How Sir Roger Got His Nick-Name

Not the Life of Sir Roger Bloxam



Oh wonder! let us on, gay carls; I would tell you of the goodness and innocence of Sir Roger, Sir Roger, oh! my God! Sir Roger Bloxam, how it shewed even in his youth, and that moreover in suspicion, as the sun shines brightest when the darkest thunders break. D’ye remember: i’ the Cloister and th’ Hearth how the neighbours set a spy on the monk and his wife, and track them to a wood — but they are only discussing how to do good to the people of the town? Ay? They were foul dogs that thought ill of them, is’t not so? For even thus, or not unlike, came adventure to Sir Roger when ‘e was yet a stripling. ‘T was a day holy and idle, the sun gold on the primroses of the woodland, and Sir Roger, being of age twelve years, and a lively boy, his thoughts divided between heaven and humanity, how he might help either, was strolling with another lad, one Charlie Preston, God bless him or God rest him, I know not which, and the devil take him too, for I care not.

Now then comes a young master following them, for he saw that which made him ponder. ‘Sdeath, but these Puritans have evil minds, God rot their guts with their stale mess of barleywater! But when he came upon them privily, lo! then Sir Roger looked up frank and smiling, his eyes trembling with great joy and sweetness of child-holiness. Quoth ‘a to the angry paedagogue: Nay, sir, ‘tis natural error, and I pardon thee with my whole heart. For this my friend was stricken (by Heaven’s will) with sudden pain-cramp of a limb. I therefore, crying on Aesculapius, did put my lips to it, sucking and soothing, lipping and licking, rolling my tongue about, nibbling it gently with my teeth to induce a proper flow of blood to the disordered place, all as my instinct of Healer-of-Men did direct me. So presently by the favour of God came relief by spasm and — may it not have been the bursting of some internal abscess? — the ejaculation of some humor — salty, ‘Od wot, and ostreosian, or methought so, and may Nature grant it be nutritious. Now by the Virtue of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Ghost, Three and One, to whom be praise and worship eternally, is my friend rid of his cramp. Amen!

But that young master, skilled in physick, knew in himself that this was no true cure, but a cure by sympathy and transference; for lo! himself was attaint of that same plague. Which Sir Roger spying i’ th’ tail of his eye, the boy cries quickly to him: Good sir, God save you; will you not rest the inflamed limb between these cushion? Ay! warmth and softness, there’s the rub! Move, an’ it ease you! Stay, let me massage the swollen limb with that elastic, that electric Prometheus-reed o’mine. Do you feel nothing better? The fever flushes face and eyes; dear master, cry but upon God! Come, come, dear master, but say a prayer, and it may be that God will bless my feeble efforts. Feeble! cried he; preserve me from the strong, an’ that be so. Ye’re to massage, lad, back ‘er, not to break. A prayer! A prayer! cried pious Roger; and at that the master sobbed “Oh Christ!” and fell down utterly exhausted, but cured of cramps and fever — and suspicion. And when ‘a woke, there behold the boy with his innocent smile, his great open eyes turned piously toward heaven, his hands laid as in benediction on the two limbs that by God’s grace he had restored to well-being. So he cried out, that master, in these words “Twelve years old! Jesus!” Now, as it chanced, this malady of cramp is oft of the remittent type, so that six times that afternoon the whole scene was repeated with slight variations. Also, Sir Roger was so slender and delicate and his feature so fine that — in short, masters and comrades called him alike by the name of ‘Duodecimo Jesus’.

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