Chap. xiii. : OF VARIOUS MATTERS WHICH WHOEVER WILL KNOW MUST EITHER
READ THEM OR HAVE THEM READ TO HIM
Thereupon various judgments were pronounced upon me by my lord’s guests. The Secretaries were of opinion I should be counted a fool because I esteemed myself a reasoning beast, and because they that had a tile or two slipped, and yet seemed to themselves wise, were the most complete and comical fools of all. Others said, if ’twere possible to drive out of me the idea that I was a calf, or one could persuade me I was again turned into a man, I should surely be held reasonable, or at least sane enough. But my lord himself said, “I hold him for a fool because he telleth every man the truth so shamelessly; yet are his speeches so ordered that they belong to no fool.” (Now all this they spake in Latin, that I might not understand.) Then he asked me, had I studied while I was yet a man? I answered, I knew not what study was “but, dear sir,” said I further, “tell me what manner of things are these studs with which men study? Speakest thou, perchance, of the balls with which men bowl.” Then answered he they called the “mad ensign,” “What will ye with the fellow? ’a hath a devil, ’a is possessed? ‘’tis sure the devil talking through his mouth.” And on that my lord took occasion to ask me, since I had been turned into a calf, whether I still was accustomed to pray like other men and trusted to go to heaven. “Surely,” answered I, “Yet have I my immortal human soul, which, as thou canst easily believe, will not lightly desire to come to hell again, specially since I fared therein so evilly once before. I am but changed as once was Nebuchadnezzar,1 and in God’s good time I might well become a man again.” “And I hope thou mayst,” said my lord, with a pretty deep sigh, whereupon I might easily judge that he repented him of having allowed me to be driven mad. “But let us hear,” he went on, “how art thou wont to pray?” So I kneeled down and raised my eyes and hands to heaven in good hermit fashion, and because my lord’s repentance which I had perceived touched my heart with exceeding comfort, I could not refrain my tears, and so to outward appearance prayed with deepest reverence, after the Paternoster,2 for all Christendom, for my friends and my enemies, and that God would vouchsafe to me so to live in this world that I might be worthy to praise Him in eternal bliss. My hermit had taught me such a prayer in devout and well-ordered words. At that some soft-hearted onlookers were also night to weeping, for they had great pity for me, yea, my lord’s own eyes were full of water.
After dinner my lord sends for the pastor, and to him he told all that I had uttered, gave him to understand that he was concerned lest all was not well* with me, and perchance the devil had a finger in the pie, seeing that at first I had shewn myself altogether simple and ignorant yet now could utter things to make men wonder. The pastor, who knew my qualities better than any other, answered, that should have been thought on before ’twas allowed to make me a fool, for “men,” said he, “were made in the image of God, and with such, and especially with such tender youth, once must not make sport as with beasts” : yet would he never believe ’twas permitted to the evil spirit to interfere, seeing that I had ever commended myself to God with fervent prayer. Yet if against all likelihood such a thing were decreed and permitted, then had men a sore account to answer for before God, inasmuch as there would scarcely be greater sin than for one man to rob another of his reason and thus withdraw him from the praise and service of God, whereto he was chiefly created. “I gave ye beforehand my assurance,” said he, “that he had wit enough, but that he could not fit himself to the world was caused by this, that he was brought up first with his father, a rough peasant, and then with your brother-in-law in the wilderness, in all simplicity. Had fold had but a little patience with him at first, he would with time have learned a better carriage; he was but a simple, God-fearing child, such as the evil-disposed world knew not. Yet do I not doubt that he can again be brought to his right mind, if we can but take from him this fantasy and bring him to believe no longer that he was turned into a calf. We read of one which did firmly believe he was changed into an earthen pot, and would beseech his friends to put him high on a shelf lest he should be trodden on and broken. Another did imagine he was a cock, and in his infirmity crowed both day and night. And yet another fancied he was already dead and a wandering spirit, and therefore would partake of no medicine nor food nor drink, till a wise physician hired two fellows which gave themselves out likewise to be spirits, yet hearty drinkers, who joined themselves to him and persuaded him that nowadays spirits were wont to eat and drink, whereby he was brought to his senses. Yea, I myself had a sick peasant in my parish, who, when I visited him, complained to me that he had three or four barrels of water in his body; and could he be rid of that he trusted to be well again, and begged me either to have him ripped up, that the water might run away, or have him hung up in the smoke to dry it up. So I spoke to him fair, and persuaded him I could draw off the water from him in another fashion; and with that I took a tap such as we use for wine and beer-casks, bound a strip of pig’s guts to it, and the other end I fastened to the bung hole of a great puncheon,3 which to that end I had had filled with water; then I pretended as if I had stuck the tap into his belly, which he had had swathed in rags lest it should burst. Then I let the water run out of the puncheon through the tubes; whereat the poor creature rejoiced heartily and, throwing away his rags, was in a few days whole again. Again, one that imagined he had all manner of horse-furniture, bits and the like, in his body, was in this wise cured: for his physician, having given him a strong purge, conveyed such things into the night-stool so that the fellow must needs believe he was rid of them by the purging. So, too, thy tell of one madman that believed his nose was so long that it reached to the ground: for him they hung a sausage to his nose, and cut it away by little and little till they came to the real nose: who, as soon as he felt the knife touch his flesh, cried out the nose was in its right shape again. And our good Simplicissimus can therefore be cured even as were these of whom I have spoken.”
“All this can I believe,” answered my master, “only this gives me concern, that he was before so ignorant, and now can talk of all matters, and that in such perfect fashion as one cannot easily find even among persons older, more practiced, and better read than he is: for he hath told me of many properties of beasts, and described mine own person so exactly as he had been all his life in the busy world, so that I must needs wonder and hold his speeches wellnigh for an oracle or a warning of God.”
“Sir,” answered the pastor, “this may well be true
and yet natural: I know that he is well read, seeing that he, as well as
his hermit, went through all my books which I had, and which were not few;
and because the lad hath a good memory, and is now at leisure in his mind
and forgetful of his own person, therefore he can utter what foretime he
stored in his brain: and therefore I do cherish the firm hope that with
time he may again be brought to right reason.”
In this wise the pastor left the Governor between hope and fear: and me and my cause he defended in the best way, and gained for me days of happiness and for himself (by the way) access to the Governor. Their crowning resolve was this, to deal with me for a time quietly; and that the pastor did more for his own sake than mine, for by going to and fro and acting as if he bestirred himself for my sake and felt great care for me, he gained the Governor’s favour, who gave him office and made him chaplain to the garrison, which in those hard times was no small matter: neither did I grudge it him.
*I.e., he was bewitched [Goodrick's
1Nebuchadnezzar was the King of Chaldean Neo-Babylonia from 625-605 BC. He fulfilled the prophecies of Jeremiah when his army burned and looted Jerusalem, exiling the city's inhabitants to Babylon. In the Book of David, Nebuchadnezzar is described as an insane old man. "Nebuchadnezzar II," Great Lives From History: Ancient and Medieval Series (Pasadena: Salem Press, 1988), vol. 3, p. 1444-7.
2The Pater Noster, also known as the Lord's Prayer, is used to petition God, and in the Bible it follows instructions on how to pray. "The Our Father," New Catholic Encyclopedia (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1967), vol. 10, p. 829-31.
3In this case, a puncheon is a large cask used for holding large quantities of a liquid. It can also be a small pointed tool for working on stone. "Puncheon," Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language (Springfield: G & C Merriam Company, 1976), p. 1842.
1Hanau is located
in the German state of Hesse, on the right bank of the Main River and east
of Frankfurt am Main. The town was founded in 1597 for Protestant
refugees. "Germany" and "Hanau," The New Encyclopaedia Britannica
(Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 1997), vol. 5, p 676 and vol.
20, p. 42.
2Cardinal Richelieu became Prime Minister of France in 1624, during the reign of King Louis XIII. During the Thirty Years' War, Richelieu supported Protestant forces, even though France herself was a predominately Catholic country, against the armies of the Holy Roman Empire in order to reduce the power of the Austrian and Spanish Hapsburgs. "Cardinal de Richelieu," Great Lives from History: Renaissance to 1900 Series (Pasadena: Salem Press, 1989), vol. 4, p. 1968-72.
3Duke Bernhard of Weimar was a general in the Swedish army. Upon the death of the Swedish king, Gustaphus Adolphus, Cardinal Richelieu hired him for the French army. Bernhard was a key player at the victory of Lützen in 1632 and the Rhineland campaigns of 1638. The New Cambridge Modern History: The Decline of Spain and the Thirty Years War (Cambridge: University Press, 1970), vol. 4, p. 333, 340, 346-7, 349.
This restless life was not to my liking, and often I did wish myself back in Hanau, yet in vain: my greatest torment was that I could not talk with the men, and must suffer myself to be kicked, plagued, beaten, and driven by each and all: and the chiefest pastime that my colonel had was that I should sing to him in German, and puff my cheeks like the other stable-lads, which ’tis true happened by seldom, yet then I got me such a shower of buffets that the red blood flowed, and I soon had enough. At last I began to do somewhat of cooking and to keep my master’s weapons clean, whereon he laid great stress: for I was as yet useless for foraging. And this answered so well that in the end I gained my master’s favour, insomuch that he had a new fool’s coat of calf-skins made for me, with much greater asses’ ears than I wore before. Now as my master’s palate was not delicate, I needed the less skill for my cookery: yet because I was too often without salt, grease, or seasoning, I wearied of this employ also, and therefore devised day and night how I might most cleverly escape—and that the more because ’twas now springtime. So to accomplish this I undertook the work of clearing away the guts of sheep and oxen, with heaps of which our quarters were surrounded, so that they should no longer cause so foul a smell: and this the colonel approved. And being busied with this, I stayed outside altogether, and when it was dark slipped away to the nearest wood.
*Hessian General [Goodrick's
1Büdingen is located in central Germany. "Germany," The New Encyclopaedia Britannica (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 1997), vol. 20, p. 42.
2Fulda is a town located in the German state of Hesse. It is on the Fulda River and west of the Rhön Mountains. "Germany," The New Encyclopaedia Britannica (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 1997), vol. 20, p. 42.
3Hirschfeld is a town in central Germany. "Germany," The New Encyclopaedia Britannica (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 1997), vol. 20, p. 42.
4Hessians are natives of Hesse, a region state located in south-western Germany. The term also refers to German mercenary soldiers. "Hessian," Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language (Springfield: G & C Merriam Company, 1976), p. 1061.
5Cassel, also spelled Kassel, is located in the German state of Hesse. The city is north of Fulda and was the capital of Hesse-Kassel from 1567 until 1866. In the 17th century the city was a place of safety for Huguenot refugees. "Germany" and "Kassel," The New Encyclopaedia Britannica (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 1997), vol. 6, p. 758 and vol. 20, p. 42.
Yet so soon as he was ware of my hairy clothing and the long asses’ ears on my cap, which he took for horns, and at the same time perceived the shining sparks which the hides of beasts do commonly shew when they are stroked in the dark, he was so terrified that he shrank into himself. That did I presently mark: so before he could recover himself or devise aught, I stroked down my hide with both hands to such good purpose that it glittered as if I had been stuffed full of burning sulphur, and then I answered him in a terrible voice, “I am the devil, and I will break thy neck and they fellow’s too.”
Which so terrified both that they fled through the thicket as swiftly as if the fires of hell were pursuing them; yea, though they dashed themselves against sticks and stones and trunks of trees, and yet more often tumbled, they were up again with all speed. So they went on till I could hear them no longer; while I laughed so loud that it echoed through the whole forest, which, without doubt, in that dark wilderness was horrible to hear.
Now when I would be gone I tripped over the musket; and that I took for myself, for already I had learned from the Croats how to manage fire-arms: then as I walked on I came upon a knapsack which, like my coat, was made of calf-skin: that too I took up, and found that a cartridge-pouch, well stored with powder and shot and all appurtenance, hung below it. All this I hung on me, took the musket on my shoulder like a soldier, and hid myself not far off in a thicket, intending to sleep there awhile; but at daybreak came the whole crew to the spot, searching for the musket that was lost and the knapsack: so I pricked up mine ears like a fox and kept still as a mouse; and when they found nothing they mocked at those two that had fled before me. “Shame,” said they, “ye craven fools: shame on your very heart that ye could so suffer yourselves to be frightened and chased, and have your arms taken by a single man.” Yet one fellow swore the devil should take him if ’twere not the devil himself: his horns and his hairy hide he had well perceived; and the other waxed angry and said, “It may have been the devil or his dam, if I had but my knapsack back again.” Then one of them whom I took to be their captain answered him; and says he, “What thinkest thou the devil should do with thy knapsack and thy musket? I would wager my neck the rascal that ye so shamefully let go hath taken both with him.” Yet another took the contrary part, and said it might well happen that some country men had since passed that way who had found the things and taken them: and in the end all approved of this, and ’twas believed by all the band they had had the devil himself in their hands, especially because the fellow that would search me in the darkness not only swore the same with horrid oaths, but also was able to powerfully describe and to magnify the rough and glittering skin and the two horns as certain signs of the devil’s quality. Nay, I do conceive that had I shewn myself again unawares the whole band would have run. So at last, when they had sought long enough and had found nothing, they went on their way again: but I opened the knapsack to make my breakfast thereof, and at the first trial I brought out a pouch in which were some 360 ducats.1 And that I rejoiced thereat none need question, yet may the reader be assured that the knapsack pleased me yet more than this fine some of money, since I found it well stored with provisions. And as such yellow-boys are far too sparsely strewn among common soldiers for them to take such with them on a raid, I judge that the fellow must have just snapped up these on that very excursion, and quickly whipped them into his knapsack that he might not be compelled to share them with the rest.
Thereupon I made a cheerful breakfast, and
found too a merry little spring, at which I refreshed myself and counted
my fine ducats. And if my life depended there-on, to say, in what
land or place I then found myself, I could not tell. And first I
stayed in the wood as long as my food lasted, with which I dealt right
sparingly: then when my knapsack was empty, hunger drove me to the farmers’
houses. And there I crept by night into cellar and kitchen and took
what food I found and could carry off; and this I conveyed away to the
wildest part of the wood. And so I led a hermit’s life as before,
save that I stole much and therefore prayed less, and had, moreover, no
fixed abode, but wandered now, now there. ’Twas well for me indeed
that it was now the beginning of summer, though I could kindle a fire with
my musket whenever I would.
1Ducats were a
type of gold currency formerly used in Europe. "Ducats," The American
Heritage Dictionary (New York: Dell Publishing, 2001), ed. 4, p. 265.