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ments; and what a lucky thing for her was the false step of her sister, immured for life, and leaving her in sole expectation of a vast inheritHastening homeward, he dressed himself in more gallant trim, and went forthwith to the Bishop of Carpentras, then at Avignon, to whom he did not find admittance, as his lordship had only that morning received intelligence of his brother-in-law's decease. He expressed by letter his gratitude to Divine Providence, for having enabled him to rescue the loveliest of her sex from the horrors of a watery grave: announced his rank, his fortune (not indeed to be mentioned or thought of in comparison with her merits), and entreated the honour of a union with her, if his lordship could sympathise with him in feeling that such purity ought never to have been enfolded (might he say it?) in the arms of any man who was not destined to be her husband.
"Ah!" said the bishop when he had perused the letter, "the young man too well knows what has happened: who does not? The holy Father himself hath shed paternal tears upon it. Providential this falling into the water! this endangering of a sinful life! May it awaken her remorse and repentance, as it hath awakened his pity and compassion! His proceeding is liberal and delicate: he could not speak more passionately and more guardedly. He was (now I find) one of her early admirers. No reference to others; no reproaches. True love wears well. I do not like this matter to grow too public. I will set out for Carpentras in another hour, first writing a few lines, directing M. Tenerin to meet me at the palace this evening, as soon as may be convenient. We must forgive the fault of Egidia now she has found a good match; and we may put on mourning for the father, my worthy brother-in-law, next week."
Such were the cogitations and plans of the bishop; and he carried them at once into execution; for, knowing what the frailty of human nature is, as if he knew it from inspiration, he had by no means unshaken faith in the waters of the Durance as restorative or conservative of chastity. Tenerin has been since observed to whistle oftener than to sing; and when he begins to warble any of his amatory lays, which seldom happens, the words do not please him as they used to do, and he breaks off abruptly. A friend of his said to him in my presence, "Your ear, Tenerin, has grown fastidious, since you walked up to it in the water on the first of August."
Boccaccio. Francesco! the more I reflect on the story you have related to us, the more plainly do I perceive how natural it is, and this too in the very peculiarity that appeared to me at first as being the contrary. Unless we make a selection of subjects, unless we observe their heights and distances, unless we give them their angles and shades, we may as well paint with white-wash. We do not want strange events, so much as those by which we are admitted into the recesses, or carried on amid the operations, of the human
mind. We are stimulated by its activity; but we are greatly more pleased at surveying it leisurely in its quiescent state, uncovered and unsuspicious. Few however are capable of describing, or even of remarking it; while strange and unexpected contingencies are the commonest pedlary of the markets, and the joint patrimony of the tapsters.
I have drawn so largely from my brain for the production of a hundred stories, many of which I confess are witless and worthless, and many just as Ser Geoffreddo saw them, incomplete, that if my memory did not come to my assistance, I should be mistrustful of my imagination.
Chaucer. Ungrateful man! the world never found one like it.
Boccaccio. Are Englishmen so Asiatic in the profusion of compliments?
I know not, Francesco, whether you may deem this cathedral a befitting place for narratives of love.
Petrarca. No place is more befitting; since if the love be holy, no sentiment is essentially so divine; and if unholy, we may pray the more devoutly and effectually in such an audience for the souls of those who harboured it. Beside which, the coolness of the aisles and their silence, and their solitariness at the extremity of the city, would check within us any motive or tendency to lasciviousness and lightness, if the subject should lie that way, and if your spirits should incautiously follow it, my friend, Giovanni, as (pardon my sincerity!) they are somewhat too propense.
Boccaccio. My scruples are satisfied and removed.
The air of Naples is not so inclement as that of our Arezzo: and there are some who will tell us, if we listen to them, that few places in the world are more favourable and conducive to amorous inclinations. I often heard it while I resided there; and the pulpit gave an echo to the public voice. Strange then it may appear to you, that jealousy should find a place in the connubial state, and after a year or more of marriage: nevertheless, so it happened.
The Prince of Policastro was united to a lady of his own rank; and yet he could not be quite so happy as he should have been with her. She brought him a magnificent dowry; and I never saw valets more covered with lace, fringes, knots, and everything else that ought to content the lordly heart, than I have seen behind the chairs of the Prince and Princess of Policastro. Alas! what are all the blessings of this sublunary world, to the lord whose lady has thin lips! The princess was very loving; as much after the first year as the prince was after the first night. Even this would not content him.
Time, Ser Geoffreddo, remembering that Love and he, in some other planet, flew together, and neither left the other behind, is angry to be outstript by him, and challenges him to a trial of speed every day. The tiresome dotard is always distanced, yet always calls hoarsely after him; as
if he had ever seen Love turn back again, any more than Love had seen him. Well, let them settle the matter between themselves.
Would you believe it? the princess could not make her husband in the least the fonder of her by all her assiduities; not even by watching him while he was awake, more assiduously than the tenderest mother ever watched her sleeping infant. Although, to vary her fascinations and enchantments, she called him wretch and villain, he was afterward as wretched and villanous as if she never had taken half the pains about him.
She had brought in her train a certain Jacometta, whom she persuaded to espy his motions. He was soon aware of it, and calling her to him, said, "Discreet and fair Jacometta, the princess, you know very well, thinks me inattentive to her, and being unable to fix on any other object of suspicion, she marks out you, and boasts among her friends that she has persuaded a foolish girl to follow and watch me, that she may at last, by the temptation she throws into our way, rid herself of a beauty who in future might give her great uneasiness. Certainly, if my heart could wander, its wanderings would be near home. I do not exactly say I should prefer you to every woman on earth, for reason and gratitude must guide my passion; and, unless where I might expect to find attachment, I shall ever remain indifferent to personal charms. You may relate to your mistress whatever you think proper of this conversation. If you believe a person of your own sex can be more attached and faithful to you than the most circumspect of ours, then repeat the whole. If on the contrary you imagine that I can be hereafter of any use to you, and that it is my interest to keep secret any confidence with which you may honour me, the princess has now enabled us to avoid being circumvented by her. It can not hurt me you are young, unsettled, incautious, and unsuspicious.”
Jacometta held down her head in confusion: the prince taking her by the hand, requested her not to think he was offended. He persuaded her to let him meet her privately, that he might give her warning if anything should occur, and that he might assist her to turn aside the machinations of their enemy. The first time they met, nothing had occurred: he pressed her hand, slipt a valuable ring on one of the fingers, and passed. The second time nothing material, nothing but what might be warded off: let the worst happen, the friend who gave him information of the designs laid against her, would receive her. The princess saw with wonder and admiration the earnestness with which Jacometta watched for her. The faithless man could hardly move hand or foot without a motion on the part of her attendant. She had observed him near the chamber-door of Jacometta, and laughed in her heart at the beguiled deceiver. "Do you know, Jacometta, I myself saw him within two paces of your bedroom !"
"I am quite confident it was he, madam !"
answered Jacometta: "and I do believe in my conscience he comes every night. What he wants I can not imagine. He seems to stop before the tuberoses and carnations on the balustrade, whether to smell at them a little, or to catch the fresh breezes from Sorrento. I fancied at first he might be restless and unhappy (pardon me, madonna !) at your differences."
'No, no," said the princess, with a smile, "I understand what he wants: never mind: make no inquiries: he is little aware how we are planning to catch him he has seen you look after him: he fancies that you care about him, that you really like him, absolutely love him .. I could almost laugh. . that you would (foolish man! foolish man! genuine Policastro!) listen to him. Do you understand?"
Jacometta's two ears reddened into transparency; and, clapping a hand on each, she cried, after a long sigh, "Lord! can he think of me? is he mad? does he take a poor girl for a princess? Generally I sleep soundly; but once or twice he has awakened me, perhaps not well knowing the passage. But if indeed he is so very wicked as to design to ruin me, and, what is worse, to deceive the best of ladies, might it not be advisable to fasten in the centre and in the sides of the corridor, five, or six, or seven sharp swords, with their points toward whoever . ."
"Jacometta! do nothing violently; nothing rashly; nothing without me."
There was only one thing that Jacometta wished to do without the princess; and certainly she was disposed to do nothing violently or rashly; for she was now completely in the interest (these holy walls forbid me to speak more explicitly) of Policastro.
"We will be a match for him," said the princess. "You must leave your room-door open to-night."
Jacometta fell on her knees, and declared she was honest though poor. . an exclamation which I dare say, Messer Geoffreddo, you have often heard in Italy: it being the preface to every act of roguery and lubricity, unless from a knight or knight's lady. The Princess of Policastro was ignorant of this, and so was Jacometta when she used it. The mistress insisted; the attendant deprecated.
'Simple child! no earthly mischief shall befall you. To-night you shall sleep in my bed, and I in yours, awaiting the false wretch miscalled my husband."
Satisfied with the ingenuity of her device, the princess was excessively courteous to the prince at dinner, and indeed throughout the whole day. He on his part was in transports, he said, at her affability and sweet amiable temper. Poor Jacometta really knew not what to do: scarcely for one moment could she speak to the prince, that he might be on his guard.
"Do it! do it!" said he, pressing her hand as she passed him. "We must submit."
At the proper time he went in his slippers to the bedroom of the princess, and entered the spa
cious bed; which, like the domains of the rich, | herself up, she said, folding the bed-clothes about is never quite spacious enough for them. Jacometta her double and triple, and was several times on was persuaded to utter no exclamation in the be- the point of calling up the whole household in her ginning, and was allowed to employ whatever extremity, strict as was her mistress's charge upon vehemence she pleased at a fitter moment. The her to be silent. The princess threw a shower of princess tossed about in Jacometta's bed, inveighing odoriferous waters over her, and took every care most furiously against her faithless husband; her to restore her spirits and to preserve her from a passionate voice was hardly in any degree sup- hysterical fit, after such exertion and exhaustion. pressed. Jacometta too tossed about in the prin- When she was rather more recovered, she dropped cess's bed, and her voice laboured under little less on her knees before her lady, and entreated and suppression. At last the principal cause of vexation, implored that, on the renewal of her love in its with the jealous wife, was the unreasonable time to pristine ardour for the prince, she never would which her husband protracted the commission of tell him in any moment of tender confidence, that his infidelity. After two hours or thereabout, she it was she who was in the bed. began to question whether he really had ever been unfaithful at all, began to be of opinion that there are malicious people in the world, and returned to her own chamber. She fancied she heard voices within, and listening attentively, distinguished these outcries.
"No resistance, madam! An injured husband claims imperatively his promised bliss, denied him not through antipathy, not through hatred, not through any demerits on his part, but through unjust and barbarous jealousy. Resist! bite! beat me! Villain'. . 'ravisher'. . am I? am I? Excruciated as I am, wronged, robbed of my happiness, of my sacred conjugal rights, may the blessed Virgin never countenance me, never look on me or listen to me, if this is not the last time I ask them, or if ever I accept them though offered." At which, he rushed indignantly from the bed, threw open the door, and pushing aside the princess, cried raving, "Vile treacherous girl! standing there, peeping! half-naked! At your infantine age dare you thus intrude upon the holy mysteries of the marriage-bed?"
Screaming out these words, he ran like one possessed by the devil into his own room, bolted the door with vehemence, locked it, cursed it, slipped between the sheets, and slept soundly.
The princess was astonished: she asked herself, why did not I do this? why did not I do that? the reason was, she had learned her own part, but not his. Scarcely had she entered her chamber, when Jacometta fell upon her neck, sobbing aloud, and declaring that nothing but her providential presence could have saved her. She had muffled
The princess was slow to give the promise; for she was very conscientious. At last however she gave it, saying, "The prince my husband has taken a most awful oath, never to renew the moments you apprehend. Our Lady strengthen me to bear my heavy affliction ! Her divine grace has cured my agonised breast of its invete rate jealousy."
She paused for some time; then, drying her tears, for she had shed several, she invited Jacometta to sit upon the bedside with her. Jacometta did so; and the princess, taking her hand, continued; "I hardly know what is passing in my mind, Jacometta! I found it difficult to bear an injury, though an empty and unreal one; let me | try whether the efforts I make will enable me to endure a misfortune. . on the faith of a woman, my dear Jacometta, no unreal nor empty one. Policastro is young: it would be unreasonable in me to desire he should lead the life of an anchorite, and perhaps not quite reasonable in him to expect the miracle of my blood congealing."
After this narration, Messer Francesco walked toward the high altar and made his genuflexion: the same did Messer Giovanni, and, int he act of it, slapped Ser Geoffreddo on the shoulder, telling him he might dispense with the ceremony, by reason of his inflexible boots and the buck-skin paling about his loins. Ser Geoffreddo did it nevertheless, and with equal devotion. His two friends then took him between them to the house ¦ of Messer Francesco, where dinner had been some time waiting.
ALEXANDER AND THE PRIEST OF HAMMON.
Alexander. Like my father, as ignorant men called King Philip, I have at all times been the friend and defender of the gods.
Alexander. Not only did he swear more fre quently and more awfully than any officer in the army, or any priest in the temples, but his sacrifices were more numerous and more costly.
Priest. Hitherto it was rather my belief that the gods may befriend and defend us mortals : Priest. More costly? It must be either to those but I am now instructed that a king of Macedon whose ruin is consummated or to those whose has taken them under his shield. Philip, if report ruin is commenced; in other words, either to the be true, was less remarkable for his devotion. vanquished, or to those whose ill-fortune is of Alexander. He was the most religious prince of earlier date, the born subjects of the vanquisher.
Alexander. He exhibited the surest and most
the age. Priest. On what, O Alexander, rests the sup- manifest proof of his piety when he defeated port of such an exalted title?
Enomarchus, general of the Phocians, who had
dared to plough a piece of ground belonging to Apollo.
Priest. Apollo might have made it as hot work for the Phocians who were ploughing his ground, as he formerly did at Troy to those unruly Greeks who took away his priest's daughter. He shot a good many mules, to show he was in earnest, and would have gone on shooting both cattle and men until he came at last to the offender.
Alexander. He instructed kings by slaying their people before their eyes: surely he would never set so bad an example as striking at the kings themselves. Philip, to demonstrate in the presence of all Greece his regard for Apollo of Delphi, slew six thousand, and threw into the sea three thousand, enemies of religion.
Priest. Alexander! Alexander! the enemies of religion are the cruel, and not the sufferers by cruelty. Is it unpardonable in the ignorant to be in error about their gods when the wise are in doubt about their fathers?
Alexander. I am not: Philip is not mine.
Alexander. Who then is, or ought to be, but Jupiter himself?
Priest. The priests of Pella are abler to return an oracle on that matter than we of the Oasis. Alexander. We have no oracle at Pella. Priest. If you had, it might be dumb for once. Alexander. I am losing my patience.
Priest. I have given thee part of mine, seeing thee but scantily provided; yet, if thy gestures are any signification, it sits but awkwardly upon thy shoulders.
Alexander. This to me! the begotten of a god! the benefactor of all mankind.
Priest. Such as Philip was to the three thousand, when he devised so magnificent a bath for their recreation. Plenty of pumice! rather a lack of napkins!
Alexander. No trifling! no false wit!
Priest. True wit, to every man, is that which falls on another.
Alexander. To come at once to the point; I am ready to prove that neither Jason nor Bacchus, in their memorable expeditions, did greater service to mankind than I have done, and am about to do.
Priest. Jason gave them an example of falsehood and ingratitude: Bacchus made them drunk thou appearest a proper successor to these worthies.
Alexander. Such insolence to crowned heads! such levity on heroes and gods!
Priest. Hark ye, Alexander! we priests are privileged.
Alexander. I too am privileged to speak of my own great actions; if not as liberator of Greece and consolidator of her disjointed and jarring interests, at least as the benefactor of Egypt and of Jupiter.
evident, from the same authority, that thou wantest nothing from him but his blessing. unless it be a public acknowledgment that he has been guilty of another act of bastardy, more becoming his black curls than his grey decrepitude.
Alexander. Amazement! to talk thus of Jupiter!
Priest. Only to those who are in his confidence: a mistress for instance, or a son, as thou sayest thou art.
Alexander. Yea, by my head and by my sceptre am I. Nothing is more certain.
Priest. We will discourse upon that presently. Alexander. Discourse upon it this instant. Priest. How is it possible that Jupiter should be thy father, when .
Alexander. When what?
Priest. Couldst not thou hear me on? Alexander. Thou askest a foolish question. Priest. I did not ask whether I should be acknowledged the son of Jupiter.
Alexander. Thou indeed!
Priest. Yet, by the common consent of mankind, lands and tenements are assigned to us, and we are called "divine," as their children; and there are some who assert that the gods themselves have less influence and less property on earth than we.
Alexander. All this is well only use your influence for your benefactors.
Priest. Before we proceed any farther, tell me in what manner thou art or wilt ever be the benefactor of Egypt.
Alexander. The same exposition will demonstrate that I shall be likewise the benefactor of Jupiter. It is my intention to build a city, in a situation very advantageous for commerce of course the frequenters of such a mart will continually make offerings to Jupiter.
Priest. For what?
Alexander. For prosperity.
Priest. Alas! Alexander, the prosperous make few offerings; and Hermes has the dexterity to intercept the greater part of them. In Egypt there are cities enough already: I should say too many for men prey upon one another when they are penned together close.
Alexander. There is then no glory in building a magnificent city?
Priest. Great may be the glory.
Alexander. Here at least thou art disposed to do me justice.
Priest. I never heard until this hour that among thy other attainments was architecture.
Alexander. Scornful and insolent man! dost thou take me for an architect?
Priest. I was about to do so; and certainly not in scorn, but to assuage the feeling of it. Alexander. How?
Priest. He who devises the plan of a great city, of its streets, its squares, its palaces, its temples, Priest. Here indeed it would be unseemly to must exercise much reflection and many kinds of langh; for it is evident on thy royal word that knowledge and yet those which strike most the Jupiter is much indebted to thee; and equally vulgar, most even the scientific, require less care
less knowledge, less beneficence, than what are called the viler parts, and are the most obscure and unobserved; the construction of the sewers; the method of exempting the aqueducts from the incroachment of their impurities; the conduct of canals for fresh air in every part of the house, attempering the summer heats; the exclusion of reptiles; and even the protection from insects. The conveniences and comforts of life in these countries, depend on such matters.
Priest. Thy mother Olympias hated Philip, a well-made man, young, courageous, libidinous, witty, prodigal of splendour, indifferent to wealth, the greatest captain, the most jovial companion, and the most potent monarch in Europe.
Alexander. My father Philip, I would have thee to know.. I mean my reputed father. . was also the greatest politician in the world.
Priest. This indeed I am well aware of; but I
Alexander. My architect, I doubt not, has con- did not number it among his excellences in the sidered them maturely.
Priest. Who is he?
Alexander. I will not tell thee: the whole glory is mine: I gave the orders, and first conceived the idea.
Priest. A hound upon a heap of dust may dream of a fine city, if he has ever seen one; and a madman in chains may dream of building it, and may even give directions about it.
Alexander. I will not bear this.
Priest. Were it false, thou couldst bear it; thou wouldst call the bearing of it magnanimity; and wiser men would do the same for centuries. As such wisdom and such greatness are not what I bend my back to measure, do favour me with what thou wert about to say when thou begannest "nothing is more certain;" since I presume it must appertain to geometry, of which I am fond. Alexander. I did not come hither to make figures upon the sand.
Priest. Fortunate for thee, if the figure thou wilt leave behind thee could be as easily wiped
Alexander. What didst thou say?
Priest. I was musing.
eyes of a woman: it would have been almost the only reason why she should have preferred the serpent, the head of the family. We live here, 0 Alexander, in solitude; yet we are not the lesa curious, but on the contrary the more, to learn what passes in the world around.
Olympias then did really fall in love with a serpent? and she was induced..
Alexander. Induced! do serpents induce people! They coil and climb and subdue them.
Priest. The serpent must have been dexterous. .
Alexander. No doubt he was.
Priest. But women have such an abhorrence of serpents, that Olympias would surely have rather | run away.
Alexander. How could she?
Priest. Or called out.
Alexander. Women never do that, lest somebody should hear them.
Priest. All mortals seem to bear an innate antipathy to this reptile.
Alexander. Mind! mind what thou sayest! Do not call my father a reptile.
Priest. Even thou, with all thy fortitude, wouldst
Alexander. Even the building of cities is in thy experience a shuddering at the sight of a serpent
sight neither glorious nor commendable.
in thy bed-clothes.
Alexander. Not at all. Beside, I do not hesitate in my belief that on this occasion it was Jupiter himself. The priests in Macedon were unanimous upon it.
Priest. Truly, to build them is not among the undertakings I the most applaud in the powerful; but to destroy them is the very foremost of the excesses I abhor. All the cities of the earth should rise up against the man who ruins one. Until this sentiment is predominant, the peaceful can have no protection, the virtuous no encourage-it, ment, the brave no countenance, the prosperous no security. We priests communicate one with another extensively; and even in these solitudes thy exploits against Thebes have reached and shocked us. What hearts must lie in the bosoms of those who applaud thee for preserving the mansion of a deceased poet in the general ruin, while the relatives of the greatest patriot that ever drew breath under heaven, of the soldier at whose hospitable hearth thy father learned all that thou knowest and much more, of Epaminondas (dost thou hear me?), were murdered or enslaved. Now begin the demonstration than which "nothing is more certain."
Alexander. Nothing is more certain, or what a greater number of witnesses are ready to attest, than that my mother Olympias, who hated Philip, was pregnant of me by a serpent. Priest. Of what race?
Priest. When it happened?
Alexander. When it happened no one mentioned
Priest. What would he have done?
Priest. Would he have made war upon Jupiter! Alexander. By my soul! I know not; but I would have done it in his place. As a son, I am│ dutiful and compliant: as a husband and king, there is not a thunderbolt in heaven that should deter me from my rights.
Priest. Did any of the priesthood see the dragon, as he was entering or retreating from the chamber?
Alexander. Many saw a great light in it.
Alexander. This seems like irony: sacred things do not admit it. What thousands saw, nobody should doubt. The sky opened, lightnings flew athwart it, and strange voices were heard.
Priest. Juno's the loudest, I suspect.