Imágenes de páginas

he can use nothing but meat, and drink, and clothes. He to whom the world can be given to any purpose greater than a private estate can minister must have new capacities created in him; he needs the understanding of an angel to take the accounts of his estate ; he had need have a stomach like fire or the grave, for else he can eat no more than one of his healthful subjects; and unless he hath an eye like the sun, and a motion like that of a thought, and a bulk as big as one of the orbs of heaven,—the pleasures of his eye can be no greater than to behold the beauty of a little prospect from a hill, or to look upon a heap of gold packed up in a little room, or to dote upon a cabinet of jewels, better than which, there is no man that sees at all, but sees every day. For, not to name the beauties and sparkling diamonds of heaven, a man's, or a woman's, or a hawk's eye, is more beauteous and excellent than all the jewels of his crown. Understanding and knowledge are the greatest instruments of pleasure; and he that is most knowing hath a capacity to become happy, which a less knowing prince, or a rich person, hath not; and in this only a man's capacity is capable of enlargement. But then, although they only have power to relish any pleasure rightly who rightly understand the nature, and degrees, and essences, and ends of things; yet they that do so, understand also the vanity and unsatisfyingness of the things of this world : so that the relish, which could not be great but in a great understanding, appears contemptible, because its vanity appears at the same time : the understanding sees all, and sees through it.


THOMAS NOEL. THERE's a grim one-horse hearse in a jolly round trot, To the churchyard a pauper is going, I wot;

The road it is rough, and the hearse has no springs; And hark to the dirge which the sad driver sings :

Rattle his bones over the stones !

He's only a pauper, whom nobody owns ! 0, where are the mourners ? Alas! there are noneHe has left not a gap in the world now he's goneNot a tear in the eye of child, woman, or man; To the grave with his carcass as fast as you can :

Rattle his bones over the stones !

He's only a pauper, whom nobody owns ! What a jolting and creaking, and splashing and din! The whip how it cracks, and the wheels how they spin! How the dirt, right and left, o'er the hedges is hurled ! The pauper at length makes a noise in the world !

Rattle his bones over the stones !

He's only a pauper, whom nobody owns !
Poor pauper defunct ! he has made some approach
To gentility, now that he's stretched in a coach !
He's taking a drive in his carriage at last;
But it will not be long, if he goes on so fast !

Rattle his bones over the stones !

He's only a pauper, whom nobody owns ! You bumpkins! who stare at your brother conveyed Behold what respect to a cloddy is paid ! And be joyful to think, when by death you're laid low, You've a chance to the grave like a gemman to go!

Rattle his bones over the stones !

He's only a pauper, whom nobody owns !
But a truce to this strain ; for my soul it is sad,
To think that a heart in humanity clad
Should make, like the brutes, such a desolate end,
And depart from the light without leaving a friend !

Bear soft his bones over the stones !
Though a pauper, he's one whom his Maker yet owns.


Boccaccio. [Giovanni Boccaccio, the celebrated Italian writer, whose fanciful tales, evincing the most lively imagination, and pregnant with tenderness of expression and warmth of feeling, have supplied themes for so many writers who came after him, was born at Paris in 1313. He was the son of a Florentine merchant, and the friend of Petrarch. His principal work is “The Decameron." Died 1375.] THERE lived in Florence a young man, called Federigo Alberigi, who surpassed all the youth of Tuscany in feats of arms, and in accomplished manners. He (for gallant men will fall in love) became enamoured of Monna Giovanna, at that time considered the finest woman in Florence; and that he might inspire her with a reciprocal passion, he squandered his fortune at tilts and tournaments, in entertainments and presents. But the lady, who was virtuous as she was beautiful, could on no account be prevailed upon to return his love. While he lived thus extravagantly, and without the means of recruiting his coffers, poverty, the usual attendant of the thoughtless, came on apace; his money was spent, and nothing remained to him but a small farm, barely sufficient for his subsistence, and a falcon, which was however the finest in the world. When he found it impossible therefore to live longer in town, he retired to his little farm, where he went a birding in his leisure hours; and disdaining to ask favours of any one, he submitted patiently to his poverty, while he cherished in secret a hopeless passion.

It happened about this time, that the husband of Monna Giovanna died, leaving a great fortune to their only son, who was yet a youth; and that the boy came along with his mother to spend the summer months in the country (as our custom usually is), at a villa in the neighbourhood of Federigo's farm. In this way he became acquainted with Federigo, and began to delight in birds and dogs, and having seen his falcon, he took a great longing for it, but was afraid to ask it of him when he saw how highly he prized it. This desire, however, so much affected the boy's spirits, that he fell sick; and his mother, who doated upon this her only child, became alarmed, and to soothe him, pressed him again and again to ask whatever he wished, and promised, that if it were possible, he should have all that he desired. The youth at last confessed, that if he had the falcon he would soon be well again. When the lady heard this, she began to consider what she should do. She knew that Federigo had long loved her, and had received from her nothing but coldness; and how could she ask the falcon, which she heard was the finest in the world, and which was now his only consolation ? Could she be so cruel as to deprive him of his last remaining support? Perplexed with these thoughts, which the full belief that she should have the bird if she asked it, did not relieve, she knew not what to think, or how to return her son an answer. A mother's love, however, at last prevailed! she resolved to satisfy him, and determined, whatever might be the consequence, not to send, but to go herself and procure the falcon. She told her son, therefore, to take courage, and think of getting better, for that she would herself go on the morrow, and fetch what he desired; and the hope was so agreeable to the boy, that he began to mend apace. On the next morning Monna Giovanna, having taken another lady along with her, went as if for amusement to the little cabin of Federigo, and inquired for him. It was not the birding season, and he was at work in his garden; when he heard, therefore, that Monna Giovanna was calling upon him, he ran with joyful surprise to the door. She, on the other hand, when she saw him coming, advanced with delicate politeness; and when he had respectfully saluted her, she said, “All happiness attend you, Federigo; I am come to repay you for the loss you have suffered from loving me too well, for this lady and I intend to dine with you in any easy way this forenoon.” To this Federigo humbly answered: “ I do not remember, Madam, having suffered any loss at your hands, but on the contrary, have received so much good, that if ever I had any worth, it sprung from you, and from the love with which you inspired me. And this generous visit to your poor host, is much more dear to me than would be the spending again of what I have already spent.” Having said this, he invited them respectfully into the house, and from thence conducted them to the garden, where having nobody else to keep them company, he requested that they would allow the labourer's wife to do her best to amuse them, while he went to order dinner.

Federigo, however great his poverty, had not yet learned all the prudence which the loss of fortune might have taught him; and it thus happened that he had nothing in the house with which he could honourably entertain the lady, for whose love he had formerly given so many entertainments. Cursing his evil fortune, therefore, he stood like one beside himself, and looked in vain for money or pledge. The hour was already late, and his desire extreme to find something worthy of his mistress ; he felt repugnant, too, to ask from his own labourer. While he was thus perplexed, he chanced to cast his eyes upon his fine falcon, which was sitting upon a bar in the ante-chamber. Having no other resource, therefore, he took it into his hand, and finding it fat, he thought it would be proper for such a lady. He accordingly pulled its neck without delay, and gave it to a little girl to be plucked; and having put it upon a spit, he made it be carefully roasted. He then covered the table with a beautiful cloth, a wreck of his former splendour; and everything being ready, he returned to the garden to tell the lady and her companion that dinner was served. They accordingly went in and sat down to table with Federigo, and ate the good falcon without knowing it.

« AnteriorContinuar »