Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 46

How Grangousier did very kindly entertain Touchfaucet his prisoner.

Touchfaucet was presented unto Grangousier, and by him examined upon the enterprise and attempt of Picrochole, what it was he could pretend to, or aim at, by the rustling stir and tumultuary coil of this his sudden invasion. Whereunto he answered, that his end and purpose was to conquer all the country, if he could, for the injury done to his cake-bakers. It is too great an undertaking, said Grangousier; and, as the proverb is, He that grips too much, holds fast but little. The time is not now as formerly, to conquer the kingdoms of our neighbour princes, and to build up our own greatness upon the loss of our nearest Christian Brother. This imitation of the ancient Herculeses, Alexanders, Hannibals, Scipios, Caesars, and other such heroes, is quite contrary to the profession of the gospel of Christ, by which we are commanded to preserve, keep, rule, and govern every man his own country and lands, and not in a hostile manner to invade others; and that which heretofore the Barbars and Saracens called prowess and valour, we do now call robbing, thievery, and wickedness. It would have been more commendable in him to have contained himself within the bounds of his own territories, royally governing them, than to insult and domineer in mine, pillaging and plundering everywhere like a most unmerciful enemy; for, by ruling his own with discretion, he might have increased his greatness, but by robbing me he cannot escape destruction. Go your ways in the name of God, prosecute good enterprises, show your king what is amiss, and never counsel him with regard unto your own particular profit, for the public loss will swallow up the private benefit. As for your ransom, I do freely remit it to you, and will that your arms and horse be restored to you; so should good neighbours do, and ancient friends, seeing this our difference is not properly war. As Plato, Lib. 5 de Repub., would not have it called war, but sedition, when the Greeks took up arms against one another, and that therefore, when such combustions should arise amongst them, his advice was to behave themselves in the managing of them with all discretion and modesty. Although you call it war, it is but superficial; it entereth not into the closet and inmost cabinet of our hearts. For neither of us hath been wronged in his honour, nor is there any question betwixt us in the main, but only how to redress, by the bye, some petty faults committed by our men — I mean, both yours and ours, which, although you knew, you ought to let pass; for these quarrelsome persons deserve rather to be contemned than mentioned, especially seeing I offered them satisfaction according to the wrong. God shall be the just judge of our variances, whom I beseech by death rather to take me out of this life, and to permit my goods to perish and be destroyed before mine eyes, than that by me or mine he should in any sort be wronged. These words uttered, he called the monk, and before them all thus spoke unto him, Friar John, my good friend, it is you that took prisoner the Captain Touchfaucet here present? Sir, said the monk, seeing himself is here, and that he is of the years of discretion, I had rather you should know it by his confession than by any words of mine. Then said Touchfaucet, My sovereign lord it is he indeed that took me, and I do therefore most freely yield myself his prisoner. Have you put him to any ransom? said Grangousier to the monk. No, said the monk, of that I take no care. How much would you have for having taken him? Nothing, nothing, said the monk; I am not swayed by that, nor do I regard it. Then Grangousier commanded that, in presence of Touchfaucet, should be delivered to the monk for taking him the sum of three score and two thousand saluts (in English money, fifteen thousand and five hundred pounds), which was done, whilst they made a collation or little banquet to the said Touchfaucet, of whom Grangousier asked if he would stay with him, or if he loved rather to return to his king. Touchfaucet answered that he was content to take whatever course he would advise him to. Then, said Grangousier, return unto your king, and God be with you.

Then he gave him an excellent sword of a Vienne blade, with a golden scabbard wrought with vine-branch-like flourishes, of fair goldsmith’s work, and a collar or neck-chain of gold, weighing seven hundred and two thousand marks (at eight ounces each), garnished with precious stones of the finest sort, esteemed at a hundred and sixty thousand ducats, and ten thousand crowns more, as an honourable donative, by way of present.

After this talk Touchfaucet got to his horse, and Gargantua for his safety allowed him the guard of thirty men-at-arms and six score archers to attend him, under the conduct of Gymnast, to bring him even unto the gate of the rock Clermond, if there were need. As soon as he was gone, the monk restored unto Grangousier the three score and two thousand saluts which he had received, saying, Sir, it is not as yet the time for you to give such gifts; stay till this war be at an end, for none can tell what accidents may occur, and war begun without good provision of money beforehand for going through with it, is but as a breathing of strength, and blast that will quickly pass away. Coin is the sinews of war. Well then, said Grangousier, at the end I will content you by some honest recompense, as also all those who shall do me good service.

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