Gesta Romanorum Vol. II (1871)/Of Gratitude to God
OF GRATITUDE TO GOD.
In the kingdom of England, there was a little mountain, rising at the summit to the figure of a man. Its sides were clothed with forests, in which knights, and other followers of the chase, were accustomed to hunt. But, in ascending the mountain, they suffered much from heat and thirst, and sought eagerly for relief. From the nature of the place, and the circumstances of their occupation, each ascended the hill alone; and each, as if addressing some other, would say, "I thirst." Immediately, beyond expectation, there started from the side, one with a cheerful countenance, and an out-stretched hand, bearing a large horn ornamented with gold and precious stones, such as we are still in the habit of using instead of a cup; and full of the most exquisite, but unknown, beverage. This he presented to the thirsty person; and no sooner had he drank, than the heat and lassitude abated. One would not then have thought that he had been engaged in labor, but that he was desirous of commencing an arduous employment. After the liquor had been taken, the attendant presented a clean napkin to wipe the mouth. His ministry completed, he disappeared, without awaiting recompence, or permitting inquiry. He did this daily, and aged as he seemed to be, his pace was singularly rapid. At last, a certain knight went to these parts for the purpose of hunting; and a draught being demanded, and the horn brought, instead of restoring it to the industrious skinker as custom and urbanity required, he retained it for his own use. But the knight's feudal lord, ascertaining the truth of this matter, condemned the plunderer; and presented the horn to Henry king of England, lest he himself should be held a partaker of the crime. (90)
My beloved, the mountain is the kingdom of heaven; the forest is the world. The hunter is any worldly-minded man. The thirst and heat are divine love; the horn, mercy, which is filled at the fountain of benevolence. He who bore it is Christ; and the napkin is confession.
- See Shakspeare, passim.
- Henry I. according to Warton.
Note 90.Page 319.
"This story, which seems imperfect, I suppose, is from Gervase of Tilbury."—Warton.
"The drinking vessels of the northern nations were the horns of animals, of their natural length, only tipt with silver, &c.—In York-minster is preserved one of these ancient drinking-vessels, composed of a large elephant's tooth, of its natural dimensions, ornamented with sculpture, &c. See Drake's Hist."—Bishop Percy.