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Richard of Devizes Chronicle

 
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Richard of Devizes
Chronicle
page 17

The leaders were at a stand. Of the castles, no mention is made; the whole discussion and consultation was about the chancellor. Should the earl advise, all are ready to proscribe him. They strive by all means to soften the earl to consent, but they had a wild beast on their right hand. The earl, on being asked to answer, briefly declares, "The chancellor fears the threats of none of you, nor of you altogether, nor will he beg your love, if only he may succeed to have me alone his friend. He is to give me seven hundred pounds of silver by the seventh day, if I shall not have meddled between you and him. You see I am in want of money. To the wise, a word is sufficient." he said, and withdrew, leaving the conclusion of his proposition in the midst. The court, placed in a great strait, strained its counsel: it appeared expedient to every one to propitiate the man with more than was promised; the gift or loan of the money is approved, but not of their own, and so in the end it all falls upon the treasury of the absent king. Five hundred pounds of silver sterling out of the Exchequer are lent to the earl by the barons, and letters to their liking against the chancellor are received. Nor is there delay; the queen writes, the clergy write, the people write, all unanimously advertise the chancellor to bolt, to cross the sea without delay, unless his ears are ticklish to hear rumours, unless he wishes to take his meals under the charge of armed soldiers.

Sect. 78. The chancellor stood aghast at the severity of the mandates, and was as pale as one who treads a snake with his bare feet. But, on retiring, is reported to have made only this manly reply: - "Let all who persecute me, know they shall see how great is he whom they have offended. I am not destitute of all counsel, as they reckon. I have one who serves me as a fine ear by true despatches. `As long as I am in exile,' said he, `patiently endure the things which you suffer. Every land is a home to the brave, believe one who has found it so by experience; persevere and preserve your life for a better day. A grateful hour, which is not hoped for, will overtake both you and me. Unlooked for, I shall return and triumph over my enemies, and again shall my victory make thee a citizen in my kingdom, forbidden thee, and now not obeying me; haply it may.hereafter be gratifying to us to reflect on this event.'"

Sect. 79. Because Winchester ought not to be deprived of its due reward for keeping peace with the Jews, as in the beginning of this book is related, the Winchester Jews (after the manner of the Jews), studious of the honour of their city, procured themselves notoriety by murdering a boy in Winchester, with many signs of the deed, although, perhaps, the deed was never done. The case was thus: - A certain Jew engaged a Christian boy, a pretender to the art of shoemaking, into the household service of his family. He did not reside there continually to work, nor was he permitted to complete any thing great all at once, lest his abiding with them should apprise him of the fate intended for him; and, as he was remunerated better for a little labour there, than for much elsewhere, allured by his gifts and wiles, he frequented the more freely the wretch's house. Now, he was French by birth, under age, and an orphan, of abject condition and extreme poverty. A certain French Jew, having unfortunately compassioned his great miseries in France, by frequent advice persuaded him that he should go to England, a land flowing with milk and honey; he praised the English as liberal and bountiful, and that there no one would continue poor who could be recommended for honesty. The boy, ready to like whatever you may wish, as is natural with the French, having taken a certain companion of the same age as himself, and of the same country, got ready to set forward on his foreign expedition, having nothing in his hands but a staff, nothing in his wallet but a cobbler's awl.

Sect. 80. He bade farewell to his Jewish friend; to whom the Jew replied, "Go forth as a man. The God of my fathers lead thee as I desire." And having laid his hands upon his head, as if he had been the scapegoat, after certain muttering of the throat and silent imprecations, being now secure of his prey, he continued, - "Be of good courage; forget your own people and native land, for every land is the home of the brave, as the sea is for the fish, and as the whole of the wide world is for the bird. When you have entered England, if you should come to London, you will quickly pass through it, as that city greatly displeases me. Every race of men, out of every nation which is under heaven, resort thither in great numbers; every nation has introduced into that city its vices and had manners. No one lives in it without offence; there is not a single street in it that does not abound in miserable, obscene wretches; there, in proportion as any man has exceeded in wickedness, so much is he the better. I am not ignorant of the disposition I am exhorting; you have, in addition to your youth, an ardent disposition, a slowness of memory, and a soberness of reason between extremes. I feel in myself no uneasiness about you, unless you should abide with men of corrupt lives; for from our associations our manners are formed. But let that be as it may. You will come to London. Behold! I warn you, whatever of evil or of perversity there is in any, whatever in all parts of the world, you will find in that city alone. Go not to the dances of panders, nor mix yourself up with the herds of the stews; avoid the talus and the dice, the theatre and the tavern. You will find more braggadocios there than in all France, while the number of flatterers is infinite. Stage-players, buffoons, those that have no hair on their bodies, Garamantes, pick-thanks, catamites, effeminate sodomites, lewd musical girls, druggists, lustful persons, fortune-tellers, extortioners, nightly strollers, magicians, mimics, common beggars, tatterdemalions, - this whole crew has filled every house. So if you do not wish to live with the shameful, you will not dwell in London. I am not speaking against the learned, whether monks or Jews; although, still, from their very dwelling together with such evil persons, I should esteem them less perfect there than elsewhere.

Sect. 81. "Nor does my advice go so far, as that you should betake yourself to no city; with my counsel you will take up your residence nowhere but in a town, though it remains to say in what. Therefore, if you should land near Canterbury, you will have to lose your way, if even you should but pass through it. It is an assemblage of the vilest, entirely devoted to their - I know not whom, but who has been lately canonized, and had been the archbishop of Canterbury, as everywhere they die in open day in the streets for want of bread and employment. Rochester and Chichester are mere villages, and they possess nothing for which they should be called cities,


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