Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 6

How Gargantua was born in a strange manner.

Whilst they were on this discourse and pleasant tattle of drinking, Gargamelle began to be a little unwell in her lower parts; whereupon Grangousier arose from off the grass, and fell to comfort her very honestly and kindly, suspecting that she was in travail, and told her that it was best for her to sit down upon the grass under the willows, because she was like very shortly to see young feet, and that therefore it was convenient she should pluck up her spirits, and take a good heart of new at the fresh arrival of her baby; saying to her withal, that although the pain was somewhat grievous to her, it would be but of short continuance, and that the succeeding joy would quickly remove that sorrow, in such sort that she should not so much as remember it. On, with a sheep’s courage! quoth he. Despatch this boy, and we will speedily fall to work for the making of another. Ha! said she, so well as you speak at your own ease, you that are men! Well, then, in the name of God, I’ll do my best, seeing that you will have it so, but would to God that it were cut off from you! What? said Grangousier. Ha, said she, you are a good man indeed, you understand it well enough. What, my member? said he. By the goat’s blood, if it please you, that shall be done instantly; cause bring hither a knife. Alas, said she, the Lord forbid, and pray Jesus to forgive me! I did not say it from my heart, therefore let it alone, and do not do it neither more nor less any kind of harm for my speaking so to you. But I am like to have work enough to do to-day and all for your member, yet God bless you and it.

Courage, courage, said he, take you no care of the matter, let the four foremost oxen do the work. I will yet go drink one whiff more, and if in the mean time anything befall you that may require my presence, I will be so near to you, that, at the first whistling in your fist, I shall be with you forthwith. A little while after she began to groan, lament and cry. Then suddenly came the midwives from all quarters, who groping her below, found some peloderies, which was a certain filthy stuff, and of a taste truly bad enough. This they thought had been the child, but it was her fundament, that was slipped out with the mollification of her straight entrail, which you call the bum-gut, and that merely by eating of too many tripes, as we have showed you before. Whereupon an old ugly trot in the company, who had the repute of an expert she-physician, and was come from Brisepaille, near to Saint Genou, three score years before, made her so horrible a restrictive and binding medicine, and whereby all her larris, arse-pipes, and conduits were so oppilated, stopped, obstructed, and contracted, that you could hardly have opened and enlarged them with your teeth, which is a terrible thing to think upon; seeing the Devil at the mass at Saint Martin’s was puzzled with the like task, when with his teeth he had lengthened out the parchment whereon he wrote the tittle-tattle of two young mangy whores. By this inconvenient the cotyledons of her matrix were presently loosed, through which the child sprang up and leaped, and so, entering into the hollow vein, did climb by the diaphragm even above her shoulders, where the vein divides itself into two, and from thence taking his way towards the left side, issued forth at her left ear. As soon as he was born, he cried not as other babes use to do, Miez, miez, miez, miez, but with a high, sturdy, and big voice shouted about, Some drink, some drink, some drink, as inviting all the world to drink with him. The noise hereof was so extremely great, that it was heard in both the countries at once of Beauce and Bibarois. I doubt me, that you do not thoroughly believe the truth of this strange nativity. Though you believe it not, I care not much: but an honest man, and of good judgment, believeth still what is told him, and that which he finds written.

Is this beyond our law or our faith — against reason or the holy Scripture? For my part, I find nothing in the sacred Bible that is against it. But tell me, if it had been the will of God, would you say that he could not do it? Ha, for favour sake, I beseech you, never emberlucock or inpulregafize your spirits with these vain thoughts and idle conceits; for I tell you, it is not impossible with God, and, if he pleased, all women henceforth should bring forth their children at the ear. Was not Bacchus engendered out of the very thigh of Jupiter? Did not Roquetaillade come out at his mother’s heel, and Crocmoush from the slipper of his nurse? Was not Minerva born of the brain, even through the ear of Jove? Adonis, of the bark of a myrrh tree; and Castor and Pollux of the doupe of that egg which was laid and hatched by Leda? But you would wonder more, and with far greater amazement, if I should now present you with that chapter of Plinius, wherein he treateth of strange births, and contrary to nature, and yet am not I so impudent a liar as he was. Read the seventh book of his Natural History, chap.3, and trouble not my head any more about this.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/r/rabelais/francois/r11g/book1.6.html

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