How Panurge caused Dingdong and his sheep to be drowned in the sea.
On a sudden, you would wonder how the thing was so soon done — for my part I cannot tell you, for I had not leisure to mind it — our friend Panurge, without any further tittle-tattle, throws you his ram overboard into the middle of the sea, bleating and making a sad noise. Upon this all the other sheep in the ship, crying and bleating in the same tone, made all the haste they could to leap nimbly into the sea, one after another; and great was the throng who should leap in first after their leader. It was impossible to hinder them; for you know that it is the nature of sheep always to follow the first wheresoever it goes; which makes Aristotle, lib. 9. De. Hist. Animal., mark them for the most silly and foolish animals in the world. Dingdong, at his wits’ end, and stark staring mad, as a man who saw his sheep destroy and drown themselves before his face, strove to hinder and keep them back with might and main; but all in vain: they all one after t’other frisked and jumped into the sea, and were lost. At last he laid hold on a huge sturdy one by the fleece, upon the deck of the ship, hoping to keep it back, and so save that and the rest; but the ram was so strong that it proved too hard for him, and carried its master into the herring pond in spite of his teeth — where it is supposed he drank somewhat more than his fill, so that he was drowned — in the same manner as one-eyed Polyphemus’ sheep carried out of the den Ulysses and his companions. The like happened to the shepherds and all their gang, some laying hold on their beloved tup, this by the horns, t’other by the legs, a third by the rump, and others by the fleece; till in fine they were all of them forced to sea, and drowned like so many rats. Panurge, on the gunnel of the ship, with an oar in his hand, not to help them you may swear, but to keep them from swimming to the ship and saving themselves from drowning, preached and canted to them all the while like any little Friar (Oliver) Maillard, or another Friar John Burgess; laying before them rhetorical commonplaces concerning the miseries of this life and the blessings and felicity of the next; assuring them that the dead were much happier than the living in this vale of misery, and promised to erect a stately cenotaph and honorary tomb to every one of them on the highest summit of Mount Cenis at his return from Lanternland; wishing them, nevertheless, in case they were not yet disposed to shake hands with this life, and did not like their salt liquor, they might have the good luck to meet with some kind whale which might set them ashore safe and sound on some blessed land of Gotham, after a famous example.
The ship being cleared of Dingdong and his tups: Is there ever another sheepish soul left lurking on board? cried Panurge. Where are those of Toby Lamb and Robin Ram that sleep while the rest are a-feeding? Faith, I can’t tell myself. This was an old coaster’s trick. What think’st of it, Friar John, hah? Rarely performed, answered Friar John; only methinks that as formerly in war, on the day of battle, a double pay was commonly promised the soldiers for that day; for if they overcame, there was enough to pay them; and if they lost, it would have been shameful for them to demand it, as the cowardly foresters did after the battle of Cerizoles; likewise, my friend, you ought not to have paid your man, and the money had been saved. A fart for the money, said Panurge; have I not had above fifty thousand pounds’ worth of sport? Come now, let’s be gone; the wind is fair. Hark you me, my friend John; never did man do me a good turn, but I returned, or at least acknowledged it; no, I scorn to be ungrateful; I never was, nor ever will be. Never did man do me an ill one without rueing the day that he did it, either in this world or the next. I am not yet so much a fool neither. Thou damn’st thyself like any old devil, quoth Friar John; it is written, Mihi vindictam, &c. Matter of breviary, mark ye me [Motteux adds unnecessarily (by way of explanation), ‘that’s holy stuff.’].
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:54