Chap. iv. : OF THE GERMAN HERO THAT SHALL CONQUE THE WHOLE WORLD AND BRING PEACE TO ALL NATIONS
So Jupiter answered, “Though speakest of the matter like a mere man, as if thou didst not know that ‘tis possible for us gods so to manage things that only the wicked shall be punished and the good saved:I will raise up a German hero that shall accomplish all with the edge of a sword; he shall destroy all evil men and preserve and exalt the righteous.”“Yea,”said I, “but such a hero must need have soldiers, and where soldiers are there is war, and where war is there must the innocent suffer as well as the guilty.”“Oho;” says Jupiter, “by yet earthly gods minded like earthly men, that ye can understand so little?For I will send such a hero that he shall have need of no soldiers and yet shall reform the whole world; at his birth I will grant to him a body well formed and stronger than had ever Hercules, adorned to the full with princeliness, wisdom, and understanding:to this shall Venus add so comely a face that he shall excel Narcissus, Adonis, and even my Ganymede:and she shall grant to him, besides his other fine parts, dignity, charm, and presence excelling all, and so make him beloved by all the world, for which cause I will look more kindly upon it in the hour of his birth.Mercury, too, shall endow him with incomparable cleverness, and the inconstant moon shall be to him not harmful but useful, for she shall implant in him and invincible swiftness:Pallas Athene shall rear him on Parnassus and Vulcan shall, under the influence of Mars, forge for him his weapons, and specially a sword with which he shall conquer the whole world and make an end of all the godless, without the help of a single man as a soldier:for he shall need no assistance. Every town shall tremble at his coming, and every fortress otherwise unconquerable he shall have in his power in the first quarter of an hour;in a word, he shall have the rule over the greatest potentates of the world, and so nobly bear sway over earth and sea that both gods and men shall rejoice thereat.”
“Yea,: said I, “but how can the destruction of all the godless and rule over the whole world be accomplished without specially great power and a strong arm?O Jupiter, I tell thee plainly I can understand these things less than any mere mortal man.”“At that,”says Jupiter, “I marvel not:for thou knowest not what power my hero’s sword will have. Vulcan shall make it of the same materials of which he doth forge my thunderbolts, and so direct its virtues that my hero, if he do but draw it and wave it in the air, can cut off the heads of a whole armada, though they be hidden behind a mountain or be a whole Swiss mile distant from him, and so the poor devils shall lie there without heads before they know what has befallen them.And when he shall begin his triumphal progress and shall come before a town or a fortress, then shall he use Tamburlaine’s vein, and for a sign that he is there for peace and for the furthering of all good shall shew a white flag:then if they come forth to him and are content, ‘tis well:if not, then will he draw his sword, and by its virtue, as before described, will hew off the heads of all enchanters and sorceresses throughout the town, and then raise a red flag:then if they be obstinate, he destroy all murderers, usurers, thieves, rogues, adulterers, whores, and knaves in the said manner, and then hoist a black flag:whereupon if those that yet remain in the town refuse to come to him and humbly submit, then shall he destroy the whole town as a stiffnecked and disobedient folk:yet shall he only execute them that have hindered the others, and been the cause that the people would not submit.So shall he go from country to country, and give each town the country that lies around it to rule in peace, and from each town in all Germany choose out two of the wisest and learnedest men to form his parliament, shall reconcile the towns with each other forever, shall do away all villenage, and also all tolls, excises, interest, taxes, and octrois throughout Germany, and take such order that none shall ever again hear of forced work, watch-duties, contributions, and benevolences, war-taxes, and other burdens of the people, but that men shall live happier than in the Elysian fields.And then,” says Jupiter, “will I often assemble all Olympus and come down to visit the Germans, to delight myself among their vines and fig-trees:and there will I set Helicon* on their borders and establish the Muses anew thereon:Germany will I bless with all plenty, yea, more than Arabia, Felix, Mesopotamia, and the land of Damascus:then will I forswear the Greek language, and only speak German; and, in a word, shew myself so good a German that in the end I shall grant to them, as once I did to the Romans, the rule over all the earth.”
“But,” said I, “great Jupiter, what will princes and lords say to this, if this future hero so violently take from them their rights and hand them over to the towns?Will they not resist with force, or at least protest against it before gods and men?”
“The hero,” answered Jupiter, “ will trouble himself little on that score: he will divide all the great into three classes:them which have lived wickedly and set an evil example he will punish them together with the commons, for no earthly power can withstand his sword:to the rest he will give the choice whether to stay in the land or not.They that love their fatherland and abide must live like the commons, but the German people’s way of living shall then be more plentiful and comfortable than is now the life and household of a king; yea, they shall be one and all like Fabricius, that would not share King Pyrrhus his kingdom because he loved his country and honour and virtue too much:and so much for the second class.But as to the third. which will still be lords and rulers, them will he lead through Hungary and Italy into Moldavia, Wallachia, into Macedonia, Thrace and Greece, yea, over the Hellespont into Asia, and conquer these lands for them, give them as helpers all them that live by war in all Constantinople in one day, and lay the heads of all before their feet: then will he again set up the Roman Empire, and so betake himself again to German, and with his lords of Parliament (whom, as I have said, he shall choose in pairs from every city in Germany, and name them the chiefs and fathers of his German Fatherland) build a city in the midst of Germany that shall be far greater than Manoah in America, and richer than was Jerusalem in Solomon’s time, whose walls shall be as high as the mountains of Tirol and its ditches as broad as the sea between Spain and Africa.And there will he build a temple entirely of diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires, and in the treasury that he shall there build will he gather together rarities from the whole world out of the gifts that the kings in China and in Persia, the great Mogul in the East Indies, the great Khan of Tartary, Prester John in Africa*, and the great Czar in Muscovy will send to him.Yea, the Turkish emperor would be yet more ready to serve him if it were not that my hero will have taken his empire from him and given it as a fief to the Roman emperor.”
Chap. V. :HOW HE SHALL RECONCILE ALL RELIGIONS AND CAST THEM IN THE SAME MOULD
Now Jump-i’-th’-field, who also listened to us, had wellnigh enraged Jupiter and spoiled the whole affair; for said he, “Yea, yea; and then ‘twill be in Germany as in fairyland, where it rains muscatels and nought else, and where twopenny pies grow in the night like mushrooms:and I too shall have to eat with both cheeks full at once like a thresher, and drink myself blind with Malvoisie.”“Yea, truly,” said Jupiter, “and that the more because I will curse thee with the undying hunger of Erysichthon, for methinks thou are one of them that do deride my majesty,” and to me said he, “I deemed I was among wood spirits only: but meseems I have chanced upon a Momus or a Zoilus, the most envious creatures in the world.Is one to reveal to such traitors the decrees of heaven and so to cast pearls before swine?”So I saw plainly he would not willingly brook laughter, and therefore kept down mine own as best I could, and “Most gracious Jupiter,”said I, “thou wilt not, by reason of a rude forest-god’s indiscretion, conceal from thy Ganymede how things are further to happen in Germany.”“No, no,” said he, “but I command this mocker, who is like to Theon, to bridle his evil tongue in future, lest I turn him to a stone as Mercury did Battus.But do thou confess to me thou art truly my Ganymede, and that my jealous Juno hath driven thee from heaven in my absence.”So I promised to tell him all when I should have heard what I desired to know.Thereupon, “Dear Ganymede,” says he, “For deny not that thou art he – in those days shall gold-making be as common in Germany as is pot-making now, and every horse-boy shall carry the philosophers’ stone about with him.”“Yea,” said I, “but how can Germany be so long in peace with all these different religions?Will not the opposing clergy urge on their flocks and so hatch another war?”“No, no,”says Jupiter, “my hero will know how to meet that difficulty cleverly, and before all things to unite all Christian religions in the world.”“O wonderful,” said I, “that were indeed a great work!How could it come about?”“I will with all my heart reveal it to thee,” answered Jupiter, “for after my hero hath made peace for all mankind he will address all the heads of the Christian world both spiritual and temporal, in a most moving speech, and so excellently impress upon them their hitherto most pernicious divisions in belief, that of themselves they will desire a general reconciliation and give over to him the accomplishment of such according to his own great wisdom.Then will he gather together the most skilful, most learned, and most pious theologians of all religions and appoint for them a place, as did once Ptolemy for the seventy-two translators, in a cheerful and yet quiet spot, and there provide them all with meat and drink and all necessaries, and command them so soon as possible, and yet with the ripest and most careful consideration, first to lay aside the strifes that there be between their religions, and next to set down in writing and with full clearness the right, true, holy Christian religion in accordance with Holy Writ; and with most ancient tradition, the recognized sense of the Fathers.At which time Pluto will sorely scratch his head as fearing the lessening of his kingdom:yea, and will devise all manner of plans and tricks to foist in an ‘and,’ and if not to stop the whole thing, yet at least to postpone it sine die, that is for ever.So will he hint to each theologian of his interest, his order, his peaceful life, his wife and child, and his privileges, and aught else that might sway his inclinations.But my brave hero also will not be idle : he will so long as this council shall last have all the bells in Christendom rung, and so call all Christian people to pray without ceasing to the Almighty, and to ask for the sending of the Spirit of Truth.And if he shall see that one or another doth allow himself to be tempted by Pluto, then will he plague the whole assembly with hunger as in a Roman conclave, and if they yet delay to complete so holy a work, then will he preach them all a sermon through the gallows, or shew them his wonderful sword, and so first with kindness, but at last with severity and threats, bring them to come to the business in hand, and no longer as before to befool the world with their stiff-necked false doctrines.So when unity is arrived at, then will he proclaim a great festival and declare to the whole world this purified religion; and whosoever opposes it, him will he torment with pitch and sulphur or smear that heretic with box-grease and present him to Pluto as a New Year’s gift.And now, dear Ganymede, thou knowest all thou didst desire to know:and now tell me in turn the reason why thou hast left heaven, where thou hast poured me so many a draught of nectar.”
Chap. vi. : HOW THE EMBASSY OF THE FLEAS FARED WITH JUPITER
Now methought ‘twas possible this fellow might be no such fool as he pretended, but might be serving me as I had served others in Hanau to escape from us the better :so I determined to put him in a passion, for in such plight it is easiest to know a real madman; and says I, “The reason I am come down from heaven is that I missed thee there, and so took Daedalus’s wings and flew down to earth to see thee.But when I came to ask for thee I found thee in all places but of ill repute; for Zoilus and Momus have throughout the world so slandered thee and all the other gods, and decried ye as wanton and stinking, that ye have lost all credit with mankind.Thyself, say they, beest a lousy, adulterous, caperer after woman-kind; how canst thou then, punish the world for such vices?Vulcan they say is but a poltroon that let pass Mars’s adultery without proper revenge; and how can that halting cuckold forge any weapons of note?Venus, too, is for her unchastity the most infamous baggage in the world:and how can she endow another with grace and favour?Mars they say is but a murderer and a robber;Apollo a shameless lecher; Mercury an idle chatterer, thief and pander; Priapus filth;Hercules a brainsick ruffian; and, in a word, the whole crew of the gods so ill famed that they should of right be lodged nowhere but in Augeas’s stable, which even without them stinks in the nostrils of all the world.”
“Aha;” says Jupiter, “and who would wonder if I laid aside my graciousness and punished these wretched slanderers and blasphemous liars with thunder and lightning?How thinkest thou, my true and beloved Ganymede, shall I curse these chatterers with eternal thirst like Tantalus, or hang them up in Phalaris’s red-hot bull of Agrigent?Nah, nah, Ganymede: all these plagues and punishments together are too little:I will fill Pandora’s box anew and empty it upon the rogues’ heads:then Nemesis shall wake the furies and send them at their heels, and Hercules shall borrow Cerberus from Pluto and hunt those wicked knaves with him like wolves, and when I have in this wise chased and tormented them enough, then will I bind them fast with Hesiod and Homer to a pillar in hell and there have them chastised for ever without pity by the Furies.”
Now while Jupiter thus spake he began to make a hunt for the fleas he had upon him:for these, as one might perceive, did plague him sore.And as he did so he cried, “Away with ye, ye little tormentors; I swear to ye by Styx ye shall never have that, that ye so earnestly desire.”So I asked him what he meant by such words.He answered, the nation of the fleas, as soon as they learned he was come on earth, had sent their ambassadors to compliment him:and there had complained to him that, though he had assigned to them the dogs’ coats as a dwelling, yet on account of certain properties common to women, some poor souls went astray and trespassed on the ladies’ furs; and such poor wandering creatures were by the women evil entreated, caught, and not only murdered, but first so miserably martyred and crushed between their fingers that it might move the heart of a stone.“Yea,” said Jupiter further, “they did present their case to me so movingly and piteously that I must needs have sympathy with them and so promised them help, yet on condition I should first hear the women:to that they objected that if ‘twas allowed to the women to plead their cause and to propose them, they knew well they with their poisonous tongues would either impose upon my goodness and loving-kindness, and outcry the fleas themselves, or by their sweet words and their beauty would befool me and lead me astray to a wrong judgment.But if I must allow the women to hunt, catch, and with the hunters’ privilege to slay them in their preserves, then their petition was that they might in future be executed in honourable wise, and either cut down with a pole-axe like oxen or snared like game, and no longer to be so scandalously crushed between the fingers and so broken on the wheel, by which means their own limbs were made instruments of torture.“Gentlemen,”said I, “ye must be greatly tormented when they thus tyrannise over ye.”“Yea, truly,” said they, “they be so envious of us.Is it right?Can they not suffer us in their territories?For many of them so cleanse their lap-dogs with brushes, combs, soap and lye, and other like things, that we are compelled to leave our fatherland and to seek other dwellings.”Thereupon I allowed them to lodge with me and to make my person feel their presence, their ways and works, that I might judge accordingly:and then the rascally crew began so to plague me that, as ye have seen, I must again be rid of them.I will give them a privilege, but only this, that the women may squeeze them and crush them as they will: and if I catch any so pestilent a customer I will deal with him no better.
Chap. vii.;HOW THE HUNTSMAN AGAIN SECURED HONOUR AND BOOTY
Now might we not laugh as heartily as we would, both because we must keep quiet and because this good fool liked it not:wherefore Jump-i’-th’-field came nigh to burst.And just then our look-out man that we had posted in a tree called to us that he saw somewhat coming afar off.So I climbed the tree myself, and saw through my perspective-glass it must be the carriers for whom we lay in wait:they had no one on foot, but some thirty odd troopers for escort, and so I might easily judge they would not go through the wood wherein we lay, but would do their best to keep the open, and there we should have no advantage over them, though there was even there an awkward piece of road that led through the clearing from the end of the wood or hill.Now it vexed me to have lain there so long for nought, or at best to have captured only a fool; and so I quickly laid me another plan and that turned out well.For from our place of ambush there ran a brook in a cleft of the ground, which it was easy to ride along, down to the level country:the mouth of this I occupied with twenty men, took my post with them, and bade Jump-i’-th’-field stay in the place where we had been posted to advantage, and ordered each one of my fellows, when the escort should come, that each should aim at his man, and commanded also that some should shoot and some should hold their fire for a reserve.Some old veterans perceived what I intended and how I guessed that the escort would come that way, as having no cause for caution, and because certainly no peasant had been in such a place for a hundred years.But others that believed I could bewitch (for at that time I was in great reputation on that account) thought I would conjure the enemy into our hands.Yet here I needed no devil’s arts, only my Jump-i’-th’-field;for even as the escort, riding pretty close together, was just about to pass by us, he began at my order to bellow most horribly like an ox, and to neigh like a horse; till the whole wood echoed therewith and any man would have sworn there were horses and cattle there.So when the escort heard that they thought to gain booty and to snap up somewhat, which yet was hard to find in such a country so laid waste.So altogether they rode so hard and disorderly into our ambush as if each would be the first to get the hardest blow, and this made them ride so close that in the first salute we gave them thirteen saddles were emptied, and some that fell were crushed under the horses’ hoofs.Then came Jump-i’-th’-field leaping down the ravine and crying, “Huntsman here!”At this the fellows were yet more terrified and so dismayed that they would ride neither backward, forward nor sideways, but leapt down and tried to escape on foot.Yet I had them all seventeen prisoners with the lieutenant that had commanded them, and then attacked the waggons, where I unharnessed four-and-twenty horses, and yet got only a few bales of silk and Holland, :for I dared not spare the time to plunder the dead, far less to search the waggons well, for the waggoners were up and away on the horses as soon as the action began, and so might I be betrayed at Dorsten, and caught again on the way back.So when we had packed up our plunder comes Jupiter from the wood and cried to us, “Would his Ganymede desert him?”I answered him, yes, if he would not grant the fleas the privilege they demanded.“Sooner,”says he, “would I see them all lying in hell-fires.”At that I must needs laugh, and because in any case I had horses to spare I had him set on one:yet as he could ride no better than a tailor, I must have him bound upon his horse: and then he told us our skirmish had reminded him of that of the Lapithae* and the centaurs at Pirithous’ wedding.So when all was over and we galloping away with our prisoners as if we were pursued, the lieutenant we had captured began to consider what a fault he had committed, as having delivered so bold a troop of riders into the hand of the enemy and given over thirteen brave fellows to be butchered, and so, being desperate, he refused the quarter I had given him, and would fain have compelled me to have him shot; for he thought that not only would this mistake turn to his great shame, and he be answerable, but also would hinder his advancement, even if it came not to this, that he must pay for his error with his head.So I talked with him and shewed him that with many a good soldier inconstant fortune had played her tricks;yet had I never seen any one that therefore had been driven desperate, and that so to act were a sign of faintheartedness:for brave soldiers were ever devising how to make up for the losses sustained;nor should he ever bring me to break my plighted word or to commit so shameful a deed against all righteousness and against the custom and tradition of honourable soldiers.When he saw I would not do it he began to revile me in the hope to move me to anger, and said I had not fought with him honestly and openly, but like a rogue and a footpad, and had stolen the lives of his soldiers like a thief:and at this his own fellows that we had captured were mightily afraid, and mine so wroth that they would have riddled him like a sieve if I had allowed it;and I have enough to do to prevent it.Yet I was in no wise moved at his talk, but called both friend and foe to witness of what happened, and had him bound and guarded as a madman, but promised him so soon as we came to our camp, and if my officers permitted, to equip him with mine own horses and weapons, of which he should have the choice, and prove to him in open field, with sword and pistol, that ‘twas allowed in war to use craft against the adversary:and asked him why he had not stayed with the waggons, which he was ordered to do; or, if he must needs see what was in the wood, why he had not made a proper reconnaissance, which had been better for him than now to begin to play fool’s tricks to which no one would take heed.Herein both friend and foe approved me right, and said that among a hundred partisans they had never met one that would not for such words of reviling have not only shot the lieutenant dead, but would have sent all the prisoners to the grave after him.
So the next morning I brought my prisoners and plunder safely to Soest, and gained more honour and fame from this foray than ever before:for each one said, “This will prove another young John de Werth”; which tickled me greatly.Yet would not the commandant permit me to exchange shots or to fight with the lieutenant:for he said I had twice overcome him.And the more my triumphs thus increased the more great the envy of those that in any case would have grudged me my luck.
Edited by Laurie McManus