Supplementary Appendix 433.2

Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s “Prince Tity,”
(Magasin des enfants 2 [1756], “La Fée aux nèfles”)

In her letter to Luise Gotter on 6 June 1808 (letter 433), Caroline (as in her letter to Julie Gotter on 29 November 1802 [letter 373]) is recollecting the fairy tale “Prince Tity” in the French children’s and young-women’s author Madam Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s (1711–80) Magasin des enfants [Magasin des enfants 2 (1756)], albeit there not as “Prince Tity,” but originally as “La Fée aux nèfles,” a tale that according to Johannes Bolte (1858–1937), a Berlin Germanist and folklorist who published annotations to Grimms’ fairy tales, was actually modeled after Thémiseul de Saint-Hyacinthe, Histoire du Prince Titi: A[llegorie] R[oyale] (Paris 1735), the latter also published later in Cabinet des fées, ou, Collection choisie des contes des fées, et autres contes merveilleux¸ vols. 27–28 (Geneva/Paris 1786). Madam Leprince’s version, essentially a retelling of several episodes drawn from Hyacinthe, uses the medlars and nuts a bit differently than Caroline here implies. Caroline writes:

Sometimes it also looks as if they [certain recipients of the Civil Order of Merit of the Bavarian Crown] do not quite trust their own good fortune – if, e.g., you were to see how they wear their Order regalia, you would think they were constantly fearing that the whole thing might turn into medlars and nuts overnight as with the prince in the piece by Madam Beaumont.

The tale is found in translation in Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, “Dialogues Between Young Ladies of Quality and their Governess,” “Dialogue XX: The Eighteenth Day,” Magazin des Enfans: or, The Young Misses’ Magazine: Containing Dialogues Between a Governess and Several Young Ladies of Quality, Her Scholars: In which Each Lady is Made to Speak According to Her Particular Genius, Temper, and Inclination; Their Several Faults are Pointed Out, and the Easy Way to Mend Them, as Well, trans. anonymously, vol. 2 (originally London 1759; here Philadelphia 1800), 43–67.

Leprince de Beaumont mentions the medlars and nuts in the first part of her tale. The governess, Mrs. Affable, recounts the following fairy tale (part 1) to her charges (The Young Misses’ Magazine, 44–55); as will be noted (as does Erich Schmidt, [1913], 2:660), Madam Beaumont uses the medlars and nuts (and an egg) a bit differently insofar as those who wear the transformations of these things into diamonds by no means fear that they might turn back into their original forms:

There was once a king called Guinguet, who was miserably covetous. He would marry, but was indifferent as to a beautiful princess; all he desired was a great deal of money with her, and that she should be, if possible, more covetous than himself. He found one to his wishes; she had a son who was named Tity, and the next year another, called Mirtillo. Tity was far handsomer than his brother: but the king and queen could not endure him, for he would let all the children who came to play with him have a share of every thing that was given him.

Mirtillo, on the other hand, chose rather to let sweetmeats or dainties spoil than give any away, and locked up his playthings for fear they should be worn out; if he held any thing in his hand, he gripped so fast, that it could not be forced from him even when he was asleep. The king and queen doated on this child for resembling them. The princes grew up; and for fear Tity should spend his money, he was not allowed one single penny.

Tity being once a-hunting, one of his grooms on horseback passed close by an old woman, and threw her into the dirt; the old woman cried out that her leg was broke; but the groom only laughed at her. Tity, who had a great share of goodness, reprimanded the groom; and coming up to the old woman, with Sprightly his favourite page, helped her up; and each of them holding her by an arm, led her to the little cottage where she lived.

The prince was in the utmost concern that he had no money to give the woman. What signifies my being a prince, said he, when I am not at liberty to do any good? the only pleasure in being great is to be able and willing to relieve the distressed. Sprightly observed these words of his master, and said to him, A crown is all I am worth; here it is at your service. I will reward you, said Tity, when I am king; I accept of your crown for this poor woman.

[illustration: Madame Leprince de Beaumont, Le magasin des enfants, 2nd ed.(Paris 1847), plate following p. 288:]


When Tity returned to court, the queen reprimanded him for helping the poor woman up. Where would have been the harm had the old hag died? said she to her son, (for covetous people have no compassion); a fine thing indeed for a prince to come down so low as to succour a beggarly wretch! Madam, said Tity, I thought princes ever appeared greatest when they were employed in doing good. Go, said the queen, you are very silly, with all this fine way of thinking.

The next day Tity went again a-hunting; but his design was to see how this woman did; he found her quite well: she thanked him for his kindness. But I have still a favour to beg of you, added she: I have some very good nuts and medlars, I beg you will do me the favour to eat some. The prince would not refuse the old woman, for fear she should think herself slighted; he tasted the nuts and medlars, and found them excellent.

[Illustration from M. de Lescure, Le monde enchanté, choix de douze contes de fees, . . . precede d’une histoire des fees et de la littérature féerique en France (Paris 1883), 409.]


Since you like them so well, said the old woman, please to oblige me with taking the rest with you for your desert. Whilst the old woman was talking, a hen she had cackled: and she begged so earnestly of the prince to take the new laid-egg also, that, to please her, he accepted of it; but at the same time he gave the old woman four guineas, which Sprightly had given him, and which he had borrowed of his father, a gentleman who lived in the country.

When the prince returned to the palace, he ordered the good old woman’s nuts, medlars, and egg, to be brought for his supper; but how surprised was he, when breaking the egg, he found a large diamond? the medlars and nuts were alike full of diamonds.

This was immediately told the queen: she hastened to Tity’s apartment; and was so overjoyed at the sight of the diamonds, that she embraced him; and this was the first time that she called him her dear son. Will you give me those diamonds? said she to her son. Whatever I have is at your service, answered the prince. That is my good boy, said the queen; you shall be rewarded.

Away she carried his treasure, and sent the prince four guineas, very carefully wrapped up in a very small bit of paper. They that saw the present were for making a jest of the queen, who was not ashamed of sending four guineas for diamonds worth above five hundred thousand; but the prince ordered them out of the room, telling them withal, that they were extremely bold to be so short of the respect due to his mother.

Mean while, the queen said to Guinguet, Probably this old woman who was helped by Tity is a rich fairy; let us go and see her to-morrow: but instead of Tity, we will take his brother with us; I would not have too much in the interest of that oaf, who had not the wit to keep his diamonds.

At the same time orders were given to clean the coaches, and to hire horses; for she had sold the king’s to save the charges of their keeping. Two of these coaches were filled with doctors, surgeons, and apothecaries; the royal family went in another. When they came to the old woman’s hut, the queen said she came to ask pardon for the heedlessness of Tity’s groom. My son, says she to the good woman, has not sense enough to choose good servants, but I will make him turn away that rude fellow.

She then told the old woman she had brought the most skilful men in the kingdom to cure her foot. The good woman answered, that her foot was quite well, and that she was obliged to her for her great goodness in visiting so poor a woman. Oh, but said the queen, we know you are a rich fairy, by the considerable present of diamonds you made to prince Tity. Believe me, Madam, said the old woman, I only gave the prince an egg, and some medlars and nuts, and I have some left at your majesty’s service. I willingly accept of them, said the queen, who was in rapture with the hopes she had of being rich in diamonds. She received the present, embraced the old woman, and invited her to come and see her: and all the courtiers, after the example of the king and queen, gave the good woman the greatest commendations.

The queen asked her how old she might be? I am sixty, answered she. You don’t seem to be forty, said the queen; and since you are very agreeable, you may still think of marrying. At this part of the conversation, Prince Mirtillo, who was very ill-bred, burst out a-laughing full in the old woman’s face, and said, it would be a pleasure for him to dance at her wedding; but the old woman pretended to take no notice of his laughing at her.

The whole court went; and the queen was no sooner got to the palace, but she ordered the egg to be boiled, opened the medlars, and broke the nuts; but instead of a diamond in the egg, where, was only a little chicken, and the nuts and medlars proved full of maggots. Here she broke out into a furious passion. This old creature is a witch, said she, that designed to make a jest of me; she shall die.

The judges were summoned to try the old woman; but Sprightly, who had heard the whole matter, posted away to her cottage, and advised her to make her escape. So, Mr.-Page-to-old-women, good morrow, says she, (that was a nickname given him ever since he had helped her out of the dirt). Ah, mother! said Sprightly, make haste to my father’s; he is a very worthy man, he will harbour you with all his heart; but if you stay here, soldiers will be sent to seize you, and put you to death. I am much obliged to you said the old woman, but I am in no fear of the queen’s malice.

At the same time, laying aside the figure of an old woman, she appeared in her own form to Sprightly, who was dazzled with her beauty. Sprightly was for throwing himself at her feet; but she prevented him, and said, I forbid you telling the prince, or any person in the world, what you have seen; I will reward your goodness; ask me a gift. Madam, said Sprightly, I have a great love for the prince my master, and I heartily wish to be serviceable to him; what I request is, that I may be invisible when I please, and know what courtiers truly love my prince.

I grant you that gift, answered the fairy; but I must also clear Tity’s debts. Did he not borrow four guineas of your father? He has paid him, replied Sprightly he knows it is scandalous in princes not to pay their debts: and he paid into my hands the four guineas which the queen sent him.

That I know, said the fairy: but I likewise know, that the prince was extremely troubled for not having it in his power to return more; he is sensible that a prince should reward nobly; this is the debt I intend to pay. This purse is full of gold, take it to your father; he will always find the same sum, if what he takes is only intended to do good. Here the fairy disappeared; and Sprightly carried the purse to his father, and begged of him to keep this secret.

Meanwhile the judges, whom the queen had assembled to condemn the old woman, were much perplexed, and made the following remonstrances to this princess: How would you have us condemn this good woman? She has not imposed upon your majesty; she told you I am but poor, and have no diamonds.

The queen fell into a violent passion: and said, If you do not condemn this wretch that has imposed upon me, and made me spend a great deal of money to no purpose to hire horses and pay physicians, you shall have just reason to repent it. The judges thought to themselves, The queen is a very mischievous woman: if we do not obey, she will certainly be the death of us; it is better the old woman should die than we; upon which the judges condemned the old woman to be burnt for a witch. There was only one that said, he would rather be burnt himself than condemn an innocent person.

Some days after, the queen found false witnesses; who deposed that this judge had spoken ill of her: his place was taken from him, and he was, with his wife and children, on the point of being reduced to beg: but Sprightly took a large sum out of his father’s purse, and gave it to the judge, and advised him to go into another country.

In the mean time, Sprightly was every where, after he had received the power of being invisible at will. He discovered a great many secrets, but being a youth of great worth, he never reported the least thing of consequence to others, unless his master’s service required it

[illustration: Madame Leprince de Beaumont, Le magasin des enfants, 2nd ed.(Paris 1847), 291:]


As he was often in the king’s closet, he heard the queen saying, in conversation with the king, What a sad misfortune it is that Tity is our eldest? Here we are hoarding up treasures for him to lavish as soon as he comes to the crown; whereas Martillo, who is a good husband, instead of fingering these treasures, would add to the store. Is there no way to disinherit him? We must consider of it, said the king: and if we cannot bring to bear, we must bury our treasures, that he may not squander them away.

Sprightly also hearkened privately to the courtiers who to be in favour with the kind and queen, spoke ill of Tity, and praised Mirtillo; and after they had left the king waited on the prince, and told him they had taken his part in the presence of the king and queen: but the prince, who by means of Sprightly, was informed of the truth, laughed at them in his sleeve, and despised them. Four noblemen of great honour took Tity’s part, without boasting on that account; they, on the contrary, always advised him to love the king and queen, and to be very dutiful to them.

There was a neighbouring king who sent ambassadors to Guinguet, on an affair of importance. The queen, according to her good custom, would not have Tity appear before the ambassadors; she bid him go to a fine seat that belonged to the king; the ambassadors, added she, to be sure, will be for seeing the place, and you must do the honours of the house.

After Tity set out, the queen went about the most saving ways for receiving the ambassadors; she took an old velvet peticoat, and gave it to the tailors to make two back-parts of a suit of cloaths for Guinguet and Mirtillo, and the fore parts were made of new-velvet: the queen imagined, that as the king and prince were to be seated, the back part of their cloaths would not be seen.

To set them out with greater magnificence, the diamonds found in the medlars were used for buttons to the king’s suit, and the diamond found in the egg she fastened to his hat; the small ones that came out of the nuts served for buttons to Mirtillo’s cloaths, and to adorn a stomacher and make a necklace with sleeve-knots for the queen. They truly shewed away with this dazzling appearance of so many diamonds. Guinguet and his consort placed themselves on their throne, and Mirtillo was seated at their feet. The ambassadors were scarce come into the presence-chamber when the diamonds disappeared, and nothing remained but medlars, nuts, and an egg.

The ambassadors concluded, that Guinguet had put on this ridiculous dress to affront their master? they withdrew in a great passion, and said, their master would make them understand he was not a king of Medlars. All endeavours to bring them back were to no purpose: they turned a deaf ear to all that was said, and returned to their court. Guinguet and the queen were both extremely ashamed and angry. Tity has put this trick upon us, said she to the king, as soon as they were by themselves; we must disinherit him, and leave our crown to Mirtillo. With all my heart said the king.

At that instant they heard a voice, and these words, “If you dare be so wicked, I will break every bone in your bodies, one after the other.” They were horribly frightened with hearing this; they did not know that Sprightly was in the closet, and had overheard their discourse. They durst not do any harm to Tity; but the old woman was looked for all the country over; and their not being able to find her drove them almost mad.

In the mean time, Violent, the king who had sent ambassadors to Guinguet, was persuaded that an affront was really intended; he took a resolution to be revenged, by making war against Guinget. This was a cause of great concern to him; he had no courage, and was afraid of his life: but the queen comforted him: Give yourself no trouble, said she; we will put Tity at the head of our army, by way of a pretence to do him great honour; he is a hair-brain’d blockhead, and will soon get himself dispatched: and we shall have the satisfaction of leaving the crown to Mirtillo. An excellent contrivance said the king: He sends for Tity out of the country, appoints him generalissimo of his troops; and to expose him to more occasions of danger, he gave him full power as to war or peace.

The medlars and nuts are not involved further in the story, which the governess picks up again (part 2, “Dialogue XXI: The Nineteenth Day,” 68–75): Prince Tity wars against Violent, even taking him prisoner, but releases him without ransom to secure his perpetual friendship. Tity falls in love with a shepherdess, whom the fairy (the earlier old woman) eventually helps him marry (the attendant adventures include, among others, the king and queen’s attempts kill Biby — the shepherdess — and the fairy, both of whom have appeared in the palace as canaries). Prince Tity, of course, ends up with the crown and becomes a just king with Biby by his side as queen.