Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 39

How the Monk was feasted by Gargantua, and of the jovial discourse they had at supper.

When Gargantua was set down at table, after all of them had somewhat stayed their stomachs by a snatch or two of the first bits eaten heartily, Grangousier began to relate the source and cause of the war raised between him and Picrochole; and came to tell how Friar John of the Funnels had triumphed at the defence of the close of the abbey, and extolled him for his valour above Camillus, Scipio, Pompey, Caesar, and Themistocles. Then Gargantua desired that he might be presently sent for, to the end that with him they might consult of what was to be done. Whereupon, by a joint consent, his steward went for him, and brought him along merrily, with his staff of the cross, upon Grangousier’s mule. When he was come, a thousand huggings, a thousand embracements, a thousand good days were given. Ha, Friar John, my friend Friar John, my brave cousin Friar John from the devil! Let me clip thee, my heart, about the neck; to me an armful. I must grip thee, my ballock, till thy back crack with it. Come, my cod, let me coll thee till I kill thee. And Friar John, the gladdest man in the world, never was man made welcomer, never was any more courteously and graciously received than Friar John. Come, come, said Gargantua, a stool here close by me at this end. I am content, said the monk, seeing you will have it so. Some water, page; fill, my boy, fill; it is to refresh my liver. Give me some, child, to gargle my throat withal. Deposita cappa, said Gymnast, let us pull off this frock. Ho, by G — gentlemen, said the monk, there is a chapter in Statutis Ordinis which opposeth my laying of it down. Pish! said Gymnast, a fig for your chapter! This frock breaks both your shoulders, put it off. My friend, said the monk, let me alone with it; for, by G — I’ll drink the better that it is on. It makes all my body jocund. If I should lay it aside, the waggish pages would cut to themselves garters out of it, as I was once served at Coulaines. And, which is worse, I shall lose my appetite. But if in this habit I sit down at table, I will drink, by G — both to thee and to thy horse, and so courage, frolic, God save the company! I have already supped, yet will I eat never a whit the less for that; for I have a paved stomach, as hollow as a butt of malvoisie or St. Benedictus’ boot (butt), and always open like a lawyer’s pouch. Of all fishes but the tench take the wing of a partridge or the thigh of a nun. Doth not he die like a good fellow that dies with a stiff catso? Our prior loves exceedingly the white of a capon. In that, said Gymnast, he doth not resemble the foxes; for of the capons, hens, and pullets which they carry away they never eat the white. Why? said the monk. Because, said Gymnast, they have no cooks to dress them; and, if they be not competently made ready, they remain red and not white; the redness of meats being a token that they have not got enough of the fire, whether by boiling, roasting, or otherwise, except the shrimps, lobsters, crabs, and crayfishes, which are cardinalized with boiling. By God’s feast-gazers, said the monk, the porter of our abbey then hath not his head well boiled, for his eyes are as red as a mazer made of an alder-tree. The thigh of this leveret is good for those that have the gout. To the purpose of the truel — what is the reason that the thighs of a gentlewoman are always fresh and cool? This problem, said Gargantua, is neither in Aristotle, in Alexander Aphrodiseus, nor in Plutarch. There are three causes, said the monk, by which that place is naturally refreshed. Primo, because the water runs all along by it. Secundo, because it is a shady place, obscure and dark, upon which the sun never shines. And thirdly, because it is continually flabbelled, blown upon, and aired by the north winds of the hole arstick, the fan of the smock, and flipflap of the codpiece. And lusty, my lads. Some bousing liquor, page! So! crack, crack, crack. O how good is God, that gives us of this excellent juice! I call him to witness, if I had been in the time of Jesus Christ, I would have kept him from being taken by the Jews in the garden of Olivet. And the devil fail me, if I should have failed to cut off the hams of these gentlemen apostles who ran away so basely after they had well supped, and left their good master in the lurch. I hate that man worse than poison that offers to run away when he should fight and lay stoutly about him. Oh that I were but King of France for fourscore or a hundred years! By G — I should whip like curtail-dogs these runaways of Pavia. A plague take them; why did they not choose rather to die there than to leave their good prince in that pinch and necessity? Is it not better and more honourable to perish in fighting valiantly than to live in disgrace by a cowardly running away? We are like to eat no great store of goslings this year; therefore, friend, reach me some of that roasted pig there.

Diavolo, is there no more must? No more sweet wine? Germinavit radix Jesse. Je renie ma vie, je meurs de soif; I renounce my life, I rage for thirst. This wine is none of the worst. What wine drink you at Paris? I give myself to the devil, if I did not once keep open house at Paris for all comers six months together. Do you know Friar Claude of the high kilderkins? Oh the good fellow that he is! But I do not know what fly hath stung him of late, he is become so hard a student. For my part, I study not at all. In our abbey we never study for fear of the mumps, which disease in horses is called the mourning in the chine. Our late abbot was wont to say that it is a monstrous thing to see a learned monk. By G — master, my friend, Magis magnos clericos non sunt magis magnos sapientes. You never saw so many hares as there are this year. I could not anywhere come by a goshawk nor tassel of falcon. My Lord Belloniere promised me a lanner, but he wrote to me not long ago that he was become pursy. The partridges will so multiply henceforth, that they will go near to eat up our ears. I take no delight in the stalking-horse, for I catch such cold that I am like to founder myself at that sport. If I do not run, toil, travel, and trot about, I am not well at ease. True it is that in leaping over the hedges and bushes my frock leaves always some of its wool behind it. I have recovered a dainty greyhound; I give him to the devil, if he suffer a hare to escape him. A groom was leading him to my Lord Huntlittle, and I robbed him of him. Did I ill? No, Friar John, said Gymnast, no, by all the devils that are, no! So, said the monk, do I attest these same devils so long as they last, or rather, virtue (of) G — what could that gouty limpard have done with so fine a dog? By the body of G — he is better pleased when one presents him with a good yoke of oxen. How now, said Ponocrates, you swear, Friar John. It is only, said the monk, but to grace and adorn my speech. They are colours of a Ciceronian rhetoric.

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