Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 36

How the wild Chitterlings laid an ambuscado for Pantagruel.

While Xenomanes was saying this, Friar John spied twenty or thirty young slender-shaped Chitterlings posting as fast as they could towards their town, citadel, castle, and fort of Chimney, and said to Pantagruel, I smell a rat; there will be here the devil upon two sticks, or I am much out. These worshipful Chitterlings may chance to mistake you for Shrovetide, though you are not a bit like him. Let us once in our lives leave our junketing for a while, and put ourselves in a posture to give ‘em a bellyful of fighting, if they would be at that sport. There can be no false Latin in this, said Xenomanes; Chitterlings are still Chitterlings, always double-hearted and treacherous.

Pantagruel then arose from table to visit and scour the thicket, and returned presently; having discovered, on the left, an ambuscade of squab Chitterlings; and on the right, about half a league from thence, a large body of huge giant-like armed Chitterlings ranged in battalia along a little hill, and marching furiously towards us at the sound of bagpipes, sheep’s paunches, and bladders, the merry fifes and drums, trumpets, and clarions, hoping to catch us as Moss caught his mare. By the conjecture of seventy-eight standards which we told, we guessed their number to be two and forty thousand, at a modest computation.

Pantagruel then arose from table to visit and scour the thicket.

Their order, proud gait, and resolute looks made us judge that they were none of your raw, paltry links, but old warlike Chitterlings and Sausages. From the foremost ranks to the colours they were all armed cap-a-pie with small arms, as we reckoned them at a distance, yet very sharp and case-hardened. Their right and left wings were lined with a great number of forest puddings, heavy pattipans, and horse sausages, all of them tall and proper islanders, banditti, and wild.

Pantagruel was very much daunted, and not without cause; though Epistemon told him that it might be the use and custom of the Chitterlingonians to welcome and receive thus in arms their foreign friends, as the noble kings of France are received and saluted at their first coming into the chief cities of the kingdom after their advancement to the crown. Perhaps, said he, it may be the usual guard of the queen of the place, who, having notice given her by the junior Chitterlings of the forlorn hope whom you saw on the tree, of the arrival of your fine and pompous fleet, hath judged that it was without doubt some rich and potent prince, and is come to visit you in person.

Pantagruel, little trusting to this, called a council, to have their advice at large in this doubtful case. He briefly showed them how this way of reception with arms had often, under colour of compliment and friendship, been fatal. Thus, said he, the Emperor Antonius Caracalla at one time destroyed the citizens of Alexandria, and at another time cut off the attendants of Artabanus, King of Persia, under colour of marrying his daughter, which, by the way, did not pass unpunished, for a while after this cost him his life.

Thus Jacob’s children destroyed the Sichemites, to revenge the rape of their sister Dinah. By such another hypocritical trick Gallienus, the Roman emperor, put to death the military men in Constantinople. Thus, under colour of friendship, Antonius enticed Artavasdes, King of Armenia; then, having caused him to be bound in heavy chains and shackled, at last put him to death.

We find a thousand such instances in history; and King Charles VI. is justly commended for his prudence to this day, in that, coming back victorious over the Ghenters and other Flemings to his good city of Paris, and when he came to Bourget, a league from thence, hearing that the citizens with their mallets — whence they got the name of Maillotins — were marched out of town in battalia, twenty thousand strong, he would not go into the town till they had laid down their arms and retired to their respective homes; though they protested to him that they had taken arms with no other design than to receive him with the greater demonstration of honour and respect.

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