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The Porridge-Pot of the Cordeliers

There are few at Paris who know why they speak so much concerning the great Porridge-Pot of the Cordeliers of the great Convent. It is, in fact, a singular piece: it can contain from five to six hundred pounds of meat, and near two tuns of water; so that it is no trifling occupation with those good Fathers to make a soup. This deep Pot, broad and high in proportion to its depth, does not admit of any thing being put in or drawn out without ascending a ladder. A gluttonous Cordelier always took the opportunity, when the cooks were gone to church, to repair there, and steal some delicious bit from this enormous Pot. He drew it up with an iron fork, and conveyed it to his cell, to regale himself, with two or three others of his comrades who had the secret of conveying wine from the cellar.

This Monk having one day mounted the ladder, to draw, as usual, some delicate morsel from the Pot, which then happened to be not more than two-thirds full, he was obliged to stretch himself to an unusual degree; and the fork, by the ponderous weight of the piece he had greedily stuck it into, slipped from his hands. He did his best to extricate it; but, overturned by his own weight and eagerness, he tumbled into the Pot, and was soon suffocated, without any power of assistance, in the boiling lake of broth. A few hours afterwards, the cooks came to serve the refectory. All the broth was emptied, the basons were filled, and brought to their usual places for the use of the religionists. They then returned, to bring the meat from the Pot; but how great was their surprize, when, on ascending the ladder, the first piece that presented itself was the unfortunate Cordelier, quite entire! With great labour they hauled him out. The Prior, who was privately informed of this singular incident, thought proper to have him conveyed to his bed. They then gave out that he died suddenly: the world for some time believed it; but the cooks could not keep the secret.