The curious may be inquisitive what the meaning of the opening of the Chest may be, and of Mr Bourne his saying You say true, etc., I’ll be with you by and by. As for the former, it is noted by Paracelsus especially, and by others, that there are signs often given of the Departure of sick Men lying on their death beds, of which this opening of the Iron Coffer or Chest, and closing again, is more than ordinary significant, especially if we recall to mind that of Virgil:
“Olli dura quies oculos
& ferreus urget
Though this quaintness is more than is requisite in these Prodigies presaging the sick Man’s Death. As for the latter, it seems to be nothing else but the saying Amen to the Presage, uttered in his accustomary form of Speech, as if he should say, you of the invisible Kingdom of Spirits, have given the Token of my sudden Departure, and you say true, I shall be with you by and by. Which he was enabled so assuredly to assent to, upon the advantage of the relaxation of his Soul now departing from the Body: Which Diodorus Siculus, lib. 18, notes to be the Opinion of Pythagoras and his followers, that it is the privilege of the Soul near her Departure, to exercise a fatidical Faculty, and to pronounce truly touching things future.
[Footnote 12: Sadducismus Triumphatus.]
THE STRANGE CASE OF M. BEZUEL
From CHRISTMAS’ “Phantom World”
“In 1695,” said M. Bezuel, “being a schoolboy of about fifteen years of age, I became acquainted with the two children of M. Abaquene, attorney, schoolboys like myself. The eldest was of my own age, the second was eighteen months younger; he was named Desfontaines; we took all our walks and all our parties of pleasure together, and whether it was that Desfontaines had more affection for me, or that he was more gay, obliging, and clever than his brother, I loved him the best.
“In 1696, we were walking both of us in the cloister of the Capuchins. He told me that he had lately read a story of two friends who had promised each other that the first of them who died should come and bring news of his condition to the one still living; that the one who died came back to earth, and told his friend surprising things. Upon that, Desfontaines told me that he had a favour to ask me; that he begged me to grant it instantly; it was to make him a similar promise, and on his part he would do the same. I told him that I would not. For several months he talked to me of it, often and seriously; I always resisted his wish. At last, towards the month of August 1696, as he was to leave to go and study at Caen, he pressed me so much with tears in his eyes, that I consented to it. He drew out at that moment two little papers which he had ready written; one was signed with his blood, in which he promised me that in case of his death he would come and bring me news of his condition; in the other, I promised him the same thing. I pricked my finger; a drop of blood came with which I signed my name. He was delighted to have my billet, and embracing me, thanked me a thousand times.