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The Fairy mythology of France. may be divided, as respects its locality, into two parts, that of Northern and that of Southern France. Of the former we have very few notices; but of the latter, Gervase of Tilbury, who was marshal of the kingdom of Arles, has left us some interesting particulars, and other authorities enable us to carry it down to the present day. Speaking of the inhabitants of Arles, the marshal thus expresses himself:
They also commonly assert, that the Dracs assume the human form, and come early into the public market-place without any one being thereby disturbed. These, they say, have their abode in the caverns of rivers, and occasionally, floating along the stream in the form of gold rings or cups, entice women or boys who are bathing on the banks of the river; for while they endeavour to grasp what they see, they are suddenly seized and dragged down to the bottom: and this, they say, happens to none more than to suckling women, who are taken by the Dracs to rear their unlucky offspring; and sometimes, after they have spent seven years there, they return to our hemisphere. These women say that they lived with the Dracs and their wives in ample palaces, in the caverns and banks of rivers.
“ We have seen one of these women, who was taken away while washing clothes on the banks of the Rhone. A wooden bowl floated along by her, and she, in endeavouring to catch it, having got out into the deep water, was carried down by the Drac, and made nurse to his son below the water. She returned uninjured, and was hardly recognised by her husband and friends after seven years' absence.
“She related things equally wonderful, such as that the Dracs lived on people they had earried off, and turned themselves into human forms; and that one day, when the Drac gave her an eelpasty to eat, she happened to put her fingers, that were greasy with the fat, to one of her eyes and one side of her face, and she immediately be
came endowed with most clear and distinct vision under the water.
“ When, therefore, the third year of her time was expired, and she had returned to her family, she very early one morning met the Drac in the market-place of Beaucaire. She knew and saluted him, inquiring about the health of her mistress and the child. To this the Drac replied, 'Harkye,' said he ; ' with which eye do you see me?' She pointed to the eye she had touched with the fat: the Drac immediately thrust his finger into it, and he was no longer visible to any one*.”
Other versions of this story are to be met with, but this is the oldest. The word Drac, evidently derived from Draco, is, we apprehend, still in
Fa le Drac, in Provençal, signifies Faire le diable. Goudelin, a Provençal poet of the seventeenth century, begins his “ Castel en l’Ayre” with these lines :
Belomen qu' yeu faré le Drac
Espessos como de redolos.
" There is also on the banks of the Rhone, under a guard-house, at the North-gate of the city of Arles, a great pool of the river. In
* Otia Imperialia, p. 987.
these deep places, they say that the Dracs are often seen of bright nights, in the shape of men. A few years ago, there was, for three successive days, openly heard the following words in the place outside the gate of the city, which I have mentioned, while the figure as it were of a man ran along the bank : The hour is passed, and the man does not come. On the third day, about the ninth hour, while that figure of a man raised his voice higher than usual, a young man ran simply to the bank, plunged in, and was swallowed up; and the voice was heard no more.”
Gervase also describes the Kobold, or Housespirit.
“There are," says he,“ other demons, commonly called Follets, who inhabit the houses of simple country people, and can be kept away neither by water nor exorcisms; and as they are not seen, they pelt people as they are going in at the door with stones, sticks, and domestic utensils. Their words are heard like those of men, but their form does not appear. I remember to have met several wonderful stories of them in the Vita Abbreviata, et Miraculis beatissimi Antonii *."
Either Gervase mistook, or the Fadas of the
• P. 897. See Wales. Orthone, the House-spirit, who, according to Froissart, attended the Lord of Corasse, in Gas. cony, resembled Hinzelman in many points.
south of France were regarded as beings different from mankind. The former is, perhaps, the more likely supposition. He thus speaks of them :
“ This, indeed, we know to be proved every day by men who are beyond all exception; that we have heard of some who were lovers of phantoms of this kind *, which they call Fadas; and when they married other women, they died before consummating the marriage. We have seen most of them live in great temporal felicity, who when they withdrew themselves from the embraces of these Fadas, or discovered the secret, lost not only their temporal prosperity, but even the comfort of wretched life t."
Stories of the Fadas occur down to the present day.
“ In the legend of St. Armentaire,” says M. de Cambry 1, " composed about 1300, by Raymond, a gentleman of Provence, we read of the Fée Esterelle, and of the sacrifices to her, who used to
* Hujusmodi larvarum. He classes the Fadas with Syl. vans and Pans.
+ P. 989. Speaking of the wonderful horse of Giraldus de Cabririis, Gervase says, Si Fadus erat, i. e. says Leibnitz, incantatus, ut Fade, Fatæ, Fées.
Monumens Celtiques, p. 312. The author says, that Esterelle, as well as all the Fairies, was the moon.
This we very much doubt. He derives her name from the Breton Escler, Brightness. Lauza, from Lac'h (Irish Cloch), a flat stone.