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The Deathbed Of Louis Xiv






"Here is a strange story that the Duc d'Orleans told me one day in a
tete-a-tete at Marly, he having just run down from Paris before he
started for Italy; and it may be observed that all the events
predicted came to pass, though none of them could have been foreseen
at the time. His interest in every kind of art and science was very
great, and in spite of his keen intellect, he was all his life subject
to a weakness which had been introduced (with other things) from Italy
by Catherine de Medici, and had reigned supreme over the courts of her
children. He had exercised every known method of inducing the devil
to appear to him in person, though, as he has himself told me, without
the smallest success. He had spent much time in investigating matters
that touched on the supernatural, and dealt with the future.

"Now La Sery (his mistress) had in her house a little girl of eight or
nine years of age, who had never resided elsewhere since her birth.
She was to all appearance a very ordinary child, and from the way in
which she had been brought up, was more than commonly ignorant and
simple. One day, during the visit of M. d'Orleans, La Sery produced
for his edification one of the charlatans with whom the duke had long
been familiar, who pretended that by means of a glass of water he
could see the answer to any question that might be put. For this
purpose it was necessary to have as a go-between some one both young
and innocent, to gaze into the water, and this little girl was at once
sent for. They amused themselves by asking what was happening in
certain distant places; and after the man had murmured some words over
the water, the child looked in and always managed to see the vision
required of her.

"M. le duc d'Orleans had so often been duped in matters of this kind
that he determined to put the water-gazer to a severe test. He
whispered to one of his attendants to go round to Madame de Nancre's,
who lived close by, and ascertain who was there, what they were all
doing, the position of the room and the way it was furnished, and
then, without exchanging a word with any one, to return and let him
know the result. This was done speedily and without the slightest
suspicion on the part of any person, the child remaining in the room
all the time. When M. le duc d'Orleans had learned all he wanted to
know, he bade the child look in the water and tell him who was at
Madame de Nancre's and what they were all doing. She repeated word
for word the story that had been told by the duke's messenger;
described minutely the faces, dresses and positions of the assembled
company, those that were playing cards at the various tables, those
that were sitting, those that were standing, even the very furniture!
But to leave nothing in doubt, the Duke of Orleans despatched Nancre
back to the house to verify a second time the child's account, and
like the valet, he found she had been right in every particular.

"As a rule he said very little to me about these subjects, as he knew
I did not approve of them, and on this occasion I did not fail to
scold him, and to point out the folly of being amused by such things,
especially at a time when his attention should be occupied with more
serious matters. 'Oh, but I have only told you half,' he replied;
'that was just the beginning,' and then he went on to say that,
encouraged by the exactitude of the little girl's description of
Madame de Nancre's room, he resolved to put to her a more important
question, namely, as to the scene that would occur at the death of the
king. The child had never seen any one who was about the court, and
had never even heard of Versailles, but she described exactly and at
great length the king's bedroom at Versailles and all the furniture
which was in fact there at the date of his death. She gave every
detail as to the bed, and cried out on recognising, in the arms of
Madame de Ventadour, a little child decorated with an order whom she
had seen at the house of Mademoiselle la Sery; and again at the sight
of M. le duc d'Orleans. From her account, Madame de Maintenon, Fagon
with his odd face, Madame la duchesse d'Orleans, Madame la duchesse,
Madame la princesse de Conti, besides other princes and nobles, and
even the valets and servants were all present at the king's deathbed.
Then she paused, and M. le duc d'Orleans, surprised that she had never
mentioned Monseigneur, Monsieur le duc de Bourgogne, Madame la
duchesse de Bourgogne, nor M. le duc de Berri, inquired if she did not
see such and such people answering to their description. She
persisted that she did not, and went over the others for the second
time. This astonished M. le duc d'Orleans deeply, as well as myself,
and we were at a loss to explain it, but the event proved that the
child was perfectly right. This seance took place in 1706. These
four members of the royal family were then full of health and
strength; and they all died before the king. It was the same thing
with M. le prince, M. le duc, and M. le prince de Conti, whom she
likewise did not see, though she beheld the children of the two last
named; M. du Maine, his own (Orleans), and M. le comte de Toulouse.
But of course this fact was unknown till eight years after."

Science may conceivably come to study crystal visions, but veracious
crystal visions will be treated like veracious dreams. That is to
say, they will be explained as the results of a chance coincidence
between the unknown fact and the vision, or of imposture, conscious or
unconscious, or of confusion of memory, or the fact of the crystal
vision will be simply denied. Thus a vast number of well-
authenticated cases of veracious visions will be required before
science could admit that it might be well to investigate hitherto
unacknowledged faculties of the human mind. The evidence can never be
other than the word of the seer, with whatever value may attach to the
testimony of those for whom he "sees," and describes, persons and
places unknown to himself. The evidence of individuals as to their
own subjective experiences is accepted by psychologists in other
departments of the study. {66}





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