A medium, which lived at Le Havre, having evoked the spirit of a person whom he had known, the latter replied:
“I should like to communicate with you; but I cannot vanquish the obstacle between us; I am obliged to let these unhappy and suffering spirits come to you.”
The following communication was then spontaneously dictated:—
“I am in a horrible abyss! Help me!...O my God! who will take me out of this whirlpool? Who will lend a helping hand to the miserable wretch who is being sucked in by the sea?...The night is so dark that I am full of terror...Everywhere, the roaring of the waves, and no friendly world to console me and to aid me in this fearful hour; for this dark night is death, death in all its horror, and I will not die!...O God! it is not coming death; it is death that is past!...I am separated forever from those I love...I see my body; and what I felt a moment ago, was only the remembrance of the frightful anguish of the separation...Have pity on me, you who know of my sufferings; pray for me, for I would not feel again, as I have been doing ever since that fatal night, the struggles of the death-agony!...But that is my punishment; I know it beforehand...Pray for me, I conjure you!...Oh, the sea...the cold...I am being swallowed up!...Help! help!...Ah, take pity on me; do not repel me!...There is room for two of us on this spar!...Oh! I am choking!...The waves are covering me, and those who belong to me will not even have the melancholy consolation of finding my corpse!...But no, I see that my body is no longer tossed about by the waves... My mother’s prayers have been heard...My poor mother! If she could but see how miserable is her son, she would pray all the harder; but she thinks that the cause of my death has sanctified the past! She weeps for me as a martyr, instead of the wretched and chastised criminal that I am! Oh, you who know of my misery, will you remain without pity? No, no; you will pray for me!” FERDINAND BERTIN
As this name was entirely unknown to the medium, he supposed the message just given to be from the spirit of some hapless victim of shipwreck who had spontaneously come to him, as had already happened to him on several occasions. He subsequently learned that it was that of one of the victims of a terrible disaster that had occurred off the coast of that region, December 2nd, 1863. The communication was given on the 8th of the same month, six days after the occurrence of the catastrophe. The individual had perished in making superhuman efforts to save the crew of the lost vessel, and at the moment when his own safety seemed to be secured.
The individual in question was not connected with the medium by any tie of relationship, or even of acquaintanceship; why, then, it may be asked, should he has manifested himself to him rather than to some one of his own family? It must be remembered that spirits do not find, in everyone, the fluidic conditions necessary for their manifestation; moreover, in the state of confusion in which this spirit then was, he could have little freedom of choice. He was instinctively attracted towards this particular medium, who was gifted, apparently, with a special aptitude for receiving spontaneous communications of this kind; and he no doubt had a presentiment of the special sympathy he would meet with from him, as had been the case with many others in similar circumstances. His family, knowing nothing of Spiritism, possibly opposed to it, would not have received his revelation, as did this medium.
Although his death had taken place several days before, the spirit was still undergoing all its anguish. It is evident that he did not understand his own situation. He believed himself to be still alive and struggling with the waves, and, at the same time, he speaks of his body as though he were separated from it; he shouts for help, and, a moment afterwards, he speaks of the cause of his death, which he recognizes as having been a punishment: all this denotes the confusion of ideas which usually follows violent death.
Two months afterwards, February 2nd, 1864, he again communicated, spontaneously, through the same medium, and dictated the following message: –
“The pity you showed for my horrible sufferings has given me relief. I begin to hope; I look forward to forgiveness, but after the punishment of my crime. I still suffer; and if I am permitted, for a few moments, to foresee the end of my affliction, it is only to the prayers of charitable hearts, who feel for my misery, that I owe this consolation. O Hope, heavenly ray, how do I bless thee when thou shiniest into my soul!... But, alas! the abyss yawns again around me; terror and agony extinguish this gleam of pity...Night; always night!...the water, the waves that have swallowed up my body, are but a feeble image of the horror that surrounds my unhappy spirit...I am calmer when I am near you; for, as a terrible secret, when confided to a friendly breast, is lightened of half its weight, so your pity for my misery calms my pain and gives me rest. Your prayers do me good; do not refuse them to me! I do not want to fall back into the hideous dream that becomes a reality when I see it.... Hold the pencil more often; it does me so much good to communicate through you!”
A few days afterwards, the same spirit having been evoked on Paris, the following questions were addressed to him, and he replied to them in a single communication, through another medium.
Q. What led you to manifest yourself spontaneously to the first medium through whom you communicated? How long had you been dead when you thus manifested?
At that time, you seemed uncertain as to whether you were dead or alive, and you were feeling all the anguish of a terrible death; do you now understand your situation more clearly? You have stated that your death was an expiation; tell us what was its cause; it will be instructive for us, and a relief to you. By a sincere avowal, you will attract the Divine mercy that we solicit for you in our prayers.
A. It seems impossible, at first sight that any creature can suffer so horribly! How dreadful, to see yourself constantly in the midst of furious waves, to feel incessantly this bitterness, this icy cold that creeps up over you and seems to crush your stomach as in a vice! But what is the use of showing you always the same horrid spectacle? Ought I not rather to begin by thanking you for the interest you so kindly take in my torments? You ask me how long I had been dead when I first communicated. It is difficult for me to answer this question. Remember, in what a horrible condition I was and still am! But I think I must have been led to the medium by a will superior to my own; and – a thing I find it impossible to understand – I used his arms as easily as I am now using yours, persuaded that it is my own! At this moment, I feel great joy, a wonderful lightening of my trouble; but this, alas! will soon cease. I know that I ought to make a confession; shall I have the strength to make it?
After much encouragement, the spirit added:
I have been very guilty! What distresses me most is that people should regard me as a martyr; for I am nothing of the kind...In a preceding existence, I caused several victims to be sewed up in a sack and thrown into the sea...Pray for me!
COMMENT OF SAINT LOUIS ON THE FOREGOING: –
This confession will be a great relief to the spirit. Yes, he has been very guilty! But the existence he has just quitted was an honorable one. He was liked and esteemed by his employers, an amendment which was the fruit of his repentance and of the good resolutions formed by him before returning to the Earth, where he had determined to be as humane as he had formerly been cruel. The devotion that cost him his life was a reparation, but it was necessary for him to redeem his past misdeeds by a final expiation; that of the terrible death he has just endured. He had asked to be allowed to purify himself by undergoing the same tortures that he had caused to be undergone by others; and as you perceive, what he regrets the most is to see that people mistake him for a martyr. You may rely upon it that he will be rewarded for this humility. He will now quit the path of expiation and will enter upon that of rehabilitation; by your prayers, you may sustain him on that path and aid him to pursue his way with a stronger and surer step.