Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 23

How Panurge maketh the motion of a return to Raminagrobis.

Let us return, quoth Panurge, not ceasing, to the uttermost of our abilities, to ply him with wholesome admonitions for the furtherance of his salvation. Let us go back, for God’s sake; let us go, in the name of God. It will be a very meritorious work, and of great charity in us to deal so in the matter, and provide so well for him that, albeit he come to lose both body and life, he may at least escape the risk and danger of the eternal damnation of his soul. We will by our holy persuasions bring him to a sense and feeling of his escapes, induce him to acknowledge his faults, move him to a cordial repentance of his errors, and stir up in him such a sincere contrition of heart for his offences, as will prompt him with all earnestness to cry mercy, and to beg pardon at the hands of the good fathers, as well of the absent as of such as are present. Whereupon we will take instrument formally and authentically extended, to the end he be not, after his decease, declared an heretic, and condemned, as were the hobgoblins of the provost’s wife of Orleans, to the undergoing of such punishments, pains, and tortures as are due to and inflicted on those that inhabit the horrid cells of the infernal regions; and withal incline, instigate, and persuade him to bequeath and leave in legacy (by way of an amends and satisfaction for the outrage and injury done to those good religious fathers throughout all the convents, cloisters, and monasteries of this province), many bribes, a great deal of mass-singing, store of obits, and that sempiternally, on the anniversary day of his decease, every one of them all be furnished with a quintuple allowance, and that the great borachio replenished with the best liquor trudge apace along the tables, as well of the young duckling monkitoes, lay brothers, and lowermost degree of the abbey lubbards, as of the learned priests and reverend clerks — the very meanest of the novices and mitiants unto the order being equally admitted to the benefit of those funerary and obsequial festivals with the aged rectors and professed fathers. This is the surest ordinary means whereby from God he may obtain forgiveness. Ho, ho, I am quite mistaken; I digress from the purpose, and fly out of my discourse, as if my spirits were a-wool-gathering. The devil take me, if I go thither! Virtue God! The chamber is already full of devils. O what a swinging, thwacking noise is now amongst them! O the terrible coil that they keep! Hearken, do you not hear the rustling, thumping bustle of their strokes and blows, as they scuffle with one another, like true devils indeed, who shall gulp up the Raminagrobis soul, and be the first bringer of it, whilst it is hot, to Monsieur Lucifer? Beware, and get you hence! for my part, I will not go thither. The devil roast me if I go! Who knows but that these hungry mad devils may in the haste of their rage and fury of their impatience take a qui for a quo, and instead of Raminagrobis snatch up poor Panurge frank and free? Though formerly, when I was deep in debt, they always failed. Get you hence! I will not go thither. Before God, the very bare apprehension thereof is like to kill me. To be in a place where there are greedy, famished, and hunger-starved devils; amongst factious devils — amidst trading and trafficking devils — O the Lord preserve me! Get you hence! I dare pawn my credit on it, that no Jacobin, Cordelier, Carmelite, Capuchin, Theatin, or Minim will bestow any personal presence at his interment. The wiser they, because he hath ordained nothing for them in his latter will and testament. The devil take me, if I go thither. If he be damned, to his own loss and hindrance be it. What the deuce moved him to be so snappish and depravedly bent against the good fathers of the true religion? Why did he cast them off, reject them, and drive them quite out of his chamber, even in that very nick of time when he stood in greatest need of the aid, suffrage, and assistance of their devout prayers and holy admonitions? Why did not he by testament leave them, at least, some jolly lumps and cantles of substantial meat, a parcel of cheek-puffing victuals, and a little belly-timber and provision for the guts of these poor folks, who have nothing but their life in this world? Let him go thither who will, the devil take me if I go; for, if I should, the devil would not fail to snatch me up. Cancro. Ho, the pox! Get you hence, Friar John! Art thou content that thirty thousand wainload of devils should get away with thee at this same very instant? If thou be, at my request do these three things. First, give me thy purse; for besides that thy money is marked with crosses, and the cross is an enemy to charms, the same may befall to thee which not long ago happened to John Dodin, collector of the excise of Coudray, at the ford of Vede, when the soldiers broke the planks. This moneyed fellow, meeting at the very brink of the bank of the ford with Friar Adam Crankcod, a Franciscan observantin of Mirebeau, promised him a new frock, provided that in the transporting of him over the water he would bear him upon his neck and shoulders, after the manner of carrying dead goats; for he was a lusty, strong-limbed, sturdy rogue. The condition being agreed upon, Friar Crankcod trusseth himself up to his very ballocks, and layeth upon his back, like a fair little Saint Christopher, the load of the said supplicant Dodin, and so carried him gaily and with a good will, as Aeneas bore his father Anchises through the conflagration of Troy, singing in the meanwhile a pretty Ave Maris Stella. When they were in the very deepest place of all the ford, a little above the master-wheel of the water-mill, he asked if he had any coin about him. Yes, quoth Dodin, a whole bagful; and that he needed not to mistrust his ability in the performance of the promise which he had made unto him concerning a new frock. How! quoth Friar Crankcod, thou knowest well enough that by the express rules, canons, and injunctions of our order we are forbidden to carry on us any kind of money. Thou art truly unhappy, for having made me in this point to commit a heinous trespass. Why didst thou not leave thy purse with the miller? Without fail thou shalt presently receive thy reward for it; and if ever hereafter I may but lay hold upon thee within the limits of our chancel at Mirebeau, thou shalt have the Miserere even to the Vitulos. With this, suddenly discharging himself of his burden, he throws me down your Dodin headlong. Take example by this Dodin, my dear friend Friar John, to the end that the devils may the better carry thee away at thine own ease. Give me thy purse. Carry no manner of cross upon thee. Therein lieth an evident and manifestly apparent danger. For if you have any silver coined with a cross upon it, they will cast thee down headlong upon some rocks, as the eagles use to do with the tortoises for the breaking of their shells, as the bald pate of the poet Aeschylus can sufficiently bear witness. Such a fall would hurt thee very sore, my sweet bully, and I would be sorry for it. Or otherwise they will let thee fall and tumble down into the high swollen waves of some capacious sea, I know not where; but, I warrant thee, far enough hence, as Icarus fell, which from thy name would afterwards get the denomination of the Funnelian Sea.

The chamber is already full of devils.

Secondly, be out of debt. For the devils carry a great liking to those that are out of debt. I have sore felt the experience thereof in mine own particular; for now the lecherous varlets are always wooing me, courting me, and making much of me, which they never did when I was all to pieces. The soul of one in debt is insipid, dry, and heretical altogether.

Thirdly, with the cowl and Domino de Grobis, return to Raminagrobis; and in case, being thus qualified, thirty thousand boatsful of devils forthwith come not to carry thee quite away, I shall be content to be at the charge of paying for the pint and faggot. Now, if for the more security thou wouldst some associate to bear thee company, let not me be the comrade thou searchest for; think not to get a fellow-traveller of me — nay, do not. I advise thee for the best. Get you hence; I will not go thither. The devil take me if I go. Notwithstanding all the fright that you are in, quoth Friar John, I would not care so much as might possibly be expected I should, if I once had but my sword in my hand. Thou hast verily hit the nail on the head, quoth Panurge, and speakest like a learned doctor, subtle and well-skilled in the art of devilry. At the time when I was a student in the University of Toulouse (Tolette), that same reverend father in the devil, Picatrix, rector of the diabological faculty, was wont to tell us that the devils did naturally fear the bright glancing of swords as much as the splendour and light of the sun. In confirmation of the verity whereof he related this story, that Hercules, at his descent into hell to all the devils of those regions, did not by half so much terrify them with his club and lion’s skin as afterwards Aeneas did with his clear shining armour upon him, and his sword in his hand well-furbished and unrusted, by the aid, counsel, and assistance of the Sybilla Cumana. That was perhaps the reason why the senior John Jacomo di Trivulcio, whilst he was a-dying at Chartres, called for his cutlass, and died with a drawn sword in his hand, lying about him alongst and athwart around the bed and everywhere within his reach, like a stout, doughty, valorous and knight-like cavalier; by which resolute manner of fence he scared away and put to flight all the devils that were then lying in wait for his soul at the passage of his death. When the Massorets and Cabalists are asked why it is that none of all the devils do at any time enter into the terrestrial paradise? their answer hath been, is, and will be still, that there is a cherubin standing at the gate thereof with a flame-like glistering sword in his hand. Although, to speak in the true diabological sense or phrase of Toledo, I must needs confess and acknowledge that veritably the devils cannot be killed or die by the stroke of a sword, I do nevertheless avow and maintain, according to the doctrine of the said diabology, that they may suffer a solution of continuity (as if with thy shable thou shouldst cut athwart the flame of a burning fire, or the gross opacous exhalations of a thick and obscure smoke), and cry out like very devils at their sense and feeling of this dissolution, which in real deed I must aver and affirm is devilishly painful, smarting, and dolorous.

When thou seest the impetuous shock of two armies, and vehement violence of the push in their horrid encounter with one another, dost thou think, Ballockasso, that so horrible a noise as is heard there proceedeth from the voice and shouts of men, the dashing and jolting of harness, the clattering and clashing of armies, the hacking and slashing of battle-axes, the justling and crashing of pikes, the bustling and breaking of lances, the clamour and shrieks of the wounded, the sound and din of drums, the clangour and shrillness of trumpets, the neighing and rushing in of horses, with the fearful claps and thundering of all sorts of guns, from the double cannon to the pocket pistol inclusively? I cannot goodly deny but that in these various things which I have rehearsed there may be somewhat occasionative of the huge yell and tintamarre of the two engaged bodies. But the most fearful and tumultuous coil and stir, the terriblest and most boisterous garboil and hurry, the chiefest rustling black santus of all, and most principal hurlyburly springeth from the grievously plangorous howling and lowing of devils, who pell-mell, in a hand-over-head confusion, waiting for the poor souls of the maimed and hurt soldiery, receive unawares some strokes with swords, and so by those means suffer a solution of and division in the continuity of their aerial and invisible substances; as if some lackey, snatching at the lard-slices stuck in a piece of roast meat on the spit, should get from Mr. Greasyfist a good rap on the knuckles with a cudgel. They cry out and shout like devils, even as Mars did when he was hurt by Diomedes at the siege of Troy, who, as Homer testifieth of him, did then raise his voice more horrifically loud and sonoriferously high than ten thousand men together would have been able to do. What maketh all this for our present purpose? I have been speaking here of well-furbished armour and bright shining swords. But so is it not, Friar John, with thy weapon; for by a long discontinuance of work, cessation from labour, desisting from making it officiate, and putting it into that practice wherein it had been formerly accustomed, and, in a word, for want of occupation, it is, upon my faith, become more rusty than the key-hole of an old powdering-tub. Therefore it is expedient that you do one of these two things: either furbish your weapon bravely, and as it ought to be, or otherwise have a care that, in the rusty case it is in, you do not presume to return to the house of Raminagrobis. For my part, I vow I will not go thither. The devil take me if I go.

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