Madame Foulon, who died at Antibes, February 3rd, 1865, had formerly resided for many years at Havre, where she enjoyed considerable reputation as a miniature painter. Her very remarkable proficiency had been, in her youth, merely a source of personal gratification; but, at a later period, a series of misfortunes compelled her to seek, in the exercise of her talent, for the means of support. What, especially, won for her the affection and respect of all who knew her and has rendered her memory dear to them, was the greatness of her character, and the admirable qualities which gave, to her private life, a charm that only those who knew her intimately could fully appreciate; for, as is the case with all those in whom it is innate, she made no display of her goodness, of which she seemed to be altogether unconscious. If ever any human being were absolutely without selfishness, it was she; no one ever carried further the sentiment of abnegation; she was always ready to sacrifice her ease, her health, her interests, for those to whom it was in her power to be useful. Her life, from her youth onwards, was one long succession of acts of devotedness, as it was, also, a long sequence of hard and severe trials, under which her resignation and perseverance never failed her. But, alas! Her eyesight, worn out by the long exercise of her art, had been growing weaker from day to day; it was but too evident that soon the blindness which had been gradually coming on for many years would have been complete.
When Madame Foulon first became acquainted with Spiritism, it was for her a ray of light; it seemed to her as though a veil had been withdrawn from something which had not been unknown to her, but of which she had harbored only a vague intuition; she accordingly studied its doctrine with ardor, but, at the same time, with the clearness of mind and the correctness of judgment which were natural to her lofty intelligence. Only those who knew the anxieties of her life – anxieties which were always prompted, not by her own position, but by that of those who were dear to her – can understand the value she attached to the sublime revelation which gave her the consolation of an immovable faith in the future, based on its explanation of the sorrows of the present life, and its demonstration of the insignificance of terrestrial things. Her death was worthy of her life. She watched its approach without apprehension; it was, for her, a deliverance from terrestrial bondage, an introduction to the happier life with which she had already identified herself by the study of Spiritism. She died calmly, because she was conscious of having accomplished the mission which she had accepted on coming back to the Earth, having scrupulously fulfilled all the duties of a wife and mother, and also because she had, during her whole life, abjured all feeling of resentment against those who had wronged her and repaid her kindness with ingratitude, and to whom she had always returned good for evil. She passed out of this sphere of being with no other feeling than that of forgiveness towards all those of whom she might justly have complained, trusting that the pardon she so freely accorded to others would be accorded to her by the Judge before whom she was about to appear. She died, in short, with the serenity imparted by a clear conscience and the certainty that she would, in the spirit-world, be less separated from her children than in the life of the flesh, since she could, thenceforward, be with them, as a spirit, at whatever point of the Earth’s surface they might be, to aid them with her counsels and to shield them with her protection.
Having received the news of her death, our first thought was to enter into communication with her. The intimate and sympathetic friendship that had grown up between us, based on her devotion to the spiritist philosophy, explains the freedom and familiarity of her messages.
Paris, February 6th, 1865; three days after her death
I was sure that you would have the idea of evoking me at once, after my deliverance, and I held myself ready to reply to you, for I felt no confusion during the separation; it is only those who dread death that find themselves in its darkness.
How happy I am! These poor eyes, that had grown so weak, and that showed me only the remembrance of the prisms that had colored my youth with their resplendent hues, have re-opened to the light amidst the splendid horizons that are faintly represented by a few of your greatest artists, but of which the majestic reality is pervaded by a subtle charm that no earthly pencil could render!
It is but three days since I died, and I still feel as an artist; my aspirations, after the ideal of beauty in art, were the intuition of faculties that I had acquired, and studies that I had carried on, in anterior existences, and that I developed still further in my last. But what progress I should have to make, in order to portray the magnificent spectacle that greets the spirit on arriving in this realm of light! Give me a palette, give me brushes, and I would prove to the world that spiritist art is the crown of pagan art, of Christian art now in its decline; and that it is reserved for Spiritism alone to re-kindle the glory of art in your world.
But enough of the artist, – now, for the friend:
“Why, my dear Madame Kardec, should you be so much affected by my death? You, especially, who knew how full of pain and disappointment was my life, should rather rejoice to see that I have no longer to drink from the bitter cup of terrestrial sorrows which I was compelled to drain to the very dregs! Believe me, the dead are happier than the living; to weep for them is to doubt the truth of Spiritism. You will see me again; be sure of that. I have gone first, because my task in your world was finished; and, when yours is done, you will come and take a rest near me, to begin a new task afterwards, for it is not in keeping with our nature to remain inactive. Each has his tendencies, and follows their lead, a law that proves the power of our freewill. Therefore, my dear, cultivate indulgence and charity; we all need them, in the visible world and in the invisible world; with this motto for our guide, all goes on well.
You will not tell me to stop, though I am talking on a long while for a first attempt! So I leave you, to converse with my excellent friend, Mr. Kardec, whom I have to thank for the affectionate words he has addressed to the friend who has gone before him to the world to which we came very near going together! (alluding to the illness spoken of by Dr. Demeure). What would she have said to that – the beloved companion of your life – if your good spirit-friends had not taken you in hand? It is then that she would have wept and groaned; and I can quite understand the grief in which it would have plunged her! But she must see to it that you do not again expose yourself to the danger of returning too quickly among us, and of leaving unfinished the work of initiating the spiritist movement; without that caution, you run the risk of arriving here among us, much too soon, and will not be able to see, as did Moses, the “Promised Land”, except from afar. Therefore, be on your guard; it is a friend who utters this word of warning.
And now I leave you; I must return to my children; after that, I shall go and look after my wandering sheep, to see if she has reached the port safely, or if she is still the sport of the tempest (one of her daughters, who had gone to America.) May the good spirits protect her! I shall join them. Soon, I shall come back to have a chat with you; you know I was always an indefatigable talker! V. FOULON.
(February 8th, 1865)
Q. Dear Madame Foulon, I was most happy to get the communication from you, the other day, and to receive your promise to come and talk with us again. I perfectly recognized you in your message; for you alluded to matters that were quite unknown to the medium, and which could only have been spoken of by you; and your affectionate language, to us, is the true utterance of your good and loving nature. But there is, in what you said, a degree of certainty, firmness, and boldness that I never knew you to display while you were in this world. You may remember that, in regard to this point, I more than once ventured to admonish you.
A. That is true; but, from the time I found myself seriously ill, I regained my strength of mind, which had been shaken by the sorrows and troubles that had rendered me timid. I said to myself: – “You are a spiritist; forget the Earth; prepare for the transformation of your being; fix your eyes, in thought, on the shining path that your spirit will follow on quitting your body, and which will lead you, happy and released from earthly sorrows, to the celestial spheres in which you will thenceforth dwell.”
You will perhaps tell me that it was somewhat presumptuous, on my part, to count on attaining to perfect happiness on leaving the Earth; but I had suffered so much that it seemed to me I must have expiated the faults of that life and of all my previous lives. This intuition did not deceive me. It gave me back my courage and rendered me calm and firm in my last moments; and this firmness has naturally increased, since I have seen my hopes fulfilled.
Q. Can you please describe to us your passage, your awakening, and the first impression caused by the sight of the world in which you are?
A. I suffered much in passing away, but my spirit was superior to the physical suffering caused by the effort of disengagement. I found myself, after the last sigh, in a state similar to a fainting fit, having no consciousness of my position, thinking of nothing, and plunged in a vague somnolence that was neither the sleep of the body nor the waking of the soul. I remained for a considerable time in this state; then, as though coming out of a long sleep, I awakened in the midst of a company of friends whom I did not know, but who were surrounding me with affectionate attentions and caresses, and who pointed to a shining speck, far off in space, that looked like a brilliant star, and said to me, “That is where you are going to, with us; you have ceased to belong to the Earth!” As they spoke, my memory came back to me; supported by them, I accompanied the graceful group of friends in their flight towards the unknown region to which they had directed my glance; and we continued to rise up, a conviction of coming happiness filling my whole being, and the beautiful star growing larger and larger as we approached it. It was a high and happy world, in which your old friend will, at last, enjoy repose; The repose of which I speak is rest from the bodily fatigues and wearing vicissitudes that for so long I had to endure in the earthly life, but this rest is not indolence, for activity is a source of enjoyment for spirits.
Q. Have you definitively quitted the Earth?
A. I have left upon the Earth too many of those I love to be able to quit it definitively at present; I shall come back to it as a spirit, for I have a mission to fulfill to my grandchildren. You know already that there is nothing to prevent a spirit, who is staying in a higher world than the Earth, from coming to visit those who are incarnated in it.
Q. But will not your present elevation weaken the tie between you and those you have left down here?
A. No; affection keeps souls together. Believe me, it is far more possible for those who are upon the Earth to be in close proximity to the spirits of those who have reached a very high degree of advancement, than it is to be near those whose inferiority and selfishness keep them circling round the terrestrial globe. Love and charity are two motors of immense attractive force. They are the links that maintain union between souls who are attached to each other, notwithstanding distances of place and time. Distance only exists for bodies; there is no distance for spirits.
Q. What is now your opinion concerning my efforts to establish and develop Spiritism?
A. I see that your mission is one of the most serious importance and that your burden is a heavy one; but I see the end for which you are working, and I see also that you will attain it. I will help you, if I can, with my counsels, that you may overcome the difficulties that will be thrown in your way, and that you may be led to adopt certain measures calculated to quicken, during your lifetime, the renovating movement that is the aim of Spiritism. Your friend Demeure, along with the Spirit of Truth, will provide you with a greater helping hand, as he is more wise and clear headed than I; but, as I know that it is the assistance of the good Spirits which sustains you in your work, you may be sure that what help I can give you will always be at your service.
Q. It would seem, from what you say that you will not take any active personal share in the establishment of Spiritism?
A. You are mistaken; but I see so many spirits who are better able than I am to treat of this immense subject, that a feeling of timidity prevents my replying to you, at this time, as you would wish. By and by I may feel more confidence in my power to help; but I must first have time to look about me. It is only four days since I died; I am still dazzled by the splendor of everything around me; can you not understand that dear Friend? I am unable to describe the new sensations that I experience. I have had to do violence to myself in order to tear my mind away from the fascination exercised upon it by the marvels it admires. I can only bless and adore the Almighty, whose works fill me with awe. But this state of excitement will pass; my spirit-friends assure me that I shall soon become accustomed to all this magnificence, and that I shall then be able, with clearness of thought, to treat of all that relates to the renovation of the Earth. And, besides, you must remember that I have, still, a whole family to visit and to console.
Farewell for the present; I shall soon come to you again; for your friend loves and will always love you, as the teacher to whom she owes the only true and lasting consolation she enjoyed upon the Earth. V. FOULON
The following communication was received from her, for her children, on February 9th: –
My beloved children, God has called me away from you; but the reward God has deigned to grant me is great indeed, in comparison with the little I was able to do when upon the Earth. Be resigned, my dear children, to the will of the Highest, and from all that God has permitted you to receive, draw strength to support the trials of life. Keep firm, in your hearts, the belief that so greatly facilitated my passage from the earthly life to the life that awaits us all on our exit from your lower sphere. God extended to me, upon my death, the same inexhaustible kindness that was given while I was still on Earth. Be grateful for all the benefits that were conceded to you. Bless God my children. Bless God always and in every instant. Never lose sight of the aim that has been given you to see, nor of the road that you have to follow; make good use of the time that God grants to you upon the Earth. It is thus, my beloved ones that you will be happy; happy in each other, happy in your children, if you bring them up to follow the road upon which you have been permitted to enter.
Though you can no longer see me, be quite sure that the bond which united us in the earthly life is not severed by the death of the body, for it was not by the envelope of the soul that we were united, but by the soul itself; and it is through this union, my darlings, that I shall still, through the bounty of God, be able to guide you and to encourage you in your march to this other life, in which we shall all be reunited by and by.
Weep not, my children; let the communication between us, which we are permitted to maintain, strengthen your faith and your love of God, who has bestowed so many blessings upon you, who has so often sent help to your mother. Pray to God, bless God, love God; and conform your lives to the teachings that I followed with so much ardor.
I shall return to you, my dear ones; but I must now go to your poor sister, who is so much in need of my presence. Put your trust in the Almighty, to whom I pray for you. Prayer is the great fortifier. WIDOW FOULON
Remark – The enlightened spiritist will readily grasp, from these communications, the teachings they convey; we will therefore draw particular attention only to two points. The first of these is the proof furnished by this example that a spirit may finish its incarnation in this world and go hence to a higher one, without being thereby separated from the beings whom that spirit has loved down here. Those who dread reincarnation in this world, on account of the miseries of human life, may therefore escape from that necessity by doing, in their present life, all that they ought to do, that is to say, in working out their own improvement. Therefore, in this matter, as in all others; he or she who would rise from a lower grade to a higher one must study and work to that end, instead of idly vegetating in his inferior position.
The second point is the confirmation of the truth that, after death, we are less separated from those we love than we are during life. Madame Foulon, kept by age and infirmity in a little town in the south of France, had only a part of her family near her; most of her children and friends were dispersed in various directions, and various obstacles prevented her seeing them as often as she, and they, would have wished. The great distance that separated some of them from her rendered even epistolary correspondence between them rare and difficult. But scarcely was she freed from the encumbrance of the flesh than, light as the breeze, she hastened to each of them, traversing wide distances without fatigue and with the rapidity of electricity, to see them, to take part in their most intimate expressions of familial affection, surrounding them with her protection, and able, by means of the mediumistic faculty, to converse with them at any moment, as though she were still in the flesh. And to think that there are people who prefer, to such a consoling possibility, the idea of an indefinite period of separation!