The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1859

Allan Kardec

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The Elf of Bayonne

In our last edition we mentioned something about this strange mani- festation. The information had been verbally passed on to us by one of our subscribers, a friend of the family with whom the event took place,

describing it in a very quick summary. He had promised a more detailed description thus we owe him for his cooperation in making available the letters containing the detailed facts.

The family resides near Bayonne and the letters were written by the mother of the girl who was then ten years old, letters which she sent to her son who was living in Bordeaux, making him aware of the things that were happening back home. Her son was the one who transcribed the let- ters to us; hence their authenticity cannot be contested. We are infinitely grateful to him for his kindness.

The reservation with which we protect the names of the persons in- volved is understandable as this rule is always observed by us, unless we have a formal authorization otherwise. Not everybody likes to attract the curiosity of the crowds. To whom such reservation may indicate a reason for suspicion we say that it is necessary to establish a difference between an eminently serious journal and those that only aim at amusing the public.

Our objective is not to tell stories which will fill out whole pages but to illuminate Science. Had we been deceived we would have been so in good faith. When something is not formally demonstrated before our eyes we only register it. That is not the case when dealing with respectable people, whose honorability we attest, people who are far from trying to lead us to err, and who are also seeking enlightenment. The lady’s son sent the first letter to our subscriber.

“Saint-Esprit, November 20th, 1858 Dear friend,

The reason for the delay in responding to you was the death of my brother that God thought appropriate to take from us and my mother’s return home. I have since been away from my house for some time. I would be really sad if Mr. Allan Kardec consid- ered you just a story teller. This is why I want to forward you the detailed facts that occurred with my family. I believe I have already told you that the apparitions have stopped sometime ago and have no longer manifested to my sister. There you have the letters which my mom wrote to me about those events. Notice that many facts were omitted, although not less interesting. I will write again to complete the story in case you cannot do it by re- calling what I have told you in person.”

“April 23rd, 1855

One afternoon, about three months ago, your sister X felt like going out to do some shopping. As you know the hallway in the house is long and dark; our old habit of walking through that badly illuminated hall somehow makes us do it without stum- bling on the steps of the stair. X had already let us know that every time she left the house she would hear a voice telling her things that she did not understand in the beginning, but which became intelligible later. Sometime later she saw a shadow and heard an insistent voice on her way. The words said by that invisible being tended to calm her down and give her wise advices. The essence of those words was a sound moral. X used to get really perturbed and, as she told us, sometimes felt incapable of proceeding.

“Child”, the invisible being would tell her every time she felt perturbed, “fear nothing since all I want is your well-being”. The voice pointed her towards a path where she found some coins for a period of several days; she found nothing on other occasions. X accepted the recommendations given to her and for a long time she would find either money or toys which you will see yourself. Those gifts were certainly given to her in order to encourage her. You were not forgotten in the conversations. On several occasions he spoke about you and gave us news about you through your sister. He often let us know what you were doing at night. He saw you reading in your room; on other occasions he told us that your friends were over at the house; thus, he always calmed us down when you were too lazy to write to us.

For some time now X has an almost continuous contact with the spirit. She sees nothing during the day. She always hears the same voice that tells her sensible things, always stimulating her to the work and to the love of God. At night she sees a pinkish light which does not illuminate the room, at the place from where she hears the voice. In her opinion that light could be compared to the twinkle of a dia- mond, in the shade. Now, she is no longer afraid. If I am doubtful, she then says: - “Mom, it is an angel that speaks to me; and if you are courageous enough, he says, he will make you get up tonight and you should respond to him if he talks to you. You should go to the place he will indicate; you will see someone before you but don’t be afraid.” I did not want to try my courage. I was afraid and the impression all that had on me made me stay up all night. Several times at night I had the impression of hearing a breath near the headrest of my bed. The chairs were displaced when nobody touched them. My fear completely disappeared sometime later, and I am very sorry for not having submitted myself to the proposed test in order to have direct connections with the invisible, and also to avoid having to continu- ously fight disbelief. I then advised X to question the invisible with respect to his nature. Here is the dialogue between the two:

X – Who are you?
Inv. – I am your brother, Eliseu.

X – My brother died twelve years ago.
Inv. – It is true. Your brother died twelve years ago but there was something in him, as there is in all beings, a soul which doesn’t die and that right now is in your pres- ence, loves you and protects everybody.

X – I wish I could see you.
Inv. – I am right here across from you.

X – However, I see nothing.
Inv. – I will take a visible form for you. After the religious services you will go to the lower side of the temple; then you will see me and I will embrace you.

X – Mom would also like to see you.
Inv. – Your mother is my mother. She knows me. I would prefer to manifest to her instead of you. That was my duty but I cannot show up to many people, since God would not allow. I am sorry that mom did not have the courage. I promise to give you proofs of my existence and then all doubts will disappear.

In the afternoon, at the scheduled time, X showed up at the door of the temple. A young man came to her and said: “I am your brother. You said you wanted to see me. Are you happy now? Give me a hug since I cannot keep this form, which I have taken, for a long time.”

As you appreciate, the presence of that being should have scared X to point of blocking her from making any observation. As soon as he hugged her he disappeared in the air.

Next day, in the morning, taking advantage of the time when X was supposed to leave, the invisible being manifested again and told her:

“You should have been very surprised with my disappearing. Now then, I want to teach you to float in the air so that you can follow me.”

Anybody but X would have been afraid of such a proposal. She, how- ever, promptly accepted it and soon felt flying, like a robin. Shortly after she felt like she had arrived at a place where there was a considerable crowd. She told us that she saw gold, diamonds and everything that ex- cites our imagination on Earth. Nobody gave more importance to those things than we give to the stones of the pavements where we walk. She recognized several children of her age who lived in our street, and died long ago. Coming to an empty and richly decorated apartment she was greatly impressed by the vision of a large table where there were some scat- tered sheets of paper. Near each sheet there was an inkpot. She saw pens tracing characters on the paper, without the support of any hand. When she came back I reprimanded her for being absent without permission and prohibited her from going back to such expeditions. The spirit apologized to her for having caused her trouble, promising that from then on he would no longer invite her without letting me know.

April 26th, 1855

The spirit transformed itself before X’s eyes. It took your form so well that your sister thought you were in the living room. To be assured, she asked him to take its primitive form and after you disappeared it took my form. Well, as soon as you disappeared you were replaced by me. She was really impressed: she then asked how I could be there if the door to the room was locked. Then another transformation occurred. It took the form of your dead brother and told X: “Your mother and all members of the family can’t see all the facts that are realized by my intervention without fear and some concern. I don’t wish to scare; however, I want to prove my existence and spare you from the incredulity of everybody else, for it would be stubbornness on their part not to surrender to the evidence. Ms. C. is a shopkeeper; you know that you need to buy buttons; we will go shopping together. I will transform myself into your little brother (who was then nine years old) and when you return to the house you will ask mom to question Ms. C. about who was with you when you bought the buttons.”

X observed the instructions. I queried Ms. C. who responded that your sister was accompanied by your brother who she actu- ally praised, saying that at his age nobody could imagine that he would give so easy answers and show so little shyness.

You should know that the little one was in school and would only return home at seven o’clock. Besides, he is very shy and does not show the easiness attributed to him. A really curious fact, don’t you think? I believe that God’s hand is not foreign to these inexplicable things.

May 7th, 1855

I am no more credulous than one should be and I do not allow myself to be dominated by superstitious ideas; however, I can- not refuse to believe in facts that happen before my eyes. Highly evident “proofs” were necessary so that I could stop punishing your sister, always afraid that she could be trying to deceive us, abusing our trust.

Yesterday, around 5 pm, the spirit told X: “It is likely that mom will send you somewhere to take a message. On your way you will be pleasantly surprised by the arrival of your uncle’s fam- ily.” X then immediately transmitted to me what the invisible had told her. I was far from expecting such a visit and was even more surprised for having learned about it in such a manner. Your sister left and the first persons she met outside were my brother, his wife and children who were coming to see us. X was quick to acknowledge that I had just had another proof of the truthfulness of her stories.

May 10th, 1855

Today I can no longer doubt that something extraordinary happens in the house. I fearlessly see all these facts taking place without being able to extract any teaching from them, since these mysteries are inexplicable to me.

Yesterday, after having cleaned the whole house, and you know that I pay special attention to this, the spirit told X that, despite the proofs it had given about its intervention in all curi- ous facts that I have told you, I was still doubtful and it wanted to eliminate that for good. A minute only had passed and was enough for me to find every room of the house in a complete mess, all done without a single noise. A red substance which I thought to be blood was spilled on the floor. Had it been only a few drops I might have thought that X had a bruise or a bleeding nose; but know this that the floor was inundated. This strange proof made us work hard to recover the primitive shine of the floor.

X also knows the content of letters, before they are open. It is the spirit that tells her.

May 16th, 1855

X did not accept an observation made by her sister, I don’t know about what. She gave her an inconvenient response, then receiving the deserved reproach. I punished her so that she went to bed without dinner. She has the habit of praying to God before falling asleep. That night she forgot it. A few moments in bed and the spirit appeared to her. He showed her a candleholder and a book of prayers, similar to the one she normally used, and told her that despite the deserved punishment she should not forget her duties. She then got up, did what she was commanded to do and it all vanished when her prayer was over.

The following morning, after having given me a hug, X asked me if the candleholder which was over the table upstairs had been removed. Well, that candleholder, like the one presented to her the night before, and the book of prayers had not been moved.

June 4th, 1855

For some time now, there has been no significant event, apart from the following one: I had a cold for a few days; yesterday your sister was busy so I had nobody to send for some balm. I told X that when she had finished her chores she should go to the nearest pharmacy to buy me something. She forgot my request and I did not remember that either. I am positive about the fact that she did not leave the house or did not stop what she was doing but only to fetch a bowl of soup that we needed.

What a surprise when we removed the lid of the bowl to find barley candies that the spirit had brought in, avoiding her going out and also satisfying my wishes, which I had forgotten.”

We evoked that spirit in one of the sessions of the Society, asking it questions below. Mr. Adrien saw the spirit with the appearance of a ten to twelve year old boy, black and wavy hair, black and lively eyes, pale, ironic lips, frivolous but benevolent character. The spirit said that it ignored the reason why it was evoked. Our corresponding member was present in that session, telling us that the description made corresponded perfectly to the description that the girl had given him on multiple occasions.

1. We heard about the story of your manifestation in a family of Bayonne and would like to ask you a few questions about that.
- Ask and I will answer. But do it fast because I am in a hurry.

2. Where did you get the money that you gave your sister?
- I took it from other people’s pockets. You understand that I would not amuse myself by producing money. I take it from those who can give it.

3. Why have you bonded to that girl? - Due to a great sympathy.

4. Is it true that you were her brother, who died at the age of four? - Yes.

5. How come you are visible to her and not to your mother?
- My mom must be precluded from seeing me but my sister does not need punishment. As a matter of fact it was through a special concession that I appeared to her.

6. Can you explain how you become visible or invisible at will?

- I am not sufficiently elevated and I am too concerned with things that attract me to be able to answer such a question.

7. If you wanted to, could you appear before us as you did with the shopkeeper?

- No.

8. In that state, would you feel pain had you been spanked?

- No.

9. What would have happened if the shopkeeper had spanked you?

- She would have hit air.

10. Which name should we use when talking about you?

- You can call me Elf, if you wish. But let me go, I have to leave. 11. (To St. Louis) Would it be useful to have a spirit like that at our service?
- You frequently have it, assisting you without your knowledge.


If we compare these facts to those of Bergzabern, which our readers still remember, we will see a capital difference. The spirit from Bergzabern was more than a rapping spirit – and still is at this point in time – it was a disturbing spirit, literally. It is a very unpleasant and inconvenient guest, although harmless. We will return to this subject in the next issue, when considering new and more recent events.

The spirit from Bayonne is, on the contrary, eminently benevo- lent and helpful; it is like those good servant spirits whose actions are transmitted to us by the German legends, a new proof that there could be a sign of truth in the legendary stories. As a matter of fact, it is clear that imagination would need little effort to transform these facts into a legend, and that they could be taken by a medieval story, hadn’t they taken place, say, right before our eyes. One of the most remarkable traits of the so called Elf of Bayonne is its transformation. What can be said now about Proteus’ fable? Between the spirit of Bayonne and the one of Bergzabern there is still the difference that the latter only appeared in dreams whereas the former became visible and tangible, like a real person, not only to its sister but also to strangers; the pur- chasing of buttons from the shopkeeper confirms that. Why it would not appear to everybody and at any time? It seems that it does not have such a power and also that it could not hold the appearance for long. There would be perhaps the need for a long and intimate work, from a higher power, above its strength. New details, which were promised about these strange phenomena, will allow us to return to the subject in due course.

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