Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 31

The speech made by Gallet to Picrochole.

There cannot arise amongst men a juster cause of grief than when they receive hurt and damage where they may justly expect for favour and good will; and not without cause, though without reason, have many, after they had fallen into such a calamitous accident, esteemed this indignity less supportable than the loss of their own lives, in such sort that, if they have not been able by force of arms nor any other means, by reach of wit or subtlety, to stop them in their course and restrain their fury, they have fallen into desperation, and utterly deprived themselves of this light. It is therefore no wonder if King Grangousier, my master, be full of high displeasure and much disquieted in mind upon thy outrageous and hostile coming; but truly it would be a marvel if he were not sensible of and moved with the incomparable abuses and injuries perpetrated by thee and thine upon those of his country, towards whom there hath been no example of inhumanity omitted. Which in itself is to him so grievous, for the cordial affection wherewith he hath always cherished his subjects, that more it cannot be to any mortal man; yet in this, above human apprehension, is it to him the more grievous that these wrongs and sad offences have been committed by thee and thine, who, time out of mind, from all antiquity, thou and thy predecessors have been in a continual league and amity with him and all his ancestors; which, even until this time, you have as sacred together inviolably preserved, kept, and entertained, so well, that not he and his only, but the very barbarous nations of the Poictevins, Bretons, Manceaux, and those that dwell beyond the isles of the Canaries, and that of Isabella, have thought it as easy to pull down the firmament, and to set up the depths above the clouds, as to make a breach in your alliance; and have been so afraid of it in their enterprises that they have never dared to provoke, incense, or endamage the one for fear of the other. Nay, which is more, this sacred league hath so filled the world, that there are few nations at this day inhabiting throughout all the continent and isles of the ocean, who have not ambitiously aspired to be received into it, upon your own covenants and conditions, holding your joint confederacy in as high esteem as their own territories and dominions, in such sort, that from the memory of man there hath not been either prince or league so wild and proud that durst have offered to invade, I say not your countries, but not so much as those of your confederates. And if, by rash and heady counsel, they have attempted any new design against them, as soon as they heard the name and title of your alliance, they have suddenly desisted from their enterprises. What rage and madness, therefore, doth now incite thee, all old alliance infringed, all amity trod under foot, and all right violated, thus in a hostile manner to invade his country, without having been by him or his in anything prejudiced, wronged, or provoked? Where is faith? Where is law? Where is reason? Where is humanity? Where is the fear of God? Dost thou think that these atrocious abuses are hidden from the eternal spirit and the supreme God who is the just rewarder of all our undertakings? If thou so think, thou deceivest thyself; for all things shall come to pass as in his incomprehensible judgment he hath appointed. Is it thy fatal destiny, or influences of the stars, that would put an end to thy so long enjoyed east and rest? For that all things have their end and period, so as that, when they are come to the superlative point of their greatest height, they are in a trice tumbled down again, as not being able to abide long in that state. This is the conclusion and end of those who cannot by reason and temperance moderate their fortunes and prosperities. But if it be predestinated that thy happiness and ease must now come to an end, must it needs be by wronging my king — him by whom thou wert established? If thy house must come to ruin, should it therefore in its fall crush the heels of him that set it up? The matter is so unreasonable, and so dissonant from common sense, that hardly can it be conceived by human understanding, and altogether incredible unto strangers, till by the certain and undoubted effects thereof it be made apparent that nothing is either sacred or holy to those who, having emancipated themselves from God and reason, do merely follow the perverse affections of their own depraved nature. If any wrong had been done by us to thy subjects and dominions — if we had favoured thy ill-willers — if we had not assisted thee in thy need — if thy name and reputation had been wounded by us — or, to speak more truly, if the calumniating spirit, tempting to induce thee to evil, had, by false illusions and deceitful fantasies, put into thy conceit the impression of a thought that we had done unto thee anything unworthy of our ancient correspondence and friendship, thou oughtest first to have inquired out the truth, and afterwards by a seasonable warning to admonish us thereof; and we should have so satisfied thee, according to thine own heart’s desire, that thou shouldst have had occasion to be contented. But, O eternal God, what is thy enterprise? Wouldst thou, like a perfidious tyrant, thus spoil and lay waste my master’s kingdom? Hast thou found him so silly and blockish, that he would not — or so destitute of men and money, of counsel and skill in military discipline, that he cannot withstand thy unjust invasion? March hence presently, and to-morrow, some time of the day, retreat unto thine own country, without doing any kind of violence or disorderly act by the way; and pay withal a thousand besans of gold (which, in English money, amounteth to five thousand pounds), for reparation of the damages thou hast done in this country. Half thou shalt pay to-morrow, and the other half at the ides of May next coming, leaving with us in the mean time, for hostages, the Dukes of Turnbank, Lowbuttock, and Smalltrash, together with the Prince of Itches and Viscount of Snatchbit (Tournemoule, Bas-de-fesses, Menuail, Gratelles, Morpiaille.).

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