THE TALES AND NOVELS - V12
THE TALES AND NOVELS - V12
JEAN DE LA FONTAINE
THE TALES AND NOVELS
J. DE LA FONTAINE
The Monks of Catalonia
THE MONKS OF CATALONIA
TO you my friends allow me to detail
The feats of monks in Catalonia's vale
Where oft the holy fathers pow'rs displayed
And showed such charity to wife and maid
That o'er their minds sweet fascination reigned
And made them think they Paradise had gained.
SUCH characters oft preciously advise
And youthful easy female minds surprise
The beauteous FAIR encircle with their net
And of the feeling heart possession get:
Work in the holy vineyard you may guess
And as our tale will show with full success.
IN times of old when learning 'mong the FAIR
Enough to read the testament was rare
(Times howsoe'er thought difficult to quote)
A swarm of monks of gormandizing note
Arrived and fixed themselves within a town
For young and beauteous belles of great renown
While of gallants there seemed but very few
Though num'rous aged husbands you might view.
A NOBLE chapel soon the fathers raised
To which the females ran and highly praised
Surveyed it o'er and confidently thought
'Twas there of course salvation should be sought.
And when their faith had thoroughly been proved
To gain their point the monks the veil removed.--
Good father Andrew scorned to use finesse
And in discourse the sex would thus address.
IF any thing prevent your sov'reign bliss
And Paradise incautiously you miss
Most certainly the evil will arise
From keeping for your husbands large supplies
Of what a surplus you have clearly got
And more than requisite to them allot
Without bestowing on your trusty friends
The saving that to no one blessings lends.
PERHAPS you'll tell me marriage boons we shun;
'Tis true and Heav'n be praised enough is done
Without those duties to require our share
You know from direful sin we guard the FAIR.
Ingratitude 's declared the height of crimes
And God pronounced it such in early times;
For this eternally was Satan curst;
Howe'er you err be careful of the worst.
Return to Heav'n your thanks for bounteous care
And then to us a tithe of surplus spare
Which costs you nothing worth a moment's thought;
And marks the zeal with which our faith is taught
A claim legitimate our order opes
Bestowed for holy offices by popes
No charitable gift but lawful right:
Priests well supported are a glorious sight.
Four times a year exactly to a day
Each wife this tithe should personally pay
Our holy saint requires that you submit:
'Tis founded on decrees of holy writ.
All Nature carefully the law reveres
That gratitude and fealty endears.
NOW marriage works we rank as an estate
And tithe is due for that at any rate.
We'll take it patiently whate'er the toil:
Nor be o'er nice about the justful spoil.
Our order have not you must surely know
By many comforts what we wish below.
'TIS right however that I now suggest
Whatever passes must not be expressed;
But naught to husbands parents friends reveal;
From ev'ry one the mysterious conceal.
Three words th' apostle taught: be these your care;
FAITH CHARITY and PRUDENCE learn to share.
THE holy father by his fine discourse
Delivered with the most impressive force
Gave wonderous satisfaction and surprise
And passed with all for Solomon the wise;
Few slept while Andrew preached and ev'ry wife
His precepts guarded as she would her life;
And these not solely treasured in the mind
But showed to practise them the heart inclined
Each hastened tithe to bring without delay
And quarrelled who should be the first to pay;
Loud murmurs rang and many city dames
Were forced to keep till morn the friar's claims
And HOLY CHURCH not knowing what to do
Such numbers seemed to be in paying cue
At length was forced without restraint to say
The Lord commands that till a future day
You give us time to breathe:--so large the lot
To serve for present we enough have got;
Too much the whole at once but by degrees
Your tithe we'll take and all contrive to please.
With us arrange the hour you would be here
And some to-day:--to-morrow more we'll cheer;
The whole in order and you'll clearly see
That SOFTLY with FAIRLY best agree.
THE sex inclined to follow this advice;
About receipts however they were not nice;
The entertainment greatly was admired
And pure devotion all their bosoms fired
A glass of cordial some apart received;
Good cheer was given may be well believed;
Ten youthful dames brisk friar Fripart took
Gay airy and engaging ev'ry look
Who paid with pleasure all the monk could wish;
Some had fifteen:--some twelve to taste their dish;
Good friar Rock had twenty for his share
And gave such satisfaction to the FAIR
That some to show they never grudged the price
And proved their punctuality--paid twice.
So much indeed that satiated with ways
That six long months engaged their nights and days:
They gladly credit would have given now
But found the ladies would not this allow
Believing it most positively wrong
To keep whate'er might to the church belong.
No tithe arrears were any where around
So zealous were the dames in duty found
They often in advance paid holy dues
How pure the monks!--how just the ladies views!
The friars used despatch alone with those
That for their fascinating charms they chose
And sent the sempiternals to bestow
The tribute they had brought on those below
For in the refuse tithes that were their lot
The laicks oft pleasant pickings got.
In short 'twas difficult to say
What charity was shown from day to day.
IT happened that one night a married dame
Desirous to convey the monks their claim
And walking with her spouse just by the spot
Where dwelled the arch contrivers of the plot
Good Heavens! said she I well remember now
I've business with a friar here I vow;
'Twill presently be done if you'll but wait;
Religious duties we must ne'er abate.
What duties? cried the husband with surprise;
You're surely mad:--'tis midnight I surmise;
Confess yourself to-morrow if required;
The holy fathers are to bed retired.
That makes no difference the lady cried.--
I think it does the husband straight replied
And thither I'll not let you go to-night:--
What heinous sins so terribly affright
That in such haste the mind you wish to ease?
To-morrow morn repair whene'er you please:
YOU do me wrong rejoined the charming fair;
I neither want confession nor a prayer
But anxiously desire what is due to pay;
For if incautiously I should delay
Long time 'would be ere I the monk should see
With other matters he'll so busy be.
But what can you the holy fathers owe?
To which the lady said:--what don't you know?
A tithe my dear the friars always claim.--
What tithe? cried he; it surely has a name.
Not know! astonishingly replied the wife.--
To which the husband answered:--On my life
That women friars pay is very strange;
Will you particulars with me arrange?
How cunningly said she you seem to act;
Why clearly you're acquainted with the fact?
'Tis Hymeneal works:--What works? cried he--
Lord! said the dame assuredly you see
Why I had paid an hour ago or more
And you've prevented me when at the door;
I'm sure of those who owe I'm not the worst
For I in paying always was the first.
THE husband quite astonished now appeared;
At once a hundred diff'rent ills he feared;
But questioning his wife howe'er he found
That many other dames who lived around
Like her; in paying tithes the monks obeyed
Which consolation to his breast conveyed.
Poor innocent! she nothing wished to hide;
Said she not one but tithe they make provide;
Good friar Aubrey takes your sister's dues;
To father Fabry Mrs. B's accrues;
The mayoress friar William likes to greet
A monk more handsome scarcely you will meet;
And I to friar Gerard always go;
I wished this night to pay him all I owe.
ALAS! when tongues unbridled drop disguise
What direful ills what discords oft arise!
The cunning husband having thus obtained
Particulars of what the fathers gained
At first designed in secret to disclose
Those scenes of fraud and matrimonial woes:
The mayor and citizens should know he thought;
What dues were paid: what tithes the friars sought;
But since 'twas rather difficult to place
Full credence at the first in such a case
He judged it best to make the fellow speak
To whom his wife had shown herself so weak.
FOR father Gerard in the morn he sent
Who unsuspecting to the husband went
When in the presence of the injured wife
He drew his sword and swore he'd take his life
Unless the mystery he would disclose
Which he reluctantly through terror chose.
Then having bound the friar hand and foot
And in another room his lady put
He sallied forth his hapless lot to tell
And to the mayor exposed the wily spell;
The corporation next; then up and down
The secret he divulged throughout the town.
A CRY for vengeance presently was heard;
The whole at once to slaughter some preferred
While others would the place with fire surround
And burn the house with those within it found.
Some wished to drown them bound within their dress;
With various other projects you may guess;
But all agreed that death should be their lot
And those for burning had most voices got.
WITHOUT delay they to the convent flew;
But when the holy mansion came in view
Respect the place of execution changed;
A citizen his barn for this arranged;
The crafty crew together were confined
And in the blaze their wretched lives resigned
While round the husbands danced at sound of drum
And burnt whatever to their hands had come;
Naught 'scaped their fury monks of all degrees
Robes mantles capuchins and mock decrees:
All perished properly within the flames;
But nothing more I find about the dames;
And friar Gerard in another place
Had met apart his merited disgrace.
NEAR Rome of yore close to the Florence road
Was seen a humble innkeeper's abode;
Small sums were charged; few guests the night would stay;
And these could seldom much afford to pay.
A pleasing active partner had the host
Her age not much 'bove thirty at the most;
Two children she her loving husband bore;
The boy was one year old: the daughter more;
Just fifteen summers o'er her form had smiled;
In person charming and in temper mild.
IT happened that Pinucio young and gay
A youth of family oft passed the way
Admired the girl and thought she might be gained
Attentions showed and like return obtained;
The mistress was not deaf nor lover mute;
Pinucio seemed the lady's taste to suit
Of pleasing person and engaging air;
And 'mong the equals of our youthful fair
As yet not one a pref'rence had received;
Nor had she e'er in golden dreams believed;
But spite of tender years her mind was high
And village lads she would not let come nigh.
COLUTTA (such her name) though much admired;
And many in the place her hand desired
Rejected some and others would not take
And this most clearly for Pinucio's sake.
Long conversations she could rarely get
And various obstacles the lovers met;
No interviews where they might be at ease
But ev'ry thing conspired to fret and teaze.
O parents husbands! be advised by me;
Constraint with wives or children won't agree;
'Tis then the god of love exerts his art
To find admittance to the throbbing heart.
PINUCIO and a friend one stormy night
The landlord's reached and would in haste alight;
They asked for beds but were too late they found:
You know sir cried the host we don't abound;
And now the very garrets we have let:
You'd better elsewhere try your wish to get
And spite of weather further on pursue
At best our lodging is unfit for you.
HAVE you no truckle bed? the lover cried;
No corner left?--we fain would here abide:
Why truly said the host we always keep
Two beds within the chamber where we sleep;
My wife and I of course take one of these;
Together lie in t'other if you please.
The spark replied this we will gladly do;
Come supper get; that o'er the friends withdrew:
Pinucio by Coletta's sage advice
In looking o'er the room was very nice;
With eagle-eyes particulars he traced
Then 'tween the clothes himself and friend he placed.
A camp-bed for the girl was on the floor;
The landlord's 'gainst the wall and next the door;
Another opposite the last was set
And this to guests at certain times was let;
And 'tween the two but near the parents' best
A cradle for the child to rest its head
From which a pleasant accident arrived
That our gallant's young friend of rest deprived.
WHEN midnight came and this gay spark supposed
The host and hostess' eyes in sleep were closed
Convinced the time appointed was at hand
To put in execution what was planned
He to the camp-bed silently repaired
And found the belle by Morpheus not insnared;
Coletta taught a play that mortals find
Fatigues the body more than plagues the mind:
A truce succeeded but 'twas quickly o'er:
Those rest not long who pilfer Cupid's store.
AGAIN when to the room the hostess came
And found the cradle rested not the same
Good heav'ns! cried she it joins my husband's head:
And but for that I truly had been led
To lay myself unthinkingly beside
The strangers whom with lodging we provide;
But God be praised this cradle shows the place
Where my good husband's pillow I must trace.
This said she with the friend was quickly laid
Without suspecting what mistake she'd made.
BETWEEN the lovers all was blithe and gay
When suddenly the friend though far from day
Was forced to rise ('twas plain a pressing case)
And move the infant's cradle from its place
To ope the door and lest he noise might make
Or any way by chance the child should wake
He set it carefully beside his bed
And (softly treading) to the garden sped.
ON his return he passed the cradle by;
To place it as before he would not try
But went to sleep; when presently a sound
From something that had tumbled rang around
Awoke his wife who ran below
That what had happened she might clearly know.
No fool in such adventures was our Wight:
The opportunity he would not slight
But played the husband well: no no I'm wrong;
He played it ill:--too oft too much too long;
For whosoe'er would wish to do it well
Should softly go:--the gentle most excel.
IN truth the wife was quite surprised to find
Her spouse so much to frolicking inclined;
Said she what ails the man he's grown so gay?
A lad of twenty's not more fond of play.
Well! let's enjoy the moments while we can;
God's will be done since life is but a span!
THE words were scarcely said when our gallant
Renewed his fun and nothing seemed to want;
Indeed the hostess still her charms possessed
And on occasion well might be caressed.
MEANWHILE Coletta dreading a surprise
Prevailed upon her paramour to rise;
'Twas nearly break of day when he withdrew
But groping to his place the way anew
Pinucio by the cradle too was led
To miss his friend's and take the landlord's bed.
No sooner in than with an under voice
(Intriguers oft too eagerly rejoice)
Said he my friend I wish I could relate
The pleasure I've received; my bliss is great;
To you I'm sorry Fortune proves so cold;
Like happiness I'd fain in you behold;
Coletta is a morsel for a king;
Inestimable girl!--to me she'll cling.
I've many seen but such a charming fair
There's not another like her any where.
WITH softest skin delightful form and mien;
Her ev'ry act resembles BEAUTY's queen;
In short before we'd ended with our fun
Six posts (without a fiction) we had run.
The host was struck with what the spark averred
And muttered something indistinctly heard.
THE hostess whispered HIM she thought her spouse:--
Again my dear such sparks let's never house;
Pray don't you hear how they together chat?--
Just then the husband raised himself and sat;
Is this your plan? said he with mighty rage;
Was it for THIS you would my house engage?
You understand me but I'll seek redress;
Think you so very cheap to have success?
What would you ruin families at will
And with our daughters take at ease your fill?
Away I say! my house this moment quit;
And as for You abominable chit
I'll have your life: this hour you breathe your last;
Such creatures only can with beasts be classed.
PINUCIO heard the lecture with dismay
At once was mute and grew as cold as clay;
A moment's silence through the room prevailed;
Coletta trembled and her lot bewailed.
The hostess now on ev'ry side perceived
Her peril great and for the error grieved.
The friend howe'er the cradle called to mind
Which caused the many ills we've seen combined
And instantly he cried:--Pinucio! strange
You thus allow yourself about to range;
Did I not tell you when the wine you took
'Twould make many sad misfortunes hook?
Whene'er you freely drink 'tis known fall well
Your sleep's disturbed you walk and nonsense tell.
Come come to bed: the morning soon will peep;