Gargantua and Pantagruel, Book IV.
Francois Rabelais

Part 4 out of 4


Our pilot (good man!) was pulling maggots out of the seamen's noses.

At last Friar John, returning from the forecastle, perceived that
Pantagruel was awake. Then breaking this obstinate silence, he briskly and
cheerfully asked him how a man should kill time, and raise good weather,
during a calm at sea.

Panurge, whose belly thought his throat cut, backed the motion presently,
and asked for a pill to purge melancholy.

Epistemon also came on, and asked how a man might be ready to bepiss
himself with laughing when he has no heart to be merry.

Gymnast, arising, demanded a remedy for a dimness of eyes.

Ponocrates, after he had a while rubbed his noddle and shaken his ears,
asked how one might avoid dog-sleep. Hold! cried Pantagruel, the
Peripatetics have wisely made a rule that all problems, questions, and
doubts which are offered to be solved ought to be certain, clear, and
intelligible. What do you mean by dog-sleep? I mean, answered Ponocrates,
to sleep fasting in the sun at noonday, as the dogs do.

Rhizotome, who lay stooping on the pump, raised his drowsy head, and lazily
yawning, by natural sympathy set almost everyone in the ship a-yawning too;
then he asked for a remedy against oscitations and gapings.

Xenomanes, half puzzled, and tired out with new-vamping his antiquated
lantern, asked how the hold of the stomach might be so well ballasted and
freighted from the keel to the main hatch, with stores well stowed, that
our human vessels might not heel or be walt, but well trimmed and stiff.

Carpalin, twirling his diminutive windmill, asked how many motions are to
be felt in nature before a gentleman may be said to be hungry.

Eusthenes, hearing them talk, came from between decks, and from the capstan
called out to know why a man that is fasting, bit by a serpent also
fasting, is in greater danger of death than when man and serpent have eat
their breakfasts;--why a man's fasting-spittle is poisonous to serpents and
venomous creatures.

One single solution may serve for all your problems, gentlemen, answered
Pantagruel; and one single medicine for all such symptoms and accidents.
My answer shall be short, not to tire you with a long needless train of
pedantic cant. The belly has no ears, nor is it to be filled with fair
words; you shall be answered to content by signs and gestures. As formerly
at Rome, Tarquin the Proud, its last king, sent an answer by signs to his
son Sextus, who was among the Gabii at Gabii. (Saying this, he pulled the
string of a little bell, and Friar John hurried away to the cook-room.)
The son having sent his father a messenger to know how he might bring the
Gabii under a close subjection, the king, mistrusting the messenger, made
him no answer, and only took him into his privy garden, and in his presence
with his sword lopped off the heads of the tall poppies that were there.
The express returned without any other despatch, yet having related to the
prince what he had seen his father do, he easily understood that by those
signs he advised him to cut off the heads of the chief men in the town, the
better to keep under the rest of the people.

Chapter 4.LXIV.

How Pantagruel gave no answer to the problems.

Pantagruel then asked what sort of people dwelt in that damned island.
They are, answered Xenomanes, all hypocrites, holy mountebanks, tumblers of
beads, mumblers of ave-marias, spiritual comedians, sham saints, hermits,
all of them poor rogues who, like the hermit of Lormont between Blaye and
Bordeaux, live wholly on alms given them by passengers. Catch me there if
you can, cried Panurge; may the devil's head-cook conjure my bumgut into a
pair of bellows if ever you find me among them! Hermits, sham saints,
living forms of mortification, holy mountebanks, avaunt! in the name of
your father Satan, get out of my sight! When the devil's a hog, you shall
eat bacon. I shall not forget yet awhile our fat Concilipetes of Chesil.
O that Beelzebub and Astaroth had counselled them to hang themselves out of
the way, and they had done't! we had not then suffered so much by devilish
storms as we did for having seen 'em. Hark ye me, dear rogue, Xenomanes,
my friend, I prithee are these hermits, hypocrites, and eavesdroppers maids
or married? Is there anything of the feminine gender among them? Could a
body hypocritically take there a small hypocritical touch? Will they lie
backwards, and let out their fore-rooms? There's a fine question to be
asked, cried Pantagruel. Yes, yes, answered Xenomanes; you may find there
many goodly hypocritesses, jolly spiritual actresses, kind hermitesses,
women that have a plaguy deal of religion; then there's the copies of 'em,
little hypocritillons, sham sanctitos, and hermitillons. Foh! away with
them, cried Friar John; a young saint, an old devil! (Mark this, an old
saying, and as true a one as, a young whore, an old saint.) Were there not
such, continued Xenomanes, the isle of Chaneph, for want of a
multiplication of progeny, had long ere this been desert and desolate.

Pantagruel sent them by Gymnast in the pinnace seventy-eight thousand fine
pretty little gold half-crowns, of those that are marked with a lantern.
After this he asked, What's o'clock? Past nine, answered Epistemon. It is
then the best time to go to dinner, said Pantagruel; for the sacred line so
celebrated by Aristophanes in his play called Concionatrices is at hand,
never failing when the shadow is decempedal.

Formerly, among the Persians, dinner-time was at a set hour only for kings;
as for all others, their appetite and their belly was their clock; when
that chimed, they thought it time to go to dinner. So we find in Plautus a
certain parasite making a heavy do, and sadly railing at the inventors of
hour-glasses and dials as being unnecessary things, there being no clock
more regular than the belly.

Diogenes being asked at what times a man ought to eat, answered, The rich
when he is hungry, the poor when he has anything to eat. Physicians more
properly say that the canonical hours are,

To rise at five, to dine at nine,
To sup at five, to sleep at nine.

The famous king Petosiris's magic was different,--Here the officers for the
gut came in, and got ready the tables and cupboards; laid the cloth, whose
sight and pleasant smell were very comfortable; and brought plates,
napkins, salts, tankards, flagons, tall-boys, ewers, tumblers, cups,
goblets, basins, and cisterns.

Friar John, at the head of the stewards, sewers, yeomen of the pantry, and
of the mouth, tasters, carvers, cupbearers, and cupboard-keepers, brought
four stately pasties, so huge that they put me in mind of the four bastions
at Turin. Ods-fish, how manfully did they storm them! What havoc did they
make with the long train of dishes that came after them! How bravely did
they stand to their pan-puddings, and paid off their dust! How merrily did
they soak their noses!

The fruit was not yet brought in, when a fresh gale at west and by north
began to fill the main-course, mizen-sail, fore-sail, tops, and
top-gallants; for which blessing they all sung divers hymns of thanks and

When the fruit was on the table, Pantagruel asked, Now tell me, gentlemen,
are your doubts fully resolved or no? I gape and yawn no more, answered
Rhizotome. I sleep no longer like a dog, said Ponocrates. I have cleared
my eyesight, said Gymnast. I have broke my fast, said Eusthenes; so that
for this whole day I shall be secure from the danger of my spittle.

Asps. Black wag leg-flies. Domeses.
Amphisbenes. Spanish flies. Dryinades.
Anerudutes. Catoblepes. Dragons.
Abedissimons. Horned snakes. Elopes.
Alhartrafz. Caterpillars. Enhydrides.
Ammobates. Crocodiles. Falvises.
Apimaos. Toads. Galeotes.
Alhatrabans. Nightmares. Harmenes.
Aractes. Mad dogs. Handons.
Asterions. Colotes. Icles.
Alcharates. Cychriodes. Jarraries.
Arges. Cafezates. Ilicines.
Spiders. Cauhares. Pharaoh's mice.
Starry lizards. Snakes. Kesudures.
Attelabes. Cuhersks, two- Sea-hares.
Ascalabotes. tongued adders. Chalcidic newts.
Haemorrhoids. Amphibious ser- Footed serpents.
Basilisks. pents. Manticores.
Fitches. Cenchres. Molures.
Sucking water- Cockatrices. Mouse-serpents.
snakes. Dipsades. Shrew-mice.
Miliares. Salamanders. Stinkfish.
Megalaunes. Slowworms. Stuphes.
Spitting-asps. Stellions. Sabrins.
Porphyri. Scorpenes. Blood-sucking flies.
Pareades. Scorpions. Hornfretters.
Phalanges. Hornworms. Scolopendres.
Penphredons. Scalavotins. Tarantulas.
Pinetree-worms. Solofuidars. Blind worms.
Ruteles. Deaf-asps. Tetragnathias.
Worms. Horseleeches. Teristales.
Rhagions. Salt-haters. Vipers, &c.
Rhaganes. Rot-serpents.

Chapter 4.LXV.

How Pantagruel passed the time with his servants.

In what hierarchy of such venomous creatures do you place Panurge's future
spouse? asked Friar John. Art thou speaking ill of women, cried Panurge,
thou mangy scoundrel, thou sorry, noddy-peaked shaveling monk? By the
cenomanic paunch and gixy, said Epistemon, Euripides has written, and makes
Andromache say it, that by industry, and the help of the gods, men had
found remedies against all poisonous creatures; but none was yet found
against a bad wife.

This flaunting Euripides, cried Panurge, was gabbling against women every
foot, and therefore was devoured by dogs, as a judgment from above; as
Aristophanes observes. Let's go on. Let him speak that is next. I can
leak now like any stone-horse, said then Epistemon. I am, said Xenomanes,
full as an egg and round as a hoop; my ship's hold can hold no more, and
will now make shift to bear a steady sail. Said Carpalin, A truce with
thirst, a truce with hunger; they are strong, but wine and meat are
stronger. I'm no more in the dumps cried Panurge; my heart's a pound
lighter. I'm in the right cue now, as brisk as a body-louse, and as merry
as a beggar. For my part, I know what I do when I drink; and it is a true
thing (though 'tis in your Euripides) that is said by that jolly toper
Silenus of blessed memory, that--

The man's emphatically mad,
Who drinks the best, yet can be sad.

We must not fail to return our humble and hearty thanks to the Being who,
with this good bread, this cool delicious wine, these good meats and rare
dainties, removes from our bodies and minds these pains and perturbations,
and at the same time fills us with pleasure and with food.

But methinks, sir, you did not give an answer to Friar John's question;
which, as I take it, was how to raise good weather. Since you ask no more
than this easy question, answered Pantagruel, I'll strive to give you
satisfaction; and some other time we'll talk of the rest of the problems,
if you will.

Well then, Friar John asked how good weather might be raised. Have we not
raised it? Look up and see our full topsails. Hark how the wind whistles
through the shrouds, what a stiff gale it blows. Observe the rattling of
the tacklings, and see the sheets that fasten the mainsail behind; the
force of the wind puts them upon the stretch. While we passed our time
merrily, the dull weather also passed away; and while we raised the glasses
to our mouths, we also raised the wind by a secret sympathy in nature.

Thus Atlas and Hercules clubbed to raise and underprop the falling sky, if
you'll believe the wise mythologists, but they raised it some half an inch
too high, Atlas to entertain his guest Hercules more pleasantly, and
Hercules to make himself amends for the thirst which some time before had
tormented him in the deserts of Africa. Your good father, said Friar John,
interrupting him, takes care to free many people from such an
inconveniency; for I have been told by many venerable doctors that his
chief-butler, Turelupin, saves above eighteen hundred pipes of wine yearly
to make servants, and all comers and goers, drink before they are a-dry.
As the camels and dromedaries of a caravan, continued Pantagruel, use to
drink for the thirst that's past, for the present, and for that to come, so
did Hercules; and being thus excessively raised, this gave new motion to
the sky, which is that of titubation and trepidation, about which our
crackbrained astrologers make such a pother. This, said Panurge, makes the
saying good:

While jolly companions carouse it together,
A fig for the storm, it gives way to good weather.

Nay, continued Pantagruel, some will tell you that we have not only
shortened the time of the calm, but also much disburthened the ship; not
like Aesop's basket, by easing it of the provision, but by breaking our
fasts; and that a man is more terrestrial and heavy when fasting than when
he has eaten and drank, even as they pretend that he weighs more dead than
living. However it is, you will grant they are in the right who take their
morning's draught and breakfast before a long journey; then say that the
horses will perform the better, and that a spur in the head is worth two in
the flank; or, in the same horse dialect--

That a cup in the pate
Is a mile in the gate.

Don't you know that formerly the Amycleans worshipped the noble Bacchus
above all other gods, and gave him the name of Psila, which in the Doric
dialect signifies wings; for, as the birds raise themselves by a towering
flight with their wings above the clouds, so, with the help of soaring
Bacchus, the powerful juice of the grape, our spirits are exalted to a
pitch above themselves, our bodies are more sprightly, and their earthly
parts become soft and pliant.

Chapter 4.LXVI.

How, by Pantagruel's order, the Muses were saluted near the isle of

This fair wind and as fine talk brought us in sight of a high land, which
Pantagruel discovering afar off, showed it Xenomanes, and asked him, Do you
see yonder to the leeward a high rock with two tops, much like Mount
Parnassus in Phocis? I do plainly, answered Xenomanes; 'tis the isle of
Ganabim. Have you a mind to go ashore there? No, returned Pantagruel.
You do well, indeed, said Xenomanes; for there is nothing worth seeing in
the place. The people are all thieves; yet there is the finest fountain in
the world, and a very large forest towards the right top of the mountain.
Your fleet may take in wood and water there.

He that spoke last, spoke well, quoth Panurge; let us not by any means be
so mad as to go among a parcel of thieves and sharpers. You may take my
word for't, this place is just such another as, to my knowledge, formerly
were the islands of Sark and Herm, between the smaller and the greater
Britain; such as was the Poneropolis of Philip in Thrace; islands of
thieves, banditti, picaroons, robbers, ruffians, and murderers, worse than
raw-head and bloody-bones, and full as honest as the senior fellows of the
college of iniquity, the very outcasts of the county gaol's common-side.
As you love yourself, do not go among 'em. If you go you'll come off but
bluely, if you come off at all. If you will not believe me, at least
believe what the good and wise Xenomanes tells you; for may I never stir if
they are not worse than the very cannibals; they would certainly eat us
alive. Do not go among 'em, I pray you; it were safer to take a journey to
hell. Hark! by Cod's body, I hear 'em ringing the alarm-bell most
dreadfully, as the Gascons about Bordeaux used formerly to do against the
commissaries and officers for the tax on salt, or my ears tingle. Let's
sheer off.

Believe me, sir, said Friar John, let's rather land; we will rid the world
of that vermin, and inn there for nothing. Old Nick go with thee for me,
quoth Panurge. This rash hairbrained devil of a friar fears nothing, but
ventures and runs on like a mad devil as he is, and cares not a rush what
becomes of others; as if everyone was a monk, like his friarship. A pox on
grinning honour, say I. Go to, returned the friar, thou mangy noddy-peak!
thou forlorn druggle-headed sneaksby! and may a million of black devils
anatomize thy cockle brain. The hen-hearted rascal is so cowardly that he
berays himself for fear every day. If thou art so afraid, dunghill, do not
go; stay here and be hanged; or go and hide thy loggerhead under Madam
Proserpine's petticoat.

Panurge hearing this, his breech began to make buttons; so he slunk in in
an instant, and went to hide his head down in the bread-room among the
musty biscuits and the orts and scraps of broken bread.

Pantagruel in the meantime said to the rest: I feel a pressing retraction
in my soul, which like a voice admonishes me not to land there. Whenever I
have felt such a motion within me I have found myself happy in avoiding
what it directed me to shun, or in undertaking what it prompted me to do;
and I never had occasion to repent following its dictates.

As much, said Epistemon, is related of the daemon of Socrates, so
celebrated among the Academics. Well then, sir, said Friar John, while the
ship's crew water have you a mind to have good sport? Panurge is got down
somewhere in the hold, where he is crept into some corner, and lurks like a
mouse in a cranny. Let 'em give the word for the gunner to fire yon gun
over the round-house on the poop; this will serve to salute the Muses of
this Anti-parnassus; besides, the powder does but decay in it. You are in
the right, said Pantagruel; here, give the word for the gunner.

The gunner immediately came, and was ordered by Pantagruel to fire that
gun, and then charge it with fresh powder, which was soon done. The
gunners of the other ships, frigates, galleons, and galleys of the fleet,
hearing us fire, gave every one a gun to the island; which made such a
horrid noise that you would have sworn heaven had been tumbling about our

Chapter 4.LXVII.

How Panurge berayed himself for fear; and of the huge cat Rodilardus, which
he took for a puny devil.

Panurge, like a wild, addle-pated, giddy-goat, sallies out of the
bread-room in his shirt, with nothing else about him but one of his
stockings, half on, half off, about his heel, like a rough-footed pigeon;
his hair and beard all bepowdered with crumbs of bread in which he had been
over head and ears, and a huge and mighty puss partly wrapped up in his
other stocking. In this equipage, his chaps moving like a monkey's who's
a-louse-hunting, his eyes staring like a dead pig's, his teeth chattering,
and his bum quivering, the poor dog fled to Friar John, who was then sitting
by the chain-wales of the starboard side of the ship, and prayed him
heartily to take pity on him and keep him in the safeguard of his trusty
bilbo; swearing, by his share of Papimany, that he had seen all hell broke

Woe is me, my Jacky, cried he, my dear Johnny, my old crony, my brother, my
ghostly father! all the devils keep holiday, all the devils keep their
feast to-day, man. Pork and peas choke me if ever thou sawest such
preparations in thy life for an infernal feast. Dost thou see the smoke of
hell's kitchens? (This he said, showing him the smoke of the gunpowder
above the ships.) Thou never sawest so many damned souls since thou wast
born; and so fair, so bewitching they seem, that one would swear they are
Stygian ambrosia. I thought at first, God forgive me! that they had been
English souls; and I don't know but that this morning the isle of Horses,
near Scotland, was sacked, with all the English who had surprised it, by
the lords of Termes and Essay.

Friar John, at the approach of Panurge, was entertained with a kind of
smell that was not like that of gunpowder, nor altogether so sweet as musk;
which made him turn Panurge about, and then he saw that his shirt was
dismally bepawed and berayed with fresh sir-reverence. The retentive
faculty of the nerve which restrains the muscle called sphincter ('tis the
arse-hole, an it please you) was relaxated by the violence of the fear
which he had been in during his fantastic visions. Add to this the
thundering noise of the shooting, which seems more dreadful between decks
than above. Nor ought you to wonder at such a mishap; for one of the
symptoms and accidents of fear is, that it often opens the wicket of the
cupboard wherein second-hand meat is kept for a time. Let's illustrate
this noble theme with some examples.

Messer Pantolfe de la Cassina of Siena, riding post from Rome, came to
Chambery, and alighting at honest Vinet's took one of the pitchforks in the
stable; then turning to the innkeeper, said to him, Da Roma in qua io non
son andato del corpo. Di gratia piglia in mano questa forcha, et fa mi
paura. (I have not had a stool since I left Rome. I pray thee take this
pitchfork and fright me.) Vinet took it, and made several offers as if he
would in good earnest have hit the signor, but all in vain; so the Sienese
said to him, Si tu non fai altramente, tu non fai nulla; pero sforzati di
adoperarli piu guagliardamente. (If thou dost not go another way to work,
thou hadst as good do nothing; therefore try to bestir thyself more
briskly.) With this, Vinet lent him such a swinging stoater with the
pitchfork souse between the neck and the collar of his jerkin, that down
fell signor on the ground arsyversy, with his spindle shanks wide
straggling over his poll. Then mine host sputtering, with a full-mouthed
laugh, said to his guest, By Beelzebub's bumgut, much good may it do you,
Signore Italiano. Take notice this is datum Camberiaci, given at Chambery.
'Twas well the Sienese had untrussed his points and let down his drawers;
for this physic worked with him as soon as he took it, and as copious was
the evacuation as that of nine buffaloes and fourteen missificating
arch-lubbers. Which operation being over, the mannerly Sienese courteously
gave mine host a whole bushel of thanks, saying to him, Io ti ringratio, bel
messere; cosi facendo tu m' ai esparmiata la speza d'un servitiale. (I
thank thee, good landlord; by this thou hast e'en saved me the expense of a

I'll give you another example of Edward V., King of England. Master
Francis Villon, being banished France, fled to him, and got so far into his
favour as to be privy to all his household affairs. One day the king,
being on his close-stool, showed Villon the arms of France, and said to
him, Dost thou see what respect I have for thy French kings? I have none
of their arms anywhere but in this backside, near my close-stool.
Ods-life, said the buffoon, how wise, prudent, and careful of your health
your highness is! How carefully your learned doctor, Thomas Linacre, looks
after you! He saw that now you grow old you are inclined to be somewhat
costive, and every day were fain to have an apothecary, I mean a suppository
or clyster, thrust into your royal nockandroe; so he has, much to the
purpose, induced you to place here the arms of France; for the very sight of
them puts you into such a dreadful fright that you immediately let fly as
much as would come from eighteen squattering bonasi of Paeonia. And if they
were painted in other parts of your house, by jingo, you would presently
conskite yourself wherever you saw them. Nay, had you but here a picture of
the great oriflamme of France, ods-bodikins, your tripes and bowels would be
in no small danger of dropping out at the orifice of your posteriors. But
henh, henh, atque iterum henh.

A silly cockney am I not,
As ever did from Paris come?
And with a rope and sliding knot
My neck shall know what weighs my bum.

A cockney of short reach, I say, shallow of judgment and judging shallowly,
to wonder that you should cause your points to be untrussed in your chamber
before you come into this closet. By'r lady, at first I thought your
close-stool had stood behind the hangings of your bed; otherwise it seemed
very odd to me you should untruss so far from the place of evacuation. But
now I find I was a gull, a wittol, a woodcock, a mere ninny, a dolt-head, a
noddy, a changeling, a calf-lolly, a doddipoll. You do wisely, by the
mass, you do wisely; for had you not been ready to clap your hind face on
the mustard-pot as soon as you came within sight of these arms--mark ye me,
cop's body--the bottom of your breeches had supplied the office of a

Friar John, stopping the handle of his face with his left hand, did, with
the forefinger of the right, point out Panurge's shirt to Pantagruel, who,
seeing him in this pickle, scared, appalled, shivering, raving, staring,
berayed, and torn with the claws of the famous cat Rodilardus, could not
choose but laugh, and said to him, Prithee what wouldst thou do with this
cat? With this cat? quoth Panurge; the devil scratch me if I did not think
it had been a young soft-chinned devil, which, with this same stocking
instead of mitten, I had snatched up in the great hutch of hell as
thievishly as any sizar of Montague college could have done. The devil
take Tybert! I feel it has all bepinked my poor hide, and drawn on it to
the life I don't know how many lobsters' whiskers. With this he threw his
boar-cat down.

Go, go, said Pantagruel, be bathed and cleaned, calm your fears, put on a
clean shift, and then your clothes. What! do you think I am afraid? cried
Panurge. Not I, I protest. By the testicles of Hercules, I am more
hearty, bold, and stout, though I say it that should not, than if I had
swallowed as many flies as are put into plumcakes and other paste at Paris
from Midsummer to Christmas. But what's this? Hah! oh, ho! how the devil
came I by this? Do you call this what the cat left in the malt, filth,
dirt, dung, dejection, faecal matter, excrement, stercoration,
sir-reverence, ordure, second-hand meats, fumets, stronts, scybal, or
spyrathe? 'Tis Hibernian saffron, I protest. Hah, hah, hah! 'tis Irish
saffron, by Shaint Pautrick, and so much for this time. Selah. Let's


Back to Full Books