Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 28

How Friar John comforteth Panurge in the doubtful matter of cuckoldry.

I understand thee well enough, said Friar John; but time makes all things plain. The most durable marble or porphyry is subject to old age and decay. Though for the present thou possibly be not weary of the exercise, yet is it like I will hear thee confess a few years hence that thy cods hang dangling downwards for want of a better truss. I see thee waxing a little hoar-headed already. Thy beard, by the distinction of grey, white, tawny, and black, hath to my thinking the resemblance of a map of the terrestrial globe or geographical chart. Look attentively upon and take inspection of what I shall show unto thee. Behold there Asia. Here are Tigris and Euphrates. Lo there Afric. Here is the mountain of the Moon — yonder thou mayst perceive the fenny march of Nilus. On this side lieth Europe. Dost thou not see the Abbey of Theleme? This little tuft, which is altogether white, is the Hyperborean Hills. By the thirst of my thropple, friend, when snow is on the mountains, I say the head and the chin, there is not then any considerable heat to be expected in the valleys and low countries of the codpiece. By the kibes of thy heels, quoth Panurge, thou dost not understand the topics. When snow is on the tops of the hills, lightning, thunder, tempest, whirlwinds, storms, hurricanes, and all the devils of hell rage in the valleys. Wouldst thou see the experience thereof, go to the territory of the Switzers and earnestly perpend with thyself there the situation of the lake of Wunderberlich, about four leagues distant from Berne, on the Syon-side of the land. Thou twittest me with my grey hairs, yet considerest not how I am of the nature of leeks, which with a white head carry a green, fresh, straight, and vigorous tail. The truth is, nevertheless (why should I deny it), that I now and then discern in myself some indicative signs of old age. Tell this, I prithee, to nobody, but let it be kept very close and secret betwixt us two; for I find the wine much sweeter now, more savoury to my taste, and unto my palate of a better relish than formerly I was wont to do; and withal, besides mine accustomed manner, I have a more dreadful apprehension than I ever heretofore have had of lighting on bad wine. Note and observe that this doth argue and portend I know not what of the west and occident of my time, and signifieth that the south and meridian of mine age is past. But what then, my gentle companion? That doth but betoken that I will hereafter drink so much the more. That is not, the devil hale it, the thing that I fear; nor is it there where my shoe pinches. The thing that I doubt most, and have greatest reason to dread and suspect is, that through some long absence of our King Pantagruel (to whom I must needs bear company should he go to all the devils of Barathrum), my future wife shall make me a cuckold. This is, in truth, the long and short on’t. For I am by all those whom I have spoke to menaced and threatened with a horned fortune, and all of them affirm it is the lot to which from heaven I am predestinated. Everyone, answered Friar John, that would be a cuckold is not one. If it be thy fate to be hereafter of the number of that horned cattle, then may I conclude with an Ergo, thy wife will be beautiful, and Ergo, thou wilt be kindly used by her. Likewise with this Ergo, thou shalt be blessed with the fruition of many friends and well-willers. And finally with this other Ergo, thou shalt be saved and have a place in Paradise. These are monachal topics and maxims of the cloister. Thou mayst take more liberty to sin. Thou shalt be more at ease than ever. There will be never the less left for thee, nothing diminished, but thy goods shall increase notably. And if so be it was preordinated for thee, wouldst thou be so impious as not to acquiesce in thy destiny? Speak, thou jaded cod.

Faded C. Louting C. Appellant C.
Mouldy C. Discouraged C. Swagging C.
Musty C. Surfeited C. Withered C.
Paltry C. Peevish C. Broken-reined C.
Senseless C. Translated C. Defective C.
Foundered C. Forlorn C. Crestfallen C.
Distempered C. Unsavoury C. Felled C.
Bewrayed C. Worm-eaten C. Fleeted C.
Inveigled C. Overtoiled C. Cloyed C.
Dangling C. Miserable C. Squeezed C.
Stupid C. Steeped C. Resty C.
Seedless C. Kneaded-with-cold-Pounded C.
Soaked C. water C. Loose C.
Coldish C. Hacked C. Fruitless C.
Pickled C. Flaggy C. Riven C.
Churned C. Scrubby C. Pursy C.
Filliped C. Drained C. Fusty C.
Singlefied C. Haled C. Jadish C.
Begrimed C. Lolling C. Fistulous C.
Wrinkled C. Drenched C. Languishing C.
Fainted C. Burst C. Maleficiated C.
Extenuated C. Stirred up C. Hectic C.
Grim C. Mitred C. Worn out C.
Wasted C. Peddlingly furnished Ill-favoured C.
Inflamed C. C. Duncified C.
Unhinged C. Rusty C. Macerated C.
Scurfy C. Exhausted C. Paralytic C.
Straddling C. Perplexed C. Degraded C.
Putrefied C. Unhelved C. Benumbed C.
Maimed C. Fizzled C. Bat-like C.
Overlechered C. Leprous C. Fart-shotten C.
Druggely C. Bruised C. Sunburnt C.
Mitified C. Spadonic C. Pacified C.
Goat-ridden C. Boughty C. Blunted C.
Weakened C. Mealy C. Rankling tasted C.
Ass-ridden C. Wrangling C. Rooted out C.
Puff-pasted C. Gangrened C. Costive C.
St. Anthonified C. Crust-risen C. Hailed on C.
Untriped C. Ragged C. Cuffed C.
Blasted C. Quelled C. Buffeted C.
Cut off C. Braggadocio C. Whirreted C.
Beveraged C. Beggarly C. Robbed C.
Scarified C. Trepanned C. Neglected C.
Dashed C. Bedusked C. Lame C.
Slashed C. Emasculated C. Confused C.
Enfeebled C. Corked C. Unsavoury C.
Whore-hunting C. Transparent C. Overthrown C.
Deteriorated C. Vile C. Boulted C.
Chill C. Antedated C. Trod under C.
Scrupulous C. Chopped C. Desolate C.
Crazed C. Pinked C. Declining C.
Tasteless C. Cup-glassified C. Stinking C.
Sorrowful C. Harsh C. Crooked C.
Murdered C. Beaten C. Brabbling C.
Matachin-like C. Barred C. Rotten C.
Besotted C. Abandoned C. Anxious C.
Customerless C. Confounded C. Clouted C.
Minced C. Loutish C. Tired C.
Exulcerated C. Borne down C. Proud C.
Patched C. Sparred C. Fractured C.
Stupified C. Abashed C. Melancholy C.
Annihilated C. Unseasonable C. Coxcombly C.
Spent C. Oppressed C. Base C.
Foiled C. Grated C. Bleaked C.
Anguished C. Falling away C. Detested C.
Disfigured C. Smallcut C. Diaphanous C.
Disabled C. Disordered C. Unworthy C.
Forceless C. Latticed C. Checked C.
Censured C. Ruined C. Mangled C.
Cut C. Exasperated C. Turned over C.
Rifled C. Rejected C. Harried C.
Undone C. Belammed C. Flawed C.
Corrected C. Fabricitant C. Froward C.
Slit C. Perused C. Ugly C.
Skittish C. Emasculated C. Drawn C.
Spongy C. Roughly handled C. Riven C.
Botched C. Examined C. Distasteful C.
Dejected C. Cracked C. Hanging C.
Jagged C. Wayward C. Broken C.
Pining C. Haggled C. Limber C.
Deformed C. Gleaning C. Effeminate C.
Mischieved C. Ill-favoured C. Kindled C.
Cobbled C. Pulled C. Evacuated C.
Embased C. Drooping C. Grieved C.
Ransacked C. Faint C. Carking C.
Despised C. Parched C. Disorderly C.
Mangy C. Paltry C. Empty C.
Abased C. Cankered C. Disquieted C.
Supine C. Void C. Besysted C.
Mended C. Vexed C. Confounded C.
Dismayed C. Bestunk C. Hooked C.
Divorous C. Winnowed C. Unlucky C.
Wearied C. Decayed C. Sterile C.
Sad C. Disastrous C. Beshitten C.
Cross C. Unhandsome C. Appeased C.
Vain-glorious C. Stummed C. Caitiff C.
Poor C. Barren C. Woeful C.
Brown C. Wretched C. Unseemly C.
Shrunken C. Feeble C. Heavy C.
Abhorred C. Cast down C. Weak C.
Troubled C. Stopped C. Prostrated C.
Scornful C. Kept under C. Uncomely C.
Dishonest C. Stubborn C. Naughty C.
Reproved C. Ground C. Laid flat C.
Cocketed C. Retchless C. Suffocated C.
Filthy C. Weather-beaten C. Held down C.
Shred C. Flayed C. Barked C.
Chawned C. Bald C. Hairless C.
Short-winded C. Tossed C. Flamping C.
Branchless C. Flapping C. Hooded C.
Chapped C. Cleft C. Wormy C.
Failing C. Meagre C. Besysted (In his anxiety to swell his catalogue as much as possible, Sir Thomas Urquhart has set down this word twice.) C.
Deficient C. Dumpified C. Faulty C.
Lean C. Suppressed C. Bemealed C.
Consumed C. Hagged C. Mortified C.
Used C. Jawped C. Scurvy C.
Puzzled C. Havocked C. Bescabbed C.
Allayed C. Astonished C. Torn C.
Spoiled C. Dulled C. Subdued C.
Clagged C. Slow C. Sneaking C.
Palsy-stricken C. Plucked up C. Bare C.
Amazed C. Constipated C. Swart C.
Bedunsed C. Blown C. Smutched C.
Extirpated C. Blockified C. Raised up C.
Banged C. Pommelled C. Chopped C.
Stripped C. All-to-bemauled C. Flirted C.
Hoary C. Fallen away C. Blained C.
Blotted C. Stale C. Rensy C.
Sunk in C. Corrupted C. Frowning C.
Ghastly C. Beflowered C. Limping C.
Unpointed C. Amated C. Ravelled C.
Beblistered C. Blackish C. Rammish C.
Wizened C. Underlaid C. Gaunt C.
Beggar-plated C. Loathing C. Beskimmered C.
Douf C. Ill-filled C. Scraggy C.
Clarty C. Bobbed C. Lank C.
Lumpish C. Mated C. Swashering C.
Abject C. Tawny C. Moiling C.
Side C. Whealed C. Swinking C.
Choked up C. Besmeared C. Harried C.
Backward C. Hollow C. Tugged C.
Prolix C. Pantless C. Towed C.
Spotted C. Guizened C. Misused C.
Crumpled C. Demiss C. Adamitical C.
Frumpled C. Refractory C.

Ballockatso to the devil, my dear friend Panurge, seeing it is so decreed by the gods, wouldst thou invert the course of the planets, and make them retrograde? Wouldst thou disorder all the celestial spheres, blame the intelligences, blunt the spindles, joint the wherves, slander the spinning quills, reproach the bobbins, revile the clew-bottoms, and finally ravel and untwist all the threads of both the warp and the waft of the weird Sister-Parcae? What a pox to thy bones dost thou mean, stony cod? Thou wouldst if thou couldst, a great deal worse than the giants of old intended to have done. Come hither, billicullion. Whether wouldst thou be jealous without cause, or be a cuckold and know nothing of it? Neither the one nor the other, quoth Panurge, would I choose to be. But if I get an inkling of the matter, I will provide well enough, or there shall not be one stick of wood within five hundred leagues about me whereof to make a cudgel. In good faith, Friar John, I speak now seriously unto thee, I think it will be my best not to marry. Hearken to what the bells do tell me, now that we are nearer to them! Do not marry, marry not, not, not, not, not; marry, marry not, not, not, not, not. If thou marry, thou wilt miscarry, carry, carry; thou’lt repent it, resent it, sent it! If thou marry, thou a cuckold, a cou-cou-cuckoo, cou-cou-cuckold thou shalt be. By the worthy wrath of God, I begin to be angry. This campanilian oracle fretteth me to the guts — a March hare was never in such a chafe as I am. O how I am vexed! You monks and friars of the cowl-pated and hood-polled fraternity, have you no remedy nor salve against this malady of graffing horns in heads? Hath nature so abandoned humankind, and of her help left us so destitute, that married men cannot know how to sail through the seas of this mortal life and be safe from the whirlpools, quicksands, rocks, and banks that lie alongst the coast of Cornwall.

I will, said Friar John, show thee a way and teach thee an expedient by means whereof thy wife shall never make thee a cuckold without thy knowledge and thine own consent. Do me the favour, I pray thee, quoth Panurge, my pretty, soft, downy cod; now tell it, billy, tell it, I beseech thee. Take, quoth Friar John, Hans Carvel’s ring upon thy finger, who was the King of Melinda’s chief jeweller. Besides that this Hans Carvel had the reputation of being very skilful and expert in the lapidary’s profession, he was a studious, learned, and ingenious man, a scientific person, full of knowledge, a great philosopher, of a sound judgment, of a prime wit, good sense, clear spirited, an honest creature, courteous, charitable, a giver of alms, and of a jovial humour, a boon companion, and a merry blade, if ever there was any in the world. He was somewhat gorbellied, had a little shake in his head, and was in effect unwieldy of his body. In his old age he took to wife the Bailiff of Concordat’s daughter, young, fair, jolly, gallant, spruce, frisk, brisk, neat, feat, smirk, smug, compt, quaint, gay, fine, tricksy, trim, decent, proper, graceful, handsome, beautiful, comely, and kind — a little too much — to her neighbours and acquaintance.

Hereupon it fell out, after the expiring of a scantling of weeks, that Master Carvel became as jealous as a tiger, and entered into a very profound suspicion that his new-married gixy did keep a-buttock-stirring with others. To prevent which inconveniency he did tell her many tragical stories of the total ruin of several kingdoms by adultery; did read unto her the legend of chaste wives; then made some lectures to her in the praise of the choice virtue of pudicity, and did present her with a book in commendation of conjugal fidelity; wherein the wickedness of all licentious women was odiously detested; and withal he gave her a chain enriched with pure oriental sapphires. Notwithstanding all this, he found her always more and more inclined to the reception of her neighbour copes-mates, that day by day his jealousy increased. In sequel whereof, one night as he was lying by her, whilst in his sleep the rambling fancies of the lecherous deportments of his wife did take up the cellules of his brain, he dreamt that he encountered with the devil, to whom he had discovered to the full the buzzing of his head and suspicion that his wife did tread her shoe awry. The devil, he thought, in this perplexity did for his comfort give him a ring, and therewithal did kindly put it on his middle finger, saying, Hans Carvel, I give thee this ring — whilst thou carriest it upon that finger, thy wife shall never carnally be known by any other than thyself without thy special knowledge and consent. Gramercy, quoth Hans Carvel, my lord devil, I renounce Mahomet if ever it shall come off my finger. The devil vanished, as is his custom; and then Hans Carvel, full of joy awaking, found that his middle finger was as far as it could reach within the what-do-by-call-it of his wife. I did forget to tell thee how his wife, as soon as she had felt the finger there, said, in recoiling her buttocks, Off, yes, nay, tut, pish, tush, ay, lord, that is not the thing which should be put up in that place. With this Hans Carvel thought that some pilfering fellow was about to take the ring from him. Is not this an infallible and sovereign antidote? Therefore, if thou wilt believe me, in imitation of this example never fail to have continually the ring of thy wife’s commodity upon thy finger. When that was said, their discourse and their way ended.

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