Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 27

How Pantagruel set up one trophy in memorial of their valour, and Panurge another in remembrance of the hares. How Pantagruel likewise with his farts begat little men, and with his fisgs little women; and how Panurge broke a great staff over two glasses.

Before we depart hence, said Pantagruel, in remembrance of the exploit that you have now performed I will in this place erect a fair trophy. Then every man amongst them, with great joy and fine little country songs, set up a huge big post, whereunto they hanged a great cuirassier saddle, the fronstal of a barbed horse, bridle-bosses, pulley-pieces for the knees, stirrup-leathers, spurs, stirrups, a coat of mail, a corslet tempered with steel, a battle-axe, a strong, short, and sharp horseman’s sword, a gauntlet, a horseman’s mace, gushet-armour for the armpits, leg-harness, and a gorget, with all other furniture needful for the decorement of a triumphant arch, in sign of a trophy. And then Pantagruel, for an eternal memorial, wrote this victorial ditton, as followeth:—

Here was the prowess made apparent of

Four brave and valiant champions of proof,

Who, without any arms but wit, at once,

Like Fabius, or the two Scipions,

Burnt in a fire six hundred and threescore

Crablice, strong rogues ne’er vanquished before.

By this each king may learn, rook, pawn, and knight,

That sleight is much more prevalent than might.

For victory,

As all men see,

Hangs on the ditty

Of that committee

Where the great God

Hath his abode.

Nor doth he it to strong and great men give,

But to his elect, as we must believe;

Therefore shall he obtain wealth and esteem,

Who thorough faith doth put his trust in him.

Whilst Pantagruel was writing these foresaid verses, Panurge halved and fixed upon a great stake the horns of a roebuck, together with the skin and the right forefoot thereof, the ears of three leverets, the chine of a coney, the jaws of a hare, the wings of two bustards, the feet of four queest-doves, a bottle or borracho full of vinegar, a horn wherein to put salt, a wooden spit, a larding stick, a scurvy kettle full of holes, a dripping-pan to make sauce in, an earthen salt-cellar, and a goblet of Beauvais. Then, in imitation of Pantagruel’s verses and trophy, wrote that which followeth:—

Here was it that four jovial blades sat down

To a profound carousing, and to crown

Their banquet with those wines which please best great

Bacchus, the monarch of their drinking state.

Then were the reins and furch of a young hare,

With salt and vinegar, displayed there,

Of which to snatch a bit or two at once

They all fell on like hungry scorpions.

For th’ Inventories

Of Defensories

Say that in heat

We must drink neat

All out, and of

The choicest stuff.

But it is bad to eat of young hare’s flesh,

Unless with vinegar we it refresh.

Receive this tenet, then, without control,

That vinegar of that meat is the soul.

Then said Pantagruel, Come, my lads, let us begone! we have stayed here too long about our victuals; for very seldom doth it fall out that the greatest eaters do the most martial exploits. There is no shadow like that of flying colours, no smoke like that of horses, no clattering like that of armour. At this Epistemon began to smile, and said, There is no shadow like that of the kitchen, no smoke like that of pasties, and no clattering like that of goblets. Unto which answered Panurge, There is no shadow like that of curtains, no smoke like that of women’s breasts, and no clattering like that of ballocks. Then forthwith rising up he gave a fart, a leap, and a whistle, and most joyfully cried out aloud, Ever live Pantagruel! When Pantagruel saw that, he would have done as much; but with the fart that he let the earth trembled nine leagues about, wherewith and with the corrupted air he begot above three and fifty thousand little men, ill-favoured dwarfs, and with one fisg that he let he made as many little women, crouching down, as you shall see in divers places, which never grow but like cow’s tails, downwards, or, like the Limosin radishes, round. How now! said Panurge, are your farts so fertile and fruitful? By G — here be brave farted men and fisgued women; let them be married together; they will beget fine hornets and dorflies. So did Pantagruel, and called them pigmies. Those he sent to live in an island thereby, where since that time they are increased mightily. But the cranes make war with them continually, against which they do most courageously defend themselves; for these little ends of men and dandiprats (whom in Scotland they call whiphandles and knots of a tar-barrel) are commonly very testy and choleric; the physical reason whereof is, because their heart is near their spleen.

At this same time Panurge took two drinking glasses that were there, both of one bigness, and filled them with water up to the brim, and set one of them upon one stool and the other upon another, placing them about one foot from one another. Then he took the staff of a javelin, about five foot and a half long, and put it upon the two glasses, so that the two ends of the staff did come just to the brims of the glasses. This done, he took a great stake or billet of wood, and said to Pantagruel and to the rest, My masters, behold how easily we shall have the victory over our enemies; for just as I shall break this staff here upon these glasses, without either breaking or crazing of them, nay, which is more, without spilling one drop of the water that is within them, even so shall we break the heads of our Dipsodes without receiving any of us any wound or loss in our person or goods. But, that you may not think there is any witchcraft in this, hold! said he to Eusthenes, strike upon the midst as hard as thou canst with this log. Eusthenes did so, and the staff broke in two pieces, and not one drop of the water fell out of the glasses. Then said he, I know a great many such other tricks; let us now therefore march boldly and with assurance.

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