Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 5

The Discourse of the Drinkers.

Then did they fall upon the chat of victuals and some belly furniture to be snatched at in the very same place. Which purpose was no sooner mentioned, but forthwith began flagons to go, gammons to trot, goblets to fly, great bowls to ting, glasses to ring. Draw, reach, fill, mix, give it me without water. So, my friend, so, whip me off this glass neatly, bring me hither some claret, a full weeping glass till it run over. A cessation and truce with thirst. Ha, thou false fever, wilt thou not be gone? By my figgins, godmother, I cannot as yet enter in the humour of being merry, nor drink so currently as I would. You have catched a cold, gammer? Yea, forsooth, sir. By the belly of Sanct Buff, let us talk of our drink: I never drink but at my hours, like the Pope’s mule. And I never drink but in my breviary, like a fair father guardian. Which was first, thirst or drinking? Thirst, for who in the time of innocence would have drunk without being athirst? Nay, sir, it was drinking; for privatio praesupponit habitum. I am learned, you see: Foecundi calices quem non fecere disertum? We poor innocents drink but too much without thirst. Not I truly, who am a sinner, for I never drink without thirst, either present or future. To prevent it, as you know, I drink for the thirst to come. I drink eternally. This is to me an eternity of drinking, and drinking of eternity. Let us sing, let us drink, and tune up our roundelays. Where is my funnel? What, it seems I do not drink but by an attorney? Do you wet yourselves to dry, or do you dry to wet you? Pish, I understand not the rhetoric (theoric, I should say), but I help myself somewhat by the practice. Baste! enough! I sup, I wet, I humect, I moisten my gullet, I drink, and all for fear of dying. Drink always and you shall never die. If I drink not, I am a-ground, dry, gravelled and spent. I am stark dead without drink, and my soul ready to fly into some marsh amongst frogs; the soul never dwells in a dry place, drouth kills it. O you butlers, creators of new forms, make me of no drinker a drinker, a perennity and everlastingness of sprinkling and bedewing me through these my parched and sinewy bowels. He drinks in vain that feels not the pleasure of it. This entereth into my veins — the pissing tools and urinal vessels shall have nothing of it. I would willingly wash the tripes of the calf which I apparelled this morning. I have pretty well now ballasted my stomach and stuffed my paunch. If the papers of my bonds and bills could drink as well as I do, my creditors would not want for wine when they come to see me, or when they are to make any formal exhibition of their rights to what of me they can demand. This hand of yours spoils your nose. O how many other such will enter here before this go out! What, drink so shallow? It is enough to break both girds and petrel. This is called a cup of dissimulation, or flagonal hypocrisy.

What difference is there between a bottle and a flagon. Great difference; for the bottle is stopped and shut up with a stopple, but the flagon with a vice (La bouteille est fermee a bouchon, et le flaccon a vis.). Bravely and well played upon the words! Our fathers drank lustily, and emptied their cans. Well cacked, well sung! Come, let us drink: will you send nothing to the river? Here is one going to wash the tripes. I drink no more than a sponge. I drink like a Templar knight. And I, tanquam sponsus. And I, sicut terra sine aqua. Give me a synonymon for a gammon of bacon. It is the compulsory of drinkers: it is a pulley. By a pulley-rope wine is let down into a cellar, and by a gammon into the stomach. Hey! now, boys, hither, some drink, some drink. There is no trouble in it. Respice personam, pone pro duos, bus non est in usu. If I could get up as well as I can swallow down, I had been long ere now very high in the air.

Thus became Tom Tosspot rich — thus went in the tailor’s stitch. Thus did Bacchus conquer th’ Inde — thus Philosophy, Melinde. A little rain allays a great deal of wind: long tippling breaks the thunder. But if there came such liquor from my ballock, would you not willingly thereafter suck the udder whence it issued? Here, page, fill! I prithee, forget me not when it comes to my turn, and I will enter the election I have made of thee into the very register of my heart. Sup, Guillot, and spare not, there is somewhat in the pot. I appeal from thirst, and disclaim its jurisdiction. Page, sue out my appeal in form. This remnant in the bottom of the glass must follow its leader. I was wont heretofore to drink out all, but now I leave nothing. Let us not make too much haste; it is requisite we carry all along with us. Heyday, here are tripes fit for our sport, and, in earnest, excellent godebillios of the dun ox (you know) with the black streak. O, for God’s sake, let us lash them soundly, yet thriftily. Drink, or I will — No, no, drink, I beseech you (Ou je vous, je vous prie.). Sparrows will not eat unless you bob them on the tail, nor can I drink if I be not fairly spoke to. The concavities of my body are like another Hell for their capacity. Lagonaedatera (Greek lateris cavitas: Greek orcus: and Greek alter.). There is not a corner, nor coney-burrow in all my body, where this wine doth not ferret out my thirst. Ho, this will bang it soundly. But this shall banish it utterly. Let us wind our horns by the sound of flagons and bottles, and cry aloud, that whoever hath lost his thirst come not hither to seek it. Long clysters of drinking are to be voided without doors. The great God made the planets, and we make the platters neat. I have the word of the gospel in my mouth, Sitio. The stone called asbestos is not more unquenchable than the thirst of my paternity. Appetite comes with eating, says Angeston, but the thirst goes away with drinking. I have a remedy against thirst, quite contrary to that which is good against the biting of a mad dog. Keep running after a dog, and he will never bite you; drink always before the thirst, and it will never come upon you. There I catch you, I awake you. Argus had a hundred eyes for his sight, a butler should have (like Briareus) a hundred hands wherewith to fill us wine indefatigably. Hey now, lads, let us moisten ourselves, it will be time to dry hereafter. White wine here, wine, boys! Pour out all in the name of Lucifer, fill here, you, fill and fill (peascods on you) till it be full. My tongue peels. Lans trinque; to thee, countryman, I drink to thee, good fellow, comrade to thee, lusty, lively! Ha, la, la, that was drunk to some purpose, and bravely gulped over. O lachryma Christi, it is of the best grape! I’faith, pure Greek, Greek! O the fine white wine! upon my conscience, it is a kind of taffetas wine — hin, hin, it is of one ear, well wrought, and of good wool. Courage, comrade, up thy heart, billy! We will not be beasted at this bout, for I have got one trick. Ex hoc in hoc. There is no enchantment nor charm there, every one of you hath seen it. My ‘prenticeship is out, I am a free man at this trade. I am prester mast (Prestre mace, maistre passe.), Prish, Brum! I should say, master past. O the drinkers, those that are a-dry, O poor thirsty souls! Good page, my friend, fill me here some, and crown the wine, I pray thee. Like a cardinal! Natura abhorret vacuum. Would you say that a fly could drink in this? This is after the fashion of Switzerland. Clear off, neat, supernaculum! Come, therefore, blades, to this divine liquor and celestial juice, swill it over heartily, and spare not! It is a decoction of nectar and ambrosia.

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