You would have truly sworn they had been a parcel of your petty spiritual usurers, Rome-bound, selling their all, and borrowing of others, to buy store of mandates, a pennyworth of a new-made pope.
Now they cried out and brayed, and prayed and bawled, and lamented, and invoked Jupiter: My hatchet! my hatchet! Jupiter, my hatchet! on this side, My hatchet! on that side, My hatchet! Ho, ho, ho, ho, Jupiter, my hatchet! The air round about rung again with the cries and howlings of these rascally losers of hatchets.
Mercury was nimble in bringing them hatchets; to each offering that which he had lost, as also another of gold, and a third of silver.
Every he still was for that of gold, giving thanks in abundance to the great giver, Jupiter; but in the very nick of time that they bowed and stooped to take it from the ground, whip, in a trice, Mercury lopped off their heads, as Jupiter had commanded; and of heads thus cut off the number was just equal to that of the lost hatchets.
You see how it is now; you see how it goes with those who in the simplicity of their hearts wish and desire with moderation. Take warning by this, all you greedy, fresh-water sharks, who scorn to wish for anything under ten thousand pounds; and do not for the future run on impudently, as I have sometimes heard you wishing, Would to God I had now one hundred seventy-eight millions of gold! Oh! how I should tickle it off. The deuce on you, what more might a king, an emperor, or a pope wish for? For that reason, indeed, you see that after you have made such hopeful wishes, all the good that comes to you of it is the itch or the scab, and not a cross in your breeches to scare the devil that tempts you to make these wishes: no more than those two mumpers, wishers after the custom of Paris; one of whom only wished to have in good old gold as much as hath been spent, bought, and sold in Paris, since its first foundations were laid, to this hour; all of it valued at the price, sale, and rate of the dearest year in all that space of time. Do you think the fellow was bashful? Had he eaten sour plums unpeeled? Were his teeth on edge, I pray you? The other wished Our Lady’s Church brimful of steel needles, from the floor to the top of the roof, and to have as many ducats as might be crammed into as many bags as might be sewed with each and everyone of those needles, till they were all either broke at the point or eye. This is to wish with a vengeance! What think you of it? What did they get by’t, in your opinion? Why at night both my gentlemen had kibed heels, a tetter in the chin, a churchyard cough in the lungs, a catarrh in the throat, a swingeing boil at the rump, and the devil of one musty crust of a brown george the poor dogs had to scour their grinders with. Wish therefore for mediocrity, and it shall be given unto you, and over and above yet; that is to say, provided you bestir yourself manfully, and do your best in the meantime.