Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 20

How the Sophister carried away his cloth, and how he had a suit in law against the other masters.

The sophister had no sooner ended, but Ponocrates and Eudemon burst out in a laughing so heartily, that they had almost split with it, and given up the ghost, in rendering their souls to God: even just as Crassus did, seeing a lubberly ass eat thistles; and as Philemon, who, for seeing an ass eat those figs which were provided for his own dinner, died with force of laughing. Together with them Master Janotus fell a-laughing too as fast as he could, in which mood of laughing they continued so long, that their eyes did water by the vehement concussion of the substance of the brain, by which these lachrymal humidities, being pressed out, glided through the optic nerves, and so to the full represented Democritus Heraclitizing and Heraclitus Democritizing.

When they had done laughing, Gargantua consulted with the prime of his retinue what should be done. There Ponocrates was of opinion that they should make this fair orator drink again; and seeing he had showed them more pastime, and made them laugh more than a natural soul could have done, that they should give him ten baskets full of sausages, mentioned in his pleasant speech, with a pair of hose, three hundred great billets of logwood, five-and-twenty hogsheads of wine, a good large down-bed, and a deep capacious dish, which he said were necessary for his old age. All this was done as they did appoint: only Gargantua, doubting that they could not quickly find out breeches fit for his wearing, because he knew not what fashion would best become the said orator, whether the martingale fashion of breeches, wherein is a spunghole with a drawbridge for the more easy caguing: or the fashion of the mariners, for the greater solace and comfort of his kidneys: or that of the Switzers, which keeps warm the bedondaine or belly-tabret: or round breeches with straight cannions, having in the seat a piece like a cod’s tail, for fear of over-heating his reins:— all which considered, he caused to be given him seven ells of white cloth for the linings. The wood was carried by the porters, the masters of arts carried the sausages and the dishes, and Master Janotus himself would carry the cloth. One of the said masters, called Jousse Bandouille, showed him that it was not seemly nor decent for one of his condition to do so, and that therefore he should deliver it to one of them. Ha, said Janotus, baudet, baudet, or blockhead, blockhead, thou dost not conclude in modo et figura. For lo, to this end serve the suppositions and parva logicalia. Pannus, pro quo supponit? Confuse, said Bandouille, et distributive. I do not ask thee, said Janotus, blockhead, quomodo supponit, but pro quo? It is, blockhead, pro tibiis meis, and therefore I will carry it, Egomet, sicut suppositum portat appositum. So did he carry it away very close and covertly, as Patelin the buffoon did his cloth. The best was, that when this cougher, in a full act or assembly held at the Mathurins, had with great confidence required his breeches and sausages, and that they were flatly denied him, because he had them of Gargantua, according to the informations thereupon made, he showed them that this was gratis, and out of his liberality, by which they were not in any sort quit of their promises. Notwithstanding this, it was answered him that he should be content with reason, without expectation of any other bribe there. Reason? said Janotus. We use none of it here. Unlucky traitors, you are not worth the hanging. The earth beareth not more arrant villains than you are. I know it well enough; halt not before the lame. I have practised wickedness with you. By God’s rattle, I will inform the king of the enormous abuses that are forged here and carried underhand by you, and let me be a leper, if he do not burn you alive like sodomites, traitors, heretics and seducers, enemies to God and virtue.

Upon these words they framed articles against him: he on the other side warned them to appear. In sum, the process was retained by the court, and is there as yet. Hereupon the magisters made a vow never to decrott themselves in rubbing off the dirt of either their shoes or clothes: Master Janotus with his adherents vowed never to blow or snuff their noses, until judgment were given by a definitive sentence.

By these vows do they continue unto this time both dirty and snotty; for the court hath not garbled, sifted, and fully looked into all the pieces as yet. The judgment or decree shall be given out and pronounced at the next Greek kalends, that is, never. As you know that they do more than nature, and contrary to their own articles. The articles of Paris maintain that to God alone belongs infinity, and nature produceth nothing that is immortal; for she putteth an end and period to all things by her engendered, according to the saying, Omnia orta cadunt, &c. But these thick mist-swallowers make the suits in law depending before them both infinite and immortal. In doing whereof, they have given occasion to, and verified the saying of Chilo the Lacedaemonian, consecrated to the oracle at Delphos, that misery is the inseparable companion of law-debates; and that pleaders are miserable; for sooner shall they attain to the end of their lives, than to the final decision of their pretended rights.

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Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 15:33