Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 13

How Pantagruel gave judgment upon the difference of the two lords.

Then Pantagruel, rising up, assembled all the presidents, counsellors, and doctors that were there, and said unto them, Come now, my masters, you have heard vivae vocis oraculo, the controversy that is in question; what do you think of it? They answered him, We have indeed heard it, but have not understood the devil so much as one circumstance of the case; and therefore we beseech you, una voce, and in courtesy request you that you would give sentence as you think good, and, ex nunc prout ex tunc, we are satisfied with it, and do ratify it with our full consents. Well, my masters, said Pantagruel, seeing you are so pleased, I will do it; but I do not truly find the case so difficult as you make it. Your paragraph Caton, the law Frater, the law Gallus, the law Quinque pedum, the law Vinum, the law Si Dominus, the law Mater, the law Mulier bona, to the law Si quis, the law Pomponius, the law Fundi, the law Emptor, the law Praetor, the law Venditor, and a great many others, are far more intricate in my opinion. After he had spoke this, he walked a turn or two about the hall, plodding very profoundly, as one may think; for he did groan like an ass whilst they girth him too hard, with the very intensiveness of considering how he was bound in conscience to do right to both parties, without varying or accepting of persons. Then he returned, sat down, and began to pronounce sentence as followeth.

Having seen, heard, calculated, and well considered of the difference between the Lords of Kissbreech and Suckfist, the court saith unto them, that in regard of the sudden quaking, shivering, and hoariness of the flickermouse, bravely declining from the estival solstice, to attempt by private means the surprisal of toyish trifles in those who are a little unwell for having taken a draught too much, through the lewd demeanour and vexation of the beetles that inhabit the diarodal (diarhomal) climate of an hypocritical ape on horseback, bending a crossbow backwards, the plaintiff truly had just cause to calfet, or with oakum to stop the chinks of the galleon which the good woman blew up with wind, having one foot shod and the other bare, reimbursing and restoring to him, low and stiff in his conscience, as many bladder-nuts and wild pistaches as there is of hair in eighteen cows, with as much for the embroiderer, and so much for that. He is likewise declared innocent of the case privileged from the knapdardies, into the danger whereof it was thought he had incurred; because he could not jocundly and with fulness of freedom untruss and dung, by the decision of a pair of gloves perfumed with the scent of bum-gunshot at the walnut-tree taper, as is usual in his country of Mirebalais. Slacking, therefore, the topsail, and letting go the bowline with the brazen bullets, wherewith the mariners did by way of protestation bake in pastemeat great store of pulse interquilted with the dormouse, whose hawk’s-bells were made with a puntinaria, after the manner of Hungary or Flanders lace, and which his brother-in-law carried in a pannier, lying near to three chevrons or bordered gules, whilst he was clean out of heart, drooping and crestfallen by the too narrow sifting, canvassing, and curious examining of the matter in the angularly doghole of nasty scoundrels, from whence we shoot at the vermiformal popinjay with the flap made of a foxtail.

But in that he chargeth the defendant that he was a botcher, cheese-eater, and trimmer of man’s flesh embalmed, which in the arsiversy swagfall tumble was not found true, as by the defendant was very well discussed.

The court, therefore, doth condemn and amerce him in three porringers of curds, well cemented and closed together, shining like pearls, and codpieced after the fashion of the country, to be paid unto the said defendant about the middle of August in May. But, on the other part, the defendant shall be bound to furnish him with hay and stubble for stopping the caltrops of his throat, troubled and impulregafized, with gabardines garbled shufflingly, and friends as before, without costs and for cause.

Which sentence being pronounced, the two parties departed both contented with the decree, which was a thing almost incredible. For it never came to pass since the great rain, nor shall the like occur in thirteen jubilees hereafter, that two parties contradictorily contending in judgment be equally satisfied and well pleased with the definitive sentence. As for the counsellors and other doctors in the law that were there present, they were all so ravished with admiration at the more than human wisdom of Pantagruel, which they did most clearly perceive to be in him by his so accurate decision of this so difficult and thorny cause, that their spirits with the extremity of the rapture being elevated above the pitch of actuating the organs of the body, they fell into a trance and sudden ecstasy, wherein they stayed for the space of three long hours, and had been so as yet in that condition had not some good people fetched store of vinegar and rose-water to bring them again unto their former sense and understanding, for the which God be praised everywhere. And so be it.

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