Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 29

How Pantagruel convocated together a theologian, physician, lawyer, and philosopher, for extricating Panurge out of the perplexity wherein he was.

No sooner were they come into the royal palace, but they to the full made report unto Pantagruel of the success of their expedition, and showed him the response of Raminagrobis. When Pantagruel had read it over and over again, the oftener he perused it being the better pleased therewith, he said, in addressing his speech to Panurge, I have not as yet seen any answer framed to your demand which affordeth me more contentment. For in this his succinct copy of verses, he summarily and briefly, yet fully enough expresseth how he would have us to understand that everyone in the project and enterprise of marriage ought to be his own carver, sole arbitrator of his proper thoughts, and from himself alone take counsel in the main and peremptory closure of what his determination should be, in either his assent to or dissent from it. Such always hath been my opinion to you, and when at first you spoke thereof to me I truly told you this same very thing; but tacitly you scorned my advice, and would not harbour it within your mind. I know for certain, and therefore may I with the greater confidence utter my conception of it, that philauty, or self-love, is that which blinds your judgment and deceiveth you.

Let us do otherwise, and that is this: Whatever we are, or have, consisteth in three things — the soul, the body, and the goods. Now, for the preservation of these three, there are three sorts of learned men ordained, each respectively to have care of that one which is recommended to his charge. Theologues are appointed for the soul, physicians for the welfare of the body, and lawyers for the safety of our goods. Hence it is that it is my resolution to have on Sunday next with me at dinner a divine, a physician, and a lawyer, that with those three assembled thus together we may in every point and particle confer at large of your perplexity. By Saint Picot, answered Panurge, we never shall do any good that way, I see it already. And you see yourself how the world is vilely abused, as when with a foxtail one claps another’s breech to cajole him. We give our souls to keep to the theologues, who for the greater part are heretics. Our bodies we commit to the physicians, who never themselves take any physic. And then we entrust our goods to the lawyers, who never go to law against one another. You speak like a courtier, quoth Pantagruel. But the first point of your assertion is to be denied; for we daily see how good theologues make it their chief business, their whole and sole employment, by their deeds, their words, and writings, to extirpate errors and heresies out of the hearts of men, and in their stead profoundly plant the true and lively faith. The second point you spoke of I commend; for, whereas the professors of the art of medicine give so good order to the prophylactic, or conservative part of their faculty, in what concerneth their proper healths, that they stand in no need of making use of the other branch, which is the curative or therapeutic, by medicaments. As for the third, I grant it to be true, for learned advocates and counsellors at law are so much taken up with the affairs of others in their consultations, pleadings, and such-like patrocinations of those who are their clients, that they have no leisure to attend any controversies of their own. Therefore, on the next ensuing Sunday, let the divine be our godly Father Hippothadee, the physician our honest Master Rondibilis, and our legist our friend Bridlegoose. Nor will it be (to my thinking) amiss, that we enter into the Pythagoric field, and choose for an assistant to the three afore-named doctors our ancient faithful acquaintance, the philosopher Trouillogan; especially seeing a perfect philosopher, such as is Trouillogan, is able positively to resolve all whatsoever doubts you can propose. Carpalin, have you a care to have them here all four on Sunday next at dinner, without fail.

Rondibilis the Physician.

I believe, quoth Epistemon, that throughout the whole country, in all the corners thereof, you could not have pitched upon such other four. Which I speak not so much in regard of the most excellent qualifications and accomplishments wherewith all of them are endowed for the respective discharge and management of each his own vocation and calling (wherein without all doubt or controversy they are the paragons of the land, and surpass all others), as for that Rondibilis is married now, who before was not — Hippothadee was not before, nor is yet — Bridlegoose was married once, but is not now — and Trouillogan is married now, who wedded was to another wife before. Sir, if it may stand with your good liking, I will ease Carpalin of some parcel of his labour, and invite Bridlegoose myself, with whom I of a long time have had a very intimate familiarity, and unto whom I am to speak on the behalf of a pretty hopeful youth who now studieth at Toulouse, under the most learned virtuous doctor Boissonet. Do what you deem most expedient, quoth Pantagruel, and tell me if my recommendation can in anything be steadable for the promoval of the good of that youth, or otherwise serve for bettering of the dignity and office of the worthy Boissonet, whom I do so love and respect for one of the ablest and most sufficient in his way that anywhere are extant. Sir, I will use therein my best endeavours, and heartily bestir myself about it.

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