Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais


For the Reader.

The Reader here may be pleased to take notice that the copy of verses by the title of ‘Rablophila’, premised to the first book of this translation, being but a kind of mock poem, in imitation of somewhat lately published (as to any indifferent observer will easily appear, by the false quantities in the Latin, the abusive strain of the English, and extravagant subscription to both), and as such, by a friend of the translator’s, at the desire of some frolic gentlemen of his acquaintance, more for a trial of skill than prejudicacy to any, composed in his jollity to please their fancies, was only ordained to be prefixed to a dozen of books, and no more, thereby to save the labour of transcribing so many as were requisite for satisfying the curiosity of a company of just that number; and that, therefore, the charging of the whole impression with it is merely to be imputed to the negligence of the pressmen, who, receiving it about the latter end of the night, were so eager before the next morning to afford complete books, that, as they began, they went on, without animadverting what was recommended to their discretion. This is hoped will suffice to assure the ingenuous Reader that in no treatise of the translator’s, whether original or translatitious, shall willingly be offered the meanest rub to the reputation of any worthy gentleman, and that, however providence dispose of him, no misfortune shall be able to induce his mind to any complacency in the disparagement of another.


The Pentateuch of Rabelais mentioned in the title-page of the first book of this translation being written originally in the French tongue (as it comprehendeth some of its brusquest dialects), with so much ingeniosity and wit, that more impressions have been sold thereof in that language than of any other book that hath been set forth at any time within these fifteen hundred years; so difficult nevertheless to be turned into any other speech that many prime spirits in most of the nations of Europe, since the year 1573, which was fourscore years ago, after having attempted it, were constrained with no small regret to give it over as a thing impossible to be done, is now in its translation thus far advanced, and the remainder faithfully undertaken with the same hand to be rendered into English by a person of quality, who (though his lands be sequestered, his house garrisoned, his other goods sold, and himself detained a prisoner of war at London, for his having been at Worcester fight) hath, at the most earnest entreaty of some of his especial friends well acquainted with his inclination to the performance of conducible singularities, promised, besides his version of these two already published, very speedily to offer up unto this Isle of Britain the virginity of the translation of the other three most admirable books of the aforesaid author; provided that by the plurality of judicious and understanding men it be not declared he hath already proceeded too far, or that the continuation of the rigour whereby he is dispossessed of all his both real and personal estate, by pressing too hard upon him, be not an impediment thereto, and to other more eminent undertakings of his, as hath been oftentimes very fully mentioned by the said translator in several original treatises of his own penning, lately by him so numerously dispersed that there is scarce any, who being skilful in the English idiom, or curious of any new ingenious invention, hath not either read them or heard of them.

Mr. Hugh Salel to Rabelais.

If profit mixed with pleasure may suffice

T’ extol an author’s worth above the skies,

Thou certainly for both must praised be:

I know it; for thy judgment hath in the

Contexture of this book set down such high

Contentments, mingled with utility,

That (as I think) I see Democritus

Laughing at men as things ridiculous.

Insist in thy design; for, though we prove

Ungrate on earth, thy merit is above.

Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:12