A rich Nobleman once opened the theaters without charge to the
people, and gave a public notice that he would handsomely reward
any person who invented a new amusement for the occasion.
Various public performers contended for the prize. Among them came
a Buffoon well known among the populace for his jokes, and said
that he had a kind of entertainment which had never been brought
out on any stage before. This report being spread about made a great
stir, and the theater was crowded in every part. The Buffoon appeared
alone upon the platform, without any apparatus or confederates, and
the very sense of expectation caused an intense silence. He suddenly
bent his head towards his bosom and imitated the squeaking of a little
pig so admirably with his voice that the audience declared he had a
porker under his cloak, and demanded that it should be shaken out.
When that was done and nothing was found, they cheered the actor,
and loaded him with the loudest applause.
A Countryman in the crowd, observing all that has passed, said, "So
help me, Hercules, he shall not beat me at that trick!" and at once
proclaimed that he would do the same thing on the next day, though
in a much more natural way. On the morrow a still larger crowd
assembled in the theater, but now partiality for their favorite actor
very generally prevailed, and the audience came rather to ridicule the
Countryman than to see the spectacle.
Both of the performers appeared on the stage. The Buffoon grunted
and squeaked away first, and obtained, as on the preceding day, the
applause and cheers of the spectators. Next the Countryman
commenced, and pretending that he concealed a little pig beneath his
clothes (which in truth he did, but not suspected by the audience )
contrived to take hold of and to pull his ear causing the pig to squeak.
The Crowd, however, cried out with one consent that the Buffoon had
given a far more exact imitation, and clamored for the Countryman to
be kicked out of the theater.
On this the rustic produced the little pig from his cloak and showed by
the most positive proof the greatness of their mistake. "Look here," he
said, "this shows what sort of judges you are."
(Translated by George Fyler Townsend, 1814-1900)