Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 28

How Panurge asked a Semiquaver Friar many questions, and was only answered in monosyllables.

Panurge, who had since been wholly taken up with staring at these royal Semiquavers, at last pulled one of them by the sleeve, who was as lean as a rake, and asked him —

Hearkee me, Friar Quaver, Semiquaver, Demisemiquavering quaver, where is the punk?

The Friar, pointing downwards, answered, There.

Pan. Pray, have you many? Fri. Few.

Pan. How many scores have you? Fri. One.

Pan. How many would you have? Fri. Five.

Pan. Where do you hide ‘em? Fri. Here.

Pan. I suppose they are not all of one age; but, pray, how is their shape? Fri. Straight.

Pan. Their complexion? Fri. Clear.

Pan. Their hair? Fri. Fair.

Pan. Their eyes? Fri. Black.

Pan. Their features? Fri. Good.

Pan. Their brows? Fri. Small.

Pan. Their graces? Fri. Ripe.

Pan. Their looks? Fri. Free.

Pan. Their feet? Fri. Flat.

Pan. Their heels? Fri. Short.

Pan. Their lower parts? Fri. Rare.

Pan. And their arms? Fri. Long.

Pan. What do they wear on their hands? Fri. Gloves.

Pan. What sort of rings on their fingers? Fri. Gold.

Pan. What rigging do you keep ‘em in? Fri. Cloth.

Pan. What sort of cloth is it? Fri. New.

Pan. What colour? Fri. Sky.

Pan. What kind of cloth is it? Fri. Fine.

Pan. What caps do they wear? Fri. Blue.

Pan. What’s the colour of their stockings? Fri. Red.

Pan. What wear they on their feet? Fri. Pumps.

Pan. How do they use to be? Fri. Foul.

Pan. How do they use to walk? Fri. Fast.

Pan. Now let us talk of the kitchen, I mean that of the harlots, and without going hand over head let’s a little examine things by particulars. What is in their kitchens? Fri. Fire.

Pan. What fuel feeds it? Fri. Wood.

Pan. What sort of wood is’t? Fri. Dry.

Pan. And of what kind of trees? Fri. Yews.

Pan. What are the faggots and brushes of? Fri. Holm.

Pan. What wood d’ye burn in your chambers? Fri. Pine.

Pan. And of what other trees? Fri. Lime.

Pan. Hearkee me; as for the buttocks, I’ll go your halves. Pray, how do you feed ‘em? Fri. Well.

Pan. First, what do they eat? Fri. Bread.

Pan. Of what complexion? Fri. White.

Pan. And what else? Fri. Meat.

Pan. How do they love it dressed? Fri. Roast.

Pan. What sort of porridge? Fri. None.

Pan. Are they for pies and tarts? Fri. Much.

Pan. Then I’m their man. Will fish go down with them? Fri. Well.

Pan. And what else? Fri. Eggs.

Pan. How do they like ‘em? Fri. Boiled.

Pan. How must they be done? Fri. Hard.

Pan. Is this all they have? Fri. No.

Pan. What have they besides, then? Fri. Beef.

Pan. And what else? Fri. Pork.

Pan. And what more? Fri. Geese.

Pan. What then? Fri. Ducks.

Pan. And what besides? Fri. Cocks.

Pan. What do they season their meat with? Fri. Salt.

Pan. What sauce are they most dainty for? Fri. Must.

Pan. What’s their last course? Fri. Rice.

Pan. And what else? Fri. Milk.

Pan. What besides? Fri. Peas.

Pan. What sort? Fri. Green.

Pan. What do they boil with ‘em? Fri. Pork.

Pan. What fruit do they eat? Fri. Good.

Pan. How? Fri. Raw.

Pan. What do they end with? Fri. Nuts.

Pan. How do they drink? Fri. Neat.

Pan. What liquor? Fri. Wine.

Pan. What sort? Fri. White.

Pan. In winter? Fri. Strong.

Pan. In the spring. Fri. Brisk.

Pan. In summer? Fri. Cool.

Pan. In autumn? Fri. New.

Buttock of a monk! cried Friar John; how plump these plaguy trulls, these arch Semiquavering strumpets, must be! That damned cattle are so high fed that they must needs be high-mettled, and ready to wince and give two ups for one go-down when anyone offers to ride them below the crupper.


Friar John and Panurge.

Prithee, Friar John, quoth Panurge, hold thy prating tongue; stay till I have done.

Till what time do the doxies sit up? Fri. Night.

Pan. When do they get up? Fri. Late.

Pan. May I ride on a horse that was foaled of an acorn, if this be not as honest a cod as ever the ground went upon, and as grave as an old gate-post into the bargain. Would to the blessed St. Semiquaver, and the blessed worthy virgin St. Semiquavera, he were lord chief president (justice) of Paris! Ods-bodikins, how he’d despatch! With what expedition would he bring disputes to an upshot! What an abbreviator and clawer off of lawsuits, reconciler of differences, examiner and fumbler of bags, peruser of bills, scribbler of rough drafts, and engrosser of deeds would he not make! Well, friar, spare your breath to cool your porridge. Come, let’s now talk with deliberation, fairly and softly, as lawyers go to heaven. Let’s know how you victual the venereal camp. How is the snatchblatch? Fri. Rough.

Pan. How is the gateway? Fri. Free.

Pan. And how is it within? Fri. Deep.

Pan. I mean, what weather is it there? Fri. Hot.

Pan. What shadows the brooks? Fri. Groves.

Pan. Of what’s the colour of the twigs? Fri. Red.

Pan. And that of the old? Fri. Grey.

Pan. How are you when you shake? Fri. Brisk.

Pan. How is their motion? Fri. Quick.

Pan. Would you have them vault or wriggle more? Fri. Less.

Pan. What kind of tools are yours? Fri. Big.

Pan. And in their helves? Fri. Round.

Pan. Of what colour is the tip? Fri. Red.

Pan. When they’ve even used, how are they? Fri. Shrunk.

Pan. How much weighs each bag of tools? Fri. Pounds.

Pan. How hang your pouches? Fri. Tight.

Pan. How are they when you’ve done? Fri. Lank.

Pan. Now, by the oath you have taken, tell me, when you have a mind to cohabit, how you throw ‘em? Fri. Down.

Pan. And what do they say then? Fri. Fie.

Pan. However, like maids, they say nay, and take it; and speak the less, but think the more, minding the work in hand; do they not? Fri. True.

Pan. Do they get you bairns? Fri. None.

Pan. How do you pig together? Fri. Bare.

Pan. Remember you’re upon your oath, and tell me justly and bona fide how many times a day you monk it? Fri. Six.

Pan. How many bouts a-nights? Fri. Ten.

Catso, quoth Friar John, the poor fornicating brother is bashful, and sticks at sixteen, as if that were his stint. Right, quoth Panurge, but couldst thou keep pace with him, Friar John, my dainty cod? May the devil’s dam suck my teat if he does not look as if he had got a blow over the nose with a Naples cowl-staff.

Pan. Pray, Friar Shakewell, does your whole fraternity quaver and shake at that rate? Fri. All.

Pan. Who of them is the best cock o’ the game? Fri. I.

Pan. Do you never commit dry-bobs or flashes in the pan? Fri. None.

Pan. I blush like any black dog, and could be as testy as an old cook when I think on all this; it passes my understanding. But, pray, when you have been pumped dry one day, what have you got the next? Fri. More.

Pan. By Priapus, they have the Indian herb of which Theophrastus spoke, or I’m much out. But, hearkee me, thou man of brevity, should some impediment, honestly or otherwise, impair your talents and cause your benevolence to lessen, how would it fare with you, then? Fri. Ill.

Pan. What would the wenches do? Fri. Rail.

Pan. What if you skipped, and let ‘em fast a whole day? Fri. Worse.

Pan. What do you give ‘em then? Fri. Thwacks.

Pan. What do they say to this? Fri. Bawl.

Pan. And what else? Fri. Curse.

Pan. How do you correct ‘em? Fri. Hard.

Pan. What do you get out of ‘em then? Fri. Blood.

Pan. How’s their complexion then? Fri. Odd.

Pan. What do they mend it with? Fri. Paint.

Pan. Then what do they do? Fri. Fawn.

Pan. By the oath you have taken, tell me truly what time of the year do you do it least in? Fri. Now (August.).

Pan. What season do you do it best in? Fri. March.

Pan. How is your performance the rest the year? Fri. Brisk.

Then quoth Panurge, sneering, Of all, and of all, commend me to Ball; this is the friar of the world for my money. You’ve heard how short, concise, and compendious he is in his answers. Nothing is to be got out of him but monosyllables. By jingo, I believe he would make three bites of a cherry.

Damn him, cried Friar John, that’s as true as I am his uncle. The dog yelps at another gate’s rate when he is among his bitches; there he is polysyllable enough, my life for yours. You talk of making three bites of a cherry! God send fools more wit and us more money! May I be doomed to fast a whole day if I don’t verily believe he would not make above two bites of a shoulder of mutton and one swoop of a whole pottle of wine. Zoons, do but see how down o’ the mouth the cur looks! He’s nothing but skin and bones; he has pissed his tallow.

Truly, truly, quoth Epistemon, this rascally monastical vermin all over the world mind nothing but their gut, and are as ravenous as any kites, and then, forsooth, they tell us they’ve nothing but food and raiment in this world. ‘Sdeath, what more have kings and princes?

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