Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 41

How Bridlegoose relateth the history of the reconcilers of parties at variance in matters of law.

Bridelgoose relateth the history of the reconcilers.

I remember to the same purpose, quoth Bridlegoose, in continuing his discourse, that in the time when at Poictiers I was a student of law under Brocadium Juris, there was at Semerve one Peter Dandin, a very honest man, careful labourer of the ground, fine singer in a church-desk, of good repute and credit, and older than the most aged of all your worships; who was wont to say that he had seen the great and goodly good man, the Council of Lateran, with his wide and broad-brimmed red hat. As also, that he had beheld and looked upon the fair and beautiful Pragmatical Sanction his wife, with her huge rosary or patenotrian chaplet of jet-beads hanging at a large sky-coloured ribbon. This honest man compounded, atoned, and agreed more differences, controversies, and variances at law than had been determined, voided, and finished during his time in the whole palace of Poictiers, in the auditory of Montmorillon, and in the town-house of the old Partenay. This amicable disposition of his rendered him venerable and of great estimation, sway, power, and authority throughout all the neighbouring places of Chauvigny, Nouaille, Leguge, Vivonne, Mezeaux, Estables, and other bordering and circumjacent towns, villages, and hamlets. All their debates were pacified by him; he put an end to their brabbling suits at law and wrangling differences. By his advice and counsels were accords and reconcilements no less firmly made than if the verdict of a sovereign judge had been interposed therein, although, in very deed, he was no judge at all, but a right honest man, as you may well conceive — arg. in l. sed si unius. ff. de jure-jur. et de verbis obligatoriis l.continuus. There was not a hog killed within three parishes of him whereof he had not some part of the haslet and puddings. He was almost every day invited either to a marriage banquet, christening feast, an uprising or women-churching treatment, a birthday’s anniversary solemnity, a merry frolic gossiping, or otherwise to some delicious entertainment in a tavern, to make some accord and agreement between persons at odds and in debate with one another. Remark what I say; for he never yet settled and compounded a difference betwixt any two at variance, but he straight made the parties agreed and pacified to drink together as a sure and infallible token and symbol of a perfect and completely well-cemented reconciliation, sign of a sound and sincere amity and proper mark of a new joy and gladness to follow thereupon — Ut not. per (Doct.) ff. de peric. et com. rei vend. l. I. He had a son, whose name was Tenot Dandin, a lusty, young, sturdy, frisking roister, so help me God! who likewise, in imitation of his peace-making father, would have undertaken and meddled with the making up of variances and deciding of controversies betwixt disagreeing and contentious party-pleaders; as you know,

Saepe solet similis esse patri.

Et sequitur leviter filia matris iter.

Ut ait gloss. 6, quaest. I. c. Si quis. gloss. de cons. dist. 5. c. 2. fin. et est. not. per Doct. cod. de impub. et aliis substit. l. ult. et l. legitime. ff. de stat. hom. gloss. in l. quod si nolit. ff. de aedil. edict. l. quisquis c. ad leg. Jul. Majest. Excipio filios a Moniali susceptos ex Monacho. per glos. in c. impudicas. 27. quaestione. I. And such was his confidence to have no worse success than his father, he assumed unto himself the title of Law-strife-settler. He was likewise in these pacificatory negotiations so active and vigilant — for, Vigilantibus jura subveniunt. ex l. pupillus. ff. quae in fraud. cred. et ibid. l. non enim. et instit. in prooem. — that when he had smelt, heard, and fully understood — ut quando paup. fec. l. Agaso. gloss. in verb. olfecit, id est, nasum ad culum posuit — and found that there was anywhere in the country a debatable matter at law, he would incontinently thrust in his advice, and so forwardly intrude his opinion in the business, that he made no bones of making offer, and taking upon him to decide it, how difficult soever it might happen to be, to the full contentment and satisfaction of both parties. It is written, Qui non laborat non manducat; and the said gl. ff. de damn. infect. l. quamvis, and Currere plus que le pas vetulam compellit egestas. gloss. ff. de lib. agnosc. l. si quis. pro qua facit. l. si plures. c. de cond. incert. But so hugely great was his misfortune in this his undertaking, that he never composed any difference, how little soever you may imagine it might have been, but that, instead of reconciling the parties at odds, he did incense, irritate, and exasperate them to a higher point of dissension and enmity than ever they were at before. Your worships know, I doubt not, that,

Sermo datur cunctis, animi sapientia paucis.

Gl. ff. de alien. jud. mut. caus. fa. lib.2. This administered unto the tavern-keepers, wine-drawers, and vintners of Semerve an occasion to say, that under him they had not in the space of a whole year so much reconciliation-wine, for so were they pleased to call the good wine of Leguge, as under his father they had done in one half-hour’s time. It happened a little while thereafter that he made a most heavy regret thereof to his father, attributing the causes of his bad success in pacificatory enterprises to the perversity, stubbornness, froward, cross, and backward inclinations of the people of his time; roundly, boldly, and irreverently upbraiding, that if but a score of years before the world had been so wayward, obstinate, pervicacious, implacable, and out of all square, frame, and order as it was then, his father had never attained to and acquired the honour and title of Strife-appeaser so irrefragably, inviolably, and irrevocably as he had done. In doing whereof Tenot did heinously transgress against the law which prohibiteth children to reproach the actions of their parents; per gl. et Bart. l. 3. paragr. si quis. ff. de cond. ob caus. et authent. de nupt. par. sed quod sancitum. col. 4. To this the honest old father answered thus: My son Dandin, when Don Oportet taketh place, this is the course which we must trace, gl. c. de appell. l. eos etiam. For the road that you went upon was not the way to the fuller’s mill, nor in any part thereof was the form to be found wherein the hare did sit. Thou hast not the skill and dexterity of settling and composing differences. Why? Because thou takest them at the beginning, in the very infancy and bud as it were, when they are green, raw, and indigestible. Yet I know handsomely and featly how to compose and settle them all. Why? Because I take them at their decadence, in their weaning, and when they are pretty well digested. So saith Gloss:

Dulcior est fructus post multa pericula ductus.

L. non moriturus. c. de contrahend. et committ. stip. Didst thou ever hear the vulgar proverb, Happy is the physician whose coming is desired at the declension of a disease? For the sickness being come to a crisis is then upon the decreasing hand, and drawing towards an end, although the physician should not repair thither for the cure thereof; whereby, though nature wholly do the work, he bears away the palm and praise thereof. My pleaders, after the same manner, before I did interpose my judgment in the reconciling of them, were waxing faint in their contestations. Their altercation heat was much abated, and, in declining from their former strife, they of themselves inclined to a firm accommodation of their differences; because there wanted fuel to that fire of burning rancour and despiteful wrangling whereof the lower sort of lawyers were the kindlers. That is to say, their purses were emptied of coin, they had not a win in their fob, nor penny in their bag, wherewith to solicit and present their actions.

Deficiente pecu, deficit omne, nia.

There wanted then nothing but some brother to supply the place of a paranymph, brawl-broker, proxenete, or mediator, who, acting his part dexterously, should be the first broacher of the motion of an agreement, for saving both the one and the other party from that hurtful and pernicious shame whereof he could not have avoided the imputation when it should have been said that he was the first who yielded and spoke of a reconcilement, and that therefore, his cause not being good, and being sensible where his shoe did pinch him, he was willing to break the ice, and make the greater haste to prepare the way for a condescendment to an amicable and friendly treaty. Then was it that I came in pudding time, Dandin, my son, nor is the fat of bacon more relishing to boiled peas than was my verdict then agreeable to them. This was my luck, my profit, and good fortune. I tell thee, my jolly son Dandin, that by this rule and method I could settle a firm peace, or at least clap up a cessation of arms and truce for many years to come, betwixt the Great King and the Venetian State, the Emperor and the Cantons of Switzerland, the English and the Scots, and betwixt the Pope and the Ferrarians. Shall I go yet further? Yea, as I would have God to help me, betwixt the Turk and the Sophy, the Tartars and the Muscoviters. Remark well what I am to say unto thee. I would take them at that very instant nick of time when both those of the one and the other side should be weary and tired of making war, when they had voided and emptied their own cashes and coffers of all treasure and coin, drained and exhausted the purses and bags of their subjects, sold and mortgaged their domains and proper inheritances, and totally wasted, spent, and consumed the munition, furniture, provision, and victuals that were necessary for the continuance of a military expedition. There I am sure, by God, or by his Mother, that, would they, would they not, in spite of all their teeths, they should be forced to have a little respite and breathing time to moderate the fury and cruel rage of their ambitious aims. This is the doctrine in Gl. 37. d. c. si quando.

Odero, si potero; si non, invitus amabo.

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