The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1859

Allan Kardec

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Lord Castlereagh and Bernadotte

About forty years ago the following adventure happened to the Marquis of Londonderry, later Lord Castlereagh. He visited with a kind man, of one his friends’ acquaintance that lived in a castle in Northern Ireland, one of those places used by romance writers to impersonate apparitions. Marquis’ apartment was in perfect harmony with the entire building. In fact, the richly carved wood, blackened by time; the huge arc of the chimney, similar to the porch of a tomb; the heavy and dusty rugs, covering every spot and surrounding the bed, all that would really give rise to melancholic thoughts.

Lord Londonderry examined the room, getting to know the former masters of the castle, who seemed to be standing there, waiting for his greetings, portrayed in the paintings hanging on the walls. He then dismissed the room maid and went to bed. He had just put the candle out when he noticed a spark of light on top of his bed. Convinced that there was no fire in the fireplace; that the curtains were drawn and that the room was completely dark minutes earlier, he then supposed that there was an intruder in the room. Turning his eyes back to the place from where the light beam came he saw, with great surprise, the figure of a beautiful child, surrounded by a halo.

Persuaded of the integrity of his own faculties but suspecting a mystification from one of the many guests of the castle, Lord Londonderry advanced towards the apparition, which moved away from him. The more he moved closer the more it would move away. It then got to the fireplace’s somber arch and disappeared in the ground.

Lord Londonderry did not sleep that night.

He decided not to mention what had happened to him, until he had the chance of carefully examining the facial expressions of everybody who was at the house. During breakfast he unsuccessfully tried to detect some disguised smiles, convenient looks and blinks of eyes that generally denounce the authors of such domestic plots.

The conversation followed its ordinary course. It was animated, not revealing any mystification. The Marquis finally could no longer resist the desire of telling the others what he had seen. The owner of the castle observed that the report given by Lord Londonderry might seem very strange to those who had not visited the castle for a long time and did not know about the legends of the family. Then, he turned to Lord Londonderry and said: “You saw the shining child… Be happy then since this is a presage of great luck. However, I prefer that we do not talk about such apparition.”

On another occasion Lord Castlereagh saw the shining child in the House of Commons. He saw a similar apparition on the day of his suicide.* It is a well-known fact that this Lord, one of the most important Ministers of Harrowby, and one of the most bloodthirsty enemies of Napoleon, during his setback, cut his own throat, then dying instantly on August 22nd, 1823. 

They say that the amazing fate of Bernadotte had been predicted by a famous necromancer, who had also announced the fate of Napoleon I, and that the necromancer enjoyed Empress Josephine’s trust.
Bernadotte was convinced that a kind of tutelary divinity was dedicated to his protection. Perhaps the wonderful traditions that surrounded his cradle were not strange to this thought that never left him. Truly, an old chronicle was around in his family about a fairy, the wife of one of his ancestors, who had predicted that one King would illuminate their posterity.

Here is a fact that demonstrates how much the wonderful king had maintained its domination over the spirit of the King of Sweden. He wanted to face the difficulties opposed by Norway with the sword, sending his son Oscar with an army to defeat the rebels. The State Council strongly opposed that project. One day, when Bernadotte had just had a heated discussion about this subject, he rode his horse away from the Capital city. After a long ride he got to the entrance of a dense forest. Suddenly an old woman appeared before him, dressed in a bizarre way, showing a disheveled hair.

• What do you want? The King asked bluntly. The witch then responded impassively:

• If Oscar fights in this war that you plan he will not be the one to shoot but the one to be shot at.

Bernadotte returned to the palace, touched by the apparition and her words. On the very next day, still showing in his face the signs of a long and agitated vigil, he went to the Council and said: “I changed my mind. I will negotiate peace but I want to establish honored conditions.”

In his Vie de M. de Rance, founder of the Order of Trap, Chateaubriand tells the story that this celebrity was strolling around the Avenue of the Veretz Castle when he seemed to have seen a huge fire, destroying the aviary. He dashed there. The fire diminished as he approached. At a certain distance the inferno was transformed into a lake of fire; in the middle stood half of the body of a woman, devoured by the flames.

He rushed home, horrified. He was exhausted, throwing himself in bed, feeling half dead. It was only much later that he told this vision whose simple memory made him pale.

Are these mysteries pure madness? It seems that Mr. Brière de Boismont has attributed them to a more elevated order of things, with what I agree. This does not displease my friend Dr. Lélut. I prefer to believe in the genius of Socrates and in the voices of Joan of Arc than in the madness of the philosopher and in the virgin of Domrémy.

There exist phenomena that go beyond the intelligence; which embarrass knowledge, but it is necessary that human logic humbly bow before their evidence. Nothing is more brutal and undeniable than a fact. Such is our opinion and particularly that of Guizot:

“What is the great question, the question that concerns the spirits today? It is the question between those who recognize and those who do not recognize a super natural order, true and sovereign, although impenetrable to human reason; the question raised to give things their true name, between the super naturalism and the rationalism. On one side the incredulous, the pantheists, and the skeptical of all sorts, the pure rationalist; on the other side the Christians. For our future and present salvation it is necessary that the faith in the natural order; that the respect and submission to the super natural order penetrate in the world and in the human soul; in the great spirits as in the simple ones; in the more elevated classes as in the most humble. The real, truly efficient and regenerative influence of the religious beliefs, have such a condition. Outside that circle they are superficial and very close to become vain.” (Guizot)

No, death does not separate forever, even in this world, the elected that God received in his heart and the exiled that remained in the valley of tears, in hac lacrymarum valle, employing the melancholic words of the Save the Queen. There are mysterious and blessed times in which the beloved dead lean over those who cry, whispering into their ears words of consolation and hope. Guizot, this strict and methodical mind, is right when proclaiming: “Outside that circle the religious beliefs are superficial and are very close to becoming vain.”
SAM (extracted from the La Patrie, June 5th, 1859)

* Forbes Winslow. Anatomy of Suicide, vol. 1, in-8, page 242. London 1840.

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