One of the early members of the Spiritist Society of Paris, who died March 27th, 1865. The day before his funeral, a somnambulist, who is very lucid and sees spirits very clearly, having been requested to go to him and to state what he saw, replied as follows:
“I see a corpse in which a most wonderful work is taking place; there is a mass, of which every atom is in motion, and from which something seems to be trying to detach itself, but has hard work in overcoming the resistance opposed to its efforts by the mass with which it is connected. I cannot distinguish any clearly-defined spirit-form.”
The Paris Society evoked him on the 31st of March.
Q. Dear Dr. Vignal, all your old colleagues of the Society of Paris in general, and I in particular, have the kindest remembrance of you; and we shall be very much pleased if you can, and will, come and converse with us.
A. Dear Friends and you my dear and worthy Teacher, your remembrance and sympathy are very pleasant to me. If I am able to come to you today, and to take part, free of corporeal fetters, in this meeting of our spiritist friends, it is thanks to your kindly thought of me and the assistance brought to me by your prayers. As my young secretary remarked just now, I have been so impatient to communicate with you, all through the evening, that I have had to exercise much self-control in abstaining from giving free rein to this desire, although the questions you have been discussing have greatly interested me and have rendered the delay less tiresome. Forgive this impatience, dear Friends; but my gratitude would fain have manifested itself at once! (I love this old-fashioned phrase, but if you wish to modernize it you could say “but I was eager to express my gratitude at once.”)
Q. Be good enough to tell us how you find yourself in the spirit-world. Describe to us the process of separation and your sensations at the moment when it took place; and tell us also how long it was before you regained your consciousness.
A. I am happy to tell you that my experience has fully confirmed the teachings of our luminous and consoling doctrine. I am happy! Yes I am, because now, without any obstacle, I can see develop before me the future of science and the Spiritist philosophy.
However, let us discard for today these inopportune digressions. I will return at another time to speak to you on these subjects, knowing that my presence will be as great a pleasure for you as it is for me when I visit you.
The wrenching asunder, in my case, was quickly accomplished; more quickly than I could have hoped for, seeing how slight my merits are. I was greatly aided in this effort by your prayers; and your somnambulist has given you so correct a description of the phenomena associated with the separation that I have little to add in regard to it. It was a sort of fitful oscillation, a kind of drawing, in two opposite directions; the spirit triumphed at last; for here I am! I only succeeded in freeing myself entirely from my body, at the moment when the latter was lowered into the grave; and I came back with you.
Q. What do you think of the funeral ceremonies that have occurred?
A. I have considered it to be an obligation to attend to them.
Q. At that moment, were you sufficiently separated from your body in order to observe
them? The prayers that I pronounced with the intent of being of help, (not out loud, logically), did they reach you?
I came back from the cemetery with all of you, leaving behind me my old chrysalis completely disjoined from me. You know that I did not care much for the things of the Earth; I thought mainly of my spirit being and of God.
Q. Do you remember that, at your own request, five years ago, in the month of February 1860, when you were still among the living, we took you as the subject of an experiment? * At that time, your spirit disengaged itself from your body, and came and conversed with us. Will you have the kindness to define for us, as nearly as you can, the difference between your present disengagement and that which you effected at the time referred to?
A. Most certainly, I remember that experiment; but what a difference is there between my state on that occasion and my present state! At that time, the rigid network of matter held me in; I longed to detach myself more completely from my body, but was unable to do so. Now, I am altogether free; a vast field, that of the unknown, opens before me; and I hope that with your help and that of the good Spirits, to whom I commend myself, to advance and to instill, as soon as possible, the sentiments that we should possess, and the actions that we must practice in order to successfully navigate the narrow path of our Earthly trials and be worthy of a wealth of compensations in the spirit world. What majesty! What grandeur! It is a sentiment almost of awe that takes possession of us, when, weak as we are, we try to fix our eyes on the sublime splendors before us!
Q. Once again I say that we will be very satisfied in being able to continue this conversation, when you feel that you wish to be with us.
A. I have done my best to reply to your questions; but do not ask too much, at first, of your faithful disciple! I am not yet entirely free of earthly influences. I should be delighted to go on talking with you; but my guide tries to moderate my enthusiasm, and I am too well convinced of his wisdom and kindness not to follow his counsel, however much I may regret having to break off this conversation. I feel comforted when I think that I will be able to return, incognito, to your spiritual reunions, often. I love you, and I shall come back to you; but now I give up my place to the other spirits, more advanced than myself, who have kindly allowed me to pour out the torrent of thoughts I was longing to utter.
I withdraw for the present; thanking you who have called me hither, and thanking also the spirit who has kindly allowed me to take his place, and who, when on Earth, bore the illustrious name of Pascal.
He who was, and will always be, the most devoted of your disciples. DR. VIGNAL
* Vide: “Revue Spirite” of March 1860.