Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Ghost of Marie Antoinette at Petit Trianon by James H. Hyslop 1911


The Ghost of Marie Antoinette at Petit Trianon by James H. Hyslop 1911

See also Over 100 of the Freakiest, Creepiest and Scariest Books on DVDrom

From Wikipedia: "The Moberly–Jourdain incident, or the Ghosts of Petit Trianon or Versailles refers to claims of time travel and hauntings made by Charlotte Anne Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain.
In 1911, Moberly and Jourdain published a book entitled An Adventure, under the names of "Elizabeth Morison" and "Frances Lamont". Their book describes a visit they made to the Petit Trianon, a small ch√Ęteau in the grounds of the Palace of Versailles where they claimed they saw the gardens as they had been in the late eighteenth century and saw ghosts including Marie Antoinette and others. Their story caused a sensation, and was subject to much ridicule."

From James J. Hyslop: An Adventure is written by daughters of two clergymen who find it best to conceal their real names. Each had certain experiences which she did not tell the other at the time, tho they were both walking together through the same park when they had the experiences. It was some months later that each ascertained that the other had had similar experiences at the time and it was then that they resolved to write them down independently. The present volume was the consequence. The ladies had gone to Versailles sightseeing and resolved to see the Petit Trianon. We shall not be able to give the readers a full account of the experiences because it would require quoting the whole volume for that. We can only commend reading it to every one interested in psychic research, regardless of explanations. Of course the first question which every one will ask himself is: "Is this romance or reality?" As the stories are told they seem perfectly incredible, tho psychic researchers are accustomed to quite as startling phenomena. But the manner of telling the story at first suggests romance and it is only the preface and the appended note by the publishers that tend to inspire trust in the seriousness of the incidents. But let us summarize the incidents.

Miss Morison gives her account first. Both ladies assert that they knew little of French history at the time. They were on a vacation in Paris when the experiences occurred. It was apparently a mere accident that brought them to the scene of their remarkable narrative.

Miss Morison writes that they had visited the Palace at Versailles when they resolved to visit the Petit Trianon. They started through the park and amidst many things each saw various scenes and objects that represented past history but did not discover that they were unreal. The story at this point is not always clear. The apparitions are not distinguished from the surrounding reality in each instance. This may be due to the circumstance that the writer is telling the story from the point of view of the experience at the time and not as discriminatingly understood later. But be that as it may, the following is the story.

"We walked briskly forward, talking as before, but from the moment we left the lane an extraordinary depression had come over me, which, in spite of every effort to shake it off, steadily deepened. There seemed to be absolutely no reason for it; I was not at all tired, and was becoming more interested in my surroundings. I was anxious that my companion should not discover the sudden gloom upon my spirits, which became quite overpowering on reaching the point where the path ended, being crossed by another, right and left.

"In front of us was a wood, within which, and overshadowed by trees, was a light garden kiosk, circular, and like a small bandstand, by which a man was sitting. There was no greensward, but the ground was covered with rough grass and dead leaves as in a wood. The place was so shut in that we could not see beyond it. Everything suddenly looked unnatural, therefore unpleasant; even the trees behind the building seemed to have become flat and lifeless, like a wood worked in tapestry. There were no effects of light and shade, and no wind stirred the trees. It was all intensely still.


"The man sitting close to the kiosk (who had on a cloak and a large shady hat) turned his head and looked at us. That was the culmination of my peculiar sensations, and I felt a moment of genuine alarm. The man's face was most repulsive,—its expression odious. His complexion was very dark and rough. I said to Miss Lamont, 'Which is our way?' but thought 'nothing will induce me to go to the left.' It was a great relief at that moment to hear some one running up to us in breathless haste. Connecting the sound with the gardeners, I turned and ascertained that there was no one on the paths, either to the side or behind; but at almost the same moment I suddenly perceived another man quite close to us, behind and rather to the left hand, who had, apparently, just come either over or through the rock (or whatever it was) that shut out the view at the junction of the paths. The suddenness of his appearance was something of a shock.

"The second man was distinctly a gentleman; he was tall, with large dark eyes, and had crisp, curling black hair under the same large sombrero hat. He was handsome, and the effect of the hair was to make him look like an old picture. His face was glowing red as through great exertion,— as tho he had come a long way. At first I thought he was sunburnt, but a second look satisfied me that the color was from heat, not sunburning. He had on a dark cloak wrapped across him like a scarf, one end flying out in his prodigious hurry. He looked greatly excited as he called out to us, 'Mesdames, Mesdames,' or ('Madame' pronounced more as the other) 'il ne faut (pronounced fout) pas passer par la.' He then waved his arm, and said with great animation, 'par ici. . .cherchez la maison.' The man said a great deal more which we could not catch.

"I was so surprised at his eagerness that I looked up at him again, and to this he responded with a little backward movement and a most peculiar smile. Tho I could not follow all he said, it was clear that he was determined that we should go to the right and not to the left. As this fell in with my wish, I went instantly towards a little bridge on the right, and turning my head to join Miss Lamont in thanking him, found, to my surprise, that he was not there, but the running began again and from the sound it was close beside us.

"Silently we passed over the small rustic bridge which crossed a tiny ravine. So close to us when on the bridge that we could have touched it with our hands, a thread-like cascade fell from a height down a green pretty bank, where ferns grew between stones. Where the little trickle of water went to I did not see, but it gave me the impression that we were near other water, tho I saw none.

"Beyond the little bridge our pathway led under trees; it skirted a narrow meadow of long grass, bounded on the further side by trees, and very much overshadowed by trees growing in it. This gave the whole place a sombre look suggestive of dampness, and shut out the view of the house until we were close to it. The house was a square, solidly built country house;—quite different from what I expected. The long windows looking forth into the English garden (where we were) were shuttered. There was a terrace round the north and west sides of the house, and on the rough grass which grew up to the terrace and with her back to it, a lady was sitting, holding a paper as tho to look at it at arm's length. I supposed her to be sketching, and to have brought her own camp-stool. It seemed as tho she must be making a study of trees, for they grew close in front of her, and there seemed to be nothing else to sketch. She saw us, and when we passed close by on her left hand, she turned and looked full at us. It was not a young face, and (tho rather pretty) it did not attract me. She had on a shady white hat perched on a good deal of fair hair that fluffed round her forehead. Her light summer dress was arranged on her shoulders in handkerchief fashion, and there was a little line of either green or gold near the edge of the handkerchief, which showed me that it was over, not tucked into, her bodice, which was cut low. Her dress was long-waisted, with a good deal of fulness in the skirt, which seemed to be short. I thought she was a tourist, but that her dress was old-fashioned and rather unusual (tho people were wearing fichu bodices that summer). I looked straight at her; but some indescribable feeling made me turn away annoyed at her being there.

"We went up the steps on the terrace, my impression being that they led up direct from the English garden; but I was beginning to feel as tho we were walking in a dream,— the stillness and oppressiveness were so unnatural. Again I saw the lady, this time from behind, and noticed that her fichu was pale green. It was rather a relief to me that Miss Lamont did not propose to ask her whether we could enter the house from that side.

"We crossed the terrace to the southwest corner and looked over into the cour d'honneur; and then turned back, and seeing that one of the long windows overlooking the French garden was unshuttered, we were going towards it when we were interrupted. The terrace was prolonged at right angles in front of what seemed to be a second house. The door of it suddenly opened, and a young man stepped out on to the terrace, banging the door behind him. He had the jaunty air of a footman, but no livery, and called on us, saying that the way into the house was by the cour d'honneur, and offered to show us the way round. He looked inquisitively amused as he walked by us down the French garden till we came to an entrance into the front drive. We came out sufficiently near the first lane we had been in to make me wonder why the garden officials had not directed us back instead of telling us to go forward.

"When we were in the front entrance hall we were kept waiting for the arrival of a merry French wedding party. They walked arm in arm in a long procession round the rooms, and we were at the back,—too far off from the guide to hear much of his story. We were very much interested, and felt quite lively again. Coming out of the cour d'honneur we took a little carriage which was standing there, and drove back to the Hotel des Reservoirs in Versailles, where we had tea, but we were neither of us inclined to talk, and did not mention any of the events of the afternoon. After tea we walked back to the station, looking on the way for the Tennis Court."

On the way back to Paris Miss Morison says the "thought returned,—' Was Marie Antoinette really much at the trianon, and did she see it for the last time long before the fatal drive to Paris accompanied by the mob?'"

The subject was not alluded to for a week between the ladies, but one day, "as the scenes came back one by one, the same sensation of dreamy unnatural oppression came over me so strongly that I stopped writing, and said to Miss Lamont, 'Do you think that the Petit Trianon is haunted?' Her answer was prompt, 'Yes, I do.' I asked her where she felt it, and she said, 'In the garden where we met the two men, but not only there.'"

The account then proceeds with details of common experiences until the two ladies resolved to write out their stories independently. The account then continues in the next chapter with Miss Lamont's narrative, which embodies the same facts as above with different incidents not observed by Miss Morison. Comparison led to a second trip to the place when additional apparitions occurred which I must leave to readers of the book to examine. The main point is that in successive trips the scenes of the first were not all seen and the place looked different. It occurred to Miss Lamont when she wrote her account that they had visited the Petit Trianon the first time on the 10th of August which was the anniversary of the French Revolution. This was a clue to the possible meaning of the incidents of their strange experience.

To make a long story short the discovery that many of the objects seen on that day were not really in the park and that some of the costumes observed were of the time of the Revolution and were not worn by any persons about the park led to historical inquiries. This took several years and further visits to the Petit Trianon. Obscure histories of the time of Marie Antoinette and maps of that period with drawings and pictures of the houses and various things in the park led to a complete identification of what they had seen, tho no such things now exist in the park. This extended down even to an old revolutionary plow which they had seen on the visit and which had disappeared perhaps a century ago. When the identification was made the next thing needed was an explanation.

The last chapter is a Reverie, a hypothetical construction of the cause of their apparitions. The ladies protest that they have never been psychic researchers and that they have a distinct aversion to spiritualism and all its ways. Apparently they are naively ignorant that they have been trespassing upon spiritistic grounds in both their experiences, their inquiries for identification and their final explanation. But however that may be they find that the incidents in their experience coincide with what most probably passed through the mind of Marie Antoinette during the last days of her life. It was the anniversary of her arrest and they assume that they had in some way come into communication with her mind, on the other side of the grave, and caught some of its dreams or reveries.

See also Over 100 of the Freakiest, Creepiest and Scariest Books on DVDrom

[For a list of all of my disks, with links click here]

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