Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 41

How the Monk made Gargantua sleep, and of his hours and breviaries.

Supper being ended, they consulted of the business in hand, and concluded that about midnight they should fall unawares upon the enemy, to know what manner of watch and ward they kept, and that in the meanwhile they should take a little rest the better to refresh themselves. But Gargantua could not sleep by any means, on which side soever he turned himself. Whereupon the monk said to him, I never sleep soundly but when I am at sermon or prayers. Let us therefore begin, you and I, the seven penitential psalms, to try whether you shall not quickly fall asleep. The conceit pleased Gargantua very well, and, beginning the first of these psalms, as soon as they came to the words Beati quorum they fell asleep, both the one and the other. But the monk, for his being formerly accustomed to the hour of claustral matins, failed not to awake a little before midnight, and, being up himself, awaked all the rest, in singing aloud, and with a full clear voice, the song:

Awake, O Reinian, ho, awake!

Awake, O Reinian, ho!

Get up, you no more sleep must take;

Get up, for we must go.

When they were all roused and up, he said, My masters, it is a usual saying, that we begin matins with coughing and supper with drinking. Let us now, in doing clean contrarily, begin our matins with drinking, and at night before supper we shall cough as hard as we can. What, said Gargantua, to drink so soon after sleep? This is not to live according to the diet and prescript rule of the physicians, for you ought first to scour and cleanse your stomach of all its superfluities and excrements. Oh, well physicked, said the monk; a hundred devils leap into my body, if there be not more old drunkards than old physicians! I have made this paction and covenant with my appetite, that it always lieth down and goes to bed with myself, for to that I every day give very good order; then the next morning it also riseth with me and gets up when I am awake. Mind you your charges, gentlemen, or tend your cures as much as you will. I will get me to my drawer; in terms of falconry, my tiring. What drawer or tiring do you mean? said Gargantua. My breviary, said the monk, for just as the falconers, before they feed their hawks, do make them draw at a hen’s leg to purge their brains of phlegm and sharpen them to a good appetite, so, by taking this merry little breviary in the morning, I scour all my lungs and am presently ready to drink.

After what manner, said Gargantua, do you say these fair hours and prayers of yours? After the manner of Whipfield (Fessecamp, and corruptly Fecan.), said the monk, by three psalms and three lessons, or nothing at all, he that will. I never tie myself to hours, prayers, and sacraments; for they are made for the man and not the man for them. Therefore is it that I make my prayers in fashion of stirrup-leathers; I shorten or lengthen them when I think good. Brevis oratio penetrat caelos et longa potatio evacuat scyphos. Where is that written? By my faith, said Ponocrates, I cannot tell, my pillicock, but thou art more worth than gold. Therein, said the monk, I am like you; but, venite, apotemus. Then made they ready store of carbonadoes, or rashers on the coals, and good fat soups, or brewis with sippets; and the monk drank what he pleased. Some kept him company, and the rest did forbear, for their stomachs were not as yet opened. Afterwards every man began to arm and befit himself for the field. And they armed the monk against his will; for he desired no other armour for back and breast but his frock, nor any other weapon in his hand but the staff of the cross. Yet at their pleasure was he completely armed cap-a-pie, and mounted upon one of the best horses in the kingdom, with a good slashing shable by his side, together with Gargantua, Ponocrates, Gymnast, Eudemon, and five-and-twenty more of the most resolute and adventurous of Grangousier’s house, all armed at proof with their lances in their hands, mounted like St. George, and everyone of them having an arquebusier behind him.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:59