Sunday, 6 April 2014

EARLY MODERN JOKES. From Poggio Bracciolini’s Facetiae

A priest, who had buried his pet dog in the churchyard, was told this was unlawful. His case was tried in the episcopal court. He pleaded with the bishop: O father, if you only knew the wisdom of that dog! At the close of his life he made his will and left you fifty ducats. The bishop approved of the burial, collected his inheritance, and had the case dismissed.


A woman fell into a river and drowned. Her husband searched for her body but was told he was looking in the wrong place. He ought to search for her downriver. I know what I am doing, replied the man. She was always so stubborn and self-willed and so contrary that she would never float with the current.


An ambassador visited Pope Urban and was told to keep his speech short because His Holiness was ailing. But the man had prepared and memorized a long oration and wasn’t going to let it go to waste. As he went on and on, the pope showed some annoyance, and the ambassador feared his petition would be denied. He corrected his mistake, saying: Holy Father, my instructions are -- if you do not consent to our request, I must repeat my speech.  The pope immediately gave orders to have this business attended to.


Pope Martin was displeased with a letter his secretary had composed and wanted it revised. The man re-submitted the letter on the following day, and the pope was satisfied. What did you change? he asked. Nothing, the secretary said, and told him the following story:
Galeazzo Visconti, the father of Duke of Milan, was excessively corpulent. One day, after he had eaten a very large meal, his breeches felt uncomfortably tight. He summoned his tailor and overwhelmed him with reproaches, accusing him of having made the breeches too narrow and ordering him to enlarge them. The tailor bowed and took them away. At home, he hung the breeches on a peg, and went to bed. But don’t you need to alter the garment? the tailor’s wife asked. No, he said: Tomorrow when his digestion is finished, the breeches will fit. And sure enough, when he returned them the next morning, Visconti said: Perfect! They no longer pinch me anywhere.

Okay, okay, I hear you. Poggio wouldn’t have made it as a stand-up comedian.


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