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Baroness de Boisleve sees her dying son Honore

Identifier

011395

Type of spiritual experience

Hallucination

A description of the experience

Death and its Mystery, At the Moment of Death; Manifestations and Apparitions of the Dying – Camille Flammarion
Letter 302, W, A student of medicine in Bordeaux

On March 17th 1863, in Paris, in a first floor apartment, at 26 rue Pasquier, behind the Madeleine, the Baroness de Boisleve was giving a dinner to several persons, among them General Fleury, Master of the Horse to Napoleon Third; Monsieur Devienne, the first president of the Court of Causation; and Monsieur Delesveaux, President of the Court for Civil Causes of the Seine.

During the meal, conversation turned chiefly on the Mexican Expedition, sent out a year before.

The son of the Baroness, Honore de Boisleve, a lieutenant of light cavalry, was a member of the expedition, and his mother had not failed to ask General Fleury if the Government had received any news.

He had had none.  No news is good news.  The banquet drew gaily to a close, the guests remaining seated until 9 o ‘clock.  At that hour Madame de Boisleve rose and went into the drawing room alone, that she might see that coffee was served.  Scarcely had she entered the room when the guests were alarmed by a terrible cry.  They rushed into the drawing room to find the baroness in a dead faint, stretched at full length upon the carpet.

When brought back to consciousness she told them an extraordinary story.

Stepping through the doorway, she had seen at the other end of the room her son Honore, erect, in uniform, but unarmed and without his soldier’s cap.  The officer’s face was a spectral pallor, and from his left eye, now a hideous hole, a trickle of blood flowed over his cheek and over the embroidery of his collar.

So intense had been the poor woman’s fear that she had thought she was going to die.  They hastened to reassure her by pointing out to her that she had been the victim of an hallucination, that she had dreamed, though wide awake; but as she felt inexpressibly weak, the family physician was urgently summoned.

He was the illustrious Nelaton.  He was informed of the strange adventure, prescribed sedatives and withdrew.  The next day, the baroness had recovered physically, but her mind was strongly impressed.  She sent each day to the Ministry of War to ask news.

At the end of the week she was officially informed that on March 17th 1863 at ten minutes to three in the afternoon, in the attack on Puebla, Honore de Boisleve had been killed instantly by a Mexican bullet, which had pierced his left eye and gone through his head.

When the difference in time was allowed for, the hour of his death corresponded exactly to the moment of his apparition in the drawing oom of the rue Pasquier.

The source of the experience

Ordinary person

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image

Activities