Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 45

How the Monk carried along with him the Pilgrims, and of the good words that Grangousier gave them.

This skirmish being ended, Gargantua retreated with his men, excepting the monk, and about the dawning of the day they came unto Grangousier, who in his bed was praying unto God for their safety and victory. And seeing them all safe and sound, he embraced them lovingly, and asked what was become of the monk. Gargantua answered him that without doubt the enemies had the monk. Then have they mischief and ill luck, said Grangousier; which was very true. Therefore is it a common proverb to this day, to give a man the monk, or, as in French, lui bailler le moine, when they would express the doing unto one a mischief. Then commanded he a good breakfast to be provided for their refreshment. When all was ready, they called Gargantua, but he was so aggrieved that the monk was not to be heard of that he would neither eat nor drink. In the meanwhile the monk comes, and from the gate of the outer court cries out aloud, Fresh wine, fresh wine, Gymnast my friend! Gymnast went out and saw that it was Friar John, who brought along with him five pilgrims and Touchfaucet prisoners; whereupon Gargantua likewise went forth to meet him, and all of them made him the best welcome that possibly they could, and brought him before Grangousier, who asked him of all his adventures. The monk told him all, both how he was taken, how he rid himself of his keepers, of the slaughter he had made by the way, and how he had rescued the pilgrims and brought along with him Captain Touchfaucet. Then did they altogether fall to banqueting most merrily. In the meantime Grangousier asked the pilgrims what countrymen they were, whence they came, and whither they went. Sweer-to-go in the name of the rest answered, My sovereign lord, I am of Saint Genou in Berry, this man is of Palvau, this other is of Onzay, this of Argy, this of St. Nazarand, and this man of Villebrenin. We come from Saint Sebastian near Nantes, and are now returning, as we best may, by easy journeys. Yea, but, said Grangousier, what went you to do at Saint Sebastian? We went, said Sweer-to-go, to offer up unto that sanct our vows against the plague. Ah, poor men! said Grangousier, do you think that the plague comes from Saint Sebastian? Yes, truly, answered Sweer-to-go, our preachers tell us so indeed. But is it so, said Grangousier, do the false prophets teach you such abuses? Do they thus blaspheme the sancts and holy men of God, as to make them like unto the devils, who do nothing but hurt unto mankind — as Homer writeth, that the plague was sent into the camp of the Greeks by Apollo, and as the poets feign a great rabble of Vejoves and mischievous gods. So did a certain cafard or dissembling religionary preach at Sinay, that Saint Anthony sent the fire into men’s legs, that Saint Eutropius made men hydropic, Saint Clidas, fools, and that Saint Genou made them goutish. But I punished him so exemplarily, though he called me heretic for it, that since that time no such hypocritical rogue durst set his foot within my territories. And truly I wonder that your king should suffer them in their sermons to publish such scandalous doctrine in his dominions; for they deserve to be chastised with greater severity than those who, by magical art, or any other device, have brought the pestilence into a country. The pest killeth but the bodies, but such abominable imposters empoison our very souls. As he spake these words, in came the monk very resolute, and asked them, Whence are you, you poor wretches? Of Saint Genou, said they. And how, said the monk, does the Abbot Gulligut, the good drinker — and the monks, what cheer make they? By G— body, they’ll have a fling at your wives, and breast them to some purpose, whilst you are upon your roaming rant and gadding pilgrimage. Hin, hen, said Sweer-to-go, I am not afraid of mine, for he that shall see her by day will never break his neck to come to her in the night-time. Yea, marry, said the monk, now you have hit it. Let her be as ugly as ever was Proserpina, she will once, by the Lord G — be overturned, and get her skin-coat shaken, if there dwell any monks near to her; for a good carpenter will make use of any kind of timber. Let me be peppered with the pox, if you find not all your wives with child at your return; for the very shadow of the steeple of an abbey is fruitful. It is, said Gargantua, like the water of Nilus in Egypt, if you believe Strabo and Pliny, Lib. 7, cap. 3. What virtue will there be then, said the monk, in their bullets of concupiscence, their habits and their bodies?

Then, said Grangousier, go your ways, poor men, in the name of God the Creator, to whom I pray to guide you perpetually, and henceforward be not so ready to undertake these idle and unprofitable journeys. Look to your families, labour every man in his vocation, instruct your children, and live as the good apostle St. Paul directeth you; in doing whereof, God, his angels and sancts, will guard and protect you, and no evil or plague at any time shall befall you. Then Gargantua led them into the hall to take their refection; but the pilgrims did nothing but sigh, and said to Gargantua, O how happy is that land which hath such a man for their lord! We have been more edified and instructed by the talk which he had with us, than by all the sermons that ever were preached in our town. This is, said Gargantua, that which Plato saith, Lib. 5 de Republ., that those commonwealths are happy, whose rulers philosophate, and whose philosophers rule. Then caused he their wallets to be filled with victuals and their bottles with wine, and gave unto each of them a horse to ease them upon the way, together with some pence to live by.

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