A strange case…is stated to have occurred in Paris, in 1810. Mademoiselle Lafourcade was a young woman of great personal beauty and illustrious family, who possessed great wealth. Among her numerous suitors was a young man named Julien Bosuet, a poor litterateur, or journalist of Paris, who proved to be her lover. But her high birth induced her finally to reject him, and to wed a banker and a diplomatist of some distinction, named M. Rennale. This gentleman, however, after marriage, neglected and treated her with cruelty. She passed with him some years of wretchedness, and died,—as it was supposed; for her condition so perfectly resembled death as to deceive all who saw her. She was buried in an ordinary grave in the village in which she was born.
Bosuet filled with despair, and still inflamed by a profound attachment, hastened from the capital to the province in which the village lay, with the romantic purpose of disinterring the corpse and getting possession of her luxuriant tresses as a memento of her. At midnight he secretly unearthed the coffin, opened it, and while in the act of detaching the hair, he was stopped by the unclosing of the eyes of her he so tenderly and ardently loved. She was aroused by the caresses of her lover from her lethargy or catalepsy, which had been mistaken for death He frantically bore her to his lodgings in the village, and immediately applied the restoratives which his medical learning suggested.
She revived and recognized her preserver, and remained with him until she slowly recovered her original health. She bestowed her heart upon her preserver, and returned no more to her husband, but, concealing from him her resurrection,fled with her lover to America. Twenty years afterwards they both returned to France, in the persuasion that time had so greatly altered the lady’s appearance that her old friends would not recognize her. But it would seem that they were mistaken.
Her former husband, at the first meeting, actually recognized and immediately laid claim to his wife. Of course this claim was resisted, and a judicial tribunal sustained her and her preserver. It was decided that the peculiar circumstances of the case, with the long lapse of years, had annulled the original contract, and the legality of the authority of the first husband, and that the man who had rescued her from the tomb, and with whom she had lived for so many years, was alone entitled to claim her as his wife.
The Spirit Messenger, Vol. 1, R.P. Ambler, Apollos Munn, 1850
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil was chilled by this tale, not because of the premature interment or the thrilling circumstances of the rescue, but by the lover disinterring the corpse to claim a clock of hair. One supposes one ought to applaud the result, but really, there are limits to good taste. Mrs Daffodil felt the same distaste when Mr Rossetti, the poet, had his late wife exhumed to remove a manuscript volume of poems he had impulsively buried with the late lamented. The book sold well, possibly due to its macabre history, but things buried–like dead spouses–often acquire a lustre wholly disproportionate to their real merit.