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which he confessed to having done, that they were like to burst and

said, one to other, 'What manner of man is this, whom neither old age

nor sickness nor fear of death, whereunto he seeth himself near, nor

yet of God, before whose judgment-seat he looketh to be ere long, have

availed to turn from his wickedness nor hinder him from choosing to

die as he hath lived?' However, seeing that he had so spoken that he

should be admitted to burial in a church, they recked nought of the


Master Ciappelletto presently took the sacrament and, growing rapidly

worse, received extreme unction, and a little after evensong of the

day he had made his fine confession, he died; whereupon the two

brothers, having, of his proper monies, taken order for his honourable

burial, sent to the convent to acquaint the friars therewith, bidding

them come thither that night to hold vigil, according to usance, and

fetch away the body in the morning, and meanwhile made ready all that

was needful thereunto.

The holy friar, who had shriven him, hearing that he had departed this

life, betook himself to the prior of the convent and, letting ring to

chapter, gave out to the brethren therein assembled that Master

Ciappelletto had been a holy man, according to that which he had

gathered from his confession, and persuaded them to receive his body

with the utmost reverence and devotion, in the hope that God should

show forth many miracles through him. To this the prior and brethren

credulously consented and that same evening, coming all whereas Master

Ciappelletto lay dead, they held high and solemn vigil over him and on

the morrow, clad all in albs and copes, book in hand and crosses

before them, they went, chanting the while, for his body and brought

it with the utmost pomp and solemnity to their church, followed by

well nigh all the people of the city, men and women.

As soon as they had set the body down in the church, the holy friar,

who had confessed him, mounted the pulpit and fell a-preaching

marvellous things of the dead man and of his life, his fasts, his

virginity, his simplicity and innocence and sanctity, recounting,

amongst other things, that which he had confessed to him as his

greatest sin and how he had hardly availed to persuade him that God

would forgive it him; thence passing on to reprove the folk who

hearkened, 'And you, accursed that you are,' quoth he, 'for every waif

of straw that stirreth between your feet, you blaspheme God and the

Virgin and all the host of heaven.' Moreover, he told them many other

things of his loyalty and purity of heart; brief, with his speech,

whereto entire faith was yielded of the people of the city, he so

established the dead man in the reverent consideration of all who were

present that, no sooner was the service at an end, than they all with

the utmost eagerness flocked to kiss his hands and feet and the

clothes were torn off his back, he holding himself blessed who might

avail to have never so little thereof; and needs must they leave him

thus all that day, so he might be seen and visited of all.

The following night he was honourably buried in a marble tomb in one

of the chapels of the church and on the morrow the folk began

incontinent to come and burn candles and offer up prayers and make

vows to him and hang images of wax[39] at his shrine, according to the

promise made. Nay, on such wise waxed the frame of his sanctity and

men's devotion to him that there was scarce any who, being in

adversity, would vow himself to another saint than him; and they

styled and yet style him Saint Ciappelletto and avouch that God

through him hath wrought many miracles and yet worketh, them every day

for whoso devoutly commendeth himself unto him.

[Footnote 39: _i.e._ ex voto.]

Thus, then, lived and died Master Cepperello[40] da Prato and became a

saint, as you have heard; nor would I deny it to be possible that he

is beatified in God's presence, for that, albeit his life was wicked

and perverse, he may at his last extremity have shown such contrition

that peradventure God had mercy on him and received him into His

kingdom; but, for that this is hidden from us, I reason according to

that which, is apparent and say that he should rather be in the hands

of the devil in perdition than in Paradise. And if so it be, we may

know from this how great is God's loving-kindness towards us, which,

having regard not to our error, but to the purity of our faith, whenas

we thus make an enemy (deeming him a friend) of His our intermediary,

giveth ear unto us, even as if we had recourse unto one truly holy, as

intercessor for His favour. Wherefore, to the end that by His grace we

may be preserved safe and sound in this present adversity and in this

so joyous company, let us, magnifying His name, in which we have begun

our diversion, and holding Him in reverence, commend ourselves to Him

in our necessities, well assured of being heard." And with this he was


[Footnote 40: It will be noted that this is Boccaccio's third variant

of his hero's name (the others being Ciapperello and Cepparello) and

the edition of 1527 furnishes us with a fourth and a fifth form _i.e._

Ciepparello and Ciepperello.]


[Day the First]



Pamfilo's story was in part laughed at and altogether commended by the

ladies, and it being come to its end, after being diligently

hearkened, the queen bade Neifile, who sat next him, ensue the

ordinance of the commenced diversion by telling one[41] of her

fashion. Neifile, who was distinguished no less by courteous manners

than by beauty, answered blithely that she would well and began on

this wise: "Pamfilo hath shown us in his story that God's benignness

regardeth not our errors, when they proceed from that which is beyond

our ken; and I, in mine, purpose to show you how this same

benignness,--patiently suffering the defaults of those who, being

especially bounden both with words and deeds to bear true witness

thereof[42] yet practise the contrary,--exhibiteth unto us an

infallible proof of itself, to the intent that we may, with the more

constancy of mind, ensue that which we believe.
[Footnote 41: _i.e._ a story.]
[Footnote 42: _i.e._ of God's benignness.]

As I have heard tell, gracious ladies, there was once in Paris a great

merchant and a very loyal and upright man, whose name was Jehannot de

Chevigné and who was of great traffic in silks and stuffs. He had

particular friendship for a very rich Jew called Abraham, who was also

a merchant and a very honest and trusty man, and seeing the latter's

worth and loyalty, it began to irk him sore that the soul of so worthy

and discreet and good a man should go to perdition for default of

faith; wherefore he fell to beseeching him on friendly wise leave the

errors of the Jewish faith and turn to the Christian verity, which he

might see still wax and prosper, as being holy and good, whereas his

own faith, on the contrary, was manifestly on the wane and dwindling

to nought. The Jew made answer that he held no faith holy or good save

only the Jewish, that in this latter he was born and therein meant to

live and die, nor should aught ever make him remove therefrom.

Jehannot for all that desisted not from him, but some days after

returned to the attack with similar words, showing him, on rude enough

wise (for that merchants for the most part can no better), for what

reasons our religion is better than the Jewish; and albeit the Jew was

a past master in their law, nevertheless, whether it was the great

friendship he bore Jehannot that moved him or peradventure words

wrought it that the Holy Ghost put into the good simple man's mouth,

the latter's arguments began greatly to please him; but yet,

persisting in his own belief, he would not suffer himself to be

converted. Like as he abode obstinate, even so Jehannot never gave

over importuning him, till at last the Jew, overcome by such continual

insistence, said, 'Look you, Jehannot, thou wouldst have me become a

Christian and I am disposed to do it; insomuch, indeed, that I mean,

in the first place, to go to Rome and there see him who, thou sayest,

is God's Vicar upon earth and consider his manners and fashions and

likewise those of his chief brethren.[43] If these appear to me such

that I may, by them, as well as by your words, apprehend that your

faith is better than mine, even as thou hast studied to show me, I

will do as I have said; and if it be not so, I will remain a Jew as I

[Footnote 43: Lit. cardinal brethren (_fratelli cardinali_).]

When Jehannot heard this, he was beyond measure chagrined and said in

himself, 'I have lost my pains, which meseemed I had right well

bestowed, thinking to have converted this man; for that, an he go to

the court of Rome and see the lewd and wicked life of the clergy, not

only will he never become a Christian, but, were he already a

Christian, he would infallibly turn Jew again.' Then, turning to

Abraham, he said to him, 'Alack, my friend, why wilt thou undertake

this travail and so great a charge as it will be to thee to go from

here to Rome? More by token that, both by sea and by land, the road is

full of perils for a rich man such as thou art. Thinkest thou not to

find here who shall give thee baptism? Or, if peradventure thou have

any doubts concerning the faith which I have propounded to thee, where

are there greater doctors and men more learned in the matter than are

here or better able to resolve thee of that which thou wilt know or

ask? Wherefore, to my thinking, this thy going is superfluous. Bethink

thee that the prelates there are even such as those thou mayst have

seen here, and indeed so much the better as they are nearer unto the

Chief Pastor. Wherefore, an thou wilt be counselled by me, thou wilt

reserve this travail unto another time against some jubilee or other,

whereunto it may be I will bear thee company.' To this the Jew made

answer, 'I doubt not, Jehannot, but it is as thou tellest me; but, to

sum up many words in one, I am altogether determined, an thou wouldst

have me do that whereof thou hast so instantly besought me, to go

thither; else will I never do aught thereof.' Jehannot, seeing his

determination, said, 'Go and good luck go with thee!' And inwardly

assured that he would never become a Christian, when once he should

have seen the court of Rome, but availing[44] nothing in the matter,

he desisted.

[Footnote 44: Lit. losing (_perdendo_), but this is probably some

copyist's mistake for _podendo_, the old form of _potendo_, availing.]

The Jew mounted to horse and as quickliest he might betook himself to

the court of Rome, he was honourably entertained of his brethren, and

there abiding, without telling any the reason of his coming, he began

diligently to enquire into the manners and fashions of the Pope and

Cardinals and other prelates and of all the members of his court, and

what with that which he himself noted, being a mighty quick-witted

man, and that which he gathered from others, he found all, from the

highest to the lowest, most shamefully given to the sin of lust, and

that not only in the way of nature, but after the Sodomitical fashion,

without any restraint of remorse or shamefastness, insomuch that the

interest of courtezans and catamites was of no small avail there in

obtaining any considerable thing.

Moreover, he manifestly perceived them to be universally gluttons,

wine-bibbers, drunkards and slaves to their bellies, brute-beast

fashion, more than to aught else after lust. And looking farther, he

saw them all covetous and greedy after money, insomuch that human,

nay, Christian blood, no less than things sacred, whatsoever they

might be, whether pertaining to the sacrifices of the altar or to the

benefices of the church, they sold and bought indifferently for a

price, making a greater traffic and having more brokers thereof than

folk at Paris of silks and stuffs or what not else. Manifest simony

they had christened 'procuration' and gluttony 'sustentation,' as if

God apprehended not,--let be the meaning of words but,--the intention

of depraved minds and would suffer Himself, after the fashion of men,

to be duped by the names of things. All this, together with much else

which must be left unsaid, was supremely displeasing to the Jew, who

was a sober and modest man, and himseeming he had seen enough, he

determined to return to Paris and did so.

As soon as Jehannot knew of his return, he betook himself to him,

hoping nothing less than that he should become a Christian, and they

greeted each other with the utmost joy. Then, after Abraham had rested

some days, Jehannot asked him how himseemed of the Holy Father and of

the cardinals and others of his court. Whereto the Jew promptly

answered, 'Meseemeth, God give them ill one and all! And I say this

for that, if I was able to observe aright, no piety, no devoutness, no

good work or example of life or otherwhat did I see there in any who

was a churchman; nay, but lust, covetise, gluttony and the like and

worse (if worse can be) meseemed to be there in such favour with all

that I hold it for a forgingplace of things diabolical rather than

divine. And as far as I can judge, meseemeth your chief pastor and

consequently all the others endeavour with all diligence and all their

wit and every art to bring to nought and banish from the world the

Christian religion, whereas they should be its foundation and support.

And for that I see that this whereafter they strive cometh not to

pass, but that your religion continually increaseth and waxeth still

brighter and more glorious, meseemeth I manifestly discern that the

Holy Spirit is verily the foundation and support thereof, as of that

which is true and holy over any other. Wherefore, whereas, aforetime I

abode obdurate and insensible to thine exhortations and would not be

persuaded to embrace thy faith, I now tell thee frankly that for

nothing in the world would I forbear to become a Christian. Let us,

then, to church and there have me baptized, according to the rite and

ordinance of your holy faith.'

Jehannot, who looked for a directly contrary conclusion to this, was

the joyfullest man that might be, when he heard him speak thus, and

repairing with him to our Lady's Church of Paris, required the clergy

there to give Abraham baptism. They, hearing that the Jew himself

demanded it, straightway proceeded to baptize him, whilst Jehannot

raised him from the sacred font[45] and named him Giovanni. After

this, he had him thoroughly lessoned by men of great worth and

learning in the tenets of our holy faith, which he speedily

apprehended and thenceforward was a good man and a worthy and one of a

devout life."

[Footnote 45: _i.e._ stood sponsor for him.]


[Day the First]


Neifile having made an end of her story, which was commended of all,

Filomena, by the queen's good pleasure, proceeded to speak thus: "The

story told by Neifile bringeth to my mind a parlous case the once

betided a Jew; and for that, it having already been excellent well

spoken both of God and of the verity of our faith, it should not

henceforth be forbidden us to descend to the doings of mankind and the

events that have befallen them, I will now proceed to relate to you

the case aforesaid, which having heard, you will peradventure become

more wary in answering the questions that may be put to you. You must

know, lovesome[46] companions[47] mine, that, like as folly ofttimes

draweth folk forth of happy estate and casteth them into the utmost

misery, even so doth good sense extricate the wise man from the

greatest perils and place him in assurance and tranquillity. How true

it is that folly bringeth many an one from fair estate unto misery is

seen by multitude of examples, with the recounting whereof we have no

present concern, considering that a thousand instances thereof do

every day manifestly appear to us; but that good sense is a cause of

solacement I will, as I promised, briefly show you by a little story.

[Footnote 46: Lit. amorous (_amorose_), but Boccaccio frequently uses

_amoroso_, _vago_, and other adjectives, which are now understood in

an active or transitive sense only, in their ancient passive or

intransitive sense of lovesome, desirable, etc.]

[Footnote 47: _Compagne_, _i.e._ she-companions. Filomena is

addressing the female part of the company.]

Saladin,--whose valour was such that not only from a man of little

account it made him Soldan of Babylon, but gained him many victories

over kings Saracen and Christian,--having in divers wars and in the

exercise of his extraordinary munificences expended his whole treasure

and having an urgent occasion for a good sum of money nor seeing

whence he might avail to have it as promptly as it behoved him, called

to mind a rich Jew, by name Melchizedek, who lent at usance in

Alexandria, and bethought himself that this latter had the wherewithal

to oblige him, and he would; but he was so miserly that he would never

have done it of his freewill and Saladin was loath to use force with

him; wherefore, need constraining him, he set his every wit awork to

find a means how the Jew might be brought to serve him in this and

presently concluded to do him a violence coloured by some show of


Accordingly he sent for Melchizedek and receiving him familiarly,

seated him by himself, then said to him, 'Honest man, I have

understood from divers persons that thou art a very learned man and

deeply versed in matters of divinity; wherefore I would fain know of

thee whether of the three Laws thou reputest the true, the Jewish, the

Saracen or the Christian.' The Jew, who was in truth a man of learning

and understanding, perceived but too well that Saladin looked to

entrap him in words, so he might fasten a quarrel on him, and

bethought himself that he could not praise any of the three more than

the others without giving him the occasion he sought. Accordingly,

sharpening his wits, as became one who felt himself in need of an

answer by which he might not be taken at a vantage, there speedily

occurred to him that which it behoved him reply and he said, 'My lord,

the question that you propound to me is a nice one and to acquaint you

with that which I think of the matter, it behoveth me tell you a

little story, which you shall hear.
An I mistake not, I mind me to have many a time heard tell that there

was once a great man and a rich, who among other very precious jewels

in his treasury, had a very goodly and costly ring, whereunto being

minded, for its worth and beauty, to do honour and wishing to leave it

in perpetuity to his descendants, he declared that whichsoever of his

sons should, at his death, be found in possession thereof, by his

bequest unto him, should be recognized as his heir and be held of all

the others in honour and reverence as chief and head. He to whom the

ring was left by him held a like course with his own descendants and

did even as his father had done. In brief the ring passed from hand to

hand, through many generations, and came at last into the possession

of a man who had three goodly and virtuous sons, all very obedient to

their father wherefore he loved them all three alike. The young men,

knowing the usance of the ring, each for himself, desiring to be the

most honoured among his folk, as best he might, besought his father,

who was now an old man, to leave him the ring, whenas he came to die.

The worthy man, who loved them all alike and knew not himself how to

choose to which he had liefer leave the ring, bethought himself,

having promised it to each, to seek to satisfy all three and privily

let make by a good craftsman other two rings, which were so like unto

the first that he himself scarce knew which was the true. When he came

to die, he secretly gave each one of his sons his ring, wherefore each

of them, seeking after their father's death, to occupy the inheritance

and the honour and denying it to the others, produced his ring, in

witness of his right, and the three rings being found so like unto one

another that the true might not be known, the question which was the

father's very heir abode pending and yet pendeth. And so say I to you,

my lord, of the three Laws to the three peoples given of God the

Father, whereof you question me; each people deemeth itself to have

his inheritance, His true Law and His commandments; but of which in

very deed hath them, even as of the rings, the question yet pendeth.'

Saladin perceived that the Jew had excellently well contrived to

escape the snare which he had spread before his feet; wherefore he

concluded to discover to him his need and see if he were willing to

serve him; and so accordingly he did, confessing to him that which he

had it in mind to do, had he not answered him on such discreet wise.

The Jew freely furnished him with all that he required, and the Soldan

after satisfied him in full; moreover, he gave him very great gifts

and still had him to friend and maintained him about his own person in

high and honourable estate."


[Day the First]




Filomena, having despatched her story, was now silent, whereupon

Dioneo, who sat next her, knowing already, by the ordinance begun,

that it fell to his turn to tell, proceeded, without awaiting farther

commandment from the queen, to speak on this wise: "Lovesome ladies,

if I have rightly apprehended the intention of you all, we are here to

divert ourselves with story-telling; wherefore, so but it be not done

contrary to this our purpose, I hold it lawful unto each (even as our

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