In person, Allan Kardec was somewhat under middle height. Strongly built, with a large, round, massive head, well-marked features, and clear grey eyes, he looked more like a German than a Frenchman. Energetic and persevering, but of a temperament that was calm, cautious, and unimaginative almost to coldness, incredulous by nature and by education, a close, logical reasoner, and eminently practical in thought and deed, he was equally free from mysticism and from enthusiasm.
Devoid of ambition, indifferent to luxury and display, the modest income he had acquired from teaching and from the sale of his educational works sufficed for the simple style of living he had adopted, and allowed him to devote the whole of the profits arising from the sale of his spiritist books and from the Revue Spirite to the propagation of the movement initiated by him. His excellent wife relieved him of all domestic and worldly cares, and thus enabled him to consecrate himself entirely to the work to which he believed himself to have been called, and which he prosecuted with unswerving devotion, to the exclusion of all extraneous occupations, interests, and companionships, from the time when he first entered upon it until he died. He made no visits beyond a small circle of intimate friends, and very rarely absented himself from Paris, passing his winters in the heart of the town, in the rooms where he published his Revue, and his summers at the Villa Ségur, a little semi-rural retreat which he had built and planted, as the home of his old age and that of his wife, in the suburban region behind the Champ de Mars, now crossed in every direction by broad avenues and being rapidly built over, but which at that time was a sort of waste land that might still pass for “the country.”
Grave, slow of speech, unassuming in manner, yet not without a certain quiet dignity resulting from the earnestness and single-mindedness which were the distinguishing traits of his character, neither courting nor avoiding discussion, but never volunteering any remark upon the subject to which he had devoted his life, he received with affability the innumerable visitors from every part of the world who came to converse with him in regard to the views of which he was the recognized exponent, answering questions and objections, explaining difficulties, and giving information to all serious inquirers, with whom he talked with freedom and animation, his face occasionally lighting up with a genial and pleasant smile, though such was his habitual sobriety of demeanor that he was never known to laugh.
Among the thousands by whom he was thus visited were many of high rank in the social, literary, artistic, and scientific worlds. The Emperor Napoleon III., the fact of whose interest in spiritist-phenomena was no mystery, sent for him several times, and held long conversations with him at the Tuileries upon the doctrines of The Spirits’ Book.