Page:The Kiss and its History.djvu/137

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on their knees, and after pronouncing a panegyric on St Francis, he himself carried round the breeches so that the people who had assembled might kiss them. This they did with deep piety and emotion, more especially the honest and grateful merchant.

This little story afforded much merriment in the Middle Ages. People found much enjoyment in its burlesque humour, and never got tired of hearing it. It occurs as a fabliau, a farce, and a story, and belongs to the facetiæ with which the Pope's Secretary, Poggio, amused his friends in Il Bugiale (The Lie Manufactory).

Even as regards the great ones of this world the kiss used to serve in various ways as a mark of humility and reverence. Its use in ancient times was remarkably widespread; people threw themselves down on the ground before their rulers, kissed their footprints, literally "licked the dust," as it is termed. In the Psalms, Solomon sings of the promised King: "They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust"; and the prophet Isaiah says: "Kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and queens thy nursing mothers: