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The Deathbed Of Louis Xiv

Categories: Waking Hallucinations
Scary Books: The Book Of Dreams And Ghosts
: Andrew Lang

"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 w
ich 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}