Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

farmer. “Yes, if it please you," answered the fellow; “but pray let him show the five caps he has made me.” “With all my heart," cried the tailor; and with that, pulling his hand from under his cloak, he held up five little tiny caps, hanging upon his four fingers and thumb, as upon so many pins." There," quoth he," "you see the five caps this good gaffer asks for; and may I never whip a stitch more if I have wronged him of the least snip of his cloth, and let any workman be judge.” The sight of the caps, and the oddness of the cause, set the whole court a laughing. Only Sancho sat gravely considering awhile, and then, “methinks,” said he, “this suit here needs not be long depending, but may be decided without any more ado, with a great deal of equity; and, therefore, the judgment of the court is, that the tailor shall lose his making, and the countryman his cloth, and that the caps be given to the poor prisoners, and so let there be an end of the business.”

If this sentence provoked the laughter of the whole court, the next no less raised their admiration. For, after the governor's order was executed, two old men appeared before him, one of them with a large cane in his hand, which he used as a staff. “My lord,” said the other, who had none, “ some time ago I lent this man ten gold crowns to do him a kindness, which money he was to repay me on demand. I did not ask him for it again in a good while, lest it should prove a greater inconvenience to him to repay me, than he laboured under when he borrowed it. However, perceiving that he took no care to pay me, I have asked him for my due; nay, I have been forced to dun him hard for it. But still be did not only refuse to pay me again, but denied he owed me any thing, and said, 'that if I lent him so much money he certainly returned it.' Now, because I have no witnesses of the loan, nor he of the pretended payment, I beseech your lordship to put him to his oath, and if he will swear he has paid me I will freely forgive him before God and the world.” “What say you to this, old gentleman with the staff ?” asked Sancho. “Sir,” answered the old man, “ I own he lent me the gold; and, since he requires my oath, I beg you will be pleased to hold down your rod of justice, that I may swear upon it how I have honestly and truly returned him his money." Thereupon the Governor held down his rod, and in the meantime the defendant gave his cane to the plaintiff to hold, as if it hindered him, while he was to make a cross and swear over the judge's rod : this done, he declared that it was true the other had lent him ten crowns, but that he had really returned him the same sum into his own hands; and that, because he supposed the plaintiff had forgotten it, he was continually asking him for it. The great Governor, hearing this, asked the creditor what he had to reply? He made answer, that since his adversary had sworn it he was satisfied; for he believed him to be a better Christian than offer to forswear himself, and that perhaps he had forgotten he had been repaid. Then the defendant took his cane again, and, having made a low obeisance to the judge, was immediately leaving the court; which, when Sancho perceived, reflecting on the passage of the cane, and admiring the creditor's patience, after he had studied awhile with his head leaning over his stomach, and his forefinger on his nose, on a sudden he ordered the old man with the staff to be called back. When he was returned, “Honest man,” said Sancho, “ let me see that cane a little, I have a use for it.” “With all my heart,” answered the other ; “sir, here it is,” and with that he gave it him. Sancho took it, and giving it to the other old man, “ There,” said he, “go your ways, and Heaven be with you, for now you are paid.” “How so, my lord ?" cried the old man; “ do you judge this cane to be worth ten gold crowns ?” “ Certainly,” said the Governor, “ or else I am the greatest dunce in the world. And now you shall see whether I have not a headpiece fit to govern a whole kingdom upon a shift.” This said, he ordered the cane to be broken in open court, which was no sooner done, than out dropped the ten crowns. All the spectators were amazed, and began to look on their Governor as a second Solomon. They asked him how he could conjecture that the ten crowns were in the cane ? He told them that having observed how the defendant gave it to the plaintiff to hold while he took his oath, and then swore he had truly returned him the money into his own hands, after which he took his cane again from the plaintiff-this considered, it came into his head that the money was lodged within the reed; from whence may be learned, that though sometimes those that govern are destitute of sense, yet it often pleases God to direct them in their judgment. Besides, he had heard the curate of his parish tell of such another business, and he had so special a memory, that, were it not that he was so unlucky as to forget all he had a mind to remember, there could not have been a better in the whole island. At last the two old men

went away, the one to his satisfaction, the other with eternal shame and disgrace : and the beholders were astonished; insomuch, that the person who was commissioned to register Sancho's words and actions, and observe his behaviour, was not able to determine whether he should not give him the character of a wise man, instead of that of a fool, which he had been thought to deserve.

The history informs us, that Sancho was conducted from the court of justice to a sumptuous palace, where, in a spacious room, he found the cloth laid, and a most neat and magnificent entertainment prepared. As soon as he entered, the wind-music played, and four pages waited on him, in order to the washing his hands, which he did with a great deal of gravity. And now, the instruments ceasing, Sancho sat down at the upper end of the table, for there was no seat but there, and the cloth was only laid for one. A certain personage, who afterwards appeared to be a physician, came and stood at his elbow, with a whalebone wand in his hand. Then they took off a curious white cloth that lay, over the dishes on the table, and discovered great variety of fruit, and other eatables. One that looked like a student said grace ; a page put a laced bib under Sancho's chin, and another, who did the office of sewer, set a dish of fruit before him. But he had hardly put one bit into his mouth, before the physician touched the dish with his wand, and then it was taken away by a page in an instant. Immediately another, with meat, was clapped in the place; but Sancho was no sooner offered to taste it, than the doctor, with the wand, conjured it away as fast as the fruit. Sancho was annoyed at this sudden removal, and, looking about him on the company, asked them,“ Whether they used to tantalize people at that rate, feeding their eyes, and starving their bellies ?”. “My lord governor," answered the physician, "you are to eat here no otherwise than according to the use and custom of other islands where there are governors. I am a doctor of physic, my lord, and have a salary allowed me in this island, for taking charge of the governor's health, and I am more careful of it than of my own, studying night and day his constitution, that I may know what to prescribe when he falls sick. Now, the chief thing I do is, to attend him always at his meals, to let him eat what I think convenient for him, and to prevent his eating what I imagine to be prejudicial to his health, and offensive to bis stomach. Therefore, I now ordered the fruit to be taken away, because it was too cold and moist; and the other dish, because it is as much too hot, and overseasoned with spices, which are apt to increase thirst; and he that drinks much destroys and consumes the radical moisture, which is the fuel of life.” “ So, then,” quoth Sancho, “ this dish of roasted partridges here can do me no manner of harm." “Hold,” said the physician, “ the Lord Governor shall not eat of them while I live to prevent it.” “Why so ?” cried Sancho. “Because,” answered the doctor, “our great master, Hippocrates, the north star and luminary of physic, says, in one of his aphorisms, Omnis saturatio mala, perdricis autem pessima; that is, · All repletion is bad, but that of partridges is worst of all !'” “If it be so," said Sancho, “let Mr. Doctor see which of all these dishes on the table will do me the most good, and least harm, and let me eat my bellyful of that, without having it whisked away with his wand. For, by my hopes, and the pleasures of government, as I live, I am ready to die with hunger; and, not to allow me to eat any victuals (let Mr. Doctor say what he will) is the way to shorten my life, and not to lengthen it.” “Very true, my lord,” replied the physician; “ however, I am of opinion you ought not to eat of these rabbits, as being a hairy, furry, sort of food ; nor would I have you taste that veal. Indeed, if it were neither roasted nor parboiled, something might be said ; but, as it is, it must not be.” "Well, then,” said Sancho, “what think you of that huge dish yonder that smokes so? I take it to be an olla podrida; and, that being a hodge-podge of so many sorts of victuals, sure I cannot but light upon something there that will nick me, and be both wholesome and toothsome.” “ Absit,” cried the doctor, “ far be such an ill thought from us; no diet in the world yields worse nutriment than those wishwashes do. No, leave that luxurious compound to your rich monks and prebendaries, your masters of colleges, and lusty feeders at country weddings; but let them not encumber the tables of governors, where nothing but delicate unmixed viands, in their prime, ought to make their appearance. The reason is, that simple medicines are generally allowed to be better than compounds; for, in a composition, there may happen a mistake by an unequal proportion of the ingredients; but simples are not subject to that accident. Therefore, what I would advise at present, as a fit diet for the governor, for the preservation and support of his health, is a hundred of small wafers, and a few thin slices of marmalade, to strengthen his stomach, and help digestion.” Sáncho, hearing this, leaned back upon his chair, and, looking earnestly in the doctor's face, very seriously asked him what his name was, and where he had studied ? “My lord,” an. swered he, “I am called Doctor Pedro Rezio de Aguero. The name of the place where I was born is Tirteafuera, and lies between Caraquel and Almodabar del Campo, on the right hand; and I took my degree of doctor in the University of Ossuna,” “Hark you,” said Sancho, in a mighty chafe, “Mr. Doctor Pedro Rezio de Aguero, born at Tirteafuera, that lies between Caraquel and Almodabar del Campo, on the right hand, and who took your degree of doctor at the University of Ossuna, and so forth, take yourself away! Avoid the room this moment, or, by the sun's light, I 'll get me a good cudgel, and, beginning with your carcase, will so belabour and rib-roast all the physic-mongers in the island, that I will not leave therein one of the tribe, of those, I mean, that are ignorant quacks; for, as for learned and wise phy. sicians, I will make much of them, and honour them like so many angels. Once more, Pedro Rezio, I say, get out of my presence. Avaunt! or I will take the chair I sit upon, and comb your head with it to some purpose, and let me be called to an account about it when I give up my office; I do not care, I will clear myself by saying I did the world good service in ridding it of a bad physician, the plague of the commonwealth. Body of me! let me eat, or let them take their government again ; for an office that will not afford a man victuals is not worth two horse-beans.”

288.-Special Means of Contentment.

BISHOP SANDERSON. [ROBERT SANDERSON, Bishop of Lincoln, was born at Rotherham, in 1587; was educated at Lincoln College, Oxford ; in 1641 was appointed chaplain to Charles I., and during the troubles remained for many years in retirement at his humble living of Boothby Pagnell, occasionally suffering persecution and poverty. Upon the Restoration, he was created Bishop of Lincoln, in 1660. He died in 1662. The following extract is from · The Christian Man a contented Man.']

The first thing to be done is to labour for a true and lively faith;

« AnteriorContinuar »