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Accessory causes of delusion, regarding
spectral impressions - Apparition of Desfontaines-Ghosts at Portnedown Bridge -Lucian's story of a Split Ghost Instance of a Ghost in two places at once.
T will readily occur to the reader, that the disposition of the mind to hallucination must sometimes be powerfully aided, and encreased, by peculiar circumstances of time and place. Chance may supply, or artifice may contrive concomitant sounds and objects, which must appal even the most incredulous observer. Even Bayle has doubted, whether the imagination alone can produce spectres, without the assistance of
the arts of confederacy. This point, I trust, is now decided.
An apparition which made some noise, about the beginning of the last century, that of DESFONTAINES, seems to have originated in a fit of deliquium, connected strongly with the recollection of a friend.
It was published in the Journal de Trevoux, in 1726, and its outline is as follows.
Mr. Bezuel, when a school-boy of 15, in 1695, contracted an intimacy with a younger boy, named Desfontaines. After talking together of the compacts which have been often made between friends, that in case of death, the spirit of the deceased should revisit the survivor, they agreed to form such a compact together, and they signed it, respectively, with their blood, in 1696. Soon after this
transaction, they were separated, by Desfontaines' removal to Caen.
In July, 1697, Bezuel, while amusing himself in hay-making, near a friend's house, was seized with a fainting fit, after which he had a bad night. Notwithstanding this attack, he returned to the meadow next day, where he again underwent a deliquium. He again slept ill. On the succeeding day, while he was observing the man laying up the hay, he had a still more severe attack. “ I fell into a swoon: I lost my senses : “ one of the footmen perceived it, and “ called out for help. They recovered
me a little, but my mind was more “ disordered than it had been before, “ I was told that they asked me then “ what ailed me, and that I answered ; “ I have seen what I thought I should
But I neither remember the question, nor the answer.
However, “ it agrees with what I remember I saw
“ then, a naked man in half length ; “ but I knew him not.
They helped me to go down the “ ladder; I held the steps fast; but be“ cause I saw Desfontaines my school“ fellow at the bottom of the ladder, I “had again a fainting fit: my head got “ between two steps, and I again lost
my senses. They let me down, and “set me upon a large beam, which “ served for a seat in the great Place de “ Capucins. I sat upon it, and then I
no longer saw Mr. de Sortoville, nor « his servants, though they were present. “ And perceiving Desfontaines near the “ foot of the ladder, who made me a “sign to come to him, I went back
upon my seat, as it were to make room for him; and those who saw me, and whom I did not see, though
my eyes were open, observed that « motion.
6 Because he did not come, I got up " to go to him: he came up to me, took * hold of my left arm with his right “ hand, and carried me thirty paces “ farther into a by-lane, holding me « fast.
“ 'The servants believing that I was “ well, again, went to their business, “except a little foot-boy, who told Mr. "de Sortoville, that I was talking to myself. Mr. de Sortoville thought I
was drunk. He came near me, and “ heard me ask some questions, and « return some answers, as he told me 4 since
“I talked with Desfoniaines nearly " three quarters of an hour. I promised you, said he, that if I died before
you, “ I would come and tell you so. # dead : I was drowned in the river of “ Caen, yesterday, about this hour. I was walking with such and such per