Tag Archive: wars


On 25 May 1479, Charles d’Amboise, in the name of Louis XI, took the city of Dole and massacred all of its inhabitants.

All of the contemporary chroniclers agree:  never was a more abominable massacre ever seen.  Never had there been more blood, brains and innards scattered throughout a city’s streets.  It happened on 25 May 1479.  On this day, at six o’clock in the morning, the inhabitants of Dole, who had already been under siege for three months by the royal troops, suddenly heard “great fracas and great rumblings”:  a group of Alsatians had just penetrated their city “by ruse and felony”.

Immediately, the portcullis was raised by these traitors, the drawbridge lowered and the favourite residence of the Dukes of Bourgogne (Burgundy) delivered to the soldiers of Louis XI.

Trembling with fear inside their houses, the Dolois heard horses’ hooves and clicking of armour;  then a terrifying, inhuman voice roaring :  “Kill them all!”

Terrified, most of them went to hide in their cellars.  A few, however, wanted to see the face of this man who was condemning them to death.  Going to the windows, they could see, through the slits in their shutters, a cavalier “with glittering eyes” who, standing in his stirrups, was inciting his men to carnage.

This is how the Dolois saw for the first time this diabolic Prince, known throughout the kingdom for his taste for blood, this great favourite of Louis XI, this human beast whose name made whole provinces tremble with fear :  Charles d’Amboise.

Travelling through the streets on his black horse, screaming his calls for death, he soon arrived before the Notre-Dame Church where some Dolois Companies of Archers and Arquebusiers were attempting to defend themselves.  Then, with a great laugh, he roared:

“Kill them all!.  Let not one remain!…  I want to see the blood of the  Comtois flow like a river in the streets of Dole…  Go on!  Kill them!  Kill them all!…”

The French immediately rushed on the houses, breaking down doors and windows, and the Prince gave the signal for the massacre by slicing off a woman’s head with a blow from an axe.

Immediately, the attack began.  Never had such butchery ever been seen before.  For four hours, they killed, they raped, they eviscerated, they exploded heads with blows from hammers.  Entire families died by the sword, others were burnt alive in the cellars – one of which would be called Cellar of Hell…  There were cadavers everywhere.  The soldiers were trampling around in blood, in bowels and the debris of brains…

Around ten o’clock, the most ferocious of them, the cruellest, began to tire of killing.  But Charles d’Amboise, Charles the Satanical, whose armour was red with blood, urged them on.  His eyes protruding from their sockets, foaming at the mouth, he was screeching :  “Kill, kill!…”

And the butchery continued.  When they had no more swords, they slit throats, stabbed, crushed heads, strangled.  Soon, there was no-one left to exterminate.

Then Charles d’Amboise attacked the cadavers.  As there was no-one alive, he cut off the heads of the dead;  and this appalling work amused him.  He roared with laughter, crying out:  “Look at them, these earthworms!”

While he was busy with his twentieth decapitated body, a soldier came to inform him that a group of Dolois had taken refuge inside a house.  He straightened up, an ugly expression on his face, and was about to rush over there when he changed his mind:

“Leave them there to breed!  They’ll give us some little ones that we’ll take pleasure in coming to kill in ten or fifteen years!…”

***

On the following day and those that followed, Charles d’Amboise, obsessed with murder (his contemporaries would say “possessed by the Angel of Evil”), would continue to burn villages, rape and kill the unfortunate Comtois by hundreds.  Throughout the whole Spring of 1479, and throughout the whole Summer and throughout the whole Autumn, untiringly he would kill “with a wolf’s smile”.

Winter brought him back to the side of Louis XI who would make him his Counsellor and the Governor of Bourgogne.  But, as soon as the good weather returned in 1480, he left again, sword in hand, hungry for cadavers and thirsty for blood.

Seeing him pass with his green eyes too shiny, his triangular face and his long, slim hands, the people say:  “It’s the Devil!…”

After the appalling massacres led by Charles d’Amboise in Dole and the whole of Burgundy, he was suddenly struck down, at Tours, with a mysterious illness which made him let out “inhuman cries”.

At the end of the year, he decides to go to his castle of Chaumont-sur-Loire to organize a feast there.  But at Tours, he is suddenly struck down by illness.  Transported to a nearby manor, he retires to bed, a fetid perspiration flowing from him, and soon begins to let out horrible cries…  The doctors hurry to his side and want to examine him.  He swears at them and continues to roar with pain.  He jumps and leaps on his bed.  A witness tells us that

“He twists as if he were the prey of flames.”

Finally, he enters into agony.  An agony so strange, so unnatural, that the people who approach him do not stop making the sign of the cross.  However, these gestures seem, not only to terrify him, but to make him suffer.  He emits appalling, inhuman cries which remind them sometimes of horses, sometimes of the cries of a pig being slaughtered.

After which, he roars blasphemous words, insults God, swears at the saints, says outrageous things about the Virgin and curses the Pope, to the consternation of those present.  It is then seriously thought that he is possessed by a demon.  Monks come to exorcise him.  He rudely pushes them away, spits in their faces and pronounces so many sacrilegious words that the unfortunate monks flee, appalled…

Finally, on 14 February 1481, after an attack of convulsions which almost throw him from his bed, Charles d’Amboise dies.  He has on his face an expression so revolting that no-one accepts to stay with his cadaver.

Three days later, they go to bury him.  For this considerably important person who is the King’s intimate Counsellor, Governor General of Ile-de-France, Champagne and Bourgogne, that is to say one of the highest dignitaries in the kingdom, a solemn funeral is held in the Church of the Cordeliers d’Amboise.  There are present, under a dais, the Bishop d’Albi, the dead man’s brother, princes, mitred abbots and penitents in hoods.

At the altar, a Cordelier says the Mass for the Dead.

But suddenly, at the moment of consecration, this monk begins to gesticulate.  Those present, astounded, see him wave his arms as if he is pushing away something or someone invisible.  Several times, he descends and climbs the steps, stumbling.  Then he stops, with his back to the tabernacle, looking terrified.  At this moment – he would later say – a voice that he is the only one to hear clamours in his ear:

“Stop, Priest, stop!  Your mass is useless!  It has no meaning!  Laughable!…  This damned man is already with me, body and soul…  Why bother blessing an empty coffin!…  For this coffin is empty!…  Empty!”

The poor Cordelier, just for an instant, believes that he can see before him a grimacing person.  Trembling, livid, he makes the sign of the cross, descends the altar steps, walks towards the catafalque and cries out:  “Open this coffin!…”

The Bishop d’Albi rises and asks for an explanation.  The Cordelier repeats:

“Open this coffin!  I will only continue to say this Mass after being certain that the body of Lord d’Amboise is really there…”

Then, the guards remove the mortuary sheet and open the coffin.

Those present let out a cry:  it is empty!

Immediately, princes, bishops, mitred priests, monks, penitents and ordinary people, panicked, run towards the door and flee.

And never was the body of Charles d’Amboise ever found…

***

This story can be found in many works, and notably in a book by the Prince de Broglie, La Tragique Histoire du chateau de Chaumont.  The Prince de Broglie was the last inhabitant of the Chateau de Chaumont.  That is to say the descendant – a distant one, but a descendant anyway – of Charles d’Amboise…

There has never been any explanation.  His body was never found.

The first idea which springs to mind, is that someone removed it.  But who?…  And why?…  Louis XI?…  Upon learning of it, he had an attack of apoplexy.  And then, he was too superstitious to commit this sort of action.  Having people hanged and profaning a coffin are two different things…  No, it could not have been Louis XI.  So who?  A member of the Amboise Family?…  For what reason?  There remains – and this is the opinion of a few Historians – the hypothesis of the body being kidnapped by Charles d’Amboise’s enemies, whether they were parents of the unfortunate inhabitants of Dole, or of lords despoiled by Louis XI’s Counsellor.

This could have been done so that Charles d’Amboise would be damned by preventing him from benefiting from:  (1) the religious ceremony called absolution;  (2) a burial in holy ground…

***

The thing that remains inexplicable is that the Cordelier asked that the coffin be opened, for it is very certain that, if the body had been removed by Charles d’Amboise’s enemies, these people did not go to the monk to tell him about it…  even in Confession!…  But there is another hypothesis.  It could be supposed that someone, who had had knowledge of the kidnapper’s secret, hid behind the altar and spoke to the Cordelier monk.  Who, troubled and appalled, thought to have had a vision…  But this is only an hypothesis…

So, the conclusion is an enormous question mark…

***

During Charles d’Amboise’s funeral service, a Cordelier monk suddenly asked for the coffin to be opened. It was and everyone present screamed in terror: the coffin was empty. His body was never found.

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.

A few months pass by and Leon Millet has become, in the Order of the Croises des Temps nouveaux, Brother Marie Bernard, of royal blood.  In Lyon, a city that has always been devoted to mysteries and where Illuminism periodically flares up between the Saone and the Rhone, it is murmured that Pope Pius XII in person has promoted him to the singular dignity of “Lieutenant of the Sacred Heart in the Kingdom of France”.

Reverend Father Collin, who was the mysterious White Prince’s friend for a while.

All throughout 1942, the “White King’s Party”, as some call it, with less than a dozen subscribers in the beginning, develops and recrutes, carried forward again by Father Collin who goes on a pilgrimage, untiringly from parish to parish, a heavy silver rosary in his hand.  However, the small crowds which he approaches in the back-rooms of community centres or inside presbyteries, mostly talk to him about the White Prince, and when this young man appears, already displaying a great flair for effect, they follow him, galvanized, as far as the next town where rumour has already assembled a few more people again.

The day after the quasi insurrectional call that he made in the Valence Cathedral, which had so frightened Monsignor Pic, the Prince is famous in at least three departements of the Rhone.  While his desire for sacrifice and his vocation as France’s saviour are stronger each day, the means for accomplishing his mission suddenly appear to be lacking.  Cardinal Gerlier, by whom he has asked to be received, takes evasive action, and some Vichy Ministers, such as Jean Chevalier, show interest in him and assure him that they grant him a long immunity, but nothing else.

The German authorities in Lyon gave the order to arrest the White Prince by all possible means.

In March 1944, the region’s main subject of conversation is the appearances of the Holy Virgin in Montvendre, which he prophesied after a pilgrimage to La Sallette, and which are followed by such manifestations that the militia makes a monstrous raid, in which he is captured with his closest dignitaries.  All five of them are locked up in Valence Prison.  When, the next day, their cell is opened in front of the chief of the local militia, so that they can be interrogated, they have inexplicably disappeared.  Their trail is found a few days later in a property belonging to Madame de Champollon, who takes them in and assures them an incognito for a while.  Prayer, ascesis, macerations and anti-hitlerian white magic occupy them for a few days, but the Illuminated cannot keep still and soon goes to knock on the door of the Convent of the Compassion in Lyon.  This is a stronghold of Lyonnaise Resistance, whose Mother Superior, Elisabeth Rivet, would die in deportation after having been atrociously tortured.  The Prince has also become a man on the Gestapo’s hit-list, but this doesn’t stop him from coming and going among Mme de Champollon’s residence, the Convent and the many assembly points, now clandestine, which he visits for his faithful followers who see that each day which passes brings them closer to the one when the keys of the Kingdom will be given to him along with the Crown.

But 1944 advances, and Lyon is liberated before Autumn.  There, where militia men and Gestapists had failed for thirty months, the FTP of Charles Tillon succeeds the very next day after the entry of the Americans into the city.  They arrest the White Prince and lock him up in a subterranean gaol at Fort-de-Francais, quite decided to guillotine him so that no crown could ever be placed on his head.  He remains there for three days, up until the Festival of Our Lady of Mercy, patron saint of captive christians.  When the local chief of the FTP wants to have him taken out of his blockhaus, it is found that it is absolutely empty, as if the walls of iron and cement had absorbed the Prince’s substance.  His friends learn that he has taken on human consistancy at the home of General Marette, who has offered him asylum.  He announces there that he is breaking off relations with Father Collin, and while his popularity is at its highest point, and thousands of his faithful followers are hoping that the dream of Restoration which he has so brilliantly incarnated is going to come true, he disappears.

Up until 1950, his adepts would do everything they could to find him again.  In 1950, they learn that the Prince might be living in Rome where he could be exercising the profession of taxi driver.  A delegation rushes there and, taking advantage of the Holy Year, mobilises the religious authorities and the French pilgrims.  News comes to them that he is in the South of France, at the home of a friend of Mme de Champollon where he has been accompanied by a Roman Carmelite nun.  When they arrive at this lady’s home, only the nun is still present.  She refuses to say where the Prince has gone, and what his activities in the Eternal City are.  Before leaving too, she does however consent to give the address of her Roman Convent, where the Prince sometimes appears.  His former companions then immediately return to Italy and go to the address indicated.  They learn that there had once been a Convent there, but that it had been demolished at the end of the XIXth Century after a violent fire.

***

Since then, there has been no news of this King who wanted to be the saviour of a Kingdom of which he later refused to claim the Crown…

But perhaps his Kingdom was not of this world?

***

The White Prince wanted to group the different forces of the Resistance by creating a new monarchy. At the Liberation, Resistants arrested him.

Some think that the White Prince might have been assassinated at the end of 1944 by the “patriotic militia”, which was indulging in a savage “epuration” at this epoch.

However, there is no proof of this.  Even though the battle for power between the Communists and all of the others, not to mention vengeances of all sorts and settling of scores, made more than one hundred thousand victims in only a few months…

***

The White Prince seems to belong to the cohort of “Great Monarchs”, who were numerous in the first half of the XXth Century.  Just before the First World War, “Felix, Henri de Valois” was announcing in Auvergne the end of time, and in the 1930s, Charles de Gimel, Louis XIX for his faithful followers, was claiming France’s throne under the name of the “Hidden Pretendant”.  At the end of the Second World War, Leon Millet – if that is his real name – is therefore an avatar of these “unfortunate kings”, Jean le Bon, Charles VII, symbols of defeated France at Poitiers, at Crecy, and, invaded, but regaining hope with the miraculous arrival of Jeanne d’Arc.

The “last of the Valois” stems from the same thing.  He was Francois, Duke of Anjou, the last of the direct line of Anjou, who died in 1584 at the age of thirty, without children.  This Prince symbolises the end of a brilliant epoch, that of the Valois, during which the kingdom’s unity was accomplished by knight-kings, called the Good, the Wise, the Beloved, all “born in the Kingdom” and from whom the History of France really began.  Before the entry into the night of the Wars of Religion, and the outside dangers which would drain again, for a long time, the unity and the authority of the State.

***

The White Prince could be compared to Henri IV or General de Gaulle.  This young man knows how to take risks, in a critical moment of France’s History, where many think only to hide, to follow the old Field Marshal or sell on the black market.  He has a presence, a purety, a charisma which make many believe in him.  A prophetic charisma or clairvoyance, perhaps a charisma of bilocation…

Like Padre Pio and a few others, the White Prince is able to be in two places at the same time.  It is therefore only his double that the militia men of both camps arrest…  The charisma of glossolalia, in a certain manner, too.  That is to say, the gift of languages or tongues, his own anyway.  Leon excels in it, much more than an ordinary, or even very gifted, young man of twenty.

***

After the Liberation, Abbot Collin, reduced to the lay condition by the Holy Office, founded a church and became the Anti-Pope Clement XV.

He breaks off relations with Abbot Collin probably because the Reverend Father is beginning to smell rather sulphurous.  As soon as he arrives in Romans, Father Collin leads his little community toward mystical and visionary practices.  Then, he founds “The Latter Day Apostles”, with the perspective of a liberated France after a series of miraculous phenomena, of which he and his group would be the origin.  We see this when he wants to put Leon at the head of his Crusade.  Then he draws into his movement an authentic mystical clairvoyant named Madame Rivet.  She had prophesied, long in advance, the beginning of the great conflict and the invasion of France.  Before being arrested for acts of Resistance, she had also founded the feminine branch of the “Latter Day Apostles”…

***

Like Jean Moulin, she was betrayed.  Tortured for a long time, she is sent to Ravensbruck where she offers herself for the gas chamber to replace a mother.  As far as heresies go, Father Collin doesn’t stop there.  Immediately after the Liberation, he founds the “Congregation of Infinite Love” which is disavowed by the Bishop of Lourdes where he had returned.  The Holy Office confirms this sentence and reduces Father Collin to the lay condition.  Father Collin later becomes the Anti-Pope Clement XV.  He becomes famous for excommunicating the Cardinals of the Curia as well as his tax officer, who is taxing the donations that he receives a bit too much.  However, he always defends the image and the memory of the White Prince.

Even if nobody was ever able to find the White Prince again, no-one ever claimed that he was a mystifier, a crook or a madman, either.  All those who knew him and have been questioned are convinced of his good faith, his sincerity and the power of his charismas…

***

The charismas could have been the product of the epoch in which he lived.  They come from mysterious psychical forces.  Free gifts, of supernatural or supranormal origin, with often a temporary character.  It could be that the great return shock of the Liberation made them disappear.  After this, the White Prince, judging his task to be finished, might not have wanted to be only a shadow in a landscape where the light had returned…

***

The White Prince

At the beginning of Summer 1943, France is in shreds.  In the little town of Montmeyran in the Drome, there has never been so many people.  Today is the first Friday after the Octave of the Holy Sacrament, so it is therefore Jesus’ Sacred Heart which is being adored today.  Half the faithful present can’t fit inside the church.  Even the confessionals are crowded.

When the service ends, a considerable procession goes towards a calvary situated beneath the ruins of a castle.  In front of the cross, a little estrade covered in red carpet has been raised.  A very young man, with a pale complexion and of singular beauty, climbs onto it.  Over a sky blue shirt, he is wearing a white linen surplice which falls to mid-thigh and makes him look like one of those crusaders who left from here for the Holy Land, more than a thousand years ago.  The illusion is reinforced when someone hands him a heavy white standard, fleurdelysed in one corner.  In its centre, a blood-coloured heart, pierced with arrows and surmounted by a cross…

Slowly, the young man raises the emblem on high with his left arm, so that is is very visible to the crowd, then, impervious to the sun or fatigue, he holds it aloft for more than an hour, his face and torso dripping with agonizing perspiration, from the effort.  He imposes his right hand on the faithful as they file past him and gives them the flag to kiss.  The first to kneel are very young, only boys, sons of the local notables.  Afterwards, they assemble in the sacristy to enrol and become “crusading knights”, making a vow of chastity and swearing on the Missel that they would not return to their families nor take a wife, before the White Prince is established on France’s throne…

What is the aim of this crusade preached by the White Prince in the Rhone Valley, with a success which grows each day?  Kick the Germans out of France and seat himself on the throne of his ancestors, Saint Louis [Louis IX] and Charles V who was the last of the House of Anjou rulers…

A few days before this strange celebration, Jean Moulin, betrayed, had been arrested at Caluire, near Lyon.  Repression is getting worse everywhere, closed trucks unendingly take Resistants [called “terrorists” by the Germans] towards “the night and the fog”, and a few months later, 700 Patriots [still “terrorists” to the Germans] would be cut down on the slopes of the neighbouring Vercors.  It is therefore a desperate France which attempts to discern the end of the night on the white banner…

The Saint-Apollinaire Cathedral in Valence, where, in 1943, the White Prince preached a crusade to kick the Germans out of France and place himself on the throne…

A few days later, it is in the antique roman cathedral of Valence, consecrated by Urbain II, who preached the First Crusade, that the White Prince’s knights assemble.  Their chief is among them for a novaine which lasts the whole night.  For hours, he remains on his knees on the marble tiles, indifferent to the sufferings that this posture inflicts, still praying, very straight and motionless, while the most courageous of his companions have let themselves go, with no strength left, onto the benches…  This evening, he had announced a great day of mission which must culminate with a solemn service in the Saint-Apollinaire Cathedral in the presence of the Bishop of Valence…

A few days later, the cathedral is full.  Doubtless because there are never more religious people than in times of distress, but also because the whole of Valence knows that the Prince will be present.  He is sitting in the choir stalls, among the officiants, right beside the Bishop Monsignor Pic.  He rises and, wearing his white surplice, advances towards the pulpit.  Evidently, this was not supposed to happen, for the Bishop is seen to turn toward his Assessors and whisper to them.  The White Prince slowly climbs the steps which, in the centre of the nave, permit the predicator to dominate the audience.  For an instant, his blue gaze wanders tenderly over the assembly, then he leans forward and strongly grips the edge of the pulpit.  In a clear, carrying voice, he begins a sort of speech.  With such ease that at first it could be thought that he is reciting a speech learnt by heart.  But the tone, the elegance and the rigour of his words, which he underlines with appropriate, expressive gestures, soon indicate that he is a born orator.  Monsignor Pic is not happy:  he is seen to leave with precipitation his prie-Dieu and go towards the sacristy…

The inspired preacher, who is not yet twenty years old, having placed France under the protection of [the Archangel] Michael, its patron saint, assures that God is not insensible to the sufferings of the Church’s Eldest Daughter [France].  That clerics and laics, whatever their manner of interpreting Heaven’s music, must now give the Good God some help…

Then, his finger raised, like Saint Bernard calling Crusaders to attack the Infidels, he announces that the Virgin had appeared to him and that she would appear again soon in Montvendre, to announce the day of the Allied Landing.  The Bishop stands anxiously crumpling his stole in his hands.  His ordeal isn’t yet over.  With words of great elevation, the one whom the whole region now calls the White Prince or King, continues to speak of a France soon to be liberated and placed under the protection of a very christian monarchy…

Too fascinated by the young man’s extraordinary oratory talent, the audience has not seen Monsignor Pic approaching the pulpit accompanied by two priests…  But it is the peroration and, after a moment of intense silent prayer, the crowd sees the orator descend and go towards the sacristy escorted by three ecclesiastics…

The White Prince’s family is said to have spent the war at Lourdes.

It is, of course, fear of German reprisals which has led the prelate to have the prophet expulsed through the cathedral’s little door.  Thereby assuring him even greater popularity.  But from this day, the authorities begin to search for his origins and the stages of his notoriety.  It is noticed that no-one has ever succeeded in making him say where and when he was born.  His lieutenants think that his father is called Millet, although, speaking of his parents, he just says:

“My mother is of the nobility, her name is Placida de Baruete and she gave me the first name of Leon because my patron saint is the one who was able to stop Attila!”

Some think that the Millets come from Lorraine or from the Territoire de Belfort.  But the authorities, who investigate there, are unable to find the slightest clue on the Registers.  It is thought however that the White Prince’s family “retreated” to Lourdes in 1940 and that he then spent a lot of time in the miraculous grotto.  That he met there a priest, the Reverend Father Michel Collin, to whom a revelation from Heaven gave the order to found the Croisade du Rosaire et du Magnificat.  The future White Prince will be one of the first to enrol in the “Croises des Temps Nouveaux”, whose chief is Abbot Collin.  The Abbot leads his little association to Romans, where Monsignor Pic, impressed by the quality of his faith, puts the parish locality of Saint-Croix de Romans at his disposition.  The Sisters of Niederbronn are already camped there.  They have been evacuated too, and each evening public prayers are organized in the Community’s chapel.  One evening in November 1940, while the little group of faithful is beginning the Miserere, tears are seen to fall from the eyes of an alabaster Holy Virgin.  Leon is the most emotional, and Father Collin observes that, from this day on, his qualities of Initiate and Proselyte will become stronger.  So rapidly, that he thinks to make him the chief of the crusade which is going to be organized.

To be continued.

On 7 December 1958, Mr Kenneth Martin who lived in Oregon, USA, left home with his wife and four children to look for a Christmas tree in the forest. No-one ever saw them again...

The most popular hypothesis today about the disappearance of the four hundred men of the 5th Norfolk Regiment is that they were taken by a machine which had the form of a cloud.

***

UFOs in the form of clouds are not at all new.  The Bible, for example, mentions many times the apparition of luminous clouds which deposit or take away people…

***

So, it seems that the New Zealanders saw a fake cloud.  Their whole story leads to this conclusion.  Sapper Reichart speaks of a cloud “dense and fixed which was reflecting the sunlight”, then it suddenly rises and joins the others – which were above the hill and had been there since morning, immobile despite the wind…  After which, the whole group of these strange clouds moves towards the North and disappears…  Do any stratus or cumulus act in this way?…

***

Perhaps we are living in a work of science-fiction.  Charles Fort, the author of the Book of the Damned, writing about these mysterious disappearances of individuals or groups of individuals, said:  “We are being fished.”

***

The question is by whom?  Extra-terrestrials?  Let us just say by people who come from somewhere else…  People from somewhere else who are interested in us.  Every year, in France alone, roughly twenty-five thousand people disappear.  What happens to these people?  There are suicides, perfect crimes, individuals who flee to a foreign land without contacting anybody, but these constitute only a small percentage:  10%, 20% perhaps.  This leaves 80% unexplained disappearances.  Or around fifteen thousand people.  And this has been going on for years.

***

Kidnapping a regiment can appear to be exceptional but it isn’t the only known case.  During the Second World War, a Japanese Division disappeared without a trace in New Guinea.  And there are entire families who have vanished during a walk in the forest, boat crews who have evaporated (the Mary Celeste comes to mind), automobilists who never arrived at their destinations and were never heard of again…  Some of these disappearances are absolutely astounding.  One day in November 1809, the caleche of Benjamin Bathurst, who was the Ambassador of Great Britain to the Court of Austria, arrives in a little German town, at Perlberg, and stops in front of an inn.  Bathurst alights to lunch.  When he has finished, he says goodbye to the innkeeper who is, with a few travellers, on the doorstep, and walks around his carriage to watch the changing of the horses…  He was never seen again…  And all of the searches undertaken to find him were in vain…

***

There was no other carriage in sight.  The road was absolutely empty.  There was no wall nor bush where the Ambassador could have hidden…  Here is another example:  around 1930, the American torpedo boat the Cyclops, which is navigating in calm weather on an oil-smooth sea, disappears without the specialists being able to give the slightest explanation.  There are hundreds of similar cases.

***

On 5 December 1945, five Avengers of the United States Air Force were patrolling off Florida, They disappeared without a trace.

Then there is the Bermuda Triangle.  In this region of the Caribbean Sea, just like a place situated to the East of Japan which is called the Sea of the Devil, boats and aeroplanes – despite our radio and radar equipment – mysteriously disappear without a trace.  The rare pilots who have time to send a last message explain, with horror in their voices, that they are surrounded by “something luminous”.  Then there is silence.  It seems that these boats and aeroplanes are in some way “sucked in” by something, somewhere…  As if someone situated outside our universe was having fun “fishing” humans, as Charles Fort said…

***

Apart from the 5th Norfolk Regiment, another extraordinary “fishing expedition” was almost seen.  It happened in 1909, in a farm near Brecon, Wales.  On Christmas Eve, Owen Thomas’ whole family was gathered around the fireplace in the company of two guests, the Pastor and the Veterinary Surgeon.  Just when they were about to sit at the table, Mrs Thomas asks her son Oliver, aged eleven, to go to the well to fetch some water.

The child puts on his galoshes, for it is snowing, takes a bucket and goes out of the house.  He has scarcely closed the door when he is heard to scream, then call for help.  They rush outside with a lantern.  They see nothing, but the child is now crying out:

” ‘They’ are holding me!  Help!  Help!”

These curious calls seem to be coming from the sky.  Rapidly, they diminish in intensity, as if the child was rising towards the clouds, then an anguished silence falls on the farm’s courtyard.  The Pastor, a lantern in his hand, follows the footsteps that Oliver has left in the snow.  It is then noticed that a few metres from the house, these footsteps suddenly stop as if the child had been lifted from the ground…  He was never found again…

***

So, where would these boats, these aeroplanes, these regiments, these families and these children go?  Perhaps they leave our Time or our Universe.  Most physicists admit today the existence of parallel universes coexisting with ours.  Numerous works have been published on this passionate subject.  In 1965, a Member of New York’s Science Academy, Doctor J. H. Christenson, published an article entitled Time Reversal in which he wrote [I am translating back into English from French]:

“An audacious hypothesis suggests that there exists a phantom universe resembling ours.  There is only a very weak interaction between these two universes, so we don’t see this other world:  it mixes freely with ours…”

Guy Breton, whose work I have translated, adds that, since 1965, the work of the physicists, in this domain, has advanced to the point that their prudent hypotheses have now been replaced by quasi-certitudes.

***

Could this be the After-Life of which we speak?

***

Physicists are prudent about the possibility of one day communicating with these parallel universes.  However, Guy Breton believes that human intelligence is limitless and that knowledge of these parallel universes will be Humanity’s most extraordinary discovery.  A discovery which means that the XXIst Century of our children will be nothing like the world, the science, the metaphysical conceptions and the mentalities that we know today…

***

H. G. Wells said:

“Parallel universes are closer to us than our hands and our feet…”

***

In 1915, British troops landed in the Gallipoli peninsula.

At the beginning of 1915, the French and British Governments decide to organize a common expedition against Turkey whose ports are open only to the German warships.  The aim of this enterprise is to force through the Dardanelles Strait and take control of Constantinople (now Istanbul).  The two Admiralties begin by sending a fleet which comes up against an altogether surprising Turkish defence.  A French battleship, two English battleships and diverse cruisers and destroyers are sunk.  It is then decided to undertake a landing on the Gallipoli peninsula.

In March, a French Expeditionary Corps embarks at Marseille alongside a British Army.

After many mishaps, these troops land on the Southern part of the peninsula, on 25 April.  They would meet with violent resistance there.  To the point that, three months later, despite furious combats led by General Gouraud, they had succeeded in penetrating only six kilometres towards the interior.

The Etats-Majors then decide to create a second Front by attacking the peninsula from the North-East.  On 6 August, sixty thousand men land at Suvla.  They too would come up against a solid Turkish Army.

After some terrible clashes at the foot of Mount Scimitar, the English head South to operate their junction with the Australians who have landed at Gafa Tepe.

It is in the course of one of these marches that one of the most extraordinary events of the whole war takes place.

This occurs on 21 August, in the morning.

On this day, the 5th Norfolk Regiment, or rather what is left of it, that is to say, around four hundred men, receives the order to reinforce a Battalion of Australians and New Zealanders who are having trouble taking a certain Ridge 60, one of the key points in the region.

The 5th Norfolk Regiment therefore starts out.  From the summit of a neighbouring hill, some New Zealand soldiers see it marching on a fairly steep slope, then entering a dip and climbing up a dried-up waterway.

The weather is splendid.  However, the New Zealanders notice an anomaly in the scene.  While the sky is clear, six or seven enormous clouds have been stationary since morning above Ridge 60.  Clouds which a South wind of 6 or 7 kilometres an hour does not move from their position nor change their shape.

Further, another cloud comparable to a layer of very dense fog, which could be 250 metres long and 50 metres thick, seems to be clinging to the ground…

The New Zealanders consider this phenomenon with surprise.  One of them, a Sapper named Reichart, belonging to the 3rd Section of the 1st Company of Engineers, blurts out:

“They’re strange, those clouds that aren’t moving!  I’ve been watching them since this morning, they look solid!”…

One of his mates says to him:

“Look at the one on the ground.  It’s reflecting the sunlight.”

Meanwhile, the 5th Norfolk Regiment continues its climb amongst the stones of the dried-up waterway.  The temperature is high in Turkey, in August, and the English soldiers are perspiring.

After two hours of a difficult march, they finally arrive on a mound.  There, they regroup and march in the direction of Ridge 60 which is partly covered by the strange layer of fog.

From the top of their hill, the New Zealanders observe the English.  Sapper Reichart says to his companion:

“Look, the Pommies are getting to the cloud.  We’ll see if they’re game enough to go in.”

The other one says:

“Why wouldn’t they be?  It’s not poisonous gas…”

Reichart replies:

“Maybe not;  but I don’t know why, that fog doesn’t look right!”

They soon see the 5th Norfolk Regiment reach the edge of the fog and plunge into it without hesitation.  Reichart says:

“It’s so thick that you can’t see anyone in it.”

In ranks of eight, the English Regiment is still penetrating the cloud.

When the last man has disappeared, the New Zealanders still watch the layer of fog.  Sapper Reichart says:

“I wonder if they’re all right.”

The other smiles:

“It won’t be long before we find out…”

And they wait.

After five minutes, as no-one is reappearing, Reichart starts to worry:

“What can they be doing in there?”

Then he immediately cries out:

“Oh!  Look!”

The strange cloud, inside which is the 5th Norfolk Regiment, has lifted from the ground and soon rises, not like ordinary layers of fog which disintegrate in the air, but conserving its shape.  Reichart hurls:

“But where are the Poms?”

On the ground, there is not one man, no weapon, nothing!  The mound is absolutely empty.

These enormous lenticular clouds were photographed in Brazil. A few aviators imprudently penetrated them. Their aeroplanes disappeared.

The twenty-two men of the 1st New Zealand Company are rooted to the spot.  While they are considering the place where four hundred English soldiers have just disappeared into thin air, the layer of fog continues to rise towards the clouds above it.  When it reaches them, they all slowly move North and disappear into the sky.

No trace of the 5th Norfolk Regiment would ever be found again.

Years pass by.  And in 1918, after the capitulation of Turkey, England demands that the men of this Regiment, “Missing in Action”, be returned to her.

The Turks search for them and reply that they have never heard of the 5th Norfolk Regiment.  The English insist, furnish dates, precisions on the places, as well as the testimonies of the New Zealanders.  The Turkish Etat-Major again hunts through its archives.  Only to reply that no prisoners had been taken on 21 August 1915…

***

This story is authentic.  It has been reported by numerous English magazines, by Returned Soldiers’ newspapers which have published the New Zealanders’ testimonies – notably that of Sapper Reichart – and it has been the subject of enquiries, searches, verifications, from both the British and Turkish authorities.  No-one has ever been able to give an explanation…

***

At the epoch, people talked, not only of poisonous gas, but also of “dissolving” gas, invented by the Germans.  But this idea was not retained.  There was also talk of a natural phenomenon, a crater which might have suddenly opened under the feet of the soldiers of the 5th Norfolk Regiment, and which could have closed up again after swallowing the Regiment…  This explanation did not seem very serious, either…  Finally, this disappearance was classed in the big dossier of  the “enigmas” of History.

***

To be continued.

In 1557, the inhabitants of Bale saw in the sky an object having the form of an "immense piece of reddened metal". This mysterious "thing" performed numerous evolutions before disappearing. One century earlier, in 1461, the inhabitants of Arras had witnessed the same phenomenon.

This story was found in a treatise written by Agobard, the Bishop of Lyon, himself.  Agobard relates the facts but denies their veracity for he considers them as being contrary to the dogmas.

***

No other people have mentioned this prodigious adventure but there are many others of the same order.  For it must be said that these sorts of stories are fairly common at this epoch.  To the point that the Capitulaires of Charlemagne and of Louis le Debonnaire mention the punishments imposed on the creatures sailing on airships who are accused of destroying vines and harvests…

For there to be laws and rules reprimanding the misdemeanors committed by these mysterious beings, their appearances in the sky must have been numerous…

***

Montfoucon de Villars writes:

“One saw in the air these creatures of human form, sometimes drawn up for battle marching in good order, or standing armed, or camped beneath superb pavillions – at other times on airships of admirable structure whose flying fleet sailed where the zephirs took them…”

Guy Breton, whose work I have translated, surmises that these beings were wearing dorsal helicopters which allowed them to leave the spaceship and descend easily onto Earth…

***

The angels represented on the mosaics of the Cathedral in Montreale (Sicily), like those of Cefalu, have six wings. Could they be the blades of an individual helicopter?

One day in 842, at the time of the siege of Angers by Charles the Bald, the Angevins saw, in the sky, creatures having “the form of grasshoppers each wearing six wings and armed with teeth made of metal”.  These beings were lined up in battle order and flew in good order, led by scouts and airborne diving machines of slimmer form.  “After having circled above the troops of Charles the Bald, these strange metallic grasshoppers disappeared in the direction of the sea…”  To Guy Breton, these metallic grasshoppers, these giant grasshoppers, very much seem to resemble helicopters.

***

Guy Breton one day had the feeling that he was looking at the most ancient representation of a dorsal helicopter in the Cefalu Cathedral, in Sicily, where there are admirable mosaics from the XIIth Century representing angels…  Angels with six wings, of which two give the impression of turning behind them, or above their heads…

Guy Breton says that he doesn’t want to shock anybody, but he asks the question:  What if angels were extra-terrestrials who had descended to Earth with a dorsal helicopter, and were transformed into celestial people by the men of Biblical Antiquity?…

***

Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) in 1886.

A new scientific landmark has been reached and from the culture of yeasts to the culture of microbes, there is only a step…  To tell the truth, the study of contagious diseases had preoccupied Pasteur from 1863.  But his slightest incursion onto medical terrain had him deprecatingly referred to as a Chemist, or even a so-called Chemist, poaching on private property.  He would therefore have to wait ten years longer to enter the Academie de medecine, where he would have the pleasure of joining up again with Claude Bernard, the Physiologist, author of the Introduction a l’etude de la medecine experimentale.  Claude Bernard, himself the object of the permanent hostility of the Medical Practitioners, maliciously whispers into the ear of Pasteur, his neighbour on the Academie seats:

“Have you noticed that when a Doctor of Medicine enters a salon or an assembly, he always looks as if he is saying:  ‘I have just been saving my fellow men’?”

Within this noble brotherhood, those entrenched in traditional Medicine, like Doctor Pidoux, in his blue jacket with its gold buttons and his great reputation, perorate in applauded discourses:

“Physiology can be of no use in Medicine, and it is only a luxury Science which we can do without!”;

“Tuberculosis?  It is the common result of many external and internal causes, and not the product of a specific agent that is always the same!”

Sometimes, Doctors, like Villemin who senses the existence of a tuberculosis virus, and Davaine, expose new theories.  Davaine has meditated on Pasteur’s work on fermentations, and connects them to certain parasites that he has been able to observe with the microscope in the blood of animals who have died from anthrax, a plague which was then decimating herds.  By their presence and their rapid multiplication in blood, these parasites that he calls “bacteridies” appear to act like ferments…  The two Doctors are practically accused of disturbing the medical peace, and are violently taken to task.

Meanwhile, in the hospitals, it is possible to die from a simple abcess or from a panaris – without even evoking a surgical operation…  Surgeons are appalled by the terrible aftermath of an operation, gangrene, “hospital rot”, septicaemia, purulent infection.  Hospitals being perceived as places of infection, the Social Services rent, near Paris, an isolated house in a healthy location to practise operations there.  In 1863, ten women are sent there, one after the other.  The inhabitants of the Avenue de Meudon would see each of these sick women enter this house and ten coffins leave it.  In their frightened ignorance, they call this mysterious house “the house of crime”.  A Doctor would go as far as saying that the ablation of the ovaries is to be filed “among the attributions of the executioner”.  The Medical Practitioners, unconscious propagators of viruses, sometimes ask themselves if they are not carrying death with them.

In fact, since the beginning of the XIXth Century, Surgery has taken a step backward.  Before this time, antiseptic practices were used, even if it was not done consciously:  cauterization by fire, boiling liquids, applications of linen dipped in eau-de-vie, disinfectant substances.  However, under the influence of Broussais and his theory of the inflamation and the irritation of the tissues, cauterization is stopped and Surgery retrogrades.  Then one sees appearing basins, packets of dressings made from old hospital sheets only just washed, and pots of cerat, an unguent with an oil and wax base.  In 1868, the mortality after amputations is more than sixty per cent.  Those who traversed a ward of amputees or other wounded during the 1870 War speak in fear of it.  It is perpetual agony.  All the wounds suppurate, infectious septicaemia is everywhere.  A medical student of the time says:

“Pus seemed to germ from everywhere as if it had been sown by the Surgeon.”

Unfortunately, it will be only at the end of the War that Alphonse Guerin would have the idea that

“the cause of the purulent infection could well be due to the germs or ferments that Pasteur had discovered in the air”.

This Surgeon develops a reflection by analogy:

“If the miasms are bacteridies, I could arm the wounded against their disastrous influence by filtering the air, like Pasteur did…  I then imagined the cotton wool dressing and I had the satisfaction of seeing my previsions come true.”

The dressing composed of bands of cotton wool held by bands of new cloth is applied on the wounded of the Commune, from March to June 1871.  Alphonse Guerin’s colleagues are stunned to learn that out of thirty-four operated people bandaged in cotton wool, nineteen have escaped death.  The Chemist Pasteur is invited to come to see Guerin’s Service;  he has conversations with his colleagues in the Academie de medecine and visits hospitals.  A new life begins for him where the hospital would take as much place in his activities as the laboratory.

Another Medical Practitioner, British this time, Joseph Lister, who is the real creator of antiseptic practices in Surgery, writes to him from Edinburgh in February 1874:

“Allow me to take this occasion to address to you my most cordial thanks for having, by your brilliant research, shown me the truth of the theory of germs of putrefaction and for having given me the only principle that could lead the antiseptic system to a good end […] it would be a true reward for you to see in our hospital in what large measure it has benefited from your work…”

In Lister’s Service, the instruments, the sponges, the objects necessary for dressings, are purified with a solution of phenol.  Same treatment for the hands of the operating Surgeon and his assistants.  Throughout the whole operation, a spray filled with phenol water creates an antiseptic atmosphere around the wound, which is washed with the phenol solution.  Finally, a gauze impregnated with the same antiseptic is applied and maintained on the wound, then covered by a waterproof cloth.  From 1867 to 1869, out of forty amputees, Lister saved thirty-four.

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.

Gustav Meyrink

One day in Autumn 1915, the German writer Gustav Meyrink, the author of the famous work of fiction The Golem, was at home in his armchair, near the fire, a newspaper on his knees.  He had just been reading the news from the Front and was reflecting on the profound causes of this world war in which Germany, France, Britain, Austria, Belgium, Italy, and now Serbia, Greece and Turkey, were involved, and which was going to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.

What obscure forces, he was thinking, push humanity to set off such killing sprees?

Suddenly, this man, whom a practice of yoga and certain Hindu techniques have led to superior states of consciousness, is seized with trembling;  his body becomes icy and he recognizes the strange feeling which announces clairvoyancy phenomena in him.

Almost immediately, he “sees” before him a person of an unknown race whom he would later describe like this:

“Six feet tall, extremely thin, beardless, a face with olive-skin tints, slanty eyes, extraordinarily wide-spaced.  The skin of the lips and face smooth like porcelain;  the lips sharp, bright red, and so strongly tight – particularly around the corners – like in an implacable smile, that one would have thought that they were painted lips.  He had on his head a curious red bonnet.”

This strange person holds in his hand a tuning-fork between the branches of which there is a little gilded hammer.  At his feet swarm insects which are going about mysterious business, without the least clash, the least aggressivity.  Suddenly, a strident sound rings out, coming doubtless from the tuning-fork that the man in the red bonnet is holding.  Then the insects, as if animated by a murderous folly, throw themselves on each other and kill each other.  The sight is appalling.  These little beasts who, the instant before, were trotting peacefully beside each other, are now devouring each other with unimaginable violence under the cold, amused gaze of the man in the red bonnet.  Then everything disappears.

Gustav Meyrink, in his armchair, is deeply impressed, for it appears to him that this vision is a symbolic answer to the question that he was asking himself on the subject of the profound causes of the war.

He knows, for having read numerous works on this subject, that according to Oriental occultists, there is apparently in Tibet a sect called the Dugpas, which is considered as a direct instrument of “demoniacal” forces of destruction.  This man in the red bonnet who starts war among the insects by a vibration could therefore represent one of these Dugpas.

Meyrink sees there a subject to develop.  He immediately goes to work and writes a short story entitled The Game of the Crickets, in which he exposes the occult causes of the war.

The following month, this story appears in the magazine Simplicissimus.  And, a few weeks later, the writer receives from a person unknown to him, a painter by the name of Hocker, the following letter:

“Dear Sir,

“I must first tell you that I am a man in perfect health and that I have never been subject to hallucinations or other abnormal states.  Yesterday, I was in my studio, seated at my table working.  Suddenly, I heard a metallic, musical sound.  In turning around, I noticed a tall man, of a race that I didn’t know, a curious red bonnet on his head, who was standing in the room.  I immediately realized that it was a psychical trouble.  The man was holding in his hand a sort of tuning-fork composed of two branches, with which he had produced the sound of which I spoke.  Between the two branches was a gilded hammer.  Immediately, I saw appear on the ground piles of fat white insects which were tearing each other apart in a rustling of wings whose deafening noise was becoming intolerable.  I still have this sound in my ears which is upsetting all my nerves.  When the hallucination was over, I immediately started to draw the scene with a stick of seria.  Then I went out to take some air.  In passing before a newspaper kiosque, an impulse that I am unable to explain, given that I don’t like this magazine, prodded me to ask for Simplicissimus.  As the salesgirl was giving me the last number, a decision just as inexplicable prodded me to say:  ‘No, not this number, the one before, please!’  Back home, in flicking through the magazine, I found to my great stupefaction your story The Game of the Crickets relating, give or take a few details, all that I had just experienced myself one hour beforehand:  the man with the red bonnet, the insects that were tearing each other apart, etc.  I beg you, dear Sir, to have the kindness, if you can, to explain to me how I should interpret this thing…”

And it is signed:  Hocker.

Having read this letter, Gustav Meyrink is annoyed.  Another one, he thinks, who wants to make hinself interesting.

For the writer there is no doubt, in fact, that this Mr Hocker is a fabulator who has imagined all this story after having read the short story in the magazine.

Meyrink goes to throw the letter into the waste-paper basket when suddenly, an idea troubles him.  He remembers that, in copying out his manuscript to send it to the magazine’s editor, he had modified a few details of his vision.

As he doesn’t remember very well any more which ones, he takes the number of Simplicissimus where his story is printed and that he has not re-read – for he hates re-reading his own works – and runs through the text.

He then comes across a modification that he had made at the last minute and which he had totally forgotten.  And this modification stuns him, for it obliges him to think that his correspondent is not – cannot be – a joker, and that he could not have been inspired by the story which had appeared in Simplicissimus to tell him that he had seen a man with a red bonnet carrying a tuning-fork between the branches of which was a little hammer, for the simple reason that this tuning-fork is not mentioned in the story.  Gustav Meyrink had replaced it at the last minute by another object.  On his first rough copy, he had firstly written:

“The man with the red bonnet was holding in his hand a tuning-fork with which he was emitting strange sounds…”

However, in re-copying it, it had seemed to him to be more striking, more fantastic, to write:

“The man in the red bonnet was holding in his hand a prism with which he was capting the sun’s rays…”

He had also transformed the “strident sound that the tuning-fork was making” into an “apocalyptic light which was blinding the insects and making them crazy”

Finally, he had written nowhere, not even in his rough copy, for the detail had not seemed significant to him, that the tuning-fork had a little gilded hammer between its branches.

***

To be continued.

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