A correspondent of Emma Hardinge Britten during the writing of Ghost Land, Wittgenstein has emerged as a person of interest in the search for Chevalier Louis de B–. This portrait is from an online royalty guide.
A Spiritualist convert in the 1860s, he published many reports of his experiences with the paranormal, including this letter written in French to his parents:
Warsaw, July 17th, 1867. It seems an age, my dear parents, since I have had any news of you; my mother’s last letter was dated June 5th. I have occupied myself much with Spiritualism of late, and my mediumistic faculties have developed themselves in an astonishing way. I write often with great facility in various kinds of writing; I have had direct communications from the spirit which haunts Berlebourg, a woman of our family who killed herself 102 years ago. I have, moreover, obtained a very singular result. One of my friends, Lieut-General Baron de Korf, deceased some months since, manifested himself to me (without my having thought of him the least in the world), to enjoin upon me to indicate to his family the place where his will had been maliciously hidden ; that is to say, in a chest of drawers in the house where he died. I did not know that the family were looking for this will, and had not found it. Well, they found it in the very place which the spirit had indicated to me. It is a document of great importance for the management of his property, and for the settlement of questions which will arise when his children attain their majority. Here a testimony to stand criticism.
Britten writes about him at length in Nineteenth Century Miracles:
Amongst the many notable personages who aided to maintain the prestige of Spiritualism in Russia, not only by his admirable life, but also by his openly avowed interest in the movement, and the unbounded influence which he exercised over the mind of his friend and master the late Czar, was Prince Emil de Sayn Wittgenstein. This noble gentleman not only held high rank in the Russian army and served as aide-de-camp to the Emperor during the unhappy war with Turkey, but few of those who approached His Imperial Majesty’s person, enjoyed the royal confidence in the same degree. In a correspondence maintained during some years with the author of this volume, Prince Emil asked for and obtained a number of volumes of the best American literature for the Emperor’s library. Previous to the fatal war with Turkey the Emperor and Prince Wittgenstein both received assurances through Mrs. Britten’s Mediumship that their lives would be spared during the conflict, but be sacrificed—the one to the insurrectionary spirit at home, the other to the feverish effects of the deadly campaign, into which he was about the plunge. Both these gentlemen placed implicit faith in these prophecies…[i]
[i] NCM, 363.