Tag Archive: XVIIIth Century


Several times in the XVIIth and XVIIIth Centuries, navigators in Martinique declared having seen a merman who came out of the water to observe them.

If we study the first beliefs of men, we notice that all of the people who live by the sea have in common the myth of an ancient man coming out of the sea to educate them.  It is the Vinak-Car (the fish-man) of the Guatemalas.  It is the Cuculkan of the Mayas.  It is Manco-Capac for the Incas and it is Quetzalcoatl who comes out of the Gulf of Mexico.  On the Celtic coasts, it is Hue-Gadarn.  In India, it is Parascharya.  And must we recall the Neptune of the Greeks, and the Venus of Hesiode, who appeared in the waves?

Of course, these are all legends.  But what if the legends were really memories?

Two great astronomers, Shklovski and Paul Sagan, have seriously asked themselves questions on the legend of the Akpallus, and they wondered if it does not speak of beings who came from somewhere else, in the early days of humanity, to “launch” civilization on Earth.

The Akpallus are creatures who came from the sea and are remembered by the first Sumerian civilization.  Our History begins in Sumeria.

The famous astronomer Sagan gives the following hypothesis:  extra-terrestrial visitors, in space-suits, based on a space ship which landed on the sea, came to bring to men the rudiments of knowledge.  They appeared on the coast of Sumeria.  Hence the legend of the Akpallus, who were creatures that were half-man half-fish (the helmet which imitates a fish head, the breathing apparatus which represents a tail).  The sign of Pisces, which would unite the “initiates” of the Near-East, could be connected to this fabulous memory.

***

In the XVIIth Century, a merman belonging to Genoa sailors who claimed to have captured him in the Aegean Sea, was shown in different European cities. But it was perhaps a clever trick…

We could do away with the hypothesis of the Extra-Terrestrials and consider that the men, on the coast of Sumeria, really saw fish-men, whom they took for gods.

***

This is the oldest legend of Western Humanity.  Or rather, it is the oldest document.  Berose, who was a priest in Babylon at the time of Alexander the Great, is supposed to have had access to cuneiform and pictorial testimonies several thousands of years old.  And he has left us an account of the earliest times.  During the “first year” (that is to say, the first cycle), an animal “endowed with reason”, called Oannes, is supposed to have come out of the sea, coming from the Persian Gulf.  Its body was that of a fish and a man at the same time.  This creature taught men.  At sunset, Oannes dived back into the sea, spending the night “in the deep”.  For it was an “amphibian” creature.  After that, there were several generations of similar creatures:  the Akpallus.

As we can see, all of the religions of the maritime peoples have their origin in the apparition of beings resembling humans, emerging from the sea.

***

Life has perhaps appeared, developed and disappeared several times on Earth.  And the idea of a first humanity living in the oceans should be considered.  In this case, the “men of the seas” who were sometimes found, in former centuries, would be the degenerated remains of the first humanity.  The leftovers of a first extinct evolution…

***

For all of the children who have read Hans Christian Andersen, there is no doubt about the existence of mermaids…

The question that Benoit de Maillet asked himself in the XVIIIth Century was “Could there be creatures of human form in the sea?”  He dreamed a lot about the Botal Hole.

This is the path of our Naturalist’s reflection.  The child, inside its mother’s womb, breathes through two openings which correspond with four vessels, through which the blood coming from the heart is able to circulate without entering the lungs.  One of these openings is called the Botal Hole;  the other is the arterial canal.  The child lives like this, in the liquid environment of its mother’s womb.  At the moment of birth, air enters for the first time into his lungs where blood begins to circulate.  And the Botal Hole closes.  Benoit de Maillet concludes that, for some beings, the Botal Hole does not close completely.  They can therefore lead an amphibian existence.

Buffon pursued research in this direction.  He cites several experiments performed on little puppies, that he obliged to be born in a tub of lukewarm water.  He left them there for half an hour.  He removed them for the same length of time.  He put them back.  Going alternatively from water to air, the little dogs, Buffon tells us, were breathing perfectly in each element.  So Buffon concludes:

“It would perhaps be possible, while being careful about it, to prevent the Botal Hole from closing in this way and to create, by this method, excellent divers and amphibious species of animals who could live equally well in either air or water.”

***

As for mermaids, many illustrious men have studied the problem of monsters.  Ambroise Pare said:

“It should not be doubted that, just as we can see several monsters in diverse ways on land, in the same way there are also strange sorts in the sea.  Some are men from the waist right to the top, called Mermen;  others are women and are called Mermaids.”

Nearer to our time, the admirable Michelet, in his book La Mer, consecrates a chapter to Mermaids.  He asks:

“If these beings really existed, why were they so rare?”

Then answers:

“Alas, we don’t have to look far for the answer:  it is that they were generally killed.  It was a sin to let them live, for they were monsters…”

Perhaps the last Mermaids, the last Mermen, vestiges of an adventure of Life which aborted, did not survive longer than the XVIth and XVIIth Centuries, an epoch still rich in marvels and prodigies of Nature.  Perhaps there is still a small number of them in the oceans, hiding in distant abysses, forever far from humans, definitively afraid of our turbulent growth…

***

From Antiquity to the XVIIIth Century, men believed in the existence of mermaids. Sailors even gave very detailed descriptions of them.

Pliny, in Chapter Nine of his Natural History, writes:

“A deputation from Lisbon was sent to Emperor Tiberius to announce to him that a Triton had been seen and heard in a cavern.  Nereids have been seen on this same coast.  One of them was dying.  Her moans were heard from afar by the inhabitants.  The Legate from Gaul wrote to Emperor Augustus that several dead Nereids were to be seen on the coast.  I can cite witnesses (who occupy a high rank in the Equestrian Order) and who have certified to me having seen in the Cadiz ocean a man of the seas, of a conformation perfectly identical to ours.  During the night, this man of the seas boarded the ships!”

The Naturalist Rondelet, who professes in the XVIth Century in Montpellier, writes in his Histoire des Poissons:

“There was taken in Norway a marine monster after a great torment.  All those who saw it gave it the name of Monk, for it had a human face, but rustic and not very gracious, the head shaven, and a sort of monk’s hood on its shoulders.  The extremity of the body ended in a wide tail.”

And Rondelet continues:

“The poets say that there are Nereids (that is to say a feminine being, of human form, which lives in the sea).  Pliny considers that this is not a fable.  Some were seen on the beaches in former times.  Their complaints were heard.  Some were seen in Pomerania, with a beautiful woman’s face.  I have heard it said that a Spanish mariner held one in his ship, but that one day she escaped, threw herself into the sea and appeared no more.”

It can be read in The Great Chronicle of the Netherlands that in 1433, off the coast of Poland, a marine man, with palmed feet and hands, who let himself be touched by everybody, was fished.  He does not speak, but he seems to understand very well.

In the XVIth Century, navigators brought several mermaids to the King of Portugal who managed to keep them alive for a few years. He showed them to his friends and tried in vain to teach them to speak.

The King of Poland has him locked up in a tower.  But the man of the seas goes into such a depression that it is thought that he will die from it.  He is taken back to the shore, where a great crowd is assembled.  He waves goodbye, plunges and disappears forever.

Father Bonhour, a French Jesuit of the Renaissance, writes:

“Mermaids, of whom the poets speak, are not just inventions.  They have been seen in diverse countries.  Philip, Archduke of Austria, brought one with him to Genes, in 1548.  Another appeared on a beach of Holland at the beginning of the century.”

But it is to the Naturalist Benoit de Maillet, a precursor of Darwin, and who is the first to maintain, in the XVIIIth Century, the thesis of transformism, that we owe the most abundant documentation on the men of the seas.  Benoit de Maillet was Consulate of France in Egypt and Inspector of French Establishments in the Levant.  He made numerous maritime observations which he consigned in his work Entretiens sur l’origine de l’homme (1748).  For him, the origin of Man is in the oceans.  Voltaire, who makes jokes of everything, derides him.  But the collection of testimonies taken from the chronicles of Portugal by Benoit de Maillet demand our attention.

The King of Portugal in the XVIth Century, Manuel, nicknamed the Great or the Fortunate, is having a glorious reign.  Vasco da Gama opens the route to the Indies.  Brazil is conquered.  The Court of Manuel is grandiose, enriched by the treasures of Africa and Asia.  But never is a more surprising gift made to King Manuel than the one mentioned in History of Portugal and Relations of the East Indies:

“A fishing net, thrown at the point of India, brought in fifteen men of the seas which were immediately sent to the Lisbon Court.  Thirteen died during the voyage.  The only ones to survive were a woman and a young girl.  They came to King Manuel who never grew tired of admiring them.  The Oceanides appearing very sad, the King had them lowered into a shallow place in the sea, bearing light chains which prevented them from escaping.  And the Court, aboard boats, were able to watch their evolutions.  These creatures lived for a few years during which, each day, they were taken to the sea.  But they were never able to learn to speak.”

Here now is something taken from The Great Chronicle of the Netherlands:

“Today, six men who had gone by boat to the Diamond Islands were preparing to return home.  It was sunset.  At the edge of the island, they noticed a marine monster.  This monster had a human face and its body ended like a fish.  He had black and grey hair, a long beard, and the stomach covered in hairs.  He had a ferocious air.  When he emerged, he wiped his face with two hands while sniffing like a dog.  He approached so closely that one of the men threw a line to him to see if he would catch it.  But the man of the seas dived once more and no-one saw him again.”

This report from the captain commanding the Diamond Quarters in Martinique was received by Pierre de Beville, Notary of the Quarters of the Maritime Company, in the presence of the Jesuit Father Julien Simon.  It contained as well “the separate and unanimous statements of two other Frenchmen and four Negroes”.

Mermaids and other marine monsters as they are shown in the XVIIth Century work “Physica curiosa” by G. Schott.

Here is something else, which occurs in 1746 and is reported to us by Sieur Le Masson, employed by the Marine:

“A sentinel making his round at night on the walls of Boulogne noticed a man gesticulating in the moat.  He hailed him without receiving a reply.  At the third summation, the sentinel fired.  When the cadaver was recovered, it was  noticed that it was that of a man of the seas whom the tide had left in the moat.  The inferior part of the body had the form of a fish.”

On 8 September 1725, Monsieur d’Hautefort sends to Count de Maurepas, Minister of Louis XIV, the following sworn account:

“Seven ships had dropped anchor on the  Banks of Newfoundland, when, around ten o’clock in the morning, a man of the seas appeared on the port side of the French ship Marie-de-Grace, captained by Captain Olivier Morin.  He firstly showed himself under the barrel of the Foreman Guillaume L’Aumone.  Immediately, the Foreman took a boathook, but the Captain stopped him, fearing that the monster would drag him down with him.  For this reason, the Foreman only gave him a blow on the back, without stabbing him.  The marine man circled the ship several times, went away, came back, raised himself out of the water as far as his navel.  This all lasted from ten o’clock in the morning to midday, and the monster was seen for all this time by the thirty-two men of the crew.  They were all able to notice the following particularities:  the brown and dark skin, without scales.  All the movements of the body, from the head down to the feet (visible in the transparent water), were those of a normal man.  The eyes were well proportioned, the nose wide and flat, the teeth white, the ears similar to those of a man, the feet and hands the same, except that the fingers were joined by a film, like those that exist on the feet of geese and ducks.  To resume, it was a man’s body as well made as those that one sees ordinarily…  Around noon, the singular creature went away from the ship, dived deeply, and no-one saw it again.”

***

To be continued.

The holy phial

Legend has it that, during Clovis’ baptism, a dove from Heaven brought a phial containing holy oil.

The History of France begins with a marvellous story.  On 25 December 496, the streets of Reims are packed with a joyful crowd awaiting an extraordinary procession.  The Franc Chief, Clovis, who has decided to convert to christianism, has to go, in great pomp, surrounded by the principal prelates of Gaul, from the former Palace of the Roman Governor, situated near the Basee Gate – porta Basilica – to the baptistery where Remi, Bishop of the little city, awaits him.

All of the streets are decorated.  Gregoire de Tours tells us that

“the squares were shaded by coloured hangings and the churches hung with white curtains”.

As for the pool where the new Christian was to be, according to the rite, plunged three times, it was splendidly decorated.  The chronicler tells us, as well, that perfumes had been poured around and that odorous candles were burning, in such a way

“that all the people were impregnated with a divine odour and that God was filling the spectators with such grace that they thought that they had been transported amongst the perfumes of Paradise”.

The holy phial was used for over one thousand years for the Coronation of France’s Kings.

Along the streets, while waiting for the procession, well-informed people are saying that this baptism is the consequence of a vow that Clovis had made during a battle.  For a long time, Clotilde – daughter of the Burgond King Chilperic -, whom he had married in 493, had been begging him to abandon the cult of the gods Wotan, Ziu and Freia, to convert to the religion of the Christ;  but the Franc had been hesitating.  However, a few months earlier, while he was fighting against the Alamans, luck seemed to be against him and he had addressed the heavens like this:

“God of Clotilde, You whom my wife affirms to be the son of the living God, if you give me victory over these enemies, I will believe in You and will have myself baptized!”

Immediately after this prayer, the Alamans had fled in great disorder.  A miraculous victory for which Clovis rejoiced because it assured him the whole of northern Gaul with uncontested authority over the Gallo-Romans and the Germanic Francs…

***

For a long time, the holy phial was kept in this reliquary placed inside Saint Remi’s tomb.

The Remois, who are waiting and chatting near the Cathedral built by Saint Nicaise ninety-seven years earlier, are suddenly silent.  A buzzing of religious chants is announcing the arrival of the cortege which soon arrives on the square.  At its head is the Remois clergy preceded by a cross-bearer, then come Remi, who had instructed the King in christian dogmas, and different Bishops whose mitres, croziers and amethyst rings amaze the good people.  Monks and clerics follow, singing hymns of glory.  Finally, Clovis appears, alone, dressed in the white robe of catechumens.  Behind him walk two young women whose ravishing names – Alborflede and Lantechilde – have been circulating through public rumour.  They are his sisters.  They too are to receive baptism, along with the three thousand warriors at the back of the cortege, three thousand Francs with enormous moustaches hanging on their virginal tunics, who are advancing and trying to look meditative.

The ceremony is therefore going to last all day and the little people display intense jubilation about it.  Not that they are particularly fond of religious spectacles, but because they guess that there will be rejoicings attached to this one.  The arrival of this crowd of new converts into the Church’s bosom is, in fact, going to be accompanied by feasts and drunkenness, these excesses being absolved in advance by their pious pretext.

***

The Grand Prior of Reims Abbey wearing the holy phial reliquary around his neck.

When the cross-bearer arrives in front of the baptistery, the cortege stops.  Remi then gives a sign to Clovis who walks with a firm step towards the pool, his long hair undone.  With no hesitation, he enters the icy water, and the Bishop of Reims pronounces this sentence which would traverse the centuries:

“Bow your head gently, proud Sicambre!  Worship that which you have burnt, burn that which you have worshipped!…”

After which, the King having confessed his faith in God All-Powerful and in the Trinity, Remi plunges his head into the water three times, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

Clovis leaves the pool, met by a priest who covers him in a big towel and rubs him down with respect.  Dried, the King goes into a neighbouring room to dress in a new linen tunic.  He re-appears immediately afterwards.

The public, let into the bapistery, then gets ready to watch the second part of the ceremony:  Confirmation.  The ritual is known:  the Bishop is going to anoint the newly baptized man’s forehead with holy oil;  a few psalms will be sung and all will be finished.  The drinking and feasting awaited by the little people could then begin.

This is when a prodigious event takes place, related by Hincmar, Archbishop of Reims, in the IXth Century in his Vie de saint Remi, and which is still being recounted, more than one thousand three hundred years later.

Here are the facts such as he reports them:

“As Remi and Clovis were arriving at the baptistery, the cleric who was carrying the oil was stopped by the crowd, so that he was unable to get to the baptismal font.  Therefore, at this font blessed by divine will, the holy oil was lacking.  And as the crowd of people was preventing anyone from either entering or leaving the church, the holy pontiff, raising his eyes and hands to heaven, tacitly started to pray and shed tears.  And suddenly, a dove whiter than snow brought in its beak a little phial full of holy oil, the suave odour of which, much superior to that of the incense and the candles, struck all who were present.  The holy pontiff having taken this little phial, the dove disappeared.”

Immediately, Remi, completely untroubled by this marvel, proceeds to anoint Clovis with the holy oil that has been miraculously brought, before a crowd that must have been astounded…

***

After the destruction of the holy phial during the Revolution, what was left of the original holy oil was collected and placed in this reliquary, by order of Charles X.

After the ceremony, the holy phial – as its name will be from then on – was piously carried by Remi to a safe place.  Later, it would be placed inside a dove of gold.  Those who saw it tell us that it was in slightly opaque glass or crystal, that its size was that of an average fig, that its neck had a whiteish colour, that its stopper was made of red taffeta, and that the oil that it contained exhaled the most exquisite perfume.  Some chroniclers, like Froissart in his Description of the Coronation of Charles VI, even affirm that the oil came back all on its own after each royal unction, and that its volume consequently never diminished.  The Historian Dom Guillaume, in the XVIIth Century, assures us that a “famous doctor” whose name he unfortunately does not give us, believed that “this celestial balm had been made by the hands of angels”.

So, Clovis’ baptism is marked with a divine sign.  And this sign would be used by the Kings of France for more than a thousand years for political ends.  In fact, the celestial origin of the holy phial would raise France to the rank of eldest daughter of the Church, suggest the idea of a ceremony for the taking of power being integrated into the religious liturgy:  Coronation;  make this Coronation a true initiation capable of transforming the sovereign into a King-Priest and a Healer King – who could cure the King’s Evil, for example – in other words, give a sacred character to the royal function…

A marvellous adventure which would make all the sovereigns of the world jealous and lead the English Kings to “invent” a holy phial – Saint Thomas a Becket’s – so as to found their monarchy on bases just as solid as that of the French…

This holy phial, now a “divine sign”, was used during the Coronation of almost all of France’s Kings up until the Revolution.  But on 16 Vendemiaire year II (7 October 1793), the Conventionnel Ruhl broke it with a hammer on the steps of Louis XV’s statue, in the middle of the Place Royale in Reims.

***

However, the holy phial did not disappear completely.  A few pieces of debris containing a bit of balm were collected by Abbot Seraine, Curate of Saint-Remi.  This balm, mixed with other blessed oils, was locked up in a new reliquary and was used for the Coronation of Charles X.  All that is left of the oil used at Clovis’ baptism is still part of the Reims Cathedral’s treasure today…

***

To be continued.

The Count of Saint-Germain.

The Count of Saint-Germain was Rose-Croix, like Descartes, Willermoz, or Goethe.  He dreamed, like all Rosicrucians of the epoch, of organizing a European government.  Which explains the zeal that he displayed in serving the kings, but not for just any old job.  This is what distinguishes him from someone like Casanova, to whom he is often wrongfully compared.  He is nothing like the seductive rascal, busker, cheat and chaser of skirts.  Saint-Germain is, on the contrary, an Initiate of high rank, with immense culture and uncontestably endowed with paranormal powers.

***

In 1774, Saint-Germain is placed in the presence of Marie-Antoinette.  He tells her that the Encyclopaedist Party wants power and that soon the Catholic Religion and the Magistrature will be abolished.  The Queen replies:

“So, Royalty will be the only thing left!”

“Not even that!  But a Republic whose sceptre will be the executioner’s axe!  From all parts of the Kingdom will surge men avid for vengeance.  They will destroy everything in their way and civil war will break out with all its horrors.  You will then regret not having listened to me….”

***

This prediction comes to us from one of the Queen’s ladies-in-waiting, Madame d’Adhemar.  It is in conformity with what we know about Saint-Germain, who is endowed with fulgurant intuitions and knowledge which allow him to deduct, from facts that had scarcely any significance for his contemporaries, future realities.  This is doubtless the essence of all prophetism…

***

The cover of a strange manuscript on alchemical symbolism attributed to the Count of Saint-Germain. This work, which has not been entirely decoded, is in the Troyes Library.

It is certain that great culture – and that of Saint-Germain was truly encyclopaedic – confers a sort of immortality.  In the measure that it allows us to make events that we have not known live again and draw lessons from them and project them into the future…

***

Apart from a prodigious memory, the Count was supremely clever in making people curious without satisfying their curiosity.  By letting people believe a little and showing them a lot, he must have ended up suggesting even more.  He succeeded in this for twenty years with Louis XV, who was nothing like a naive man…

***

As a high, Rosicrucian dignitary, Saint-Germain was very rich, and could have substituted some precious stones for others of a lesser value…  Still with a disinterested aim, because he was sincerely monarchist and, kept informed by his Rosicrucian Brothers of all that was in preparation in France, he wanted, in this way, among others, to save Royalty, despite the King.  By amusing him firstly, to capture his trust and bring him later to make the indispensable reforms.

***

We are fairly sure that Saint-Germain practised complete sexual abstinence.  This is confirmed for example by a letter of 1745 from Horace Walpole, the English Prime Minister, who knew him well.  The Count surely used chastity to produce paranormal phenomena.

If he wanted to approach women, it was because they were the obligatory intermediaries for arriving at the thrones where his political and moral actions could be put in motion…  As for the famous elixir, he very honestly said that it could only retard inevitable ageing.

***

Madame de Genlis assures that he had found, thanks to his deep knowledge of chemistry, a liqueur appropriate for his temperament”.   However, this admirer of the Count emitted a theory that was very new for her time:  she said that

“without his passions and his intemperance, Man’s age would be one hundred, and a very long life, one hundred and fifty or one hundred and sixty”.

Saint-Germain and the gerontologists of today do not say anything different.  As for the Baron de Gleichen, the Ambassador of the Margrave of Bayreuth who had known him very well, he describes the Count

“living on a great diet, never drinking while he eats, and purging himself with follicles of sene.  That’s all that he advises to his friends who question him on what they should do to live a long life”.

We can see that, in the domain of disciplined life-style, Saint-Germain was also very much ahead of his time.  This surely allowed him to appear younger than his age for a very long time.  He had, in fact, invented what we call dietetic and biochemistry…  Two hundred years before Niehans or Messegue…

***

Saint-Germain’s fortune was perhaps exaggerated…  By Gleichen in particular who, according to Madame du Deffand,  had this unfortunate habit.  He also lets people believe, in his Souvenirs, that the Count knew how to make precious stones.  Louis Pauwels, whose work I have translated, thinks that this should be taken in its symbolic Rosicrucian alchemical sense…

***

As for the fault in the diamond, it is easier to remove a fault than to manufacture a diamond.  Saint-Germain had very extensive chemical knowledge and is the author of a good twenty inventions in the domains of dyes and metal alloys.  He knew the principal stone cutters of Amsterdam.  Not to mention that, in two weeks, he could have made the round trip to Holland to bring the King a stone that he could have exchanged there…  Louis Pauwels thinks that his fortune, which was real, came to him from his Brotherhood and perhaps also from his family…

***

It was said that he was the son of a Jewish doctor from Strasbourg, or of a textile merchant from Moscow.  Of a Princess who had been Louis XV’s mistress, too.  The favour which he enjoyed with many sovereigns allows us, in fact, to think that he was of noble extraction.  This is Paul Chacornac’s thesis, which seems, to Louis Pauwels, to be the most probant:  Saint-Germain might have come from the princely Hungarian Rakoczi Family, the declared enemies of the House of Austria.  His father could be Franz II Rakoczi, proscrit in 1711, at the moment of the Szatmar Peace, who had found refuge at the Court of Louis XIV.  A weighty witness to confirm this version is the Countess de Genlis, to whom Saint-Germain delivered part of the truth.  He revealed to the Preceptress of the Orleans children:

“When I was seven, I roamed in the middle of forests with my Governor and my head had a price on it.  My mother, whom I was never more to see, attached her portrait to my arm.”

The Count showed this portrait, painted on a bracelet which never left his wrist, to Madame de Genlis, whose Memoires are a precious testimony on the end of the Old Regime…

***

It has been established that the only princely family to fill the conditions mentioned in the confidence that he made to Princess Amelie was the masculine Wittelsbach line.  A tragic line, marked by folly, one of whose last descendants is Louis II of Bavaria, who drowned [or had a heart-attack] in Starnberg Lake.  But this hypothesis is less satisfactory, for if Saint-Germain had been a Wittelsbach, why would he only have made an allusion to his mother’s origins?…

On the other hand, what is certain is that he was related to the Hesse Family, and it was  near the throne of the Prince de Hesse-Cassel, grandson of George II of England, that he ended his days…  temporarily.

***

In the comany of the Prince of Hesse, Saint-Germain made dyes which nothing could alter.

The Prince, who was a Mason of high rank, became his disciple, and together, they launched themselves into the manufacture of dyes which they produced in a factory installed on the Baltic.  Dyes that nothing, neither acid, nor air, nor sun, nor rain could alter, it seems.  The Prince of Hesse managed it on his master’s instructions for more than thirty years, and the German industry took certain techniques from it, of which it is still today very proud…

***

The Count made a mystery of his life because he had sworn it to his Rosicrucian Brothers and this corresponded to the sensitivity of an epoch where, to accede to those in power, you must not only have convictions and competences, but also a sense of the marvellous, wit, and be gifted in the performing arts to interest them while amusing them.  He consented to it to make his Masonic and alchemical ideal come true.  Not to make gold, but to study the processes of the transmutation of matter, which for the Rose-Croix, would permit, if they were known, to give to the whole of Humanity “health, riches, omniscience and ubiquity”.

This ideal, Saint-Germain was one of the only ones to push it so far, while living his own terrestrial and spiritual adventure to the hilt.

This is also his immortality.  It is in any case what Frederic II, King of Prussia, meant when, speaking as a connaisseur of men, he said of Saint-Germain:

“This man should never die!…”

***

The Count of Saint-Germain.

During a dinner, from which Saint-Germain is absent, the Duke de Choiseul, France’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, suddenly turns to his wife and asks her why she is not drinking.  Madame de Choiseul replies:

“Because Monsieur de Saint-Germain’s diet without wine suits me admirably!”

The Duke erupts in violent anger and orders his wife to stop following “the follies of such an equivocal man”.  The Bailie of Solar then asks:

“Is it true that the Government doesn’t know whence comes a man who lives in France in such distinguished fashion?”

Choiseul replies with a ferocious air:

“Without a doubt we do know!”

It is at this dinner that is formed the animosity which would now divide partisans and adversaries of the Count.  As an intelligent, sly man, Choiseul is very careful not to use a process which could discredit Saint-Germain in the King’s eyes, by showing him for example that he is mistaken in trusting him.  Since this is France, a much more redoubtable weapon must be used.  And to wield this weapon, he hires Gauwe, an actor exceptionally gifted as an imitator, who is entrusted with making fun of Saint-Germain.  Made-up and his hair powdered, wearing false diamonds and taking the same accent as the Count, he wanders through the Marais telling the most extravagant stories.  He says for example:

“Jesus Christ.  I knew him very intimately…  He was the best man in the world, but he was romanesque and thoughtless.  I often predicted to him that he would finish badly!”

Hearing such ridiculous things, his auditors could only believe that they were in the presence of a liar…

The Duke also made up a story about the Count’s elixir and his longevity and had it spread everywhere.  In town and at Court, it was said that a Baroness, who was very old, bought a phial of this miraculous water, that she locked it inside a cupboard, telling her chambermaid not to touch it.  To be sure that she wouldn’t, she told her that it was an extremely drastic remedy…  against colic.  The lady goes out and, in the middle of the night, the soubrette experiences violent intestinal pain.  She rushes to the phial, and drinks more than half of it.  As the liquid is very light-coloured, she replaces what she has drunk with water and goes to lie down on the lady’s sofa, in prey to an irresistable need to sleep.  When, early in the morning, the mistress of the house returns home and calls her women to undress her, she comes across a little girl of three or four lying on the sofa sucking her thumb and kicking her legs…

As a man of superior intelligence, Saint-Germain laughs at these roasts and even enters into his enemies’ games.

One day when he is visiting Madame de Marchais, he throws his hat and sword on a piece of furniture upon entering, sits down at the piano and executes a piece of music which is very much applauded.  He is asked the name of the composer.  He says gravely:

“I don’t know.  All that I know is that I heard this march during the entry of Alexander the Great into Babylon!”

***

Louis XV also seemed to be indifferent to the charlatanesque stories circulating about the Count.  However, he forbids anyone to mock him in his presence and defies his protege’s detractors by locking himself up for long hours with him, while ministers and those seeking favours wait outside the door.

In 1774, the Count of Saint-Germain had predicted to Marie-Antoinette the fall of Royalty and the creation of a Rebublic whose sceptre would be the executioner’s axe…

The declared hatred of the Kingdom’s most powerful man is therefore incapable of doing anything against Saint-Germain.  For years, the King entrusts him, not only with his worries, but also with important secret missions.  In England, he meets Walpole and, in Holland, he treats with Louis of Brunswick who is his close friend.  In all the countries that he traverses, he accedes to the foot of the thrones, warns or advises the sovereigns, and the greatest personalities show him their esteem.  But if he only returns to France to prophesy the future death of Marie-Antoinette on the scaffold, it is because the attacks of Choiseul, who secretly dreams of supplanting the King, finish by becoming too heavy for him to bear.  If they do not succeed in tarnishing his image with Louis XV, they at least discredit him in the eyes of posterity, which believed for a long time in the legend of the imposter, a Saint-Germain who was a master of frauds and falsifications…

In the last years of a reign which ends in debacle, his adventurous path through Europe is studded with disappearances which sometimes last for years.  In 1760, he is in England and the London Chronicle consecrates an article to him in which it praises his riches and talks lengthily about his talents…  As for the secret of his birth, the austere British paper affirms that it will be revealed only after his death and this secret “will astonish the world even more than the prodigies of his life”

***

For the moment, the mystery remains.  And that is a good thing.  For at the moment of prophesying in Paris Marie-Antoinette’s death on the scaffold and then disappearing, the Count de Saint-Germain says that he will only come back to France in a few generations.  To warn it, before dying for good, of the terrible dangers which threaten it.  So…

***

Louis XV was certainly not a king as abominable as the pampleteers tried to paint him, and perhaps Saint-Germain was slightly less angelic than some – including the King – believed…

***

Not only was Louis XV very intelligent, but he also sincerely wanted to better the lives of the poor whom his great-grandfather, the Sun King, Louis XIV, had seriously harmed…  It is true that he became discouraged too quickly, but it is also true that he pulled himself together in the second half of his reign.  Although it justifies nothing, Parliament’s permanent opposition, along with that of the Party of the Privileged, to all of his reforms, contributed a lot to explaining his failure.  He also had a big heart, we must recall…  He wanted the regicide Damiens to be pardoned.  It was argued, as always, raison d’Etat.  And it is also because he was a man with a big heart that he became so sincerely attached to Saint-Germain…

***

To be continued.

The Count of Saint-Germain.

When the Count of Saint-Germain is not singing or giving concerts and advice, about hygiene in particular, he is receiving confidences from the ladies and telling stories made more piquant in that the scene is always set in the Court of Francois I, Philippe le Bel, the Kings of the Middle Empire, the Grand Vizirs or the Sublime Porte.  With such veracity that Saint-Germain appears truly to have been there.  The question of his age and the reasons for his longevity again rise to the surface.

A conversation that he has one day with a young, incredulous Marquise finishes unsettling everybody…  He says to the pretty lady as she enters the salon in which he is:

“How happy I am to meet at last someone of your noble family!  I was very close to your grandfather’s great-grandfather…  He fought beside me at the Battle of Marignan!  Mortally wounded, he entrusted me with making sure that his gold cross was returned to his wife.  In those troubled times, I was only able to succeed in this mission by using an intermediary…  Did that cross really get there?”

Looking fearfully at this ghost who claims to have fought at Marignan, the lady stammers:

“But, Monsieur…  We effectively keep amongst our relics a cross which was given to us, a long time ago, by an unknown man, but no-one outside the family knows this detail!”

“No-one, except myself, Madame.  And I am happy to know that this precious piece of jewellery arrived at its destination!”

The young Marquise, stunned, her blood curdled, of course goes to swell the ranks of those who believe in the supernatural longevity of the Count.  Although in this last case, a coincidence could have been possible.  This is, however, unthinkable in the case of the Countess de Cergy, who is the first to recognize him in public, and to loudly proclaim it in front of witnesses…

Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour, seen here with Voltaire, both greatly estimed Saint-Germain.

Having one day met him at the home of Madame de Pompadour, she starts by staring at him for a long time.  The witnesses say, with the insistence of the major witness in a trial whose testimony could decide the life or death of the accused…  Controlling a sort of sacred fear, she finally asks him:

“I beg you, Monsieur, would you please tell me whether Monsieur your father resided in Venice around the year 1700… “

The Count replies with detachment:

“No, Madame.  I lost my father well before that.  But I, myself, was living in Venice at the end of the last century and at the beginning of this one.  I had the honour of courting you, and you had the goodness to find pretty a few barcarolles of my composition which we sang together.”

“Excuse my frankness, but that is not possible;  the Count de Saint-Germain of the epoch was forty-five and you are certainly that age now, right at this moment!”

The Count replies with a smile:

“Madame, do not be mistaken…  I am very old!”

“But you would have to be nearly a hundred!”

“That is not impossible!”

The Count then starts to recount to Madame de Cergy, who is very oppressed, a multitude of details connected to the stay that they made together in the Venitian State.  As he proposes to mention others, the lady, who has already had recourse to her smelling salts, exclaims:

“No, no…  I am quite convinced, but you are quite an extraordinary man…  an extraordinary devil!”

Saint-Germain exclaims in a voice which appears to some to be strange:

“No more qualifications!

But he takes control of himself and the old Countess de Cergy, whom death seems to have forgotten on Earth, continues:

“When I was the wife of the Ambassador to Venice, fifty years ago, I am sure that I saw you with the same face.  But you were calling yourself Marquis Baletti then… ”

“And Madame the Countess de Cergy still has a memory that is as fresh as fifty years ago!”

“I owe this advantage to an elixir that you gave me at our first interview… ”

“And did the Marquis de Baletti have a bad reputation?”

“On the contrary, he was a man who was very good company… ”

“Well then, since there are no complaints about him, I adopt him as my grandfather!”

Saint-Germain is joking.  However, he leaves almost immediately, as if painful memories were coming back to him…

That an elixir of long life could exist, and that the Count could possess the secret of it, causes considerable gossip in Paris.  For some, the eminent position that the Count occupies in the King’s immediate entourage, then seems justified.  What sort of elixir is it and how is it made?  At the Court, the best informed assure that it is the drinkable gold of the Rose-Croix thaumaturgists, the absolute panacea against ageing and illness.  Opposing those whom this news exalts, the envious and the jealous would very much like to know, finally, what this Count thinks to achieve in France, since he seeks neither position nor honours.  To most of them, Saint-Germain opposes a disdainful silence.  When others, taking a detour, ask him if he isn’t mostly a man of Science and mention a formula which appears to them to resume all of that time’s knowledge, he loses his temper and says haughtily:

“You don’t know what you’re talking about!  I’m the only one who can talk about this matter.  I have deeply studied it!… “

But the next moment, a sort of shiver of fear passes over him.  He then seems worried and, unwillingly replies, as he does to Louis XV who asks him to explain the disappearance of Prosecutor Dumas:

“It is impossible for me to answer…   By doing so I would expose myself, and you too, to the greatest danger… “

[See https://marilynkaydennis.wordpress.com/2010/08/27/the-count-of-saint-germain-and-maitre-dumas/

and https://marilynkaydennis.wordpress.com/2010/08/28/the-count-of-saint-germain-and-maitre-dumas-part-2/ ]

Such answers confirm his enemies in their suspicions, by making them believe that he has a grave secret in his life and that the trust that Louis gives to a man who appears to have fallen from another planet could reveal itself to be very dangerous.  Leading them is the Duke de Choiseul, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, the man who directed, in fact, France’s politics with the authority of a Prime Minister, for many long years.

To be continued.

The Count of Saint-Germain.

At the time, the rumours about the Count of Saint-Germain’s age did not necessarily give him a good reputation.  But as he accomplished all his visible religious duties, was very charitable and had the purest of life-styles, Marshal de Belle-Isle does not hesitate to present him to the King.  There then occur the sad events which lead to the death of Madame de Chateauroux at the age of twenty-seven.  The Count arrives at her bedside as fast as he can.  However, upon arriving in the lady’s apartments, he tells the King that he can do nothing.  The Bien-Aime wants to know why.  The Count replies that it is too late.

Questioned later on the reasons for his attitude, in an affair where the empirics with pointed hats would have blown all the smoke of their false science, Saint-Germain replies:

“If I had cured the Duchess, I would have become responsible for all of the violent deaths which could have arrived after that…  Each family would have ordered me to perform a miracle and woe betide me if I had failed in the enterprise!  That is how men are, quite egoistic… “

A very pertinent answer at an epoch where the horrors of La Brinvilliers and the Affair of the Poisons were still in everyone’s memory.  But the astonishing thing is that the monarch, far from blaming him for this admission of helplessness, does not want to do without him from then on.  How do we explain this?  Of course, the Count knows the smallest secrets of the European Gotha, and at first, it is above all the tales of the secret failings of some of the greats which amuse the King, and their genealogical mishaps, which the Count’s prodigious memory instantaneously restitutes.  Madame de Pompadour, who has quickly replaced the unfortunate Duchess in Louis’ heart, is his surest ally, for, none better that he can dissipate the monarch’s neurasthenia, which he contracted young, and which will make Abbot Galiani say:

“He has the worst job, the job of king, as much against his will as possible… “

Between the Duke de Chaulnes whom she calls “mon cochon” [my pig] and Madame d’Amblimont who is “mon torchon” [my rag], she finds in Saint-Germain the man of wit, mysterious and unsettling, the living remedy against this spleen which, from 1750, she is officially entrusted with dissipating…

Soon, the Count is in all of the secret discussions and the King demands that he be among those privileged people whom he takes with him to the country residences where Madame de Pompadour succeeds in creating the illusion of a home for her royal lover.  There, he finally ceases to be timid and dares to confess, with intelligence and vivacity, everything that obsesses him, above all this ungovernable France, whose refusals and seditions have dulled all his good dispositions from the beginning of his reign.  His fear of death too, that Saint-Germain tries to dissipate by initiating him into the hidden mysteries of Nature…

Soon, the King consents to renounce his sad debaucheries and to no longer occupy himself with tapistery works or stews that he cooks himself, but to apply himself to the Great Art…  Louis XV, alchemist!  This is the prodigy that Saint-Germain succeeds in performing inside two laboratories at the Trianon, where he firstly teaches the King to melt and distill.  To a delighted Duke des Deux-Ponts, Louis XV one day shows a diamond of the finest water, weighing twelve carats.  He says:

“I melted 24 carats of little diamonds, which gave me this which has been reduced to 12 by having it polished!”…

But what the King appreciates above all in Saint-Germain is his frank speech which cleanses him of the lies and hypocrisy of the Court.  In front of Monsieur de Brancas and Abbot Bernis, the Count tells him straight out that, to have any estime for men, you must be neither a Confessor, a Minister, nor Lieutenant de Police.  Louis enquires about King.  Saint-Germain answers:

“You saw, Sire, the fog a few days ago?  One couldn’t see four paces ahead.  Kings are surrounded by even thicker fogs, which give birth all around them to plotters, unfaithful ministers and all those who agree everywhere to make them see things in a different aspect to reality!”

And, it is true that Saint-Germain always gives disinterested advice.  Never is he seen to promote someone and never does he solicite a favour.  Around 1756, Louis XV has installed for him at Chambord, in the shade of the 365 chimneys of the biggest castle in the kingdom, a much bigger laboratory, where the Count also has working some alchemists whom he brought with him after a trip to Germany.  Pure self-interest from a sovereign who is hoping to fill his very empty coffers in this way?  Perhaps.  But when his works on the making of gold from a vile metal reveal themselves to be not profitable enough, the King still gives him his friendship.  In exchange, it is true, for a few services…

In 1756, Louis XV had an alchemical laboratory installed in Chambord Castle so that Saint-Germain could work in peace.

During one of these “little suppers”, where everyone lets himself go in the greatest gaiety, and where it is not even forbidden to mock the King, on condition that it is witty, France’s master asks him suddenly:

“It appears, Monsieur, that you have also succeeded in finding the secret for making the faults in diamonds disappear… ”

“I have been able to do it sometimes, Sire… ”

“In that case, you are the man to make me earn four thousand pounds on this one, for my jeweller, while estimating this diamond at six thousand pounds, told me that without the fault it would be worth ten!… “

Saint-Germain examines the stone.

“It’s a big fault.  But it is not impossible to remove it.  I shall bring this stone back to Your Majesty in two weeks… “

Two weeks later, Saint Germain presents the King with a diamond of the most perfect purety.  The Court jeweller carefully examines it, weighs it and notices that the difference in weight is almost nothing.  He says:

“Truly, Monsieur, you must be a wizard!”

Monsieur de Gontaut is immediately sent to the Paris jeweller and receives 9,600 pounds for it.

To be continued.

The Count of Saint-Germain.

During a visit that the Baron de Gleichen makes to the Count of Saint-Germain, the Count reveals to him his treasure collections.

“There were, among other things, an opal of monstrous size, a white sapphire the size of an egg and a quantity of diamonds and stones of a colour and size that were even more surprising in that they weren’t at all in settings.”

In his famous Memoires, the Baron makes a big thing of this visit.  Because it is a totally exceptional favour accorded to him by Saint-Germain.  Rare are those who are able to enter the doors of his Marais hotel, filled, the Baron notes, with paintings by masters, among which he recognizes some Murillos and some Raphaels…

The extreme reticence with which he receives does not prevent the Count from being one of the most acclaimed men in Paris.  Precisely because of the mystery with which he surrounds himself, and of certain habits which appear frankly unheard-of to the marquises…

Everyone remembers the menus of the Grand Century.  However, while his guests stuff themselves with meats, fish, poultry, and attack after that pieces of venaison, whose strong odour fills the nostrils, the Count eats sparingly or, most often, doesn’t even unfold his serviette.  And what does he do while the others over-eat?  The Count of Saint-Germain talks, but there again, in a very different manner to that of the brilliant masters of calembours or the witty people of the epoch, reporting the day’s anecdote.  He goes back in time and describes the slightest circumstances of History, with so many details and such extraordinary clarity, that they believe that they are listening to a witness of that time.  When they press him to deliver his sources, he says that everything is in his prodigious memory, and when it is pointed out to him that it is not possible to make certain scenes so life-like, with such precision, without making it up – unless he has himself lived them – he agrees that he is perhaps older than he looks…

Added to his abstinence, the delicacy of his speech, which can be heard by the most chaste ears, creates an image of him which excites the beautiful marquises even more.  For, if they swallow laxative pills, if they even consent to become vegetarians for a short time, they would also love to keep him with them for a while, after supper.

But neither beauty, nor opulence, nor the rank of the mistress of the house succeed:  never does Saint-Germain pass a night outside his own residence, and very rare are those who have seen him up beyond midnight.  He is not known to have any lover or mistress, and this is perhaps what most troubles those who know him.  For, if he impresses by his lifestyle and his behaviour, he also seduces – infinitely – by his presentation…  Countess d’Adhemar writes in her souvenirs on Marie-Antoinette:

“His haughty, spiritual, sagacious  physionomy was the first thing to strike the eye.  He had a slim, graceful figure, delicate hands, lovely feet, elegant legs accentuated by tautly-pulled silk stockings.  His very tight breeches also displayed the rare perfection of his shape;  his smile showed the most beautiful teeth in the world, a pretty dimple decorated his chin, his hair was black, his eyes gentle and penetrating.  Oh!  What eyes!  I have never seen anywhere such eyes…”

For a man who came from nowhere and was always wanting to disappear, that is a portrait which gives him reality and presence!  Without in any way removing the mystery of his origins…  To the question which only a Highness dares to ask (Princess Amelie, sister to Frederic II of Prussia), he answers:

“I am, Madame, from a country which has never had a man of foreign origin for sovereign!”

The answer is sibylline to say the least…  When they insist, like the Baron de Gleichen, it is learnt that in his childhood he had been surrounded by a numerous suite, that he strolled on magnificent terraces, in a delicious climate, “as if he had been the Prince and Heir to a King of Grenada in the time of the Moors”

This symbolic figure, taken from an alchemical work, is supposed to represent, according to some authors, “the birth, by the union of cosmic forces”, of exceptional beings such as the Count of Saint-Germain.

Such a mysterious extraction permits, of course, to play around a bit with official identity.  In 1743, when he appears for the first time in Paris, with his air of grand young man in fashion and well-dressed, no-one at first bothers to enquire about his age.  The first to ask the question, to himself at first, will be Jean-Philippe Rameau, the genial composer, a serious mind if ever there was one.  All on his own, he personifies all of the music of the Grand Century, and he devoted himself so completely to his Art and to the responsibilities entrusted to him by kings, that strictly nothing is known about his private life.  Yet, one evening, when he is playing the clavecin in the rich home of the financier La Popeliere, he notices an elegant gentleman in the centre of a cluster of grand ladies dressed in green peking and canary tail.  He appears to be forty-five and is wearing a jacket of cinnamon cloth shot with green, the buttons of which are throwing out a thousand fires in the light of the candelabra.

The elderly master has himself served with a little sorbet, and then almost dies from shock.  The man comes, without any ceremony, to relay him at the clavecin and, in full light, there can be no more doubt:  he is certain of having seen this gentleman when he, himself, was just a simple organist for the Jesuits of the Rue Saint-Jacques.  The motive for his surprise is simple:  since this epoch, the man’s face has absolutely not changed.  Rameau, on the other hand, has become dry and wrinkled, already bent over with age.  A rapid calculation reveals to him that this meeting took place thirty-five years before and that, at the epoch, the person appeared to be forty!  He is told that it is a certain Count of Saint-Germain, and the incident marks the composer so strongly, that he talks about it all over Paris.  Some, who know him to be a bit wheezy, say that he is becoming senile as well, and joke about it at the dinner parties.  Others, knowing his good sense, begin to reflect.  Then to talk, when a certain Morin, Secretary of the Danish Legation, assures in turn that he had well known this gentleman too, that it was in Holland, many years ago, and that since all this time the Count, who was already a mature man then, had not taken on one wrinkle…

To be continued.

This is the only portrait that exists of the Count of Saint-Germain.

Sent to Frankfurt to represent Louis XV, Marshal de Belle-Isle was so active there and displayed such magnificence, that the Germans were slightly stunned…  In all ways, Monsieur the Duke had shown himself to be worthy of Superintendant Fouquet, his temerarious and unfortunate father-in-law.  So much so that the King of Prussia had been unable to stop himself from saying:

“It must be agreed that Marshal de Belle-Isle is Germany’s legislator!”

Alas!  A sudden reversal of fortune favourises his old enemy Maria-Theresa of Austria, against whom, like Cato the Ancient stubbornly working on Carthage’s destruction, he had succeeded in launching Europe’s armies.  So, here is this great captain abandoned by the Prussians, locked up in Prague and ordered to sound the retreat…  The Golden Fleece bestowed upon him in Frankfurt by Karl VII, who owed him his throne, is this evening a very poor protection against the stormy weather!   Freezing cold in his retreat, the Marshal is also suffering from atrocious rhumatisms which are attacking his lumbar region and all of his members.  Bitten by icy cold rain, and by the Central European gales even in his bed, he lives drugged, surrounded by a perpetual ballet of mediocre doctors, despairing of ever seeing the gentle climate of France again…  Then, one evening, he hears of a man who says that he is related to the House of Hesse and who, having learnt of his problems, claims to be able to cure him in five days.  In the necessity in which he finds himself, Belle-Isle has to try and, his back pressed against the damask of an armchair – his last luxury! – he receives this magician.

The unknown man orders him to lie down.  He imposes his hands on the Duke’s body and makes circles over it with a white jade wand.

The man of war wants to know what these mummeries are and whether he is trying to tie his laces.

The man wittily replies:

“Even the devil couldn’t tie such a temperament…  from what I’ve heard!  You are going to stop eating and take only three spoonfuls per day of this orgeat.  It’s an extract of emerald mixed with a few follicles of sene.”

“You want to kill me, Monsieur de Saint-Germain!”

“Drink up!  The greatest princes have confidence in me, and have had for a long time!  Anyway, I leave you this as security…”

The unknown man, who has good manners and is dressed with as much care as simplicity, places a round lacquered box on a table, bows gracefully and disappears.  When the Duke opens the box, he discovers, astounded, the glittering flames of rubies, topazes, emeralds and diamonds, three or four of which are at least ten carats each…

A few months later, after having saved the essential of his reputation and his armies, Marshal de Belle-Isle is back at Versailles.  He is very happy to have his feet close to some burning logs, far from draughts, finally behind his coromandel screens;  while, on his sofas, marquises are teary-eyed at the story of his exploits…

But in this December 1744, terrible news spreads through Versailles.  Madame de Chateauroux, Louis XV’s  gracious favourite, is dying, poisoned by a dish of mushrooms.

The Duke sends a lackey to fetch the Count de Saint-Germain.

Belle-Isle had been so pleased with the treatment given to him one year previously by his mysterious visitor, that he had brought him back with him to Paris and installed him in the Marais, of which he has rapidly become the toast.  Each day that passes increases his popularity and good society continues to discover his talents, the depth of which blows their minds…

Despite his accent, Monsieur de Saint-Germain speaks the most careful French, and those who have tested him more deeply in the language domain have been able to see that he speaks as well Italian, Spanish, English and Portuguese with confounding purety.  It is also known that he excellently touches the clavecin, but when he plays the violin, he becomes absolutely prodigious…

People sometimes wonder whether it is only one violin that he is holding in his hands and not two or three!  He is able to produce such sonorities that he makes crystal objects explode if care has not been taken to remove them.  Philidor assures that this is great Art, and the great Rameau himself maintains that his Preludes are incomparable.

But the Count has other talents.  Firstly, he paints almost as well as Latour or Van Loo.  But his vast compositions, whose subjects are marvellously like the originals, bathe in colours, the secret of which he knows, and whose brilliance and permanence are those of precious stones.  He explains the success of this new technique by his knowledge of chemistry and physics, and highly educated people, like the father of Madame de Genlis, have to admit that, in these matters, his knowledge is much greater than theirs…

Stung, they have sent scholars to him, but they have only been able to incline before his knowledge of the exact Sciences.  Discovering along the way that Monsieur de Saint-Germain is also extremely well-versed in the language of Homer and Virgil, and that he writes and speaks Sanskrit, Chinese and Arabic with a perfection that makes his claim of having spent a lot of time in Asia and the Orient easily believable.  But his Science can also render him amiable.  To the pretty women of the Court, he offers magic boxes.  By exposing them to the fire’s heat, the agatha which decorates them fades and leaves in its place a shepherdess carrying a basket of flowers.  If the lid is again heated, the stone reappears…  He also knows how to make delicious sweets, which have the form of fruits, and book-bindings, which he constellates with little precious stones.  For precious stones seem to flow from the hands of this scintillating man…  He carries them on him, dissimulating them with exquisite taste under ribbons and laces.  Nonetheless, if he is asked, he doesn’t hesitate to show them.  The other day, during a gala at Versailles, his garters, his shoe-buckles, his snuff-box in gold encrusted with diamonds of the finest water, passed among all of the pretty hands and Monsieur de Gontaut could not help saying:

“But there’s more than two hundred thousand francs worth here!”

To be continued.

Jeanne d’Arc, as represented by Saint-Sulpician inspired artists. But who were these beings from elsewhere who haunted the Bois-Chenu?

The Rouen judges lengthily interrogated Jeanne d’Arc on the fairytale phenomena in Domremy.  Here is what she answered on this subject, on Saturday 24 February 1431, during the third audience, to Maitre Jean Beaupere, Assessor at the Tribunal:

“Fairly close to Domremy, there is a certain tree which is called the Arbre des Dames, and others call it the Arbre des Fees.  Nearby, there is a fountain.  And I have heard that people sick with fever drink from this fountain and go to fetch its water to recover their health.  And this, I have seen myself;  but I don’t know whether they are cured or not.  I have heard that the sick, when they can get up, go to the tree to roll around.  It is a great tree, called fau, from whence comes the beautiful may.  It belonged, it is said, to My Lord Pierre de Bourlemont, Knight.  Sometimes, I went to roll there with the other girls, and made flower hats for this tree for the image of Notre-Dame-de-Domremy.  Several times, I heard said by the old people, not of my lineage, that the Lady Fairies lived there.  And I heard it said to a woman, named Jeanne, the wife of Mayor Aubery, from my part of the country, who was my godmother, that she had seen the Lady Fairies.  But I myself do not know whether that is true or not.  I have never seen a fairy at the tree, as far as I know.”

The judge asks:

“And have you seen any elsewhere?”

“I don’t know.  I’ve seen flower hats being put on the branches of the tree by young unmarried girls, and myself have sometime put some on with the other girls.  And sometimes we took them away, and sometimes we left them.  Since knowing that I had to come to France, I played a few games or rolled around, and the least that I could.  And I don’t know whether, since I have understood, I have danced near the tree.  Sometimes I could well have danced with the children;  but I didn’t sing there any more than I danced.”

So, Jeanne, known as Jeannette at Domremy, went to sing and dance under the Fairy Tree with her little friends.

***

During the same sitting of the Tribunal, she gave the following precision:

“My brother recounted that it was being said at Domremy:  ‘The Jeanne took her facts from the Fairy Tree.’  It’s false.  I told him the opposite.”

***

To tell the story of Jeanne d’Arc, it is always best to cite her own words.  Here is what she said about the voices:

“When I was thirteen, I had a voice from God to help me to govern myself.  And the first time, I was very much afraid…”

And she adds this sentence where in a few simple words she paints the decor of this marvellous instant:

“And the voice came, around noon, in Summer, in my father’s garden.

“I heard the voice on my right, on the church side.  I rarely heard it without seeing a light.  This light is from the side where the voice makes itself heard…”

During the trial, a judge having asked her whether she had the help of her voices in the Tribunal room, she answered:

“If I were in a wood, I would well hear the voice coming to me…”

However, it would be wrong to conclude that she heard her voices only under trees.  They appear to have manifested themselves in vastly diverse places.  She never said that the presence of trees was a condition, if not indispensable, at least favourable, to her hearing the voices.

***

A fairy godmother. What could have given birth to these timeless stories?

In 1455, the trial of Jeanne d’Arc’s rehabilitation opened.  On this occasion, the Tribunal asked the Civil Provost of Vaucouleurs, Jean Dalie, to go to Domremy to question the people who had known the Pucelle [unmarried girl, usually considered a virgin].  A Rogatory Commission which was accompanied by a list of questions in which the Ninth Article concerned the Fairy Tree.  Here are a few answers:

From Jean Moreau, farmer, seventy years old (he was forty-three in 1429 when Jeanne left her village):

“The Fairy Tree?  I have heard it said by the women that marvellous beings that we call “fairies” used to go to dance under this tree.  But it is said that since we go there to read the Gospel according to Saint John, they don’t come back there any more.”

From Beatrice, widow of Estelleni, eighty years old (sixty-three in 1429):

“The Fairy Tree, I have been there myself with the Ladies and Lords of Domremy to roll beneath it, because it is a very beautiful tree.  It is beside a big track by which we go to Neufchateau.  It was said that, in the ancient times, the Lady-Fairies came under there;  but now they no longer come, because of their sins.”

From Jeannette, widow of Tiercelin, sixty years old (thirty-three in 1429):

“The tree in question is called the Fairy Tree because, in the ancient times, it is said, a lord called Sir Pierre Granier, Knight of Bourlemont, went to meet under the tree a lady called Fee [Fay or Fairy] and talk with her;  I heard it read in a book.  Girls and boys of Domremy go there each year on the Sunday of loetare or Sunday of the Fountains, to roll, eat and dance…”

From Hauviette, wife of Gerard, farmer, forty-five years old (eighteen in 1429):

“Since forever, that tree, we call it the Fairy Tree.  It was said in the ancient times, that ladies called fairies came there…  Myself, I’ve been there with Jeanne the Pucelle [Joan of Arc], my friend, and the others, on the Sunday of the Fountains;  we ate, we had fun…”

Finally, from Gerardin d’Epinal, farmer, sixty years old (thirty-three in 1429), this exquisite comparison:

“It is beautiful like a lily, that tree!  Its leaves and its branches fall all around right down to the ground.  Jeannette went there with the other girls…”

***

People believed in fairies, in a general way, throughout the whole of Europe practically up until the XVIIIth Century, and in certain places up until the end of the XIXth Century…

Historians of mentalities doctly explain that fairies come, for their name, from the antique fata, and from the three Parques (in all the tales, they are present at the birth of children to whom they dispense faults and qualities), and content themselves with adding that they constitute the most persistent vestiges left by paganism…

Certain modern mythologists are not far from thinking that the explanation of this myth will come to us, not from Historians of mentalities, but from scholars.

Now, American and Russian Physicists, among others, estime that interferences between our universe and an invisible world, which is however just as real as ours, are possible.  They add that at certain epochs, “beings” coming from this “elsewhere” were able to intervene in the destiny of men…

Which could have given birth to tales of fairies.

***

Should we then believe that Jeanne d’Arc, who thought that she was in communication with Saint Catherine, Saint Margaret and Saint [the Archangel] Michael, was in fact in contact with “mysterious unknown beings” visiting this world, and in whom today’s Physicists believe?

Guy Breton, whose work I have translated, says that we are all free to think what we like.  All that he knows, is that the most marvellous and most extraordinary being in the History of France, that person who has her equivalent in no other country, at no other epoch, was born precisely in a little village where, for a century, young men and young girls go to roll around under a Fairy Tree…

***

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