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BEWARE: There is a very small chance, that this text is not in the public domain. If we are violating any copyright law, we are abjectly sorry and will immediately beg for permission to use it or take it down. After several months research and several letters, the question of the copyright status and the holder of it remain a deep, dark mystery. But we couldn't bear it that Poggio and Mr. Storer's work is as good as lost to most of the world. They deserve so much better. We welcome any input on this matter. For others who wish to steal any portion of this text, this is not a good text to lift because you, too, are operating under the same risk. Know this: if we get in big trouble we will share our pain with you.


The Hanging Man

The executioners were leading a Jew up a hillside to a place where they were going to hang 149 him, and to arrive at the scaffold it was necessary to pass along some steep and dangerous paths. One of the two comforters1 of the condemned man said to him:

"Ah, lucky man that you are, for within an hour, you will be in Abraham's bosom amid much joy and music and song. What happier life could a man wish? And there will be such a banquet as you never saw. . . . "

At this point the little procession arrived at a point in the road where there was a steep chasm on either side, and the path was so narrow that two persons could barely pass together.

The condemned man, who was annoyed by the remarks of his comforter, suddenly conceived an idea, and with all the force he could muster, he pushed him over into the ravine saying:

"Well, you go ahead and wash the glasses clean!"

1 People going to the scaffold generally had two "comforters" or "consolers".



Of Alessandro Mola, Courteous Gentleman

My kindest and most courteous gentleman Alessandro Mola, seeing a hunchback who could scarcely walk, so tired was he, turned to a friend who was present and said:

"That fellow, weak as he seems, is stronger than Hercules."

"Why?" asked the other.

"Hercules," said Alessandro, "according to the fables, carried a world on his shoulders for a time, while this man carries in the ordinary way and with great comfort a globe."


Remark of Lattanzio Benucci

Signor Lattanzio Benucci seeing that the Bishop of ——, who had been governor of Spoleti1, was brought back a prisoner to Rome, 151 said: "He is the most unfortunate man in the world, for he left Rome a governor and now returns a legate."2

1 Spoleto.

2 Play on words. Legato means 'legate' and 'bound' or a 'prisoner'.


The Pimp

A certain gentleman, being called a pimp, consoled himself saying: "Why should I complain at being called by this name? I live according to the laws of nature, and I do for others what I would have them do for me."


The Principle of Tragedy

A certain tragedy was being condemned without pity by some gentlemen who declared that there was not in it either of those essentials stated by Aristotle to be the principle of tragedy, that is the terrible and the piteous.

Whereat a gentleman of the company said:

"Sirs, have a little pity in condemning other people's works, and be not too ready with your 152 judgments. It seems to me that this tragedy has at any rate one of the two essentials you speak of."

And when he was asked what this was, he replied:

"The piteous, for there cannot be a man so hard-hearted that, reading the play, he would not have compassion on the author's ignorance."


The Meaning of Venice

There were in Venice Signor Ercole Bentivoglio and Messer Alberto Lollo, who conversed together on pleasant and ingenious matters worthy of their fine and learned talents, and the argument fell upon the meaning and etymology of the provinces and cities of the world.

Signor Ercole asked Messer Alberto whence came the word Venice, and, as a man of quick and ready intellect, he at once replied:

"I am of opinion that this word has a Latin origin, that is it comes from veni and 153 etiam1 (Venice is Venezia, formerly Vinetia), for he who has been once to the city seems to be invited to return again by its beauty and excellence."

Signor Ercole laughed at the readiness of the answer, and praised it highly.

1 Veni etiam : come again.


Of Alfonso de' Pazzi

Alfonso de' Pazzi was in his time a witty and sarcastic man, ever ready with his quips and sayings, so that it was considered risky to provoke him, for sometimes he was beyond measure biting and offensive.

It happened one day that he had a fancy to go out of doors when the weather was exceptionally bad with heavy rains and muddy roads, such as would counsel most men to remain indoors. He took it into his head to go out as he was dressed, with velvet breeches and mantle, to take a little walk.


He met on his way a great personage riding a mule who had turned back, so bad and horrible was the road, and this man said beneath his breath, not supposing he would be heard: "Look at that fool there! Where is he going?"

Alfonso, who, as I have said, did not spare persons of high degree or reputation, whoever they were, quickly answered:

"Monsignor, if you have a bad tongue, I have good ears."


Of Messer Paolo dell' Ottonaio

Messer Paolo dell' Ottonaio, canon of St Lawrence in Florence, was in his time, and still is, an agreeable man, intelligent and full of brilliant and witty sayings, which he utters in such well-chosen phrases and so ably that even the gravest and most serious man in the world would be forced to laugh.

This excellent person, meeting one day a friend of his who on account of his many debts did not feel safe in his house and had retired to the district 155 of San Lorenzo, where he passed the greater part of his time frequenting churches, noticed his extreme melancholy. Messer Paolo greeted his friend in an amicable fashion. "What is the matter with you, my friend, that you seem so melancholy?"

The citizen, feeling himself touched where he did indeed suffer, replied:

"Why should I not be sad and perturbed for the rest of my life, since, through no fault of mine but from sheer ill-fortune, I have failed for many thousands of scudi1? And my creditors, not content with having taken from me all I possess, now menace my person, and will not agree to any terms or conditions with me.

"Messer Paolo, you must know that many times have I been on the point of throwing myself into the lap of despair, and, had it not been for the comfort I have derived in these days from reading an excellent book on patience, I should by now be a dead man.

"And it is my firm belief that this book of patience was dictated by the mouth of Truth, 156 which is God, so lively is the force of consolation and comfort I find in it."

Then Messer Paolo said: "Your creditors have all been paid in full by you?"

"No, Messer," replied the citizen.

"Then it is they, and not you who ought to be reading this book of patience, since as you cannot pay them in full, they must, willy-nilly, leave you in peace."

1 Crowns.


The Senate and the Roman People

A courtesan of Rome, who was about to have a child, asked whose was to be the infant, gracefully replied: "The Senate's and the Roman People's."

Courteous this, and I think that the good woman meant to include under this collective word "people" the Romans and the foreigners.



They were discussing in the house of Cardinal Savello in Rome of the arrival of a great literary 157 man, when a gentleman present asked one of those engaged in the discussion: "And what letters has this man?"

"Greek, Latin, and Tuscan", was the answer.

"Has he no other letters but these?"

"What other letters do you expect him to have?"

"Letters of credit", replied the gentleman.


Good Answer to Messer N———

Messer N———, a witty man, met a pregnant woman, and said to her:

"O Madonna, you must have sold the cattle since you carry the money in your bosom."

She answered in the same strain wisely: "Certainly I have sold them, but I have kept the horns1 for you."

1The horns, corna, supposed to be worn on the head by cuckolds.



Under the Protection of St Margeret

On the morning of the feast of St Margeret, who is the patron saint of pregnant women, a gentleman who was with Giulio Tassone and others, wishing to have a joke with some women who were going to the church of the saint, said playfully to them:

"These women go to St Margeret's so that they may have beautiful children."

Whereat one of the women, the boldest among them, looking at the man who had made the remark, who was by no means a handsome fellow, said: "At any rate, your mother never paid a visit here."

At which, the gentleman without in the least losing his readiness of mind, replied: "Madonna, that may be, but if yours went, her prayers were evidently not heard."



San Marino and Venice

San Marino is a little castle1 in Romagna, which, as they say, makes a profession of liberty and of living under republican rule. Hereon, a facetia is told, which I do not affirm to be true, and it is that, taking account of its republican character, it sent a letter to the illustrious republic of Venice, sole splendour of Italy, and signed the letter as follows: "Your most affectionate sister, the republic of San Marino."

1 Castle is often used in a wider sense, meaning a small district.


Of Raphael of Urbino

Raphael of Urbino, most excellent and singular painter, painted in Rome the loggia in the garden of Augustine Chisio. And in the painting there appeared many figures of gods and graces, and among the others a large Polyphemus and a Mercury as a boy of thirteen or so.


There entered there one morning a lady who, wishing to appear a person of culture and intelligence, admired and praised the paintings very much. And she said: "Certainly, all these figures are most excellent, but I could have wished, Signor Raphael, for the sake of your reputation, that you had painted a nice rose or a fig leaf over the shame of Mercury."

Then said Raphael, smiling: "Pardon me, Madonna, that I did not think of this." And then he added: "But why did you not suggest that I should do the same thing for Polyphemus, whom you praised so much, and whose shame is so much larger?"


A Madman in Church

A madman being in church, and hearing the office being said by a priest who was then answered very loudly by all the others, as is the custom, gave a slap in the face to the priest, saying:

"If you hadn't commenced to make all that noise, these other people wouldn't have followed you."



Of a Florentine who bought a Horse

A Florentine of my acquaintance was obliged to stay a while in Rome to buy a horse which he needed. He bargained with the seller, who asked twenty-five ducats for it, saying it was too dear, and came to an agreement with him to pay him ten down and be his debtor for the rest.

The following day, when the seller came to ask for the remaining fifteen ducats, the Florentine refused to give them to him.

"We agreed", he said, "that I should be your debtor for fifteen ducats, but, if I pay you, then I shall no longer be your debtor."


Of a Venetian who went to Treviso and had a Stone thrown at his Back by his Servants

A Venetian who was going to Treviso was riding a horse which he had hired, and behind him, on foot, followed his servant. On the way, the servant had a kick in the leg from the horse, 162 and, angered by the pain, he seized a stone to throw it at the animal, but it hit his master in the small of he back instead. The stupid master thought that the hurt came from a kick of the horse, and when he reproved his servant, who in consequence of the pain he was suffering followed slowly, the latter replied: "I cannot walk any faster for the pain which the horse's kick causes me."

"All right", said the master; "it is evidently a vice of this horse, for just now he gave me a great kick in the small of the back."


Facetia of Ridolfo, Signor di Camerino

During the war between Pope Gregory XI and the Florentines, the province of Piceno and almost all the Roman provinces abandoned the Papal cause. The ambassador of the Recanati when sent to Florence, thanked the Priors for the liberty which his people had enjoyed through Florentine aid, and spoke grave words of reproach and contumely against the Pope and his ministers, 163 and particularly against the Signori and all tyrants, complaining of their bad government and their crimes, nor showing any respect for Ridolfo, who was then Captain of the Florentines and who was present at the scene and listened to the long detraction of himself that was going on.

Then Ridolfo asked the ambassador what faculties and studies he had, and the ambassador replied that he was doctor of civil law, and Ridolfo asked him for how many years he had studied law.

And when the ambassador had replied that he studied law for ten years, Ridolfo exclaimed: "Ah, how I wish that you had studied discretion only for one year."

Thus was the foolish man well answered.


The Gentleman and his Miller

There was a certain gentleman, who having caught his miller in the act of thieving, wanted to hang him by the neck.

And when the miller was on the scaffold, the 164 gentleman asked him to swear to him and tell him of another miller who was honest. The miller swore that he was unable to tell him of such a man.

"Well, if that is the case", said the gentleman, "you had better come down and live. If I try another, I might get one even more rapacious than you."


The Notary's Will

Ser1 Cozzo, a Florentine notary, left this instruction in his will for his children: "Always do evil, but do not say so. Always speak of doing good, but do not do it."

Words worthy of a sad man.

1 Messer.


Merchant's Good Faith

Messer Piero da Nocera, having to transfer a large sum of ducats at Florence, handed them to the bank of the Medici in Rome, into the hands 165 of Roberto Martelli, and received in exchange a letter of credit, with which he went to Florence.

On the journey, he began to doubt that the money would be paid back to him. But as soon as he arrived at the bank, everything was duly paid him.

So he went to Cosmo1 and said: "Magna est fides tua." And Cosmo replied: "Messer Piero, trust is the merchant's treasure, and the more trust a merchant inspires, the richer he is."

1 De' Medici.


Husbands and Wives

A gentleman who wore a fine new pair of top-boots offered to give them away to that husband who was not afraid of his wife. After having sought for a while without finding anyone who cared to take them on these terms, finally he found a peasant, a smooth-tongued fellow, who took them.

So handing him the boots, he said: "You had 166 better take this grease, too, to polish them with, and put it in your breast."

But the peasant, who had that morning put on a clean new shirt, said: "I do not want to put it near my bosom, for I should dirty my shirt, and my wife would lecture me."

The other, taking back his top-boots and giving the peasant a blow with them, said: "Go to the devil, lying traitor!—afraid of your wife over so trifling a thing: you have tried to deceive me."

So he went his way, and I think he has not yet found anyone to whom to give the boots.


The Safest Ship

Messer Bartolomeo Gottifredi, a person of great wit and spirit, being asked one day what was the safest kind of ship, replied: "The one which arrives in port."



Facetia of Some Thieves

There were certain thieves in Rome, of such excellent quality and talent that, having for some days watched the shop of a rich merchant who was having some repairs done, they decided to burgle the place at night.

Having by means of their special artifices broken open the ship, they began to clear out of it all that it contained.

Then it happened that the night-watchman passed by while the thieves were loading up their cart. Seeing the shop open at night, and people entering and coming out, he stopped, and asked with some surprise what was proceeding.

Then one of the burglars coming forward with a broom in his hand, and making pretence of sweeping and cleaning, said: "Captain of the Night-watch, the master of the house has just died, and we are preparing the place for the funeral to-morrow."

"All the same", said the watchman, "I don't hear anyone weeping inside the house."

"No, they will weep to-morrow", said the robber.



Recalling Solomon

Alfonso, when he was still young, took up the government of the kingdoms, and it happed that a girl-slave, being in child by her master, when it came to the time of her bringing forth, made appeal, according to the laws of Spain, that she should be declared a free woman, having had a child by her master.

The master, however, unwilling to lose the slave, declared that the child was not his, thinking in this manner to keep both slave and infant. The slave asserted on the other hand that her master was the father of the child.

The matter was difficult of proof, but the wisdom of Alfonso soon found a way of settling the question. Therefore he ordered that the child be sold by auction, to the effect that it should become the property of whomsoever should offer the most money.


The master, overcome by pity, could not keep from tears, and confessed that the child was his, whereupon the King ordered that it be given into his custody and the slave made free.


A Woman's Answer

A lady, citizen of our city and most reputable person, was asked by a messenger if she had no letter to send to her husband who was in foreign lands acting as ambassador of the Republic.

"How", she said, "can I write, if my husband has taken the pen away with him, and has left the ink-pot empty?"

Facetious and honest answer.


A Good Master for Thieves

A thief of quality was taken by a lord, and, as he had rich relations, they offered a large sum to the lord for his release.


The seigneur said: "My friends, there is no need for you to give me anything, for I am of a mind to do as you ask me, so that he will not do any more harm."

And the relations rejoiced greatly, hoping to have their unfortunate kinsman among them within a few days.

The prince, after some days, ordered that the thief be released from prison, but at the same time he commanded that he hang by the neck.

This greatly displeased the thief's relations, but the lord excused and defended himself, denying that he had broken his promise, for the pact was that the thief should be released from prison on condition that he would steal no more, and he had given him a good master to teach him this lesson, the hangman, better than whom did not exist.


The Wise Parent

A young gentleman of Bologna, of noble family, fell in love with his mother's maid, who 171 was young and charming. The young man's mother saw what was going one, and, to take away the chance of any folly on the part of the young people, ordered her maid to sleep in her room, on a little trestle-bed.

Notwithstanding this, the amorous cunning of the two young people was such that many nights they slept together in love and delight, until on one occasion, losing all sense of caution, they made such a disturbance that the lady of the house learnt their carelessly hidden secret.

And she, turning to her husband, who slept beside her, whispered into his ear to get out of bed and go over to the trestle-bed, where he would find his son with the maid, a thing that lent little respect and dignity to their house.

But the husband, compassionate of amorous cases and used to the ways of the world, replied that if she wished to go herself she might, especially if she wished to see from personal experience what the youthful rage of a lad of eighteen is like when he is surprised in his loves, and how he has then no respect for parental authority.



The Doctor of Law

A Doctor of Law, well known for a learned and eloquent man in his time, coming home to the court of the Emperor, where he had been a long time, found a friend of his recently returned from Nuremberg who said to him that his wife was alive and well.

And he replied: "If my wife is alive, then I am dead."

Printed in Great Britain at
The Mayflower Press, Plymouth.
William Brendon & Son, Ltd.

End of Book

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BEWARE: There is a very small chance, that this text is not in the public domain. If we are violating any copyright law, we are abjectly sorry and will immediately beg for permission to use it or take it down. After several months research and several letters, the question of the copyright status and the holder of it remain a deep, dark mystery. But we couldn't bear it that Poggio and Mr. Storer's work is as good as lost to most of the world. They deserve so much better. We welcome any input on this matter. For others who wish to steal any portion of this text, this is not a good text to lift because you, too, are operating under the same risk. Know this: if we get in big trouble we will share our pain with you.