Imágenes de página

"The Christian's Answere.


It is no strange matter to here those dispute of equitie which are themselves most unjust; and such as have no faith at all, desirous that others should observe the same inviolable; the which were yet the more tolerable, if such men would be contented with reasonable things, or at least not altogether unreasonable : but what reason is there that one man should unto his own prejudice desire the hurt of another? as this Jew is content to lose nine hundred crownes to have a pound of my flesh; whereby is manifestely seene the ancient and cruel hate which he beareth not only unto Christians, but unto all others which are not of his sect; yea, even unto the Turkes, who overkindly doe suffer such vermine to dwell amongst them: seeing that this presumptuous wretch dare not onely doubt, but appeale from the judgement of a good and just judge, and afterwards he would by sophisticall reasons prove that his abhomination is equitie. Trulie, I confesse that I have suffered fifteen daies of the tearme to passe; yet who can tell whether he or I is the cause thereof? as for me, I think that by secret meanes he hath caused the monie to be delaied, which from sundry places ought to have come unto me before the tearm which I promised unto him; otherwise, I would never have been so rash as to bind myselfe so strictly but although he were not the cause of the fault, is it therefore said, that he ought to be so impudent as to go about to prove it no strange matter that he should be willing to be paied with man's flesh, which is a thing more natural for tigres, than men, the which also was never heard of? but this divell in shape of man, seeing me oppressed with necessitie, propounded this cursed obligation unto me. Whereas he alleageth the Romaines for an example, why doth he not as well tell on, how for that crueltie in afflicting debtors over grievously, the commonwealth was almost overthrowne, and that shortly after it was forbidden to imprison men any more for debt? To breake promise is, when a man sweareth or promiseth a thing, the which he hath no desire to performe, which yet upon an extreme necessity is somewhat excusable as for me I have promised, and accomplished my promise, yet not so soon as I would; and although I knew the danger wherein I was to satisfie the crueltie of this mischievous man with the price of my flesh and blood, yet did I not flie away, but submitted my selfe unto the discretion of the judge who hath justly repressed his beastliness. Wherein then have I falsified my promise? is it in that I would not (like him) disobey the judgement of the judge? Behold I will present a part of my bodie unto him, that he may paie himselfe, according to the contents of the judgement: where is then my promise broken? But it is no marvaile if this race be so obstinat and cruell against us; for they do it of set purpose to offend our God whom they have crucified: and wherefore? Be

cause he was holie, as he is yet so reputed of this worthy Turkish nation. But what shall I say? Their own Bible is full of their rebellion against God, against their priests, judges and leaders. What did not the very patriarchs themselves, from whom they have their beginning? They sold their brother, and had it not been for one amongst them, they had slain him for verie envie. How many adulteries and abhominations were committed amongst them? How many murthers? Absalom did he not cause his brother to be murthered? Did he not persecute his father? Is it not for their iniquitie that God hath dispersed them, without leaving them one onlie foot of ground? If then, when they had newlie received their law from God, when they saw his wonderous works with their eies, and had yet their judges amongst them, they were so wicked, what may one hope of them now, when they have neither faith nor law, but their rapines and usuries? and that they believe they do a charitable work, when they do some great wrong unto one that is not a Jew? It may please you then, most righteous judge, to consider all these circumstances, having pittie of him who doth wholly submit himselfe upon your just clemencie: hoping thereby to be delivered from this monster's crueltie." FARMER.

Gregorio Leti, in his Life of Sixtus V. translated by Ellis Farneworth, 1754, has likewise this kind of story.

It was currently reported in Rome that Drake had taken and plundered S. Domingo in Hispaniola, and carried off an immense booty: this account came in a private letter to Paul Secchi, a very considerable merchant in the city, who had large concerns in those parts which he had insured. Upon the receiving this news he sent for the insurer Samson Ceneda, a Jew, and acquainted him with it. The Jew, whose interest it was to have such a report thought false, gave many reasons why it could not possibly be true: and at last worked himself up into such a passion, that he said, "I'll lay you a pound of my flesh that it is a lie."

Secchi, who was of a fiery hot temper, replied, "If you like it, I'll lay you a thousand crowns against a pound of your flesh that it is true." The Jew accepted the wager, and articles were immediately executed between them, the substance of which was, "That if Secchi won, he should himself cut the flesh with a sharp knife from whatever part of the Jew's body he pleased.” Unfortunately for the Jew, the truth of the account was soon after confirmed, by other advices from the West-Indies, which threw him almost into distraction; especially when he was informed that Secchi had solemnly sworn he would compel him to the exact literal performance of his contract, and was determined to cut a pound of flesh from that part of his body which it is not necessary to mention. Upon this he went to the governor of Rome and begged he would interpose in the affair, and use his

authority to prevail with Secchi to accept of a thousand pistoles as an equivalent for the pound of flesh: but the governor not daring to take upon him to determine a case of so uncommon a nature, made a report of it to the pope, who sent for them both, and having heard the articles read, and informed himself perfectly of the whole affair from their own mouths, said, "When contracts are made, it is just they should be fulfilled, as we intend this shall. Take a knife, therefore, Secchi, and cut a pound of flesh from any part you please of the Jew's body. We would advise you, however, to be very careful; for if you cut but a scruple or grain more or less than your due, you shall certainly be hanged. Go, and bring hither a knife, and a pair of scales, and let it be done in our presence."

The merchant, at these words, began to tremble like an aspinleaf, and throwing himself at his holiness's feet, with tears in his eyes, protested, "It was far from his thoughts to insist upon the performance of the contract." And being asked by the pope what he demanded; answered, "Nothing, holy father, but your benediction, and that the articles may be torn in pieces." Then turning to the Jew, he asked him, "What he had to say, and whether he was content." The Jew answered, "That he thought himself extremely happy to come off at so easy a rate, and that he was perfectly content."-" But we are not content," replied Sixtus, "nor is there sufficient satisfaction made to our laws. We desire to know what authority you have to lay such wagers? The subjects of princes are the property of the state, and have no right to dispose of their bodies, nor any part of them, without the express consent of their sovereigns."

They were both immediately sent to prison, and the governor ordered to proceed against them with the utmost severity of the law, that others might be deterred by their example from laying any more such wagers.-[The governor interceding for them, and proposing a fine of a thousand crowns each, Sixtus ordered him to condemn them both to death, the Jew for selling his life, by consenting to have a pound of flesh cut from his body, which he said was direct suicide, and the merchant for premeditated murder, in making a contract with the other that he knew must be the occasion of his death.]

As Secchi was of a very good family, having many great friends and relations, and the Jew one of the most leading men in the synagogue, they both had recourse to petitions. Strong application was made to Cardinal Montalto, to intercede with his holiness at least to spare their lives. Sixtus, who did not really design to put them to death, but to deter others from such practices, at last consented to change the sentence into that of the galleys, with liberty to buy off that too, by paying each of them two thousand crowns, to be applied to the use of the hospital which he had lately founded, before they were released.

-Life of Sixtus V. fol. b. vii. p. 293, &c. STEEVENS,

In a Persian manuscript in the possession of Ensign Thomas Munro, of the first battalion of Sepoys, now at Tanjore, is found the following story of a Jew and a Mussulman. Several leaves being wanting both at the beginning and end of the MS. its age has not been ascertained. The translation, in which the idiom is Persian, though the words are English, was made by Mr. Munro, and kindly communicated to me (together with a copy of the original,) by Daniel Braithwaite, Esq.:

"It is related, that in the town of Syria a poor Mussulman lived in the neighbourhood of a rich Jew. One day he went to the Jew, and said, Lend me 100 dinars, that I may trade with it, and I will give thee a share of the gain.-This Mussulman had a beautiful wife, and the Jew had seen and fallen in love with her, and thinking this a lucky opportunity, he said, I will not do thus, but I will give thee a hundred dinars, with this condition, that after six months thou shalt restore it to me. But give me a bond in this form, that if the term of the agreement shall be exceeded one day, I shall cut a pound of flesh from thy body, from whatever part I choose. The Jew thought that by this means he might perhaps come to enjoy the Mussulman's wife. The Mussulman was dejected, and said, How can this be? But as his distress was extreme, he took the money on that condition, and gave the bond, and set on a journey; and in that journey he acquired much gain, and he was every day saying to himself, God forbid that the term of the agreement should pass away, and the Jew bring vexation upon me. He therefore gave a hundred gold dinars into the hand of a trusty person, and sent him home to give it to the Jew. But the people of his own house, being without money, spent it in maintaining themselves. When he returned from his journey, the Jew required payment of the money, and the pound of flesh. The Mussulman said, I sent thy money a long time ago. The Jew said, Thy money came not to me. When this on examination appeared to be true, the Jew carried the Mussulman before the Cazi, and represented the affair. The Cazi said to the Mussulmar, either satisfy the Jew, or give the pound of flesh. The Mussulman not agreeing to this, said, Let us go to another Cazi. When they went, he also spoke in the same manner. The Mussulman asked the advice of an ingenious friend. He said, "Say to him, let us go to the Cazi of Hems*. Go there, for thy business will be well." Then the Mussulman went to the Jew, and said, I shall be satisfied with the decree of the Cazi of Hems; the Jew said, I also

* Hems-Emessa, a city of Syria, long 70, lat. 34.

The Orientals say that Hippocrates made his ordinary residence there; and the Christians of that country have a tradition, that the head of St. John the Baptist was found there, under the reign of Theodosius the younger.

This city was famous in the times of paganism for the Templ

shall be satisfied. Then both departed for the city of Hems *. When they presented themselves before the judgment-seat, the Jew said, O my Lord Judge, this man borrowed an hundred dinars of me, and pledged a pound of flesh from his own body. Command that he give the money and the flesh. It happened, that the Cazi was the friend of the father of the Mussulman, and for this respect, he said to the Jew, "Thou sayest true, it is the purport of the bond; and he desired, that they should bring a sharp knife. The Mussulman on hearing this, became speechless. The knife being brought, the Cazi turned his face to the Jew, and said, "Arise, and cut one pound of flesh from the body of him, in such a manner, that there may not be one grain more or less, and if more or less thou shalt cut, I shall order thee to be killed. The Jew said, I cannot. I shall leave this business and depart. The Cazi said, Thou mayest not leave it. He said, O Judge, I have released him. The Judge said, It cannot be; either cut the flesh, or pay the expence of his journey. It was settled at two hundred dinars: the Jew paid another hundred, and departed." MALONE.

To the collection of novels, &c. wherein the plot of the foregoing play occurs, may be added another, viz. from " Roger Bontemps en Belle Humeur." In the story here related of the Jew and the Christian, the Judge is made to be Solyman, Emperor of the Turks. See the edition of 1731, tom. ii. p. 105.

So far Mr. Douce:-Perhaps this Tale (like that of Parnell's Hermit,) may have found its way into every language.


of the Sun, under the name of Heliogabalus, from which the Roman emperor took his name.

It was taken from the Mussulmen by the Tartars, in the year of Christ 1098. Saladin retook it in 1187. The Tartars took it it in the year 1258. Afterwards it passed into the hands of the Mamalukes, and from them to the Turks, who are now in possession of it. This city suffered greatly by a most dreadful earthquake in 1157, when the Franks were in possession of Syria.


Here follows the relation of a number of unlucky adventures in which the Mussulman is involved by the way; but as they only tend to show the sagacity of the Cazi in extricating him from them, and have no connection with Shylock, I have omitted them. T. M.

« AnteriorContinuar »