Tag Archive: politics


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

A little while ago, at the bottom of the staircase, Senart had consulted his Police File for the last time.  In it, it is said that she, who is called “the Mother of God” by adepts that are more numerous every day, is 69 years old, that she is the daughter of a poor Norman labourer, hired on a daily basis, and that she was a servant for a very long time.  When, in her 50’s, she suddenly has her “Revelation”, she hurries to a merchant of “instruments of penitence” and invests the savings of a lifetime in an incredible collection of cilices, iron belts, bracelets “a picquais” and metallic garters, lined with horsehair.  At night she sleeps on a cross which is a veritable torture rack, also garnished with steel spikes.  Although completely illiterate, she starts to cathechise.  Not without success, since the Archbishop of Paris, Monsignor de Beaumont, becomes worried and asks her in writing to tell him about the lights that she thinks to have received.  A letter from her Archbishop!  The little good sense which remains in Catherine Theot abandons her and here she is running around the streets, stirring up the passers-by, interrupting sermons and cornering predicators on their way out, to accuse them of being heretics…  One of them sues and the visionary finds herself for three years at the Salpetriere in the  non-dangerous mentally deranged sector.  She is then taken in by a dressmaker, who is just as mad as she is, and for ten years, living a retired life, the two good women will pass the time retouching their sulphurous visions…  When the revolutionary hurricane is unleashed, they re-surface and set up their mirage offices on the Sainte-Genevievre mountain, where we now find them…  The Eclaireuse exclaims:

“Kneel, mortals!  You are going to receive the seven gifts of God!”

The two sheep drop to their knees.  They are asked if they can read.  They reply “a little”.

L'hopital de la Salpetriere, where Catherine Theot was interned for three years in the "mystically mad" quarter.

The Theot passes behind Senart and seizes his head which she presses strongly.  He feels the elderly woman’s mouth touch his forehead, eyelids, the back of an ear and his chin twice.  The beautiful Eclaireuse demands:

“Your turn!”

A rough ordeal!  But as a zealous policeman, Senart obeys and embraces the old woman everywhere.  The Chanteuse then asks:

“Son and Mother, kiss each other on the mouth!”

There, heroism is needed, but on we go, for the Republic!

Heron is inflicted with the same touching and, as soon as he has finished, everyone enters into a trance, kneels, prays, and begins canticles.  A beautiful young woman keeps her mouth pressed against that of Catherine for long minutes.  She doesn’t even stop when the Colombe appears in a panic, crying out:

“We have been betrayed!  There are soldiers everywhere in the street!…  They are climbing the stairs!”

The man in the white riding cloak, a former Chartreux by the name of Dom Gerle, now defrocked, also a former member of the Assemblee constituante, wants to flee.  Heron points one of his guns on his face, while Senart, more dead than alive, finds the strength to open the window and call out:

“The Guard!  Help, Gendarmes!…”

A few instants later, a strange cortege goes down the Rue de l’Estrapade:  the “Mother of God”, her head wobbling, trots gently between two Gendarmes, followed by her flock of Illuminated surrounded by National Guards.

In front, walk the two sycophants, Heron radiant, rattling his artillery, Senart shifty, his head invisible under his bicorn.

They arrive in front of the former College Louis le Grand, transformed into a Police Room and a Prison.  In this corridor, less than fifteen years before, Robespierre, then a Law student, was ruminating his dreams of grandeur, sombre and solitary.  Vadier occupies a little office there, where the Accused will be interrogated soon.

He will learn that the Mother teaches that the Incorruptible is the new Messiah, the incarnation of the Supreme Being, sent to Earth to transform France into Paradise…

That’s all that he wants to know.

***

A few days later, it is the incredible Festival of the Supreme Being, the most astonishing day in the History of Paris. 

[see https://marilynkaydennis.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/robespierres-one-day-religion/ and https://marilynkaydennis.wordpress.com/2010/09/16/robespierres-one-day-religion-part-2/ and https://marilynkaydennis.wordpress.com/2010/09/17/robespierres-one-day-religion-part-3/ ]

On this day, the aim is to abolish two thousand years of christianism and go back to the great celebrations of Antiquity, with Liberty floats drawn by the People of Paris, the cremation of the Statue of Atheism, and the sermon by Robespierre, who is already no more than the fanatical priest of the great cult of Death.  However, while France is panting and agonizing in the blue shadow of the Machine, this day marks the pinnacle of the man who had concentrated into his hands more power than any other in France, before or after him.  It will precipitate him also toward a vertiginous and absurd end which would occur less than two months later.

***

At the Convention, eight days later, Barere explodes his bomb:  Robespierre was the disciple of an old, mad, mystical woman!  It is Catherine Theot, the Mother of God, who invented the Supreme Being and who persuaded the Incorruptible that he was the new Messiah!  To perfect the trap, Vadier gives it vaudeville colours.  He lets it be understood that Robespierre was effectively one of the sect’s Initiates and that he was the first to suck the chin of the old witch!

All of this is false, of course.  It is all just a diabolical machination, served by lucky coincidence.  The Convention doesn’t care.  On the benches of the famous long room of the Tuileries, the Deputies roll around with laughter, and an immense dream crumbles…

“Is it really true that you knew about the Theot’s doings, Comrade Citizen?  What did it feel like, to embrace the Mother of God on the mouth?…”

Stunned at first, Robespierre becomes indignant.  Lengthily, as usual, he confides to his colleagues his astonishement and his pain, before this indecent buffoonery.  Vadier retorts:

“What?  This female conspirator, who sacrifices to superstition and old idols, is only a ‘woman worthy of contempt’?”

Robespierre interrupts:

“I didn’t say that!  You must understand…”

The embarrassment of the man, who had so many times pulverised much more serious arguments, is an irreparable error.  He is booed, his speech will not be printed and sent to the departements.  The Incorruptible will fall back down onto his bench.  He knows what this failure means.  His white, feline face closes up a little more and he murmurs:

“I am finished!”

***

To be continued.

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

If Robespierre was finally defeated, it was perhaps because of a woman, an obscure prophetess, whose name History has not even retained.  In 1793, the “enrages”, assembled around the bloody Hebert, resolved to put an end to the Church.  Their spokesman, Chaumette, a philanthropist, the inventor of a guillotine on wheels which greatly facilitated the choppers’ work, is seized with a veritable anti-Catholic frenzy.  In the cemeteries, he has the crosses replaced by statues of Sleep, since the soul cannot be immortal, and he asks the “swearing” bishops to throw away the mitre, crook and ring, and to proclaim:

“All the titles of the charlatanism are deposited at the People’s Tribunal, we are regenerated!”

In Notre-Dame’s choir, he has an immense mountain in cardboard constructed.  On its slopes, women with naked breasts suckle babies to make them good little soldiers of Liberty.  One would look in vain for an effigy of saints.  In their place, there is a monumental statue which represents the People, brandishing a club.  A temple of political philosophy replaces the main-altar.  One distinguishes there the busts of all of the Fathers of the Revolution…

And it’s the same thing, often more laughable, in the cathedrals of Bourges, Le Mans, Limoges, Pau and elsewhere, where prostitutes organize mad Bacchanalias.

The Festival of the Goddess Reason, which degenerated into an appalling Bacchanalia, was replaced, at Robespierre's request, by the Festival of the Supreme Being.

Robespierre has more taste and spirit than these people.  And a higher ambition.  He doesn’t want to extirpate religious sentiment from the hearts of the French.  But he wants them to embrace a new religion.  That they replace the adoration of the Church God by the cult of the Supreme Being, founded on reason and fraternity.

On 18 Floreal Year II, more prosaically 7 May 1794, he has voted by the Convention, where no-one dares to contradict him any more, the Act of the birth of a religion, of which, by divine right, it could be said, he will be the High Priest.  For  a little more than a month.  This is already much too much for the partisans of absolute atheism.  Of course Hebert has just been cut in two, but his friends, among the Jacobins and even in the Convention, are searching and agitating.  While Robespierre is establishing with the painter David and the poet Chenier the rites and canticles of the new religion, they are seeking how to knock this Being off its altars along with its infernal pontiff.  They search with the desperate obstination of those for whom the path from the tribunal to the blade is becoming shorter every day.  In the end, they will find what they are looking for…

This same day in May 1794, two men discretely climb the six storeys of a miserable-looking house in the Rue de la Contrescarpe.  They are secret agents, or rather Comite de Salut Public informers.  Their names are Heron and Senart, and they have been sent there by Vadier, a Montagnard Deputy who execrates Robespierre just as much as his divinity, and Barere, nicknamed “l’Anacreon de la guillotine”, because the sight of its well-filled basket inspires him to spout exquisite literary flowers.  As for the two spies, you might as well say that they are frankly scoundrels:  Heron is a former long-haul sailor whose men call him simply “le Chef”.  Perhaps he takes his authority from the fact that he never goes anywhere without a very complete artillery:  under his jacket he carries two espingoles, small pistols, and a second belt with other pistols of a more considerable calibre, plus a large dagger and a little tiny styletto.  His wife, a beautiful Cancalaise to whom he is very attached, cheats on him with a First Lieutenant of the Beauce Regiment and flees with 800,000 pounds, a fortune which must surely owe nothing to his sailor’s pay.  He has just introduced a request with his influent friends that has a good chance of coming to something:  that of having his wife guillotined very urgently…

Senart, on the other hand, is a scrupulous person.  The son of a Prosecutor of Chatellerault, he passes for noble and has even married a goddaughter of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette.  Never does he ever assemble his military Commissions, which comb the provinces, without making them attend Mass first.  He is meticulous in everything:  elected Prosecutor of Tours, he establishes the guillotine there without delay “on a solid base in masonry”.

Heron advises his acolyte to look pious as he knocks twice, then three times, with one knuckle on the landing door.

After a fairly long moment, a servant shows her nose and asks if they have come for the Mother of God.  If so, they’ll have to wait, because she isn’t up yet.

It is eleven o’clock;  the two fellows take root in the dark, cramped entry.  Heron reminds Senart that he is supposed to have just come from the country.

Then, a man dressed in an immense white riding-coat and carrying a toque in petit-gris fur appears.  He raises an oil lamp toward the visitors’ faces and traces a sign of recognition on his forehead which Heron hastens to repeat.  Before he can say a word, the servant-girl reappears and says emphatically:

“Come!  Mortal men, towards immortality!  The Mother of God permits you to enter!”

She precedes them into a chamber which is fairly vast, but just as dark, where she lights a triple chandelier and arranges, on some low steps, three blue and red armchairs.  Then she says:

“Time advances!  The Mother of God is going to appear to receive her children!”

At this moment, a military man arrives carrying his bonnet under his arm, a long blade at his side, followed by a female citizen that the man with the toque greets as being “l’Eclaireuse”.  Another one comes from the rooms at the end and is called “la Chanteuse”, and again another, who is singularly beautiful and is called “la Colombe”.  The “Eclaireuse” rings a bell.

“Brothers, here is your Mother!”

The curtains of an alcove open and a tall, dry, diaphanous person appears.  Her head and hands are of phenomenal thinness and are shaking with senile trembling…

Senart, who has remained prudently behind, now counts a good ten people who are taking their places on stools and types of chaises longues.  Those present rush to kiss Catherine Theot’s slipper with fervour, crying out:

“Glory be to the Mother of God!”

In his corner, Senart is having trouble not to laugh.

A collation is served, but only for the prophetess.  Two pretty girls tenderly wipe her face and lips afterwards.  In a sour, broken voice, she then pronounces these words:

“Children of God, Your Mother is among you.  I am now going to purify the two profanes!…

To be continued.

Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) in 1886.

Curiously, it is in Italy that the utility of Pasteur’s method of raising silkworms will be demonstrated.  In Italy and in a private Parisian study whose high windows open onto the Place du Carrousel.  There, an old soldier, Field-Marshal Vaillant, Minister of the House of the Emperor, raises silkworms in the heart of Paris and verifies the merits of Pasteur’s procedure.  Convinced, he decides to take the scholar to finish his convalescence in Trieste in a magnanery whose production of silk cocoons has been nil for ten years.  Under the direction of its inventor, the Pasteur Method then performs marvels, and at last, in the Centre of Production’s Accounts Ledger, in the column which has been empty for ten years, the sum of 22,000 francs is written, the nett profit from the sale of cocoons from silkworms, at last productive and in perfect health.  Pasteur takes advantage of this calmer period to write a treatise on his procedure.  High Italy and Austria adopt the system, France would end up following.

A good many years later, in 1882, he would be acclaimed by the little town of Aubenas, in Ardeche.  The Municipality would make him a gift of a little microscope – that microscope of which it was said that no magnanery would know how to use it.  The President of the Spinners’ Syndicate would say at the time to him:

“For us all, you were the helpful genie whose magical intervention removed the spell of the plague that was ruining us.  It is the benefactor that we salute in you.”

In fact, during these four years, the Chemist Pasteur will have progressed in the understanding of living beings, and gleaned along the way a whole sum of information which will take on all its sense a few years later with vaccination.  He was able to observe that the visible corpuscules in the sick silkworm moths totally lose their faculty for contagion by exposition to air and through dessication.

The 1870 War erupts, the Museum of Natural History is bombarded, Val-de-Grace Hospital is under fire from Prussian cannons, l’Ecole normale is partially destroyed;  there is fighting in Paris.  Pasteur and his family then leave the capital for Arbois.  Gradually, the cannon noise moves away and work will start again.  Pasteur remarks:

“The War put my brain out to pasture.”

***

Pasteur writes to Claude Bernard:

“I have decided to go with my family to settle for a few months near Clermont-Ferrand close to my dear Duclaux, at Royat.”

Pasteur joins his pupil who has become a Professor of Chemistry at the Faculty of Clermont.  Duclaux sets up a little laboratory for him.  But between Royat and Clermont, there is Chamalieres and its Beer Brewery.  Like wine, beers “become troubled, acidic, turn bad, runny or putrid”.  Pasteur is then animated by patriotic sentiments:  German beer, in fact, is largely superior to French beer.  He wants to free his country from its importations by finding an answer, that is to say, by isolating the good yeast.  After crystals and silkworms, he studies fermentations.  The same scenario as that of the tartrate occurs again:  he goes to visit Breweries in England where the samples of beer are observed under the microscope, then taken from the greatest Parisian cafes, as well as in the Brewery of the Tourtel Brothers, in Nancy.  In this periple, he is accompanied by Bertin, a former companion at the Ecole normale, and joyful gastronomist.  Bertin tries to convince his friend that beer should not be considered exclusively as a fermentation problem, but that it can also procure great joys…  Pasteur smiles and bends over his microscope.  He notices that quality yeast is obtained more or less by chance;  if a fermentation fails, the Brewer procures other primary materials, with all the dangers of contamination represented by transports between Breweries, between cities, between countries.  The study begins.  The balloons are seeded, they are heated to 20 degrees Centigrade, 60 degrees Centigrade.  In 1875, after five years of experiments, it is the publication of Etudes sur la biere et les conseils aux brasseurs.  The principle would be:

“It is necessary that the sweetened wort [that is to say, the future beer, not yet fermented] be exempt from impureties and that the air which is continuously renewed on the surface of the liquid always arrive pure…”

The Chemist shows that there are good and bad yeasts in the fermentation wort.  He proposes therefore to the Brewers to remove all the yeasts, before seeding them exclusively with the good ones.  To finance his research, he becomes an Engineer and deposits the Patent for an apparatus for the sterilization of the beer wort.  Pasteur rejoices to see that the Brewers accept his process without reticence, and that the Jacobsens have created in Carlsberg “a laboratory destined exclusively to progress in the art of brewing”.

Then the scholar tries his hand at Politics, for the Senate Elections, with a programme which can be summed up almost in one sentence:

“Science at the service of the citizen.”

It’s a bit short, and the voters send him back to his test-tubes.  His nephew, Adrien Loir, proposes an amusing explanation for this defeat:

“Pasteur had the phobia of shaking hands, and that is probably what made people think that he was haughty.  […]  In the light of his principles [of hygiene], he was sparing with his handshakes.  It is perhaps for this, and also for other reasons that, in 1876, he failed when he presented himself for election to the Senate in the Jura.”

***

To be continued.

Ferdinand Ossendowski

During my stay in Urga, I tried to find an explanation for this legend of the King of the World.  Naturally, the Living Buddha was the one who could best give me this information and therefore I endeavoured to make him speak on this subject.  In one conversation with him, I cited the name of the King of the World.  The elderly Pontiff jerked his head around to me and fixed his still, lifeless eyes on me.  Involuntarily, I remained silent.  The silence lengthened and the Pontiff took up the conversation again in such a way that I understood that he did not want to talk about this subject.  On the faces of the other people present, I noticed the expression of astonishment and fear that my words had produced, particularly on that of the Bogdo-Khan librarian.  One can easily understand that this only made me that much more impatient to know more on this subject.

As I was leaving the Bogdo-Hutuktu’s study, I met the librarian who had left before me, and I asked him if he would consent to take me to visit the Living Buddha’s library.  I used a very simple ruse with him:

“Do you know, my dear Lama, one day I was on the plain at the time that the King of the World was speaking to God, and I felt the impressive majesty of this moment.”

To my surprise, the elderly Lama replied calmly:

It is said that, in the underground centre of Agarttha, thousands of Tibetan monks work and pray under the direction of the King of the World, the supreme chief who is connected to the thoughts of those who govern Humanity's destiny.

“It is not right that Buddhism and our Yellow Religion hide it.  The recognition of the existence of the Most Holy and Most Powerful of men, of the Blessed Kingdom, of the Great Temple of Sacred Science is such a consolation for our sinners’ hearts and our corrupt lives, that to hide it from Humanity should be a sin.

“Ah well!  listen…  all year, the King of the World guides the task of the Panditas and the Goros of Agharti.  Only, by moments, he goes into the Cavern of the Temple where the embalmed body of his predecessor reposes inside a black stone coffin.  This Cavern is always dark, but when the King of the World penetrates it, the walls are striped with fire and from the lid of the coffin tongues of flame rise.  The Doyen of the Goros stands before him, his head and face covered, his hands joined on his chest.  The Goro never raises the veil on his face, for his head is a naked skull, with living eyes and a tongue that speaks.  He communicates with the souls of those who have gone from there.

“The King of the World speaks for a long time, then approaches the coffin while extending his hand.  The flames burn more brightly;  the stripes of fire on the walls go out and re-appear, interlacing, forming mysterious signs from the Vatannan Alphabet.  [The language of the Underground State of the King of the World.] From the coffin, transparent strips of light, barely visible, begin to come out.  They are the thoughts of his predecessor.  Soon, the King of the World is surrounded by a halo of this light and the letters of fire write ceaselessly on the walls the wishes and the orders of God.  At this moment, the King of the World is connected to the thoughts of all those who direct the destinies of Humanity:  the Kings, the Tsars, the Khans, the War-Lords, the High Priests, the scholars, the powerful men.  He knows their intentions and their ideas.  If they please God, the King of the World will favourise them with his invisible aid;  if they displease God, the King will provoke their failure.  This power is given to Agharti through the mysterious Science of Om, the word by which we begin all of our prayers.  [This sacred monosyllable, well known to Yoga adepts, is also written AUM.]  “Om” is the name of an Ancient Saint, the first of the Goros, who lived three hundred thousand years ago.  He was the first man to know God, the first who taught Humanity to believe, to hope, to fight evil.  So God gave him complete power over the forces which govern the visible world.

“After his conversation with his predecessor, the King of the World assembles the Great Council of God, judges the actions and the thoughts of the great men, helps them or brings them down.  Mahytma and Mahynga find the place of these actions and of these thoughts among the causes which govern the world.  Then, the King of the World enters the Great Temple and prays in solitude.  Fire appears on the altar, gradually spreading to all the altars nearby, and through the ardent flame gradually appears God’s face.  The King of the World respectfully announces to God the decisions of the All-Powerful.  When he leaves the Temple, the King of the World shines with divine light…”

***

To be continued.

The Count and the mummy

The Spanish city of Lerida in the XVIIth Century.

We are on the banks of a river which weaves through an arid countryside.  It is early June, and the Segre, which irrigates Catalogna, already has only a little yellow, muddy water…  Everything is yellow in this austere province:  the burnt Dawn sky, the dried grass, the hill, the ramparts and the high walls of Lerida, which is today a beseiged city.  Again.  For a river of blood has not ceased flowing through this martyr city for centuries.  Since Pompey delivered it to Caesar, and the Moors and the Christians slit each others throats there, not to mention the French, who never march on Spain without occupying it…

The Prince de Conde commanded the troops that beseiged Lerida.

Once more it had been taken and pillaged.  And these French, whom the people of Lerida had fiercely fought and finally chased away, have come back again to attack them, innumerable, in this 1647 Spring.  The beseigers, whose tents and bivouac fires stretch over the horizon, are led by the Great Conde himself, the greatest war-chief of his century, the one who put an end to centuries of the Spanish Infantry’s invincibility, at the Battle of Rocroi…

Victory here too is assured.  Lerida, surrounded, lacks water, bread, powder and bullets.  So, inside the walls, they are getting ready for the final assault, and the men, but also the women, are trying not to think about the horrors which are about to befall them.

Of course, between army chiefs, there is a lot of bowing, politeness and posing.  But these magnificent courtesies change nothing about the fate of the poor people and the rank and file.  For them, “the war in laces” is accompanied by firing, mud, hunger.  And always massacres and rapes.

Before Lerida, the trench that is the most exposed to the Catalan fire is that of the Prince.  Precisely because of the dangers of being there, it is a supreme honour to command it.  It is Roger de Bussy, Count of Rabutin to whom this honour has fallen.  For his fantastic bravery, and also because he is in favour at Court.

Count Roger de Bussy-Rabutin.

On 2 June in the morning, he is on guard duty in this trap, exposed to the firing of the beseiged, and in particular, to their attempts to break out, which are still frequent and murderous.  Day has barely dawned when an emissary of the Chevalier de La Valliere presents himself before Bussy-Rabutin.  He is the bearer of a very pleasing message:  to break the monotony of the seige, La Valliere is organizing, that same day, a luncheon to which are also invited Barbantane, Lieutenant of Conde’s Guard, and Jumeaux his “Battle Marshal”, a title which sounds better than that of the staff officer that he would later become.

At the appointed time, Bussy-Rabutin, all joyous, clothes himself in full dress, with ribbons, laces and a hat with feathers, then, trotting on his horse, followed by all his footmen, sets off for Headquarters, which is installed out of reach of the couleuvrines [small cannons], inside the ruins of an old church.  When he appears, dashing and superb, cries of joy greet him.  With feathers fluttering, they embrace lengthily, as is the fashion.  Soon, without there being any need for questions, our cavalier knows everything and more, about the adulteries and the sexual scandals of Chantilly, Paris and Saint-Germain…

Gossiping makes them thirsty, and youth and all these gallantry rumours make them hungry.  Behind some bushes, a wide table has been set…  It is covered with bottles and food, everything that Enghien’s Guards had been able to swipe within a twenty-league radius…  The wines in particular are abundant.  Bubbly clarets from the South of France, but also deep burgundies and, so as not to neglect the local production, wines from Alicante, Cyprus and marsalas.  On the side-boards, away from the sun, spicy cakes and brioches, wafer biscuits and blancmanges.

A delicate attention,  Monsieur the Prince, Chief of the Armies, has sent his violinists…

A fifth good fellow, La Breteche, Second Lieutenant of Monsieur the Prince’s Guard, arrives.  Frankly greedy, fond of sword-play and loud-mouthed, always the first to break the peace and raise skirts, in other words, the most brazen of libertines.  Worse even than Bussy-Rabutin.

In the shade, they drain the bottles in one draught.  They ply each other with food.  They stuff themselves, and when their hunger is appeased, there is more wine, sun and singing to keep them awake.  All is perfect on this beautiful day, except…  there are no women.

Monsieur the Prince would do anything to oblige his officers.  But where can such game be found at this time?  There are not even any more girls to rape in the whole province.  It must be said that the last ones had to have daggers taken from their hands first…  Barbantane rises from the table.  He is swaying a bit and hurls his hunger for fresh flesh to the sky, begging it to rain girls down upon them.

Barbantane now runs to repeat his prayer inside the church… 

Our proud gentlemen take up his invocation in a drunken chant, and the amorous fever goes up a notch…  Suddenly Barbantane, from the depths of the church, calls out:

“Messieurs!  One pretty woman coming up!  God!  How cute she is!”

His companions rush in, hats in their hands, to rape in all urbanity.  They remain frozen in horror.

Barbantane has kicked open a coffin which was abandoned – how long ago? – in the depository, the “rotter” as they say in Catalogna.  Through the planks of the disjointed lid of the coffin, they can in fact see a woman.  Or rather what is left of a woman.  A yellowish face of boiled leather, empty eye-sockets, the grimace of teeth deprived of lips.

Barbantane, completely drunk, finishes breaking open the lid.  The cadaver appears in its entirety.  It is dressed in black velvet, with gold sequins, a Toledo necklace at its fleshless neck, rings on its joined hands, which look like bird claws…  some noble lady, without a doubt, who was embalmed, and that the extreme dryness of the air had mummified.

Bussy-Rabutin has been suddenly sobered by the horror of it.  He begs the others not to profane her…

La Valliere, whose alcohol abuse had not led him too far astray until now, is suddenly the craziest.  He accuses Bussy-Rabutin of being afraid of a dead body.  Bussy-Rabutin, insulted, is ready for a duel.  He declares that he fears neither the living nor the dead.

Completely occupied with his sacrilegious work, Barbantane now pulls the mummy out of the coffin.  He puts back into place a poor tuft of hair, straightens the cracked bodice, flirts with it.  Finally, he holds it amorously in his arms, places its head on his shoulder.  Its arms dangling, the body curves with a cracking sound.

The gentlemen roar with laughter and say:

“Not only you!  Give her to us too…”

“But she has to be amused, Messieurs!  Look at her face!  The pretty little thing is bored!”

Then they send for the violinists.  Who arrive.  Jumeaux orders them to play a dance in fashion.  They obey.  Barbantane, Jumeaux and La Valliere make the body dance.  Its stiffened members resist.  Its head nods and bobs.  All these men laugh until they cry…

All things come to an end.  They finally put the dead woman back in her coffin, like a doll that is no longer amusing.

What happens next?  They are all so drunk and out of it, that the memories become hazy, and Bussy, relating it in his Memoires, hesitates, remains vague…

They return to the table.  The sun is already declining on the horizon that is fuzzy with heat.  A superior officer, the Marquis de La Trousse, comes to find La Valliere for a question of service.  The two men walk a few steps.  La Valliere crumples, his head shattered by a musket shot.

No-one heard the detonation.  No-one saw the shooter.  This was the only shot fired throughout the whole day.

A few days later, Barbantane, Jumeaux and La Breteche die asphyxiated by convulsions and a mysterious fever.  Bussy-Rabutin himself suffers from it.  He only just survives.  Then a deadly epidemic strikes the French camp.  The ranks of the army melt away with terrifying rapidity.  Horrified, those who remain valid, desert, taking off into the mountains where the Spanish massacre them to the last man.

Behind its ochre ramparts, Lerida, this time, remains invincible.  Saved by a profaned dead woman.

The war in laces really existed.  As hideous as all the others.  And the end of this terrible story is even more cruel.  Here is what Michelet says about it:

“Desperate, Conde was obliged to leave.  And, to relieve his heart, he slit the throats of everyone in a little village which he took along the way.”

***

To be continued.

Etienne Claviere

Duchanteau and Claviere followed only the vulgar path of alchemy.  For the true initiates, the making of gold is only a mask, which hides much more precious treasures than the yellow metal:  the perfection of a soul which is purifying itself, the triumph of truth and virtue, therefore an ABSOLUTE, of which gold is only the symbol…

***

Our two alchemists are the children of a century where science and techniques are appearing, the century of scepticism, of Voltaire and of Diderot, where Reason – in appearance – triumphs.  But at the same time as they are rejecting religion, they are enthusiastically welcoming the marvellous, as long as it presents itself in new clothes.  The XVIIIth Century is also the century of occultism, the social and political role of which is becoming immense, as Valery says.  The century in which Cagliostro and the immortal Count of Saint-Germain triumph, while the Masonic Lodges – there are 500 of them in France in 1771, 154 of them in Paris – exalt the taste for symbolic thought and curiosity for the magical arts and the hermetic sciences.  Helvetius, Voltaire, Chamfort, Condorcet, Franklin, the flower of French thought is there, and elsewhere, in England and Scotland, where Free Masonry was born, its development is even more prodigious.  It is not surprising therefore that Claviere is able to be both a Revolutionary banker and a convinced alchemist.

***

The Philaletes was a secret society which proposed, like others, to reform the social man in depth.  It was founded by German occultists whose role is essential in the formation of the European initiatic societies.  It was a branch of the Rose-Croix, whose success across the Rhine is also considerable at this time.  Goethe, the greatest German writer, is Rose-Croix, and just for good measure, he adheres in 1783, with his friend the philosopher Herder, to the sect of the Illuminated in Bavaria…

***

Duchanteau and Claviere belonged to the Lodge of the United Friends.

This craze can be explained by the fact that all of these associations are really “sounding boards” for the new ideas.  Each can finally claim freedom of speech within the fraternity.  Each can also rub shoulders with the hermetism masters and with the alchemists that are welcomed into these places.  These are in fact the first enclaves of liberty after centuries of absolutism, and the bourgeois, like the great minds and the enlightened princes, attached themselves to them because it was there that what would be the constitutional regime was already being outlined…

***

It is true that, because of the failure of the Churches and the established powers, in which there is no longer belief, the marvellous also comes galloping back…  Magicians, cabalists and pseudo-alchemists, whose fantsmagoria are very much appreciated by marquises, are slithering everywhere.  Feminine Lodges are also founded, “The Order of the Honey Flies”, that of the “Nymphs and Chevaliers of the Rose” whose adepts parody the men and indulge in dissipation with them, before going to vibrate against Mesmer’s Baquet.  But the taste for the irrational does not explain everything.  These societies are also Opposition powers, where the debating of ideas will lead to political action.  Therefore, they need money.  The rich, nobles or commoners, are particularly well received and rewarded with grand grades and titles, among others:  “Great Chosen One of the Holy Vault”, “Sublime Mason of the 14th Degree”, “Great Pontiff of the Celestial Jerusalem” or “Sovereign Prince of the White and Black Eagle”.

In Germany, a certain Samuel Richter founds an occult society which receives the mission of preparing the philosophical stone.  Its circles spread everywhere and group real and false scholars who make, on demand, golden fleece and extracts of eau de jouvence [youth water].  The most cultured men of Europe believe in it, and Kaiser Frederic-Wilhelm of Prussia, himself, wants to be received as “Rose-Croix d’Or”.  “Ormesus Magnus” is the title created for him, and three minds, those of Leibnitz, Marcus-Aurelius and the Grand Elector come to collect him at the brotherhood’s doors.  In this climate, it is understandable that our two “alchemists” were able to indulge in such shocking deviations…

***

Nicolas Flamel

Only a physiologist could decide whether Duchanteau’s prowesses are possible.  What is true is that the proximity of gold has always provoked an incredible exaltation among men.  Not only by cupidity.  But because it was the first metal known to men – even though they could not make tools or weapons with it – also because it is the metal that is the most difficult to exploit and it is inalterable, it is charged, from the beginning, with a primordial symbolic value.  From one end of the planet to the other and throughout History, it has always been synonymous of perfection and, in the Occident, as in the Vedic texts of India, it is also the sign of immortality.  Chinese Ho Hung assures that the Elixir, pure matter or Philosophical Stone, can “cure” ordinary metals and transform them into gold.  The alchemists of the Occident included Man in this “maturation” which they compared to a medicine which, making the impureties of the metal disappear, is also able to wash away those of the body and prevent its decline.  “The Philosophical Stone heals all illnesses” proclaims the great alchemist Arnold de Villanova.  And Thomas d’Aquin, who believes in alchemy, and Roger Bacon who affirms that it is able to prolong life by several centuries, along with Nicolas Flamel, who doubtless succeeded in performing the transmutation, are inspired by Aristotle, for whom physical bodies all issue from one fundamental substance which over time has taken different forms or qualities.  It is possible, assures the philosopher who inspired all the scientific thought of the Occident, to go back from any body whatsoever to this “primary matter”, to start from any metal, to arrive, after refining, at the final transmutation…  Thesis which has singularly modern accents.

This unity of matter, reposing on the union of contraries:  water-fire, sulphur-mercury, and the differenciation of its components, water, air, fire, earth, has been fully rehabilitated by nuclear physics…

***

Emblem of the work on the philosophical stone performed by alchemists.

Alchemy is still alive today, just like yesterday…  There are those who pursue the Great Work inside sophisticated laboratories, and whom we call hyperchemists, like Tiffereau and Jollivet-Castellot.  Those are only attached to the chemical nature of the transmutation, founding the most serious hopes on the spontaneous transmutations of radioactive bodies and the modification of the atom by the bombardment of particles…

Then there are the others, who also exist, Eugene Canselier, disciple of the mysterious Fulcanelei, who was doubtless a direct descendant of the Valois, Armand Barbauld, maker of philosphers and poets, who perpetuates the alchemical ideal by endlessly recounting to himself the Golden Legend, of a soul that refines and embellishes itself.

***

Making gold is not impossible.  To succeed, Man must first refine himself.

***

Etienne Claviere

It could be thought that in the Parisian Lodge of the United Friends, alchemist zeal was stronger than elsewhere.  Duchanteau barely buried, another worker on the Great Work sets tongues wagging Rue de la Sourdiere and even very far beyond…  His name is Etienne Claviere and he is born in Geneva in 1735.  He is a banker by profession but is a revolutionary banker, which is extremely rare.  In this end of the XVIIIth Century, the Geneva middle-class no longer wants to put up with the haughty authority of their patricians.  Along with a lot of other bankers as well as industrialists, Claviere constitutes Clubs and Committees of Public Safety which substitute themselves for the authorities.  Nearly ten years before the Storming of the Bastille in France…  The insurgents stockpile kegs of powder in Saint Peter’s Cathedral and threaten to blow up the city, if the French and Bernois Coalition does not retreat.  But under the pressure of numbers, the valliant bourgeois of Geneva have to resolve to deliver up the keys to their City, and Claviere condemns himself to voluntary exile in England.  His prestige is so great that he obtains a sum of fifty thousand pounds from the London Cabinet which is supposed to allow him to build the “New Geneva” in Ireland.  In his exile, he maintains an active correspondence with Marat, Mirabeau, who by the way holds him to be his master, and the brothers of the Lodge of the United Friends, of which he is one of the benefactors.

Marat and Mirabeau maintained a correspondence with Claviere.

When the Swiss Necker returns to power, Claviere asks to settle in France and obtains this.  He attaches himself to the Party of the Girondins, occupies a subaltern post in the Finance Ministry, very happy to now be able to meet as much as he likes with his friends the Philaletes.  This seems to be an epoch where good financiers are rare:  less than a year later he is to be found at the head of his Ministry, very busy galloping behind an inflation which each day is gathering speed.

Is it at this epoch that he comes up with an idea even more bizarre and much crueller than that of Brother Duchanteau?  One evening in 1792, he can be seen slipping through the low door of 37 rue de la Sourdiere.  Once in the little room on the second floor, he greets, with bent index, the five dignitaries from the Lodge who are waiting for him, and pulls a grimoire from his riding-coat.  When he opens it before these very carefully chosen men, they see that it is a manuscript and is probably very old…

Gravely, Claviere begins:

“To obtain the result, should we dare to use the means?  Brothers!  The Revolution is betrayed from within, beseiged from without, gold is flying away in a paper fog!…  I believe that I have the power to surely fill the coffers again!”

Claviere bows his head and adds:

“But at what price!…”

He draws the book to him and begins to read.  Or rather, he comments, page after page, the teaching contained in this ageless book.  And what he says firstly provokes stupor and then horror in those who are listening to him.  To begin with, they learn that Claviere is a most distinguished alchemist who has already performed alchemy in numerous European laboratories.  That during his later voyages he had found a thousand-year-old parchment which delivers a transmutation procedure just as singular as that of Duchanteau, with horror added to it.  Claviere explains:

“First of all we have to get hold of a young girl and a young boy, both virgins, then we have to obtain from them the conception of a child, necessarily a boy, who has to be born under the influence of a particular constellation…  This child has to be prepared…  by baths of ashes and sand and by rubbing him for a long time with elixir.  Then the child must be placed…  alive…  if we want to succeed, in a glass recipient, itself contained in a crucible in the form of a pelican.”

One of the brothers interrupts:

“Why a pelican?”

The Minister-Mage explains with deliberation:

“The calcination of the child must be followed by repeated distillations that this form allows because the finest part will rise through the neck and will be brought back through the beak into the open chest!…  This is how we shall obtain the absolute philosophical matter, at the same time an elixir of long life and the powder of projection for the transmutation of metals into gold.”

When Claviere had finished his explanation, there was a great silence in the room.  He says:

“There you are.  I’m sure of the result!”

One of his scandalised guests then asks:

Robespierre had Claviere arrested and he was condemned to death.

“But what would gold acquired at this price cost?…”

Claviere will not have time to put his answer into figures.  A few days later he resigns so as to involve himself more closely with the popular effervescence.  He organizes the day of 20 June 1792, in the course of which the populace invades the Tuileries and forces Louis XVI to put on a Phrygian bonnet.  And, one year to the day after the lugubrious meeting Rue de la Sourdiere, Claviere, after having ardently fought Danton, Marat and Robespierre, is decreed in Accusation with all of the other Girondins.  Brought before the Revolutionary Tribunal on 5 September, he is firstly imprisoned in the Temple.  When he learns of his death sentence, he declaims these lines from Orphelin de la Chine, that Voltaire had adapted to illustrate the superiority of spiritual forces over brute instinct:

The trembling criminals are dragged to their execution

The generous mortals dispose of their fate.

The criminals?  Did Claviere therefore have time to engage in his deadly experiments?  Doubtless we shall never know.  But that a Swiss Finance Minister, an admirer of Gilles de Rais, had appealed to his alchemist brothers for help in saving France’s finances, is an extraordinary moment in French History all the same!

***

To be continued.

The magic of numbers

Doctor Encausse, better known as Papus, used to say:

“If one knew how to read the numbers which stud our lives, we would perhaps have knowledge of our destiny…  Unhappily, only a few initiates know how to read them, and this is very unfortunate…”

It is indeed very unfortunate, for in History, there exists a quantity of arresting examples which appear to show that Doctor Encausse is right.  These mathematical phenomena that cannot be attributed to chance are extremely numerous.  Here are a few examples:

From his accession to the throne until his death, the political life of Louis XIV seems strangely linked to the number 14.

Let us take the number 14.  This number is linked in a very strange fashion to the life of France’s Sun-King.  It is to be found at the principal crucial points of his political existence:

Louis the Great, who was the 14th monarch of this name, mounted the throne on 14 May 1643.  Add the numbers in 1643 = 1 + 6 + 4 + 3 = 14.

When he was on the point of losing his throne during the Fronde, he was saved by Turenne, at Bleneau, in 1652 (1 + 6 + 5 + 2 = 14).

He was declared major at 14 years old and began to govern personally in 1661 (1 + 6 + 6 + 1 = 14).

This year of 1661 is going to be an important year in his life.  It is in 1661 that his son, the Grand Dauphin is born.  And it is also in this year that, invited by Fouquet to the Chateau de Vaux, he is dazzled, jealous, and decides to build Versailles…

The Sun-King has the Hotel des Invalides built in 1670 (1 + 6 + 7 + 0 = 14).

His star dims at Romillies and at Turino in 1706 (1 + 7 + 0 + 6 =14).

Finally, he dies in 1715 (1 + 7 + 1 + 5 = 14), at the age of 77 (7 +7 = 14), having reigned 72 years (7 x 2 = 14)…

It therefore well appears that the number 14 had been a sort of sign from Destiny all along the Sun-King’s life…  A sign that neither Louis XIV, nor his contemporaries, seem to have noticed, and that we can only note as a mysterious presence…

***

A simple calculation shows that Louis-Philippe and Queen Amelie seem to have had their destiny written in the important dates of their lives.

Many other famous people seem to have had their destinies written in the important dates of their lives.  This was the case, for example, for Louis-Philippe and his wife, gentle Queen Amelie:

Louis-Philippe becomes King in 1830.  He is born in 1773.  Let us add the numbers in this date:  1 + 7 + 7 + 3 = 18.  1830 + 18 = 1848, the date of the Revolution which made him abdicate.

Let us continue:  Queen Amelie, his spouse, is born in 1782 (1 + 7 + 8 + 2 = 18).  1830 + 18 = 1848.

Their union dated from 1809.  By adding 1, 8, 0, and 9, we still find 18 which, added to 1830, gives the date of the collapse of their throne and their exile…

***

Numbers sometimes reveal the strange links that exist between events which are apparently very unrelated, or even between certain people.  This is how a curious parallel can be established between Napoleon and Hitler.  Let us closely follow Guy Breton:

The numbers show that there is a mysterious link between the careers of Napoleon I (right) and Adolf Hitler.

The French Revolution begins in 1789.

The German Revolution in 1918.

The difference between these two dates is 129 years.

Napoleon’s arrival to power (18 brumaire) dates from 1799;  Hitler’s dates from 1928.  Difference:  129 years

Napoleon is Emperor in 1804.  Hitler becomes Fuhrer in 1933.  Difference:  129 years.

Napoleon’s Russian Campaign dates from 1812.

Hitler’s Russian Campaign, from 1941.

Difference:  129 years

Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo is in 1815.

The Allied Landings, which is the event which determines Hitler’s fall, is in 1944.

Difference:  129 years

Finally, Napoleon dies in 1821.  And if we believe the sayings of certain historians who refuse to believe that Hitler died in the Berlin Bunker in 1945, the Nazi Chief supposedly finished his life in Argentina, near Mar del Plata, in 1950…

1950 – 1821 = 129 years

***

Louis IX of France, known as Saint Louis

Another example:  If Napoleon and Hitler are very curiously linked together by the number 129, we notice that Saint-Louis [Louis IX] and Louis XVI were connected by the number 539.

Here is what can be noted:

Saint Louis was born on 23 April 1215.

Louis XVI on 23 August 1754.

Difference:  539 years.

Isabelle, sister of Saint Louis, was born in 1225.

Elisabeth, sister of Louis XVI, was born in 1764.

Difference:  539 years.

Louis XVI.

Louis VIII, father of Saint Louis, dies in 1226.

The Dauphin Louis, father of Louis XVI, dies in 1765.

Difference:  539 years.

Saint Louis, victorious, concludes a peace with Henry III of England in 1243.

Louis XVI, victorious, concludes a peace with George III of England in 1782.

Difference:  539 years.

A prince from the Orient announces to Saint Louis, by an embassy, his desire to become a Christian, in 1249.

A prince from the Orient sends an ambassador to Louis XVI for the same reason, in 1788.

Difference:  539 years.

Beginning of the Revolt of the Pastouraux, of which the apostate Jacob was the head, in 1250.

Beginning of the activities of the Jacobins in 1789.

Difference:  539 years.

At the end of his captivity, Saint Louis goes to La Madeleine-en-Provence in 1254.

At the end of his captivity in the Temple, Louis XVI is beheaded and is inhumed in the Madeleine Cemetery in 1793.

Difference:  539 years.

In view of all this, how can we not believe that certain numbers, to which we are linked by obscure affinities, mysteriously rule our destiny?

***

There is no explanation for all this.  As Doctor Encausse used to say:

“One has the impression that we are directed by a destiny that is a mathematician and gives us, all throughout our existence, coded information which it is up to us to decipher…”

***

Arithmetic was for a long time considered as a science related to Hermetism.

The universe of numbers is a mysterious universe which touches on magic…  Here is an example with the “golden number” which we simplify in the form of 3.1416.  This number is very important in mathematics since it indicates the relation which exists between the circumference of a circle and its diameter.  For centuries, Chinese, Egyptian and Greek scholars – Archimedes himself – before Leibnitz and Newton, tried to evaluate it.  It can be obtained in a very simple, but very singular, way.

Take a sheet of paper and a pin.  Trace several parallel lines on the paper, separated by a distance representing twice the length of the pin.  Then throw the pin on the drawing without aiming.  Do it one hundred times, one thousand times, five thousand times, ten thousand times and more.  Note the number of times that you have thrown the pin, then the number of times that it fell on a line.  Divide the first number by the second.

For 100 throws of the pin, you will obtain 2.7;  for 500 throws, 2.94;  for 1,000 throws, about 3;  for 2,500 throws, 3.004;  for 5,000 throws, 3.14;  for 10,000 throws, 3.141.  That is to say, the beginning of the golden number with three decimals.  And if you continue, the golden number will become even more refined.  You will obtain 3.1415 – 3.14159 – 3.141592 – 3.1415926 – 3.14159265 – 3.141592653 – 3.1415926535, etc. or the numbers that the best calculating machines would give you…

You can change the orientation of the sheet of paper, throw the pin any way that you want, you will always find the same result, and it will be the golden number…

***

Guy Breton gives another example of the mystery surrounding numbers.  You will see that, whatever the rationalists say, whatever touches mathematics can sometimes arrive at the inexplicable.

Do the following experiment:  during a gathering of friends, ask that they guess the number of peas in a cup.  You will notice, by studying the results obtained, that most of the numbers that are given to you end in zero.  Then, in decreasing order of frequency, the terminal numbers 5, 8, 2, 3, 7, 6, 4, 9, 1, and always in this order.  You can re-do the experiment as many times as you wish, you will always obtain the same series.  This list of numbers seems to be linked in an inexplicable fashion to the phenomenon of divination which, after all, constitutes an evaluation.

All evaluations obey this rule.  In the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, figure the tomb inscriptions from three regions of Ancient Rome.  The Romans inscribed the age of the dead on the tombs, but they didn’t do it as precisely as we do.  They evaluated this age.  And, if we examine the numbers reported by the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, we find exactly the series 0, 5, 8, 2, 3, 7, 6, 4, 9, 1…

The last example is American.  During a census done around 1950 in Alabama, the citizens are asked to indicate their ages.  Knowing that, in this State, there was a high percentage of African Americans who didn’t know their date of birth and were going to content themselves with an evaluation, an American mathematician, Leslie J. Myers, asked to study the results.  There again he found the same series of terminal numbers

***

This could give the impression that these numbers surge from another universe to give us signs that we don’t understand.  These signs seem to abolish chance.  Sometimes in malicious fashion.  Let us look at this story.  Around 1950, a group of theologists of the Etudes carmelitaines wrote a thick book on Satan…  When this book left the printers’, the authors received a shock:  their work had 666 pages…  And 666 is the number of the Beast in the Apocalypse…

***

The Salon visionary – part 2

Louis XIV, who received only very carefully selected people, accorded two long audiences to the Salon blacksmith.

The next day, Francois-Michel presents himself at the Palace of Versailles and asks to speak to the King in private.  They laugh in his face.  On the following days, he comes back again and makes such a fuss that Louis XIV is finally informed.

“Go and tell this man that I don’t receive just anybody!”

Francois-Michel, who believes in his mission and wants to obey good Queen Marie-Therese’s ghost, replies to the King’s message that he will tell him “such secret things and so well-known to him alone” that he will well see that his message comes from God.

Louis XIV again refuses.  The Salon visionary then declares:

“Then send me one of the State Ministers”.

The Sovereign has him taken to Barbezieux;  but Francois-Michel bursts into laughter and answers that they are making fun of him:

“Barbezieux is not a minister, and it is to a minister that I must speak in the King’s absence.”

This declaration astounds everybody.  How can this blacksmith, who has never been interested in anything except his profession and who has come for the first time to Versailles, know that Barbezieux is only a Secretary of State?

The Marquis de Pomponne was the first to receive Francois-Michel at Versailles.

The King is soon intrigued by this provincial who seems to know the Court so well.  He orders the Marquis de Pomponne – who really is a State Minister – to receive him.  On three different occasions, Pomponne has a long interview with Francois-Michel.  After each conversation, he runs to the King with whom he remains locked up for hours.

Rumours then begin to circulate.  It is murmured that the blacksmith is a visionary who claims to have received a visit from the late Queen.  And of course they all snigger.  But one morning, the laughter freezes when it is learnt that Louis XIV has just let Francois-Michel into his private study.

This time, the Court is stunned.  Why would the most powerful sovereign in the world, who pitilessly keeps away from disagreeable and annoying people, accord a private audience to this blacksmith?

After an hour alone with the King, Francois-Michel leaves the royal study and goes back to his inn.  Immediately, everyone rushes to the King.  Doubtless His Majesty will recount some savoury anecdote about this visionary?  Report a few blunders?  Mock him?…  Already the courtiers are chuckling in anticipated pleasure.  But Louis XIV, looking preoccupied, crosses the salon without saying a word.

The following day, at the hour of the royal promenade, Monsieur de Duras, who thinks himself free to say whatever he likes to the King, exclaims:

“This Salon visionary is a madman, or the King is not noble!…”

Louis XIV has heard.  He stops, turns to Monsieur de Duras and answers gravely:

“Well then, Monsieur le Marechal, I am not noble!  For I had a long conversation with this man and I can assure you that he is far from being mad!…”

The Court is not at the end of its surprises.  A few days later, the King again receives Francois-Michel, remains with him for more than an hour, carefully seeing to it that no-one is near enough for them to be overheard, and ceremoniously accompanying him as far as the staircase.

In his youth, Louis XIV had glimpsed a ghost during a hunt in the Fontainebleau forest.

This time, Louis XIV reveals to his entourage that the blacksmith has spoken to him about an event known to him alone.  He adds:

“A ghost that I glimpsed, more than twenty years ago, in the Fontainebleau Forest, and of which I have never spoken to anyone…”

Francois-Michel’s mission is finished.

Before leaving Versailles, where his expenses are reimbursed by the King himself, he is received by Madame de Maintenon, by the Princesse de Savoie and by several courtiers who give him sumptuous gifts.  Finally, he will take leave of the Sovereign, publicly, like an ambassador, leave Versailles on 18 April and return home.

What on Earth did he say to Louis XIV?

It was never known, for neither he nor any of the ministers ever made the slightest revelation on the subject.  But doubtless the message from the Queen’s ghost was important, since the Court, more and more astounded, learned that the King had not only exempted Francois-Michel from taxes and the obligation for lodging the military, but that he had had him given a large sum of money, and that he had given orders to the Intendant de Provence to protect him for the rest of his life…

It was thus proven that one could be received by the King of France by presenting oneself on behalf of a ghost…

***

Madame de Maintenon who, according to Saint-Simon, would have organized the whole business.

Neither the blacksmith nor Louis XIV ever spoke of what was said while they were alone together.  However, there is an hypothesis held by a few historians which is founded on something reported by Saint-Simon:  After Francois-Michel’s visit to Versailles – which was much talked about, as songs were written about him and his portrait was engraved – the whole Court was asking questions.  And finally, one explanation came to the minds of a few people:  the adventure of the Salon visionary had been organized by someone who wanted to impress the King’s mind…  This person would be Madame de Maintenon.

The reason is very simple:  we are in 1697.  At this epoch the Court is agitated by the Quietist quarrel.  Quietism, that mystical doctrine according to which perfection consisted in the annihilation of the will, in short in the quietude of the soul, was preached by a slightly exalted woman called Madame Guyon who was protected by Fenelon;  this Fenelon was himself protected by Mme de Maintenon.  When Bossuet declared that Fenelon was an heretic, Mme de Maintenon found herself compromised at the same time and feared to see herself repudiated by the King…  This is when, knowing Louis XIV’s religiosity was tinted with superstition, she would have thought to make a being from the other world intervene in her favour.  And, as the clever woman that she was, she would have fixed her choice on the ghost of gentle Queen Marie-Therese…

Saint-Simon tells us that Mme de Maintenon would have addressed herself to one of her old friends, a certain Madame Arnoud who was the wife of the Intendant de Marseille, and would have asked her to create the whole scene of the apparition of the ghost…

We cannot always believe Saint-Simon.  However, Guy Breton thinks that this time he might be telling the truth.  For in 1750, an old man from Salon recounted to the author of the Dictionnaire de la Provence that a priest and Mme Arnoud, assisted by a young woman who had played the role of the ghost, had been the authors of this mystification.  This had apparently been told to him by the priest.

***

Francois-Michel would have absolutely believed in the ghost.

***

Still according to Saint-Simon, who situates this story in 1699 by mistake, Louis XIV would have been asked on behalf of Marie-Therese’s ghost, to declare Mme de Maintenon Queen of France, which would have strongly consolidated the situation of the lady formerly known as Widow Scarron.

This plot, according to Saint-Simon, did not work however, because Mme de Maintenon was never Queen of France.  But there is another hypothesis, advanced a few decades ago by some respected historians, like Monsieur Louis Hastier for example:  in 1697, the secret wedding of Louis XIV and Mme de Maintenon – the exact date of which is unknown – would not yet have been celebrated…  And it would have been to force the King to marry her that Mme de Maintenon would have created this ghost story.  In this case, she would have succeeded…

*** 

The Salon visionary

Maria-Theresa of Austria, Queen of France, spouse of Louis XIV.

In 1697, at Salon-de-Provence, there was a young blacksmith named Francois-Michel, who lived happily with his forge, his anvil, his wife and his four children.  Although he was a relation of Nostradamus on his mother’s side, he had never felt himself drawn to either the bizarreries of occultism or to the prestiges of magic.

He was a tall, ordinary fellow, jovial and smiley, who had conserved a resolute allure after his passage in the Grignan Cavalry Regiment.  Very pious, he sometimes went to pray inside a little chapel situated outside the town, on the road to Marseille.

One evening while he was coming back from his devotions, he found himself, according to Saint-Simon who reports this story, “invested by a great light near a tree”.  Very surprised, he stops and suddenly sees a beautiful, blonde woman appear, dressed in white, with a flaming torch in her hand.

The blacksmith is extremely moved:  he is asking himself if this is the Virgin Mary.

No.  After a moment, the apparition speaks in a gentle voice and introduces itself:

“Francois-Michel, I am Queen Marie-Therese…  I was the spouse of King Louis XIV and I died fourteen years ago…”

Francois-Michel, afraid, wants to flee, but the ghost holds him by the shoulders:

“Don’t be afraid, I do not want to hurt you…  I come to announce, in the name of God, that you must go to Versailles to speak to the King.  To prove to him that your mission is of divine origin, you will tell him this which he is the only one to know:  thirty years ago, he was hunting deer one day when he met a supernatural being who made his horse rear and who asked him to renounce his scandalous life…  Now, listen carefully…”

The blacksmith, half-fainting with fear, nods his head.  The ghost continues in a suave voice:

“I am going to give you the message that you must carry to the King.  But be very careful:  you must communicate it to no-one else.  If you disobey, or if you neglect to go through with your mission, you will be punished by death…  Before you, I have addressed myself to three Salon inhabitants.  The first revealed what I had confided to him to his wife.  He died immediately at her feet.  The second who, he too, revealed my secret, is also dead, as well as the third.  A similar fate is reserved for you if you reveal my words to any other but His Majesty…”

Francois-Michel, who had learnt of the mysterious deaths of three inhabitants of the town, his neighbours, in the preceding days, promises to be discrete.

Then, the Queen’s ghost leans over and tells him in a soft voice what he must say to Louis XIV, in the name of the Lord.

In his youth, Louis XIV had glimpsed a ghost during a hunt in the Fontainebleau forest.

Then it disappears and the blacksmith finds himself alone in the night, beside the tree, asking himself if he had dreamt it or if this spectre, whose perfume is still on his jacket, really did appear to him…

After a long moment of reflection, he returns home, persuaded that he had been the plaything of an illusion and decided to speak to no-one about this adventure.

But two days later, as he is passing by the same spot, the spectre appears again to him and tells him the same thing, before adding:

“Careful, Francois-Michel, I know that you have doubts about me…  How can one doubt the word of a dead person?  You know that dead people don’t lie.  Even more so when that person is a Queen of France…”

No-one had ever told the blacksmith that dead people didn’t lie, but it seems to him that it is quite logical, and he is ashamed of his doubts…  Then, he receives the order to go to tell the Intendant de Provence what he had seen.  The Queen’s spectre says to him:

“You will tell him that I have ordered you to go to Versailles, and I am sure that he will give you what you need to pay for your trip…”

This time, Francois-Michel is convinced.  But Saint-Simon tells us “floating between fear of punishments and the difficulties of the execution”, he hesitates to undertake the arrangements.

Another week goes by, during which he tergiverses with himself.  But one evening when he is passing near the chapel, the Queen appears to him again.  She is not smiling:  her eyes are glittering, her voice is hard, her tone is threatening.

A ghost is already very impressive.  An angry ghost is terrifying.  Francois-Michel trembles and swears that he will obey.

In fact, two days later, he goes to Aix to find Le Bret, the Intendant of the province, who receives him privately.  Francois-Michel tells him that he has met the ghost of Queen Marie-Therese, who had died fourteen years before, and that the Queen has ordered him to go to see the King at Versailles, and that Intendant Le Bret would give him the money for the trip.  The Intendant finds this attempt to extort money from him very amusing and rather ingenious, but a bit silly all the same…

“But I swear that it is all true.  I saw this ghost three times near the Saint-Anne Chapel..  Just like I see you, Monsieur…  It spoke to me.  And I have a mission to accomplish with the King…”

Intendant Le Bret is now convinced that he is dealing with an illumine.  Francois-Michel guesses what he is thinking.

“I’m not crazy, Monsieur l’Intendant, make enquiries about me.”

This tall young man of thirty-six with a clear gaze and flourishing health does not in fact appear to be deranged.  Le Bret is perplexed.

“Give me a few days.  I’ll think about it.”

And, very intrigued by this story, he orders an investigation of Francois-Michel from the Lieutenant-general de Salon, the following day.

A report is soon on his desk.  In it can be read that the blacksmith is a highly respected man in his town, with a healthy body and mind, and is known for his good sense.

So, the Intendant convokes Francois-Michel, makes him repeat all the details of the apparition, and finally – as extraordinary as this may seem – gives him the money necessary for the trip.

On the evening of 9 April 1697, Francois-Michel arrives at Versailles and books into an inn.  He is scarcely inside his bedchamber when, suddenly, the ghost that he knows well, thanks him for having obeyed it and gives him a few pieces of friendly advice for succeeding in his mission.  This time, the ghost is charming!  It tells him:

“You will doubtless have a few difficulties in obtaining a private audience;  but beware of discouragement, and above all do not let anyone know of your secret if you don’t want to die instantaneously…”

To be continued.

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