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still they are sufficiently curious to make the superstitious look forward with curiosity to the events of 1853.
The Abbé Bezuel communicated the following strange story to the well known Abbé de Saint Pierre, who, by-the-by, besides the authorship of “ Paul and Virginia," anticipated the Peace Society by an equally well-digested project of universal brotherhood. The Abbé Bezuel
, it may be remarked, enjoyed a spotless reputation for truth and sincerity. · The abbé was about fifteen years of age in 1693, when he became acquainted at college with the children of a solicitor, Daboquêne by name, and who were students like himself. A particular friendship grew up between him and the eldest, whose name was Desfontaines, and who was about his own age. Walking together one day in the year 1696, conversation fell upon a work in which they had read an account of two friends, who had promised one another that the one who should die first should come and inform the survivor of his decease, and which event actually took place.
Desfontaines proposed to Bezuel that they should bind themselves by a similar promise, but Bezuel did not give his consent till some months after, when his friend being about to leave college for Caen, they exchanged manuscripts, written and signed with their own blood.
For some time an active correspondence was carried on between the two friends, till once, six weeks having elapsed without his having received a letter, Bezuel was walking in a meadow, the afternoon of the 31st July, 1697, when he felt a sudden faintness come over him, which he was some minutes in recovering from. The next day the same weakness overtook him at the same hour, and so also the day after, but upon the latter occasion Desfontaines appeared to him, making signs to him, as if calling him near to his person. As he was seated on a bench, he withdrew a short distance to make room for his friend. Several students who were present observed this movement. As Desfontaines, however, did not come nearer, Bezuel got up and went to him. The spectre then took his friend by the arm, and leading him away to a quiet spot, addressed him as follows:
“ I have come to keep my promise. I was drowned the day before yesterday in the river at Caen, at about this hour. I was out walking with the Abbé de Menil Jean ; it was so hot, that we resolved upon a bath. When in the river a faintness came over me, and I sank to the bottom. The abbé dived after me ; I seized him by the foot, but whether he thought it was a salmon, or that he wished to get back again without interruption, he gave me a tremendous kick that finally disposed of me on the bed of the river."
Desfontaines also spoke of other matters to his friend, and charged him with various messages for his brother, as also for his father and his mother, and further, bade him repeat for him seven psalms, that had been given him as a punishment the Sunday previous to his death, and which he had omitted to recite before the catastrophe.
Bezuel promised all, and wished to embrace his deceased friend, but he only found a shadow, although the spectre held him so tightly by the arm that he felt a sensible pain from the pressure. The spectre looked rather taller than when alive, was half naked, and a manuscript was interwoven in his long, light hair, on which he could only read the syllable in. He had his usual voice, and appeared neither gay nor sorrowful, but in perfect tranquillity. He afterwards disappeared, saying “ Jusque, jusque,” which was his favourite expression, when he bade_good-by to his fellow-collegians. The abbé, who related the story to Saint Pierre, added that he saw his friend on several subsequent occasions.
Here is another ghost story, communicated by a living witness, and one who, by his profession, may be supposed to be beyond the reach of puerile apprehension, while, by the active life he was leading at the time,
he was also little exposed to the influence of a diseased imagination.
The story is attested by Monsieur le Comte de Touchebauf-Clermont, one of the illustrious names of France.
The Oneiromantic stories published in your Prophetic Almanack of 1852 interested me much, particularly the miraculous apparition of the Abbé de Saint Wast, at the Château de Louvenvel, belonging to the Baron de Coupigny (see New Monthly Magazine, vol. xciii., p. 344), and whom I had the honour of seeing at Arras in 1820 and 1821.
I trust that I shall not be taken for a person of a weak and superstitious mind, which would tally but badly with the profession of arms that I have followed from early youth. I believe that too much importance must not be attached to those dreams which besiege us during the darkness of night, and which are generally the result of sensations experienced during the day, or of a laborious digestion, or which may be looked upon as the reflection, if I may so express myself, of the passions which domineer over us.
Nevertheless, I know that the Almighty can do whatever it pleases Him, and it would perhaps be rash to refer to mere chance a circumstance that happens only once in one's life, and which coincides exactly with the fact which gave birth to it.
Here is what happened to me, and which I attest to be true in the name of that honour which is characteristic of a French officer.
After having traversed Spain in almost every direction with the 4th regiment of Dragoons, in which I was then the youngest lieutenant, it was at last resolved upon evacuating the Peninsula, in consequence of the disasters of the fatal campaign in Russia. Madrid was accordingly evacuated, and the division of dragoons to which I was attached bivouacked, the 5th of April, 1815, at Guadalapajar, seven leagues from the capital. On arriving at the bivouac I was ordered on the main guard, and my post was established at but a short distance from the palace of the Escurial, where I placed my videttes in face of those of the English.
My duty and the safety of the army demanded that I should make pumerous rounds during the night, to see that the videttes did their duty, that everything was quiet, and that no surprise was to be apprehended.
On returning from these rounds, I got down from my horse, and threw inyself, enveloped in my cloak, upon some chopped straw that served as a bed ; but as soon as, from extreme fatigue, I fell asleep, I saw my poor good mother in the act of dying. These repeated apparitions took place after midnight, but without a single word being addressed to me, or any other sign made as if to ask me for my prayers. And truly, of what avail would the prayers of a dragoon have been, who had for so long time been engaged in wars in a country where they had finished by putting everything to fire and sword ?
Early the next morning the whole army had to cross the Guadarrama, which separates the two Castiles, and I received orders to join my regiment, which was in the advance guard. I had to make my way for four or five hours through an immense column composed of cavalry, infantry, and artillery, and amid carriages and waggons; but all this confusion could not entirely dispel the mournful visions of the night ; and it was in this frame of mind that I joined the 4th Dragoons, which had halted on the other side of the mountain, at the foot of which was the celebrated pozada of San Raphael, the only inn that is to be met with in these wild and desert places.
The tumult of bivouacs, the long duration of the retreat, the fatal battle of Vittoria on the 21st of June, where I was exposed for upwards of an hour to the fire of a battery of guns, and the Aight that ensued, succeeded, however, in dispelling from my mind all thoughts of the lugubrious apparition of the Escurial. The army at length reached the French territory, and the moment I could get a little quiet on our side of the Pyrenees I wrote to my mother to announce my return in comparative health and safety.
As the army still continued to manœuvre a good deal, it was some time before I received an answer, and that came at last from my father, who informed me that I had lost my mother on the night of the 5th or 6th of April, It was the first letter that I had received from my family since my entrance into Spain, for, being almost always on horseback, letters went astray, and never reached me, added to which, it had been reported that I bad fallen on the field of battle. Be that as it may, I compared the dates, and I found that the melancholy event had taken place the very time that my mother appeared to me at an interval of three hundred leagues, and at a few paces distance from the Escurial. But distance probably has no existence for spirits that are disengaged from the trammels of their terrestrial envelope!
This singular incident reminds me that my father, the most truthful man I ever knew, has since told me that my mother, by birth Countess of Durfort, being at that time Canoness of the noble Chapter of Neuville, near Lyons, was induced by her more youthful associates to have her fortune told, and it was predicted to her that she should die abbess. “ Die an abbess !" she replied, smiling, “I who will not take the vows !"
Nevertheless, she died, not abbess, but at Besse (à Besse) which is the name of the château where she expired. Is it chance or is it God who permitted persons of such little estimation in general, as fortune-tellers, to prophecy justly, putting the pun aside? Be that as it may, the facts are real, and I certify their having occurred in my family; nevertheless, notwithstanding their truth, I attach no serious belief to dreams; but every one is free to form what deductions he pleases from them—" Le Comte de Touchebeuf-Clermont.”
It would appear from this that French soldiers, with all their warlike ardour and chivalrous devotion, are not, even to the present day, without their superstitious weaknesses. These have, indeed, existed from all times, and more particularly among those who by aristocratic descent were imbued with a highly sensitive and impressionable nervous system. Saint Simon relates in his memoirs that, being in the camp before Namur in 1692, at a time when he was one of the king's mousquetaires, he had formed a close friendship with one of his companions in arms, the Comte de Cæsquen.
The poor boy (he adds) did not live long. Having volunteered into the king's regiment, and being on the point of joining his corps the next spring, he came and related to me that he had had his fortune told by a female, named La du Perchoir, who carried on the profession secretly at Paris, and that she had told him he would be drowned, and that soon too.
I rallied him upon his foolish and impertinent curiosity, derided the ignorance of such a class of persons, and told him that she had founded her prophecy upon the sorrowful and sinister looks of my friend, who really was disagreeably ugly.
He started a few days afterwards, met with another man of the same trade at Amiens, who predicted the same thing to him; and marching thence with his regiment to join the army, he stopped to water his horse in the Escaut, and was drowned in sight of the whole regiment, without any one having it in their power to afford him assistance.
I was extremely grieved at this event, which entailed an irreparable loss upon his family. He had only two sisters, one of whom married the eldest son of M. de Monchevreuil, and the other took the veil in the convent of the Calvary.
It is related that at the birth of Catherine de Medicis, four old menmagi of the middle ages-were summoned to the Palace Riccardi, the magnificent abode of the dukes of Florence, to draw the horoscope of the only daughter of the reigning duke. It was a dark night, and occa
sional flashes of lightning illuminated the clouded sky. The chief members of the ducal family were assembled in a saloon, on a marble table in the centre of which was a richly-carved ebony cradle, in which the newborn infant reposed.
“ Well, Master Bazil,” said the duke, addressing the most venerable of the sages who had just been introduced into the presence of the Medicis, “ have you agreed on your decision, and do you bring us good news?”
“The destiny of man," answered the old man, “ does not depend upon those who interrogate it. We would wish, my lord duke, to record a favourable horoscope, but
“Go on, master, I shall have courage.”
“Well, remember this, lord duke; the child here present will have a life full of troubles and intrigues. Nevertheless your family will not suffer from it, nor will the glorious republic of Florence. But misery to the nation that receives her; misery to the royal house into which she shall enter as wife and mother. I have spoken, and what I have said is the truth."
These sad predictions were received in gloomy silence. The duke only looked at the other old men to see if he could detect on their faces any marks of disapprobation. '
But all three bowed their heads, as if to testify their assent to the words of Bazil.
Nevertheless the family held counsel; none of its members dared to cast doubts on the horoscope of Bazil, but they sought to find out means by which the evils with which the child was threatened could be averted. After a long deliberation, Catherine was condemned to eternal celibacy; but destiny is more powerful than the projects of men, as the future demonstrated but too truly.
Twenty-one years after the events we have just related, a Spanish army, sent by Pope Clement VII. (himself a Medicis), was besieging Florence. In 1527 the inhabitants had revolted against the Medicis, and had expelled all the members of that family from the territories of the republic, with the exception of Catherine, who was shut up in a convent of the city. . Florence was obliged to open her gates to the besiegers, and the daughter of Laurent recovered her liberty at the very moment when the cause of her house was triumphant.
Charles V., whose troops had just restored Florence to the Medicis, wished to obtain in recompence the hand of Catherine. The Pope refused it to him, preferring to bestow the maiden on the son of Francis I. The German emperor was very wrath at this treatment, and he wrote an angry letter to the Pope, in which, after enumerating the services that he had rendered to the family, he complained vehemently of the preference shown to his rival.
Clement, who knew the prophecy of Bazil, contented himself with replying to the emperor “ that he had palmed off upon the French a woman who would breed disorder throughout the whole kingdom.”
The marriage, which was solemnised at Marseilles in 1533, fully justified the predictions of Bazil in respect to the mother of Charles IX. and of Henry III., the Queen of Saint Bartholomew.
There is nothing like the good old prophecies--prophecies which predicted fire and water, the destruction of a city, or the extermination of a people. It is evident that the magnitude and importance of the art has sorely dwindled away, when we must in our own times content ourselves with examples such as are afforded by Alexander Dumas in his memoirs of the old general, his father, knocking at his door at the moment of his decease, or by the gallant Comte de Clermont, when visited upon his outposts at the Escurial by his moribund mother. Yet such is the spirit of most modern instances.
Here is one of another character the prophecy of a saint with a harsh Breton name-Guenolé-for it
in Brittany that tradition places the event; and it is at the headland called that of Chévre that the ruins of part of the ancient city of Is are still pointed out, but the other and larger portion is buried beneath the waters of the bay of Douarnenez, which owes its existence to the catacylsm which swallowed up the cursed city.
In times very far back there existed in ancient Armorica a sumptuous and flourishing city. It was called Is. It took a horseman mounted on a fleet steed four hours to make the circuit of the walls.
King Grallon reigned over this town and the territory of Cornwall. He was a pious monarch, who had great confidence in God, and in those holy men who practised the religion of Christ.
But his subjects were devoted to Satan, and in accomplishing his works : pride, luxury, debauchery, and passions without restraint, filled the city.
And they sacrificed to the false gods, and they blasphemed the God of the Christians, the Saviour of the world.
“Cursed be Christ!" they said, in their fury ; " glory to the gods who command love and feasts !"
And Dahut, the king's daughter, beautiful as the angel of darkness, was led away by these maniacs.
And passed her days in nameless orgies and monstrous pleasures.
And King Grallon, powerless against debauchery and luxury, no longer went forth from his palace, to spare himself the sight of so lamentable a spectacle.
One night that he was at prayers in his oratory, he heard a great noise ; and the earth trembled so much that he fainted, and his forehead struck the pave
And as he recovered his senses, his eyes were dazzled by the rays of a brilliant light.
And he saw before him the holy prophet Guenolé, with threatening eye, and his finger pointing towards the city.
And the holy prophet said, with a voice terrible as the trumpet of battles, * King, the time is come.
“ The patience of the Eternal is wearied without remission. He has raised up his arm, and already the bosom of the sea heaves.
“ Is, the perverse city, is about to disappear. Such is the fate of accursed cities. Blessed be the name of God.”
And as Grallon wept for the fate of his people, Saint Guenolé continued, “ Hasten to fly away, 0 king ! for thou alone shall be saved.”
And Grallon hurried to his stables, and throwing himself on a fleet horse, he made his daughter jump up behind him.
And suddenly loud thunder was heard, lightning tore the clouds asunder, and the sea rose with hoarse and terrible roaring.
Already the waves washed the towers without the city, and the inhabitants attempted to fly, but their feet held fast to the soil.
And Grallon's horse stopped also, and already the waves beat against the chest of the noble animal, and it neighed with fear.
The king exclaimed, “O holy prophet, is this what you promised me?" and the waves continued to ascend.
But a voice louder than the thunder, and more sonorous than the roaring of the tempest, cried out to Grallon :
"O king, drive away the devil that you carry behind you.”.
And as the king implored, weeping, for pity for his daughter, he made the sign of the cross. That instant he felt the two arms that embraced him withdraw themselves from his neck.