This story was told by Le Comte, the French Missionary in China.
|A Bonzee begging alms|
I met one day (says my author), in a certain village, with a young bonze of an engaging appearance, and very likely to speed in collecting alms; he stood upright in a close chair pointed thick in the inside with sharp nails, so that he could not stir without wounding himself; two men hired for the purpose carried him with much gravity into the houses, where he besought the people to have compassion on him.
I am, said he, shut up in this chair for the good of your souls, and am resolved never to go out ’till all the nails are purchased, [they were above 2000] they are but sixpence each, and not one of them but will draw down extraordinary blessings upon your houses; for I am not now soliciting for the bonzes, who may expect your charity on other occasions, but for the god Föe himself, to whose honour we are about to build a temple.
I then passed near him, (proceeds my author,) and as soon as the bonze saw me, he made me the same compliment as to the rest: I told him he was very unhappy to give himself such useless torment, and advised him to leave his prison, and go to the temple of the true God to be instructed in divine truth, and to submit to a penance less severe and more salutary.
He replied, without the least emotion, that he was obliged to me for my counsel, but his obligation would be greater, if I would buy a dozen of his nails, which would certainly procure me a fortunate journey.
Here, said he, turning himself on one side, take these which upon the faith of a bonze are the best in my chair, because they give me the least pain, however they are all of the same price.
He pronounced these words (adds Le Comte) with an air and action, which might have provoked my risibility, had not the consideration of his wretched blindness rather excited my compassion.