The Decameron (Day 1 to Day 5)
Wherefore, to the end, that by being over-scrupulous and carelesse, we fall not into such danger, whence when we would (perhaps) we cannot recover our selves by any meanes: I thinke it meete (if your judgement therein shall jumpe with mine) that all of us as we are (at least, if we will doe as divers before us have done, and yet daily endeavour to doe) shunning death by the honest example of other, make our retreate to our Countrey houses, wherewith all of us are sufficiently furnished, and thereto delight our selves as best we may, yet without transgressing (in any act) the limits of reason. There shall we heare the pretty birds sweetly singing, see the hilles and plaines verdantly flourishing; the Corne waving in the field like the billowes of the Sea; infinite store of goodly trees, and the Heavens more fairely open to us, then here we can behold them: And although they are justly displeased, yet will they not there denie us better beauties to gaze on, then the walles in our City (emptied of Inhabitants) can affoord us.
Moreover, the Ayre is much fresh and cleere, and generally, there is farre greater abundance of all things whatsoever, needefull at this time for preservation of our health, and lesse offence or molestation then wee find here.
And although Countrey people die, as well as heere our Citizens doe, the griefe notwithstanding is so much the lesse, as the houses and dwellers there are rare, in comparison of them in our City. And beside, if we well observe it, here wee forsake no particular person, but rather wee may tearme our selves forsaken; in regard that our Husbands, Kinred, and Friends, either dying, or flying from the dead, have left us alone in this great affliction, even as if we were no way belonging unto them. And therefore, by following this counsell, wee cannot fall into any reprehension; whereas if we neglect and refuse it, danger, distresse, and death, (perhaps) may ensue thereon.
Wherefore, if you thinke good, I would allow it for well done, to take our waiting women, with all such things as are needfull for us, and (as this day) betake our selves to one place, to morrow to another, taking there such pleasure and recreation, as so sweete a season liberally bestoweth on us. In which manner we may remaine, till we see (if death otherwise prevent us not) what ende the gracious Heavens have reserved for us. I would have you also to consider, that it is no lesse seemely for us to part hence honestly, then a great number of other Women to remaine here immodestly.
The other Ladies and Gentlewomen, having heard Madam Pampinea, not onely commended her counsell, but desiring also to put it in execution; had already particularly consulted with themselves, by what means they might instantly depart from thence. Neverthelesse, Madam Philomena, who was very wise, spake thus.
Albeit faire Ladies, the case propounded by Madam Pampinea hath beene very wel delivered; yet (for all that) it is against reason for us to rush on, as we are over-ready to doe. Remember that we are all women, and no one among us is so childish, but may consider, that when wee shall be so assembled together, without providence or conduct of some man, we can hardly governe our selves. We are fraile, offensive, suspicious, weake spirited, and fearefull: in regard of which imperfections, I greatly doubt (if we have no better direction then our owne) this society will sooner dissolve it selfe, and (perchance) with lesse honour to us, then if we never had begunne it. And therefore it shall be expedient for us, to provide before wee proceede any further. Madam Elissa hereon thus replied.
Most true it is, that men are the chiefe or head of women, and without their order, sildome times doe any matters of ours sort to commendable ende. But what meanes shal we make for men? we all know well enough, that the most part of our friends are dead, and such as are living, some be dispearsed here, others there, into divers places and companies, where we have no knowledge of their being. And to accept of strangers, would seeme very inconvenient; wherefore as we have such care of our health, so should wee be as respective (withall) in ordering our intention: that wheresoever wee aime at our pleasure and contentment, reproofe and scandall may by no meanes pursue us.
While this discourse thus held among the Ladies, three young Gentlemen came forth of the Church (yet not so young, but the youngest had attained to five and twenty yeeres) in whom, neither malice of the time, loss of friends or kinred, nor any fearefull conceit in themselves, had the power to quench affection; but (perhaps) might a little coole it, in regard of the queazy season. One of them called himselfe Pamphilus, the second Philostratus, and the last Dioneus. Each of them was very affable and well conditioned, and walked abroade (for their greater comfort in such a time of tribulation) to trie if they could meete with their faire friends, who (happily) might all three be among these seaven, and the rest kinne unto them in one degree or other. No sooner were these Ladies espyed by them, but they met with them also in the same advantage; whereupon Madam Pampinea (amiably smiling) saide.
See how graciously Fortune is favourable to our beginning, by presenting our eyes with three so wise and worthy young Gentlemen, who will gladly be our guides and servants, if we doe not disdaine them the office. Madam Neiphila beganne immediatly to blush, because one of them had a love in the company, and saide; Good Madam Pampinea take heed what you say, because (of mine owne knowledge) nothing can be spoken but good of them all; and I thinke them all to be absolutely sufficient, for a farre greater employment then is here intended: as being well worthy to keepe company, not onely with us, but them of more faire and precious esteeme then we are. But because it appeareth plainely enough, that they beare affection to some here among us: I feare, if wee should make the motion, that some dishonour or reproofe may ensue thereby, and yet without blame either in us or them. That is nothing at all, answered Madam Philomena, let mee live honestly, and my conscience not checke me with any crime; speake then who can to the contrary, God and truth shal enter armes for me. I wish that they were as willing to come, as all wee are to bid them welcome: for truly (as Madam Pampinea saide) wee may very well hope that Fortune will bee furtherous to our purposed journey.
The other Ladies hearing them speake in such manner, not onely were silent to themselves, but all with one accord and consent saide, that it were well done to call them, and to acquaint them with their intention, entreating their company in so pleasant a voyage. Whereupon, without any more words, Madam Pampinea mounting on her feete (because one of the three was her Kinsman) went towards them, as they stood respectively observing them; and (with a pleasing countenance) giving them a gracious salutation, declared to them their deliberation, desiring (in behalfe of all the rest) that with a brotherly and modest minde, they would vouchsafe to beare them company.
The Gentlemen imagined at the first apprehension, that this was spoken in mockage of them, but when they better perceived, that her words tended to solemne earnest; they made answer, that they were all heartily ready to doe them any service. And without any further delaying, before they parted thence, tooke order for their aptest furnishing with all convenient necessaries, and sent word to the place of their first appointment. On the morrow, being Wednesday, about breake of day, the Ladies, with certaine of their attending Gentlewomen, and the three Gentlemen, having three servants to waite on them; left the City to beginne their journey, and having travelled about a leagues distance, arrived at the place of their first purpose of stay; which was seated on a little hill, distant (on all sides) from any high way, plentifully stored with faire spreading Trees, affoording no meane delight to the eye. On the top of all stood a stately Pallace, having a large and spacious Court in the middest, round engirt with galleries, hals and chambers, every one separate alone by themselves, and beautified with pictures of admirable cunning. Nor was there any want of Gardens, Meadowes, and other pleasant walkes, with welles and springs of faire running waters, all encompassed with branching vines, fitter for curious and quaffing bibbers, then women sober and singularly modest.
This Pallace the company found fully fitted and prepared, the beddes in the Chambers made and daintily ordered, thickly strewed with variety of flowers, which could not but give them the greater contentment. Dioneus, who (above the other) was a pleasant young gallant, and full of infinite witty conceits, saide; Your wit (faire Ladies) hath better guided us hither, then our providence. I know not how you have determined to dispose of your cares; as for mine owne, I left them at the City gate, when I came thence with you: and therefore let your resolution be, to spend the time here in smiles and singing (I meane, as may fittest agree with your dignity) or else give me leave to goe seeke my sorrowes againe, and so to remaine discontented in our desolate City. Madam Pampinea having in like manner shaken off her sorrowes, delivering a modest and bashfull smile, replied in this manner.
Dioneus, well have you spoken, it is fit to live merrily, and no other occasion made us forsake the sicke and sad Citie. But, because such things as are without meane or measure, are subject to no long continuance. I, who began the motion, whereby this society is thus assembled, and ayme at the long lasting thereof: doe hold it very convenient, that wee should all agree, to have one chiefe commaunder among us, in whom the care and providence should consist, for direction of our merriment, performing honour and obedience to the party, as to our Patrone and sole Governour. And because every one may feele the burthen of sollicitude, as also the pleasure of commaunding, and consequently have a sensible taste of both, whereby no envie may arise on any side: I could wish, that each one of us (for a day onely) should feele both the burthen and honour, and the person so to be advanced, shall receive it from the election of us all. As for such as are to succeede, after him or her that hath had the dayes of dominion: the party thought fit for succession, must be named so soone as night approacheth. And being in this eminencie (according as he or she shall please) hee may order and dispose, how long the time of his rule shall last, as also of the place and manner, where best we may continue our delight.
These words were highly pleasing to them all, and, by generall voyce, Madame Pampinea was chosen Queene for the first day. Whereupon, Madame Philomena ranne presently to a Bay-tree, because she had often heard, what honour belonged to those branches, and how worthy of honour they were, that rightfully were crowned with them, plucking off divers branches, she made of them an apparant and honourable Chaplet, placing it (by generall consent) upon her head, and this, so long as their company continued, manifested to all the rest, the signall of dominion and Royall greatnesse.
After that Madame Pampinea was thus made Queene, she commanded publique silence, and causing the Gentlemens three servants, and the waiting women also (being foure in number) to be brought before her, thus shee began. Because I am to give the first example to you all, whereby (proceeding on from good to better) our company may live in order and pleasure, acceptable to all, and without shame to any: I create Parmeno (servant to Dioneus) Maister of the Houshold, hee taking the care and charge of all our trayne, and for whatsoever appertaineth to our Hall service. I appoint also that Silisco (servant to Pamphilus) shall be our Dispencer and Treasurer, performing that which Parmeno shall commaund him. And that Tindaro serve as Groome of the Chamber, to Philostratus his Maister, and the other two, when his fellowes (impeached by their offices) cannot be present. Misia my Chambermaid, and Licisca (belonging to Philomena) shall serve continually in the Kitchin, and diligently make ready such vyands, as shall be delivered them by Parmeno. Chimera, wayting-woman to Lauretta, and Stratilia (appertaining to Fiammetta) shall have the charge and governement of the Ladies Chambers, and preparing all places where we shall be present. Moreover, we will and commaund every one of them (as they desire to deserve our grace) that wheresoever they goe or come, or whatsoever they heare or see: they especially respect to bring us tydings of them. After shee had summarily delivered them these orders, very much commended of every one; shee arose fairely, saying. Heere wee have Gardens, Orchards, Meadowes, and other places of sufficient pleasure, where every one may sport & recreate themselves: but so soone as the ninth houre striketh, then all to meete here againe, to dine in the coole shade.
This jocund company having received licence from their Queene to disport themselves, the Gentlemen walked with the Ladies into a goodly Garden, making Chaplets and Nosegayes of divers flowers, and singing silently to themselves. When they had spent the time limitted by the Queene, they returned into the house, where they found that Parmeno had effectually executed his office. For, when they entred into the Hall, they saw the Tables covered with delicate white naperie, and the Glasses looking like silver, they were so transparantly cleare, all the roome beside streawed with floures of Juniper. When the Queene and all the rest had washed; according as Parmeno gave order, so every one was seated at the Table: the vyands (delicately drest) were served in, and excellent wines plentifully delivered, none attending but the three servants, and little or no loud table-talke passing among them.
Dinner being ended, and the tables withdrawne (all the Ladies, and the Gentlemen likewise, being skilfull both in singing and dauncing, and playing on instruments artificially) the Queene commaunded, that divers instruments should be brought, and (as she gave charge) Dioneus tooke a Lute, and Fiammetta a Violl de gamba, and began to play an excellent daunce. Whereupon the Queene, with the rest of the Ladies, and the other two young Gentlemen (having sent their attending servants to dinner) paced foorth a daunce very majestically. And when the daunce was ended, they sung sundry excellent Canzonets, out-wearing so the time, untill the Queene commaunded them all to rest, because the houre did necessarily require it. The Gentlemen having their Chambers farre severed from the Ladies, curiously strewed with flowers, and their beds adorned in exquisite manner, as those of the Ladies were not a jote inferiour to them: the silence of the night bestowed sweet rest on them all. In the morning, the Queene and all the rest being risen, accounting overmuch sleepe to be very hurtfull: they walked abroade into a goodly Meadowe, where the grasse grew verdantly, and the beames of the Sunne heated not over-violently, because the shades of faire spreading trees gave a temperate calmenesse, coole and gentle winds fanning their sweet breath pleasingly among them. All of them being there set downe in a round ring, and the Queene in the middest, as being the appointed place of eminencie, she spake in this manner.
You see (faire company) that the Sunne is highly mounted, the heate (else-where) too extreme for us, and therefore here is our fittest refuge, the aire being so coole, delicate, and acceptable, and our folly well worthie reprehension, if we should walke further, and speede worse. Heere are Tables, Cards, and Chesse, as your dispositions may be addicted. But if mine advice might passe for currant, I would admit none of those exercises, because they are too troublesome both to them that play, and such as looke on. I could rather wish, that some quaint discourse might passe among us, a tale or fable related by some one, to urge the attention of all the rest. And so wearing out the warmth of the day, one prety Novell wil draw on another, until the Sun be lower declined, and the heates extremity more diminished, to solace our selves in some other place, as to our minds shal seeme convenient. If therefore what I have sayde be acceptable to you (I purposing to follow in the same course of pleasure) let it appeare by your immediate answer; for, till the Evening, I think we can devise no exercise more commodious for us.
The Ladies & Gentlemen allowed of the motion, to spend the time in telling pleasant tales; whereupon the Queene saide: Seeing you have approoved mine advice, I grant free permission for this first day, that every one shall relate, what to him or her is best pleasing. And turning her selfe to Pamphilus (who was seated on her right hand) gave him favour, with one of his Novels, to begin the recreation: which he not daring to deny, and perceiving generall attention prepared for him, thus he began.
Messire Chappelet du Prat, by making a false confession, beguyled an holy Religious man, and after dyed. And having (during his life time) bene a verie bad man, at his death was reputed to be a Saint, and called S. Chappelet
The first Novell
Wherein is contained, how hard a thing it is, to distinguish goodnesse from hypocrisie; and how (under the shadow of holinesse) the wickednes of one man, may deceive many
It is a matter most convenient (deare Ladies) that a man ought to begin whatsoever he doth, in the great and glorious name of him, who was the Creator of all thinges. Wherefore, seeing that I am the man appointed, to begin this your invention of discoursing Novelties: I intend to begin also with one of his wonderfull workes. To the end, that this beeing heard, our hope may remaine on him, as the thing onely permanent, and his name for ever to be praised by us. Now, as there is nothing more certaine, but that even as temporall things are mortall and transitory, so are they both in and out of themselves, full of sorrow, paine, and anguish, and subjected to infinite dangers: So in the same manner, we live mingled among them, seeming as part of them, and cannot (without some error) continue or defend ourselves, if God by his especiall grace and favour, give us not strength and good understanding. Which power we may not beleeve, that either it descendeth to us, or liveth in us, by any merites of our owne; but of his onely most gracious benignity. Mooved neverthelesse, and entreated by the intercessions of them, who were (as we are) mortals; and having diligently observed his commandements, are now with him in eternall blessednes. To whom (as to advocates and procurators, informed by the experience of our frailty) wee are not to present our prayers in the presence of so great a Judge; but only to himselfe, for the obtaining of all such things as his wisedome knoweth to be most expedient for us. And well may we credit, that his goodnesse is more fully enclined towards us, in his continuall bounty and liberality; then the subtilty of any mortal eye, can reach into the secret of so divine a thought: and sometimes therefore we may be beguiled in opinion, by electing such and such as our intercessors before his high Majesty, who perhaps are farre off from him, or driven into perpetuall exile, as unworthy to appeare in so glorious a presence. For he, from whom nothing can be hidden, more regardeth the sincerity of him that prayeth, then ignorant devotion, committed to the trust of a heedlesse intercessor; and such prayers have alwaies gracious acceptation in his sight. As manifestly will appeare, by the Novell which I intend to relate; manifestly (I say) not as in the judgement of God, but according to the apprehension of men.
There was one named, Musciatto Francesi, who from beeing a most rich and great merchant in France, was become a Knight, and preparing to go into Tuscany, with Monsieur Charles without Land, Brother to the King of France (who was desired and incited to come thither by Pope Boniface) found his affaires greatly intricated here and there (as oftentimes the matters of Merchants fall out to bee) and that very hardly hee should sodainly unintangle them, without referring the charge of them to divers persons. And for all he tooke indifferent good order, onely he remained doubtfull, whom he might sufficiently leave, to recover his debts among many Burgundians. And the rather was his care the more herein, because he knew the Burgundians to be people of badde nature, rioters, brablers, full of calumny, and without any faithfulnesse; so that he could not bethinke himselfe of any man (how wicked soever he was) in whom he might repose trust to meete with their lewdnesse. Having a long while examined his thoughts upon this point, at last hee remembred one master Chappelet du Prat, who ofttimes had resorted to his house in Paris. And because he was a man of little stature, yet handsome enough, the French not knowing what this word Chappelet might mean, esteeming he should be called rather (in their tongue) Chappell; imagined, that in regard of his small stature, they termed him Chappelet, and not Chappell, and so by the name of Chappelet he was every where known, and by few or none acknowledged for Chappel.
This master Chappelet, was of so good and commendable life; that, being a Notarie, he held it in high disdaine, that any of his Contractes (although he made but few) should be found without falshoode. And looke how many soever hee dealt withall, he would be urged and required thereto, offering them his paines and travaile for nothing, but to be requited otherwise then by money; which prooved to bee his much larger recompencing, and returned to him the farre greater benefit. Hee tooke the onely pleasure of the world, to beare false witnesse, if hee were thereto entreated, and (oftentimes) when hee was not requested at all. Likewise, because in those times, great trust and beleefe was given to an oath, he making no care or conscience to be perjured: greatly advantaged himselfe by Law suites, in regard that many matters relyed upon his oath, and delivering the truth according to his knowledge.
He delighted (beyond measure) and addicted his best studies, to cause enmities & scandals between kindred and friends, or any other persons, agreeing well together; and the more mischiefe he could procure in this kind, so much the more pleasure and delight tooke he therein. If he were called to kil any one, or to do any other villanous deede, he never would make deniall, but go to it very willingly; and divers times it was wel knowen, that many were cruelly beaten, ye slaine by his hands. Hee was a most horrible blasphemer of God and his Saints, upon the very least occasion, as being more addicted to choller, then any other man could be. Never would he frequent the Church, but basely contemned it, with the Sacraments and religious rites therein administred, accounting them for vile and unprofitable things: but very voluntarily would visit Tavernes, and other places of dishonest accesse, which were continually pleasing unto him, to satisfie his lust and inordinate lubricitie. Hee would steale both in publike and private, even with such a conscience, as if it were given to him by nature so to do. He was a great glutton and a drunkarde, even till he was not able to take any more: being also a continuall gamester, and carrier of false Dice, to cheate with them the verie best Friendes he had.
But why do I waste time in such extent of words? When it may suffice to say, that never was there a worse man borne; whose wickednesse was for long time supported, by the favour, power, and Authoritie of Monsieur Musciatto, for whose sake many wrongs and injuries were patiently endured, as well by private persons (whom hee would abuse notoriously) as others of the Court, betweene whom he made no difference at all in his vile dealing. This Master Chappelet, being thus remembred by Musciatto (who very well knew his life and behaviour) he perfectly perswaded himselfe, that this was a man apt in all respects, to meete with the treachery of the Burgundians: whereupon, having sent for him, thus he beganne.
Chappelet, thou knowest how I am wholly to retreate my selfe from hence, and having some affaires among the Burgundians, men full of wickednesse and deceite; I can bethinke my selfe of no meeter a man then Chappelet, to recover such debts as are due to me among them. And because it falleth out so well, that thou art not now hindered by any other businesse; if thou wilt undergoe this office for me, I will procure thee favourable Letters from the Court, and give thee a reasonable portion in all thou recoverest. Master Chappelet, seeing himselfe idle, and greedy after worldly goods, considering Mounsieur Musciatto (who had beene alwayes his best buckler) was now to depart from thence, without any dreaming on the matter, and constrained thereto (as it were) by necessity, set downe his resolution, and answered that hee would gladly doe it.
Having made their agreement together, and received from Musciatto his expresse procuration, as also the Kings gracious Letters; after that Musciatto was gone on his journey, Master Chappelet went to Dijon, [To Borgogna saith the Italian.] where he was unknowne (well neere) of any. And there (quite from his naturall disposition) he beganne benignely and graciously, in recovering the debts due; which course he tooke the rather, because they should have a further feeling of him in the ende. Being lodged in the house of two Florentine brethren, that lived on their monies usance; and (for Mounsieur Musciattoes sake) using him with honour and respect: It fortuned that he fell sicke, and the two brethren sent for Physicions to attend him, allowing their servants to be diligent about him, making no spare of any thing, which gave the best likelyhood of restoring his health. But all their paines proved to no purpose, because he (honest man) being now growne aged, and having lived all his life time very disordredly, fell day by day (according to the Physicions judgement) from bad to worse, as no other way appeared but death, whereat the brethren greatly greeved.
Upon a day, neere to the Chamber where the sicke man lay, they entred into this communication. What shall we doe (quoth the one to the other) with this man? We are much hindered by him, for to send him away (sicke as he is) we shall be greatly blamed thereby, and it will be a manifest note of our weake wisedome: the people knowing that first of all we gave him entertainement, and have allowed him honest physical attendance, and he not having any way injuried or offended us, to let him be suddenly expulsed our house (sicke to death as he is) it can be no way for our credit.
On the other side, we are to consider also, that he hath bin so badde a man, as he will not now make any confession thereof, neither receive the blessed Sacrament of the Church, and dying so without confession; there is no Church that wil accept his body, but it must be buried in prophane ground, like to a Dogge. And yet if he would confesse himselfe, his sinnes are so many and monstrous; as the like case also may happen, because there is not any Priest or Religious person, that can or will absolve him. And being not absolved, he must be cast into some ditch or pit, and then the people of the Towne, as well in regard of the account we carry heere, (which to them appeareth so little pleasing, as we are daily pursued with their worst words) as also coveting our spoile and overthrow; upon this accident will cry out and mutiny against us; Beholde these Lombard dogs, which are not to be received into the Church, why should we suffer them to live heere among us? In furious madnesse wil they come upon us, and our house, where (peradventure) not contented with robbing us of our goods, our lives will remaine in their mercy and danger; so that, in what sort soever it happen, this mans dying heere, must needs be banefull to us.
Master Chappelet, who (as we have formerly saide) was lodged neere to the place where they thus conferred, having a subtle attention (as oftentimes we see sicke persons to bee possessed withall) heard all these speeches spoken of him, and causing them to be called unto him, thus hee spake.
I would not have you to be any way doubtfull of me; neither that you shold receive the least damage by me: I have heard what you have said, and am certaine, that it will happen according to your words, if matters should fall out as you conceite; but I am minded to deale otherwise. I have committed so many offences against our Lord God, in the whole current of my life; that now I intend one action at the hour of my death, which I trust will make amends for all. Procure therefore, I pray you, that the most holy and religious man that is to be found (if there bee any one at all) may come unto me, and referre the case then to me, for I will deale in such sort for you and my selfe, that all shall be well, and you no way discontented.
The two Brethren, although they had no great hope in his speeches, went yet to a Monastery of Gray-Friars, and requested; that some one holy and learned man, might come to heare the confession of a Lombard, that lay verie weake and sicke in their house. And one was granted unto them, beeing an aged religious Frier, a great read master in the sacred Scriptures, a very venerable person, who beeing of good and sanctified life, all the Citizens held him in great respect & esteem, and on he went with them to their house. When he was come up into the Chamber where Master Chappelet lay, and being there seated downe by him; he beganne first to comfort him very lovingly, demanding also of him, howe many times he had bin at confession? Whereto master Chappelet (who never had bin shriven in all his life time) thus replied.
Holy Father, I alwayes used (as a common custome) to bee confessed once (at the least) every weeke, albeit sometimes much more often, but true it is, that being faln into this sicknesse, now eight dayes since; I have not bene confest, so violent hath bene the extremity of my weakenesse. My sonne (answered the good old man) thou hast done well, and so keep thee still hereafter in that minde: but I plainly perceive, seeing thou hast so often confessed thy selfe, that I shall take the lesse labour in urging questions to thee.
Master Chappelet replied: Say not so good Father, for albeit I have bene so oftentimes confessed, yet am I willing now to make a generall confession, even of all sinnes comming to my remembrance, from the very day of my birth, until this instant houre of my shrift. And therefore I intreate you (holy Father) to make a particular demand of every thing, even as if I had never bene confessed at al, and to make no respect of my sicknesse: for I had rather be offensive to mine owne flesh, then by favouring or allowing it ease, to hazard the perdition of my soule, which my Redeemer bought with so precious a price.
These words were highly pleasing to the holy Frier, and seemed to him as an argument of a good conscience: Wherefore, after hee had much commended this forwardnesse in him, he began to demand of him if he had never offended with any Woman? Whereunto master Chappelet (breathing foorth a great sigh) answered.
Holy Father, I am halfe ashamed to tell you the truth in this case, as fearing least I should sinne in vaine-glory. Whereto the Confessor replyed: Speake boldly Sonne, and feare not; for in telling the truth, be it in confession or otherwise, a man can never sinne. Then sayde Maister Chappelet, Father, seeing you give me so good an assurance, I wil resolve you faithfully heerein. I am so true a Virgin-man in this matter, even as when I issued forth of my Mothers wombe. O Sonne (quoth the Frier) how happie and blessed of God art thou? Well hast thou lived, and therein hast not meanly merited: having hadde so much libertie to doo the contrary if thou wouldst, wherein very few of us can so answer for our selves.
Afterward, he demanded of him, how much displeasing to God hee had beene in the sinne of Gluttony? When (sighing againe greatly) he answered: Too much, and too often, good Father. For, over and beside the Fasts of our Lent season, which everie yeare ought to bee dulie observed by devout people, I brought my selfe to such a customarie use, that I could fast three dayes in every Weeke, with Bread and Water. But indeede (holy Father) I confesse, that I have drunke water with such a pleasing appetite and delight (especially in praying, or walking on pilgrimages) even as greedy drunkards do, in drinking good Wine. And many times I have desired such Sallades of small hearbes, as Women gather abroad in the open fields, and feeding onely upon them, without coveting after any other kinde of sustenance; hath seemed much more pleasing to me, then I thought to agree with the nature of Fasting, especially, when as it swerveth from devotion, or is not done as it ought to bee.
Sonne, Sonne, replied the Confessour, these sinnes are naturall, and very light, and therefore I would not have thee to charge thy conscience with them, more then is needfull. It happeneth to every man (how holy soever he be) that after he hath fasted over-long, feeding will be welcome to him, and drinking good drinke after his travaile. O Sir (said Maister Chappelet) never tell me this to comfort me, for well you know, and I am not ignorant therein, that such things as are done for the service of God, ought all to be performed purely, and without any blemish of the minde; what otherwise is done, savoureth of sinne. The Friar being well contented with his words, said: It is not amisse that thou understandest it in this manner, and thy conscience thus purely cleared, is no little comfort to me. But tell me now concerning Avarice, hast thou sinned therein? by desiring more then was reasonable, or withholding from others, such things as thou oughtst not to detaine? whereto Maister Chappelet answered. Good Father, I would not have you to imagine, because you see me lodged here in the house of two usurers, that therefore I am of any such disposition. No truly Sir, I came hither to no other end, but onely to chastise and admonish them in friendly manner, to cleanse their mindes from such abhominable profit: And assuredly, I should have prevailed therein, had not this violently sicknesse hindered mine intention. But understand (holy Father) that my parents left me a rich man, and immediatly after my fathers death, the greater part of his goods I gave away for Gods sake, and then, to sustaine mine owne life, and to helpe the poore members of Jesus Christ, I betooke my selfe to a meane estate of Merchandise, desiring none other then honest gaine thereby, and evermore whatsoever benefit came to me; I imparted halfe thereof to the poore, converting mine owne small portion about my necessary affaires, which that other part would scarcely serve to supply: yet alwayes God gave thereto such a mercifull blessing, that my businesse dayly thrived more and more, arising still from good to better.
Well hast thou done therein good Sonne, said the Confessour: but how often times hast thou beene angry? Oh Sir (said Maister Chappelet) therein I assure yee, I have often transgressed. And what man is able to forbeare it, beholding the dayly actions of men to be so dishonest? No care of keeping Gods commaundements, nor any feare of his dreadfull judgements. Many times in a day, I have rather wished my selfe dead then living, beholding youth pursuing idle vanities, to sweare and forsweare themselves, tipling in Tavernes, and never haunting Churches; but rather affecting the worlds follies, then any such duties as they owe to God. Alas Sonne (quoth the Friar) this is a good and holy anger, and I can impose no penance on thee for it. But tell me, hath not rage or furie at any time so over-ruled thee, as to commit murther or manslaughter, or to speake evill of any man, or to doe any other such kinde of injurie? Oh Father (answered Maister Chappelet) you that seeme to be a man of God, how dare you use any such vile words? If I had had the very least thought, to doe any such act as you speake, doe you thinke that God would have suffered me to live? These are deedes of darknesse, fit for villaines and wicked livers; of which hellish crue, when at any time I have happened to meete with some one of them; I have said, Goe, God convert thee.
Worthy, and charitable words, replied the Friar; but tell me Sonne, Didst thou ever beare false witnesse against any man, or hast spoken falsly, or taken ought from any one, contrary to the will of the owner? Yes indeede Father, said Maister Chappelet, I have spoken ill of another, because I have sometime seene one of my neighbours, who with no meane shame of the world, would doe nothing else but beate his wife: and of him once I complained to the poore mans parents, saying, that he never did it, but when he was overcome with drinke. Those were no ill words, quoth the Friar; but I remember, you said that you were a Merchant: Did you ever deceive any, as some Merchants use to doe? Truly Father, answered Maister Chappelet, I thinke not any, except one man, who one day brought me money which he owed me, for a certaine piece of cloath I solde him, and I put it into a purse without accounting it: about a moneth afterward, I found that there were foure small pence more then was due to me. And never happening to meete with the man againe, after I had kept them the space of a whole yeare, I then gave them away to foure poore people for Gods sake.
A small matter, said the Friar, & truly payed back again to the owner, in bestowing them upon the poore. Many other questions hee demaunded of him, whereto still he answered in the same manner: but before he proceeded to absolution, Maister Chappelet spake thus. I have yet one sinne more, which I have not revealed to you: when being urged by the Friar to confesse it, he said. I remember, that I should afford one day in the weeke, to cleanse the house of my soule, for better entertainement to my Lord and Saviour, and yet I have done no such reverence to the Sunday or Sabaoth, as I ought to have done. A small fault Sonne, replied the Friar. O no (quoth Maister Chappelet) doe not terme it a small fault, because Sunday being a holy day, is highly to be reverenced: for, as on that day, our blessed Lord arose from death to life. But (quoth the Confessour) hast thou done nothing else on that day? Yes, said he, being forgetfull of my selfe, once I did spet in Gods Church. The Friar smiling, said: Alas Sonne, that is a matter of no moment, for wee that are Religious persons, doe use to spet there every day. The more is your shame, answered Maister Chappelet, for no place ought to be kept more pure and cleane then the sacred Temple, wherein our dayly sacrifices are offered up to God.
In this manner he held on an houre and more, uttering the like transgressions as these; and at last began to sigh very passionately, and to shed a few teares, as one that was skilfull enough in such dissembling prankes; whereat the Confessour being much mooved, said: Alas Sonne, what aylest thou? Oh Father (quoth Chappelet) there remaineth yet one sinne more upon my conscience, whereof I never at any time made confession, so shamefull it appeareth to me to disclose it; and I am partly perswaded, that God will never pardon me for that sinne. How now Sonne? said the Friar, never say so; for if all the sinnes that ever were committed by men, or shall be committed so long as the World endureth, were onely in one man, and he repenting them, and being so contrite for them, as I see thou art; the grace and mercy of God is so great, that upon penitent confession, he will freely pardon him, and therefore spare not to speak it boldly. Alas Father (said Chappelet, still in pretended weeping) this sinne of mine is so great, that I can hardly beleeve (if your earnest prayers doe not assist me) that ever I shall obtaine remission for it. Speake it Sonne, said the Friar, and feare not, I promise that I will pray to God for thee.
Master Chappelet still wept and sighed, and continued silent, notwithstanding all the Confessors comfortable perswasions; but after hee had helde him a long while in suspence, breathing forth a sighe, even as if his very heart would have broken, he saide; Holy Father, seeing you promise to pray to God for me, I will reveale it to you: Know then, that when I was a little boy, I did once curse my Mother; which he had no sooner spoken, but he wrung his hands, and greeved extraordinarily. Oh good Son, saide the Friar, doth that seeme so great a sinne to thee? Why, men doe daily blaspheme our Lord God, and yet neverthelesse, upon their hearty repentance, he is alwayes ready to forgive them; and wilt not thou beleeve to obtaine remission, for a sinne so ignorantly committed? Weepe no more deare Sonne, but comfort thy selfe, and rest resolved, that if thou wert one of them, who nayled our blessed Saviour to his Crosse; yet being so truly repentant, as I see thou art, he would freely forgive thee. Say you so Father? quoth Chappelet. What? mine owne deare Mother? that bare me in her wombe nine moneths, day and night, and afterwards fed me with her breasts a thousand times, can I be pardoned for cursing her? Oh no, it is too haynous a sinne, and except you pray to God very instantly for me, he will not forgive me.
When the religious man perceived, that nothing more was to be confessed by Master Chappelet; he gave him absolution, and his owne benediction beside, reputing him to be a most holy man, as verily beleeving all that he had said. And who would not have done the like, hearing a man to speake in that manner, and being upon the very point of death? Afterward, he saide unto him; Master Chappelet, by Gods grace you may be soone restored to health, but if it so come to passe, that God doe take your blessed and well disposed soule to his mercy, will it please you to have your body buried in our Convent? Whereto Master Chappelet answered; I thanke you Father for your good motion, and sorry should I be, if my friends did bury me any where else, because you have promised, to pray to God for me; and beside, I have alwayes carried a religious devotion to your Order. Wherefore, I beseech you, so soone as you are come home to your Convent, prevaile so much by your good meanes, that the holy Eucharist, consecrated this morning on your high Altar, may be brought unto me: for although I confesse my selfe utterly unworthy, yet I purpose (by your reverend permission) to receive it, as also your holy and latest unction; to this ende, that having lived a greevous sinner, I may yet (at the last) die a Christian. These words were pleasing to the good olde man, and he caused every thing to be performed, according as Master Chappelet had requested.
The two Brethren, who much doubted the dissembling of Chappelet, being both in a small partition, which sundered the sicke mans Chamber from theirs, heard and understood the passage of all, betweene him and the ghostly Father, being many times scarcely able to refrain from laughter, at the fraudulent course of his confession. And often they said within themselves; what manner of man is this, whom neither age, sicknesse, nor terror of death so neere approaching, and sensible to his owne soule, nor that which is much more, God, before whose judgement he knowes not how soone he shall appeare, or else be sent to a more fearefull place; none of these can alter his wicked disposition, but that he will needes die according as he hath lived? Notwithstanding, seeing he had so ordered the matter, that he had buriall freely allowed him, they cared for no more.
After that Chappelet had received the Communion, and the other ceremonies appointed for him; weakenesse encreasing on him more and more, the very same day of his goodly confession, he died (not long after) towards the evening. Whereupon the two Brethren tooke order, that all needefull things should be in a readinesse, to have him buried honourably; sending to acquaint the Fathers of the Convent therewith, that they might come to say their Vigilles, according to precedent custome, and then on the morrow to fetch the body. The honest Friar that had confessed him, hearing he was dead, went to the Prior of the Convent, and by sound of the house Bell, caused all the Brethren to assemble together, giving them credibly to understand, that Master Chappelet was a very holy man, as appeared by all the parts of his confession, and made no doubt, but that many miracles would be wrought by his sanctified body, perswading them to fetch it thither with all devoute solemnity and reverence; whereto the Prior, and all the credulous Brethren presently condiscended very gladly.
When night was come, they went all to visit the dead body of Master Chappelet, where they used an especiall and solemne Vigill; and on the morrow, apparrelled in their richest Coapes and Vestiments, with books in their hands, and the Crosse borne before them, singing in the forme of a very devoute procession, they brought the body pompeously into their Church, accompanied with all the people of the Towne, both men and women. The Father Confessor, ascending up into the Pulpit, preached wonderfull things of him, and the rare holinesse of his life; his fastes, his virginity, simplicity, innocency, and true sanctity, recounting also (among other especiall observations) what Chappelet had confessed, as this most great and greevous sinne, and how hardly he could be perswaded, that God would grant him pardon for it. Whereby he tooke occasion to reprove the people then present, saying; And you (accursed of God) for the verie least and trifling matter hapning, will not spare to blaspheme God, his blessed Mother, and the whole Court of heavenly Paradise: Oh, take example by this singular man, this Saint-like man, nay, a verie Saint indeede.
Many additions more he made, concerning his faithfulnesse, truth, & integrity; so that, by the vehement asseveration of his words (whereto all the people there present gave credible beleefe) he provoked them unto such zeale and earnest devotion; that the Sermon was no sooner ended, but (in mighty crowds and throngs) they pressed about the Biere, kissing his hands and feete, and all the garments about him were torne in peeces, as precious Reliques of so holy a person, and happy they thought themselves, that could get the smallest peece or shred or anie thing that came neere to his body, and thus they continued all the day, the body lying still open, to be visited in this manner.