Derniers Contes

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 69

sol du
cimetiere, disait-il, qui semblait l'avoir reveille d'un profond
sommeil, et il n'avait pas plus tot ete reveille, qu'il avait eu la
conscience entiere de l'horreur sans pareille de sa position.

Ce malheureux, raconte-t-on, se retablissait, et etait en bonne voie de
guerison definitive, quand il mourut victime de la charlatanerie des
experiences medicales. On lui appliqua une batterie galvanique, et il
expira tout a coup dans une de ces crises extatiques que l'electricite
provoque quelquefois.

A propos de batterie galvanique, il me souvient d'un cas bien connu et
bien extraordinaire, dans lequel on en fit l'experience pour ramener a
la vie un jeune attorney de Londres, enterre depuis deux jours. Ce
fait eut lieu en 1831, et souleva alors dans le public une profonde

Le patient, M. Edward Stapleton, etait mort en apparence d'une fievre
typhoide, accompagnee de quelques symptomes extraordinaires, qui avaient
excite la curiosite des medecins qui le soignaient. Apres son deces
apparent, on requit ses amis d'autoriser un examen du corps _post
mortem_; mais ils s'y refuserent. Comme il arrive souvent en presence
de pareils refus, les praticiens resolurent d'exhumer le corps et de le
dissequer a loisir en leur particulier. Ils s'arrangerent sans peine
avec une des nombreuses societes de deterreurs de corps qui abondent a
Londres; et la troisieme nuit apres les funerailles le pretendu cadavre
fut deterre de sa biere enfouie a huit pieds de profondeur, et depose
dans le cabinet d'operations d'un hopital prive.

Une incision d'une certaine etendue venait d'etre pratiquee dans
l'abdomen quand, a la vue de la fraicheur et de l'etat intact des
organes, on s'avisa d'appliquer au corps une batterie electrique.
Plusieurs experiences se succederent, et les effets habituels se
produisirent, sans autres caracteres exceptionnels que la manifestation,
a une ou deux reprises, dans les convulsions, de mouvements plus
semblables que d'ordinaire a ceux de la vie.

La nuit s'avancait. Le jour allait poindre, on jugea expedient de
proceder enfin a la dissection. Un etudiant, particulierement desireux
d'experimenter une theorie de son cru, insista pour qu'on appliquat la
batterie a l'un des muscles pectoraux. On fit au corps une violente
echancrure, que l'on mit precipitamment en contact avec un fil, quand le
patient, d'un mouvement brusque, mais sans aucune convulsion, se leva de
la table, marcha au milieu de la chambre, regarda peniblement autour de
lui pendant quelques secondes, et se mit a parler. Ce qu'il disait
etait inintelligible; mais les mots etaient articules, et les syllabes
distinctes. Apres quoi, il tomba lourdement sur le plancher.

Pendant quelques moments la terreur paralysa l'assistance; mais
l'urgence de la circonstance lui rendit bientot sa presence d'esprit.
Il etait evident que M. Stapleton

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