FIRST CONVERSATION –
SEPTEMBER 2ND, 1859
I n the Le Pays edition of August 15th or 16th, 1859 there is the following necrology of Privat d’Anglemon, a writer who died in the Dubois Hospital:
“His fantasies have never harmed anyone. It was only the last one that was bad and turned against him. As he came to the hospital where he ended up dying, Privat d’Anglemont decided to say that he was Anabaptist and followed the doctrine of Swedenborg. He had already said many things of the same kind during his life. This time, however, death silenced his word and he had no time to deny himself. The supreme consolation of the cross was kept away from his deathbed. His funeral entourage passed by a church but moved on. The cross did not come to welcome him at the gate of the cemetery. When the coffin was lowered in the grave Edouard Fournier pronounced touching words about that body, but did not dare to wish him but the sleep. All his friends, one by one, left surprised by the fact that he did not receive the tear-like water, which purifies. Then, after all that, let us try to raise funds to erect something on his hopeless tomb! Poor Privat! I don’t entrust his less to the hands of the One who knows all miseries of the human soul, who planted forgiveness in the effusion of an affectionate heart.”
Before anything else let us make an observation about that news. Isn’t that an atrocious thought, a hopeless grave that doesn’t even deserve the honor of a monument? Privat’s life could have been more meritorious, no doubt. There is no question about the fact that he made his mistakes, but nobody can say that he was a bad man, who did evil things, like so many others, by pleasure, under the mantle of hypocrisy. Due to the fact that he was denied the prayers of the believers, in his last moments on Earth, prayers not even said by his little charitable friends, must we believe that God condemn him forever, not leaving him with any other supreme hope but the sleep of eternity? In other words, that he is nothing more than an animal to God’s eyes, he who was a man of intelligence, certainly unthoughtful about the things and favors of the world, living by chance, careless about tomorrow, but definitely a man of thought, if not a transcendent genie? If that is the case, how terrifying it must be the number of those who dive into the emptiness! The spirits unarguably give us a much more sublime idea of God, always introducing Him as ready to reach out to help the one who recognize his mistakes, to whom there is always an anchor of salvation.
1. Evocation - I am here my friends. What is it that you wish from me?
2. Do you have a clear idea of your current situation? - No. Not completely but I hope to have that soon since God, as it fortunately seems, does not wish me away from Him, despite the almost useless life I led on Earth, and later I will have a very happy position in the world of the spirits.
3. Were you immediately aware of your situation, at the time of your death? - I was understandably perturbed, but not as much as one might suppose. The reason being that I always liked the ethereal, the poetic, the dream-like things.
4. Could you then describe what happened to you? - Nothing extraordinary and different from what you already know. Useless, then, to talk about it again.
5. Do you see things as clearly as when you were alive? - No. Not yet. But I will see.
6. Which impression do you have about your vision today of people and things? - My God! That very thing that I always thought.
7. What do you do now? - I do nothing. I am errant. I look for a spiritual position, not a social position; another world, another occupation. It is the natural law of things.
8. Can you transport yourself anywhere, at will? - No. I would be very happy. My world is limited.
9. Do you need a significant amount of time to move from a place to another? - Very significant.
10. When you were alive your individuality was attested through the body. Now that you no longer have a body, how do you demonstrate it? - Ah! That is strange! It is something that I have not thought about. It is true to say that one learns something new every day. Thank you, dear companion.
11. Well then! Considering that we called to your attention this point, think about it and answer. - I told you that I am limited with respect to space. But ah! I always had a lively imagination but I am also limited in my thoughts. I will respond later.
12. When you were alive what was your opinion about the state of the soul after death? - I assumed it immortal, which is obvious. However, shame on me, I confess that I did not believe, or at least, I was not sure about the reincarnation.
13. What was the origin of the original character that distinguished you? - There was no direct cause. Other people are profound, serious, and philosophical. I was joyful, lively, and original. It is a variety of character. That is all.
14. Couldn’t you have, through your talent, left that bohemian life, which attached you to the material needs? I believe that you had to go without the necessary many times. - Very frequently. But, what do you want? I lived according to my character. Besides, I never bent before the silly conventions of the world. I did not know what begging for protection was. My principle was “art for the art”.
15. What is your hope for the future? - I don’t know yet.
16. Do you remember your existence prior to the one you have just left? - It was good.
OBSERVATION: Someone reminds that these last words might well be taken as an irony, much in agreement with Privat’s character. He then responded spontaneously: - I apologize but I was not mocking you. It is true that I am a not much instructive spirit to you but, in reality, I don’t want to joke about serious matters. Let us stop. I don’t wish to speak any more. So long!
SECOND CONVERSATION – SEPTEMBER 9TH, 1859
1. Evocation - Let us see, my friend, when are you going to stop framing all these sensible questions that I cannot respond?
2. You certainly say that out of modesty since the intelligence that you showed in life and when responding to our questions demonstrates that your spirit is above the vulgar. - Flattering!
3. No. We don’t praise. We say what we think. As a matter of fact we know that praising has no meaning to the spirits. You suddenly left us during our last conversation. Could you kindly explain the reason for that? - The reason, in all its simplicity, is the following: You ask questions so much beyond my capacity that I feel embarrassed to answer. Then please understand my natural constraint when I remained mute.
4. Do you have other spirits around you? - I see lots of them, here, there, everywhere!
5. Have you given any thought to the question we addressed to you and that you promised to respond on another opportunity? I repeat it: when you were alive your individuality was attested through the body. Now that you no longer have a body, how do you demonstrate it? In short: how do you distinguish yourself from the other spiritual beings that you see around you? - If I can express what touches me, I still retained a kind of essence that gives me my individuality and leaves me in no doubt that I am me, though I am dead to the Earth. I’m still in a new world, well new to me ... (After some hesitation.) I finally found my individuality through my perispirit, which is the form that I had in this world. Note. We believe that this last response was whispered to him by another spirit, because its accuracy contrasts with the embarrassment suggested in the beginning.
6. Have you attended your own funerals? - Yes I did but I don’t even know why
7. Which sensation has it produced on you? - I saw with pleasure, with real satisfaction, that I left many memories behind when I left Earth.
8. Where did you take the idea from of calling yourself Anabaptist and Swedenborgist? Had you studied Swedenborg’s doctrine? - It was one of my eccentricities, among others.
9. What is your opinion about the short eulogy dedicated to you by the newspaper Le Pays? - You confuse me if you believe that by publishing these communications in the Review it gives pleasure to those who wrote them, and then what would I say about those for whom they were written? What are beautiful phrases, nothing more than beautiful phrases?
10. Do you go back to see the places that you used to go to when alive, and also see the friends that you left behind? - Yes, and I dare say that I still find some satisfaction in visiting those places. As for the friends, I had only a few sincere ones. Many shook hands with me, not having the courage of saying how eccentric I was, criticizing me and calling me mad behind my back.
11. Where do you intend to go after leaving us? This is not an indiscrete question but aims at our instruction. - Where I am going to? ... Let us see! ... Ah! An excellent idea! ... I will allow myself a little enjoyment… Doing it only once will not create a habit. I will go for a stroll. I will visit a little room from which I kept pleasant memories… Yes, it is a good idea. I will spend the time by the bedside of a poor devil, a sculptor that has nothing to eat tonight… who has requested the sleep to alleviate his hunger… The one who sleeps, also dines… Poor young man! You will be okay. I will lead you through magnificent dreams.
12. Couldn’t you tell us the address of that sculptor? Couldn’t we help him?
- It could be an indiscrete question if I did not know the praiseworthy feeling that dictates it… I cannot answer that question.
13. Will you kindly make an essay about a subject of your choice? Your literary talent must turn it into an easy task. - Not yet. However, you seem so kind, compassionate, that I promise to write something. I may be a bit eloquent now but I am afraid my communications may still be too worldly. Allow my soul to depurate a little. Wait until it leaves this gross still bonding envelope and I will then promise a communication. I only ask you for one thing: ask God, our sovereign Lord, to pardon me, allowing me to forget my uselessness on Earth, since each individual has a mission in this planet. Most unfortunate the one who does not accomplish it with faith and devotion! Pray! Pray! See you another time.
• I have been here for a long time. I promised to say something and will do it.
• Know this, friend, that there is nothing more embarrassing than speaking like that, attacking a serious subject without an introduction. A scientist does not prepare his publications before long reflections, after having given a lot of thoughts to what he is going to talk about, his endeavor. As for myself I am afraid I have not yet found a subject worthy of you. I could not tell you but frivolities, that is why I prefer to request an adjournment of eight days, as if before a tribunal. Then, it is possible that I may have found a subject of your interest, which may instruct you.
As the medium had mentally insisted that he should say something, he added:
• My dear, I find you remarkable! No. I prefer to stay as a listener. Don’t you know that there is as much instruction to me as there is to you on listening to the things that are discussed here? No, I repeat. I stay only as a listener since it is a much more instructive role to me. Despite your insistence I don’t want to respond. You believe that it would be much more satisfying to me if it was said: “Ah! Privat d’Anglemont was evoked tonight! – Really? What did he say? – Nothing, absolutely nothing! – Thank you! I would rather have you keeping a good impression of me. Each one bears his or her own ideas.
by Privat d’Anglemont
FOURTH CONVERSATION, SEPTEMBER 30th, 1859
Behold that Spiritism makes a great noise everywhere, behold that the newspapers give space to Spiritism; indirectly that is true, citing extraordinary facts of apparitions, rapping, etc. My ex-comrades mention the facts without comments, thus giving testimony of intelligence, since the Spiritist Doctrine should never be lightheartedly discussed or taken by a bad thing. However, they have not admitted yet the truthfulness of the medium’s role. They doubt. But I rebut their objections by simply saying that they are mediums as well. All writers, great and small, are more or less mediums, since the spirits who are around them act upon their mental system, and frequently inspire the thoughts that they boast of having conceived. They certainly would not accept that I, Privat d’Anglemont, a frivolous spirit by excellence, had resolved that question. However, I only tell the truth and as proof to raise a very simple question: how can they feel, after having written for some time, in a kind of super excited, very uncommon febrile state? It is the effort of concentration, you will say. But when you are very concentrated on the observation of something, say a painting, do you also feel febrile? No, not at all! Then, there is necessarily something there. Well then, I repeat: the cause is in the kind of communication existing between the writer’s brain and the spirits who surround him. Now, my dear comrades, you may bash Spiritism if that seems right to you. Mock it, laugh at it, but you are certainly teasing yourselves. You are nudging yourselves later… Do you understand?
The medium who was the interpreter of Privat d’Anglemont at the Society had the idea of evoking him privately, maintaining with him the conversation below. It seems that he felt certain affection towards him, be it due to the fact that he was an easy instrument or just because there was sympathy between them. The medium is a rookie in the literary world, and his promising essays announce a disposition that Privat will certainly encourage with pleasure.
1. Evocation - I am here. I have been with you for some time. I expected that you would evoke me. It was me who inspired in you some good thoughts, not long ago. My dear friend, it was to console you a bit and help you to withstand with more courage the penalties of this world. Do you really think that I have not suffered more than you all imagine, you who laugh at my eccentricities? Below that armor of indifference that I always showed, how many pains and sorrows haven’t I hidden? But I had a very precious quality to a scholarly man and to an artist. I had always, irrespective of the occasion, balanced my sufferings with joy. When I was going through a lot of suffering I used to joke about it, using wordplay and teasing people. How many times haven’t hunger, thirst and cold knocked on my door! And how many times haven’t I responded with a sound laughter! False laughter, you may say. Oh! No, my friend! I confess that I was sincere. What do you want? I always had the most lightheartedly character. I had never been bothered by the future, by the past and the present. I always lived like a true bohemian, by chance, spending five francs when I had them, and even when I did not. And I was not richer four days after having received my paycheck than I was on the day before.
I certainly do not wish anybody to live such a useless, incoherent and irrational life. Eccentricities are no longer of our times. That is why the new ideas progressed in such a fast pace. It is a life from which I am not absolutely proud of and that makes me ashamed sometimes. Youth must be of study. It must strengthen intelligence through work, so that one can better understand the human being and all things. You may be disenchanted, oh! Youth, if you think that you are men or scholars.
You have the key to know everything. It is up to you now to work and study. You must enter more assertively in the vast field before you, whose paths were paved by your previous studies in college. I know that the youth requires distractions, since it would otherwise be against their nature. Yet, it must not be too much for the one who has only thought of pleasures, in the spring of life, prepares terrible remorse for later. It is when experience and the worldly needs teach that the time lost cannot be recovered. The youngsters need serious readings. Many times former writers are the best ones for good thoughts out of their good thoughts. They must avoid the romances, in particular, that only excite imagination, leaving the hearts empty. Romances should not be tolerated but only as a distraction and once in a while, or to certain ladies who have nothing better to do. Get educated! Get educated! Improve the God given intelligence. That is the only price that makes it worth living.
Q – Your language scares me, my dear Privat. You presented yourself as a very witty spirit, no doubt, but not as a profound spirit, and now…
A – Stop there, young man! Stop! I appeared, or better, I communicated with all of you as a willow spirit, that is true, but the fact is that I was not completely detached form the earthly envelope and the condition of spirit had not been revealed yet in all its plenitude. Now, my friend, I am a spirit and nothing more than a spirit. I see, feel and experience like the others, and my life on Earth is like a dream to me. And what a dream! I am kind of already used to this new world, which will be my dwelling for some time.
Q – For how long do you expect to remain as a spirit and what do you do in your new existence? What are your occupations?
A – The time that I will remain as a spirit is still in God’s hands and will last, I suppose, and as much as I can conceive, until God finds my soul advanced enough to incarnate in a superior region. As for my occupations, these are almost inexistent. I am still errant and that is a consequence of the kind of life I led on Earth. Thus, what seemed pleasurable to me in your world is now a punishment. Yes, it is true, I wish I had a serious occupation; I wish I could find someone who deserves my sympathy; to inspire good thoughts. But, my dear friend, we talked too much already and if you allow me, I must leave. So long! If you need me do not hesitate to call. I will come with pleasure. Courage! Be happy!