Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 9

How Panurge asketh counsel of Pantagruel whether he should marry, yea, or no.

To this Pantagruel replying nothing, Panurge prosecuted the discourse he had already broached, and therewithal fetching, as from the bottom of his heart, a very deep sigh, said, My lord and master, you have heard the design I am upon, which is to marry, if by some disastrous mischance all the holes in the world be not shut up, stopped, closed, and bushed. I humbly beseech you, for the affection which of a long time you have borne me, to give me your best advice therein. Then, answered Pantagruel, seeing you have so decreed, taken deliberation thereon, and that the matter is fully determined, what need is there of any further talk thereof, but forthwith to put it into execution what you have resolved? Yea but, quoth Panurge, I would be loth to act anything therein without your counsel had thereto. It is my judgment also, quoth Pantagruel, and I advise you to it. Nevertheless, quoth Panurge, if I understood aright that it were much better for me to remain a bachelor as I am, than to run headlong upon new hairbrained undertakings of conjugal adventure, I would rather choose not to marry. Quoth Pantagruel, Then do not marry. Yea but, quoth Panurge, would you have me so solitarily drive out the whole course of my life, without the comfort of a matrimonial consort? You know it is written, Vae soli! and a single person is never seen to reap the joy and solace that is found with married folks. Then marry, in the name of God, quoth Pantagruel. But if, quoth Panurge, my wife should make me a cuckold — as it is not unknown unto you, how this hath been a very plentiful year in the production of that kind of cattle — I would fly out, and grow impatient beyond all measure and mean. I love cuckolds with my heart, for they seem unto me to be of a right honest conversation, and I truly do very willingly frequent their company; but should I die for it, I would not be one of their number. That is a point for me of a too sore prickling point. Then do not marry, quoth Pantagruel, for without all controversy this sentence of Seneca is infallibly true, What thou to others shalt have done, others will do the like to thee. Do you, quoth Panurge, aver that without all exception? Yes, truly, quoth Pantagruel, without all exception. Ho, ho, says Panurge, by the wrath of a little devil, his meaning is, either in this world or in the other which is to come. Yet seeing I can no more want a wife than a blind man his staff —(for) the funnel must be in agitation, without which manner of occupation I cannot live — were it not a great deal better for me to apply and associate myself to some one honest, lovely, and virtuous woman, than as I do, by a new change of females every day, run a hazard of being bastinadoed, or, which is worse, of the great pox, if not of both together. For never — be it spoken by their husbands’ leave and favour — had I enjoyment yet of an honest woman. Marry then, in God’s name, quoth Pantagruel. But if, quoth Panurge, it were the will of God, and that my destiny did unluckily lead me to marry an honest woman who should beat me, I would be stored with more than two third parts of the patience of Job, if I were not stark mad by it, and quite distracted with such rugged dealings. For it hath been told me that those exceeding honest women have ordinarily very wicked head-pieces; therefore is it that their family lacketh not for good vinegar. Yet in that case should it go worse with me, if I did not then in such sort bang her back and breast, so thumpingly bethwack her gillets, to wit, her arms, legs, head, lights, liver, and milt, with her other entrails, and mangle, jag, and slash her coats so after the cross-billet fashion that the greatest devil of hell should wait at the gate for the reception of her damnel soul. I could make a shift for this year to waive such molestation and disquiet, and be content to lay aside that trouble, and not to be engaged in it.


Panurge seeks the advice of Pantagruel and his friends as to whether he should marry.

Do not marry then, answered Pantagruel. Yea but, quoth Panurge, considering the condition wherein I now am, out of debt and unmarried; mark what I say, free from all debt, in an ill hour, for, were I deeply on the score, my creditors would be but too careful of my paternity, but being quit, and not married, nobody will be so regardful of me, or carry towards me a love like that which is said to be in a conjugal affection. And if by some mishap I should fall sick, I would be looked to very waywardly. The wise man saith, Where there is no woman — I mean the mother of a family and wife in the union of a lawful wedlock — the crazy and diseased are in danger of being ill used and of having much brabbling and strife about them; as by clear experience hath been made apparent in the persons of popes, legates, cardinals, bishops, abbots, priors, priests, and monks; but there, assure yourself, you shall not find me. Marry then, in the name of God, answered Pantagruel. But if, quoth Panurge, being ill at ease, and possibly through that distemper made unable to discharge the matrimonial duty that is incumbent to an active husband, my wife, impatient of that drooping sickness and faint-fits of a pining languishment, should abandon and prostitute herself to the embraces of another man, and not only then not help and assist me in my extremity and need, but withal flout at and make sport of that my grievous distress and calamity; or peradventure, which is worse, embezzle my goods and steal from me, as I have seen it oftentimes befall unto the lot of many other men, it were enough to undo me utterly, to fill brimful the cup of my misfortune, and make me play the mad-pate reeks of Bedlam. Do not marry then, quoth Pantagruel. Yea but, said Panurge, I shall never by any other means come to have lawful sons and daughters, in whom I may harbour some hope of perpetuating my name and arms, and to whom also I may leave and bequeath my inheritances and purchased goods (of which latter sort you need not doubt but that in some one or other of these mornings I will make a fair and goodly show), that so I may cheer up and make merry when otherwise I should be plunged into a peevish sullen mood of pensive sullenness, as I do perceive daily by the gentle and loving carriage of your kind and gracious father towards you; as all honest folks use to do at their own homes and private dwelling-houses. For being free from debt, and yet not married, if casually I should fret and be angry, although the cause of my grief and displeasure were never so just, I am afraid, instead of consolation, that I should meet with nothing else but scoffs, frumps, gibes, and mocks at my disastrous fortune. Marry then, in the name of God, quoth Pantagruel.

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