, my aunt mentions my broken arm.  Broken arm?  Which arm?  The right.

I don’t remember.

How did it happen?  No-one knows.  I must have fallen down the kitchen step at Nan Dennis’ place.  We live in our own house now.  When a doctor saw it, the bones were already knitting together.  I was about fourteen months old.  A clean break.  He put sticking plaster around it.  The bones hadn’t moved so he didn’t have to break my arm again.

I’d been crying every night when I rolled on it.  I cried when I was having my bath.  Mummy said that it was around the time that I’d started having my bath in the big bathtub.  She thought that I was just frightened.  She put my baby bath in the big tub but I still cried.  One day, I tried to run away from her and she grabbed my arm.  I screamed.  Daddy was there that time.  So we went to the doctor’s.

I don’t remember.

***

Many, many years later, in hindsight, I wondered if it was true that no-one knew how I’d broken my arm.  Mummy’s mental health might have helped my arm to break.  How could no-one see that a child had a broken arm?  Why was Mummy so scared when I remembered the first time that I stood up?  Was she afraid that I would remember how my arm had been broken?

I don’t.

***

Henry Cavendish was the greatest scholar of his time.

There is another Cavendish, more famous than John William, but just as mysterious as the fifth Duke of Portland.  This Cavendish died in 1810.  His fortune, inherited from his uncle, was fabulous and his mystery remains impenetrable.  He was the greatest scholar of his time, the first to have calculated with precision the density of the terrestrial globe.  In fundamental discoveries, he also formulated the composition of water and precisely gave that of air.  He is doubtless the discoverer of electricity, but he refused to publish the rest of his capital discoveries on energies.  It is safe to say that all modern Science comes from Henry Cavendish, who was born in Nice in 1731…

However, this ancestor of the underground Duke does not seem to have belonged to the human species.  Of maladive timidity, he had no contact with any living being, except for the members and correspondents of scholarly societies.  For ordinary relations with his fellow-men, he communicated only by signs or by written messages.  One day, he is shown through the window a couple making love inside a bedroom in the building opposite.  He asks to be told what it is that these people could possibly be doing.  Another day when he is served lamb shanks, he asks very seriously how many legs this race of animal has.  At the end of his life, he gives the day and time of his death, right to the minute.

When he enters into agony, one of the rare persons assisting him asks him if he wants any help from religion.  He asks what that means and what a priest is…

Henry Cavendish does not wear a mask;  but his face and his whole life is his mask.  A mask which, like his descendant, he never accepts to remove.

Are such strange destinies still those of human beings?  Those who hide themselves like this behind the Cavendish mask, are they something other than human beings?

***

The story of the fifth Duke of Portland holds two other mysteries.  John William Cavendish of Portland had a younger brother and never did two brothers resemble each other less than these two:  John William was, according to the little that we know of him, a very ugly man and his brother George Rentinck was endowed with all the seductions of the Earth. A dandy full of wit, who had Prime Minister Disraeli’s ear, his existence is a perpetual round of sporting and amorous exploits.

Women with the reputation for being the most inaccessible in High Society succumb, his jockeys win all of the big prizes and he himself excels in all physical exercises.  One day in Autumn 1848, when a local lord of the manor had invited him to stay for two days, he asks his groom to precede him in the cabriolet which is waiting in the courtyard of Welbeck Castle.  In his usual fashion, he intends walking the ten kilometres to work up an appetite.  As he hasn’t arrived at ten o’clock at night, they go to look for him…  He is found standing, leaning against a wooden fence, seeming to be looking at the great prairie beneath the moonlight.  He is dead.  The mystery of this death has never been elucidated…

***

He was probably assassinated by his brother John William, although there is no proof of it.

Before separating that evening, the two brothers had a violent argument.  Apparently over a question of money…  The official version is that George died from a cardiac spasm, which would be rather astonishing for a sportsman like him.

***

Remorse for having killed, voluntarily or not, his brother and also his physical disgrace seem to have encouraged John William to seek the obscurity of the tomb well before his death.

***

It seems that the fifth Duke of Portland had a really horrible physical appearance.  There is hesitation on whether it was leprosy or a cancer of the face…  Which explains the mask.  However, the mask is the cause of another complication in this story…

Did the Duke of Portland, who lived masked, accept to be photographed (left)? If so, except for the beard, his resemblance with Thomas-Charles Druce would be astonishing.

At his death, a lady came to claim his fabulous inheritance which would normally have gone to one of his distant cousins.  She was the widow of the owner of a London bazar.  And here is how she justified her pretensions before the tribunal, for the case was heard and was one of the longest and the most talked about of the XIXth Century.  She assured with great vehemence that in reality, John William Cavendish, Fifth Duke of Portland, came every day to London, in his closed berline with the curtains drawn, to transform himself into a certain Charles Druce, who held a bazar in Baker Street.  Charles Druce was now buried but his widow affirmed before the Court that the coffin was empty and that in reality Cavendish and the little London shopkeeper were one and the same person.  Assisted by a clever lawyer and several witnesses, she did not cease to demand from 1898 onwards the opening of coffin number 13160 in Highgate Cemetery, which, according to her, contained only a piece of lead removed, she said, from the roof of one of the Cavendish residences, Colcomb House…

This case lasted fifty years.  For half a century, the English newspapers gave an account of the evolution of the case.  After the widow’s death, then that of her son, one of his descendants, a modest carpenter, living in Australia, sets the case off again.  Lacking money to pay the lawyers, he creates a “Society with shares for the restitution of the inheritance of the Duke of Portland”.  A whole crowd of small subscribers rush to enter it, which creates a strong movement in favour of the carpenter in public opinion.  Soon, no-one in the kingdom has any doubt that the Duke and the shopkeeper would end up being one and the same Portland and that there would be people everywhere blessed by this good fortune.  A second hearing opens, documents of the first importance are stolen from a witness in the street, one day during a fog, and the newpapers relay subscribers’ and public opinion to demand that the coffin be finally opened.  On an icy-cold morning in 1907, the heavy stone which seals Charles Druce’s tomb is finally lifted…

When the undertaker raises the shroud, a horribly decomposed face appears.  Which does not prevent one of the witnesses, representing the public ministry, to recognize the shopkeeper’s cadaver.  From then on, the cause is finished and our carpenter returns to Australia crying over the dream which evaporated in the London fog.

A lot of people said that there had been substitution of the body and it must be admitted that the mystery of the life and death of the troglodyte Duke has never really been elucidated.

***

The other Cavendish, the scholar, is just as mysterious as his nephew.  Only one engraving represents him dressed in a worn, floating overcoat, a wide-brimmed hat which hides part of his face, and deformed trousers.  This Cavendish, the founder of Chemistry and Physics, is truly the creator of modern Science.  Curiously, he kept secret a certain number of his discoveries after having succeeded in isolating hydrogen and finding the synthesis of water.  At the same time, he pursues the first decisive works on electricity.  A laboratory, founded in 1870, shortly before an important part of his researches are found, bears his name.  This laboratory was the birthplace of atomic physics.

Cavendish remains, however, a human enigma and, according to the rare people who approached him, he appeared to be totally different in nature to common mortals.  Even while alive, his celebrity was immense.  However, almost no-one saw him.  He lived as a recluse, detached from all human contingencies, showing fear whenever one of his fellow humans approached him, dissimulating as best he could his physical appearance.  In his descendant, these characteristics are even more exaggerated and it is difficult to conceive a man more foreign to the human condition than his nephew John William.  The term “mutant” takes on all of its sense here, like Gaspar Hauser, for example, who was also a creature who was perfectly unclassable.

***

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