This is a bad mistake with serious consequences. Thirteen hundred and seventy-eight the year When I, one Ser Giovanni, wrote this book, As all may see who list therein to look, Wrote it, and set in order, neat and clear. To give a name thereto I took small care, Since a good friend of mine its title found, II Pecoron, for that it doth abound With owlish loons, who make within their lair. A loon myself, I over these preside, And like a bleating calf my way pursue, Book-making, and I know not what beside, Granted the times be ripe, and that my due Of fame and honour with me may abide, For praise will greet me from the loutish crew. Then marvel not, O reader, if you find The book and writer of the self-same kind. This attribution is supposed to be spurious although it is mostly retained for convenience.
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Being shortly promoted to the office of chaplain, he is enabled to obtain frequent interviews with the beautiful recluse; and by way of beguiling their time innocently together, they each agree to repeat a story in turn, thus dividing them into different days and numbers. Now, in the city of Forli, in Romagna, was a convent, consisting of a pretty numerous sisterhood, with their lady prioress, among whom Sister Saturnina was most esteemed for the perfect and holy life she led.
She was besides one of the most beautiful, affable, and accomplished young creatures whom Nature in her most lavish mood had ever formed, insomuch that the fame of her excellence and beauty went forth on all sides, attracting the love and admiration of the whole place.
A number of the stories are founded on real historical incidents, chiefly taken, according to Manni, from the works of Malespini and Villani, as very clearly appears on a comparison of their productions with those of our novelist. Some critics, indeed, have not scrupled to assert that our author was no other person than Giovanni Villani, the historian; an opinion, however, for which there is no further authority than the coincidence of name, and a few historical facts borrowed by Ser Giovanni from the works of that writer.
The first edition of the work that appeared was at Milan, , though subsequent impressions, falsely bearing the date of , are known to exist. It is remarked by Mr. A prey to the excessive cruelty and indifference of one dearer to him than his own life, who neither noticed nor listened to him, he still followed her like her shadow, contriving to be near her at every party, whether a bridal or a christening, a funeral or a play.
Long and vainly, with love-messages after love-messages, and presents after presents, did he sue; but never would the noble lady deign to receive or listen to them for a moment, ever bearing herself more reserved and harshly as he more earnestly pressed the ardour of his suit. See to it, dread lord, that you are not, in so doing, offending against your own laws! I should at least have seen her — her whom from my soul I cannot help loving beyond all else in the world.
Not in the least aware of the truth, the lady inquired of her husband to whom the bird belonged. I wished he would have come in to sup with us, but he would not. He is certainly one of the finest and best-tempered men I ever saw. However strange, she dwelt upon them long and tenderly. It happened that about this very time, Messer Stricca was chosen ambassador from the Siennese to the people of Perugia, and setting out in all haste, he was compelled to take a sudden leave of his lady.
I am sorry to have to observe that the moment the cavalcade was gone by, recalling the idea of her noble lover, the lady likewise despatched an embassy to our young friend, entreating him, after the example of her husband, to favour her with his company in the evening. No longer venturing to refuse, he sent a grateful answer back that he would very willingly attend.
She took him joyously by the hand, bidding him a thousand tender welcomes, and setting before him the choicest fruits and refreshments of the season. Then inviting him to be seated, he was served with the greatest variety and splendour; and more delicious than all, the bright lady herself presided there, no longer frowning and turning away when he began to breathe the story of his love and sufferings into her ear. Delighted and surprised beyond his proudest hopes, Galgano was profuse in his expressions of gratitude and regard, though he could not quite conceal his wonder at this happy and unexpected change; entreating, at length, as a particular favour, that she would deign to acquaint him with its blessed cause.
I love you. A few days ago, you know, you passed near our house when hawking, and my husband told me that he saw you, and invited you in to supper, but you would not come. Never afterwards did this noble youth allude to the affair in the slightest way, but always treated Messer Stricca with the utmost regard and reverence during his acquaintance with the family.
Expressing a mutual wish to study for a while together at Bologna, they took leave of their relatives and set out. One of them attached himself to the study of the civil, the other to that of the canon law; and thus they continued to apply themselves for some length of time.
Having thus resolved, he had immediate recourse to his former tutor, informing him of his determination to bear his friend company a little longer, and entreating to be employed in some pleasant study to beguile the period during which he had to remain. The professor begged him to suggest something he would like, as he should be very happy to assist him in its attainment. To lose no time, in the first place, go next Sunday morning to the church of the Frati Minori, where all the ladies will be clustered together, and pay proper attention during service, in order to discover if any one of them in particular happen to please you.
When you have done this, keep your eye upon her after service, to see the way she takes to her residence, then come back to me. And let this be the first lesson, first part, of that in which it is my intention to instruct you. She was far the most attractive and beautiful lady he could find; and on leaving the church Bucciolo took care to obey his master, and follow her until he had made himself acquainted with her residence.
Nor was it long before the young lady began to perceive that the student was smitten with her; upon which, Bucciolo, returning to his master, acquainted him with what he had done.
Take care to walk two or three times a day very respectfully before her house, casting your eyes about you in such a way that no one catch you staring in her face; but look in a modest and becoming manner, so that she cannot fail to perceive and to be struck with it. And then return to me, and this, sir, will be the second lesson in this gay science.
This attracted her attention, for which Bucciolo very discreetly expressed his gratitude both by looks and bows, which being as often returned, the scholar began to be aware that the lady liked him. In short, let her urge your suit, and take care to bring the answer to me as soon as you have received it; I will then tell you how you are to proceed. Pray tell her so, and recommend me to her most affectionately, so as to obtain for me her good graces by every means in your power.
I entreat you to have my interest at heart, and to say such pretty things as she cannot refuse to hear. Out of all these, her attention appeared to be most attracted by a beautiful purse, which she observed, if she could afford, she should like to buy.
What do you mean by that? It is very true that a young gentleman of the name of Bucciolo sent me hither, one who loves you better than all the world besides. There is nothing he would not do to please you, and indeed he appears so very wretched because he cannot speak to you, and he is so very good, that it is quite a pity.
I think it will be the death of him; and then he is such a fine, such an elegant young man; the more is the pity. A pretty story to come before decent people with! Are you not ashamed of yourself to let such words come out of your mouth? Why, she will neither see nor listen to you; and if I had not run away, I should have felt the weight of her hand upon my shoulders.
I think you must have a repetition of your lesson to-night. So go and walk before her door as usual; notice how she eyes you, and whether she appears angry or not; then come back again to me.
But this time his master looked a little more serious, for, from some trivial circumstances put together, he began to entertain suspicions, as it really turned out, that the lady was no other than his own wife.
So he rather anxiously inquired of Bucciolo, whether he intended to accept the invitation. For he passed most of his winter evenings at the college, where he gave lectures, and not unfrequently remained there for the night. He was no sooner on his way than the professor slipped out quietly after him, following him close at his heels, and truly he saw him stop at his own door, which, on a pretty smart tap being given, was opened in a moment, and the pupil was admitted by the lady herself.
So taking hold of Bucciolo, she concealed him in all haste under a heap of damp clothes lying on a table near the window ready for ironing; and this done, she ran to the door, and inquired who was there. Come and search the house, and if you find anybody, I will give you leave to kill me on the spot. Beware lest the evil one should be tempting you, and suddenly depriving you of your senses, drive you to perdition. But I entreat you not to give way to his evil suggestions; oppose the adversary while you can.
The lady, shutting the door upon him, called out to Bucciolo to come from his hiding-place, and stirring the fire, began to prepare a fine capon for supper, with some delicious wines and fruits. And thus they regaled themselves, highly entertained with each other; nor was it their least satisfaction that the professor had just left them, apparently convinced that they had learned nothing at his expense.
He searched the whole house from top to bottom without being able to find me. In short, the lady played her part so well, that the poor gentleman forthwith took his leave, and we afterwards ate a fine fat capon for supper, and drank such wines, and with such a zest! It was really one of the pleasantest evenings I ever spent in my life.
But I think I will go and take a nap, for I have promised to return again this afternoon about the same hour. Will nobody help me? Try to compose yourself; nay do not struggle so hard, but let us help you to your couch. I saw him come in with my own eyes. The brothers forthwith accosted the professor in no very gentle terms.
Tell the truth. Should I be the first to bring a scandal on our house? I wonder you are not ashamed to mention such a thing. Half frantic, he led them directly to the great bundle of linen, which he pierced through and through with his sword, firmly believing he was killing Bucciolo all the while, taunting him at the same time at every blow.
Yet in order that no one might be led to suspect the real truth, he walked into the house along with the rest, and on reaching a certain apartment which he knew, he beheld his poor tutor, almost beaten to a mummy, and chained down upon his bed close to the fire. His pupils were standing round condoling with him and lamenting his piteous case. God bless you, my friend! The contrivances, likewise, by which he eludes the vengeance of the jealous husband are similar to those recounted in the novel, with the addition of throwing the unwieldy knight into the river.
But it must be confessed that our great English dramatist has improved upon the incidents in such a way as to give a still more humorous idea of the hero, whose adventures are the result only of a feigned regard on the part of Mistress Ford. He was descended from a noble and ancient family, of the house of Balzo, and had an only daughter of the name of Lisetta, celebrated for her extreme beauty and accomplishments above all ladies of her time.
Many were the lords, counts, and barons, both young and valiant, sighing suitors for her regard. But on none had her sire, Carsivalo, yet cast his eye whom he altogether approved, and he therefore refused them all. In the same province resided the Count Aldobrandino, lord of the whole of Venisi, comprehending many cities and castles. He was upwards of seventy years of age, had no wife or children, and was extremely rich. After this, he one day began to summon resolution to request his daughter from him, as it were in jest, while he and Carsivalo sat over their wine together.
Besides, there are her mother, brothers, cousins, and relations without end, who may be no better satisfied; and perhaps the girl herself may have set her eye upon some one of those fresher sparks who are continually fluttering about her. I think, therefore, we had better find some method of arranging the affair amicably between ourselves. Leave the rest to me; for I will find means of coming off the conqueror, and you will stand well in the opinion of all the world.
No sooner was the fame of this gone abroad, than Count Aldobrandino despatched a messenger in all haste to the king of France, requesting he would forthwith be pleased to send him one of his most doughty knights, the most invincible that could possibly be met with in feats of arms.
In consideration of the Count having always shown himself a faithful adherent to the crown, and being moreover allied by blood, the king sent him a favourite cavalier, whom he had brought up from a child at his own court. His name was Ricciardo, sprung from the house of Mont Albano, long celebrated for its knightly deeds. His directions were to comply with everything Count Aldobrandino should choose to impose. The young knight soon arrived at the castle of the old lover, who, after bestowing upon him signal marks of his favour, revealed to him the affair which he had in hand.
And he bent his way towards Marseilles, where he found the most splendid preparations made for the tournament. Thither were already gathered many of his young competitors, and blithe and proud was he who appeared more terribly beautiful than his compeers, while hautboys and trumpets everywhere sounded a shrill alarm, and the whole air seemed to be filled with music.
Spacious was the plain staked out on which their respective prowess was to be displayed, and gay were the numerous balconies lifted up into the air around, with ladies and their lords and tender maidens watching the fearful odds of the field. And the fair and lovely girl, the wished-for prize, was led forth on the first of May, distinguished above all her companions for her beauty and accomplishments. And now also rode forth her noble lovers, shining in arms, into the field, bearing various colours and devices, where, turn by turn, they assaulted each other with the most jealous rage.
Among these Ricciardo was everywhere seen opening himself a passage upon his fierce steed, and ever, as most experienced in feats of arms, did he come off the victor. Tremendous in assault and skilful in defence, by his rapid motions he showed himself a complete master of his art.
Every tongue was loud in his praise, inquiring who he could be? What the vexation of the young maiden to behold the features of the aged Count, who thus obtained the hand of the lovely maid of Provence!
Being shortly promoted to the office of chaplain, he is enabled to obtain frequent interviews with the beautiful recluse; and by way of beguiling their time innocently together, they each agree to repeat a story in turn, thus dividing them into different days and numbers. Now, in the city of Forli, in Romagna, was a convent, consisting of a pretty numerous sisterhood, with their lady prioress, among whom Sister Saturnina was most esteemed for the perfect and holy life she led. She was besides one of the most beautiful, affable, and accomplished young creatures whom Nature in her most lavish mood had ever formed, insomuch that the fame of her excellence and beauty went forth on all sides, attracting the love and admiration of the whole place. A number of the stories are founded on real historical incidents, chiefly taken, according to Manni, from the works of Malespini and Villani, as very clearly appears on a comparison of their productions with those of our novelist. Some critics, indeed, have not scrupled to assert that our author was no other person than Giovanni Villani, the historian; an opinion, however, for which there is no further authority than the coincidence of name, and a few historical facts borrowed by Ser Giovanni from the works of that writer.
Il Pecorone di Ser Giovanni Fiorentino.
Il Pecorone is an Italian novela written between and by Giovanni Fiorentino. For its historical facts, however, it relies on the Nuova Cronica of Giovanni Villani. It is said to be an influence on Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. Giannetto, a young noble of Florence, whose father has left him no money, comes to Venice and is befriended by his godfather Ansaldo, the richest merchant there.