The Borgias HTML version

There was once in Paris, says Boccaccio, a brave and good merchant named
Jean de Civigny, who did a great trade in drapery, and was connected in
business with a neighbour and fellow-merchant, a very rich man called Abraham,
who, though a Jew, enjoyed a good reputation. Jean de Civigny, appreciating the
qualities of the worthy Israelite; feared lest, good man as he was, his false
religion would bring his soul straight to eternal perdition; so he began to urge him
gently as a friend to renounce his errors and open his eyes to the Christian faith,
which he could see for himself was prospering and spreading day by day, being
the only true and good religion; whereas his own creed, it was very plain, was so
quickly diminishing that it would soon disappear from the face of the earth. The
Jew replied that except in his own religion there was no salvation, that he was
born in it, proposed to live and die in it, and that he knew nothing in the world that
could change his opinion. Still, in his proselytising fervour Jean would not think
himself beaten, and never a day passed but he demonstrated with those fair
words the merchant uses to seduce a customer, the superiority of the Christian
religion above the Jewish; and although Abraham was a great master of Mosaic
law, he began to enjoy his friend's preaching, either because of the friendship he
felt for him or because the Holy Ghost descended upon the tongue of the new
apostle; still obstinate in his own belief, he would not change. The more he
persisted in his error, the more excited was Jean about converting him, so that at
last, by God's help, being somewhat shaken by his friend's urgency, Abraham
one day said--
"Listen, Jean: since you have it so much at heart that I should be converted,
behold me disposed to satisfy you; but before I go to Rome to see him whom you
call God's vicar on earth, I must study his manner of life and his morals, as also
those of his brethren the cardinals; and if, as I doubt not, they are in harmony
with what you preach, I will admit that, as you have taken such pains to show me,
your faith is better than mine, and I will do as you desire; but if it should prove
otherwise, I shall remain a Jew, as I was before; for it is not worth while, at my
age, to change my belief for a worse one."
Jean was very sad when he heard these words; and he said mournfully to
himself, "Now I have lost my time and pains, which I thought I had spent so well
when I was hoping to convert this unhappy Abraham; for if he unfortunately goes,
as he says he will, to the court of Rome, and there sees the shameful life led by
the servants of the Church, instead of becoming a Christian the Jew will be more
of a Jew than ever." Then turning to Abraham, he said, "Ah, friend, why do you
wish to incur such fatigue and expense by going to Rome, besides the fact that
travelling by sea or by land must be very dangerous for so rich a man as you
are? Do you suppose there is no one here to baptize you? If you have any
doubts concerning the faith I have expounded, where better than here will you
find theologians capable of contending with them and allaying them? So, you
see, this voyage seems to me quite unnecessary: just imagine that the priests
there are such as you see here, and all the better in that they are nearer to the