Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 32

A continuation of Shrovetide’s countenance.

’Tis a wonderful thing, continued Xenomanes, to hear and see the state of Shrovetide.

If he chanced to spit, it was whole When he trembled, it was large
basketsful of goldfinches. venison pasties.
If he blowed his nose, it was When he did sweat, it was old
pickled grigs. ling with butter sauce.
When he wept, it was ducks with When he belched, it was bushels
onion sauce. of oysters.
When he sneezed, it was whole When he muttered, it was lawyers’
tubfuls of mustard. revels.
When he coughed, it was boxes When he hopped about, it was
of marmalade. letters of licence and protec-
When he sobbed, it was water-tions.
cresses. When he stepped back, it was
When he yawned, it was potfuls sea cockle-shells.
of pickled peas. When he slabbered, it was com-
When he sighed, it was dried mon ovens.
neats’ tongues. When he was hoarse, it was an
When he whistled, it was a whole entry of morrice-dancers.
scuttleful of green apes. When he broke wind, it was dun
When he snored, it was a whole cows’ leather spatterdashes.
panful of fried beans. When he funked, it was washed-
When he frowned, it was soused leather boots.
hogs’ feet. When he scratched himself, it
When he spoke, it was coarse was new proclamations.
brown russet cloth; so little When he sung, it was peas in
it was like crimson silk, with cods.
which Parisatis desired that When he evacuated, it was mush-
the words of such as spoke to rooms and morilles.
her son Cyrus, King of Persia, When he puffed, it was cabbages
should be interwoven. with oil, alias caules amb’olif.
When he blowed, it was indulg-When he talked, it was the last
ence money-boxes. year’s snow.
When he winked, it was buttered When he dreamt, it was of a
buns. cock and a bull.
When he grumbled, it was March When he gave nothing, so much
cats. for the bearer.
When he nodded, it was iron-If he thought to himself, it was
bound waggons. whimsies and maggots.
When he made mouths, it was If he dozed, it was leases of lands.
broken staves.

What is yet more strange, he used to work doing nothing, and did nothing though he worked; caroused sleeping, and slept carousing, with his eyes open, like the hares in our country, for fear of being taken napping by the Chitterlings, his inveterate enemies; biting he laughed, and laughing bit; eat nothing fasting, and fasted eating nothing; mumbled upon suspicion, drank by imagination, swam on the tops of high steeples, dried his clothes in ponds and rivers, fished in the air, and there used to catch decumane lobsters; hunted at the bottom of the herring-pond, and caught there ibexes, stamboucs, chamois, and other wild goats; used to put out the eyes of all the crows which he took sneakingly; feared nothing but his own shadow and the cries of fat kids; used to gad abroad some days, like a truant schoolboy; played with the ropes of bells on festival days of saints; made a mallet of his fist, and writ on hairy parchment prognostications and almanacks with his huge pin-case.

Is that the gentleman? said Friar John. He is my man; this is the very fellow I looked for. I will send him a challenge immediately. This is, said Pantagruel, a strange and monstrous sort of man, if I may call him a man. You put me in mind of the form and looks of Amodunt and Dissonance. How were they made? said Friar John. May I be peeled like a raw onion if ever I heard a word of them. I’ll tell you what I read of them in some ancient apologues, replied Pantagruel.

Physis — that is to say, Nature — at her first burthen begat Beauty and Harmony without carnal copulation, being of herself very fruitful and prolific. Antiphysis, who ever was the counter part of Nature, immediately, out of a malicious spite against her for her beautiful and honourable productions, in opposition begot Amodunt and Dissonance by copulation with Tellumon. Their heads were round like a football, and not gently flatted on both sides, like the common shape of men. Their ears stood pricked up like those of asses; their eyes, as hard as those of crabs, and without brows, stared out of their heads, fixed on bones like those of our heels; their feet were round like tennis-balls; their arms and hands turned backwards towards their shoulders; and they walked on their heads, continually turning round like a ball, topsy-turvy, heels over head.

Yet — as you know that apes esteem their young the handsomest in the world — Antiphysis extolled her offspring, and strove to prove that their shape was handsomer and neater than that of the children of Physis, saying that thus to have spherical heads and feet, and walk in a circular manner, wheeling round, had something in it of the perfection of the divine power, which makes all beings eternally turn in that fashion; and that to have our feet uppermost, and the head below them, was to imitate the Creator of the universe; the hair being like the roots, and the legs like the branches of man; for trees are better planted by their roots than they could be by their branches. By this demonstration she implied that her children were much more to be praised for being like a standing tree, than those of Physis, that made a figure of a tree upside down. As for the arms and hands, she pretended to prove that they were more justly turned towards the shoulders, because that part of body ought not to be without defence, while the forepart is duly fenced with teeth, which a man cannot only use to chew, but also to defend himself against those things that offend him. Thus, by the testimony and astipulation of the brute beasts, she drew all the witless herd and mob of fools into her opinion, and was admired by all brainless and nonsensical people.

Since that, she begot the hypocritical tribes of eavesdropping dissemblers, superstitious pope-mongers, and priest-ridden bigots, the frantic Pistolets, (the demoniacal Calvins, impostors of Geneva,) the scrapers of benefices, apparitors with the devil in them, and other grinders and squeezers of livings, herb-stinking hermits, gulligutted dunces of the cowl, church vermin, false zealots, devourers of the substance of men, and many more other deformed and ill-favoured monsters, made in spite of nature.

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