122. Let us now consider the second phenomenon, that of transfiguration. This consists in the change of aspect of a living body. As an illustration of this phenomenon, we adduce a fact that occurred in the years 1858 and 1859, in the neighbourhood of St Etienne, and for the authenticity of which we can vouch. A young lady, about fifteen years of age, had the singular faculty of transforming herself; that is to say, she could assume, at times, the appearance of persons who were dead : the illusion was so complete that the person simulated appeared to be actually present, so exact was the resemblance of features, expression, voice, and even of peculiarities of speech. This phenomenon occurred hundreds of times, without the girl's will having anything to do with it. She often assumed the appearance of her brother, who had been dead many years, presenting the similitude not only of his face, but his height, and the size of his body. A physician of the place, who had several times witnessed these strange occurrences, made the following experiment, with a view to assuring himself that he was not under an illusion. We have the fact from his own lips, from the girl's father, and from several other ocular witnesses, of most honourable character, and unquestionable veracity. It occurred to the physician to weigh this young lady, first in her normal state, and then in her state of transfiguration, when she had assumed the appearance of her brother, who was more than twenty years of age when he died, and much larger and stronger than his sister. He did so, and found that, in her transfigured state, her weight was almost doubled. This experiment was conclusive, and rendered it impossible to attribute her appearance to an optical illusion. Let us try to explain this fact, which, at one time, would have been called a miracle, but which we may now simply speak of as "a phenomenon."
123. Transfiguration, in certain cases, may be caused simply by a muscular contraction which gives so new an expression to the face as to render the person no longer recognisable. W e have often observed this, in the case of certain somnambulists, but, in such cases, the transformation is not radical; a woman, for instance, may appear young or old, handsome or plain, but she will still appear as a woman, and she will not increase or diminish in weight. In the instance before us, it is quite evident that there was something more than this; something which only a know- ledge of the perispirit will enable us to explain.
We assume, as a fundamental principle, that the spirit has the power of giving to his perispirit every kind of appearance, and that, by modifications of its atomic conditions, he can give it temporary visibility, tangibility, and consequently opacity. We also lay it down as a rule that the perispirit of a person in the flesh, when partially separated from the body, can be made to undergo the same transformations, and that this change of state is effected by the combinations of fluids to which we have so often adverted.
Let us, then, imagine the perispirit of a person in the flesh, not as separated from the body, but as radiating around the body, so as to envelop it like a vapour. In this state, the perispirit can be made to undergo the same modifications as if it were entirely separated from it; by causing the perispirit to lose its transparency, the body may be made to disappear and become invisible, being veiled, so to say, by the perispirit, as though surrounded by a mist. It may even change its aspect, and become luminous, if such be the will, or in the power, of the spirit. A second spirit, combining his own fluid with that of the former one, may substitute his own appearance for that of the former spirit, and so completely that the real body may be made to disappear under an exterior fluidic envelope, the appearance of which may be changed indefinitely at the will of the spirit-operators. Such appears to be the true cause of the strange and very rare phenomenon in question. As to the difference of weight, that may be explained in the same way as the change of weight in inert bodies. The intrinsic weight of the young lady's body was not changed, because there was no change in the amount of matter it contained ; but her body was, for the time being, brought under the control of an exterior agent that was able to augment or to diminish its apparent weight, as we explained above (78 et seq.). It is therefore probable that, if the transfiguration had caused it to assume the aspect of a little child, the apparent weight of the body would have been proportionally diminished.