Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 64

How Pantagruel gave no answer to the problems.

Pantagruel then asked what sort of people dwelt in that damned island. They are, answered Xenomanes, all hypocrites, holy mountebanks, tumblers of beads, mumblers of ave-marias, spiritual comedians, sham saints, hermits, all of them poor rogues who, like the hermit of Lormont between Blaye and Bordeaux, live wholly on alms given them by passengers. Catch me there if you can, cried Panurge; may the devil’s head-cook conjure my bumgut into a pair of bellows if ever you find me among them! Hermits, sham saints, living forms of mortification, holy mountebanks, avaunt! in the name of your father Satan, get out of my sight! When the devil’s a hog, you shall eat bacon. I shall not forget yet awhile our fat Concilipetes of Chesil. O that Beelzebub and Astaroth had counselled them to hang themselves out of the way, and they had done’t! we had not then suffered so much by devilish storms as we did for having seen ‘em. Hark ye me, dear rogue, Xenomanes, my friend, I prithee are these hermits, hypocrites, and eavesdroppers maids or married? Is there anything of the feminine gender among them? Could a body hypocritically take there a small hypocritical touch? Will they lie backwards, and let out their fore-rooms? There’s a fine question to be asked, cried Pantagruel. Yes, yes, answered Xenomanes; you may find there many goodly hypocritesses, jolly spiritual actresses, kind hermitesses, women that have a plaguy deal of religion; then there’s the copies of ‘em, little hypocritillons, sham sanctitos, and hermitillons. Foh! away with them, cried Friar John; a young saint, an old devil! (Mark this, an old saying, and as true a one as, a young whore, an old saint.) Were there not such, continued Xenomanes, the isle of Chaneph, for want of a multiplication of progeny, had long ere this been desert and desolate.

Pantagruel sent them by Gymnast in the pinnace seventy-eight thousand fine pretty little gold half-crowns, of those that are marked with a lantern. After this he asked, What’s o’clock? Past nine, answered Epistemon. It is then the best time to go to dinner, said Pantagruel; for the sacred line so celebrated by Aristophanes in his play called Concionatrices is at hand, never failing when the shadow is decempedal.

Formerly, among the Persians, dinner-time was at a set hour only for kings; as for all others, their appetite and their belly was their clock; when that chimed, they thought it time to go to dinner. So we find in Plautus a certain parasite making a heavy do, and sadly railing at the inventors of hour-glasses and dials as being unnecessary things, there being no clock more regular than the belly.

Diogenes being asked at what times a man ought to eat, answered, The rich when he is hungry, the poor when he has anything to eat. Physicians more properly say that the canonical hours are,

To rise at five, to dine at nine,

To sup at five, to sleep at nine.

The famous king Petosiris’s magic was different — Here the officers for the gut came in, and got ready the tables and cupboards; laid the cloth, whose sight and pleasant small were very comfortable; and brought plates, napkins, salts, tankards, flagons, tall-boys, ewers, tumblers, cups, goblets, basins, and cisterns.

Friar John, at the head of the stewards, sewers, yeomen of the pantry, and of the mouth, tasters, carvers, cupbearers, and cupboard-keepers, brought four stately pasties, so huge that they put me in mind of the four bastions at Turin. Ods-fish, how manfully did they storm them! What havoc did they make with the long train of dishes that came after them! How bravely did they stand to their pan-puddings, and paid off their dust! How merrily did they soak their noses!

The fruit was not yet brought in, when a fresh gale at west and by north began to fill the main-course, mizen-sail, fore-sail, tops, and top-gallants; for which blessing they all sung divers hymns of thanks and praise.

When the fruit was on the table, Pantagruel asked, Now tell me, gentlemen, are your doubts fully resolved or no? I gape and yawn no more, answered Rhizotome. I sleep no longer like a dog, said Ponocrates. I have cleared my eyesight, said Gymnast. I have broke my fast, said Eusthenes; so that for this whole day I shall be secure from the danger of my spittle.

Asps. Black wag leg-flies. Domeses.
Amphisbenes. Spanish flies. Dryinades.
Anerudutes. Catoblepes. Dragons.
Abedissimons. Horned snakes. Elopes.
Alhartrafz. Caterpillars. Enhydrides.
Ammobates. Crocodiles. Falvises.
Apimaos. Toads. Galeotes.
Alhatrabans. Nightmares. Harmenes.
Aractes. Mad dogs. Handons.
Asterions. Colotes. Icles.
Alcharates. Cychriodes. Jarraries.
Arges. Cafezates. Ilicines.
Spiders. Cauhares. Pharaoh’s mice.
Starry lizards. Snakes. Kesudures.
Attelabes. Cuhersks, two-Sea-hares.
Ascalabotes. tongued adders. Chalcidic newts.
Haemorrhoids. Amphibious ser-Footed serpents.
Basilisks. pents. Manticores.
Fitches. Cenchres. Molures.
Sucking water-Cockatrices. Mouse-serpents.
snakes. Dipsades. Shrew-mice.
Miliares. Salamanders. Stinkfish.
Megalaunes. Slowworms. Stuphes.
Spitting-asps. Stellions. Sabrins.
Porphyri. Scorpenes. Blood-sucking flies.
Pareades. Scorpions. Hornfretters.
Phalanges. Hornworms. Scolopendres.
Penphredons. Scalavotins. Tarantulas.
Pinetree-worms. Solofuidars. Blind worms.
Ruteles. Deaf-asps. Tetragnathias.
Worms. Horseleeches. Teristales.
Rhagions. Salt-haters. Vipers, &c.
Rhaganes. Rot-serpents.

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