Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 18

How Pantagruel met with a great storm at sea.

The next day we espied nine sail that came spooning before the wind; they were full of Dominicans, Jesuits, Capuchins, Hermits, Austins, Bernardins, Egnatins, Celestins, Theatins, Amadeans, Cordeliers, Carmelites, Minims, and the devil and all of other holy monks and friars, who were going to the Council of Chesil, to sift and garble some new articles of faith against the new heretics. Panurge was overjoyed to see them, being most certain of good luck for that day and a long train of others. So having courteously saluted the blessed fathers, and recommended the salvation of his precious soul to their devout prayers and private ejaculations, he caused seventy-eight dozen of Westphalia hams, units of pots of caviare, tens of Bolonia sausages, hundreds of botargoes, and thousands of fine angels, for the souls of the dead, to be thrown on board their ships. Pantagruel seemed metagrabolized, dozing, out of sorts, and as melancholic as a cat. Friar John, who soon perceived it, was inquiring of him whence should come this unusual sadness; when the master, whose watch it was, observing the fluttering of the ancient above the poop, and seeing that it began to overcast, judged that we should have wind; therefore he bid the boatswain call all hands upon deck, officers, sailors, foremast-men, swabbers, and cabin-boys, and even the passengers; made them first settle their topsails, take in their spritsail; then he cried, In with your topsails, lower the foresail, tallow under parrels, braid up close all them sails, strike your topmasts to the cap, make all sure with your sheeps-feet, lash your guns fast. All this was nimbly done. Immediately it blowed a storm; the sea began to roar and swell mountain-high; the rut of the sea was great, the waves breaking upon our ship’s quarter; the north-west wind blustered and overblowed; boisterous gusts, dreadful clashing, and deadly scuds of wind whistled through our yards and made our shrouds rattle again. The thunder grumbled so horridly that you would have thought heaven had been tumbling about our ears; at the same time it lightened, rained, hailed; the sky lost its transparent hue, grew dusky, thick, and gloomy, so that we had no other light than that of the flashes of lightning and rending of the clouds. The hurricanes, flaws, and sudden whirlwinds began to make a flame about us by the lightnings, fiery vapours, and other aerial ejaculations. Oh, how our looks were full of amazement and trouble, while the saucy winds did rudely lift up above us the mountainous waves of the main! Believe me, it seemed to us a lively image of the chaos, where fire, air, sea, land, and all the elements were in a refractory confusion. Poor Panurge having with the full contents of the inside of his doublet plentifully fed the fish, greedy enough of such odious fare, sat on the deck all in a heap, with his nose and arse together, most sadly cast down, moping and half dead; invoked and called to his assistance all the blessed he-and she-saints he could muster up; swore and vowed to confess in time and place convenient, and then bawled out frightfully, Steward, maitre d’hotel, see ho! my friend, my father, my uncle, prithee let us have a piece of powdered beef or pork; we shall drink but too much anon, for aught I see. Eat little and drink the more will hereafter be my motto, I fear. Would to our dear Lord, and to our blessed, worthy, and sacred Lady, I were now, I say, this very minute of an hour, well on shore, on terra firma, hale and easy. O twice and thrice happy those that plant cabbages! O destinies, why did you not spin me for a cabbage-planter? O how few are there to whom Jupiter hath been so favourable as to predestinate them to plant cabbages! They have always one foot on the ground, and the other not far from it. Dispute who will of felicity and summum bonum, for my part whosoever plants cabbages is now, by my decree, proclaimed most happy; for as good a reason as the philosopher Pyrrho, being in the same danger, and seeing a hog near the shore eating some scattered oats, declared it happy in two respects; first, because it had plenty of oats, and besides that, was on shore. Ha, for a divine and princely habitation, commend me to the cows’ floor.


Friar John.

Murder! This wave will sweep us away, blessed Saviour! O my friends! a little vinegar. I sweat again with mere agony. Alas! the mizen-sail’s split, the gallery’s washed away, the masts are sprung, the maintop-masthead dives into the sea; the keel is up to the sun; our shrouds are almost all broke, and blown away. Alas! alas! where is our main course? Al is verlooren, by Godt! our topmast is run adrift. Alas! who shall have this wreck? Friend, lend me here behind you one of these whales. Your lantern is fallen, my lads. Alas! do not let go the main-tack nor the bowline. I hear the block crack; is it broke? For the Lord’s sake, let us have the hull, and let all the rigging be damned. Be, be, be, bous, bous, bous. Look to the needle of your compass, I beseech you, good Sir Astrophil, and tell us, if you can, whence comes this storm. My heart’s sunk down below my midriff. By my troth, I am in a sad fright, bou, bou, bou, bous, bous, I am lost for ever. I conskite myself for mere madness and fear. Bou, bou, bou, bou, Otto to to to to ti. Bou, bou, bou, ou, ou, ou, bou, bou, bous. I sink, I’m drowned, I’m gone, good people, I’m drowned.

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