Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 1

How Pantagruel transported a colony of Utopians into Dipsody.

Pantagruel, having wholly subdued the land of Dipsody, transported thereunto a colony of Utopians, to the number of 9,876,543,210 men, besides the women and little children, artificers of all trades, and professors of all sciences, to people, cultivate, and improve that country, which otherwise was ill inhabited, and in the greatest part thereof but a mere desert and wilderness; and did transport them (not) so much for the excessive multitude of men and women, which were in Utopia multiplied, for number, like grasshoppers upon the face of the land. You understand well enough, nor is it needful further to explain it to you, that the Utopian men had so rank and fruitful genitories, and that the Utopian women carried matrixes so ample, so gluttonous, so tenaciously retentive, and so architectonically cellulated, that at the end of every ninth month seven children at the least, what male what female, were brought forth by every married woman, in imitation of the people of Israel in Egypt, if Anthony (Nicholas) de Lyra be to be trusted. Nor yet was this transplantation made so much for the fertility of the soil, the wholesomeness of the air, or commodity of the country of Dipsody, as to retain that rebellious people within the bounds of their duty and obedience, by this new transport of his ancient and most faithful subjects, who, from all time out of mind, never knew, acknowledged, owned, or served any other sovereign lord but him; and who likewise, from the very instant of their birth, as soon as they were entered into this world, had, with the milk of their mothers and nurses, sucked in the sweetness, humanity, and mildness of his government, to which they were all of them so nourished and habituated, that there was nothing surer than that they would sooner abandon their lives than swerve from this singular and primitive obedience naturally due to their prince, whithersoever they should be dispersed or removed.

And not only should they, and their children successively descending from their blood, be such, but also would keep and maintain in this same fealty obsequious observance all the nations lately annexed to his empire; which so truly came to pass that therein he was not disappointed of his intent. For if the Utopians were before their transplantation thither dutiful and faithful subjects, the Dipsodes, after some few days conversing with them, were every whit as, if not more, loyal than they; and that by virtue of I know not what natural fervency incident to all human creatures at the beginning of any labour wherein they take delight: solemnly attesting the heavens and supreme intelligences of their being only sorry that no sooner unto their knowledge had arrived the great renown of the good Pantagruel.

Remark therefore here, honest drinkers, that the manner of preserving and retaining countries newly conquered in obedience is not, as hath been the erroneous opinion of some tyrannical spirits to their own detriment and dishonour, to pillage, plunder, force, spoil, trouble, oppress, vex, disquiet, ruin and destroy the people, ruling, governing and keeping them in awe with rods of iron; and, in a word, eating and devouring them, after the fashion that Homer calls an unjust and wicked king, (Greek), that is to say, a devourer of his people.

I will not bring you to this purpose the testimony of ancient writers. It shall suffice to put you in mind of what your fathers have seen thereof, and yourselves too, if you be not very babes. Newborn, they must be given suck to, rocked in a cradle, and dandled. Trees newly planted must be supported, underpropped, strengthened and defended against all tempests, mischiefs, injuries, and calamities. And one lately saved from a long and dangerous sickness, and new upon his recovery, must be forborn, spared, and cherished, in such sort that they may harbour in their own breasts this opinion, that there is not in the world a king or a prince who does not desire fewer enemies and more friends. Thus Osiris, the great king of the Egyptians, conquered almost the whole earth, not so much by force of arms as by easing the people of their troubles, teaching them how to live well, and honestly giving them good laws, and using them with all possible affability, courtesy, gentleness, and liberality. Therefore was he by all men deservedly entitled the Great King Euergetes, that is to say, Benefactor, which style he obtained by virtue of the command of Jupiter to (one) Pamyla.

And in effect, Hesiod, in his Hierarchy, placed the good demons (call them angels if you will, or geniuses,) as intercessors and mediators betwixt the gods and men, they being of a degree inferior to the gods, but superior to men. And for that through their hands the riches and benefits we get from heaven are dealt to us, and that they are continually doing us good and still protecting us from evil, he saith that they exercise the offices of kings; because to do always good, and never ill, is an act most singularly royal.

Just such another was the emperor of the universe, Alexander the Macedonian. After this manner was Hercules sovereign possessor of the whole continent, relieving men from monstrous oppressions, exactions, and tyrannies; governing them with discretion, maintaining them in equity and justice, instructing them with seasonable policies and wholesome laws, convenient for and suitable to the soil, climate, and disposition of the country, supplying what was wanting, abating what was superfluous, and pardoning all that was past, with a sempiternal forgetfulness of all preceding offences, as was the amnesty of the Athenians, when by the prowess, valour, and industry of Thrasybulus by tyrants were exterminated; afterwards at Rome by Cicero exposed, and renewed under the Emperor Aurelian. These are the philtres, allurements, iynges, inveiglements, baits, and enticements of love, by the means whereof that may be peaceably revived which was painfully acquired. Nor can a conqueror reign more happily, whether he be a monarch, emperor, king, prince, or philosopher, than by making his justice to second his valour. His valour shows itself in victory and conquest; his justice will appear in the goodwill and affection of the people, when he maketh laws, publisheth ordinances, establisheth religion, and doth what is right to everyone, as the noble poet Virgil writes of Octavian Augustus:

Victorque volentes

Per populos dat jura.

Therefore is it that Homer in his Iliads calleth a good prince and great king (Greek), that is, the ornament of the people.

Such was the consideration of Numa Pompilius, the second king of the Romans, a just politician and wise philosopher, when he ordained that to god Terminus, on the day of his festival called Terminales, nothing should be sacrificed that had died; teaching us thereby that the bounds, limits, and frontiers of kingdoms should be guarded, and preserved in peace, amity, and meekness, without polluting our hands with blood and robbery. Who doth otherwise, shall not only lose what he hath gained, but also be loaded with this scandal and reproach, that he is an unjust and wicked purchaser, and his acquests perish with him; Juxta illud, male parta, male dilabuntur. And although during his whole lifetime he should have peaceable possession thereof, yet if what hath been so acquired moulder away in the hands of his heirs, the same opprobry, scandal, and imputation will be charged upon the defunct, and his memory remain accursed for his unjust and unwarrantable conquest; Juxta illud, de male quaesitis vix gaudet tertius haeres.

Remark, likewise, gentlemen, you gouty feoffees, in this main point worthy of your observation, how by these means Pantagruel of one angel made two, which was a contingency opposite to the counsel of Charlemagne, who made two devils of one when he transplanted the Saxons into Flanders and the Flemings into Saxony. For, not being able to keep in such subjection the Saxons, whose dominion he had joined to the empire, but that ever and anon they would break forth into open rebellion if he should casually be drawn into Spain or other remote kingdoms, he caused them to be brought unto his own country of Flanders, the inhabitants whereof did naturally obey him, and transported the Hainaults and Flemings, his ancient loving subjects, into Saxony, not mistrusting their loyalty now that they were transplanted into a strange land. But it happened that the Saxons persisted in their rebellion and primitive obstinacy, and the Flemings dwelling in Saxony did imbibe the stubborn manners and conditions of the Saxons.

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