From India to the Planet Mars (08-09)
THE HINDOO CYCLE
WHILE the Martian romance is purely a work of fantasy, in which the creative imagination was able to allow itself free play through having no investigation to fear, the Hindoo cycle, and that of Marie Antoinette, having a fixed terrestrial setting, represent a labor of construction which was subjected from the start to very complex conditions of environments and epochs. To keep within the bounds of probability, not to be guilty of too many anachronisms, to satisfy the multiple demands of both logic and æsthetics, formed a particularly dangerous undertaking, and one apparently altogether beyond the powers of a person without special instruction in such matters. The subconscious genius of Mlle. Smith has acquitted itself of the task in a remarkable manner, and has displayed in it a truly wonderful and delicate sense of historic possibilities and of local color.
The Hindoo romance, in particular, remains for those who have taken part in it a psychological enigma, not yet solved in a satisfactory manner, because it reveals and implies in regard to Hélène, a knowledge relative to the costumes and languages of the
[paragraph continues] Orient, the actual source of which it has up to the present time not been possible to discover. All the witnesses of Mlle. Smith's Hindoo somnambulisms who are of the same opinion on that subject (several refrain from having any) unite in seeing in it a curious phenomenon of cryptomnesia, of reappearances of memories profoundly buried beneath the normal waking state, together with an indeterminate amount of imaginative exaggeration upon the canvas of actual facts. But by this name of cryptomnesia, or resurrection of latent memories, two singularly different things are understood. For me it is only a question of memories of her present life; and I see nothing of the supernormal in that. For while I have not yet succeeded in finding the key to the enigma, I do not doubt its existence, and I will mention later certain indications which seem to me to support my idea that the Asiatic notions of Mlle. Smith have a wholly natural origin.
For the observer inclined towards spiritism, on the contrary, the sleeping memory which is awakened in somnambulism is nothing less than that of a previous existence of Mlle. Smith, and that piquant explanation, which was first given by Leopold, profits in their eyes from the impossibility which I find in proving that it is anything else.
Doubtless, if one was familiar with all the incidents of Hélène's life from her earliest childhood, and if it were absolutely certain that her knowledge of India had not been furnished her from the outside, through the normal channel of the organs of sense, it would be necessary to seek elsewhere for the solution of the
riddle, and to choose between the hypothesis of an atavic memory, hereditarily transmitted across fifteen generations, and actual telepathic communication with the brain of some Indian savant, or a spiritistic reincarnation. But we do not find ourselves in that position. There is nothing less known, in its details, than the daily life of Mlle. Smith in her childhood and youth. But, when all the feats of which the subconscious memory of our present life is capable are considered, it is not scientifically correct to have recourse to a pretended "anteriority," of which the only guarantee is the authority of Leopold, in order to explain the somnambulistic apparitions of facts of which Mlle. Smith in her waking state has no remembrance, I admit, but the origin of which may well have been hidden in the unknown recesses of her past life (reading, conversation, etc.) .
The plot of the Hindoo romance, which I have already briefly hinted at on divers occasions, is as follows:
Hélène Smith was, at the end of the fourteenth century of our era, the daughter of an Arab sheik, possibly named Pirux, whom she left in order to become, under the name of Simandini, the eleventh wife of Prince Sivrouka Nayaka, of whom I have the honor to be the actual reincarnation. (I pray the reader once for all to pardon me the immodest rôle which has been imposed upon me in this affair against my will.)
This Sivrouka, who reigned over Kanara, and built there, in 1401, the fortress of Tchandraguiri, does not seem to have been a very accommodating person;
although not bad at heart, and quite attached to his favorite wife, he had a wild humor and very uncouth manners. More could not be expected of an Asiatic potentate of that epoch. Simandini, nevertheless, passionately loved him, and at his death she was burned alive on his grave, after the fashion of Malabar.
Around these two principal personages are grouped some secondary figures, among others a faithful domestic named Adèl, and a little monkey, Mitidja, which Simandini had brought to India with her from Arabia; then the fakir Kanga, who occupies a much more important place in the Martian romance, in which we have seen him reincarnated as Astané, than in the Hindoo cycle.
Some other individuals, all masculine—Mougia, Miousa, Kangia, Kana—appear in obscure rôles, concerning which nothing certain can be said.
The hypnoid states, in which this romance has manifested itself with Hélène, present the greatest variety and all degrees, from the perfect waking state (apparently), momentarily crossed by some visual or auditive hallucination, the memory of which is preserved intact and allows a detailed description, up to total somnambulism, with amnesia upon awakening, in which the most striking scenes of ecstasies or incarnations are unfolded. We shall see divers examples in the following pages.
I. APPARITION AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE ORIENTAL CYCLE
Without recurring to the strange and little-known visions which already haunted the childhood and youth of Mlle. Smith (see pp. 20-25), I will retrace the principal stages of her Asiatic romance from the birth of her mediumship.
During the three first years there were but few manifestations of this sort, in the seances, at least, while as to the automatisms which developed at other times, especially at night, or in the hypnagogic state, we know nothing.
In November, 1892, two seances of the N. group are occupied with the apparition of a Chinese city—Pekin, according to the table—in which a disincarnate spirit, a parent of one of the group, is found performing a mission to a sick child.
In her seances of 1894, Hélène had on several occasions detached visions belonging to the Orient, as appeared from their content, or hints dictated by the table. She also saw Teheran; then the cemetery of the missions at Tokat (June 12th); a cavalier with a white woollen cloak and a turban bearing the name of Abderrhaman (September 2d); and, finally, an Oriental landscape, which depicted a ceremony of Buddhist aspect (October 16th). This latter vision, more especially, seemed to be a forerunner of the Hindoo romance, since the records of the seances of that period show an ensemble of characteristic traits which will be again met with in the later Hindoo
scenes—e.g., an immense garden of exotic plants, colonnades, rows of palm-trees, with enormous stone lions at the head; rugs of magnificent design, a temple surrounded by trees, with a statue, apparently that of Buddha; a procession of twelve women in white, who kneel, holding lighted lamps; in the centre another woman, with very black hair, detaches herself from the procession, balances a lamp, and burns a powder which expands into a white stone (the continuation of the romance shows this woman to be Simandini, of whom this was the first appearance) .
February 17, 1895.—At the end of a rather long seance, the table dictates Pirux sheik, and replies to our questions that it refers to an Arab sheik of the fifteenth century. At this moment Hélène awakes, saying that she had seen a man with a black mustache and curly hair, wearing a cloak and a turban, who seemed to be laughing at and mocking her. The spelling out of Pirux was not very clear, and Leopold, when interrogated later, neither affirmed categorically, nor did he deny, that this name was that of the sheik, father of Simandini.
March 3.—Seance with six persons present, all having their hands upon the table. After a brief waiting, Hélène is surprised at no longer being able to see my left middle finger, while she can see all my other fingers quite clearly. My bunch of keys, which I then place upon my middle finger, likewise disappears from her view. This very limited, systematic, visual anæsthesia authorizes the prediction, following numerous examples of former seances,
that the phenomena about to appear will concern me. Presently begins a long vision, consisting of scenes which Hélène believes she has already partially seen before.
She describes a pagoda, which she draws with her left hand, with a few strokes of her pencil; then an avenue of palms and statues, a procession, and ceremonies before an altar, etc.
The principal rôles are played by a personage in sandals, a great yellow robe, a helmet of gold, ornamented with precious stones (first appearance of Sivrouka) and by the woman with black hair and white robe, already seen on the 12th of October (Simandini).
In the first part of the vision, Hélène, who follows that woman with ecstatic gaze, describing her to us, sees her coming towards me, but at that moment the invisibility of my finger was extended to my entire person, and Hélène neither sees nor hears me. While she was fully conscious of the other sitters, she was astonished at seeing this woman make "on the empty air" certain gestures of laying-on of hands and benediction, which were made upon my head. On several occasions I change my place, and seat myself in different parts of the room. Each time, after a few seconds, Hélène turns towards me, and, without perceiving me, sees the woman with black hair place herself behind my seat and repeat her gestures of benediction in space, at a height corresponding to that of my head.
As the vision continues, I do not play any further rôle, but it has to do with a ceremony during which
the Hindoo woman with a diadem on her head burns incense in the midst of her twelve companions, etc.
During all this time the table, contrary to its custom, gave no explanation; but Hélène, having herself asked some questions, remarks that the imaginary woman replies to her by certain signs of her head and reveals to her many things that she had known in a former existence. At the moment of the disappearance of the vision, which had lasted more than an hour, Mlle. Smith hears the words ("Until presently"). The continuation, in fact, was not long delayed.
March 6.—Repetition and continuation of the preceding seance, with this degree of progress—viz., that the visual hallucination of the woman with the black hair was changed into a total cœnæsthetic hallucination—i.e., instead of a simple vision an incarnation was produced. After a very impressive scene of benediction, Hélène gave herself up to a succession of pantomimes in which she seemed to take part in a fearful spectacle and to struggle with enemies (scene of the funeral pile). She ended by seating herself on the divan when she recovered her normal state, after a series of psychical oscillations, various attitudes, etc. The last of her phases of mimicry was to tear off and throw away all the ornaments which an Asiatic princess could wear—rings on all her fingers, bracelets on her arms and wrists, a necklace, diadem, ear-rings, girdle, anklets. Once awake, she had no recollection of the scene of benediction, but recalled quite distinctly the dreams corresponding to the other pantomimes. She saw again the black-haired
woman, the Oriental landscape of the preceding seance, etc. In the course of her description the passage of the simple vision into the scene of incarnation was reflected in a change of the form of her narrative; she spoke to us of the woman in the third person, then suddenly adopted the first person, and said "I" in recounting among other things that she—or the black-haired woman—saw a corpse on the funeral pile, upon which four men, against whom she struggled, endeavored to force her to mount. When I drew her attention to this change of style, she replied that, in fact, it seemed as though she herself was that woman.
Independently of the Hindoo romance, these two seances are interesting from a psychological point of view, because the change from a visual, objective hallucination into total cœnæsthetic and motor hallucination occurs in it, constituting a complete transformation of the personality. This generalization of partial automatism at the beginning, this subjugation and absorption of the ordinary personality by the subliminal personality, does not always produce amnesia with Hélène, that unique impression which she might describe on awakening as being herself and some one else at the same time. (Compare, p. 119.) It must be noted that in the particular case of the identification of the black-haired Hindoo woman with Mlle. Hélène Smith of Geneva, the problem of the causal connection is susceptible of two opposite solutions (and the same remark will be equally appropriate in the case of Marie Antoinette).
For the believing spiritist it is because Mlle. Smith
is the reincarnation of Simandini—that is to say, because these two personages, in spite of the separation of their existences in time and space, are substantially and metaphysically identical—that she really again becomes Simandini, and feels herself to be a Hindoo princess in certain favorable somnambulistic states. For the empirical psychologist it is, on the contrary, because the visual memory of a Hindoo woman (her origin is of no importance) grows like a parasite and increases in surface and in depth like a drop of oil, until it invades the whole impressionable and suggestible personality of the medium—this is why Mlle. Smith feels herself becoming this woman, and concludes from it that she formerly actually was that person (see p. 28-30). But we must return from this digression to the Hindoo dream.
March 10.—After various waking visions relating to other subjects, Hélène enters into somnambulism. For twenty minutes she remains seated with her hands on the table, by means of raps struck upon which Leopold informs us that a scene of previous existence concerning me is being prepared; that I was formerly a Hindoo prince, and that Mlle. Smith, long before her existence as Marie Antoinette, had then been my wife, and had been burned on my tomb; that we should ultimately know the name of this Hindoo prince, as well as the time and place of these events, but not this evening, nor at the next seance. Then Hélène leaves the table, and in a silent pantomime of an hour's duration, the meaning of which, already quite clear, is confirmed by Leopold,
she plays, this time to the very close, the scene of the funeral pile as outlined in the preceding seance.
She goes slowly around the room, as if resisting and carried away in spite of herself, by turns supplicating and struggling fiercely with these fictitious men who are bearing her to her death.
All at once, standing on tiptoe, she seems to ascend the pile, hides, with affright, her face in her hands, recoils in terror, then advances anew as though pushed from behind. Finally she falls on her knees before a soft couch, in which she buries her face covered by her clasped hands. She sobs violently. By means of her little finger, visible between her cheek and the cushion of the couch, Leopold continues to reply very clearly by yes and no to my questions. It is the moment at which she again passes through her agony on the funeral pile: her cries cease little by little; her respiration becomes more and more panting, then suddenly stops and remains suspended during some seconds which seem interminable. It is the end! Her pulse is fortunately strong, though a little irregular. While I am feeling it, her breathing is re-established by means of a deep inspiration. After repeated sobs she becomes calm, and slowly rises and seats herself on a neighboring sofa. This scene of fatal dénouement lasted eight minutes. She finally awakens, remembering to have seen in a dream the dead body of a man stretched on a funeral pile, and a woman whom some men were forcing to ascend the pile against her will.
There was nothing Oriental in the succeeding seances,
and the Hindoo dream did not appear again until four weeks later.
April 7.—Mlle. Smith went quickly into a mixed state, in which the Hindoo dream was mingled and substituted, but only so far as concerns me, for the feeling of present reality. She believes me absent, asks other sitters why I have gone away, then rises and begins to walk around me and look at me, very much surprised at seeing my place occupied by a stranger with black curly hair and of brown complexion, clothed in a robe with flowing sleeves of blue, and with gold ornaments. When I speak to her she turns around and seems to hear my voice from the opposite side, whither she goes to look for me; when I go towards her she shuns me; then, when I follow her, she returns to the place I had just left. After some time occupied in these manœuvres she ceases to be preoccupied with me and my substitute in the blue robe, and falls into a deeper state. She takes on the look of a seeress, and describes a kind of embattled château on a hill, where she perceives and recognizes the before-mentioned personage with the curly hair, but in another costume and surrounded by very ugly black men, and women "who are good looking."
Interrogated as to the meaning of this vision, Leopold replies: "The city of Tchandraguiri in Kanaraau" (sic); then he adds, a moment later, "There is a letter too many in the last word," and ends by giving the name Kanara, and adding the explanation "of the fifteenth century." Upon awaking from this somnambulistic state, which lasted two hours, Hélène recalls
having had a dream of a personage with curly hair, in a blue robe, richly ornamented with precious stones, with a cutlass of gold, bent backward, suspended from a hook. She recollects having held a long conversation with him in a strange language which she understood and spoke very well herself, although she no longer knows the meaning of it.
April 14.—Very soon passing into a deep sleep, Mlle. Smith leaves the table and gives herself up to a silent pantomime, at first smiling, then finishing in sadness and by a scene of tears.
The meaning of this is explained by Leopold as follows: Hélène is in India, in her palace of Tchandraguiri, in Kanara, in 1401, and she receives a declaration of love from the personage with the curly hair, who is the Prince Sivrouka Nayaka, to whom she has been married for about a year. The prince has flung himself upon his knees, but he inspires in her a certain fright, and she still regrets having left her native country in order to follow him. Leopold affirms that she will remember, on awaking, in French, all that the prince has said to her in Sanscrit, and that she will repeat to us a part of it, but not all, because it is too private. After awaking she seems in reality to recall clearly her entire dream, and tells us that she found herself on a hill, where they were building . that it was not exactly a city, nor even a village, since there were no streets; that it was rather an isolated place in the country, and that which was being built was not in the form of a house; it had holes rather than windows (a fortress and loop-holes).
She found herself in a fine palace, very beautiful as to its interior, but not its exterior. There was a great hall, decorated with greens, with a grand staircase at the end, flanked by statues of gold. She held a long conversation there, not in French, with the swarthy personage with the black curly hair and magnificent costume; he finally ascended the staircase, but she did not follow him.
She appeared to recall well the meaning of all that he said to her in their conversation in a foreign language, but seemed embarrassed by these memories, and would not consent to relate them to us.
May 26.—In the course of this seance, as Hélène, in a silent somnambulism, incarnates the Hindoo princess, I hand her a sheet of paper and a pencil in the hope of obtaining some text or drawing. After divers scribblings she traces the single word Simadini in letters which are not at all like her usual hand (see Fig. 34).
Then taking a fresh sheet, she seems to write on it with a happy smile, folds it carefully and thrusts it in her corsage, takes it out again, and rereads it with rapture, etc. Leopold informs us that Simadini is the name of the Hindoo princess, and that she is reading a love-letter from Sivrouka. On awaking
she remembers having been "in such a beautiful palace," and of having received there a very interesting letter, but the contents of which she refused to disclose to us, being evidently too confidential.
I intercalate here two remarks apropos of the name Simadini, which is one of the first known examples of a handwriting of Mlle. Smith other than her own normal hand.
First: When, four months later, Leopold began to communicate in writing (pp. 98-103), a certain analogy in the formation of the letters, and the identical way of holding the pencil, caused us to believe that it was he who had already traced the word in Fig. 34. But he has always denied it, and we have never been able to discover the author of it. Secondly: I said above, (p. 204), that there had been divergences in the orthography of this name. Here, in substance, is a fragment of a letter which Mlle. Smith wrote me in the winter following (February 18, 1896), depicting to me the vexatious impressions which she still had concerning it.
". . . I am very sad, and I cannot tell why. I have a heavy heart, and for what reason I do not know myself. It came to such a pass to-day (you are going to laugh) that it seemed to me as though my left cheek had grown perceptibly thinner. I am sure that at this moment you would not recognize Simadini, so piteous and discouraged is her countenance! Think, that at the very moment in which I trace these words, I hear a voice speaking to me in my right ear: "Not Simadini, but Simandini! What do you think that can be? It is very strange, is it not?
[paragraph continues] Have we misunderstood that name? Or, perhaps, may it not be I who have misunderstood it? . . . "
Mlle. Smith here forgets that the name did not come to her on the first occasion by auditive hallucination, in which case it might be that she had misunderstood it, but by writing in somnambulism, which excludes any mistake of her ordinary consciousness. We must confine ourselves to registering as a fact, inexplicable hitherto, this correction of a graphic automatism by an auditive automatism at the end of several months. Between the two orthographies, I have adopted the second, which has undergone no further changes, and figures only in the Martian texts (10, 16).
June 16.—Fuller repetition of the scene of the letter of the Hindoo prince. Impossible to learn the contents of it. I suggest to her to remember and to relate them to us upon awakening, but Leopold replies: "She will not reveal it. Why have you not gained her confidence sufficiently, that she may tell you everything without fear?" and the suggestion had no effect.
June 30.—Somnambulism with silent pantomime, the meaning of which is given by Leopold: It is the scene of the betrothal of Simandini and Sivrouka at Tchandraguiri. There is first a phase of oppression, with sighs and gestures as of a struggle against various pretenders who wish to seize her; then laughter and ecstasy, provoked by the arrival of Sivrouka, who delivers her and drives off his rivals; finally, joy and admiration on accepting the flowers and jewels which he offers her.
I have reported, too much at length perhaps,
though still greatly abridged, these first appearances of the Oriental romance, because they form a continuous series, in the reverse of . the chronological order, conformably to a spiritistic theory which holds that in these memories of previous existences the mediumistic memory goes back and recovers the "images" of the more recent events before those which are more remote. During this first period of four months, the Hindoo cycle made irruption into eight seances. (about one-twentieth of those at which I have been present since I have had knowledge of them), and has manifested itself somewhat like the panorama of a magic lantern, unfolding itself in successive tableaux.
This whole history can be summed up by a few principal tableaux: there was the scene of the death on the funeral pile, prepared in vision in the seance of the 6th of March and executed on the 10th; then the scene of the interior of the palace and the fortress in process of construction (7th and 14th of April); that of the love-letter (26th of May and 16th of June); finally, the betrothal (30th of June). There must be added to these the grand tableau at the beginning, first presented in vision the 3d of March, then realized three days later with the astonishing exclamation Atièyâ Ganapatinâmâ. The meaning of this scene has never been explained by Leopold, but seems to be quite clear. A species of prologue can be seen in it, or even apotheosis, inaugurating the entire romance; it is the Hindoo princess of four centuries ago recognizing her lord and master in flesh and blood, under the unexpected form of a university
professor, whom she greets with an emphasis wholly Oriental in blessing him, very appropriately, in the name of the divinity of science and of wisdom—since Ganapati is an equivalent of Ganesâ, the god with the head of an elephant, patron of sages and savants.
It can be easily conceived that these two words of Oriental resonance, spoken aloud at a period at which the Martian was not yet born—and followed by all the conversations unfortunately unheard by us, which at the waking at the subsequent seances Hélène recalled having held in a strange language (in Sanscrit, according to Leopold) with the Hindoo prince of her dreams—would excite a lively curiosity and a desire to obtain longer audible fragments of this unknown idiom. It was only in September, 1895, that this satisfaction was afforded us, during a seance at which the Oriental romance, which had given no further sign of life since the month of June, made a new outbreak. Starting from that moment, it has never ceased during these four years to reappear irregularly, and, suffering some eclipses, accompanied on each occasion by words of a Sanscritoid aspect. But the plot of the romance has no longer the same clearness that it showed at the beginning. In place of tableaux linking themselves in a regular chronological order, they are often no more than confused reminiscences, memories, without precise bonds between them, which gush forth from the memory of Simandini. As the fragments of our youthful years surge up incoherent and pell-mell in our dreams, Mlle. Smith, too, finds herself easily assailed in her somnambulisms by visions connected
with certain episodes, and not forming an entire continuation of supposed Asiatic pre-existence.
Some of these scenes concern her life as a young Arab girl. One sees her there, for example, playing joyously with her little monkey, Mitidja; or copying an Arab text (see Fig. 35, p. 312), which her father, the sheik, surrounded by his tribes, furnishes her; or embarking on a strange boat, escorted by black Hindoos, for her new country, etc. But much the larger number of her somnambulistic trances and her spontaneous visions have reference to her life in India and to the details of her daily existence. Her bath, which the faithful domestic Adèl prepares for her; her walks and reveries in the splendid gardens of the palace, all full of a luxurious vegetation and rare birds of brilliant colors; her scenes of tenderness and of affectionate effusions—always stamped, this is to be noted, with the most perfect propriety—towards the Prince Sivrouka, when he is kindly disposed; scenes of regret also and abundant tears for the memory of her far-off native land, when the capricious and brutal humor of the Oriental despot makes itself too severely felt; conversation with the fakir Kanga; devotions and religious ceremonies before some Buddhist image, etc., all this forms an ensemble extremely varied and full of local color. There is in the whole being of Simandini—in the expression of her countenance (Hélène almost always has her large eyes open in this somnambulism), in her movements, in the quality of her voice when she speaks or chants Hindoo—a languishing grace, an abandon, a melancholy
sweetness, a something of languor and of charm, which corresponds wonderfully with the character of the Orient, as the spectators conceive it to be, who, like me, have never been there, etc. With all this a bearing always full of noblesse and dignity conforms to that which one would expect of a princess; there are no dances, for example, nothing of the bayadère.
Mlle. Smith is really very wonderful in her Hindoo somnambulisms. The way in which Simandini seats herself on the ground, her legs crossed, or half stretched out, nonchalantly leaning her arms or her head against a Sivrouka, who is sometimes real (when in her incomplete trance she takes me for her prince), sometimes imaginary; the religious and solemn gravity of her prostrations when, after having for a long time balanced the fictitious brazier, she crosses her extended hands on her breast, kneeling and bowing herself three times, her forehead striking the ground; the melancholy sweetness of her chants in a minor key, wailing and plaintive melodies, which unfold themselves in certain flute-like notes, prolonged in a slow decrescendo, and only dying away at the end of a single note held for fully fourteen seconds; the agile suppleness of her swaying and serpentine movements, when she amuses herself with her imaginary monkey, caresses it, embraces it, excites it, scolds it laughingly, and makes it repeat all its tricks—all this so varied mimicry and Oriental speech have such a stamp of originality, of ease, of naturalness, that one asks in amazement whence it comes to this little daughter
of Lake Leman, without artistic education or special knowledge of the Orient—a perfection of play to which the best actress, without doubt, could only attain at the price of prolonged studies or a sojourn on the banks of the Ganges.
The problem, as I have already stated, is not yet solved, and I am obliged still to endeavor to discover whence Hélène Smith has derived her ideas in regard to India. It seems that the more simple method would be to take advantage of the hypnotic state of the seances to obtain a confession from Hélène's subconscious memory, and persuade it to disclose the secret; but my efforts in that direction have not as yet succeeded. It is doubtless incompetency on my part, and I will end, perhaps—or some one better qualified than I—in finding the joint in the armor. The fact is that hitherto I have always run up against Leopold, who will not allow himself to be ejected or ridiculed, and who has never ceased to affirm that the Sanscrit, Simandini, and the rest are authentic. All the trails which I have thought I have discovered—and they are already numerous—have proved false. The reader must pardon me for not going into the details of my failures in this regard.
If it was only a question of the Hindoo pantomime the mystery would not be so great: some recitations at school, newspaper articles concerning the incineration of the widows of Malabar, engravings and descriptions relative to the civil and religious life of India, etc.—in short, the varied sources of information which, in a civilized country and at our epoch
of cosmopolitanism, inevitably meet some time or other the eyes or ears of every one of us and form part of the equipment (conscious or unconscious) of every individual who is not altogether uncultured, would more than suffice to explain the scene of the funeral pile, the prostrations, and the varied attitudes. There are, indeed, some well-known examples showing how small a thing a cunning intelligence, furnished with a good memory and a fertile and plastic imagination, needs in order to reconstruct or fabricate out of nothing a complex edifice, having every appearance of authenticity, and capable of holding in check for a considerable length of time the perspicacity even of skilled minds. But that which conscious and reflecting labor has succeeded in accomplishing in the cases referred to, the subliminal faculties can execute to a much higher degree of perfection in the case of persons subject to automatic tendencies.
But two points remain, which complicate the case of the Hindoo romance and seem to defy—thus far, at least—all normal explanation, because they surpass the limits of a simple play of the imagination These are the precise historical information given by Leopold, some of which can be, in a certain sense, verified; and the Hindoo language spoken by Simandini, which contains words more or less recognizable, the real meaning of which is adapted to the situation in which they have been spoken. But, even if Hélène's imagination could have reconstructed the manners and customs and scenes of the Orient from the general information floating in some way in cosmopolitan
atmosphere, still one cannot conceive whence she has derived her knowledge of the language and of certain obscure episodes in the history of India. These two points deserve to be examined separately.
II. SIVROUKA AND M. DE MARLÈS
When Kanara, Sivrouka, Simandini, etc., successively made their appearance, slowly spelled out by Leopold, with the date of 1401, my companions of the seance and I hastened to investigate Brouillet, who brought to mind the province of Malabar in connection with the first of these names, but left us in utter darkness as to the others. The geography of Vivien Saint-Martin revealed the existence of no fewer than three Tchandraguiris—a hill, a river, and a small town in the district of Arcot-Nord (Madras). The latter—or rather its citadel on the summit of the hill—answered quite well to the description given by Hélène in her visions of the 7th and 14th of April, but the construction of this fortress dates back only to 1510, and this locality is very far removed from the Kanara where Leopold locates this entire story (see pp. 286-288).
As to Sivrouka and his surroundings, neither biographical dictionaries nor encyclopædias were able to furnish me the least hint on this subject. Living historians or Orientalists to whom I addressed myself were of a discouraging unanimity in replying that they did not recognize even the names, the historic correctness of which they regarded as doubtful, and
they did not at all remember having met with them in works of fiction.
"I have there," said a learned professor of history, showing me a good-sized bookcase, "numerous works on the history of India; but they relate only to the north of the peninsula; and as to what transpired in the south during the period to which you refer, we know almost nothing. Your names are unknown to me and do not recall to my mind any personage, real or fictitious."
"The very name of Sivrouka seems to me improbable as a Hindoo name" replied another, who was unable to give me any more information on the subject.
"I greatly regret," wrote a third, on receipt of Hélène's texts, "not to have succeeded in getting upon the trail of the recollections of your medium. I cannot think of any book which would be likely to furnish the information. Tchandraguiri and Mangalore (where several scenes of the Hindoo cycle are located) are correct, but Madras (id.) did not exist in 1401. Its name and foundation do not go further back than the seventeenth century. That region was then a dependency of the kingdom of Vijayanagara, and a naïk in the service of those princes resided successively at Tchandraguiri and at Mangalore. I can make nothing of Sivrouka; the king of Vijayanagara, in 1402, was Bukkha II., or Bukkha called Siribukkha, Tiribukkha. But the naïk who so often changed his residence was evidently not a ruling prince. Was it a romance? Certain details caused me to doubt it. A romancer
so careful in regard to local coloring as to introduce into his narrative Indian words, would not have given the title of the prince under the Sanscrit form Nayaka, but would have used the vulgar form naïk; he would not have made the wife, in speaking to her husband, call him by his name Sivrouka (as Hélène constantly does in this somnambulism). I have no recollection of having read anything of this kind, and I know of no work of fiction from which the story might have been taken."
It will be readily understood that I was annoyed at not being able to establish clearly my presumed Asiatic previous existence. However, while professional science was administering to me these cold douches, I continued, on my own account, to search the libraries at my disposal, and here one fine day I accidentally came across, in an old history of India, in six volumes, by a man named De Marlès, the following passages:
"Kanara and the neighboring provinces on the side towards Delhi may be regarded as the Georgia of Hindustan; it is there, it is said, that the most beautiful women are to be found; the natives, however, are very jealous in guarding them, and do not often allow them to be seen by strangers."
"Tchandraguiri, which signifies Mountain of the Moon, is a vast fortress constructed, in 1401, by the rajah Sivrouka Nayaka. This prince, as also his successors, belonged to the sect of the Djaïns."
At last! With what a beating heart did I fasten my eyes on that irrefutable historic evidence that my preceding incarnation, under the beautiful skies of
[paragraph continues] India was not a myth! I felt new life in my veins. I reread twenty times those blessed lines, and took a copy of them to send to those pretended savants who were ignorant even of the name of Sivrouka, and allowed doubts to be cast upon his reality.
Alas! my triumph was of brief duration. It seems that the testimony of De Marlès is not of the highest order. This author is held in slight esteem in well-informed circles, as may be seen from the following passage in a letter of M. Barth, which merely expresses, in a vigorous and lively manner, an opinion which other specialists have confirmed: *
"It is through a letter of M. Flournoy that I learn that there has existed since 1828 in Paris, printed in Roman characters, a history of India by De Marlès containing a statement that the fortress of Candragiri was built in 1401, and that its founder was Sivrouka Nayaka. What new facts there are in books one no longer consults! And that of De Marlès is, indeed, one of those that are no longer consulted. I found it yesterday at the library of the Institute. It would have been impossible to have done worse, even in 1828. But sometimes we find pearls in a dung-hill, and perhaps this Sivrouka Nayaka is one of them. Unfortunately, the author gives no hint as to the sources of his information; and later, in his fourth volume, in which he narrates the history of the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries,
he does not say a word more either of Candragiri or of Sivrouka."
Here was a terrible blow to my Hindoo existence, which poor M. de Marlès had so well established for me.
Nevertheless, the hope still lingers that his information, although not reproduced by later writers more highly esteemed, may perhaps still be correct. This is quite possible, since science has not yet spoken its last word in this department, hardly even its first, if men still more competent may be believed, beginning with M. Barth himself.
"Up to the present moment," says he, "there is no trustworthy history of the south of the peninsula. . . . The Dravidian languages of India is a domain very unfamiliar to the majority of Indian scholars. . . . There is nothing to draw upon but some works and monographs on the aboriginal chronicles and legendary traditions; and it would be necessary to know the Dravidian languages on the one hand and Arabic on the other, to be able to examine or even consult them with profit. The only works which we are able to follow are those which undertake to make this history by epigraphic documents, but these, thus far, say nothing of Simandini, of Adèl, of Mitidja, or even of Sivrouka."
This silence of epigraphy is certainly to be regretted; but who knows whether it will not some day enlighten us by proving De Marlès to be right—and also Leopold—by narrating to us the true story of the Hindoo princess, the Arabian monkey, and the slave Adèl! It costs nothing to hope! Already,
thanks again to M. Barth, I have gained information concerning another Tchandraguiri than the one of the District of North Arcot mentioned by Vivien de Saint-Martin—i.e., a Tchandraguiri, situated in South Kanara, and in the citadel of which a hitherto unknown inscription has been discovered which must date back to the time of King Harihara II., of Vijayanagara, who reigned at the beginning of the fifteenth century. * Here is something approaching the somnambulistic revelations of Mlle. Smith. While awaiting their definite confirmation by new archæological discoveries, traces of Sivrouka may be sought for in the earlier works upon which De Marlès must have drawn. Unfortunately these works are not easy to find, and are inconvenient to consult. Professor Michel, of the University of Liège, has had the kindness to run through those of Buchanan † and of Rennell ‡ but without result.
If De Marlès did not invent Sivrouka out of whole cloth, which is hardly supposable, it was very probably in the translation of Ferishta by Dow, § that he
found his facts. I have, unhappily, not yet been able myself to consult that very rare work, which is not to be found in Geneva, so far as I am aware, nor to obtain accurate information regarding its contents.
The uncertainty which hovers over the historical problem extends, naturally, to the psychological problem also. It is clear that if certain inscriptions, or even some old work, should come some day to tell us not only of Sivrouka, but of Simandini, of Adèl, and the other personages who figure in Hélène's Hindoo romance, but of whom De Marlès does not whisper a word, we should no longer care about the latter author, and the question would then be as follows: Could Mlle. Smith have had cognizance of these early works, and if not, how do their contents reappear in her somnambulism? But in the actual condition of things, and all allowance made for possible surprises in the future, I do not hesitate to regard as the more probable and more rational supposition, that it was really the passage of De Marlès, quoted above, which furnished he subliminal memory of Hélène the precise date of 1401—and the three names of the fortress, the province, and the rajah.
Various other traits of the visions of Mlle. Smith betray likewise the same inspiration. The scene in which she sees them engaged in building, and her description of that which is being built, suggest clearly the idea of a fortress furnished by the text. The translation Mountain of the Moon contributed to
causing her to locate the scene upon a hill. The beauty of the women of the country, on which De Marlès dwells, has its echo in the remark of Hélène that the women whom she sees are "good looking." Finally, the princely character of Sivrouka, mentioned by De Marlès, is found throughout the length of the entire romance, and displays itself in the splendor of his costume, of the palace, of the gardens, etc.
It is possible that the names and the nationality of the other personages—Simandini, Adèl, the monkey, the sheik, etc.—may have been borrowed from some unknown work, which would be, for the Arabian portion of the narrative, the pendant to De Marlès for the Hindoo past.
This may be, but it is not necessary. It is permissible to regard, provisionally, the imaginations built up around Sivrouka, as an ingenious expedient, by means of which Hélène's imagination finds a way of binding to that central figure, and also of blending in a single whole, her other Oriental memories not specifically Hindoo.
The hypothesis which I am about to assume, which connects directly with De Marlès the data of Hélène's Asiatic dream, contained likewise in the work of that author, arouses, nevertheless, two objections. The first is drawn from the slight differences of orthography between the text of De Marlès and the words spoken by Leopold. This difficulty is only insurmountable by elevating the inerrancy of the subliminal memory to the plane of absolute infallibility, though the latter must be admitted to be ordinarily very much superior to that of the conscious
memory. But the favorite comparison of the forgotten memories, reappearing in somnambulisms, to unchangeable, absolutely true photographic impressions, causes us readily to exaggerate the fidelity of the unconscious memory-images. The example of certain dreams—in which memories of childhood sometimes return with a startling clearness, but, nevertheless, altered or distorted in some details, conformably to later experiences or to recent events—suffices to show that automatisms of the memory are not always sheltered by influences of the imagination, nor absolutely free from error.
In this particular case there are two divergences between De Marlès and Leopold: the latter has substituted a k for the c in Nayaca, and has omitted the n in Tchandraguiri (compare pp. 286 and 288). Another mistake, which he immediately corrected, consisting in dictating first Kanaraau, was evidently a confusion such as frequently occurs in writing, occasioned by a too rapid passing from the word Kanara to the information following, and already about to come—"au fifteenth century." The spelling Nayaka, instead of Nayaca, is attributable to the termination of the word Sivrouka, which precedes it. Identity of pronunciation has produced identity of orthography.
The second objection is of a negative character. It consists in the impossibility of showing where, when, or how Mlle. Smith obtained cognizance of the text of De Marlès.
I admit frankly that I know nothing about it, and I give full credit to Hélène for the indomitable and
persevering energy with which she has never ceased to protest against my hypothesis, which has the faculty of exasperating her in the highest degree—and one readily understands that it would naturally do so. For it is in vain that she digs down to the very bottom of her memories; she does not discover the slightest trace of this work. And not only that, but how can one seriously suppose that she has ever had the slightest intimation of it, since she never studied the history of India, has neither read nor heard anything on the subject, the very name of De Marlès having been utterly unknown to her up to the day on which she learned that I suspected that author of being the source of the Hindoo romance? It must-indeed, be admitted that the idea of the passage in question having come before the eyes or ears of Mlle. Smith through any ordinary channel seems a trifle absurd. I only know in Geneva of two copies of the work of De Marlès, both covered with dust—the one belonging to the Société de Lecture, a private association of which none of the Smith family nor any friend of theirs was ever a member; the other in the Public Library, where, among the thousands of more interesting and more modern books, it is now very rarely consulted. It could only have happened, therefore, by a combination of absolutely exceptional and almost unimaginable circumstances that the work of De Marlès could have found its way into Hélène's hands; and how could it have done so and she not have the slightest recollection of it?
I acknowledge the force of this argument, and that the wisest thing to do is to leave the matter in suspense.
[paragraph continues] But if the question must be decided, though there is scarcely any choice, extravagance for extravagance, I still prefer the hypothesis which only invokes natural possibilities to that which appeals to occult causes.
Possibly the work of De Marlès may have been heard of by Mlle. Smith without her normal consciousness taking note of it. Either when among her friends or acquaintances, or with her parents, she might have heard some passages read in her young days, etc. The fact that she has no conscious recollection of it proves nothing against such a supposition to any one who is at all familiar with the play of our faculties.
It goes without saying that my method of reasoning is the inverse of that which generally prevails in spiritistic circles. Witness the celebrated Aksakoff, as a single example, who, discovering that a curious typtological message was found already in print in a book which could not readily have come to the knowledge of the medium, and recognizing the fact that the message came from that book, says: "But in what way could the brain of the medium have been made aware of the contents of the book? There is the mystery. I refuse to admit that it could have been through natural means. I believe it was by some occult process."
Very well! this is plain language, and the frankness of the declaration charms me to such a degree that I cannot resist the temptation to appropriate it for myself in the case of Mlle. Smith and M. de Marlès, transposing only two words: "I refuse to admit that it
could have been through occult means. I believe it was by some natural process." Evidently, in doubtful cases (which are in an enormous majority), in which the natural and the occult explanations are in direct opposition, without the possibility of a material demonstration as to which is true in fact, a decision must be reached in accordance with personal taste and feeling. Between these two methodological points of view a reconciliation is scarcely possible. The reader may think what he will. But, right or wrong, I claim the first of these as my opinion, and regard the tendency of the supernatural and occult to substitute themselves, on account of the insufficiency of our knowledge, for the acquired rights of natural hypothesis, as an unjustifiable reversal of rôles.
To those who shall find my hypothesis decidedly too extravagant—or too simple—remains a choice between the multiple forms of occult hypothesis. Shall it be Leopold who, in his all-powerful state of disincarnation, has read in the closed volume of De Marlès? Or has there, indeed, been a telepathic transmission of this passage from the brain of some unknown terrestrial reader to that of Mlle. Smith? Shall it be with her a case of clairvoyance, of lucidity, of intuition in the astral body; or, again, of trickery on the part of some facetious spirit? And if, taking the reincarnationist theory seriously, it is admitted that Sivrouka, 1401, and Tchandraguiri, are indeed really reminiscences of the past life of Simandini, how explain that curious coincidence in their choice and their spelling with precisely the designations used by M. de Marlès?
Verily my brain reels in the midst of all these alternatives, and I hasten to pass to another subject.
III. THE ARAB ELEMENTS OF THE ORIENTAL CYCLE
Here is a problem for the partisans of the Oriental pre-existence of Mlle. Smith: How comes it that, recovering in her trances the use of the Hindoo which she formerly spoke at the court of Sivrouka, she has totally forgotten Arabian, which, however, had been her mother-tongue in that same previous existence, and which she was accustomed to use exclusively up to the time of her departure from her native land, in her eighteenth year?
If the emotions caused by her royal marriage had destroyed all memory of the past, one could understand how the idiom might have become obscured along with the rest in that loss of memory of her life as a young girl.
But such was not the case. She preserved very vivid memories of her father the sheik, of his tents gleaming in the sunlight, of the people, of the camels and landscapes of Arabia. In many seances and spontaneous visions she finds herself carried back to that first half of her Asiatic existence. But then she narrates in French that which is unfolded before her eyes, or gives herself up to a silent pantomime. She has never spoken or written anything at all resembling Arabian. Can it be supposed that already in her Hindoo life she had assimilated the language of her
adopted country to the point of losing even the latent memories of her maternal language? That would be contrary to all known psychological analogies.
However, in saying that Hélène has never written or spoken Arabian I exaggerate. On one occasion she spoke four words of it. It is the exception which proves the rule. In fact, not only did she fail to accompany that single text with any pronunciation, but she executed it as a drawing, and apparently copied, without comprehending, a model which an imaginary person presented to her.
Here is a review of that incident:
October 27, 1895.—Shortly after the beginning of the seance Mlle. Smith has an Arabian vision: "Look at those tents! There are no stones here—it is all sand . . . [she counts the tents one by one]. There are twenty of them. That one is beautiful. Don't you find it so, M. Lemaître—that largest one? It is fastened by cords and small stakes. . . ." etc. Then she describes the personages: The one who is smoking, seated in a corner, with his legs crossed; others all black (the table says they are negroes, and that the scene takes place in Arabia); then a man clothed in white, whom Hélène has the feeling of knowing without being able to recognize him; she places her finger upon her forehead, in the attitude of a person trying to remember, and the table (on which she has her left hand) informs us then that she lived in Arabia in her life as Simandini, and that she is trying to recollect those far-distant times. A quite long scene follows, in which her Arab reminiscences alternate and mingle with the consciousness of the
real environment, though she neither sees nor hears us. At this point a state of mental confusion ensues, which seems to be very painful to her.
". . . M. Lemaître! M. Flournoy! are you there? Answer me, then. Did I not come here this evening? If only I could . . . however, I am not en voyage. . . . I really believe it is Sunday at last . . . I understand nothing more about it. I think my brain is so tired that all my ideas are mixed up . . . however, I am not dreaming. . . . It seems to me that I have also lived with them . . . [the sitters at the table], and with them [the Arabs of her vision]. . . . But I know them—all those men. Tell me, then, who you are! Did you arrive in Geneva lately? [They are, says the table, Arabs who lived five centuries ago, among them the father of Simandini.] Come nearer, then, come here. I want you to speak to me! M. Lemaître! Oh, that pretty little sketch! What is that sketch? [The table having said that it is a drawing which her father is presenting to her, and that she can copy it, a pencil and a sheet of paper are placed before her, the latter of which seems to be transformed into papyrus in her dream.] That green leaf is pretty. Of what plant is it the leaf? I think I have a pencil; I am going to try to make this sketch. . . ."
After the usual struggle between the two methods of holding the pencil (see pp. 100-102), she yields to Leopold's manner of holding it, saying, "So much the worse"; then traces, slowly and with great care, Fig. 35, from left to right, often raising her eyes to her imaginary model, as if copying a drawing. After
which she goes profoundly asleep; then other somnambulisms come.
On awaking she recollects the state of confusion through which she had passed. "Wretched evening," said she. "I was unhappy. I felt that I was living here, as I always have, and I saw some things as though I were a foreigner. I was with you, but I was living elsewhere," etc.
This whole scene gives the distinct impression that the Arab phrase only existed in Hélène's recollection as a visual memory, without meaning or any verbal images. It was for her an incomprehensible piece of writing, a simple drawing, like Chinese or Japanese characters would be for us. Evidently it was a text which had come before her eyes at some propitious moment, and, having been absorbed by the subliminal imagination—always on the watch for matters of Oriental aspect—had been incorporated in a scene of the Asiatic dream.
Such, at least, is the supposition which seems to me the most plausible. For, to regard it as a fragment of Arabian, which Hélène could speak and write fluently if she were in an appropriate state of somnambulism—as Leopold pretended one day to be the fact—seems to me an hypothesis still more
Fig. 35. Arabian text drawn from left to right by Mlle. Smith in hemisomnambulism: elqalil men elhabib ktsir, the little from the friend (is) much. Natural size."
arbitrary, and little in accord with the other trance phenomena of Mlle. Smith.
Occasions have not been wanting to her in the five years during which her exotic romances have been unfolding themselves to make use of her supposed philological reserves by speaking and writing Arabian, if her subliminal memory had so desired.
She has presented all degrees and kinds of somnambulism, and more visions of Arabia than could have failed to awaken by association the corresponding idiom, if it really was slumbering in her. The complete and total isolation of the text given above, in the midst of this flood of Oriental scenes, seems to me, therefore, to testify strongly in favor of my supposition that it has to do with a visual flash, unique in its kind, accidentally encountered and stored up, and that the Asiatic secondary. personality of Mlle. Smith is absolutely ignorant of Arabic.
Concerning the other details of the Arab somnambulisms of Hélène, I have nothing to say; they do not go beyond the ideas which she could unconsciously have gathered from the surrounding environment; and to the other sources of her knowledge must be added whatever she might have heard from her father, who had at one time lived in Algeria.
The proper names connected with the Arab scenes, with the possible exception of Pirux, awaken certain associations of ideas, without making it possible to affirm anything with certainty as to their origin.
IV. THE HINDOO LANGUAGE OF MLLE. SMITH
The nature of the Hindoo language of Hélène is less easy to explain clearly than that of the Martian, because it has never been possible to obtain either a literal translation of it or written texts. Besides, being ignorant of the numberless dialects of ancient and modern India, and not believing it to be incumbent upon me to devote myself to their study solely that I might be able to appreciate at their proper value the philological exploits of an entranced medium, I am not in a situation to allow myself any personal judgment in regard to this matter.
There is not even left to me the resource of placing the parts of the process as a whole before the reader, as I have done in the case of the Martian, for the reason that our ignorance of Hélène's Hindoo, added to her rapid and indistinct pronunciation—a real prattle sometimes—has caused us to lose the greater part of the numerous words heard in the course of some thirty Oriental scenes scattered over a space of four years.
Even the fragments which we have been able to note down present for the most part so much uncertainty that it would be idle to publish all of them. I have communicated the best of them to several distinguished Oriental scholars. From certain information which they have kindly given me, it appears that the soi-disant Hindoo of Hélène is not any fixed idiom known to these specialists; but, on the other hand, there are to be found in it, more or less
disfigured and difficult to recognize, certain terms or roots which approach more nearly to Sanscrit than any actual language of India, and the meaning of which often very well corresponds with the situations in which these words have been uttered. I proceed to give some examples of them:
1. The two words, atiêyâ ganapatinâmâ, which inaugurated the Hindoo language on the 6th of March, 1895 (see p. 282), and which were invested at that moment, in the mouth of Simandini, with the evident meaning of a formula of salutation or of benediction, addressed to her late husband, inopportunely returned, were articulated in a manner so impressive and so solemn that their pronunciation leaves scarcely any room for doubt.
It is all the more interesting to ascertain the accord of my scientist correspondents upon the value of these two words; the first recalls to them nothing precise or applicable to the situation, but the second is a flattering and very appropriate allusion to the divinity of the Hindoo Pantheon, which is more actively interesting to the professional world.
M. P. Oltramare, to whom I sent these words, without saying anything as to their source, replied: "There is nothing more simple than the word ganapatinâmâ; it means, 'who bears the name of Ganapati,' which is the same as Ganesa. . . . As to atiêyâ, that word has not a Hindoo appearance; it might perhaps be atreya, which, it seems, serves as a designation for women who have suffered an abortion, an explication which, however, I do not guarantee. [In order to
affirm more concerning these words, it would be necessary to know] whether they are really Sanscrit, since if they belong to the vulgar languages, I excuse myself absolutely."
M. Glardon, who is more familiar with the vulgar languages and speaks Hindustani fluently, did not hint to me of any other meaning for atiêyâ and saw also in the other word "an epithet of honor, literally, 'named Ganapati,' familiar name of the god Ganesa."
M. de Saussure also found no meaning whatever for the first term, in which he inclines now to see an arbitrary creation of the Martian order, and he remarked that in the second, "the two words, Ganapati, well-known divinity, and nâmâ, name, are constructed together, in some inexplicable manner, but not necessarily false. It is quite curious," adds he, "that this fragment, which is mixed up with the name of a god, may be properly pronounced with a kind of solemn emphasis and a gesture of religious benediction. This denotes, indeed, an intelligent and intentional use."
According to this first brief specimen, therefore, Hélène's Hindoo appears to be a mixture of improvised articulations and of veritable Sanscrit words adapted to the situation. Later specimens only serve to corroborate this impression.
2. The next outbreak of Hindoo took place five months later (September 15, 1895), in the midst of a very long Oriental seance, in which I only refer to points especially interesting to us—to wit, Hélène's supposed Sanscrit, the French interpretation which
[paragraph continues] Leopold gave of it, and the curious evidences of agreement of these two texts.
In one tender scene, with sighs and tears, in connection with Sivrouka, Hélène uttered in an exceedingly sweet voice the following words: ou mama priva (or prira, priya)—mama radisivou—mama sadiou sivrouka—apa tava va signa damasa—simia damasa bagda sivrouka. During the various phases which precede the awaking, I ask Leopold the meaning of these words. He at first refused to give it, saying, "Find it out yourself"; then, as I insist, "I would have preferred that you found it out yourself." I beg him to give at least the correct spelling of an Oriental text furnished us in so uncertain a manner, but he disappeared, saying he was ignorant of Sanscrit. By means of later questions which he answers by "yes" and "no," it is discovered that they are words of love from Simandini to her husband, who was about to leave her for a voyage to his principality. Then suddenly, as the awaking seems to be approaching, Leopold moves the index-finger feverishly, and commences to dictate impatiently: "Hasten [to spell] . . . My good, my excellent, my dearly loved Sivrouka, without thee where to find happiness?" His answers to our questions lead us to understand that this is the substantial meaning of all the Sanscrit spoken that evening (and given above), that it is not he, Leopold, who speaks this language to Hélène, because he does not understand it, but that it is indeed he who gives us the French equivalent for it, not by a literal translation of the words themselves, since he does not understand them, but by interpreting
the inmost feelings of Mlle. Smith, with which he is perfectly familiar. Shortly afterwards Hélène awakes without recollection.
According to M. de Saussure there are certainly in this text some Sanscrit fragments answering more or less to the interpretation of Leopold. The most clear are mama priya, which signifies my dear, my dearly loved, and mama sadiou (corrected to sâdhô), my good, my excellent. The rest of the phrase is less satisfactory in its present condition; tava could well be of thee, but apa tava is a pure barbarism, if it is intended for far from thee. In the same way the syllable bag in bagda seems to mean, independently of the translation of Leopold, bhâga, happiness, but is surrounded by incomprehensible syllables.
3. In a subsequent seance (December 1, 1895), Hélène gave herself up to a varied series of somnambulistic pantomimes representing scenes in the life of Simandini, which were thought to be located at Mangalore, and in the course of which several Hindoo words escaped her, of which, unhappily, no interpretation could be obtained from Leopold. But here again, if one is not too difficult to satisfy, a meaning more or less adapted to the pantomime is finally discovered.
In the midst of a playful scene with her little monkey, Mitidja, she tells him in her sweetest and most harmonious tones (A), mama kana sour (or sourde) mitidya . . . kana mitidya (ter). Later, answering her imaginary prince, who, according to Leopold,
has just given her a severe admonition (the reason for which is not known), and to which she listened with an air of forced submission, and, almost sneeringly, she tells him (B), adaprati tava sivrouka . . . . nô simyô sinonyedô . . . on yediô sivrouka. Returning to a better feeling and leaning towards him, she murmurs with a charming smile (C) mama plia . . . mama naximi (or naxmi) sivrouka . . . aô laos, mi sivrouka.
In the fragment (A), one may suppose the mama kana to be a term of affection, taking the kana to be equivalent to the Sanscrit kânta, "beloved," or kanistha, "darling," unless it be translated, as M. Glardon does, kana (corrected to khana) mitidya to eat for Mitidja.
In the phrase (B), according to M. de Saussure, "the last words might, with some show of reason, make us think of the word anyediuh, the following day, or, another day, repeated twice; and, on the other hand, the first word might be transformed into adya-prabhrti, starting from to-day; which, combined with other syllables, themselves conventionally triturated, might give something like: adya-pra-bhrti tava, sivruka . yôshin . . . na anyediuh, anyediuh: from to-day, of thee, Sivrouka, that I am . . . wife . . . not another day, another day—which, besides (if it has any meaning at all,) has scarcely any connection with the scene."
In the phrase (C) the words mama plia evidently mean the same as the words above, mama priya, my beloved; naxmi might be lakshmî, beauty and
fortune; and the last words might contain asmi, I am.
While, therefore, recognizing some words of pure Sanscrit, the whole appearance of these first texts presents, on the other hand, certain matters quite suspicious, from the point of view of construction, of the order of the words, and possibly also the correctness of the forms.
"E.g.," observes M. de Saussure, "I do not remember that one can say in Sanscrit, 'my Sivrouka,' nor 'my dear Sivrouka.' One can well say mama priya, my well beloved, substantively; but mama priya Sivruka is quite another thing: but it is my dear Sivrouka which occurs most frequently. It is true," adds my learned colleague, "that nothing can be affirmed absolutely, especially concerning certain epochs at which much bad Sanscrit was made in India. The resource always remains to us of assuming that, since the eleventh wife of Sivrouka was a child of Arabia, she had not had time to learn to express herself without error in the idiom of her lord and master, up to the moment at which the funeral pile put an end to her brief existence."
The misfortune is, in assuming by hypothesis the point of view of the romance, one exposes himself to another difficulty. "The most surprising thing," remarks M. de Saussure, "is that Mme. Simandini spoke Sanscrit, and not Pracrit (the connection of the first with the second is the same as that between Latin and French, the one springing from the other, but the one is the language in which the savants write, while the other is the spoken language).
[paragraph continues] While in the Hindoo drama the kings, the brahmins, and the personages of high degree are observed habitually to use Sanscrit, it is questionable if such was constantly the case in real life. But, under all circumstances, all the women, even in the drama, speak Pracrit. A king addresses his wife in the noble language (Sanscrit); she answers him always in the vulgar language. But the idiom of Simandini, even though it be a Sanscrit very hard to recognize, is not in any case the Pracrit."
The numerous Hindoo speeches of Mlle. Smith during these latter years give rise to certain analogous observations, and do not throw any new light on their origin. I shall confine myself to a few examples, which I have chosen less for the sake of the Sanscritoid texts themselves, which are also always defective and distorted, than for the reason that the varied circumstances in which they have been produced afford a certain psychological interest.
4. Scene of Chiromancy. In the course of a long Arab seance, then Hindoo (February 2, 1896), Hélène knelt down by the side of my chair, and, taking me for Sivrouka, seized and examined my hand, all the while carrying on a conversation in a foreign language (without seeming to notice my actual words). It seems that this conversation contained some expression of anxiety in regard to my health, which had inspired several somnambulisms of Mlle. Smith during the preceding months (an example will be found on pp. 121-122).
At the same time at which she attentively examines
the lines of my hand, she pronounces the following fragmentary sentences, separated by silences corresponding to the hallucinatory replies of Sivrouka: "Priya sivrouka . . . nô [signifying No, according to Leopold] . . . tvandastroum sivrouka . . . itiami adia priya . . . itiami sivra adia . . . yatou . . . napi adia . . . nô . . . mama souka, mama baga sivrouka . . . yatou." Besides sivra, which, Leopold says, is an affectionate name for Sivrouka, we can divine in this text other terms of affection: priya, beloved; mama soukha, mama bhâga, Oh, my delight, oh, my happiness!" M. Glardon also calls attention to the word tvandastroum, which approaches the Hindustani tandarast (or tandurust), "who is in good health"—tandurusti, "health," coming from the two words tan, "physical condition," and durust, "good, true," of Persian origin. But he adds that it is possibly only a coincidence, and seems to me doubtful whether he would have thought of the connection if it were not found in a scene of chiromancy.
5. The Hindoo cycle, like the others, makes numerous irruptions into the ordinary life of Mlle. Smith, and affects her personality in most varied degrees, from the simple waking vision of Oriental landscapes or people up to the total incarnations of Simandini, of which Hélène preserves no memory whatever. One frequent form of these spontaneous automatisms consists in certain mixed states, in which she perceives personages who seem to her objective and independent, while continuing to have the feeling of a subjective implication or identification in regard to them, the
impression of an indefinable tua res agitur. It then easily happens that the conversations she has with them are a mixture of French and a foreign language which she is wholly ignorant of, though feeling the meaning of it. The following is an example:
March 1, 1898.—Between five and six in the morning, while still in bed but wide awake, as she affirms, Hélène had "a superb Hindoo vision." Magnificent palace, with a huge staircase of white stone, leading to splendid halls furnished with low divans without cushions, of yellow, red, and more often of blue materials. In a boudoir a woman (Simandini) reclining and leaning nonchalantly on her elbow; on his knees near her a man with black curly hair, of dark complexion (Sivrouka), clothed in a large, red, embroidered robe, and speaking a foreign language, not Martian, which Hélène did not know, but which, however, she had the feeling of comprehending inwardly, and which enabled her to write some sentences of it in French after the vision. While she listened to this man speaking, she saw the lips of the woman open, without hearing any sound come from her mouth, in such a way that she did not know what she said, but Hélène had at the same time the impression of answering inwardly, in thought, to the conversation of the man, and she noted his reply. (This means, psychologically, that the words of Sivrouka gushed forth in auditive images or hallucinations, and the answers of Simandini-Hélène in psychomotor-spoken images of articulation, accompanied by the usual representation of Simandini effectuating the corresponding labial movements.) Here is a
fragment of conversation noted by Hélène in pencil at the outset of the vision, in her ordinary handwriting, but very irregular, attesting that she had not yet entirely regained her normal state.
(Sivrouka.) "My nights without repose, my eyes red with tears, Simandini, will not these touch at last thy attamana? Shall this day end without pardon, without love?" (Simandini.) "Sivrouka, no, the day shall not end without pardon, without love; the sumina has not been launched far from me, as thou hast supposed; it is there—dost thou see?" (Sivrouka.) "Simandini, my soucca, maccanna baguea—pardon me again, always!"
This little scrap of conversation, it may be remarked in passing, gives quite correctly the emotional note, which is strong throughout the whole length of the Hindoo dream in the relationship of its two chief personages. As to the Sanscritoid words which are there mingled with the French, they have not an equal value. "Sumina," says M. de Saussure, "recalls nothing. Attamana, at most âtmânam (accusative of âtmâ), l’âme, 'the soul'; but I hasten to say that in the context in which attamana figures one could not make use of the Sanscrit word which resembles it, and which at bottom only signifies (âme) 'soul' in philosophical language, and in the sense of 'l’âme universelle,' or other learned meanings."
6. The apparition of isolated Hindoo words, or words incorporated in a non-Hindoo context, is not very rare with Hélène, and is produced sometimes
in auditive hallucinations, sometimes in her writings (see, e.g., Fig. 37, p. 333); sometimes, again, in the course of words uttered in hemisomnambulism more or less marked. The list which has been collected of these detached terms shows the same mixture of pure Sanscrit and unknown words, which can only be connected with that language by some transformation so arbitrary or forced as to destroy altogether the value of such comparison.
To this second category belong, for example, gava, vindamini, jotisse, also spelled by Mlle. Smith. These terms, of whose signification she is absolutely ignorant, struck her ear in the course of a Hindoo vision which occurred in the morning when she first awoke. The last of these words recalls to M. de Saussure the Sanscrit jyôtis, "a constellation"; but then he would pronounce it djiôtisse, which hardly corresponds to the manner in which Hélène heard and wrote it. There must be added to these examples certain Hindoo words which have made irruptions into some Martian texts.
These are Adel, a proper name, and yestad, "unknown," in text 13; and (in text 31) vadasa, which, according to the rest of the sentence, seems to designate some divinities or some powers, and in which MM. de Saussure and Glardon suspect a mangled reminiscence of the Sanscrit term dévâ-dâsa, "slave of the gods."
7. To crown these specimens of the Sanscrit of Hélène, let us cite her "Hindoo chant," which has made half a dozen appearances in the last two years,
and of which Leopold deigned, on a single occasion, to outline the translation.
The utterances consist essentially of the Sanscrit word gaya "chant," repeated to satiety, with here and there some other terms, badly articulated and offering discouraging variations in the notes taken by the different hearers. I will confine myself to two versions.
Fig. 36. Modulation of a Hindoo song. The final G of the three variations was held with perfect steadiness during fourteen seconds. The series A was often doubled and trebled before the continuation.
One of them is by Hélène herself. In a spontaneous vision (May 18, 1898, in the morning, upon awaking), she perceived a man, richly dressed in yellow and blue (Sivrouka), reclining upon beautiful cushions near a fountain surrounded by palm-trees; a brunette woman (Simandini) seats herself on the grass, sings to him in a strange language a ravishing melody. Hélène gathers the following fragments of it in writing, in which may be recognized the disfigured text of her ordinary song, "Ga haïa vahaïyami . . . vassen iata . . . pattissaïa priaïa."
The other version is that of M. de Saussure, very much better qualified than we are to distinguish the Hindoo sounds. He was quite near Hélène, who
sang seated upon the ground, whose voice for the moment articulated so badly that several words escaped him, and he does not vouch for the accuracy of his text, which is as follows, as he wrote it to the measure: "Gaya gaya naïa ia miya gayä briti . . . gaya vaya yâni pritiya kriya gayâni i gâya mamatua gaya mama nara mama patii si gaya gandaryô gâya ityami vasanta . . . gaya gaya yâmi gaya priti gaya priya gâya patisi. . . ."
It was towards the end of this same seance that Leopold, undoubtedly with the idea of doing honor to the distinguished presence of M. de Saussure, decided, after a scene of Martian translation (text 14, by Esenale), to give us, in Hélène's voice, his interpretation of the Hindoo chant, which follows, verbatim, with its mixture of Sanscrit words: "Sing, bird, let us sing! Gaya! Adèl, Sivrouka, sing of the spring-time! Day and night I am happy! Let us sing! Spring-time bird, happiness! ityâmi mamanara priti, let us sing! let us love! my king! Miousa, Adèl!"
In comparing these translations of the Hindoo text, certain points of resemblance are discovered between them. Outside the two perfectly correct words, gâya, song, and vasanta, spring-time, the idea of "let us love" is discovered in priti and briti (Sanscrit prîti, the act of loving), and an approximate equivalent of "my king" in mama patii, recalling the Sanscrit mama patê, "my husband, my master."
It is, unfortunately, hardly possible to carry the identification further, except perhaps for bird, which, with some show of reason, might be suspected in
vayayâni, vaguely recalling vâyasân (accusative plural of vâyasa bird).
As to the melody of this plaintive ditty, M. Aug. de Morsier, who heard it at the seance of the 4th of September, 1898, has kindly noted it as exactly as possible (see Fig. 36).
The preceding examples suffice to give an idea of Hélène's Hindoo, and it is time to conclude.
It apparently does not belong to any actually existing dialect. M. Glardon declares that it is neither ancient nor modern Hindustani, and, after having put forth at the beginning, by way of simple hypothesis, the idea that it might be Tamil, or Mahratta, he now sees in it a mélange of real terms, probably Sanscrit and invented words. M. Michel, likewise, is of the opinion that the grotesque jargon of Simandini contains fragments of Sanscrit quite well adapted to the situation. All my correspondents are, on the whole, of exactly the same view, and I could not better sum up their opinion than by quoting the words of M. de Saussure:
"As to the question of ascertaining whether all this really represents Sanscrit, it is evidently necessary to answer, No. One can only say:
"First: That it is a medley of syllables, in the midst of which there are, incontestably, some series of eight to ten syllables, constituting a fragment of a sentence which has a meaning (especially exclamatory phrases—e.g., mama priya, mon bien-aimé ("my well-beloved"); mama soukha, mes délices ("my delight").
"Secondly: That the other syllables, of unintelligible aspect, never have an anti-Sanscrit character—
i.e., do not present groups materially contrary or in opposition to the general figure of the Sanscrit words.
"Thirdly and finally: That the value of this latter observation is, on the other hand, quite considerably diminished by the fact that Mlle. Smith seldom launches out into complicated forms of syllables, and greatly affects the vowel a; but Sanscrit is a language in which the proportion of the a’s to the other vowels is almost four to one, so that in uttering three or four syllables in a, one could hardly avoid vaguely encountering a Sanscrit word."
It follows from this last remark of M. de Saussure that it ought not to be very difficult to fabricate Sanscrit after the mode of Simandini, if only one is possessed of some veritable elements which can serve as a model and give tone to the remainder. And there is no need to know very much of it, either, as M. Barth remarks:
"Has Mlle. Smith been in communication with any person from whom she could have taken some scraps of Sanscrit and of history? That would suffice, in this case, for the original germ, even though it were but slight. Imagination would do the rest. Children are very frequently onomatopoioi."
But it is, naturally, Mlle. Smith herself who furnishes us, in her own Martian, the fact most likely to throw light upon her Hindoo. It evidently is not difficult for a subconscious activity capable of manufacturing a language out of whole cloth to make another by imitation and by spinning out some real data. Also, as to the beginning of the Martian (a year later, as we have seen, to that of the Hindoo),
[paragraph continues] M. de Saussure does not hesitate to make this comparison, and explains, e.g., the initial Sanscritoid text, the famous phrase of benediction, atiêyâ ganapatinâmâ, by the same process of fabrication which shone forth in the words of Esenale or Astané.
I am not convinced that the general process of replacing word for word the French terms by terms of Oriental aspect, which is certainly the process employed in the fabrication of the Martian, has been made use of in the case of Hélène's Oriental words. Leopold, who has laid so much stress on procuring us a quasi-magical means of obtaining the literal translation of the Martian, has never condescended to do the same thing for the Hindoo, but has confined himself to outlining for us some free and vague interpretations, which scarcely add anything to that which the pantomime permits us to divine. This leads us to think that an entire precise translation of the Hindoo is impossible—in other terms, that Hélène does not fabricate her pseudo-Sanscrit by following step by step a French plot, and by maintaining in her neologisms the meaning which has been once adopted, but that she improvises and leaves the result to chance, without reflection (with the exception of some words of true Sanscrit, the meaning of which she knows and which she applies intelligently to the situation).
It is not, then, to the Martian texts proper, in my opinion, that we must compare Hélène's Hindoo, but to that pseudo-Martian jargon spoken with volubility in certain seances, and which have never been noted with certainty nor translated by Esenale.
It is understood, too, that while Hélène's subliminal self can safely give itself up to the creation of a definite language in the freedom which the planet Mars affords, where there is no pre-existing system to be conformed to nor any objective control to fear, it would be very imprudent and absurd to repeat the process in connection with India: the few words of pure Sanscrit which were at its disposal kept it from inventing others, the falseness of which would be evident at the first attempt at a literal and verbatim translation. It, therefore, contented itself with these veridical elements, insufficient in themselves alone for the construction of complete sentences, being a jargon devoid of meaning, but in harmony through their dominant vowels with the authentic fragments.
Now how could these authentic fragments have come into the possession of Mlle. Smith, who has no recollection whatever (nor has her family) of ever having studied Sanscrit, or of having ever been in communication with Oriental scholars? This is the problem which my researches have encountered hitherto, and as a solution of which I can think of nothing more likely than that of a fortunate chance, analogous to that which enabled me to discover the passage of De Marlès. I am, for the time being, reduced to vague conjectures as to the extent of Mlle. Smith's latent knowledge of Sanscrit, and the probable nature of its manner of acquisition.
I had long thought that Hélène might have absorbed her Hindoo principally by auditive means, and that she had, perhaps, in her infancy lived in the same house with some Indian student, whom she had heard,
across the street or through an open window, speaking aloud Sanscrit texts with their French translation. The story of the young domestic without education is well known, who, seized with a fever, spoke both Greek and Hebrew, which had been stored up in her mind, unknown to her, while she was in the service of a German savant. Se non è vero è ben trovato. In spite of the just criticisms of Mr. Lang, apropos of its poorly established authenticity, this standard anecdote may be considered as a type of many other facts of the same kind which have since been actually observed, and as a salutary warning to distrust subconscious memories of auditive origin. But Indian scholars are rare in Geneva, and this trail has yielded me nothing.
I am really inclined to admit the exclusively visual origin of Hélène's Sanscrit. First, it is not necessary for her to have heard that idiom. Reading of texts printed in French characters coincides very well with a pronunciation so confused and badly articulated as hers; and, further, it alone can account for certain inexplicable errors of pronunciation if Mlle. Smith had acquired that language by ear.
The most characteristic of her errors is the presence in Hindoo of the French sound u, which does not exist in Sanscrit, but is naturally suggested by reading if it has not been previously ascertained that that letter is pronounced ou in the Sanscrit words in which it appears.
Other observations militate in favor of the same supposition. Never in the seances has Simandini
Fig. 37. Fragment. Final sentence of a letter of Mlle. Smith, finished (or rather remaining unfinished), during the irruption of a spontaneous access of Hindoo somnambulism. Note foreign words, boulboul (Persian name for nightingale), Kana (Hindoo slave of Simandini), and radyiva (Sanscrit name for blue lotus); also the Sanscrit letters a, e, i, d, r, taking the place of the French initials. Note also the change of form of the t’s.
ventured to write Sanscrit, and it is in French letters that her name was given (see p. 288).
Still, Hélène subconsciously possesses a part, at least, of the Devanagari alphabet, since sometimes certain characters belonging to it slip into her normal writing. But it is to be noted that her knowledge of this kind does not seem in any way to go beyond that which might have resulted from a rapid glance at a Sanscrit grammar.
In certain cases this irruption of foreign signs (altogether analogous to that which has been seen in the case of the Martian) is connected with an access of spontaneous somnambulism and makes part of a whole troop of images and of Oriental terms.
An interesting example is found in Fig. 37, which reproduces the end of a letter which Hélène wrote me from the country. All the rest of this six-page letter is perfectly normal, both as to handwriting and content, but suddenly, tired by her effort of prolonged attention, she begins to speak of her health, sleep overcomes her, and the last lines show the invasion of the Oriental dream.
Kana, the slave, with his tame birds, and the brilliant plants of the tropics, substitute themselves little by little for the actual room. The letter reached me unfinished and without signature, as is shown in Fig. 37; Hélène closed it mechanically during her somnambulism, without knowledge of this unusual termination, at which she was surprised and annoyed when I showed it to her later.
Examination and comparison of all these graphomotor automatisms show that there are in Hélène's
subconsciousness some positive notions, albeit superficial and rudimentary, of the Sanscrit alphabet. She knows the exact form of many isolated characters, and their general value, in the abstract, as it were, but she does not seem to have any idea of their concrete use in connection with other letters.
In a word, these fragments of graphic automatisms betray a knowledge of Hindoo writing such as a curious mind might be able to acquire by perusing for some moments the first two or three pages of a Sanscrit grammar. It would retain certain detached forms; first, the a and the e, which, striking the eye at the commencement of the two first lines (containing the vowels, and usually separated from the following lines containing the consonants) of the standard arrangement of the Hindoo letters in ten groups; then the series of ciphers, occupying a line by themselves and easy to retain; finally, some other simple signs gleaned at hazard; but there will probably not be retained any of the too complicated figures resulting from the union of several characters in order to form words. This supposed genesis entirely corresponds with the extent of the notions as to Sanscrit writing of which Mlle. Smith's subconsciousness gives evidence.
It will suffice in summing up, to account for Mlle. Smith's Hindoo language, that perhaps in the N. group, or in some other spiritistic environment of which I am ignorant, some one, for the sake of curiosity, may have shown her and allowed her to glance over a Sanscrit grammar or lexicon, immediately after a seance, during that state of suggestibility in
Fig. 38. Examples of Sanscrit characters, automatically substituted for French words and ciphers, in words and figures appearing in the normal writings of Mlle. Smith (lame, rubis, 166, plis, 2865, 154). Natural size.
which the exterior suggestions are registered very strongly in her case, often without leaving traces in her conscious memory. The fact will also be explained that Hélène has no memory whatever of it, is absolutely convinced that she never saw or heard the least fragment of Sanscrit or any other Oriental language.
I ought also to add that the information which I have up to the present time been able to gather has furnished me with no positive indication of the truth of my supposition, while, on the other hand, it has not tended to establish its falsity.
V. THE SOURCES OF THE HINDOO DREAM
This paragraph will have no meaning whatever for those who hold the Oriental cycle to be in reality the reappearance in Mlle. Smith's somnambulistic states, of memories belonging to an anterior existence in which she was an Asiatic princess, and I myself naik of Tchandraguiri, Professor Seippel, an Arab slave, etc.
I shall confine myself in this case to an expression of regret that the chance which has united us afresh, after five centuries of separation, did not leave us in the midst of those tropical splendors instead of transporting us to the banks of the Rhône just where the fog is densest in winter. It is a severe punishment for our past misdeeds. But when one pushes his skepticism so far as only to see in the entire Hindoo dream a fantastic product elaborated out of certain scattered facts, as I have done in the preceding paragraphs, one is likewise punished for his want of faith by the obscure problems which are met with on the subject of the sources of this dream. I would say also that it is difficult to understand why the hypnoid imagination of Mlle. Smith gave itself up to such pranks, and distributed as it did the rôles of this comedy.
It is easy to understand how a nature given to subconscious reveries, and such as I have described in the first chapters of this book, has taken pleasure in the fiction of the tragic destiny of Simandini, and
also that she felt specially attracted towards the career of Marie Antoinette.
But M. Seippel, whom I quoted above, has nothing about him of the Arab, and still less of the slave, neither in outward appearance nor in character; and as to myself, let us say here, M. F.—if I may be permitted to substitute harmless initials for the always odious "I"—as for M. F., there is generally to be met with in him, under some diffidence, a certain mildness of manner and disposition which would scarcely seem to predestinate him to the energetic and wild rôle of a violent, whimsical, capricious, and jealous Oriental despot.
As to the psychological origins of the Hindoo dream—considered not so much in its Oriental decoration, but in its essential note, which is the relation of Simandini to Sivrouka (the pretended anteriority of M. F.)—two hypotheses can be framed, between which it is difficult to choose.
First. From the point of view of psychopathology I should be tempted to cause this entire somnambulistic romance to be included in that which Freud calls Abwehrpsychosen, resulting from a sort of autonomy which frees the normal self from an affective idea incompatible with it; which idea revenges itself by occasioning very diverse perturbations, according to the subjects, from disorders of innervation, coming to disturb the daily life (hysteria by somatic conversion of the affective coefficient of the repulsed idea), up to the case in which the self only escapes the intolerable contradiction between the given reality and the idea which besets it by plunging itself entirely
into the latter (mental hallucinatory confusion, delirium, etc.).
Between these varied results may be found that in which the idea excluded from the consciousness becomes the germ of hypnoid developments, the point of departure of a secondary consciousness unknown to the ordinary personality, the centre of a somnambulistic life in which the tendencies which the normal self has driven far away from it may take refuge and give themselves free play.
This is, perhaps, the happiest solution, from a practical and social point of view, since it leaves the individual in a state of perfect equilibrium and free from nervous troubles, outside of the very limited moments in which the underlying processes break out in accesses of somnambulism.
Such may be the case of the Hindoo dream and the origin of the attributing of the rôle of Sivrouka to M. F. Nothing, assuredly, in the normal life or being of Mlle. Smith would cause the suspicion that she had ever consciously felt towards the latter the absurd sentiments which good sense would have condemned in advance; but divers hints of her subliminal life, independently of the Hindoo cycle itself (certain dreams, etc.), have sometimes seemed to betray a latent conflict, which the sane and reasonable self would have quickly gotten rid of by the banishment from the ordinary personality of the affective idea, inadmissible in the given conditions of reality. Hence, with a temperament accustomed to mediumistic doubling of personality and imbued with spiritistic doctrines, the birth and development, underneath
the level of the normal consciousness, of this romance of a former existence, in which emotional tendencies incompatible with the present life have found on occasion a sort of theoretic justification and a free field for expansion.
Secondly: It may also be presumed, and I prefer to admit, that the sentiments of Simandini towards her fictitious rajah, far from being the reflection and somnambulic transposition of an impression really felt by Mlle. Smith in regard to some one real and determined, are only a fantastic creation—like the passion with which juvenile imaginations are sometimes inflamed for an ideal and abstract type while awaiting the meeting with a concrete realization more or less like it—and that the assimilation of Sivrouka to M. F. is only a coincidence due to the simple chance of Mlle. Smith having made the acquaintance of M. F. at the time when the Hindoo dream was about to begin. Two points strengthen this hypothesis of a contingent and superficial confusion between M. F. and Sivrouka. First, the Hindoo dream was evidently begun by a characteristic vision in which Simandini appeared, almost two months before the admission of M. F. to the seances (see pp. 279-281). Instead of supposing that the subconsciousness of Mlle. Smith foresaw already the probable arrival of this new spectator, and reserved for him in advance a leading rôle in the romance of former existence which she was in process of elaborating (which is not altogether impossible, it is true), it hardly seems as though M. F. could have stood for anything
in the dream-personage of Sivrouka. In the second place, it is only in the light somnambulisms and her mixed or crepuscular states that Mlle. Smith happens to take M. F. for the Hindoo prince and to seat herself at his feet in attitudes of tenderness and abandon (without otherwise ever departing from the bounds of perfect propriety); as soon as the trance becomes profound and the Hindoo somnambulism complete, M. F. ceases to exist for her, as well as the others present, and she then is concerned only with an absolutely hallucinatory Sivrouka. This is the place to state that Hélène has never presented any phenomenon similar to—far from it—certain cases in which have been seen the awakening in the hypnotic subject of gross and more or less bestial tendencies, for which the subjects would have blushed in their waking state. There is nothing of that nature in Mlle. Smith. Somnambulism does not detract in any way from the elevation of her moral sense. The same is true of her deepest trances or when she "incarnates" personages very different from her ordinary character—she never departs from that real dignity which is a trait of her normal personality.
To sum up—the hypothesis of a purely accidental identification, a kind of association by simple contiguity between the Hindoo prince and M. F., seems to me, on the whole, the most natural. It releases the latter, besides, from all responsibility (altogether involuntary, however) for the sentiments so profound, so disinterested, so worthy of a less tragic fate, which the imaginary personage of Sivrouka Nayaka inspires in the poor Princess Simandini.
300:* De Marlès’ General History of India, Ancient and Modern. from the Year 2000 B.C. to our Own Times. Pp. 268-269. Paris, 1828.
302:* Robert Sewell. Lists of Antiquarian Remains in the Presidency of Madras. Vol i. p. 238 (1882.) Citation by M. Barth. I have not been able to consult this work.
302:† Buchanan. A Journey from Madras through the Countries of Mysore, Canara, and Malabar, etc. 3 vols. 4to. London, 1807.
302:‡ James Rennell. Description Historique et Géographique de l’Indostan. Translated from the English. Paris, an. viii. (5800). 3 vols., 8vo and atlas 4to.
302:§ Dow. History of Hindustan. Translated from the Persian of Ferishta. London, 1803. M. Michel suggests Wilks's Historical Sketches of the South of India (London, 1810) as having possibly served as a source of information for De Marlès. If some p. 303 learned reader may discover any traces of Sivrouka antecedent to De Marlès, I shall be under great obligation to him if he will communicate the information to me.
THE ROYAL CYCLE
IF I were obliged to give this cycle a place proportioned to that which it occupies in the somnambulic life of Mlle. Smith, a hundred pages would not suffice. But permit me to pass rapidly over facts concerning which I should only be obliged to repeat the greater part of the observations called forth by the preceding romances, which apply equally well, mutatis mutandis, to the personification of Marie Antoinette by Hélène.
The choice of this rôle is naturally explained by the innate tastes of Mlle. Smith for everything that is noble, distinguished, elevated above the level of the common herd, and by the fact that some exterior circumstance fixed her hypnoid attention upon the illustrious queen of France in preference to the many other historic figures equally qualified to serve as a point of attachment for her subconscious megalomaniac reveries.
In default of absolutely certain information on this point, I strongly suspect the engraving from the Memoirs of a Physician, representing the dramatic scene of the decanter between Balsamo and the Dauphiness, of having given birth to this identification
of Hélène with Marie Antoinette, as well as to that of her secondary personality of Leopold with Cagliostro.
We have, in fact, seen that this engraving (pp. 94-95), so well calculated to impress the imagination, was shown to Mlle. Smith by Mme. B. at the end of a seance—that is, at a moment when one is never sure that Hélène's return to her normal state is complete, and in which her hypnoid personality, still on a level with consciousness, so to speak, is very prone to absorb the interesting suggestions which the environment may furnish. It was several months—a year and a quarter, possibly—after this incident (the precise date of which, in 1892 or 1893, it is impossible to determine) that announcement was made by the table, on the 30th of January, 1894, that Hélène was the reincarnation of Marie Antoinette. It is to be recollected that in the interval she had for some time believed herself to be the reincarnation of Lorenza Feliciani; it is, however, to be noted that these two successive identifications did not have the same guarantee or psychological signification. In fact, it was Mlle. Smith, in the waking state—that is, in her normal personality—who accepted the supposition of Mme. B., that she was the reincarnation of Lorenza; but the table—i.e., her subconsciousness—always remained silent on this point. On the contrary, the idea of having been Marie Antoinette does not seem to have occurred to Hélène's ordinary consciousness up to the time at which Leopold revealed this secret by the table. If any conclusion may be drawn from this, it is that, under the multiple suggestions of the
engraving from Dumas’ works and the suppositions of Mme. B., the hypnoid imagination of Mlle. Smith at first preferred to the rôle of Lorenza that of Marie Antoinette, which is undoubtedly more flattering and more conformable to Hélène's temperament, and then elaborated and matured it, very slowly, it is true, but not excessively so, in comparison with other examples of subliminal incubations of Mlle. Smith.
From the point of view of its psychological forms of manifestation, the Royal cycle from that time followed an evolution analogous to that of its congeners described in the preceding chapters. After some months, during which it unfolded itself in visions described by Hélène and accompanied by typtological explanations dictated by the table, the trance became more profound. Mlle. Smith began to personate the queen in pantomime, of which Leopold gave the exact signification by digital indications. Speech was added the year following, at a date which I cannot fix, but the first occasion on which I was a witness to it was on the 13th of October, 1895. Handwriting only made its appearance, as far as I am aware, two years later (November 1, 1897, see Fig. 39), when the royal incarnation attained its apogee and Hélène was in the habit of retaining in memory the somnambulistic rôle of Marie Antoinette for several hours. Since then the rôle has maintained itself at a very remarkable level of perfection, but it scarcely seems to me progressing, and seems likely to become stereotyped. The objectivity of the general type of queen must be distinguished in this brilliant personality, or at least
Fig. 39. First known example of automatic irruption of the orthography and handwriting called that of Marie Antoinette among the normal writings of Mlle. Smith. Fragments of a letter of Helen of November 1, 1897, narrating a seance during which she had successfully incarnated the queen of France and the Hindoo princess. [Collection of M. Lemaître.] See also p.
that of a lady of great distinction, as well as a realization of the individual characteristics of Marie Antoinette of Austria. As to the first point there is almost nothing left to be desired. Mlle. Smith seems by nature to possess all that this rôle demands, and hypnoid autosuggestion finds no lack of material upon which to work.
When the royal trance is complete no one can fail to note the grace, elegance, distinction, majesty sometimes, which shine forth in Hélène's every attitude and gesture.
She has verily the bearing of a queen. The more delicate shades of expression, a charming amiability, condescending hauteur, pity, indifference, overpowering scorn flit successively over her countenance and are manifested in her bearing, to the filing by of the courtiers who people her dream. The play of her hands with her real handkerchief and its fictitious accessories, the fan, the binocle with long handle, the scent-bottle which she carries in a pocket in her girdle; her curtseying, the movement, full of grace and ease, by which she never forgets at each turning around, to throw back her imaginary train; everything of this kind, which cannot be described, is perfect in its ease and naturalness. Special personification of the unhappy Austrian wife of Louis XVI. is of a less evident, and moreover doubtful, accuracy. To judge of it from the only objective point of comparison at our disposal, the handwriting (see Figs. 39 to 41), the Marie Antoinette of Hélène's somnambulisms little resembles her supposed prototype, for there is less of difference between the autographs of Cagliostro and of Leopold (see p. 109) than there is between that of the real queen and that of her pretended reincarnation in Mlle. Smith, the latter having a rounded, inclined calligraphy, much more regular than in her normal state, instead of the angular and illegible writing which was characteristic of the queen of France, to say nothing of the glaring differences in formation
Fig. 40. Writing of Mlle. Smith incarnating Marie Antoinette. Seance of November 7, 1897. Beginning of a letter, written in ink and addressed to Philippe d’Orléans (M. Aug. de Morsier, who was not present at the seance). After the ink-stains of the last line, Hélène threw down her pencil, then began again and finished her letter in pencil in a still more regular and slanting hand than the above.
Fig. 41. Writing and signature of Marie Antoinette. Fragment of a letter written from the Temple to General de Jarnayes, and reproduced in the Isographie des Hommes célèbres. [Collection of fac-similes published under the direction of Duchesne, Sr., Paris, 1827-30.]
of many letters. Some orthographic analogies (Hélène writes instans, enfans, étois, etc.) have nothing specific about them, and simply recall the general habits of the last century (see p. 112).
Not having discovered any indication as to Marie Antoinette's manner of speaking, I do not know whether the hypnoid imagination of Hélène has succeeded better than with the handwriting in adopting in her royal incarnations certain intonations and a pronunciation which have nothing of German in them, and would rather recall the English accent. The timbre of her voice does not change, but her speech becomes trailing, with a slight rolling of the r’s, and takes on something precise and affected, very pretty, but slightly irritating by its length. We already know that there is not an absolute wall of separation between Hélène's various trances. Just as is the case with the Martian and the Hindoo, the handwriting or the spelling of the queen sometimes slips into the correspondence of Mlle. Smith (see Fig. 39), and she also sometimes assumes the accent of Marie Antoinette, if not in the ordinary waking state (I do not know whether that is ever the case), at least outside her Royal cycle, especially in the phases of transition in which she begins or ends by incarnating Leopold, the Martians, etc. (see, for example, p. 56).
From the point of view of its content, the Royal cycle forms a collection of scenes and varied tableaux, like the Martian dream, lacking any continuous plot, and in which marked historic events scarcely hold a place—e.g., in it the queen is never seen to mount the scaffold
as Simandini ascends her funeral pile. One does not always even know whether the spectacle before our eyes is supposed to be the repetition, the exact recollection, of unknown but real episodes in the life of Marie Antoinette, or indeed whether it has to do with new, actual incidents passing now between the reincarnated queen and her old acquaintances whom she discovers in the persons present at the seance or in the disincarnate spirits in mediumistic relationship with her. That depends on the case—e.g., on the 25th of December, 1896, Mlle. Smith, entranced, addresses touching exhortations to a lady present whom she took for the Princess Lamballe, which, according to Leopold, is a reproduction of the last evening which the unhappy queen, sustained by her companion in captivity, passed in this world. (It is true that at Christmas, 1792, the princess had already, three months previously, fallen a victim to the massacres of September.) Again the Abbé Grégoire dictates by the table, which bows significantly to Hélène, "I desired to save you, but I was not able"; or the sinister Hébert says to her by the same process, "I was the cause of your death . . . I suffer; pray for me." Ought we to consider real the homage and the posthumous remorse which these two disincarnate spirits bring after the lapse of a century to their sovereign, finally recognized in the person of Mlle. Smith?
Generally it is impossible to decide whether the incident transpiring pretends simply to republish the past or constitutes a new fact.
The location of the royal scenes and visions is
often undetermined. Many are located in the gardens or the apartments of the Petit Trianon, and the furniture which Hélène describes there is, indeed, always pure Louis XVI. More rarely Marie Antoinette is found at the Temple, or at certain rendezvous—innocent, but very imprudent—in some secret abode in Paris. She is never seen in Austria, since, unlike the Hindoo princess still filled with her Arab memories, she seems to have completely lost sight of her past as a young girl.
In the surroundings of the queen, the king is conspicuous by his absence; very rarely she makes some allusions to him with a marked indifference. The greater part of the personages known to that epoch, whom I refrain from enumerating, figure in it incidentally, but there are three who continually reappear and hold the first rank. There is, first, the Count of Cagliostro, "mon sorcier," or "ce cher sorcier," as the queen familiarly calls him, who never has enough of his visits and his conversations, which are very varied, including the discussion of philosophic subjects, such as the future life and the existence of God as well as the gossip of the last fête at Versailles. There is, secondly, Louis Philippe d’Orléans (Equality); while the third is the old Marquis de Mirabeau; all of whom, especially the first, have served as hallucinatory interlocutors towards Hélène in numerous scenes—up to the time at which, to the great amusement of the sitters, the somnambulistic monologue was transformed into real and lively conversation, in consequence of the introduction into the seances of M. Eugène
[paragraph continues] Demole, then of M. Aug. de Morsier, in whom Marie Antoinette immediately recognized the two personages last above mentioned.
Since this unexpected meeting with her two contemporaries, reincarnated, like herself, the somnambulistic queen freely permits herself, on occasion, the pleasure of renewing the little suppers and joyous evenings of long ago. When a seance which has lasted from four o'clock until seven in the afternoon seems to have come to an end, and Mlle. Smith, after having awakened from a long series of Hindoo, Martian, and other scenes, has been invited to dine and refresh herself before taking up her household duties, it often happens that, perceiving M. Demole or M. de Morsier among the persons present, she gives a slight start, with a change of countenance, sometimes barely perceptible, but which there is no mistaking; then, in her very characteristic accent of Marie Antoinette, exclaims, "Oh, marquis, you have been here, and I had not noticed you before!" And then follows a somnambulistic vigil which may be prolonged until nearly ten o'clock in the evening, maintained by means of the suggestive amiability of her improvised companions in sustaining their rôles of Mirabeau or Philippe d’Orléans.
They descend to the dining-room. The queen takes her place at the table alongside of the marquis (or of Philippe). She has eyes and ears for him alone, the other guests and the servants remaining shut out from her dream. She eats and drinks only that which he sets before her, and it is no sinecure to supply the wants of this august neighbor, since
she possesses a truly royal appetite. The amount of food which she devours and the goblets of wine which she drinks off one after another, without suffering any inconvenience, are astounding, as in her normal state Mlle. Smith is sobriety itself and eats very little. After dinner they pass into the salon, with many compliments and obeisances, and Marie Antoinette takes coffee. On the first occasions of this kind, she also accepted a cigarette from Philippe and smoked it—Mlle. Smith never smokes in her waking state—but the remarks of the persons present upon the historical untruthfulness of this feature must have been registered, and bore fruit, since at the following seances she did not seem to understand the use of tobacco in that form; she accepted, on the other hand, with eagerness, a pinch of imaginary snuff, which almost immediately brought about by autosuggestion a series of sneezes admirably successful.
The evening passes in most varied conversation, until, evidently feeling fatigue, the queen becomes silent, closes her eyes, and goes to sleep in an easy-chair. At that instant Leopold, who gives no sign of life, and from whom no response can be obtained during the royal somnambulism, reappears and answers by the fingers or manifests himself in spontaneous gestures. Hélène's hand, e.g., is raised, and makes passes on her forehead to accentuate the restorative sleep which is about to bring her back to her normal state. At the end of some time—half an hour or more—she awakes without any recollection of the evening, believing that she
has not yet dined, and complaining of hunger and thirst, as if her stomachic sensibility participated in the amnesia and other modifications which accompany the change of personality. Nevertheless, at such times I have never seen her accept anything more than a couple of glasses of water, after which she feels wide awake.
In escorting her home, I was witness on one occasion to a return of the royal somnambulism. She was exceedingly desirous of going to the house of a well-known personage (whom she had perceived in her vision during the seance), who had been received at the court of Marie Antoinette, and who died in Geneva in the first quarter of this century; it was only upon arriving before the house in which he had lived, and as she was upon the verge of entering it, that I finally succeeded in awakening and restoring her to herself, without memory of the incident, and very much astonished at the unaccustomed streets in which we found ourselves.
It is useless to give a more circumstantial narration of these dinners and soirées of Marie Antoinette. They are very entertaining for the spectators, but lose much of their interest when related in their entirety. Their details are exactly what might be expected of a lively subliminal imagination, alert and full of verve, abundantly supplied, on account of the illustrious queen, with notions still more easily explicable, thanks to the intellectual atmosphere of France, than those of the Hindoo cycle.
Numerous anachronisms, however, slip into them, and her Majesty sometimes falls into the snares
which the marquis or Philippe take a malicious pleasure in setting for her. She often escapes them when they are too clumsy, and, with a most comical display of temper, is at first confused, then curiously questions, or manifests uneasiness in regard to the mental state of her interlocutors when they introduce the telephone, the bicycle, steamships, or the modern scientific vocabulary into their eighteenth-century conversation. But, on the other hand, she herself employs terms still more malapropos, such as, "to derail" (figuratively), "metre" and "centimetre," etc. Certain words, such as "tramway" and "photography," have occasioned serious conflicts. Marie Antoinette first allows the treacherous word to pass unnoticed, and it is evident that she perfectly understood it, but her own reflection, or the smile of the sitters, awakens in her the feeling of incompatibility; she returns to the word just used, and pretends a sudden ignorance and astonishment in regard to it. Spiritism explains these blunders by accusing the Machiavellian companions of the queen of grossly abusing the suggestibility attached to the trance state by jumbling her ideas and throwing her into confusion. Psychology is not surprised that the subliminal imitation, however remarkable it may be, presents some little defects, and every one is in accord in regard to her thoughtless manner of expressing herself, in attributing these anachronisms to an accidental mingling of the memories of her ordinary personality and of the present life with those of the royal personality revived during the somnambulism. In her rôle as
queen, Mlle. Smith gives evidence of a great deal of ingenuity. She is full of witty repartees, which disconcert her interlocutors, the style of which is sometimes perfectly after the manner of the epoch.
This ease and readiness of dialogue, excluding all reflective or calculating preparation, denote a great freedom of mind and a wonderful facility for improvisation. There are mixed with these, on the other hand, some witticisms and episodes which are not at all impromptu, but are the evident result of a preliminary elaboration in the course of the subconscious reveries and various automatisms which the royal romance causes to surge up in Hélène's ordinary life.
There are some scenes whose development or repetition can be followed in a series of seances and spontaneous visions as it passes through the other cycles. The following is one example among many:
At the end of a seance at which M. de Morsier was present (October 10, 1897), Mlle. Smith enters into her dream of Marie Antoinette. During dinner she makes several allusions to her son, the Dauphin, speaks of her daughter, tells of having demanded of her sorcerer the sex of her next child, etc.—matters all foreign to the conversation of Philippe, and which seem to announce some underlying scene ready to break forth. In fact, in the middle of the soirée the queen becomes absorbed and distrait, and finally falls on her knees in a dark corner of the salon; her monologue indicates that she is before the cradle where the little Dauphin and his sister are lying asleep. Presently she returns to seek Philippe and
to conduct him to admire the sleeping children, to whom, in a very soft voice, she sings an unknown nursery rhyme ("Sleep in peace," etc.) of a plaintive melody analogous to that of the Hindoo chant; the tears gush from her eyes; tender kisses upon the imaginary cradle and a fervent prayer to the Virgin terminate this extremely touching maternal scene.
Several weeks after (the 1st of December), a new romance makes its appearance in a spontaneous access of visual, auditive, and graphic automatism, the recital of which Hélène sent me the following day. That evening, while alone with her mother, she had interrogated Leopold upon an affair in which she was greatly interested, and had obtained from him an answer: "As soon as his communication was ended, I saw everything disturbed around me; then at my left, at a distance of about thirty feet, a Louis XVI. salon, not very large, was outlined, in the middle of which was a square piano, open. Before this piano was seated a woman, still young, the color of whose hair I could not distinguish. Whether it was blond or gray I could not clearly see. She played and sang at the same time. The sounds of the piano, the voice even, reached me, but I could not catch the words of the song. A young girl and a boy stood on either side of the piano. Not far from them was seated a young lady holding an infant on her lap. * This charming vision lasted a very short time, not longer than ten minutes."
After the disappearance of the vision, Hélène had the idea of taking up her pencil. " With pencil in hand, I was asking myself what I should write, when all at once I heard again the melody; then, this time very distinctly, the words, but without any vision. The whole passed into my head, into my brain, and instinctively I pressed my hand to my forehead in order to hear and understand better. I felt myself compelled to hold the pencil in a manner different from my habitual way of holding it. Here are the words of the song heard and traced at that instant. As you see, the handwriting is not like mine; there are also some very glaring errors of orthography.
"Approchez-vous approchez-vous | enfans chéris approchez-vous | quand le printemps sur nous ramène | ses frais parfums ses rayons d’or | venez enfans sous son haleine | gazouiller bas mes doux trésors | approchez-vous approchez-vous | enfans chéris approchez-vous | êtres chéris enfans bénis—approchez-vous de votre mère | son doux baiser petits amis | calme et guérit toutes misères | approchez-vous approchez-vous | enfans chéris approchez-vous." *
Some months later the two preceding scenes were reproduced, with variations of detail, on the same evening, during which Marie Antoinette first conducts Philippe towards the fictitious cradle of her cherubs and sings to them her first song: "Sleep in
peace," etc. Then she leads him to the piano, and, displaying an imaginary sheet of music beneath his eyes, obliges him to accompany her while she sings the "Song of Elizabeth."
M. de Morsier, who, fortunately, is not easily embarrassed, improvised an accompaniment to which the queen accommodated herself after some criticism, and to which she sings in a very sweet, pure voice some words which were found to be, word for word, identical with those automatically written by Hélène on the preceding 1st of December. In this example is seen the mixture of preparation, of repetition, and of impromptu, which are inferred from the varied incidents which constitute the royal soirées.
It is probable that if it were possible to be a witness of, or if Mlle. Smith could remember all the spontaneous automatisms which aid in nourishing the royal romance, nocturnal dreams, hypnagogic visions, subconscious reveries during the waking state, etc., there would be presented interminable imaginary conversations with the marquis, Philippe, Cagliostro, and all the fictitious personages who occasionally make their appearance in the somnambulistic scenes of Marie Antoinette.
It is by this underlying and unknown work, perhaps never interrupted, that the personality of the queen of France is slowly prepared and elaborated, and which shines forth and displays itself with so much of magnificence in the soirées with Philippe d’Orléans and the Marquis de Mirabeau.
I have stated that, except these two gentlemen, who always form part of the royal dream when they
are present (and even sometimes when absent), the others present at the seances are excluded. It is understood that they do not pass unperceived on this account.
In the same manner as in the negative hallucinations or systematic anæsthesia of hypnotized subjects, that which seems to be not felt is nevertheless registered; so, in like manner, it is altogether probable that nothing of that which passes around her escapes the fundamental individuality of Mlle. Smith. The royal personality which occupies the foreground of the scene and finds itself in an elective rapport, limited to Philippe and the marquis, merely causes the other personalities to be relegated to the background without breaking their connection with the environment. There are many proofs of this. For example, in walking, Marie Antoinette never runs against any of the others present. The remarks and criticisms of the latter are not lost upon her, since very frequently her conversation betrays their influence after some minutes. At the same time, if any one pinches her hand or tickles her ear, her lips, her nostrils, she seems anæsthetic; still, at the end of a few seconds she turns her head away, and if the tickling is persisted in, she experiences a kind of agitation accommodated to the circumstances of her dream, changes her position on some pretext, etc.
It is manifest, in short, that the excitations to which she seems to be insensible at the moment, far from having no effect, are stored up and produce, by their sum total, reactions which are retarded for some minutes and which are intelligently adapted to the
somnambulistic scene, but with an intensity much more exaggerated than diminished by this period of latency.
Music also affects her, precipitating her out of the dream of Marie Antoinette into a common hypnotic state, in which she assumes passionate attitudes, which have in them nothing of the regal, and which conform to the varied airs which follow each other upon the piano.
In her phases as Marie Antoinette, Hélène has an accent characteristic of it; she recognizes me vaguely; she has some allochiria, a complete insensibility of the hands, and a large appetite; she does not know who Mlle. Smith is; if she is asked to give the actual date, she replies correctly as to the month and day, but indicates a year of the last century, etc. Then all at once her state changes; the royal accent gives way to her ordinary voice, she seems wide awake, all mental confusion has disappeared, she is perfectly clear as to persons, dates, and circumstances, but has no memory of the state from which she has just emerged, and she complains of a sharp pain in her finger (where I had pinched it while in her preceding phase). I took advantage one day of these alternations to offer her a pencil, and dictated to her the sentence of Fig. 42. In her normal moments she holds the pencil in her accustomed manner, between the index and middle fingers, and writes in her usual hand; during the returns of the royal somnambulism she holds it between the thumb and index-finger and assumes her handwriting and orthography known as that of Marie Antoinette,
exactly as her voice is invested with the accent. It is to be presumed that all her other functions, if one could examine them, would show parallel analogous variations, the changing of the personality being naturally accompanied by connected changes not only of the memory and the sensibility, but of motility of the emotional disposition—in brief, of all the faculties of the individuality.
I must add that in each of her states Hélène has the memory of preceding periods of the same kind, but not of another state: it was, for example, necessary to dictate anew, for the second test, the sentence of , which she did not remember having heard or written a few minutes previously. This separation into distinct memories is not, however, absolute, nor very profound: the personality of Marie Antoinette
Fig. 42. Differences of handwriting of Mlle. Smith at the end of an incarnation of Marie Antoinette, according to whether she is in her normal state (upper lines, in her usual handwriting), or in a return of the royal dream (lower lines; note the word foisoit). Natural size. The tremor of some of the strokes is not in the original, but occurred in the reproduction in ink.
is, in short, a modification—of an intensity and extent which vary greatly with the seances—of the ordinary personality of Mlle. Smith, rather than an alternating and exclusive personality, of which so many striking cases have been observed.
For the mere spectators, the royal somnambulism is perhaps the most interesting of all of Hélène's cycles, on account of the brilliancy and life of the rôle, the length of time during which it may be sustained, the unexpected happenings which the presence of other real persons brings into it. It is truly a comedy.
But for the lovers of the supernormal it is the least extraordinary of the subliminal creations of Mlle. Smith, because the general environment, being in France, is so imbued with historic or legendary memories of the illustrious and unfortunate queen that there is nothing surprising in the hypnoid reconstruction of a personage so well known.
Finally, the psychologist and moralist who undertakes to reflect on the inner meaning of things cannot escape the impression of sharp contrast as compared with reality which this sparkling romance affords.
In themselves, Mlle. Smith's royal somnambulisms are almost always gay and joyous; but, considering their hidden source, in so far as they are the ephemeral and chimerical revenge of the ideal upon the real, of impossible dreams upon daily necessities, of impotent aspirations upon blind and crushing destiny, they assume a tragic signification. They express the sensation lived through, felt, of the bitter
irony of things, of futile revolt, of fatality dominating the human being. They seem to say that all happy and brilliant life is only an illusion soon dissipated. The daily annihilation of the dream and the desire by implacable and brutal reality cannot find in the hypnoid imagination a more adequate representation, a more perfect symbol of an emotional tonality, than her royal majesty whose existence seemed made for the highest peaks of happiness and of fame—and ended on the scaffold.
356:* It will be readily understood that this vision represents Marie Antoinette with her three children and Madame Elizabeth.
357:* I have respected the orthography as well as the complete absense of punctuation of this bit of automatic writing, confining myself to marking by vertical bars its evident separation into verses of eight feet. It is written in the inclined and regular hand called that of Marie Antoinette (like that of Fig. 40), but with a pencil too pale to permit its reproduction.