From India to the Planet Mars, by Théodore Flournoy; tr. Daniel B. Vermilye, , at sacred-texts.com
IS Leopold really Joseph Balsamo, as he pretends? Or, since he has nothing in common with the famous thaumaturgist of the last century, save a certain superficial resemblance, is he, at any rate, a real being, separate from, and independent of, Mlle. Smith? Or, finally, is he only a pseudo-reality, a kind of allotropic modification of Hélène herself, a product of her subliminal imagination, just like our dream creations and the rôles suggested to a hypnotic subject?
Of these three suppositions it is the last which to my mind is undoubtedly the true one, while in Mlle. Smith's eyes it is as certainly the false view. It would be hard to imagine a more profound difference of opinion than that which exists between Mlle. Smith and myself on this subject. It is I, always, who get the worst of a discussion with her concerning it. I yield for two reasons. First, out of politeness; and, secondly, because I understand Hélène perfectly, and, putting myself in her place, realize that I should think exactly as she does about the matter.
Given her surroundings and personal experiences, it is impossible for her to do otherwise than believe
in the objective distinct existence of that mysterious being who constantly enters into her life in a sensible and quasi-material way, leaving her no room to doubt. He presents himself before her endowed with corporeality like that of other people, and hides objects which are behind him exactly as an ordinary individual of flesh and bone would do He talks into her ears, generally into the left, in a characteristic voice, which appears to come from a variable distance, sometimes about six feet off, sometimes much farther. He jars the table on which she has placed her immobile arms, takes hold of her wrist and writes with her hand, holding the pen in a manner unlike her, and with a handwriting wholly different from hers. He puts her to sleep without her knowledge, and she is astonished to learn upon awaking that he has gesticulated with her arms and spoken through her mouth in the deep bass voice of a man, with an Italian accent, which has nothing in common with the clear and beautiful quality of her feminine voice.
Moreover, he is not always on hand. He by no means answers Hélène's appeals on all occasions; is not at her mercy; far from it. His conduct, his manifestations, his comings and goings cannot be predicted with any certainty, and testify to an autonomous being, endowed with free-will, often otherwise occupied or absent on his own affairs, which do not permit of his holding himself constantly at the disposal of Mlle. Smith. Sometimes he remains for weeks without revealing himself, in spite of her wishing for him and calling upon him. Then, all at once, he makes his appearance when she least expects him. He
speaks for her in a way she would have no idea of doing, he dictates to her poems of which she would be incapable. He replies to her oral or mental questions, converses with her, and discusses various questions. Like a wise friend, a rational mentor, and as one seeing things from a higher plane, he gives her advice, counsel, orders even sometimes directly opposite to her wishes and against which she rebels. He consoles her, exhorts her, soothes, encourages, and reprimands her; he undertakes against her the defence of persons she does not like, and pleads the cause of those who are antipathetic to her. In a word, it would be impossible to imagine a being more independent or more different from Mlle. Smith herself, having a more personal character, an individuality more marked, or a more certain actual existence.
Hélène is also fortified in this conviction by the belief not only of members of her own family, but by that of other cultivated people who, having attended many of her seances, have no doubt whatever of Leopold's objective and separate existence. There are those who believe so firmly in the reality of this superior being, invisible to them, that they are in the habit of calling upon him during the absence of Mlle. Smith. Naturally they obtain responses, through the table or otherwise, and that causes unforeseen complications sometimes when she comes to learn of it. For while she admits theoreticallyand Leopold himself has often declared the same thingthat he extends his surveillance and protection from afar over other spiritistic groups, and especially over all Hélène's friends and acquaintances, in practice and in fact,
however, it happens that neither he nor she will willingly admit the authenticity of those pretended communications from Leopold obtained in the absence of the medium of his predilection. It is generally some deceiving spirit who has manifested in his place on these occasions. These denials, however, do not prevent those who have become believers from continuing to believe in the omnipresence of this good genius, or from teaching their children to revere him, to make vows and address prayers to him. It must not be forgotten that spiritism is a religion. This also explains the great respect shown to mediums, which is like that accorded to priests.
It follows that, without in the least refraining from speaking ill of them whenever they think they have a grievance against them, on the other hand they bestow on them the same marks of respect as are only accorded to the most sublime product of the human race.
I have known a salon where, on the centre table, in full view and in the place of honor, were two photographs in beautiful frames: on the one side the head of Christ, on the other the portrait ofMlle. Hélène Smith. Among other believers, with less ideal but more practical aspirations, no business matter of importance is closed, no serious decision made, until Leopold has been consulted through Hélène as an intermediary, and the cases are too numerous to mention in which he has furnished important information, prevented a heavy precuniary loss, given an efficacious medical prescription, etc.
It is easily seen how all the successes obtained by
[paragraph continues] Leopold, and the mystical veneration which many very estimable persons accord him, must contribute to strengthen the faith of Hélène in her all-powerful protector. It is in vain that, against this absolute assurance, one seeks to avail one's self of the arguments of contemporary psychology. The example of the fictions of the dream, the analogies taken from hypnotism and from psychopathology, considerations of mental disintegration, the division of the consciousness and the formation of second personalities, all these refined subtleties of our modern scientists break in pieces like glass against immovable rock. I shall not undertake to combat a proposition which, for her, has incontestably so much evidence in its favor, and which resolves all difficulties in the most felicitous manner and in conformity to good common-sense.
Nevertheless, since each individual has a right to his own opinion in the world, I beg leave to assume, for the time being, that Leopold does not exist outside of Mlle. Smith, and to try to discover his possible genesis in the mental life of the lattersolely by hypothesis and by means of psychological experiment. Therefore, readers who have little taste for this kind of academic composition had better skip this chapter.
A description of the development of Leopold is not easy, since he has a double origin, apparent and real, like the cranial nerves which give so much trouble to the students of anatomy.
His apparent origin, or, I should say, the moment when he is outwardly separated from the personality of Hélène, and manifests as an independent "spirit," is relatively clear and well marked; but his actual origin, profoundly enfolded in the most inward strata of Hélène's personality and inextricably mixed up with them, presents great obscurities and can only be determined in a very conjectural manner. Let us begin with the apparent origin, or the first appearance of Leopold at the seances.
It is easy to understand that, once initiated into spiritism and plunged into a current of ideas where the comforting doctrine of spirit-guides and protectors holds an important place, Mlle. Smith did not delay in coming into possession of, like all good mediums, a disincarnate spirit specially attached to her person. She even had two in succession, Victor Hugo and Cagliostro. It is not a question of a simple change of name of the guide of Hélène, who presented himself first under the aspect and the name of the great poet and then afterwards adopted that of the renowned thaumaturgist, but there were, at least at the beginning, two different personalities, apparently hostile to each other, one of whom by degrees supplanted the other, after a struggle, a trace of which is found in the very incomplete reports of the seances of that period. Three phases can also be distinguished in the psychogenesis of Mlle. Smith's guide: an initial phase of five months, during which Victor Hugo reigns alone; a phase of transition of about a year, when the protection of Victor Hugo is seen to be powerless to protect Hélène
and her spiritistic group against the invasion of an intruder called Leopold, who claims and manifests an increasing authority over the medium by virtue of mysterious relations in the course of a previous existence; finally, the present period, which has lasted for six years past, in which Victor Hugo no longer figures, and which may be dated approximately from the moment when it was revealed that Leopold is only an assumed name, under which he hides in reality the great personality of Joseph Balsamo.
I do not find any fact worthy of mention in the first phase, in which Victor Hugo, who seems to have appeared as the guide of Mlle. Smith about the 1st of April, 1892 (see above, p. 38), played a rôle of no importance. In the second phase, however, it is necessary to cite some extracts from the reports of the seances of the N. group, in order to throw light upon the singular character which Leopold manifested there from the beginning.
August 26, 1892."A spirit announces himself under the name of Leopold. He comes for Mlle. Smith, and seems to wish to have a great authority over her. She sees him for some moments, he appears to be about thirty-five years of age, and is clothed altogether in black. The expression of his countenance is rather pleasing, and through answers to some questions which we put to him we are given to understand that he knew her in another existence, and that he does not wish her to give her heart to any one here below. . . Mlle. Smith recognizes her guide, Victor Hugo. She is made
happy by his arrival, and asks his protection against the obsession of this new spirit. He answers that she has nothing to fear, that he will always be present. She is joyful at being guarded and protected by him, and feels that she has nothing to fear."
September 2.. . . "Leopold comes also, but Mlle. Smith fears nothing, since her guide (Victor Hugo) is there to protect her."
September 23.. . . "An unpleasant evening. A spirit announces himself. It is Leopold. He speaks to us at once: 'I am here. I wish to be master of this sitting.' We are very much disappointed, and do not expect any good of him. He tries, as he had already done once before, to put Mlle. Smith to sleep, who has great difficulty in struggling against this sleep. She rises from the table, hoping by this means to rid herself of him, and that he will give up his place to others. She returns in about ten minutes, but he is still there, and apparently has no intention of abandoning his place. We summon our friends (spiritual) to our aid. . . . They take Leopold's place momentarily, but very soon Leopold returns; we struggle with him, we desire him to go away, but neither soft nor hard words have any effect; before that dogged determination we realize that all our efforts will be useless, and we decide to close the seance."
October 3."[Manifestation by the favorite spirits of the group, who declare] that they have not been able to come, as they would have liked to do; that they were prevented by the spirit of Leopold,
who is trying to introduce himself to us; that we should repulse him as much as possible, persuaded that he does not come for any good end. I do not know whether we shall be able to rid ourselves of him, but we greatly fear that he will injure us and retard our advancement."
October 7.. . . "Leopold announces himself. We try to reason with him; we do not wish to forbid his coming, but we ask of him that he shall come as a friend to all, and not in the rôle of master. He is not satisfied; appears to bear much malice. We trust he will come to have better feelings. He shows himself, walks around the table, bows to us, and salutes each one with his hand, and retires again, leaving his place to others."
October 14."[After a quarter of an hour of motionless and silent waiting in darkness around the table Mlle. Smith is questioned, and she is shaken in vain.] She is asleep. By the advice of persons present we allow her to remain asleep, when, at the end of five minutes, the table raises itself, a spirit announces himself. It is Victor Hugo; we ask if he has anything to say; he answers yes, and spells out: Wake her; do not allow her ever to sleep. We try to do so. We are nervous about that sleep; we have great difficulty in awakening her."
January 6, 1893."After twenty minutes of waiting, Leopold arrives, and, as is his habit, puts the medium to sleep for some minutes; he torments us, and prevents our friends (disincarnate) from coming to the table. He vexes us in every way, and goes contrary to all our wishes. In presence of that rancor
the sitters regret the indications of ill-humor they have shown towards him, and deplore having to pay so dear for them. It is with difficulty that the medium can be awakened."
February, 1893."In one of the seances of this month a remarkable thing happened: the spirit of Leopold, who was very much irritated on that day, twice in succession took away her chair from our medium and carried it to the farther end of the room, while Mlle. Smith fell heavily to the floor. Not expecting this wretched farce, Mlle. Smith struck her knee so hard that for several days she suffered pain in walking. We were obliged to terminate the seance; we were not comfortable. Why this animosity?"
This word animosity describes very well the conduct and the feelings that Leopold seemed to have towards the N. group and against his placid rival, Victor Hugo. The personal recollections of the sitters whom I have been able to interrogate confirm the substantial physiognomy of the two figures. That of Hugo is, in effect, effaced and altogether eclipsed by the totally opposite character of the arrogant Leopold, who takes a peculiar pleasure in the rôle of vindictive and jealous mischief-maker, obstructing the appearance of the "spirits" desired by the group, putting the medium to sleep, or causing her to fall on the floor, forbidding her to give her heart to another, and breaking up the seances as far as he is able. It seems to have finally resulted in the meetings of the N. group coming to an end at the beginning of the summer; then comes a break of six months, after which I find
[paragraph continues] Mlle. Smith on the 12th of December inaugurating a new series of seances, with an entirely different spiritistic group organized by Prof. Cuendet. Here Victor Hugo very rarely appears, and never in the rôle of guide, which rôle is freely accorded, without objection, to Leopold, whose real identity (Cagliostro) was no secret to any one in the new environment. It was, therefore, in the course of the year 1893, at a period which cannot be precisely determined from the records, that the rivalry of these two personalities was terminated by the complete triumph of the second.
It follows from the preceding recital that the appearance of Leopold in seances of the N. group was a phenomenon of manifest contrast, of hostility, and of antagonism towards that group.
It is a difficult and delicate task to pronounce upon the complex spirit of an environment of which one was not a part, and in regard to which one possesses only a few and not very concordant incidents. The following, however, seem to be the facts:
The N. group, much more numerous than is convenient in seances of that kind, was composed of very varied elements. Alongside of serious believers were ordinarily some students who boarded with one of the ladies of the group, and who do not appear to have felt the seriousness of spiritistic reunions.
That age has no mercy, and the profound signification of the seances often escaped their superficial and frivolous intelligence. Under such conditions Mlle. Smith was inevitably compelled to experience two contrary impressions. On the one hand, she perceived
herself admired, made much of, fêted, as the unrivalled medium, which she really was, and upon whom the group depended for its existence; on the other hand, her secret instincts and high personal dignity could not but be offended by the familiarities to which she was exposed in this mixed environment.
I regard the two rival and successive guides of Hélène as the expression of this double sentiment. If she had been brought up like an American woman, or if her nature had been a degree less fine, the frivolity of the seances would undoubtedly have only given more warmth and brilliancy to Victor Hugo; instead of which, the victorious colors of Leopold are raised over a nature of great native pride, extremely sensitive on the point of feminine dignity, and whose severe and rigid education had already exalted her sense of self-respect. After a struggle of a year between these two personifications of opposite emotional tendencies, the second, as we have seen, finally triumphs; and Mlle. Smith withdraws from the N. group, which at the same time breaks up.
The idea I have formed of Leopold is now apparent. He represents, to my mind, in Mlle. Smith, the synthesis, the quintessenceand the expansion, tooof the most hidden springs of the psychological organism. He gushes forth from that deep and mysterious sphere into which the deepest roots of our individual existence are plunged, which bind us to the species itself, and perhaps to the Absolute, and whence confusedly spring our instincts of physical and moral self-preservation, our sexual feelings. When Hélène found herself in an environment not exactly dangerous,
but where she simply ran the risk, as in the N. group, of yielding to some inclination contrary to her fundamental aspirations, it is then that Leopold suddenly springs up, speaking as the master, taking possession of the medium for himself, and indicating his unwillingness that she should attach herself to any one here below. We here recognize the same principle of self-protection and self-preservation which was already active in her as a young girl in the teleological automatisms arising on the occasion of certain emotional shocks, of which I have spoken on p. 25.
But, by these considerations, we have travelled very far from the original appearance of Leopold in the seance of the 26th of August, 1892, towards his actual, more ancient origin. This seems to date from a great fright which Hélène had in the course of her tenth year. As she was walking along the street, on her way home from school, she was attacked by a big dog. The terror of the poor child can well be imagined, and from which she was happily delivered by a personage clothed in a long brown robe with flowing sleeves and with a white cross on the breast, who, appearing to her suddenly and as by a miracle, chased the dog away, and disappeared before she had time to thank him. But, according to Leopold, this personage was no other than himself, who on this occasion for the first time appeared to Hélène, and saved her by driving away the dog.
This explanation was given by Leopold on the 6th of October, 1895, in a seance in which Hélène experienced, in a somnambulistic state, a repetition of
that scene of fright, with heart-rending cries, gestures of struggle and defence, attempts at flight, etc. In the waking state she very well recalls this episode of her childhood, but cannot accept Leopold as the person who came to her rescue, but believes it to have been a priest or member of some religious order who rushed to her assistance and drove the animal away. Her parents also recollected the incident, which she told them one day on returning from school in a very excited state, and after which she could not for a long time encounter a dog in the street without hiding herself in the folds of her mother's dress. She has since always preserved an instinctive aversion towards dogs.
We have seen (p. 31) that after this first incident, matters remained in statu quo for four years, up to the time when the age of puberty began to favor the development of the Oriental visions. Here, Leopold, to whom we owe this information, does not altogether agree with himself, for at one time he says that it was he himself who furnished Mlle. Smith with her visions of India, at another time he says that they are reminiscences of one of her former existences.
Alongside of these varied visions, Leopold has clearly appeared under the form of the protector in the dark robe in a number of cases. I will only cite two examples, one very remote, the, other quite recent.
One day Hélène went to consult her family physician for some trifling ailment, who, having known her for a long time and being an old friend of her family, presumed to give her an innocent kiss. He was quite unprepared for the explosion of wrath
which this familiarity provoked, and hastened to make his apologies: but what is of interest to us in this connection is the fact that under the shock of this emotion her defender of the brown robe appeared before her in the corner of the room, and did not leave her side until she had reached home.
A short time ago this same protector, always in the same costume, accompanied her several days in succession while she was traversing a little-frequented part of the route towards her place of business. One evening, also, he appeared to her at the entrance to the street leading to the locality in question, in the attitude of baring the way, and obliged her to make a detour to regain her house.
Mlle. Smith has the impressionand several indications go to show that she is not deceivedthat it is with the purpose of sparing her some unpleasant sight or a dangerous encounter that Leopold, in the brown robe, appears to her under perfectly well-known conditions. He rises before her always at a distance of about ten yards, walks, or rather glides, along in silence, at the same rate as she advances towards him, attracting and fascinating her gaze in such a manner as to prevent her turning her eyes away from him either to the right or the left, until she has passed the place of danger. It is to be noted that whereas Leopold, under other circumstancesfor instance, at the seancesshows himself to her in the most varied costumes and speaks on all subjects, it is always under his hieratic aspect, silent, and clothed in his long dark robe, that he appears to her on those occasions of real life in which she is exposed to feelings of fright peculiar
to her sex, as he appeared to her on that first occasion in her tenth year.
The hints I have given sufficiently justify, I think, my opinion that the real and primordial origin of Leopold is to be found in that deep and delicate sphere in which we so often encounter the roots of hypnoid phenomena, and to which the most illustrious visionaries, such as Swedenborg, * seem to owe a great part not only of the intellectual content but. of the imaginative form, the hallucinatory wrapping, of their genius. There is a double problem to be solved in Mlle. Smith's case. Why have these instinctive feelings and emotional tendencies which are common to the entire human race succeeded in developing in her a product so complex and highly organized is is the personality of Leopold? and why, in the second place, does that personality believe itself to be Joseph Balsamo?
I instantly reply that these two results are, to my mind, entirely the effect of autosuggestion. To explain the first, the simple fact of her being occupied with spiritism and engaged in mediumistic experiments, is sufficient. Take any individual having in her subconsciousness memories, scruples, emotional tendencies, put into her head spiritistic leanings, then seat her at a table, or put a pencil in her hand: even though she may not be of a very impressionable or suggestible temperament, or inclined to the mental disintegration which the general
public calls the mediumistic faculty, nevertheless, it will not be long before her subliminal elements group themselves and arrange themselves according to the "personal" form to which all consciousness tends, * and which discloses itself outwardly by communications which have the appearance of coming directly from disincarnate spirits.
In the case of Mlle. Smith, Leopold did not exist under the title of a distinct secondary personality before Hélène began to be occupied with spiritism. It was at the seances of the N. group, by an emotional reaction against certain influences, as we have seen, that he began, little by little, to take shape, aided by memories of the same general tone, until he finally grew into an apparently independent being, revealing himself through the table, manifesting a will and a mind of his own, recalling analogous former incidents of Hélène's life, and claiming for himself the merit of having intervened in it in the rôle of her protector.
Once established, this secondary self could not do otherwise than to grow, and to develop and strengthen itself in all directions, assimilating to itself a host of new data favoring the state of suggestibility which accompanies the exercise of mediumship. Without the spiritism and the autohypnotization of the seances, Leopold could never have been truly developed into a personality, but would have continued to remain in the nebulous, incoherent
state of vague subliminal reveries and of occasional automatic phenomena.
The second problem, that of explaining why this secondary personality, once established, believes itself to be Cagliostro rather than any other celebrated personage, or of remaining simply the anonymous guardian angel of Mlle. Smith, would demand a very complete knowledge of the thousand outside influences which have surrounded Hélène since the beginning of her mediumship, and which may have involuntarily influenced her.
But on this point I have only succeeded in collecting a very few incidents, which leave much still to be desired, and are of such a character that it is entirely permissible for any one to claim that the purely psychological origin of that personality is not clearly established, and to prefer, if he chooses, the actual intervention of the disincarnate Joseph Balsamo to my hypothesis of autosuggestion.
The following, however, are the facts advanced by me in support of the latter:
The authoritative and jealous spirit, the evident enemy of the N. group, who manifested himself on the 26th of August, 1892, under the name of Leopold, did not reveal his identity as that of Cagliostro until some time afterwards, under the following circumstances:
One of the most regular attendants at the reunions of the N. group was a Mme. B., who had long been an adherent of spiritism, and who had previously attended numerous seances at the house of M. and Mme. Badel, a thoroughly convinced couple
of amateurs, now deceased, whose salon and round table have held a very honorable place in the history of Genevese occultism. But I learned from Mme. B. that one of the disincarnate spirits who manifested himself oftenest at the seances of M. and Mme. Badel was this very Joseph Balsamo. There is, indeed, no figure in history which accords better with the idea of a posthumous return to the mysteries of the round table than that of the enigmatic Sicilian, especially since Alexandre Dumas, père, has surrounded him with an additional halo of romance.
Not content with the public reunions of the N. group, Mme. B. often invited Hélène to her house for private seances, of which no record was made. At one of these, Hélène having had a vision of Leopold, who pointed out to her with a wand a decanter, Mme. B. suddenly thought of a celebrated episode in the life of Cagliostro, and after the seance she proceeded to take from a drawer and show to Hélène an engraving taken from an illustrated edition of Dumas, representing the famous scene of the decanter between Balsamo and the Dauphin at the château of Taverney. At the same time she gave utterance to the idea that the spirit who manifested himself at the table by means of Hélène's hands was certainly Joseph Balsamo; and she expressed her astonishment that Hélène had given him the name of Leopold, to which Helene replied that it was he himself who had given that name. Mme. B., continuing her deductions, told Mlle. Smith that perhaps she had formerly been the medium of the great magician, and consequently had been Lorenza Feliciani in a former life. Hélène at once accepted the
idea, and for several weeks considered herself to be the reincarnation of Lorenza, until one day a lady of her acquaintance remarked that it was impossible, Lorenza Feliciani having never existed save in the imagination and the romances of Alexandre Dumas, père. *
Thus dispossessed of her supposed former existence, Hélène was not long in declaring through the table that she was Marie Antoinette. As to Leopold, a short time after Mme. B. had hypothetically identified him with Cagliostro, he himself confirmed that hypothesis at a seance of the N. group, dictating to the table that his real name was Joseph Balsamo.
The origin of the name of Leopold is very obscure, and many hypotheses have been advanced to account for it without our being able to establish any of them with certainty.
One fact, however, is certain, namely, that save for the vague affirmation that he had known Hélène in a previous existence, Leopold had never pretended to be Cagliostro, or given any reason for being thought so, before the reunion where Mme. B., who had been for some time accustomed to manifestations of that personage, announced the supposition and showed Mlle. Smith immediately after the seance (at a moment when she was probably still in a very suggestible state) an engraving from Dumas works representing Balsamo and the Dauphin. From that day Leopold, on his part, never failed to claim that personality, and progressively to realize the character of the rôle in a very remarkable manner, as we shall see.
There is no need, I think, to remind the reader of the well-known factso often described under the names of objectivity of types, personification, change of personality, etc.that a hypnotized subject can be transformed by a word into such other living being as may be desired, according to the measure in which his suggestibility on the one hand and the vividness of his imagination and the fulness of his stored-up knowledge or- memories on the other, enables him to fulfil the rôle which is imposed upon him. Without investigating here to what extent mediums may be likened to hypnotized subjects, it is undeniable that an analogous phenomenon takes place in them; but the process is more gradual, and may extend itself over several years. In place of the immediate metamorphosis which modifies at one stroke and instantly, conformably to a prescribed type, the attitude, the physiognomy, the gestures, the words, the intonations of voice, the style, the handwriting, and other functions besides, we are, in the case of the medium, in the presence of a development formed by successive stages arranged according to grades, with intervals of different lengths, which finally succeed in creating a complete personality, all the more astonishing, at first sight, because the involuntary suggestions have not been noticed, the accumulations of which have little by little caused its birth. This process of development
is present in a high degree in the case of Mlle. Smith, in the elaboration of her secondary personality, Leopold-Cagliostro.
In the beginning, in 1892 and 1893, this "spirit" only manifested himself by the brief periods of sleep which he induced in Hélène at certain seances, by raps struck upon the table, by visions in which he showed himself clothed in black and of youthful appearance, and, more rarely, by auditive hallucinations. His character and the content of his messages were summed up in imperious, authoritative, domineering manners, with the pretension of claiming Mlle. Smith all for himself, of defending her against the influences of the N. group, and, finally, of detaching her from that environment.
There was nothing, however, in this general character of monopoly and of protection which specially recalled the Balsamo of history or of romance. The personification of complete objectivity of this established type really began only in 1894, when Leopold had no longer to struggle with an environment foreign to his nature. The subconscious psychological task of realization of the proposed model could then be followed by him more freely; in spiritistic terms, Joseph Balsamo was able to manifest himself and make himself known in a manner more complete through Hélène as an intermediary, while continuing to follow and protect her as the reincarnation of the royal object of his passion.
At the seances held with M. Cuendet, Leopold frequently showed himself to Hélène clothed after the fashion of the last century and with a face like
that of Louis XVI., under the different phases of his multiplex genius. He also showed himself to her in his laboratory, surrounded by utensils and instruments appropriate to the sorcerer and alchemist that he was; or, again, as the physician and possessor of secret elixirs, the knowledge of which is productive of consultations or remedies for the use of sitters who need them; or, again, as the illumined theosophist, the verbose prophet of the brotherhood of man, who diffuses limping Alexandrine verseswhich seem to have been inherited from his predecessor, Victor Hugocontaining exhortations a little weak at times, but always stamped with a pure moral tone, elevated and noble sentiments, and a very touching religious spiritin short, a fine example of that "ethico-deific verbiage" (if I may be allowed the expression, which is an Americanism), which, both in prose and in verse, is one of the most frequent and estimable products of mediumship.
But it was not until 1895 that Leopold, benefiting by the progress made by the automatic phenomena in Hélène, multiplied and perfected his processes of communication. The first step consisted in substituting, in his dictations by spelling, the movements of the hand or of a single finger for those of the whole table. This was the immediate result of a suggestion of mine.
The second step in advance was the handwriting, which shows two stages. In the first, Leopold gave Hélène the impression of a phrase (verbo-visual hallucination), which she copied in pencil on a sheet of paper, in her own handwriting. The second,
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Fig. 3. Handwriting of Leopold.
Fragments of two letters, one in Alexandrine verse, the other in prose, entirely in the hand of Leopold, automatically written by Mlle. Smith in spontaneous hemisomnambulism.
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Fig. 4. Normal handwriting of Mlle. Smith.
which was only accomplished five months later, and which consisted in writing directly with Hélène's hand, permitted the immediate establishment of three curious facts. One is, that Leopold holds his pen in the usual manner, the handle resting between the thumb and the index-finger, while Hélène, in writing, always holds her pen-handle or pencil between the index and middle fingers, a very rare habit with us. The next is that Leopold has an entirely different handwriting from that of Hélène, a calligraphy more regular, larger, more painstaking, and with marked differences in the formation of the letters (see Figs. 3 and 4). The third is that he uses the style of handwriting of the last century, and puts an o instead of an a in the tenses of the verbs, jamois, for jamais, etc. These three characteristics he has never departed from during all the four years that I have been accumulating specimens of his handwriting.
The following is a résumé of the seances at which these two innovations took place.
April 21, 1895.As I had just asked Leopold a question which he did not like, Hélène, being in a state of hemisomnambulism, with a pencil and some sheets of paper placed before her, in the hope of obtaining some communication (not from Leopold), seemed about to plunge into a very interesting perusal of one of the blank sheets; then, at my request, which she with difficulty comprehended, she commenced to write rapidly and nervously on another sheet, in her usual handwriting, a copy of the imaginary text which Leopold was showing her ("in
fluid letters," as he said afterwards at the seance) as follows: "My thoughts are not thy thoughts, and thy wishes are not mine, friend FlournoyLeopold." At the final awakening Hélène recognized perfectly her own handwriting in his phrase, but had no recollection of the occurrence.
September 22, 1895.After different visions and some stanzas of Victor Hugo, dictated by the table, Hélène appeared to suffer considerably in her right arm, which she was holding at the wrist with her left hand, when the table at which she was seated gave out the following, dictated by Leopold: "I shall hold her hand," meaning that it was he, Leopold, who was causing Mlle. Smith to suffer pain by seizing her right hand. As she seemed to feel very badly and began to weep, Leopold was asked to desist; but he refused, and, still speaking through the table, said, "Give her some paper," then, "More light." Writing material was furnished her and the lamp brought in, which Hélène gazed at fixedly, while Leopold continued to dictate (this time with the little finger of her left hand), "Let her gaze on the lamp until she forgets the pain in her arm." She then seemed, in fact, to forget her pain, and to find satisfaction in looking at the lamp; then she fastened her eyes on the paper, and seemed to read something there which she endeavored to copy in pencil. But here the right hand began a curious alternation of contrary motions, expressing in a very clear manner a contest with Leopold, who was trying to compel her to hold the pencil in a certain way, which Hélène refused to do, with a great pretence
of anger. She persisted in holding it between the index and middle fingers, as was her wont, while Leopold wanted her to hold it in the usual way, between the thumb and the index-finger, and said: "I do not wish her to . . . she is holding the pencil very badly." The right index-finger then went through a very comical gymnastic performance, being seized with a tremor, which caused her to place it on one side or the other of the pencil, according to whether it was Leopold or Hélène who was victorious; during this time she frequently raised her eyes, with a look sometimes reproachful, sometimes supplicating, as if to gaze at Leopold standing by her side endeavoring to force her to hold the pencil in the manner he preferred. After a contest of nearly twenty minutes, Hélène, vanquished and completely subdued by Leopold, seemed to be absent, while her hand, holding the pencil in the manner she did not like, wrote slowly the two following lines, followed by a rapid and feverish signature of Leopold:
[paragraph continues] An allusion, which was of no importance, to a remark made by me at the commencement of the seance on the verses of Victor Hugo and those of Leopold frequently dictated by the table. The seance lasted some time longer; on awakening, Hélène vaguely remembered having seen Leopold, but knew nothing more concerning the handwriting scene.
It is a fact that while her other incarnations are always accomplished passively and without any
struggle, that of Leopold has the peculiarity of regularly provoking more or less resistance on the part of Hélène. " I do not make of her all that I wish . . . she is headstrong. . . . I do not know whether I shall succeed. . . . I do not believe I can master her to-day . . . " replies he often when asked to incarnate himself or write with her hand, and, indeed, his efforts often fail. There exists between Hélène and her guide a curious phenomenon of contrast and opposition, which only breaks out in the higher and more recent forms of motor automatism, the handwriting, the speech, or the complete incarnation, but from which the sensory messages and simple raps on the table or of the finger are free. It is very possible that the idea, very antipathetic to Hélène, of the hypnotizer mastering his subjects in spite of themselvesof the disincarnated Cagliostro using his medium as a simple toolhas been subconsciously the origin of this constant note of revolt against the total domination of Leopold, and of the intense suffering which accompanied his first incarnations, and which has slowly diminished through her becoming accustomed to the process, though it has never been completely banished.
After the handwriting, in its turn came speech, which also was attained by means of two stages. In a first attempt Leopold only succeeded in giving Hélène his intonation and pronunciation after a seance in which she suffered acutely in her mouth and in her neck, as though her vocal organs were being manipulated or removed; she began to talk in a natural tone, and was apparently wide awake
and feeling well, but spoke with a deep bass voice, and a strong, easily recognizable Italian accent. It was not until a year later that Leopold was finally able to speak himself by the mouth of Mlle. Smith, while she was completely entranced, and who did not retain on awakening any memory of this strange occurrence. Since then the complete control of the medium by her guide is a frequent occurrence at the seances, and affords a tableau very characteristic and always impressive.
Leopold succeeds in incarnating himself only by slow degrees and progressive stages. Hélène then feels as though her arms had been seized, or as if they were absent altogether; then she complains of disagreeable sensations, which were formerly painful, in her throat, the nape of her neck, and in her head; her eyelids droop; her expression changes; her throat swells into a sort of double chin, which gives her a likeness of some sort to the well-known figure of Cagliostro. All at once she rises, then, turning slowly towards the sitter whom Leopold is about to address, draws herself up proudly, turns her back quickly, sometimes with her arms crossed on her breast with a magisterial air, sometimes with one of them hanging down while the other is pointed solemnly towards heaven, and with her fingers makes a sort of masonic sign, which never varies. Soon after a series of hiccoughs, sighs, and various noises indicate the difficulty Leopold is experiencing in taking hold of the vocal apparatus; the words come forth slowly but strong; the deep bass voice of a man, slightly confused, with a pronunciation and accent
markedly foreign, certainly more like Italian than anything else. Leopold is not always easily understood, especially when his voice swells and thunders out a reply to some indiscreet question or to the disrespectful remarks of some skeptical sitter. He speaks thickly, pronounces g like j, and all his us like ou, accents the final syllables, embellishes his vocabulary with obsolete words, or words which do not fit the circumstances, such as fiole for bouteille, omnibus for tramways, etc. He is pompous, grandiloquent, unctuous, sometimes severe and terrible, sometimes also sentimental. He says "thee" and "thou" to everybody, and appears to believe that he is still grand-master of the secret societies, from the emphatic and sonorous manner in which he pronounces the words "Brother" or "And thou, my sister," by which he addresses the sitters. Although he generally addresses himself to one of them in particular, and holds very little collective discourse, he is in touch with every one, listens to everything that is said, and each one may have his turn in conversation with him. Ordinarily he keeps his eyelids closed: he has, nevertheless, been persuaded to open his eyes in order to permit the taking of a photograph by a flash light. I regret that Mlle. Smith would not consent to the publication of her photographs, either in her normal state or in that of Leopold, in connection with the reproduction of a portrait of Cagliostro. * The reader may assure himself
that when she incarnates her guide she really assumes a certain resemblance of features to him, and there is something in her attitude which is sometimes somewhat theatrical, but sometimes really majestic, which corresponds well to the generally received idea of this personage, whether he is regarded as a clever impostor or as a wonderful genius.
Speech is the apogee of the incarnations of Leopold; often interrupted by fits of hiccoughs and spasms, it seems to be injurious to Hélène's organism, and there are some seances at which attempts to produce it fail to succeed. Leopold, on these occasions, indicates his impotence and the fatigue of the medium by his gestures, and is then reduced to the necessity of expressing himself by digital dictations or handwriting, or else to giving Hélène verbo-auditive hallucinations, the content of which she repeats in her natural voice.
From the point of view of ease and mobility of the entire organism, there is a notable difference between Leopold and the other incarnations of Hélène: these last seem to be effected with much more facility than in the case of that of her guide par excellence. In the case of the Hindoo princess and that of Marie Antoinette, the perfection of the play, the suppleness and freedom of movement, are always admirable. It is true there is no question here, according to the spiritistic doctrine and the subconscious ideas of Mlle. Smith, of incarnations properly so called, since it
is she herself who simply returns to that which she formerly was, by a sort of reversion or prenatal ecmnesia; she does not undergo, in consequence, any foreign possession, and can in these rôles preserve her natural identity and the entire disposition of her faculties. But still the occasional incarnation of different personalities, such as those of deceased parents or friends of the spectators, are often more easily and quickly effected than that of Leopold. Hélène moves in these cases with more vivacity and changes of attitude. In the rôle of Cagliostro, on the other hand, with the exception of the grandiose and not very frequent movements of the arms, once standing, she remains motionless, or only with difficulty advancing a little way towards the person to whom she addresses her discourse.
The content of the oral conversations of Leopold, as well as of his other messages by the various sensory and motor processes, is too varied for me to describe here: the numerous examples scattered through this work only can give an idea of it.
It would naturally be supposed that Leopold would have given us, by means of the psychological perfection of his partial or total incarnations and by the content of his messages; such a living likeness of Cagliostro that there would have been occasion to ask whether it is not really the latter who actually "returns," in the same way that Dr. Hodgson and his
colleagues ask themselves whether it is not actually George Pelham who manifests himself through Mrs. Piper. Let us suppose, for example, that Leopold possessed a handwriting, an orthography, a style identical with that which is found here and there in the manuscripts of Joseph Balsamo; that he spoke French, Italian, or German, as that cosmopolitan adventurer did, and with all the same peculiarities; that his conversations and messages were full of precise allusions to actual events in his life, and also of unpublished but verifiable facts, etc. In that case the difficult and delicate task of proving that Mlle. Smith had no knowledge through normal methods of these thousand exact features would still remain, and we should not be forced to ask whether this soi-disant authentic revenant is simply a very well-gotten-up simulacrum, an admirable reconstruction, a marvellous imitation, such as the subliminal faculties are only too glad to produce for the diversion of psychologists and the mystification of the simple.
This problem is not given to us. I regret it, but it is true, neverthelessto my mind, at least, for in these matters it is prudent to speak only for one's selfthat there is no reason to suspect the real presence of Joseph Balsamo behind the automatisms of Mlle. Smith.
That there are very curious analogies between what is known to us of Cagliostro and certain characteristic traits of Leopold, I do not deny, but they are precisely such as accord very well with the supposition of the subliminal medley.
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Fig. 5. Handwriting of Joseph Balsamo.
Fragment of a letter to his wife, reproduced in LIsographie des Hommes célèbres.
Let us consider first the handwriting. To facilitate the comparison, I have reproduced here (see pp. 109 and 111) some fragments of letters of Cagliostro and of Leopold and of Hélène. Let us supposewhich is, perhaps, open to discussionthat the handwriting of Leopold, by its regularity, its firmness, resembles that of Balsamo more than that of Mlle. Smith; the degree of resemblance does not, I think, go beyond that which might be expected considering the notorious fact that handwriting reflects the psychological temperament and modifies itself in accordance with the state of the personality. *
It is well known how the calligraphy of a hyptonized subject varies according to the suggestion that he shall personate Napoleon, Harpagon, a little girl, or an old man; there is nothing surprising in the fact that the hypnoid secondary personality of Hélène, which imagines itself to be the powerful and manly Count of Cagliostro, should be accompanied by muscular tensions communicating to the handwriting itself a little of that solidity and breadth which are found in the autograph of Balsamo. To this, however, the analogy is limited. The dissimilarities in the detail and the formation of the letters are such that the only conclusion which they warrant is that Mlle. Smith, or her subconsciousness, has never laid eyes on the manuscripts of Cagliostro. They are, indeed, rare, but the facilities she might have had, of which she has riot thought of taking
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Fig. 6. Normal Handwriting of Mlle. Smith
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Fig. 7. Handwriting of Leopold.
Fragment and signature of one of his letters, written by Mlle. Smith, in spontaneous hemisomnambulism.
advantage, for consulting in the Geneva public library the same volume from which I took Fig. 5, would prove, at least, her good faith and her honesty, if it were in the least necessary. The extravagant signature of Leopold with which all his messages are subscribed (see Fig. 7) recalls in no wise that of Alessandro di Cagliostro at the bottom of Fig. 5.
The archaic forms of orthography, jaurois for jaurais, etc., which appear above the first autograph of Leopold (see p. 99), and which occur again in the messages of Marie Antoinette, constitute a very pretty hit, of which the ordinary self would probably never dream by way of voluntary imitation, but by which the subconscious imagination has seen fit to profit. It is undoubtedly a matter for wonderment that Mlle. Smith, who has not gone very deep into literary studies, should, nevertheless, have retained these orthographic peculiarities of the eighteenth century; but we must not overlook the fineness of choice, the refined sensibility, the consummate, albeit instinctive, art which presides over the sorting and storing away of the subconscious memories. By some natural affinity, the idea of a personage of a certain epoch attracts and gathers into its net everything that the subject can possibly learn or hear spoken concerning the fashion of writing, of speaking, or acting, peculiar to that epoch. I do not know whether Balsamo ever used the French language and the orthography that Leopold employs. Even if he did, it would not weaken the hypothesis of the subliminal imitation, but if, on the other hand, it should be ascertained that he
did not, the hypothesis would be greatly strengthened thereby.
As for the speech, I am ignorant as to how, with what accent and what peculiarities of pronunciation, Balsamo spoke the French tongue, and to what degree, in consequence, his reconstruction by Hélène's subliminal fantasy correctly hits it. If this point could be cleared up, it would probably be found to be just like that of the handwriting. Nothing could be more natural than to ascribe to the chevalier dindustrie of Palermo a very masculine, deep-bass voice, and, it goes without saying, as Italian as possible. It must be noted, too, that Mlle. Smith often heard her father speak that language, which he knew very well, with several of his friends; but that, on the other hand, she does not speak it, and has never learned it. Leopold, however, does not know Italian, and turns a deaf ear when any one addresses him in that language. The intonation, the attitude, the whole physiognomy, in short, accord with these remarks. As to the extremely varied content of the conversations and messages of Leopold, we are not obliged to consider Balsamo as their necessary author. When everything relating to Mlle. Smith and the sitters, but which has nothing to do with the last century, has been swept aside, together with the spiritistic dissertations in regard to the "fluid" manner in which Leopold exists, perceives, and moves, the three subjects or categories of communications still remain, which merit a rapid examination.
In the first place, there. are the answers of Leopold
to the questions put to him concerning his terrestrial life. These answers are remarkably evasive or vague. Not a name, not a date, not a precise fact does he furnish. We only learn that he has travelled extensively, suffered greatly, studied deeply, done much good, and healed a great many sick folk; but now he sees things too lofty to think any more about historic details of the past, and it is with unconcealed disgust or direct words of reproach for the idle curiosity of his carnal questioners that he hastens to turn the conversation, like Socrates, to moral subjects and those of a lofty philosophy, where he feels evidently more at ease. When he is further pressed he becomes angry sometimes, and sometimes ingenuously avows his ignorance, enveloping it meanwhile in an air of profound mystery. " They are asking the secret of my life, of my acts, of my thoughts. I cannot answer." This does not facilitate investigation of the question of identity.
In the second place come the consultations and medical prescriptions. Leopold affects a lofty disdain for modern medicine and phenic acid. He is as archaic in his therapeutics as in his orthography, and treats all maladies after the ancient mode. Baths of pressed grape-skins for rheumatism, an infusion of coltsfoot and juniper-berry in white wine for inflammations of the chest, the bark of the horse-chestnut in red wine and douches of salt water as tonics, tisanes of hops and other flowers, camomile, oil of lavender, the leaves of the ash, etc.; all these do not accord badly with what Balsamo might have prescribed a century or more ago. The misfortune,
from the evidential point of view, is that Mlle. Smith's mother is extremely well versed in all the resources of popular medicine where old recipes are perpetuated. She has had occasion to nurse many sick people in her life, knows the virtues of different medicinal plants, and constantly employs, with a sagacity which I have often admired, a number of those remedies spoken of as "old-women's," which make the young doctors fresh from the clinic smile, but to which they will more than once resort in secret after a few years of medical experience.
Finally, there still remain the sentiments of Leopold for Hélène, which he claims are only the continuation of those of Cagliostro for Marie Antoinette. My ignorance of history does not permit me to pronounce categorically on this point. That the Queen of France did have some secret interviews with the famous "gold-maker," due to simple curiosity or to questions of material interest, there is no doubt, I believe; but that his feelings for his sovereign were a curious combination of the despairing passion of Cardinal Rohan for the queen, with the absolute respect which Alexandre Dumas, père, ascribes to Joseph Balsamo towards Lorenza Feliciani, appears to me less evident.
In short, if the revelations of Leopold have truly unveiled to us shades of feeling of Count Cagliostro hitherto unsuspected, and of which later documentary researches shall confirm the historic correctnesswhy, so much the better, for that will finally establish a trace of the supernormal in the mediumship of Hélène!
The connection between these two personalities is too complex for a precise description. There is neither a mutual exclusion, as between Mrs. Piper and Phinuit, who appear reciprocally to be ignorant of each other and to be separated by the tightest of partitions; nor a simple jointing, as in the case of Felida X., whose secondary state envelops and overflows the whole primary state. This is more of a crossing of lines, but of which the limits are vague and with difficulty assignable. Leopold knows, foresees, and recalls very many things of which the normal personality of Mlle. Smith knows absolutely nothing, not only of those which she may simply have forgotten, but of those of which she never had any consciousness. On the other hand, he is far from possessing all the memories of Hélène; he is ignorant of a very great part of her daily life; even some very notable incidents escape him entirely, which explains his way of saying that, to his great regret, he cannot remain constantly by her, being obliged to occupy himself with other missions (concerning which he has never enlightened us) which oblige him often to leave her for a time.
These two personalities are, therefore, not co-extensive; each one passes beyond the other at certain points, without its being possible for us to say which is, on the whole, the more extended. As to their common domain, if it cannot be defined by one word with entire certainty, it appears, nevertheless, to be
chiefly constituted by its connection with the innermost ranges of the being, both physiological and psychological, as might be suspected from what I remarked above concerning the real origin of Leopold. Physician of the soul and of the body, director of conscience, and at the same time hygienic counsellor, he does not always manifest himself immediately, but he is always present when Hélène's vital interests are involved. This will be made clearer by two or three concrete examples, which will at the same time illustrate some of the psychological processes by which Leopold manifests himself to Hélène.
It must be admitted that there is a disagreement and opposition as complete as possible (but how far does this "possible" go?) when Hélène, in at least an apparently waking state, converses with her guide, manifestly by a partial sensory or motor automatism; for example, in the case cited on page 64, where Leopold, not sharing the allochiria of Hélène, declared by the table that she was wrong, so emphatically that she protested and became angry; also, when in verbo-auditive hallucinations, or by automatic handwriting, he enters into discussion with her, and she holds her own with him; or, again, when the organism seems to be divided up between two different persons, Leopold speaking by Hélène's mouth, with his accent, and uttering his own ideas to her, and she complaining, in writing, of pains in her head and throat, without understanding their cause. Nevertheless, in these cases of division of the consciousness, which appear to amount to its cutting
in two, it is doubtful whether this plurality is more than apparent. I am not positive of having ever established with Hélène a veritable simultaneity of different consciousnesses. At the very moment at which Leopold writes by her hand, speaks by her mouth, dictates to the table, upon observing her attentively I have always found her absorbed, preoccupied, as though absent; but she instantaneously recovers her presence of mind and the use of her waking faculties at the end of the motor automatism. In short, that which from the outside is taken for the coexistence of distinct simultaneous personalities seems to me to be only an alternation, a rapid succession between the state of Hélène-consciousness and the state of Leopold-consciousness; and, in the case where the body seems to be jointly occupied by two independent beingsthe right side, for instance, being occupied by Leopold, and the left by Hélène, or the Hindoo princessthe psychical division has never seemed to me to be radical, but many indications have combined to make me of the opinion that behind all was an individuality perfectly self-conscious, and enjoying thoroughly, along with the spectators, the comedy of the plural existences.
A single fundamental personality, putting the questions and giving the answers, quarrelling with itself in its own interiorin a word, enacting all the various rôles of Mlle. Smithis a fitting interpretation, which accords very well with the facts as I have observed them in Hélène, and very much better than the theory of a plurality of separate consciousnesses,
of a psychological polyzoism, so to speak. This last theory is doubtless more convenient for a clear and superficial description of the facts, but I am not at all convinced that it conforms to the actual condition of affairs.
It is a state of consciousness sui generis, which it is impossible adequately to describe, and which can only be represented by the analogy of those curious states, exceptional in the normal waking life, but less rare in dreams, when one seems to change his identity and become some one else.
Hélène has more than once told me of having had the impression of becoming or being momentarily Leopold. This happens most frequently at night, or upon awakening in the morning. She has first a fugitive vision of her protector; then it seems that little by little he is submerged in her; she feels him overcoming and penetrating her entire organism, as if he really became her or she him. These mixed states are extremely interesting to the psychologist; unhappily, because they generally take place in a condition of consecutive amnesia, or because the mediums do not know how, or do not wish, to give a complete account of them, it is very rare that detailed descriptions are obtained.
Between the two extremes of complete duality and complete unity numerous intermediate states are to be observed; or, at least, since the consciousness of another cannot be directly penetrated, these mixed states may be inferred from the consequences which spring from them.
It has happened, for example, that, believing they
were dealing with Leopold alone, thoroughly incarnated and duly substituted for the personality of Mlle. Smith, the sitters have allowed to escape them on that account some ill-timed pleasantry, some indiscreet question or too free criticisms, all innocent enough and without evil intention, but still of a nature to wound Hélène if she had heard them, and from which the authors would certainly have abstained in her presence in a waking state.
Leopold has not stood upon ceremony in putting down these imprudent babblers, and the incident, generally, has had no further consequences. But sometimes the words and bearing of Mlle. Smith for days or weeks afterwards show that she was aware of the imprudent remarks, which proves that the consciousness of Leopold and her own are not separated by an impenetrable barrier, but that osmotic changes are effected from the one to the other. It is ordinarily pointed and irritating remarks which cause the trouble, which goes to prove that it is the feelings of self-love or personal susceptibility that form in each one of us the inmost fortifications of the social self, and are the last to be destroyed by somnambulism, or that they constitute the fundamental substratum, the common base by which Leopold and Mlle. Smith form a whole and mingle themselves in the same individuality.
The psychological process of this transmission is varied from another cause. Sometimes it appears that the consecutive amnesia of the trance has been broken as to the most piquant details, and that Hélène clearly remembers that which has been said, in the
presence of Leopold, disagreeable to herself. Some times it is Leopold himself who repeats to her the unpleasant expressions which have been used, with commentaries calculated to lessen their effect and to excuse the culprits: for it is an interesting trait of his character that he undertakes with Hélène the defence of those same persons whom he reprimands and blames, a contradiction not at all surprising when it is psychologically interpreted, considering the habitual conflict of emotional motives or tendencies, the warfare which opposite points of view is incessantly carrying on in our inmost being. Sometimes, again, it is in a dream that the junction is effected between the somnambulistic consciousness of Leopold and the normal consciousness of Hélène.
Apropos of the last case, here is an example containing nothing disagreeable, in which Hélène remembered in her waking state a nocturnal dream, which was itself a repetition or echo, in natural sleep, of a somnambulistic scene of the previous evening.
In a seance at which I assisted, shortly after my recovery from an attack of congestion of the lungs, Hélène, completely entranced, has a vision of Leopold-Cagliostro, who, in the rôle of sympathetic physician, comes to hold a consultation with me. After some preliminaries she kneels down by my chair, and, looking alternately at my chest and at the fictitious doctor standing between us, she holds a long conversation with him, in which she explains the condition of my lungs, which she sees in imagination, and the treatment which Leopold prescribes, somewhat as follows:
[paragraph continues] ". . . It is the lungs . . . it is darker . . . it is one side which has been affected . . . You say that it is a severe inflammationand can that be healed? . . . Tell me, what must be done . . . Oh, where have I seen any of these plants? . . . I don't know what they are called . . . those . . . I don't understand very well . . . those synantherous? . . . Oh, what a queer name . . . Where are they to be found? . . . You say it belongs to the family of . . . then it has another name? Tell me what it is . . . some tissulages [sic] . . . Then you think this plant is good for him? . . . Ah! but explain this to me . . . the fresh leaves or the dried flowers? Three times a day, a large handful in a pint . . . and then honey and milk. . . . I will tell him that he must drink three cups a day . . ." etc. Then followed very detailed directions as to treatment, various infusions, blisters, etc. The whole scene lasted more than an hour, followed by complete amnesia, and nothing was said to Hélène about it, as it was half-past six in the evening, and she was in haste to return home. The next day she wrote me a seven-page letter in which she described a very striking dream she had had during the night. ". . . I fell asleep about two o'clock in the morning and awaked at about five. Was it a vision? Was it a dream I had? I don't really know what to consider it and dare not say; but this I do know, I saw my dear friend Leopold, who spoke to me a long time about you, and I think I saw you also. I asked him what he thought of your state of health. . . . He replied that in his opinion it was far from re-established, That the pain
you feel in the right side came from an inflammation of the lung which has been seriously affected . . . You will doubtless laugh when I tell you that he also described the remedies you ought to take. . . . One of them is a simple plant, which is called, as nearly as I can remember, Tissulage or Tussilache, but has also another name, which I cannot recollect, but the first name will doubtless suffice, since he says you are familiar with the plant . . ." etc.
What I have said concerning Leopold is also applicable to the other personifications of Mlle. Smith. The normal consciousness of Hélène mingles and fuses itself in every way with the somnambulistic consciousness of Simandini, of Marie Antoinette, or some other incarnation, as we shall soon see. I pass now to the examination of some detailed examples, destined to throw light upon the rôle which Leopold plays in Hélène's existence.
Let us begin by listening to Leopold himself. Among his numerous messages, the following letter, written in his fine handwriting by the hand of Mlle. Smithin response to a note in which I had begged him (as a spiritual being and distinct from her) to aid me in my " psychic researches"contains information for which I had not asked, but which was none the less interesting. It must not be forgotten that it is the disincarnate adorer of Marie Antoinette who is writing:
"Friend,I am pleased and touched by the mark of confidence you have deigned to accord me. The spiritual guide of Mademoiselle [Smith], whom the
[paragraph continues] Supreme Being in his infinite goodness has permitted me to find again with ease, I do all I can to appear to her on every occasion when I deem it necessary; but my body, or, if you prefer, the matter of little solidity of which I am composed, does not always afford me the facility of showing myself to her in a positive human manner. [He, in fact, appeared to her often under the form of elementary visual hallucinations, a luminous trail, whitish column, vaporous streamer, etc.]
"That which I seek above all to inculcate in her is a consoling and true philosophy, which is necessary to her by reason of the profound, unhappy impressions, which even now still remain to her, of the whole drama of her past life. I have often sown bitterness in her heart [when she was Marie Antoinette], desiring only her welfare. Also, laying aside everything superfluous, I penetrate into the most hidden recesses of her soul, and with an extreme care and incessant activity I seek to implant there those truths which I trust will aid her in attaining the lofty summit of the ladder of perfection.
"Abandoned by my parents front my cradle, I have, indeed, known sorrow early in life. Like all, I have had many weaknesses, which I have expiated, and God knows that I bow to His will!
"Moral suffering has been my principal lot. I have been full of bitterness, of envy, of hatred, of jealousy. Jealousy, my brother! what a poison, what a corruption of the soul!
"Nevertheless, one ray has shone brightly into my life, and that ray so pure, so full of everything
that might pour balm on my wounded soul, has given, me a glimpse of heaven!
"Herald of eternal felicity! ray without spot! God deemed best to take it before me! But to-clay it is given back to me! May His holy name be blessed!
"Friend, in what manner shall I reply to you? I am ignorant myself, not knowing what it will please God to reveal to you, but through her whom you call Mademoiselle [Smith], God willing, perhaps we shall be able to satisfy you.
We can see, under the flowing details of the spiritistic ideas and his rôle as the repentant Cagliostro, that the dominant characteristic of Leopold is his deep platonic attachment for Mlle. Smith, and an ardent moral solicitude for her and her advance towards perfection. This corresponds perfectly with the character of the numerous messages which he addresses to her in the course of her daily existence, as may he seen from the following specimen. He is referring to a case where, after having warned her on two occasions during the day by auditive hallucinations that he would manifest himself in the evening, he gives her, in fact, by automatic writing in his own hand, the encouragement she was actually in need of under the circumstances in which she found herself.
One morning, at her desk, Hélène heard an unknown voice, stronger and nearer to her than is usual
with Leopold, say to her: "Until this evening"; a little later the same voice, which she now recognized as that of Leopold, but of a quality rougher and nearer to her than was his habit, said to her: "You understand me well, until this evening." In the evening, having returned home, she was excited at supper, left the table in haste towards the end of the meal, and shut herself up in her room with the idea that she would learn something; but, presently, the instinctive agitation of her hand indicated to her that she should take her pencil, and having done so, she obtained in the beautiful calligraphy of Leopold the following epistle. (She says that she remained wide awake and self-conscious while writing it, and it is the only occasion of a similar character when she had knowledge of the content.)
"My beloved Friend,Why do you vex yourself, torment yourself so? Why are you indignant, because, as you advance in life, you are obliged to acknowledge that all things are not as you had wished and hoped they might be? Is not the route we follow on this earth always and for all of us strewn with rocks? is it not an endless chain of deceptions, of miseries? Do me the kindness, my dear sister, I beg of you, to tell me that from this time forth you will cease from endeavoring to probe too deeply the human heart. In what will such discoveries aid you? What remains to you of these things, except tears and regrets? And then this God of love, of justice, and of lifeis not He the one to read our hearts? It is for Him, not for thee, to see into them.
"Would you change the hearts? Would you give them that which they have not, a live, ardent soul, never departing from what is right, just, and true? Be calm, then, in the face of all these little troubles. Be worthy, and, above all, always good! In thee I have found again that heart and that soul, both of which will always be for me all my life, all my joy, and my only dream here below.
"Believe me: be calm: reflect: that is my wish."
I have chosen this example for the sake of its brevity. Hélène has received a number of communications of the same kind, sometimes in verse, in which the moral and religious note is often still more accentuated. In the greater part we meet with, as in the next to the last phrase of the foregoing letter, an allusion to the presumed affection of Cagliostro for Marie Antoinette. It is to be noticed that there is nothing in these excellent admonitions that a high and serious soul like that of Mlle. Smith could not have drawn from its own depths in a moment of contemplation and meditation.
Is it a benefit or an injury to the moral and truly religious life to formulate itself thus clearly in verbal hallucinations rather than to remain in the confused but more personal state of experienced aspirations and strongly expressed emotions? Do these inspirations gain or lose in inward authority and subjective power by assuming this exterior garb and this aspect of objectivity? This is a delicate
question, probably not susceptible of a uniform solution.
In the following incident, which I relate as an example among many other similar ones, it is no longer, properly speaking, the moral and religious sentiments personified in Leopold, but rather the instinct of reserve and of defence peculiar to the weaker sex, the sense of the proprieties, the self-respect, tinctured with a shade of exaggeration almost amounting to prudery.
In a visit to Mlle. Smith, during which I inquired whether she had received any recent communications from Leopold, she told me she had only seen him two or three times in the last few days, and had been struck by his "restless and unhappy" air, instead of the air "so pleasant, so sweet, so admirable," which he generally has. As she did not know to what to attribute this change of countenance, I advised her to take her pencil and to wrap herself in meditation, with the hope of obtaining some automatic message.
In about a minute her expression indicated that she was being taken possession of; her eyes were fixed on the paper, upon which her left hand rested, the thumb and little finger being agitated and continually tapping (about once a second), the right hand having tried to take the pencil between the index and middle finger (the manner of Hélène), ended by seizing it between the thumb and the index finger, and traced slowly in the handwriting of Leopold:
"Yes, I am restless | pained, even in anguish. |
[paragraph continues] Believest thou, friend, that it is with satisfaction | that I see you every day accepting the attentions, the flatteries; | I do not, call them insincere, but of little worth, and little praiseworthy | on the part of those from whom they come." |
This text was written at six separate times (marked by the vertical bars), separated by brief moments of full wakefulness, when the tappings of the left hand ceased, and when Hélène, repeating in a loud voice what she was about to write, is very much astonished, does not know to what Leopold alludes, then at my request takes her pencil to obtain an explanation, and falls asleep again during the following fragment. At the end of this bit, as she persists in saying that she is ignorant of what he refers to, I proceed to question Leopold, who replies that for several days Hélène has permitted herself to be courted by a M. V. (perfectly honorably), who often found himself on the same street-car with her, had made a place for her beside him the last few mornings, and had paid her some compliments on her appearance.
These revelations excited the laughter and protestations of Hélène, who commenced to deny that it could have come from Leopold, and accused me of having suggested it to her little finger; but the right hand took the pencil and traced these words in the handwriting and with the signature of Leopold: "I only say what I think, and I desire that you refuse henceforth all the flowers that he may offer you.Leopold." This time Hélène remembered the incident, and recollected that yesterday morning he had
offered her a rose which he was wearing as a boutonnière.
Eight days later I paid another visit to Hélène, and after an effort to secure some handwriting, which was not successful, but resulted in a Martian vision (see Martian text No. 14), she had a visual hallucination of Leopold, and losing consciousness of the actual environment and of my presence also, as well as that of her mother, she flung herself into a running conversation with him in regard to the incident of eight days previously: "Leopold . . . Leopold . . . don't come near me [repulsing him]. You are too severe, Leopold! . . . Will you come on Sunday? I am going to be at M. Flournoy's next Sunday. You will be there . . . but take good care that you do not . . . No, it is not kind of you always to disclose secrets. . . . What must he have thought? . . . You seem to make a mountain out of a mole-hill. . . . And who would think of refusing a flower? You don't understand at all. . . . Why, then? It was a very simple thing to accept it, a matter of no importance whatever . . . to refuse it would have been impolite. . . . You pretend to read the heart. . . . Why give importance to a thing that amounts to nothing? . . . It is only a simple act of friendship, a little token of sympathy . . . to make me write such things on paper before everybody! not nice of you!" In this somnambulistic dialogue, in which we can divine Leopold's replies, Hélène took for the moment the accent of Marie Antoinette (see below, in the "Royal cycle"). To awaken her, Leopold, who had possession of Hélène's arms, made
some passes over her forehead, then pressed the frontal and suborbital nerves of the left side, and made me a sign to do the same with those of the right. The seance of the next day but one, at my house, passed without any allusion by Leopold to the incident of the street-car, evidently on account of the presence of certain sitters to whom he did not wish to reveal Hélène's secrets. But, three days after, in a new visit, during which she told me of having had a waking discussion concerning the future life (without telling me with whom), she again wrote, in the hand of Leopold: "It is not in such society as this that you ought so seriously to discuss the immortality of the soul." She then confessed that it was again on the street-car, and with M. V., that she had held that conversation while a funeral procession was passing. There was never anything that might have been of a compromising character in the exchange of courtesies and the occasional conversations of Mlle. Smith with her neighbor of the street-car. The trouble that it caused poor Leopold was very characteristic of him, and well indicated the severe and jealous censor who formerly had worried the N. group; there can be heard again the echo of that voice, "which has absolutely nothing to do with the conscience" (see pp. 27 and 82), and which has hitherto prevented Hélène from accepting any of the suitors whom she has encountered in the course of her journey through life. This austere and rigorous mentor, always wide awake, and taking offence at the least freedom which Mlle. Smith allows herself in the exchange of trifling courtesies,
represents, in fact, a very common psychological attribute; it is not every well-bred feminine soul that carries stored in one of its recesses, where it manifests its presence by scruples more or less vaguely felt, certain hesitations or apprehensions, inhibiting feelings or tendencies of a shade of intensity varying according to the age and the temperament.
It is not my part to describe this delicate phenomenon. It suffices me to remark that here, as in the ethico-religious messages, the personality of Leopold has in no way aided the essential content of those inward experiences of which Mlle. Smith is perfectly capable by herself; the form only of their manifestation has gained in picturesque and dramatic expression in the mise-en-scène of the automatic handwritings and of the somnambulistic dialogue. It seems as though the suggestive approach of my presence and my questions had been necessary to excite these phenomena; it is, however, very probable, to judge from other examples, that my influence only hastened the explosion of Leopold in formulated reproaches, and that his latent discontent, hitherto noticed in the "restless and suffering air" of his fugitive visual apparitions, would have terminated, after a period of incubation more or less prolonged, in breaking out into spontaneous admonitions, auditive or written.
It can be divined that in this rôle of vigilant guardian, of an almost excessive zealousness for the honor or the dignity of Mlle. Smith, Leopold is again, to my mind, only a product of psychological duplication. He represents a certain grouping of inward
desires and secret instincts, which the hypnoid predisposition, encouraged by spiritism, has brought into a peculiar prominence and given an aspect of foreign personality; in the same way, in the phantasmagoria of the dream, certain after-thoughts, almost unperceived while awake, rise to the first plane and become transformed into contradictory fictitious personages, whose cutting reproaches astonish us sometimes on awakening by their disturbing truthfulness.
A final example will show us Leopold, in his rôle of watcher over the health of Mlle. Smith and adviser of precautions which she ought to take. He is not troubled about her general health; when she had la grippe, for instance, or when she is simply worn out with fatigue, he scarcely shows himself. His attention is concentrated upon certain special physiological functions, of the normal exercise of which he takes care to be assured. He does not otherwise seem to exercise a positive action upon them, and cannot modify them in any way; his office seems to be confined to knowing beforehand their exact course, and to see that Hélène is not guilty of any imprudence which may impede them.
Leopold here shows a knowledge and prevision of the most intimate phenomena of the organism which has been observed in the case of secondary personalities, and which confers upon them, in that respect at least, an unquestionable advantage over the ordinary personality. In the case of Mlle. Smith, the indications of her guide are always of a prohibitive nature, calculated to prevent her from
taking part in spiritistic reunions at a time at which she believes herself able to do so with impunity, but which he, endowed with a more refined cnæsthetic sensibility, thinks she ought not to undertake. He has for several years formally laid his ban upon every kind of mediumistic exercises at certain very regular periods.
He has also on numerous occasions compelled her by various messages, categorical auditive hallucinations, diverse impulses, contractures of the arms, forcing her to write, etc., to modify her plans and to abandon seances already arranged. This is a very clear form of teleological automatism.
As a specimen of this spontaneous and hygienic intervention of Leopold in the life of Hélène, I have selected the letter given below, because it combines several interesting traits. It well depicts the energy with which Mlle. Smith is compelled to obey her guide.
The passage from the auditive to the graphic form of automatism is also to be noticed in it. Apropos of this, in the page of this letter reproduced in Fig. 8 (see p. 137), it is made clear that the transition of the hand of Hélène to that of Leopold is accomplished brusquely and in a decided manner. The handwriting is not metamorphosed gradually, slowly, but continues to be that of Mlle. Smith, becoming more and more agitated, it is true, and rendered almost illegible by the shocks to the arm of which Leopold takes hold up to the moment when, suddenly and by a bound, it becomes the well-formed calligraphy of Cagliostro.
"January 29, 6.15 a.m.
"Monsieur,I awoke about ten minutes ago, and heard the voice of Leopold telling me in a very imperious manner, 'Get up out of your bed, and quickly, very quickly, write to your dear friend, M. Flournoy, that you will not hold a seance to-morrow, and that you will not be able to go to his house for two weeks, and that you will not hold any seance within that period.' I have executed his order, having felt myself forced, compelled in spite of myself, to obey. I was so comfortable in bed and so vexed at being obliged to write you such a message; but I feel myself forced to do what he bids me.
"At this moment I am looking at my watch; it is 6.25 o'clock. I feel a very strong shock in my right armI might better speak of it as an electric disturbanceand which I perceive has made me . write crooked. I hear also at this instant the voice of Leopold. I have much difficulty in writing what he tells me: '6.42½ . Say to him this: I am, sir, always your very devoted servant, in body and mind, healthy and not unbalanced.'
"I stopped for some moments after writing these words, which I saw very well, after having written them, were in the handwriting of Leopold. Immediately afterwards, a second disturbance, similar to the first, gave me a fresh shock, this time from my feet to my head. It all passed so quickly that I am disturbed and confused by it. It is true that I am not yet quite well. Is this the reason why Leopold prevents my going to Florissant to-morrow? I do not know, but, nevertheless, am anxious to follow his advice. . . ."
Mlle. Smith always submits obediently to the commands of her guide, since, whenever she has transgressed them, through forgetfulness or neglect, she has had cause to repent it.
It is clear that in this rôle of special physician of Mlle. Smith, always au courant of her state of health, Leopold could easily be interpreted as personifying those vague impressions which spring forth continually from the depths of our physical being, informing us as to what is passing there.
A neuralgic toothache is felt in a dream hours before it makes itself felt in our waking consciousness, while some maladies are often thus foreshadowed several days before they actually declare themselves. All literature is full of anecdotes of this kind; and the psychiatrists have observed that in the form of circular alienation, where phases of melancholic depression and maniacal excitation alternately succeed one another more or less regularly with intervals of normal equilibrium, it is frequently in sleep that the first symptoms of the change of humor can be detected which has already begun in the depths of the individuality, but will only break forth on the outside a little later. But all the hypnoid states are connected, and it is not at all surprising that, in the case of a subject inclined to automatism, these confused presentiments should arise with the appearance of a foreign personality which is only a degree higher than the process of dramatization already so brilliantly at work in our ordinary dreams.
It will be useless to lengthen or further multiply examples of the intervention of Leopold in the life
Click to enlarge
A page from a letter of Mlle. Smith, showing the spontaneous irruption of the personality and the handwriting of Leopold during the waking state of Hélène.
of Mlle. Smith. Those which I have given show him under his essential aspects, and suffice to justify Hélène's confidence in a guide who has never deceived her, who has always given her the best counsel, delivered discourses of the highest ethical tone, and manifested the most touching solicitude for her physical and moral health. It is easy to understand that nothing can shake her faith in the real, objective existence of this precious counsellor.
It is really vexatious that the phenomena of dreams should be so little observed or so badly understood (I do not say by psychologists, but by the general public, which prides itself on its psychology), since the dream is the prototype of spiritistic messages, and holds the key to the explanation of mediumistic phenomena. If it is regrettable to see such noble, sympathetic, pure, and in all respects remarkable personalities as Leopold reduced to the rank of a dream creation, it must be remembered, however, that dreams are not always, as idle folk think, things to be despised or of no value in themselves: the majority are insignificant and deserve only the oblivion to which they are promptly consigned. A very large number are bad and sometimes even worse than reality; but there are others of a better sort, and "dream" is often a synonym for "ideal."
To sum up, Leopold certainly expresses in his central nucleus a very honorable and attractive side of the character of Mlle. Smith, and in taking him as her "guide" she only follows inspirations which are probably among the best of her nature.
91:* See Lehmann's Auberglaube and Zauberei, p. 217 et seq. Stuttgart, 1898.
92:* W. James, "Thought Tends to Personal Form." Principles of Psychology, vol. i. p. 225 et seq. New York, 1890.
95:* Alexandre Dumas, père, Memoirs of a Physician, chap. xv.
105:* The one which is found, for example, at the beginning of the Vie de Joseph Balsamo, etc., translated from the Italian (3d edition, Paris, 1791), and which has been several times reproduced. p. 106 Mlle. Smith has hanging over her fireplace a fine copy of this portrait.
110:* See, e.g., Ferrari, Hericourt, and Richet, "Personality and Handwriting," Revue philosophique, vol. xxi. p. 414.