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dooth not specifie that I ought either to choose, cut, or take the same, but that he ought to give me a pound of his flesh. Of every thing that is sold, he which delivereth the same is to make waight, and he which receiveth, taketh heed that it be just: seeing then that neither the obligation, custome, nor law doth bind me to cut, or weigh, much lesse unto the above mentioned satisfaction, I refuse it all, and require that the same which is due should be delivered unto me.”
The Christian's Ansruere.
" It is no strange matter to here those dispute of equitie which are themselves most unjust; and such as have no faith at all, desirous that others should observe the same inviolable, the which were yet the more tolerable, if such men would be contented with reasonable things, or at the least not altogether unreasonable : but what reason is there that one man should unto his own prejudice desire the hurt of another? as this Jew is content to lose nine hundred crownes to have a pound of my flesh, whereby is manifestely seene the ancient and cruel hate which he beareth not only unto Christians but unto all others which are not of his sect : yea, even unto the Turks; who overkindly doe suffer such vermine to dwell amongst them, seeing that this presumptuous wretch dare not onely doubt, but appeale from the judgement of a good and just judge, and afterwards he would by sophisticall reasons prove that his abhomination is equitie : trulie I confesse that I have suffered fifteen daie of the tearme to passe, yet who can tell whether he or I is the cause thereof, as for me I think that by secret meanes he has caused the monie to be delaied, which from sundry places ought to have come unto me before the tearin which I promised unto him : otherwise, I would
never have been so rash as to bind myselfe só strictly : but although he were not the cause of the fault, is it therefore said, that he ought to be so imprudent as to go about to prove it no strange matter that he should be willing to be paied with man's flesh, which is a thing more natural for tigres, than men, the which also was never heard of: but this divil in shape of man, seeing me op: pressed with necessitie, propoundeth this cursed obligation unto me. Whereas he alleageth the Romaines for an example, why doth he not as well tell how for that crueltie in afflicting debtors over grievously, the common wealth was almost overthrowne, and that shortly after it was forbidden to imprison men any
more for debt. To breake promise is, when a man sweareth or promiseth a thing, the which he hath no desire to performe, which yet upon an an extreme necessity is somewhat excusable: as for me I have promised, and accomplished my promise, yet not so soon as I would; and although I knew the danger wherein I was to satisfie the crueltie of this mischievous man with the price of my flesh and blood, yet did I not flie away, but submitted myselfe unto the descretion of the judge who hath justly repressed his beastliness. Whereio then have I satisfied my promise, is it in that I would not (like him) disobey the judgement of the judge ? Behold Í will present a part of my bodie unto him, that he may paie" himselfe, according to the contents of the judgement, where is then my promise broken? But it is no marvaile if this race be so obstinat and cruell against us, for they do it of set purpose
otiend our God whom they have crucified: and wherefore ? Because he was holie, as he is yet so reputed of this worthy Turkish nation : but what shall I say? Their own Bible is full of their rebellion against God, against their priests, judges, and leaders. What did not the very patriarchs
themselves, from whom they have their beginning? They sold their brother, and had it not been for one amongst them, they had slain him for verie envie. How many adulteries and abhominations were committed amongst them? How many murthers? Absalom did he not cause his brother to be mur. thered? Did he not persecute his father? Is it not for their iniquitie that God hath dispersed them, without leaving them one oplie foot of ground? If then, when they had newlie received their law from God, when they saw his wonderous works with their eies, and had yet their judges amongst them, they were so wicked, what may one hope of them now, when they have neither faith nor law, but their rapines and usuries ? and that they believe they do a charitable work, when they do some great wrong unto one that is not a Jew? It may please you then, most righteous judge, to consider all these circumstances, having pittie of him who doth wholly submit himselfe unto your just clemencie: hoping thereby to be delivered from this monster's crueltie."
GREGORIO LETI, in his Life of Sirtus V. translated by Ellis Farneworth, 1754, has likewise this kind of story.
It was currently reported in Rome that Drake had taken and plundered St. Domingo in Hispaniola and carried off an immense booty : this account came in a private letter to Paul Secchi, a very considerable nierchant in that city, who had large concerns in those parts which he had insured. Upon the receiving this news he sent for the insurer Samson Ceneda, a Jew, and acquainted him with it. The Jew, whose interest it was to have such a report thought false, gave many reasons why it could not possibly be true; and at last worked himVOL. I. Y
of which was,
self up into such a passion, that he said, “ I'll lay
you a pound of my flesh that it is a lie.”
Secchi, who was of a fiery hot temper, replied, “ If you like it, I'll lay you a thousand crowns
against a pound of your flesh that it is true.” The Jew accepted the wager, and articles were immediately executed between them, the substance
“ That if Secchi won, he should “ himself cut the flesh with a sharp knife from what,
ever part of the Jew's body he pleased."* Unfortunately for the Jew, the truth of the account was soon after confirmed, by other advices from the West-Indies, which threw him almost into distraction ; especially when he was informed that Secchi had solemnly sworn he would compel him to the exact literal performance of his contract, and was determined to cut a pound of flesh from that part of his body which it is not necessary to mention. Upon this he went to the governor of Rome, and begged he would interpose in the affair, and use his authority to prevail with Secchi to accept of a thousand pistoles as an equivalent for the pound of flesh : but the governor not daring to take upon him to determine a case of so uncommon a nature, made a report of it to the pope, who sent for them both, and having heard the articles read, and informed himself perfectly of the whole affair from their own mouths, said, “ When contracts are made, it is just they should be fulfiled, as we intend this shall. Take a knife, therefore, Secchi, and cut a pound of flesh from any part you please of the Jew's body. We would advise you, however, to be very careful; for if you cut but a scruple or grain more or less
* The Scene betwixt Sbylock and Antonio, in Shakspeare's Merchant of Venice seems to be borrowed from this story; though the poet has inverted the persons, and, decently enough, altered some of the circumstances,
than your due, you shall certainly be hanged. Go, and bring hither a knife, and a pair of scales, and let it be done in our presence.”
The merchant at these words, began to tremble like an aspin-leaf, and throwing himself at his holiness's feet, with tears in his eyes protested, “ It was far from his thoughts to insist
per“ formance of the contract.” And being asked by the pope what he demanded; answered, “ No“ thing, holy father, but your benediction, and " that the articles may be torn in pieces.” Then turning to the Jew, he asked him, “ What he “ had to say, and whether he was content.” The Jew answered, “ That he thought himself extremely
happy to come off at so easy a rate, and that he was perfectly content.” “ But we are not content,
(replied Sixtus) nor is there sufficient satisfaction « made to our laws. We desire to know what
authority you have to lay such wagers ? The
subjects of princes are the property of the state, " and have no right to dispose of their bodies, nor
any part of them, without the express consent of " their sovereigns."
They were both immediately sent to prison, and the governor ordered to proceed against them with the utmost severity of the law, that others might be deterred by their example from laying any more such wagers.—[The governor interceding for them, and proposing a fine of a thousand crowns each, Sixtus ordered him to condemn them both to death, the Jew for selling his life, by consenting to have a pound of flesh cut from his body, which he said was direct suicide, and the merchant for premedi. tated murder, in making a contract with the other that he knew must be the occasion of his death.]
As Secchi was of a very good family, having many great friends and relations, and the Jew one of the most leading men in the synagogue, they