Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 22

An end of the storm.

Shore, shore! cried Pantagruel. Land to, my friends, I see land! Pluck up a good spirit, boys, ’tis within a kenning. So! we are not far from a port. — I see the sky clearing up to the northwards. — Look to the south-east! Courage, my hearts, said the pilot; now she’ll bear the hullock of a sail; the sea is much smoother; some hands aloft to the maintop. Put the helm a-weather. Steady! steady! Haul your after-mizen bowlines. Haul, haul, haul! Thus, thus, and no near. Mind your steerage; bring your main-tack aboard. Clear your sheets; clear your bowlines; port, port. Helm a-lee. Now to the sheet on the starboard side, thou son of a whore. Thou art mightily pleased, honest fellow, quoth Friar John, with hearing make mention of thy mother. Luff, luff, cried the quartermaster that conned the ship, keep her full, luff the helm. Luff. It is, answered the steersman. Keep her thus. Get the bonnets fixed. Steady, steady.

That is well said, said Friar John now, this is something like a tansy. Come, come, come, children, be nimble. Good. Luff, luff, thus. Helm a-weather. That’s well said and thought on. Methinks the storm is almost over. It was high time, faith; however, the Lord be thanked. Our devils begin to scamper. Out with all your sails. Hoist your sails. Hoist. That is spoke like a man, hoist, hoist. Here, a God’s name, honest Ponocrates; thou art a lusty fornicator; the whoreson will get none but boys. Eusthenes, thou art a notable fellow. Run up to the fore-topsail. Thus, thus. Well said, i’ faith; thus, thus. I dare not fear anything all this while, for it is holiday. Vea, vea, vea! huzza! This shout of the seaman is not amiss, and pleases me, for it is holiday. Keep her full thus. Good. Cheer up, my merry mates all, cried out Epistemon; I see already Castor on the right. Be, be, bous, bous, bous, said Panurge; I am much afraid it is the bitch Helen. It is truly Mixarchagenas, returned Epistemon, if thou likest better that denomination, which the Argives give him. Ho, ho! I see land too; let her bear in with the harbour; I see a good many people on the beach; I see a light on an obeliscolychny. Shorten your sails, said the pilot; fetch the sounding line; we must double that point of land, and mind the sands. We are clear of them, said the sailors. Soon after, Away she goes, quoth the pilot, and so doth the rest our fleet; help came in good season.

By St. John, said Panurge, this is spoke somewhat like. O the sweet word! there is the soul of music in it. Mgna, mgna, mgna, said Friar John; if ever thou taste a drop of it, let the devil’s dam taste me, thou ballocky devil. Here, honest soul, here’s a full sneaker of the very best. Bring the flagons; dost hear, Gymnast: and that same large pasty jambic, gammonic, as you will have it. Take heed you pilot her in right.

Cheer up, cried out Pantagruel; cheer up, my boys; let us be ourselves again. Do you see yonder, close by our ship, two barks, three sloops, five ships, eight pinks, four yawls, and six frigates making towards us, sent by the good people of the neighbouring island to our relief? But who is this Ucalegon below, that cries and makes such a sad moan? Were it not that I hold the mast firmly with both my hands, and keep it straighter than two hundred tacklings — I would — It is, said Friar John, that poor devil Panurge, who is troubled with a calf’s ague; he quakes for fear when his belly’s full. If, said Pantagruel, he hath been afraid during this dreadful hurricane and dangerous storm, provided (waiving that) he hath done his part like a man, I do not value him a jot the less for it. For as to fear in all encounters is the mark of a heavy and cowardly heart, as Agamemnon did, who for that reason is ignominiously taxed by Achilles with having dog’s eyes and a stag’s heart; so, not to fear when the case is evidently dreadful is a sign of want or smallness of judgment. Now, if anything ought to be feared in this life, next to offending God, I will not say it is death. I will not meddle with the disputes of Socrates and the academics, that death of itself is neither bad nor to be feared, but I will affirm that this kind of shipwreck is to be feared, or nothing is. For, as Homer saith, it is a grievous, dreadful, and unnatural thing to perish at sea. And indeed Aeneas, in the storm that took his fleet near Sicily, was grieved that he had not died by the hand of the brave Diomedes, and said that those were three, nay four times happy, who perished in the conflagration at Troy. No man here hath lost his life, the Lord our Saviour be eternally praised for it! but in truth here is a ship sadly out of order. Well, we must take care to have the damage repaired. Take heed we do not run aground and bulge her.

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