Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 39

How Pantagruel was present at the trial of Judge Bridlegoose, who decided causes and controversies in law by the chance and fortune of the dice.

On the day following, precisely at the hour appointed, Pantagruel came to Mirelingues. At his arrival the presidents, senators, and counsellors prayed him to do them the honour to enter in with them, to hear the decision of all the causes, arguments, and reasons which Bridlegoose in his own defence would produce, why he had pronounced a certain sentence against the subsidy-assessor, Toucheronde, which did not seem very equitable to that centumviral court. Pantagruel very willingly condescended to their desire, and accordingly entering in, found Bridlegoose sitting within the middle of the enclosure of the said court of justice; who immediately upon the coming of Pantagruel, accompanied with the senatorian members of that worshipful judicatory, arose, went to the bar, had his indictment read, and for all his reasons, defences, and excuses, answered nothing else but that he was become old, and that his sight of late was very much failed, and become dimmer than it was wont to be; instancing therewithal many miseries and calamities which old age bringeth along with it, and are concomitant to wrinkled elders; which not. per Archid. d. lxxxvi. c. tanta. By reason of which infirmity he was not able so distinctly and clearly to discern the points and blots of the dice as formerly he had been accustomed to do; whence it might very well have happened, said he, as old dim-sighted Isaac took Jacob for Esau, that I after the same manner, at the decision of causes and controversies in law, should have been mistaken in taking a quatre for a cinque, or a trey for a deuce. This I beseech your worships, quoth he, to take into your serious consideration, and to have the more favourable opinion of my uprightness, notwithstanding the prevarication whereof I am accused in the matter of Toucheronde’s sentence, that at the time of that decree’s pronouncing I only had made use of my small dice; and your worships, said he, know very well how by the most authentic rules of the law it is provided that the imperfections of nature should never be imputed unto any for crimes and transgressions; as appeareth, ff. de re milit. l. qui cum uno. ff. de reg. Jur. l. fere. ff. de aedil. edict. per totum. ff. de term. mod. l. Divus Adrianus, resolved by Lud. Rom. in l. si vero. ff. Sol. Matr. And who would offer to do otherwise, should not thereby accuse the man, but nature, and the all-seeing providence of God, as is evident in l. Maximum Vitium, c. de lib. praeter.

What kind of dice, quoth Trinquamelle, grand-president of the said court, do you mean, my friend Bridlegoose? The dice, quoth Bridlegoose, of sentences at law, decrees, and peremptory judgments, Alea Judiciorum, whereof is written, Per Doct. 26. qu. 2. cap. sort. l. nec emptio ff. de contrahend. empt. l. quod debetur. ff. de pecul. et ibi Bartol., and which your worships do, as well as I, use, in this glorious sovereign court of yours. So do all other righteous judges in their decision of processes and final determination of legal differences, observing that which hath been said thereof by D. Henri. Ferrandat, et not. gl. in c. fin. de sortil. et l. sed cum ambo. ff. de jud. Ubi Docto. Mark, that chance and fortune are good, honest, profitable, and necessary for ending of and putting a final closure to dissensions and debates in suits at law. The same hath more clearly been declared by Bald. Bartol. et Alex. c. communia de leg. l. Si duo. But how is it that you do these things? asked Trinquamelle. I very briefly, quoth Bridlegoose, shall answer you, according to the doctrine and instructions of Leg. ampliorem para. in refutatoriis. c. de appel.; which is conform to what is said in Gloss l. I. ff. quod met. causa. Gaudent brevitate moderni. My practice is therein the same with that of your other worships, and as the custom of the judicatory requires, unto which our law commandeth us to have regard, and by the rule thereof still to direct and regulate our actions and procedures; ut not. extra. de consuet. in c. ex literis et ibi innoc. For having well and exactly seen, surveyed, overlooked, reviewed, recognized, read, and read over again, turned and tossed over, seriously perused and examined the bills of complaint, accusations, impeachments, indictments, warnings, citations, summonings, comparitions, appearances, mandates, commissions, delegations, instructions, informations, inquests, preparatories, productions, evidences, proofs, allegations, depositions, cross speeches, contradictions, supplications, requests, petitions, inquiries, instruments of the deposition of witnesses, rejoinders, replies, confirmations of former assertions, duplies, triplies, answers to rejoinders, writings, deeds, reproaches, disabling of exceptions taken, grievances, salvation bills, re-examination of witnesses, confronting of them together, declarations, denunciations, libels, certificates, royal missives, letters of appeal, letters of attorney, instruments of compulsion, delineatories, anticipatories, evocations, messages, dimissions, issues, exceptions, dilatory pleas, demurs, compositions, injunctions, reliefs, reports, returns, confessions, acknowledgments, exploits, executions, and other such-like confects and spiceries, both at the one and the other side, as a good judge ought to do, conform to what hath been noted thereupon. Spec. de ordination. Paragr. 3. et Tit. de Offi. omn. jud. paragr. fin. et de rescriptis praesentat. parag. I. — I posit on the end of a table in my closet all the pokes and bags of the defendant, and then allow unto him the first hazard of the dice, according to the usual manner of your other worships. And it is mentioned, l. favorabiliores. ff. de reg. jur. et in cap. cum sunt eod. tit. lib. 6, which saith, Quum sunt partium jura obscura, reo potius favendum est quam actori. That being done, I thereafter lay down upon the other end of the same table the bags and satchels of the plaintiff, as your other worships are accustomed to do, visum visu, just over against one another; for Opposita juxta se posita clarius elucescunt: ut not. in lib. I. parag. Videamus. ff. de his qui sunt sui vel alieni juris, et in l. munerum. para. mixta ff. de mun. et hon. Then do I likewise and semblably throw the dice for him, and forthwith livre him his chance. But, quoth Trinquamelle, my friend, how come you to know, understand, and resolve the obscurity of these various and seeming contrary passages in law, which are laid claim to by the suitors and pleading parties? Even just, quoth Bridlegoose, after the fashion of your other worships; to wit, when there are many bags on the one side and on the other, I then use my little small dice, after the customary manner of your other worships, in obedience to the law, Semper in stipulationibus ff. de reg. jur. And the law ver(s)ified versifieth that, Eod. tit. Semper in obscuris quod minimum est sequimur; canonized in c. in obscuris. eod. tit. lib. 6. I have other large great dice, fair and goodly ones, which I employ in the fashion that your other worships use to do, when the matter is more plain, clear, and liquid, that is to say, when there are fewer bags. But when you have done all these fine things, quoth Trinquamelle, how do you, my friend, award your decrees, and pronounce judgment? Even as your other worships, answered Bridlegoose; for I give out sentence in his favour unto whom hath befallen the best chance by dice, judiciary, tribunian, pretorial, what comes first. So our laws command, ff. qui pot. in pign. l. creditor, c. de consul. I. Et de regul. jur. in 6. Qui prior est tempore potior est jure.


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