Page images
PDF
EPUB

me, if you think I will defift from

my

demand. The lady now arrives at Venice, in her lawyer's drefs ; and alighting at an inn, the landlord asks one of the servants who his master was ? The fervant answered, that he was a young lawyer who had finifhed his studies at Bologna. The landlord upon this News his gueft great civility: and when he attended at dinner, the lawyer inquiring how juftice was administered in that city: he answered, justice in this place is too Tevere, and related the case of Ansaldo. Says the lawyer, this question may be easily answered. If you can an. fwer it, says the landlord, and save this worthy man from death, you will get the love and efteem of all the beít men of this city. The lawyer caufed a proclamation to be made, that whoever had any law matters to determine, they fhould have recourfe to him : so it was told to Giannetto, that a ta. mous lawyer was come from Bologna, who could decide ai cafes in law. Giannetto proposed to the Jew to apply to this lawyer. With all my heart, says the Jew; but let who will come, I will stick to my bond. They came to this judge, and saluted him. Giannetto did not remember her: for she had disguised her face with the juice of certain herbs. Giannetto, and the Jew, each told the merits of the cause to the judge; who, when he had taken the bond and read it, Taid to the Jew, I must have you take the hundred thousand ducats, and releafe this honeft man, who will always have a grateful fense of the favour done to him. The jew plied, I will do no fuch thing. The judge answered, it will be better for you. The Jew was pofitive to yield nothing. Upon this they go to the tribunal appointed for fach judg. ments : and our judge. says to the Jew, Do you cut a pound of this man's fleth where you chufe. The jew ordered him to be Atripped naked; and takes in his hand a razor, which had been made on purpofe. Giannetto feeir.g this, turning to the judge, this, says he, is not the favour I asked of you. Be quiet, says he, the pound of flesh is not yet cut off. As soon as the Jew was going to begin, Take care what you do, says the judge, if you take more or lefs than a pound, 1 with order your head to be ftruck off: and befide, if you thed one drop of blood you shall be put to death. Your paper makes no mention of the shedding of blood; but says exprefly, that

re

your head.

you may take a pound of flesh, neither more nor lefs. He immediately sent for the executioner to bring the block and ax; and now, says he, if I fee one drop of blood, off goes

At length the Jew, after much wrangling, told him, Give me the hundred thousand ducats, and I am content. No, says the judge, cut off your pound of flesh according to your bond: why did you not take the money when it was offered? The Jew came down to ninety, and then to cighty thousand; but the judge was still resolute. Giannetto told the judge to give what he required, that Ansaldo might have his liberty : but he replied, let me manage him. Then the Jew would have taken fifty thousand: he said, I will not give you a penny. Give me at leaft, fays the Jew, my own ten thoufand ducats, and a curse confound you ill. The judge replies, I will give you nothing: if you will have the pound of Aesh, take it, if not, I will order your bond to be protested and annulled. The Jew seeing he could gain nothing, tore in pieces the bond in a great rage.

Anfaldo was released, and conducted home with great joy by Giannetto, who carried the hundred thousand ducats to the inn to the lawyer. The lawyer said, I do not want money; carry it back to your lady, that the may not say, that you have fquandered it away idly. Says Giannetto, my lady is fo kind, that I might spend four times as much, without incurring her displeasure. How are you pleased with the lady ? fays the lawyer. I love her better than any earthly thing, answers Giannetto : Nature seems to have done her utmoft in forming her. If you will come and see her, you will be surprised at the honours she'will fhew you. I cannot go with you, fays the lawyer; but fince you speak fo much good of her, I must desire you to present my respects to her. I will not fail, Giannetto anfwered; and now let me entreat you to accept of some of the money. While he was speaking the lawyer observed a ring on his finger, and faid, if you will give me this ring, I fhall feck no other reward. Willingly, says Giannetto; but as it is a ring given me by my lady, to wear for her sake, I have fome reluctance to part with it, and the, not seeing it on my finger, will believe, that I have given it to a woman. Says the lawyer, the efteems you fufficiently to credit what you tell her, and you

may say you made a present of it to me; but I rather think you want to give it to some former mistress here in Venice. So great, says Giannetto, is ihe love and revere..ce I bear to her, that I would not change her for any woman in the world. After this he takes the ring from his finger, and presents it to him. I have still a favour to ask, says the lawyer. It shall be granted, says Giannetto. It is, replied he, that you do not stay any time here, but go as soon as possible to your lady. It appears to me a thousand years till I see her, answered Giannetto : and immediately they iake leave of each other. The lawyer embarked, and left Venice. Giannetto took leave of his Venetian friends, and carried Ansaldo with him, and some of his old acquaintance accompanied them.

The lady arrived some days before ; and having resumed her female habit, pretended to have spent the time at the baths; and now gave orders to have the streets lined with tapestry: and when Giannetto and Ansaldo were landed, all the court went out to meet them. When they arrived at the palace, the lady ran to embrace Ansaldo, but feigned anger against Giannetto, tho she loved him excessively yet the feastings, tilts and diversions went on as usual, at which all the lords and ladies were present. Giannetto seeing that his wife did not receive him with her accustomed good ccuntenance, called her and would have faluted her. She told him she wanted not his carefles: I ain sure, says she, you have been lavish of them to some of your former mistresses. Giannetto began to make excuses. She asked him where was the ring The had given him ? It is no more than what I expected, cries Giannetto, and I had a right to say you would be angry with me; but, I swear by all that is sacred, and by your dear self, that I gave the ring to the lawyer who gained our cause. And I can swear, says the lady, with as much folemnity, that you gave the ring to a woman : therefore swear no more. Giannetto protested that what he had told her was true, and that he said all this to the lawyer, when he asked for the ring. The lady replied, You would have done much better to stay with your mistreffes, for I fear they all wept when you came away. Giannetto's tears began to fall, and in great sorrow he assured her, that what the supe posed could not be true. The lady seeing his tears, which

were daggers in her boíom, ran to embrace him, and in a fit of laughter sewed the ring, and told him, that she herself was the lawyer, and how she obtained the ring. Giannetto was greatly astonished, finding it all true, and told the story to the nobles and to his companions; and this heightened greatly the love between him and his lady. He then called the damsel who had given him the good advice in the evening not to drink the liquor, and gave her to Ansaldo for a wife: and they spent the rest of their lives in great felicity and contentment.

TALE from Boc CA C E. Ruggieri de Figiovanni took a resolution of going, for some time, to the court of Alfonso king of Spain. He was graciously received, and living there some time in great magnificence, and giving remarkable proofs of his courage, was greatly esteemed. Having frequent opportunities of examining minutely the behaviour of the king, he observed, that he gave, as he thought, with little discernment, castles, and baronies, to such who were unworthy of his favours; and to himself, who might pretend to be of fome estimation, he gave nothing: he therefore thought the fittest thing to be done, was to demand leave of the king to return home.

His request was granted, and the king presented him with one of the most beautiful and excellent mules, that had ever been mounted. One of the king's trusty servants was commanded to accompany Ruggieri, and riding along with him, to pick up, and recollect every word he said of the king, and then mention that it was the order of his sovereign, that he should go back to him. The man watching the opportunity, joined Ruggieri when he fet out, said he was going towards Italy, and would be glad to ride in company with him. Rugžieri jogging on with his mule, and talking of one thing cr other, it being near nine o'clock, told his companion, that they would do well to put up their mules a little, and as soon as they entered the stable, every beast, except his, began to stale. Riding on further they came to a river, and watering the beasts, his mule staled in the river : You untoward beast, says he, you are like your master, who gave you to me.

The servant remembered this expression, and many others as they rode on all day together ; but he heardnot a single word drop from him, but what was in praise of

the king. · The next morning Ruggieri was told the order of the king, and instantly turned back. When the king had heard what he had said of the mule, he commanded him into his presence, and with a smile, asked him, for what reason he had compared the mule to him. Ruggieri answered, My reason is plain, you give where you ought not to give, and where you ught to give, you give nothing; in the same manner the mule would not ftale where she ought, and where the ought not, there the faled. The king faid upon this, If I have not rewarded you as I have many, donot entertain a thought that I was insensible to your great merit; it is Fortune who hindered me; and she is to blame, and not l; and I will thew you manifestly that I speak truth. My discontent, Sir, proceeds not, answered Ruggieri, from a defire of being enriched, but from your not having given the small ft teftimony to my deserts in your service : nevertheless your excuse is valid, and I am ready to see the procf you mention, though I can easily believe you without it. The king conducted him to a hall, where he had already commanded two large caskets, shut close, to be placed ; and before a large company told Ruggieri, that in one of them was contained his crown, scepter, and all his jewels, and that the other was full of earth : choose which of them you like beft, and then you will see that it is not l, but your fortune has been ungrateful. Ruggieri chose one. It was found to be the casket full of earth. The king said to him with a smile, Now you may fee, Ruggieri, that what I told. you of fortune is true; but for your fake, I will oppose her with all my strength. You have no intention, I am certain, to live in Spain; therefore I will offer you no preferment here, but that casket which fortune denied you, fall be yours in despite of her : carry it with you into your own country, Thew it to your friends, and neighbours, as my gift to you; and you have my permission to boaft, that it is a. Teward of your virtues.

JOHNS. Of The Merchant af Venice. the file is even and easy, with few peculiaritiee of diction, or anomalies of construction. The comic part raises laughter, and the serious fixes expectation. The probability of either one or the other story cannot be maintained. The union of two actions in one event

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »