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was assured of the truth of the appearance of Melusine on this tower previous to the death of a Lusignan, or a king of France, by people putation, and who were not by any means credulous. She appeared in a mourning dress, and continued for a long time to utter the most heartpiercing notes of lamentation.
The following passage occurs in Brantome's Eloge of the Duke of Monpensier, who, in 1574, destroyed Lusignan and several other retreats of the Huguenots:
“ I heard, more than forty years ago, an old veteran say, that when the Emperor Charles V. came to France, they brought him by Lusignan for the sake of the recreation of hunting the deer, who were there in great abundance in fine old parks of France; that he was never tired admiring and praising the beauty, the size, and the chef d'æuvre of that house, built, which is more, by such a lady, of whom he made them tell him several fabulous tales, which are there quite common even to the good old women who washed their linen at the fountain, whom Queen Catherine of Medicis, mother to the king, would also question and listen to. Some told her that they used sometimes to see her come to the fountain to bathe in it, in the form of a most beautiful woman, and in the dress of a widow. Others said that they
used to see her, but very rarely, and that on Saturday evening (for in that state she did not let herself be seen), bathing, half her body being that of a very beautiful lady, the other half ending in a snake: others, that she used to appear a-top of the great tower in a very beautiful form, and as a snake. Some said, that when any great disaster was to come on the kingdom, or a change of reign, or a death, or misfortune among her relatives, who were the greatest people of France, and were kings, that, three days before, she was heard to cry, with a cry most shrill and terrible, three times.
«s This is held to be perfectly true. Several persons of that place, who have heard it, are positive of it, and hand it from father to son ; and say that, even when the siege came on, many soldiers and men of honour who were there affirmed it. But it was when the order was given to throw down and destroy her castles, that she uttered her loudest cries and wails. This is perfectly true, according to the saying of people of honour. Since then she has not been heard. Some old wives, however, say she has appeared to them, but very rarely."
Jean d'Arras declares, that Serville, who defended the castle of Lusignan for the English against the Duke of Berri, swore to that prince, upon his faith and honour, “ that, three days before the surrender of the fortress, there entered into his chamber, though the doors were shut, a large serpent, enamelled with white and blue, which came and struck its tail several times against the feet of the bed where he was lying with his wife, who was not at all frightened at it, though he was very much so; and that when he seized his sword, the serpent changed all at once into a woman, and said to him, How, Serville, you who have been at so many sieges and battles, are you afraid ! Know that I am the mistress of this castle, which I have built, and that you must surrender it very
When she had ended these words, she resumed her serpent-shape, and glided away so swiftly that he could not perceive her.” The author adds, that the prince told him that other credible people had sworn to him that they too had seen her at the same time in other places in the neighbourhood, and in the same form.
So far for the genuine French Fées. On the revival of learning they appear to have fallen into neglect, till the memory of them was awakened by the appearance of the translation of the Italian tales of Straparola, many of which seem to have become current among the peopl: ; and in the end of the seventeenth century, the Contes des Fées of Perrault *, Madame d'Aulnoy, and their imitators and successors, gave them vogue throughout Europe. These tales are too well known to our readers to require us to make any observations on them.
Having now gone through the entire circle of the Fate and Fées, we shall give our final opinion respecting them and their name.
Fairies we regard as corresponding precisely with the description of them given in Vol. I. p. 50, from Lancelot du Lac; and perhaps the simplest origin of the name is, that from Fatum were formed the Italian verb Fatare and the French Faer, of which Fata and Fée are participles.
* The author of Lettres sur les Contes des Fées, already referred to (p. 237), conceives the Contes de ma Mère l'Oye to be of great antiquity. He thinks they were Armorican Mabinogion ; and as he derives Ogre from Oigour, he regards those, like Little Red Riding-Hood and Blue-Beard, in which no Ogres appear, as the most ancient. Puss in Boots and Little Poucet must have been, he thinks, at least modi. fied since the twelfth century, the date of the appearance of the O'igours in Europe; but the origin of Little Red RidingHood, in which the wolf is so conspicuous an actor, completely Joses itself in the gray mists of antiquity.
When we inquire after the Fairy system of Spain, we are usually told that there is no such thing; that the Inquisition has long since eradicated all such ideas. We do not wish to be regarded as partisans of the Holy Office, but we must express our disbelief of the assertion. We do not recollect having met, in Señor Llorente's work, any accounts of prosecutions for Fairy heresy. We should give even the Holy Office its due.
The story of Peter de Cabinam, given by Gervase of Tilbury *, in which the supernatural personages are, according to the custom of the middle ages, called Devils, appears to relate to beings answering, in some measure, to Fairies. So, also, does the account of the origin of the house of
* Otia Imperialia, p. 982.