“I have known many of the same kind,” said Hircan, “who wept for their sins and laughed at their pleasures both together.”
“I think I know whom you mean,” said Parlamente, “and their laughter has lasted so great a while that ’twere time the tears should begin.”
“Hush!” said Hircan. “The tragedy that has begun with laughter is not ended yet.”
“To change the subject,” said Parlamente, “it seems to me that Dagoucin departed from our purpose. We were to tell only merry tales, and his was very piteous.”
“You said,” replied Dagoucin, “that you would only tell of follies, and I think that herein I have not been lacking. But, that we may hear a more pleasant story, I give my vote to Nomerfide, in the hope that she will make amends for my error.”
“I have indeed,” she answered, “a story ready which is worthy to follow yours; for it speaks of monks and death. So I pray you give good heed.”
Here end the Tales and Novels of the late Queen of Navarre, that is, all that can be recovered of them.
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THE SUPPOSED NARRATORS OF THE HEPTAMERON TALES.
In his introductory essay to this translation of the Heptameron, Mr. George Saintsbury has called attention to the researches of various commentators who have laboured to identify the supposed narrators of Queen Margaret’s tales. As it may be fairly assumed that the setting of the work is pure invention on the Queen’s part, the researches in question can scarcely serve any useful purpose. Still they appear to have had considerable attraction for several erudite editors, whose opinions, occasionally alluded to in our notes, we will here briefly summarise for the information of those whom the matter may interest:—
OISILLE, a widow lady of long experience, is supposed by Messrs. de Lincy, Lacroix, Genin, Frank, de Montaiglon and Miss Mary Robinson to be Louise of Savoy. In some MSS. the name is written Osyle, the anagram of Loyse, in which fashion Louise was spelt in old French. It may be pointed out, en passant, that Brantome’s grandmother, the Senechale of Poitou, whose connection with the Heptameron is recorded, was also named Louise (see ante, vol. i. p. lxxxii.).
PARLAMENTE, wife of Hircan, is supposed by the same commentators to be Queen Margaret herself; this is assumed mainly because the views which Parlamente expresses on religion, philosophy, men and women, are generally in accord with those which the Queen is known to have professed.
HIRCAN, in M. de Lincy’s opinion, might be the Duke of Alencon, Margaret’s first husband. Messrs. Frank and Mont-aiglon, following M. Lacroix, prefer to identify him as Henry d’Albret, King of Navarre. They conjecture the name of Hircan to be derived from Ilanricus, a not uncommon fashion of spelling Henricus. It might, however, simply come from hircus, a he-goat, for Hircan is a man of gross, sensual tastes.