The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #14888   Message #3162810
Posted By: Jack Campin
30-May-11 - 05:35 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Meaning of John Barleycorn
Subject: RE: Meaning of John Barleycorn
Here is the letter I mentioned before.

Niclaus Manuel Deutsch to the Aldermen of Berne
Erlach, 30 October 1526

I offer you my frank and friendly greeting, with assurance of my willing service, in the kindest and best fashion.   Whereafter I give you to know that I am sending you a good companion, known ever as Wine of Erlach, a Person of ancient race, family and extraction, whose Father was taken by his Overlord and Father, and buried alive. Whereupon with the miraculous aid of great and almighty God, this his son, with the help of his provident Mother, was born in the grave and reared in the fear of the Lord, obedient to his Creator, with all propriety and respect, both Father and Child suffering great care, affliction, pain, fear, misery, want and wretchedness. Certain men dug them up roughly with iron tools, striking many hard and merciless blows at them, and in especial the Father, from whom in the last February, March and April months they hacked off every limb, but the true Comforter of all the afflicted restored them to him by the use of his inestimable medicines - new, fruitful, with marrow, veins and all natural flow therein, lively, strong and better than ever before. As now the Son, in the bloom of youth, was reared and sheltered with proper care by Father and Mother, an attack was planned and at last carried out against them, being the cause of cruel pain: namely, that certain women took money and broke off many of their limbs from them, binding those that remained with ropes; so that they were compelled to stand a long while under the open sky, stripped naked, barefooted, the greater part buried in the earth to above the groin. What they suffered there from cold, snow, frost, hail, wind, heat and scorching, I leave you to think for yourselves. My compassion is too great for me to describe all. And whenas they deemed themselves to have escaped from all their misery and to be secure in peace and quiet, then came a sorrowful cloudburst of churlish deeds upon them; for a wondrous mighty procession of horsemen and footmen broke like a sudden storm over fences and walls, with tubs, pails, buckets, vats, and laid hands on them by force, with no previous trial or cross-examination, tore him wantonly from his mother's breast and stole him away. They flung him into a wooden dungeon and cudgelled him with great clubs, by which reason all his private parts were dismembered and shattered.

And now that he was become so weak and changed that few could know him for himself, they threw him on a waggon and conveyed him away like a murderer to the wonted place of execution and there he met a miserable death. They laid the virtuous, friendly, joy-giving, beloved friend on a broad plank of wood, a heavy great piece of wood with special advantage and instruments prepared, and and set thereto two men who thrust themselves upon it with their whole strength, crushing and shattering the innocent creature so that neither marrow, sap nor any kind of moisture remained in him, then flung him like the dry core of an apple to the senseless beasts and swine. Whereupon they collected in a barrel the sweat that had poured from him: therefore I send the wretched sufferer to you for shelter. Yet beware lest he play you some prank, as he might freely do, for he is stalwart and cunning, of an impudent, valiant race, a blood-relation and comrade in arms, of the farfamed hero, Hanssen of Vivis. Whatever may have been his sufferings, take heed for yourselves, admit no more than you may surely master; bachelors are adventuresome, strong and petulant. In duty to you I could not conceal these stories and the warning that comes therewith. Herewith I commend you to God. Dated from Erlach, the quarter-day before All Saint's Day, in the XVC and XXVIth Year.

Niclaus Manuel
Yours at all times

Niclaus Manuel, known as Deutsch (1484-1530), the Swiss painter and writer of Carnival plays, who painted the famous 'Dance of Death' at Berne and was at one time a soldier - his monogram was a dagger, with which the foregoing letter is signed - had been appointed overseer of the famous Erlach vineyards. Here he is sending a cask of 'Erlacher' to the Town Council of Berne, of which he had once been a member. The letter is a satire in the spirit of the Reformation, of which Niclaus Manuel was a fervent supporter.