Gargantua and Pantagruel
Francois Rabelais

Part 1 out of 16

Produced by Sue Asscher




Translated into English by

Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty


Peter Antony Motteux

The text of the first Two Books of Rabelais has been reprinted from the
first edition (1653) of Urquhart's translation. Footnotes initialled 'M.'
are drawn from the Maitland Club edition (1838); other footnotes are by the
translator. Urquhart's translation of Book III. appeared posthumously in
1693, with a new edition of Books I. and II., under Motteux's editorship.
Motteux's rendering of Books IV. and V. followed in 1708. Occasionally (as
the footnotes indicate) passages omitted by Motteux have been restored from
the 1738 copy edited by Ozell.




J. De la Salle, to the Honoured, Noble Translator of Rabelais.


The Author's Prologue to the First Book

Rabelais to the Reader

Chapter 1.I.--Of the Genealogy and Antiquity of Gargantua

Chapter 1.II.--The Antidoted Fanfreluches: or, a Galimatia of extravagant
Conceits found in an ancient Monument

Chapter 1.III.--How Gargantua was carried eleven months in his mother's

Chapter 1.IV.--How Gargamelle, being great with Gargantua, did eat a huge
deal of tripes

Chapter 1.V.--The Discourse of the Drinkers

Chapter 1.VI.--How Gargantua was born in a strange manner

Chapter 1.VII.--After what manner Gargantua had his name given him, and how
he tippled, bibbed, and curried the can

Chapter 1.VIII.--How they apparelled Gargantua

Chapter 1.IX.--The colours and liveries of Gargantua

Chapter 1.X.--Of that which is signified by the colours white and blue

Chapter 1.XI.--Of the youthful age of Gargantua

Chapter 1.XII.--Of Gargantua's wooden horses

Chapter 1.XIII.--How Gargantua's wonderful understanding became known to
his father Grangousier, by the invention of a torchecul or wipebreech

Chapter 1.XIV.--How Gargantua was taught Latin by a Sophister

Chapter 1.XV.--How Gargantua was put under other schoolmasters

Chapter 1.XVI.--How Gargantua was sent to Paris, and of the huge great mare
that he rode on; how she destroyed the oxflies of the Beauce

Chapter 1.XVII.--How Gargantua paid his welcome to the Parisians, and how
he took away the great bells of Our Lady's Church

Chapter 1.XVIII.--How Janotus de Bragmardo was sent to Gargantua to recover
the great bells

Chapter 1.XIX.--The oration of Master Janotus de Bragmardo for recovery of
the bells

Chapter 1.XX.--How the Sophister carried away his cloth, and how he had a
suit in law against the other masters

Chapter 1.XXI.--The study of Gargantua, according to the discipline of his
schoolmasters the Sophisters

Chapter 1.XXII.--The games of Gargantua

Chapter 1.XXIII.--How Gargantua was instructed by Ponocrates, and in such
sort disciplinated, that he lost not one hour of the day

Chapter 1.XXIV.--How Gargantua spent his time in rainy weather

Chapter 1.XXV.--How there was great strife and debate raised betwixt the
cake-bakers of Lerne, and those of Gargantua's country, whereupon were
waged great wars

Chapter 1.XXVI.--How the inhabitants of Lerne, by the commandment of
Picrochole their king, assaulted the shepherds of Gargantua unexpectedly
and on a sudden

Chapter 1.XXVII.--How a monk of Seville saved the close of the abbey from
being ransacked by the enemy

Chapter 1.XXVIII.--How Picrochole stormed and took by assault the rock
Clermond, and of Grangousier's unwillingness and aversion from the
undertaking of war

Chapter 1.XXIX.--The tenour of the letter which Grangousier wrote to his
son Gargantua

Chapter 1.XXX.--How Ulric Gallet was sent unto Picrochole

Chapter 1.XXXI.--The speech made by Gallet to Picrochole

Chapter 1.XXXII.--How Grangousier, to buy peace, caused the cakes to be

Chapter 1.XXXIII.--How some statesmen of Picrochole, by hairbrained
counsel, put him in extreme danger

Chapter 1.XXXIV.--How Gargantua left the city of Paris to succour his
country, and how Gymnast encountered with the enemy

Chapter 1.XXXV.--How Gymnast very souply and cunningly killed Captain
Tripet and others of Picrochole's men

Chapter 1.XXXVI.--How Gargantua demolished the castle at the ford of Vede,
and how they passed the ford

Chapter 1.XXXVII.--How Gargantua, in combing his head, made the great
cannon-balls fall out of his hair

Chapter 1.XXXVIII.--How Gargantua did eat up six pilgrims in a salad

Chapter 1.XXXIX.--How the Monk was feasted by Gargantua, and of the jovial
discourse they had at supper

Chapter 1.XL.--Why monks are the outcasts of the world; and wherefore some
have bigger noses than others

Chapter 1.XLI.--How the Monk made Gargantua sleep, and of his hours and

Chapter 1.XLII.--How the Monk encouraged his fellow-champions, and how he
hanged upon a tree

Chapter 1.XLIII.--How the scouts and fore-party of Picrochole were met with
by Gargantua, and how the Monk slew Captain Drawforth, and then was taken
prisoner by his enemies

Chapter 1.XLIV.--How the Monk rid himself of his keepers, and how
Picrochole's forlorn hope was defeated

Chapter 1.XLV.--How the Monk carried along with him the Pilgrims, and of
the good words that Grangousier gave them

Chapter 1.XLVI.--How Grangousier did very kindly entertain Touchfaucet his

Chapter 1.XLVII.--How Grangousier sent for his legions, and how Touchfaucet
slew Rashcalf, and was afterwards executed by the command of Picrochole

Chapter 1.XLVIII.--How Gargantua set upon Picrochole within the rock
Clermond, and utterly defeated the army of the said Picrochole

Chapter 1.XLIX.--How Picrochole in his flight fell into great misfortunes,
and what Gargantua did after the battle

Chapter 1.L.--Gargantua's speech to the vanquished

Chapter 1.LI.--How the victorious Gargantuists were recompensed after the

Chapter 1.LII.--How Gargantua caused to be built for the Monk the Abbey of

Chapter 1.LIII.--How the abbey of the Thelemites was built and endowed

Chapter 1.LIV.--The inscription set upon the great gate of Theleme

Chapter 1.LV.--What manner of dwelling the Thelemites had

Chapter 1.LVI.--How the men and women of the religious order of Theleme
were apparelled

Chapter 1.LVII.--How the Thelemites were governed, and of their manner of

Chapter 1.LVIII.--A prophetical Riddle


For the Reader

Mr. Hugh Salel to Rabelais

The Author's Prologue

Chapter 2.I.--Of the original and antiquity of the great Pantagruel

Chapter 2.II.--Of the nativity of the most dread and redoubted Pantagruel

Chapter 2.III.--Of the grief wherewith Gargantua was moved at the decease
of his wife Badebec

Chapter 2.IV.--Of the infancy of Pantagruel

Chapter 2.V.--Of the acts of the noble Pantagruel in his youthful age

Chapter 2.VI.--How Pantagruel met with a Limousin, who too affectedly did
counterfeit the French language

Chapter 2.VII.--How Pantagruel came to Paris, and of the choice books of
the Library of St. Victor

Chapter 2.VIII.--How Pantagruel, being at Paris, received letters from his
father Gargantua, and the copy of them

Chapter 2.IX.--How Pantagruel found Panurge, whom he loved all his lifetime

Chapter 2.X.--How Pantagruel judged so equitably of a controversy, which
was wonderfully obscure and difficult, that, by reason of his just decree
therein, he was reputed to have a most admirable judgment

Chapter 2.XI.--How the Lords of Kissbreech and Suckfist did plead before
Pantagruel without an attorney

Chapter 2.XII.--How the Lord of Suckfist pleaded before Pantagruel

Chapter 2.XIII.--How Pantagruel gave judgment upon the difference of the
two lords

Chapter 2.XIV.--How Panurge related the manner how he escaped out of the
hands of the Turks

Chapter 2.XV.--How Panurge showed a very new way to build the walls of

Chapter 2.XVI.--Of the qualities and conditions of Panurge

Chapter 2.XVII.--How Panurge gained the pardons, and married the old women,
and of the suit in law which he had at Paris

Chapter 2.XVIII.--How a great scholar of England would have argued against
Pantagruel, and was overcome by Panurge

Chapter 2.XIX.--How Panurge put to a nonplus the Englishman that argued by

Chapter 2.XX.--How Thaumast relateth the virtues and knowledge of Panurge

Chapter 2.XXI.--How Panurge was in love with a lady of Paris

Chapter 2.XXII.--How Panurge served a Parisian lady a trick that pleased
her not very well

Chapter 2.XXIII.--How Pantagruel departed from Paris, hearing news that the
Dipsodes had invaded the land of the Amaurots; and the cause wherefore the
leagues are so short in France

Chapter 2.XXIV.--A letter which a messenger brought to Pantagruel from a
lady of Paris, together with the exposition of a posy written in a gold

Chapter 2.XXV.--How Panurge, Carpalin, Eusthenes, and Epistemon, the
gentlemen attendants of Pantagruel, vanquished and discomfited six hundred
and threescore horsemen very cunningly

Chapter 2.XXVI.--How Pantagruel and his company were weary in eating still
salt meats; and how Carpalin went a-hunting to have some venison

Chapter 2.XXVII.--How Pantagruel set up one trophy in memorial of their
valour, and Panurge another in remembrance of the hares. How Pantagruel
likewise with his farts begat little men, and with his fisgs little women;
and how Panurge broke a great staff over two glasses

Chapter 2.XXVIII.--How Pantagruel got the victory very strangely over the
Dipsodes and the Giants

Chapter 2.XXIX.--How Pantagruel discomfited the three hundred giants armed
with free-stone, and Loupgarou their captain

Chapter 2.XXX.--How Epistemon, who had his head cut off, was finely healed
by Panurge, and of the news which he brought from the devils, and of the
damned people in hell

Chapter 2.XXXI.--How Pantagruel entered into the city of the Amaurots, and
how Panurge married King Anarchus to an old lantern-carrying hag, and made
him a crier of green sauce

Chapter 2.XXXII.--How Pantagruel with his tongue covered a whole army, and
what the author saw in his mouth

Chapter 2.XXXIII.--How Pantagruel became sick, and the manner how he was

Chapter 2.XXXIV.--The conclusion of this present book, and the excuse of
the author


Francois Rabelais to the Soul of the Deceased Queen of Navarre

The Author's Prologue

Chapter 3.I.--How Pantagruel transported a colony of Utopians into Dipsody

Chapter 3.II.--How Panurge was made Laird of Salmigondin in Dipsody, and
did waste his revenue before it came in

Chapter 3.III.--How Panurge praiseth the debtors and borrowers

Chapter 3.IV.--Panurge continueth his discourse in the praise of borrowers
and lenders

Chapter 3.V.--How Pantagruel altogether abhorreth the debtors and borrowers

Chapter 3.VI.--Why new married men were privileged from going to the wars

Chapter 3.VII.--How Panurge had a flea in his ear, and forbore to wear any
longer his magnificent codpiece

Chapter 3.VIII.--Why the codpiece is held to be the chief piece of armour
amongst warriors

Chapter 3.IX.--How Panurge asketh counsel of Pantagruel whether he should
marry, yea, or no

Chapter 3.X.--How Pantagruel representeth unto Panurge the difficulty of
giving advice in the matter of marriage; and to that purpose mentioneth
somewhat of the Homeric and Virgilian lotteries

Chapter 3.XI.--How Pantagruel showeth the trial of one's fortune by the
throwing of dice to be unlawful

Chapter 3.XII.--How Pantagruel doth explore by the Virgilian lottery what
fortune Panurge shall have in his marriage

Chapter 3.XIII.--How Pantagruel adviseth Panurge to try the future good or
bad luck of his marriage by dreams

Chapter 3.XIV.--Panurge's dream, with the interpretation thereof

Chapter 3.XV.--Panurge's excuse and exposition of the monastic mystery
concerning powdered beef

Chapter 3.XVI.--How Pantagruel adviseth Panurge to consult with the Sibyl
of Panzoust

Chapter 3.XVII.--How Panurge spoke to the Sibyl of Panzoust

Chapter 3.XVIII.--How Pantagruel and Panurge did diversely expound the
verses of the Sibyl of Panzoust

Chapter 3.XIX.--How Pantagruel praiseth the counsel of dumb men

Chapter 3.XX.--How Goatsnose by signs maketh answer to Panurge

Chapter 3.XXI.--How Panurge consulteth with an old French poet, named

Chapter 3.XXII.--How Panurge patrocinates and defendeth the Order of the
Begging Friars

Chapter 3.XXIII.--How Panurge maketh the motion of a return to Raminagrobis

Chapter 3.XXIV.--How Panurge consulteth with Epistemon

Chapter 3.XXV.--How Panurge consulteth with Herr Trippa

Chapter 3.XXVI.--How Panurge consulteth with Friar John of the Funnels

Chapter 3.XXVII.--How Friar John merrily and sportingly counselleth Panurge

Chapter 3.XXVIII.--How Friar John comforteth Panurge in the doubtful matter
of cuckoldry

Chapter 3.XXIX.--How Pantagruel convocated together a theologian,
physician, lawyer, and philosopher, for extricating Panurge out of the
perplexity wherein he was

Chapter 3.XXX.--How the theologue, Hippothadee, giveth counsel to Panurge
in the matter and business of his nuptial enterprise

Chapter 3.XXXI.--How the physician Rondibilis counselleth Panurge

Chapter 3.XXXII.--How Rondibilis declareth cuckoldry to be naturally one of
the appendances of marriage

Chapter 3.XXXIII.--Rondibilis the physician's cure of cuckoldry

Chapter 3.XXXIV.--How women ordinarily have the greatest longing after
things prohibited

Chapter 3.XXXV.--How the philosopher Trouillogan handleth the difficulty of

Chapter 3.XXXVI.--A continuation of the answer of the Ephectic and
Pyrrhonian philosopher Trouillogan

Chapter 3.XXXVII.--How Pantagruel persuaded Panurge to take counsel of a

Chapter 3.XXXVIII.--How Triboulet is set forth and blazed by Pantagruel and

Chapter 3.XXXIX.--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

Chapter 3.XL.--How Bridlegoose giveth reasons why he looked upon those law-
actions which he decided by the chance of the dice

Chapter 3.XLI.--How Bridlegoose relateth the history of the reconcilers of
parties at variance in matters of law

Chapter 3.XLII.--How suits at law are bred at first, and how they come
afterwards to their perfect growth

Chapter 3.XLIII.--How Pantagruel excuseth Bridlegoose in the matter of
sentencing actions at law by the chance of the dice

Chapter 3.XLIV.--How Pantagruel relateth a strange history of the
perplexity of human judgment

Chapter 3.XLV.--How Panurge taketh advice of Triboulet

Chapter 3.XLVI.--How Pantagruel and Panurge diversely interpret the words
of Triboulet

Chapter 3.XLVII.--How Pantagruel and Panurge resolved to make a visit to
the Oracle of the Holy Bottle

Chapter 3.XLVIII.--How Gargantua showeth that the children ought not to
marry without the special knowledge and advice of their fathers and mothers

Chapter 3.XLIX.--How Pantagruel did put himself in a readiness to go to
sea; and of the herb named Pantagruelion

Chapter 3.L.--How the famous Pantagruelion ought to be prepared and wrought

Chapter 3.LI.--Why it is called Pantagruelion, and of the admirable virtues

Chapter 3.LII.--How a certain kind of Pantagruelion is of that nature that
the fire is not able to consume it


The Translator's Preface

The Author's Epistle Dedicatory

The Author's Prologue

Chapter 4.I.--How Pantagruel went to sea to visit the oracle of Bacbuc,
alias the Holy Bottle

Chapter 4.II.--How Pantagruel bought many rarities in the island of

Chapter 4.III.--How Pantagruel received a letter from his father Gargantua,
and of the strange way to have speedy news from far distant places

Chapter 4.IV.--How Pantagruel writ to his father Gargantua, and sent him
several curiosities

Chapter 4.V.--How Pantagruel met a ship with passengers returning from

Chapter 4.VI.--How, the fray being over, Panurge cheapened one of
Dingdong's sheep

Chapter 4.VII.--Which if you read you'll find how Panurge bargained with

Chapter 4.VIII.--How Panurge caused Dingdong and his sheep to be drowned in
the sea

Chapter 4.IX.--How Pantagruel arrived at the island of Ennasin, and of the
strange ways of being akin in that country

Chapter 4.X.--How Pantagruel went ashore at the island of Chely, where he
saw King St. Panigon

Chapter 4.XI.--Why monks love to be in kitchens

Chapter 4.XII.--How Pantagruel passed by the land of Pettifogging, and of
the strange way of living among the Catchpoles

Chapter 4.XIII.--How, like Master Francis Villon, the Lord of Basche
commended his servants

Chapter 4.XIV.--A further account of catchpoles who were drubbed at
Basche's house

Chapter 4.XV.--How the ancient custom at nuptials is renewed by the

Chapter 4.XVI.--How Friar John made trial of the nature of the catchpoles

Chapter 4.XVII.--How Pantagruel came to the islands of Tohu and Bohu; and
of the strange death of Wide-nostrils, the swallower of windmills

Chapter 4.XVIII.--How Pantagruel met with a great storm at sea

Chapter 4.XIX.--What countenances Panurge and Friar John kept during the

Chapter 4.XX.--How the pilots were forsaking their ships in the greatest
stress of weather

Chapter 4.XXI.--A continuation of the storm, with a short discourse on the
subject of making testaments at sea

Chapter 4.XXII.--An end of the storm

Chapter 4.XXIII.--How Panurge played the good fellow when the storm was

Chapter 4.XXIV.--How Panurge was said to have been afraid without reason
during the storm

Chapter 4.XXV.--How, after the storm, Pantagruel went on shore in the
islands of the Macreons

Chapter 4.XXVI.--How the good Macrobius gave us an account of the mansion
and decease of the heroes

Chapter 4.XXVII.--Pantagruel's discourse of the decease of heroic souls;
and of the dreadful prodigies that happened before the death of the late
Lord de Langey

Chapter 4.XXVIII.--How Pantagruel related a very sad story of the death of
the heroes

Chapter 4.XXIX.--How Pantagruel sailed by the Sneaking Island, where
Shrovetide reigned

Chapter 4.XXX.--How Shrovetide is anatomized and described by Xenomanes

Chapter 4.XXXI.--Shrovetide's outward parts anatomized

Chapter 4.XXXII.--A continuation of Shrovetide's countenance

Chapter 4.XXXIII.--How Pantagruel discovered a monstrous physeter, or
whirlpool, near the Wild Island

Chapter 4.XXXIV.--How the monstrous physeter was slain by Pantagruel

Chapter 4.XXXV.--How Pantagruel went on shore in the Wild Island, the
ancient abode of the Chitterlings

Chapter 4.XXXVI.--How the wild Chitterlings laid an ambuscado for

Chapter 4.XXXVII.--How Pantagruel sent for Colonel Maul-chitterling and
Colonel Cut-pudding; with a discourse well worth your hearing about the
names of places and persons

Chapter 4.XXXVIII.--How Chitterlings are not to be slighted by men

Chapter 4.XXXIX.--How Friar John joined with the cooks to fight the

Chapter 4.XL.--How Friar John fitted up the sow; and of the valiant cooks
that went into it

Chapter 4.XLI.--How Pantagruel broke the Chitterlings at the knees

Chapter 4.XLII.--How Pantagruel held a treaty with Niphleseth, Queen of the

Chapter 4.XLIII.--How Pantagruel went into the island of Ruach

Chapter 4.XLIV.--How small rain lays a high wind

Chapter 4.XLV.--How Pantagruel went ashore in the island of Pope-Figland

Chapter 4.XLVI.--How a junior devil was fooled by a husbandman of Pope-

Chapter 4.XLVII.--How the devil was deceived by an old woman of Pope-

Chapter 4.XLVIII.--How Pantagruel went ashore at the island of Papimany

Chapter 4.XLIX.--How Homenas, Bishop of Papimany, showed us the Uranopet

Chapter 4.L.--How Homenas showed us the archetype, or representation of a

Chapter 4.LI.--Table-talk in praise of the decretals

Chapter 4.LII.--A continuation of the miracles caused by the decretals

Chapter 4.LIII.--How, by the virtue of the decretals, gold is subtilely
drawn out of France to Rome

Chapter 4.LIV.--How Homenas gave Pantagruel some bon-Christian pears

Chapter 4.LV.--How Pantagruel, being at sea, heard various unfrozen words

Chapter 4.LVI.--How among the frozen words Pantagruel found some odd ones

Chapter 4.LVII.--How Pantagruel went ashore at the dwelling of Gaster, the
first master of arts in the world

Chapter 4.LVIII.--How, at the court of the master of ingenuity, Pantagruel
detested the Engastrimythes and the Gastrolaters

Chapter 4.LIX.--Of the ridiculous statue Manduce; and how and what the
Gastrolaters sacrifice to their ventripotent god

Chapter 4.LX.--What the Gastrolaters sacrificed to their god on interlarded

Chapter 4.LXI.--How Gaster invented means to get and preserve corn

Chapter 4.LXII.--How Gaster invented an art to avoid being hurt or touched
by cannon-balls

Chapter 4.LXIII.--How Pantagruel fell asleep near the island of Chaneph,
and of the problems proposed to be solved when he waked

Chapter 4.LXIV.--How Pantagruel gave no answer to the problems

Chapter 4.LXV.--How Pantagruel passed the time with his servants

Chapter 4.LXVI.--How, by Pantagruel's order, the Muses were saluted near
the isle of Ganabim

Chapter 4.LXVII.--How Panurge berayed himself for fear; and of the huge cat
Rodilardus, which he took for a puny devil


The Author's Prologue

Chapter 5.I.--How Pantagruel arrived at the Ringing Island, and of the
noise that we heard

Chapter 5.II.--How the Ringing Island had been inhabited by the Siticines,
who were become birds

Chapter 5.III.--How there is but one pope-hawk in the Ringing Island

Chapter 5.IV.--How the birds of the Ringing Island were all passengers

Chapter 5.V.--Of the dumb Knight-hawks of the Ringing Island

Chapter 5.VI.--How the birds are crammed in the Ringing Island

Chapter 5.VII.--How Panurge related to Master Aedituus the fable of the
horse and the ass

Chapter 5.VIII.--How with much ado we got a sight of the pope-hawk

Chapter 5.IX.--How we arrived at the island of Tools

Chapter 5.X.--How Pantagruel arrived at the island of Sharping

Chapter 5.XI.--How we passed through the wicket inhabited by Gripe-men-all,
Archduke of the Furred Law-cats

Chapter 5.XII.--How Gripe-men-all propounded a riddle to us

Chapter 5.XIII.--How Panurge solved Gripe-men-all's riddle

Chapter 5.XIV.--How the Furred Law-cats live on corruption

Chapter 5.XV.--How Friar John talks of rooting out the Furred Law-cats

Chapter 5.XVI.--How Pantagruel came to the island of the Apedefers, or
Ignoramuses, with long claws and crooked paws, and of terrible adventures
and monsters there

Chapter 5.XVII.--How we went forwards, and how Panurge had like to have
been killed

Chapter 5.XVIII.--How our ships were stranded, and we were relieved by some
people that were subject to Queen Whims (qui tenoient de la Quinte)

Chapter 5.XIX.--How we arrived at the queendom of Whims or Entelechy

Chapter 5.XX.--How the Quintessence cured the sick with a song

Chapter 5.XXI.--How the Queen passed her time after dinner

Chapter 5.XXII.--How Queen Whims' officers were employed; and how the said
lady retained us among her abstractors

Chapter 5.XXIII.--How the Queen was served at dinner, and of her way of

Chapter 5.XXIV.--How there was a ball in the manner of a tournament, at
which Queen Whims was present

Chapter 5.XXV.--How the thirty-two persons at the ball fought

Chapter 5.XXVI.--How we came to the island of Odes, where the ways go up
and down

Chapter 5.XXVII.--How we came to the island of Sandals; and of the order of
Semiquaver Friars

Chapter 5.XXVIII.--How Panurge asked a Semiquaver Friar many questions, and
was only answered in monosyllables

Chapter 5.XXIX.--How Epistemon disliked the institution of Lent

Chapter 5.XXX.--How we came to the land of Satin

Chapter 5.XXXI.--How in the land of Satin we saw Hearsay, who kept a school
of vouching

Chapter 5.XXXII.--How we came in sight of Lantern-land

Chapter 5.XXXIII.--How we landed at the port of the Lychnobii, and came to

Chapter 5.XXXIV.--How we arrived at the Oracle of the Bottle

Chapter 5.XXXV.--How we went underground to come to the Temple of the Holy
Bottle, and how Chinon is the oldest city in the world

Chapter 5.XXXVI.--How we went down the tetradic steps, and of Panurge's

Chapter 5.XXXVII.--How the temple gates in a wonderful manner opened of

Chapter 5.XXXVIII.--Of the temple's admirable pavement

Chapter 5.XXXIX.--How we saw Bacchus's army drawn up in battalia in mosaic

Chapter 5.XL.--How the battle in which the good Bacchus overthrew the
Indians was represented in mosaic work

Chapter 5.XLI.--How the temple was illuminated with a wonderful lamp

Chapter 5.XLII.--How the Priestess Bacbuc showed us a fantastic fountain in
the temple, and how the fountain-water had the taste of wine, according to
the imagination of those who drank of it

Chapter 5.XLIII.--How the Priestess Bacbuc equipped Panurge in order to
have the word of the Bottle

Chapter 5.XLIV.--How Bacbuc, the high-priestess, brought Panurge before the
Holy Bottle

Chapter 5.XLV.--How Bacbuc explained the word of the Goddess-Bottle

Chapter 5.XLVI.--How Panurge and the rest rhymed with poetic fury

Chapter 5.XLVII.--How we took our leave of Bacbuc, and left the Oracle of
the Holy Bottle


Had Rabelais never written his strange and marvellous romance, no one would
ever have imagined the possibility of its production. It stands outside
other things--a mixture of mad mirth and gravity, of folly and reason, of
childishness and grandeur, of the commonplace and the out-of-the-way, of
popular verve and polished humanism, of mother-wit and learning, of
baseness and nobility, of personalities and broad generalization, of the
comic and the serious, of the impossible and the familiar. Throughout the
whole there is such a force of life and thought, such a power of good
sense, a kind of assurance so authoritative, that he takes rank with the
greatest; and his peers are not many. You may like him or not, may attack
him or sing his praises, but you cannot ignore him. He is of those that
die hard. Be as fastidious as you will; make up your mind to recognize
only those who are, without any manner of doubt, beyond and above all
others; however few the names you keep, Rabelais' will always remain.

We may know his work, may know it well, and admire it more every time we
read it. After being amused by it, after having enjoyed it, we may return
again to study it and to enter more fully into its meaning. Yet there is
no possibility of knowing his own life in the same fashion. In spite of
all the efforts, often successful, that have been made to throw light on
it, to bring forward a fresh document, or some obscure mention in a
forgotten book, to add some little fact, to fix a date more precisely, it
remains nevertheless full of uncertainty and of gaps. Besides, it has been
burdened and sullied by all kinds of wearisome stories and foolish
anecdotes, so that really there is more to weed out than to add.

This injustice, at first wilful, had its rise in the sixteenth century, in
the furious attacks of a monk of Fontevrault, Gabriel de Puy-Herbault, who
seems to have drawn his conclusions concerning the author from the book,
and, more especially, in the regrettable satirical epitaph of Ronsard,
piqued, it is said, that the Guises had given him only a little pavillon in
the Forest of Meudon, whereas the presbytery was close to the chateau.
From that time legend has fastened on Rabelais, has completely travestied
him, till, bit by bit, it has made of him a buffoon, a veritable clown, a
vagrant, a glutton, and a drunkard.

The likeness of his person has undergone a similar metamorphosis. He has
been credited with a full moon of a face, the rubicund nose of an
incorrigible toper, and thick coarse lips always apart because always
laughing. The picture would have surprised his friends no less than
himself. There have been portraits painted of Rabelais; I have seen many
such. They are all of the seventeenth century, and the greater number are
conceived in this jovial and popular style.

As a matter of fact there is only one portrait of him that counts, that has
more than the merest chance of being authentic, the one in the Chronologie
collee or coupee. Under this double name is known and cited a large sheet
divided by lines and cross lines into little squares, containing about a
hundred heads of illustrious Frenchmen. This sheet was stuck on pasteboard
for hanging on the wall, and was cut in little pieces, so that the
portraits might be sold separately. The majority of the portraits are of
known persons and can therefore be verified. Now it can be seen that these
have been selected with care, and taken from the most authentic sources;
from statues, busts, medals, even stained glass, for the persons of most
distinction, from earlier engravings for the others. Moreover, those of
which no other copies exist, and which are therefore the most valuable,
have each an individuality very distinct, in the features, the hair, the
beard, as well as in the costume. Not one of them is like another. There
has been no tampering with them, no forgery. On the contrary, there is in
each a difference, a very marked personality. Leonard Gaultier, who
published this engraving towards the end of the sixteenth century,
reproduced a great many portraits besides from chalk drawings, in the style
of his master, Thomas de Leu. It must have been such drawings that were
the originals of those portraits which he alone has issued, and which may
therefore be as authentic and reliable as the others whose correctness we
are in a position to verify.

Now Rabelais has here nothing of the Roger Bontemps of low degree about
him. His features are strong, vigorously cut, and furrowed with deep
wrinkles; his beard is short and scanty; his cheeks are thin and already
worn-looking. On his head he wears the square cap of the doctors and the
clerks, and his dominant expression, somewhat rigid and severe, is that of
a physician and a scholar. And this is the only portrait to which we need
attach any importance.

This is not the place for a detailed biography, nor for an exhaustive
study. At most this introduction will serve as a framework on which to fix
a few certain dates, to hang some general observations. The date of
Rabelais' birth is very doubtful. For long it was placed as far back as
1483: now scholars are disposed to put it forward to about 1495. The
reason, a good one, is that all those whom he has mentioned as his friends,
or in any real sense his contemporaries, were born at the very end of the
fifteenth century. And, indeed, it is in the references in his romance to
names, persons, and places, that the most certain and valuable evidence is
to be found of his intercourse, his patrons, his friendships, his
sojournings, and his travels: his own work is the best and richest mine in
which to search for the details of his life.

Like Descartes and Balzac, he was a native of Touraine, and Tours and
Chinon have only done their duty in each of them erecting in recent years a
statue to his honour, a twofold homage reflecting credit both on the
province and on the town. But the precise facts about his birth are
nevertheless vague. Huet speaks of the village of Benais, near Bourgeuil,
of whose vineyards Rabelais makes mention. As the little vineyard of La
Deviniere, near Chinon, and familiar to all his readers, is supposed to
have belonged to his father, Thomas Rabelais, some would have him born
there. It is better to hold to the earlier general opinion that Chinon was
his native town; Chinon, whose praises he sang with such heartiness and
affection. There he might well have been born in the Lamproie house, which
belonged to his father, who, to judge from this circumstance, must have
been in easy circumstances, with the position of a well-to-do citizen. As
La Lamproie in the seventeenth century was a hostelry, the father of
Rabelais has been set down as an innkeeper. More probably he was an
apothecary, which would fit in with the medical profession adopted by his
son in after years. Rabelais had brothers, all older than himself.
Perhaps because he was the youngest, his father destined him for the

The time he spent while a child with the Benedictine monks at Seuille is
uncertain. There he might have made the acquaintance of the prototype of
his Friar John, a brother of the name of Buinart, afterwards Prior of
Sermaize. He was longer at the Abbey of the Cordeliers at La Baumette,
half a mile from Angers, where he became a novice. As the brothers Du
Bellay, who were later his Maecenases, were then studying at the University
of Angers, where it is certain he was not a student, it is doubtless from
this youthful period that his acquaintance and alliance with them should
date. Voluntarily, or induced by his family, Rabelais now embraced the
ecclesiastical profession, and entered the monastery of the Franciscan
Cordeliers at Fontenay-le-Comte, in Lower Poitou, which was honoured by his
long sojourn at the vital period of his life when his powers were ripening.
There it was he began to study and to think, and there also began his

In spite of the wide-spread ignorance among the monks of that age, the
encyclopaedic movement of the Renaissance was attracting all the lofty
minds. Rabelais threw himself into it with enthusiasm, and Latin antiquity
was not enough for him. Greek, a study discountenanced by the Church,
which looked on it as dangerous and tending to freethought and heresy, took
possession of him. To it he owed the warm friendship of Pierre Amy and of
the celebrated Guillaume Bude. In fact, the Greek letters of the latter
are the best source of information concerning this period of Rabelais'
life. It was at Fontenay-le-Comte also that he became acquainted with the
Brissons and the great jurist Andre Tiraqueau, whom he never mentions but
with admiration and deep affection. Tiraqueau's treatise, De legibus
connubialibus, published for the first time in 1513, has an important
bearing on the life of Rabelais. There we learn that, dissatisfied with
the incomplete translation of Herodotus by Laurent Valla, Rabelais had
retranslated into Latin the first book of the History. That translation
unfortunately is lost, as so many other of his scattered works. It is
probably in this direction that the hazard of fortune has most discoveries
and surprises in store for the lucky searcher. Moreover, as in this law
treatise Tiraqueau attacked women in a merciless fashion, President Amaury
Bouchard published in 1522 a book in their defence, and Rabelais, who was a
friend of both the antagonists, took the side of Tiraqueau. It should be
observed also in passing, that there are several pages of such audacious
plain-speaking, that Rabelais, though he did not copy these in his Marriage
of Panurge, has there been, in his own fashion, as out spoken as Tiraqueau.
If such freedom of language could be permitted in a grave treatise of law,
similar liberties were certainly, in the same century, more natural in a
book which was meant to amuse.

The great reproach always brought against Rabelais is not the want of
reserve of his language merely, but his occasional studied coarseness,
which is enough to spoil his whole work, and which lowers its value. La
Bruyere, in the chapter Des ouvrages de l'esprit, not in the first edition
of the Caracteres, but in the fifth, that is to say in 1690, at the end of
the great century, gives us on this subject his own opinion and that of his

'Marot and Rabelais are inexcusable in their habit of scattering filth
about their writings. Both of them had genius enough and wit enough to do
without any such expedient, even for the amusement of those persons who
look more to the laugh to be got out of a book than to what is admirable in
it. Rabelais especially is incomprehensible. His book is an enigma,--one
may say inexplicable. It is a Chimera; it is like the face of a lovely
woman with the feet and the tail of a reptile, or of some creature still
more loathsome. It is a monstrous confusion of fine and rare morality with
filthy corruption. Where it is bad, it goes beyond the worst; it is the
delight of the basest of men. Where it is good, it reaches the exquisite,
the very best; it ministers to the most delicate tastes.'

Putting aside the rather slight connection established between two men of
whom one is of very little importance compared with the other, this is
otherwise very admirably said, and the judgment is a very just one, except
with regard to one point--the misunderstanding of the atmosphere in which
the book was created, and the ignoring of the examples of a similar
tendency furnished by literature as well as by the popular taste. Was it
not the Ancients that began it? Aristophanes, Catullus, Petronius,
Martial, flew in the face of decency in their ideas as well as in the words
they used, and they dragged after them in this direction not a few of the
Latin poets of the Renaissance, who believed themselves bound to imitate
them. Is Italy without fault in this respect? Her story-tellers in prose
lie open to easy accusation. Her Capitoli in verse go to incredible
lengths; and the astonishing success of Aretino must not be forgotten, nor
the licence of the whole Italian comic theatre of the sixteenth century.
The Calandra of Bibbiena, who was afterwards a Cardinal, and the Mandragola
of Machiavelli, are evidence enough, and these were played before Popes,
who were not a whit embarrassed. Even in England the drama went very far
for a time, and the comic authors of the reign of Charles II., evidently
from a reaction, and to shake off the excess and the wearisomeness of
Puritan prudery and affectation, which sent them to the opposite extreme,
are not exactly noted for their reserve. But we need not go beyond France.
Slight indications, very easily verified, are all that may be set down
here; a formal and detailed proof would be altogether too dangerous.

Thus, for instance, the old Fabliaux--the Farces of the fifteenth century,
the story-tellers of the sixteenth--reveal one of the sides, one of the
veins, so to speak, of our literature. The art that addresses itself to
the eye had likewise its share of this coarseness. Think of the sculptures
on the capitals and the modillions of churches, and the crude frankness of
certain painted windows of the fifteenth century. Queen Anne was, without
any doubt, one of the most virtuous women in the world. Yet she used to go
up the staircase of her chateau at Blois, and her eyes were not offended at
seeing at the foot of a bracket a not very decent carving of a monk and a
nun. Neither did she tear out of her book of Hours the large miniature of
the winter month, in which, careless of her neighbours' eyes, the mistress
of the house, sitting before her great fireplace, warms herself in a
fashion which it is not advisable that dames of our age should imitate.
The statue of Cybele by the Tribolo, executed for Francis I., and placed,
not against a wall, but in the middle of Queen Claude's chamber at
Fontainebleau, has behind it an attribute which would have been more in
place on a statue of Priapus, and which was the symbol of generativeness.
The tone of the conversations was ordinarily of a surprising coarseness,
and the Precieuses, in spite of their absurdities, did a very good work in
setting themselves in opposition to it. The worthy Chevalier de La-Tour-
Landry, in his Instructions to his own daughters, without a thought of
harm, gives examples which are singular indeed, and in Caxton's translation
these are not omitted. The Adevineaux Amoureux, printed at Bruges by
Colard Mansion, are astonishing indeed when one considers that they were
the little society diversions of the Duchesses of Burgundy and of the great
ladies of a court more luxurious and more refined than the French court,
which revelled in the Cent Nouvelles of good King Louis XI. Rabelais'
pleasantry about the woman folle a la messe is exactly in the style of the

A later work than any of his, the Novelle of Bandello, should be kept in
mind--for the writer was Bishop of Agen, and his work was translated into
French--as also the Dames Galantes of Brantome. Read the Journal of
Heroard, that honest doctor, who day by day wrote down the details
concerning the health of Louis XIII. from his birth, and you will
understand the tone of the conversation of Henry IV. The jokes at a
country wedding are trifles compared with this royal coarseness. Le Moyen
de Parvenir is nothing but a tissue and a mass of filth, and the too
celebrated Cabinet Satyrique proves what, under Louis XIII., could be
written, printed, and read. The collection of songs formed by Clairambault
shows that the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were no purer than the
sixteenth. Some of the most ribald songs are actually the work of
Princesses of the royal House.

It is, therefore, altogether unjust to make Rabelais the scapegoat, to
charge him alone with the sins of everybody else. He spoke as those of his
time used to speak; when amusing them he used their language to make
himself understood, and to slip in his asides, which without this sauce
would never have been accepted, would have found neither eyes nor ears.
Let us blame not him, therefore, but the manners of his time.

Besides, his gaiety, however coarse it may appear to us--and how rare a
thing is gaiety!--has, after all, nothing unwholesome about it; and this is
too often overlooked. Where does he tempt one to stray from duty? Where,
even indirectly, does he give pernicious advice? Whom has he led to evil
ways? Does he ever inspire feelings that breed misconduct and vice, or is
he ever the apologist of these? Many poets and romance writers, under
cover of a fastidious style, without one coarse expression, have been
really and actively hurtful; and of that it is impossible to accuse
Rabelais. Women in particular quickly revolt from him, and turn away
repulsed at once by the archaic form of the language and by the
outspokenness of the words. But if he be read aloud to them, omitting the
rougher parts and modernizing the pronunciation, it will be seen that they
too are impressed by his lively wit as by the loftiness of his thought. It
would be possible, too, to extract, for young persons, without
modification, admirable passages of incomparable force. But those who have
brought out expurgated editions of him, or who have thought to improve him
by trying to rewrite him in modern French, have been fools for their pains,
and their insulting attempts have had, and always will have, the success
they deserve.

His dedications prove to what extent his whole work was accepted. Not to
speak of his epistolary relations with Bude, with the Cardinal d'Armagnac
and with Pellissier, the ambassador of Francis I. and Bishop of Maguelonne,
or of his dedication to Tiraqueau of his Lyons edition of the Epistolae
Medicinales of Giovanni Manardi of Ferrara, of the one addressed to the
President Amaury Bouchard of the two legal texts which he believed antique,
there is still the evidence of his other and more important dedications.
In 1532 he dedicated his Hippocrates and his Galen to Geoffroy d'Estissac,
Bishop of Maillezais, to whom in 1535 and 1536 he addressed from Rome the
three news letters, which alone have been preserved; and in 1534 he
dedicated from Lyons his edition of the Latin book of Marliani on the
topography of Rome to Jean du Bellay (at that time Bishop of Paris) who was
raised to the Cardinalate in 1535. Beside these dedications we must set
the privilege of Francis I. of September, 1545, and the new privilege
granted by Henry II. on August 6th, 1550, Cardinal de Chatillon present,
for the third book, which was dedicated, in an eight-lined stanza, to the
Spirit of the Queen of Navarre. These privileges, from the praises and
eulogies they express in terms very personal and very exceptional, are as
important in Rabelais' life as were, in connection with other matters, the
Apostolic Pastorals in his favour. Of course, in these the popes had not
to introduce his books of diversions, which, nevertheless, would have
seemed in their eyes but very venial sins. The Sciomachie of 1549, an
account of the festivities arranged at Rome by Cardinal du Bellay in honour
of the birth of the second son of Henry II., was addressed to Cardinal de
Guise, and in 1552 the fourth book was dedicated, in a new prologue, to
Cardinal de Chatillon, the brother of Admiral de Coligny.

These are no unknown or insignificant personages, but the greatest lords
and princes of the Church. They loved and admired and protected Rabelais,
and put no restrictions in his way. Why should we be more fastidious and
severe than they were? Their high contemporary appreciation gives much
food for thought.

There are few translations of Rabelais in foreign tongues; and certainly
the task is no light one, and demands more than a familiarity with ordinary
French. It would have been easier in Italy than anywhere else. Italian,
from its flexibility and its analogy to French, would have lent itself
admirably to the purpose; the instrument was ready, but the hand was not
forthcoming. Neither is there any Spanish translation, a fact which can be
more easily understood. The Inquisition would have been a far more serious
opponent than the Paris' Sorbonne, and no one ventured on the experiment.
Yet Rabelais forces comparison with Cervantes, whose precursor he was in
reality, though the two books and the two minds are very different. They
have only one point in common, their attack and ridicule of the romances of
chivalry and of the wildly improbable adventures of knight-errants. But in
Don Quixote there is not a single detail which would suggest that Cervantes
knew Rabelais' book or owed anything to it whatsoever, even the starting-
point of his subject. Perhaps it was better he should not have been
influenced by him, in however slight a degree; his originality is the more
intact and the more genial.

On the other hand, Rabelais has been several times translated into German.
In the present century Regis published at Leipsic, from 1831 to 1841, with
copious notes, a close and faithful translation. The first one cannot be
so described, that of Johann Fischart, a native of Mainz or Strasburg, who
died in 1614. He was a Protestant controversialist, and a satirist of
fantastic and abundant imagination. In 1575 appeared his translation of
Rabelais' first book, and in 1590 he published the comic catalogue of the
library of Saint Victor, borrowed from the second book. It is not a
translation, but a recast in the boldest style, full of alterations and of
exaggerations, both as regards the coarse expressions which he took upon
himself to develop and to add to, and in the attacks on the Roman Catholic
Church. According to Jean Paul Richter, Fischart is much superior to
Rabelais in style and in the fruitfulness of his ideas, and his equal in
erudition and in the invention of new expressions after the manner of
Aristophanes. He is sure that his work was successful, because it was
often reprinted during his lifetime; but this enthusiasm of Jean Paul would
hardly carry conviction in France. Who treads in another's footprints must
follow in the rear. Instead of a creator, he is but an imitator. Those
who take the ideas of others to modify them, and make of them creations of
their own, like Shakespeare in England, Moliere and La Fontaine in France,
may be superior to those who have served them with suggestions; but then
the new works must be altogether different, must exist by themselves.
Shakespeare and the others, when they imitated, may be said always to have
destroyed their models. These copyists, if we call them so, created such
works of genius that the only pity is they are so rare. This is not the
case with Fischart, but it would be none the less curious were some one
thoroughly familiar with German to translate Fischart for us, or at least,
by long extracts from him, give an idea of the vagaries of German taste
when it thought it could do better than Rabelais. It is dangerous to
tamper with so great a work, and he who does so runs a great risk of
burning his fingers.

England has been less daring, and her modesty and discretion have brought
her success. But, before speaking of Urquhart's translation, it is but
right to mention the English-French Dictionary of Randle Cotgrave, the
first edition of which dates from 1611. It is in every way exceedingly
valuable, and superior to that of Nicot, because instead of keeping to the
plane of classic and Latin French, it showed an acquaintance with and
mastery of the popular tongue as well as of the written and learned
language. As a foreigner, Cotgrave is a little behind in his information.
He is not aware of all the changes and novelties of the passing fashion.
The Pleiad School he evidently knew nothing of, but kept to the writers of
the fifteenth and the first half of the sixteenth century. Thus words out
of Rabelais, which he always translates with admirable skill, are frequent,
and he attaches to them their author's name. So Rabelais had already
crossed the Channel, and was read in his own tongue. Somewhat later,
during the full sway of the Commonwealth--and Maitre Alcofribas Nasier must
have been a surprising apparition in the midst of Puritan severity--Captain
Urquhart undertook to translate him and to naturalize him completely in

Thomas Urquhart belonged to a very old family of good standing in the North
of Scotland. After studying in Aberdeen he travelled in France, Spain, and
Italy, where his sword was as active as that intelligent curiosity of his
which is evidenced by his familiarity with three languages and the large
library which he brought back, according to his own account, from sixteen
countries he had visited.

On his return to England he entered the service of Charles I., who knighted
him in 1641. Next year, after the death of his father, he went to Scotland
to set his family affairs in order, and to redeem his house in Cromarty.
But, in spite of another sojourn in foreign lands, his efforts to free
himself from pecuniary embarrassments were unavailing. At the king's death
his Scottish loyalty caused him to side with those who opposed the
Parliament. Formally proscribed in 1649, taken prisoner at the defeat of
Worcester in 1651, stripped of all his belongings, he was brought to
London, but was released on parole at Cromwell's recommendation. After
receiving permission to spend five months in Scotland to try once more to
settle his affairs, he came back to London to escape from his creditors.
And there he must have died, though the date of his death is unknown. It
probably took place after 1653, the date of the publication of the two
first books, and after having written the translation of the third, which
was not printed from his manuscript till the end of the seventeenth

His life was therefore not without its troubles, and literary activity must
have been almost his only consolation. His writings reveal him as the
strangest character, fantastic, and full of a naive vanity, which, even at
the time he was translating the genealogy of Gargantua--surely well
calculated to cure any pondering on his own--caused him to trace his
unbroken descent from Adam, and to state that his family name was derived
from his ancestor Esormon, Prince of Achaia, 2139 B.C., who was surnamed
Ourochartos, that is to say the Fortunate and the Well-beloved. A Gascon
could not have surpassed this.

Gifted as he was, learned in many directions, an enthusiastic
mathematician, master of several languages, occasionally full of wit and
humour, and even good sense, yet he gave his books the strangest titles,
and his ideas were no less whimsical. His style is mystic, fastidious, and
too often of a wearisome length and obscurity; his verses rhyme anyhow, or
not at all; but vivacity, force and heat are never lacking, and the
Maitland Club did well in reprinting, in 1834, his various works, which are
very rare. Yet, in spite of their curious interest, he owes his real
distinction and the survival of his name to his translation of Rabelais.

The first two books appeared in 1653. The original edition, exceedingly
scarce, was carefully reprinted in 1838, only a hundred copies being
issued, by an English bibliophile T(heodore) M(artin), whose interesting
preface I regret to sum up so cursorily. At the end of the seventeenth
century, in 1693, a French refugee, Peter Antony Motteux, whose English
verses and whose plays are not without value, published in a little octavo
volume a reprint, very incorrect as to the text, of the first two books, to
which he added the third, from the manuscript found amongst Urquhart's
papers. The success which attended this venture suggested to Motteux the
idea of completing the work, and a second edition, in two volumes, appeared
in 1708, with the translation of the fourth and fifth books, and notes.
Nineteen years after his death, John Ozell, translator on a large scale of
French, Italian, and Spanish authors, revised Motteux's edition, which he
published in five volumes in 1737, adding Le Duchat's notes; and this
version has often been reprinted since.

The continuation by Motteux, who was also the translator of Don Quixote,
has merits of its own. It is precise, elegant, and very faithful.
Urquhart's, without taking liberties with Rabelais like Fischart, is not
always so closely literal and exact. Nevertheless, it is much superior to
Motteux's. If Urquhart does not constantly adhere to the form of the
expression, if he makes a few slight additions, not only has he an
understanding of the original, but he feels it, and renders the sense with
a force and a vivacity full of warmth and brilliancy. His own learning
made the comprehension of the work easy to him, and his anglicization of
words fabricated by Rabelais is particularly successful. The necessity of
keeping to his text prevented his indulgence in the convolutions and
divagations dictated by his exuberant fancy when writing on his own
account. His style, always full of life and vigour, is here balanced,
lucid, and picturesque. Never elsewhere did he write so well. And thus
the translation reproduces the very accent of the original, besides
possessing a very remarkable character of its own. Such a literary tone
and such literary qualities are rarely found in a translation. Urquhart's,
very useful for the interpretation of obscure passages, may, and indeed
should be read as a whole, both for Rabelais and for its own merits.

Holland, too, possesses a translation of Rabelais. They knew French in
that country in the seventeenth century better than they do to-day, and
there Rabelais' works were reprinted when no editions were appearing in
France. This Dutch translation was published at Amsterdam in 1682, by J.
Tenhoorn. The name attached to it, Claudio Gallitalo (Claudius French-
Italian) must certainly be a pseudonym. Only a Dutch scholar could
identify the translator, and state the value to be assigned to his work.

Rabelais' style has many different sources. Besides its force and
brilliancy, its gaiety, wit, and dignity, its abundant richness is no less
remarkable. It would be impossible and useless to compile a glossary of
Voltaire's words. No French writer has used so few, and all of them are of
the simplest. There is not one of them that is not part of the common
speech, or which demands a note or an explanation. Rabelais' vocabulary,
on the other hand, is of an astonishing variety. Where does it all come
from? As a fact, he had at his command something like three languages,
which he used in turn, or which he mixed according to the effect he wished
to produce.

First of all, of course, he had ready to his hand the whole speech of his
time, which had no secrets for him. Provincials have been too eager to
appropriate him, to make of him a local author, the pride of some village,
in order that their district might have the merit of being one of the
causes, one of the factors of his genius. Every neighbourhood where he
ever lived has declared that his distinction was due to his knowledge of
its popular speech. But these dialect-patriots have fallen out among
themselves. To which dialect was he indebted? Was it that of Touraine, or
Berri, or Poitou, or Paris? It is too often forgotten, in regard to French
patois--leaving out of count the languages of the South--that the words or
expressions that are no longer in use to-day are but a survival, a still
living trace of the tongue and the pronunciation of other days. Rabelais,
more than any other writer, took advantage of the happy chances and the
richness of the popular speech, but he wrote in French, and nothing but
French. That is why he remains so forcible, so lucid, and so living, more
living even--speaking only of his style out of charity to the others--than
any of his contemporaries.

It has been said that great French prose is solely the work of the
seventeenth century. There were nevertheless, before that, two men,
certainly very different and even hostile, who were its initiators and its
masters, Calvin on the one hand, on the other Rabelais.

Rabelais had a wonderful knowledge of the prose and the verse of the
fifteenth century: he was familiar with Villon, Pathelin, the Quinze Joies
de Mariage, the Cent Nouvelles, the chronicles and the romances, and even
earlier works, too, such as the Roman de la Rose. Their words, their turns
of expression came naturally to his pen, and added a piquancy and, as it
were, a kind of gloss of antique novelty to his work. He fabricated words,
too, on Greek and Latin models, with great ease, sometimes audaciously and
with needless frequency. These were for him so many means, so many
elements of variety. Sometimes he did this in mockery, as in the humorous
discourse of the Limousin scholar, for which he is not a little indebted to
Geoffroy Tory in the Champfleury; sometimes, on the contrary, seriously,
from a habit acquired in dealing with classical tongues.

Again, another reason of the richness of his vocabulary was that he
invented and forged words for himself. Following the example of
Aristophanes, he coined an enormous number of interminable words, droll
expressions, sudden and surprising constructions. What had made Greece and
the Athenians laugh was worth transporting to Paris.

With an instrument so rich, resources so endless, and the skill to use
them, it is no wonder that he could give voice to anything, be as humorous
as he could be serious, as comic as he could be grave, that he could
express himself and everybody else, from the lowest to the highest. He had
every colour on his palette, and such skill was in his fingers that he
could depict every variety of light and shade.

We have evidence that Rabelais did not always write in the same fashion.
The Chronique Gargantuaine is uniform in style and quite simple, but cannot
with certainty be attributed to him. His letters are bombastic and thin;
his few attempts at verse are heavy, lumbering, and obscure, altogether
lacking in harmony, and quite as bad as those of his friend, Jean Bouchet.
He had no gift of poetic form, as indeed is evident even from his prose.
And his letters from Rome to the Bishop of Maillezais, interesting as they
are in regard to the matter, are as dull, bare, flat, and dry in style as
possible. Without his signature no one would possibly have thought of
attributing them to him. He is only a literary artist when he wishes to be
such; and in his romance he changes the style completely every other
moment: it has no constant character or uniform manner, and therefore
unity is almost entirely wanting in his work, while his endeavours after
contrast are unceasing. There is throughout the whole the evidence of
careful and conscious elaboration.

Hence, however lucid and free be the style of his romance, and though its
flexibility and ease seem at first sight to have cost no trouble at all,
yet its merit lies precisely in the fact that it succeeds in concealing the
toil, in hiding the seams. He could not have reached this perfection at a
first attempt. He must have worked long at the task, revised it again and
again, corrected much, and added rather than cut away. The aptness of form
and expression has been arrived at by deliberate means, and owes nothing to
chance. Apart from the toning down of certain bold passages, to soften
their effect, and appease the storm--for these were not literary
alterations, but were imposed on him by prudence--one can see how numerous
are the variations in his text, how necessary it is to take account of
them, and to collect them. A good edition, of course, would make no
attempt at amalgamating these. That would give a false impression and end
in confusion; but it should note them all, and show them all, not combined,
but simply as variations.

After Le Duchat, all the editions, in their care that nothing should be
lost, made the mistake of collecting and placing side by side things which
had no connection with each other, which had even been substituted for each
other. The result was a fabricated text, full of contradictions naturally.
But since the edition issued by M. Jannet, the well-known publisher of the
Bibliotheque Elzevirienne, who was the first to get rid of this patchwork,
this mosaic, Rabelais' latest text has been given, accompanied by all the
earlier variations, to show the changes he made, as well as his
suppressions and additions. It would also be possible to reverse the
method. It would be interesting to take his first text as the basis,
noting the later modifications. This would be quite as instructive and
really worth doing. Perhaps one might then see more clearly with what care
he made his revisions, after what fashion he corrected, and especially what
were the additions he made.

No more striking instance can be quoted than the admirable chapter about
the shipwreck. It was not always so long as Rabelais made it in the end:
it was much shorter at first. As a rule, when an author recasts some
passage that he wishes to revise, he does so by rewriting the whole, or at
least by interpolating passages at one stroke, so to speak. Nothing of the
kind is seen here. Rabelais suppressed nothing, modified nothing; he did
not change his plan at all. What he did was to make insertions, to slip in
between two clauses a new one. He expressed his meaning in a lengthier
way, and the former clause is found in its integrity along with the
additional one, of which it forms, as it were, the warp. It was by this
method of touching up the smallest details, by making here and there such
little noticeable additions, that he succeeded in heightening the effect
without either change or loss. In the end it looks as if he had altered
nothing, added nothing new, as if it had always been so from the first, and
had never been meddled with.

The comparison is most instructive, showing us to what an extent Rabelais'
admirable style was due to conscious effort, care, and elaboration, a fact
which is generally too much overlooked, and how instead of leaving any
trace which would reveal toil and study, it has on the contrary a
marvellous cohesion, precision, and brilliancy. It was modelled and
remodelled, repaired, touched up, and yet it has all the appearance of
having been created at a single stroke, or of having been run like molten
wax into its final form.

Something should be said here of the sources from which Rabelais borrowed.
He was not the first in France to satirize the romances of chivalry. The
romance in verse by Baudouin de Sebourc, printed in recent years, was a
parody of the Chansons de Geste. In the Moniage Guillaume, and especially
in the Moniage Rainouart, in which there is a kind of giant, and
occasionally a comic giant, there are situations and scenes which remind us
of Rabelais. The kind of Fabliaux in mono-rhyme quatrains of the old
Aubery anticipate his coarse and popular jests. But all that is beside the
question; Rabelais did not know these. Nothing is of direct interest save
what was known to him, what fell under his eyes, what lay to his hand--as
the Facetiae of Poggio, and the last sermonnaires. In the course of one's
reading one may often enough come across the origin of some of Rabelais'
witticisms; here and there we may discover how he has developed a
situation. While gathering his materials wherever he could find them, he
was nevertheless profoundly original.

On this point much research and investigation might be employed. But there
is no need why these researches should be extended to the region of fancy.
Gargantua has been proved by some to be of Celtic origin. Very often he is
a solar myth, and the statement that Rabelais only collected popular
traditions and gave new life to ancient legends is said to be proved by the
large number of megalithic monuments to which is attached the name of
Gargantua. It was, of course, quite right to make a list of these, to draw
up, as it were, a chart of them, but the conclusion is not justified. The
name, instead of being earlier, is really later, and is a witness, not to
the origin, but to the success and rapid popularity of his novel. No one
has ever yet produced a written passage or any ancient testimony to prove
the existence of the name before Rabelais. To place such a tradition on a
sure basis, positive traces must be forthcoming; and they cannot be adduced
even for the most celebrated of these monuments, since he mentions himself
the great menhir near Poitiers, which he christened by the name of
Passelourdin. That there is something in the theory is possible. Perrault
found the subjects of his stories in the tales told by mothers and nurses.
He fixed them finally by writing them down. Floating about vaguely as they
were, he seized them, worked them up, gave them shape, and yet of scarcely
any of them is there to be found before his time a single trace. So we
must resign ourselves to know just as little of what Gargantua and
Pantagruel were before the sixteenth century.

In a book of a contemporary of Rabelais, the Legende de Pierre Faifeu by
the Angevin, Charles de Bourdigne, the first edition of which dates from
1526 and the second 1531--both so rare and so forgotten that the work is
only known since the eighteenth century by the reprint of Custelier--in the
introductory ballad which recommends this book to readers, occur these
lines in the list of popular books which Faifeu would desire to replace:

'Laissez ester Caillette le folastre,
Les quatre filz Aymon vestuz de bleu,
Gargantua qui a cheveux de plastre.'

He has not 'cheveux de plastre' in Rabelais. If the rhyme had not
suggested the phrase--and the exigencies of the strict form of the ballade
and its forced repetitions often imposed an idea which had its whole origin
in the rhyme--we might here see a dramatic trace found nowhere else. The
name of Pantagruel is mentioned too, incidentally, in a Mystery of the
fifteenth century. These are the only references to the names which up
till now have been discovered, and they are, as one sees, of but little

On the other hand, the influence of Aristophanes and of Lucian, his
intimate acquaintance with nearly all the writers of antiquity, Greek as
well as Latin, with whom Rabelais is more permeated even than Montaigne,
were a mine of inspiration. The proof of it is everywhere. Pliny
especially was his encyclopaedia, his constant companion. All he says of
the Pantagruelian herb, though he amply developed it for himself, is taken
from Pliny's chapter on flax. And there is a great deal more of this kind
to be discovered, for Rabelais does not always give it as quotation. On
the other hand, when he writes, 'Such an one says,' it would be difficult
enough to find who is meant, for the 'such an one' is a fictitious writer.
The method is amusing, but it is curious to account of it.

The question of the Chronique Gargantuaine is still undecided. Is it by
Rabelais or by someone else? Both theories are defensible, and can be
supported by good reasons. In the Chronique everything is heavy,
occasionally meaningless, and nearly always insipid. Can the same man have
written the Chronique and Gargantua, replaced a book really commonplace by
a masterpiece, changed the facts and incidents, transformed a heavy icy
pleasantry into a work glowing with wit and life, made it no longer a mass
of laborious trifling and cold-blooded exaggerations but a satire on human
life of the highest genius? Still there are points common to the two.
Besides, Rabelais wrote other things; and it is only in his romance that he
shows literary skill. The conception of it would have entered his mind
first only in a bare and summary fashion. It would have been taken up
again, expanded, developed, metamorphosed. That is possible, and, for my
part, I am of those who, like Brunet and Nodier, are inclined to think that
the Chronique, in spite of its inferiority, is really a first attempt,
condemned as soon as the idea was conceived in another form. As its
earlier date is incontestable, we must conclude that if the Chronique is
not by him, his Gargantua and its continuation would not have existed
without it. This would be a great obligation to stand under to some
unknown author, and in that case it is astonishing that his enemies did not
reproach him during his lifetime with being merely an imitator and a
plagiarist. So there are reasons for and against his authorship of it, and
it would be dangerous to make too bold an assertion.

One fact which is absolutely certain and beyond all controversy, is that
Rabelais owed much to one of his contemporaries, an Italian, to the
Histoire Macaronique of Merlin Coccaie. Its author, Theophilus Folengo,
who was also a monk, was born in 1491, and died only a short time before
Rabelais, in 1544. But his burlesque poem was published in 1517. It was
in Latin verse, written in an elaborately fabricated style. It is not dog
Latin, but Latin ingeniously italianized, or rather Italian, even Mantuan,
latinized. The contrast between the modern form of the word and its Roman
garb produces the most amusing effect. In the original it is sometimes
difficult to read, for Folengo has no objection to using the most
colloquial words and phrases.

The subject is quite different. It is the adventures of Baldo, son of Guy
de Montauban, the very lively history of his youth, his trial, imprisonment
and deliverance, his journey in search of his father, during which he
visits the Planets and Hell. The narration is constantly interrupted by
incidental adventures. Occasionally they are what would be called to-day
very naturalistic, and sometimes they are madly extravagant.

But Fracasso, Baldo's friend, is a giant; another friend, Cingar, who
delivers him, is Panurge exactly, and quite as much given to practical
joking. The women in the senile amour of the old Tognazzo, the judges, and
the poor sergeants, are no more gently dealt with by Folengo than by the
monk of the Iles d'Hyeres. If Dindenaut's name does not occur, there are
the sheep. The tempest is there, and the invocation to all the saints.
Rabelais improves all he borrows, but it is from Folengo he starts. He
does not reproduce the words, but, like the Italian, he revels in drinking
scenes, junkettings, gormandizing, battles, scuffles, wounds and corpses,
magic, witches, speeches, repeated enumerations, lengthiness, and a
solemnly minute precision of impossible dates and numbers. The atmosphere,
the tone, the methods are the same, and to know Rabelais well, you must
know Folengo well too.

Detailed proof of this would be too lengthy a matter; one would have to
quote too many passages, but on this question of sources nothing is more
interesting than a perusal of the Opus Macaronicorum. It was translated
into French only in 1606--Paris, Gilley Robinot. This translation of
course cannot reproduce all the many amusing forms of words, but it is
useful, nevertheless, in showing more clearly the points of resemblance
between the two works,--how far in form, ideas, details, and phrases
Rabelais was permeated by Folengo. The anonymous translator saw this quite
well, and said so in his title, 'Histoire macaronique de Merlin Coccaie,
prototype of Rabelais.' It is nothing but the truth, and Rabelais, who
does not hide it from himself, on more than one occasion mentions the name
of Merlin Coccaie.

Besides, Rabelais was fed on the Italians of his time as on the Greeks and
Romans. Panurge, who owes much to Cingar, is also not free from
obligations to the miscreant Margutte in the Morgante Maggiore of Pulci.
Had Rabelais in his mind the tale from the Florentine Chronicles, how in
the Savonarola riots, when the Piagnoni and the Arrabiati came to blows in
the church of the Dominican convent of San-Marco, Fra Pietro in the scuffle
broke the heads of the assailants with the bronze crucifix he had taken
from the altar? A well-handled cross could so readily be used as a weapon,
that probably it has served as such more than once, and other and even
quite modern instances might be quoted.

But other Italian sources are absolutely certain. There are few more
wonderful chapters in Rabelais than the one about the drinkers. It is not
a dialogue: those short exclamations exploding from every side, all
referring to the same thing, never repeating themselves, and yet always
varying the same theme. At the end of the Novelle of Gentile Sermini of
Siena, there is a chapter called Il Giuoco della pugna, the Game of Battle.
Here are the first lines of it: 'Apre, apre, apre. Chi gioca, chi gioca--
uh, uh!--A Porrione, a Porrione.--Viela, viela; date a ognuno.--Alle
mantella, alle mantella.--Oltre di corsa; non vi fermate.--Voltate qui;
ecco costoro; fate veli innanzi.--Viela, viela; date costi.--Chi la fa?
Io--Ed io.--Dagli; ah, ah, buona fu.--Or cosi; alla mascella, al fianco.--
Dagli basso; di punta, di punta.--Ah, ah, buon gioco, buon gioco.'

And thus it goes on with fire and animation for pages. Rabelais probably
translated or directly imitated it. He changed the scene; there was no
giuooco della pugna in France. He transferred to a drinking-bout this
clatter of exclamations which go off by themselves, which cross each other
and get no answer. He made a wonderful thing of it. But though he did not
copy Sermini, yet Sermini's work provided him with the form of the subject,
and was the theme for Rabelais' marvellous variations.

Who does not remember the fantastic quarrel of the cook with the poor devil
who had flavoured his dry bread with the smoke of the roast, and the
judgment of Seyny John, truly worthy of Solomon? It comes from the Cento
Novelle Antiche, rewritten from tales older than Boccaccio, and moreover of
an extreme brevity and dryness. They are only the framework, the notes,
the skeleton of tales. The subject is often wonderful, but nothing is made
of it: it is left unshaped. Rabelais wrote a version of one, the ninth.
The scene takes place, not at Paris, but at Alexandria in Egypt among the
Saracens, and the cook is called Fabrac. But the surprise at the end, the
sagacious judgment by which the sound of a piece of money was made the
price of the smoke, is the same. Now the first dated edition of the Cento
Novelle (which were frequently reprinted) appeared at Bologna in 1525, and
it is certain that Rabelais had read the tales. And there would be much
else of the same kind to learn if we knew Rabelais' library.

A still stranger fact of this sort may be given to show how nothing came
amiss to him. He must have known, and even copied the Latin Chronicle of
the Counts of Anjou. It is accepted, and rightly so, as an historical
document, but that is no reason for thinking that the truth may not have
been manipulated and adorned. The Counts of Anjou were not saints. They
were proud, quarrelsome, violent, rapacious, and extravagant, as greedy as
they were charitable to the Church, treacherous and cruel. Yet their
anonymous panegyrist has made them patterns of all the virtues. In reality
it is both a history and in some sort a romance; especially is it a
collection of examples worthy of being followed, in the style of the
Cyropaedia, our Juvenal of the fifteenth century, and a little like
Fenelon's Telemaque. Now in it there occurs the address of one of the
counts to those who rebelled against him and who were at his mercy.
Rabelais must have known it, for he has copied it, or rather, literally
translated whole lines of it in the wonderful speech of Gargantua to the
vanquished. His contemporaries, who approved of his borrowing from
antiquity, could not detect this one, because the book was not printed till
much later. But Rabelais lived in Maine. In Anjou, which often figures
among the localities he names, he must have met with and read the
Chronicles of the Counts in manuscript, probably in some monastery library,
whether at Fontenay-le-Comte or elsewhere it matters little. There is not
only a likeness in the ideas and tone, but in the words too, which cannot
be a mere matter of chance. He must have known the Chronicles of the
Counts of Anjou, and they inspired one of his finest pages. One sees,
therefore, how varied were the sources whence he drew, and how many of them
must probably always escape us.

When, as has been done for Moliere, a critical bibliography of the works
relating to Rabelais is drawn up--which, by the bye, will entail a very
great amount of labour--the easiest part will certainly be the bibliography
of the old editions. That is the section that has been most satisfactorily
and most completely worked out. M. Brunet said the last word on the
subject in his Researches in 1852, and in the important article in the
fifth edition of his Manuel du Libraire (iv., 1863, pp. 1037-1071).

The facts about the fifth book cannot be summed up briefly. It was printed
as a whole at first, without the name of the place, in 1564, and next year
at Lyons by Jean Martin. It has given, and even still gives rise to two
contradictory opinions. Is it Rabelais' or not?

First of all, if he had left it complete, would sixteen years have gone by
before it was printed? Then, does it bear evident marks of his
workmanship? Is the hand of the master visible throughout? Antoine Du
Verdier in the 1605 edition of his Prosopographie writes: '(Rabelais')
misfortune has been that everybody has wished to "pantagruelize!" and
several books have appeared under his name, and have been added to his
works, which are not by him, as, for instance, l'Ile Sonnante, written by a
certain scholar of Valence and others.'

The scholar of Valence might be Guillaume des Autels, to whom with more
certainty can be ascribed the authorship of a dull imitation of Rabelais,
the History of Fanfreluche and Gaudichon, published in 1578, which, to say
the least of it, is very much inferior to the fifth book.

Louis Guyon, in his Diverses Lecons, is still more positive: 'As to the
last book which has been included in his works, entitled l'Ile Sonnante,
the object of which seems to be to find fault with and laugh at the members
and the authorities of the Catholic Church, I protest that he did not
compose it, for it was written long after his death. I was at Paris when
it was written, and I know quite well who was its author; he was not a
doctor.' That is very emphatic, and it is impossible to ignore it.

Yet everyone must recognize that there is a great deal of Rabelais in the
fifth book. He must have planned it and begun it. Remembering that in
1548 he had published, not as an experiment, but rather as a bait and as an
announcement, the first eleven chapters of the fourth book, we may conclude
that the first sixteen chapters of the fifth book published by themselves
nine years after his death, in 1562, represent the remainder of his
definitely finished work. This is the more certain because these first
chapters, which contain the Apologue of the Horse and the Ass and the
terrible Furred Law-cats, are markedly better than what follows them. They
are not the only ones where the master's hand may be traced, but they are
the only ones where no other hand could possibly have interfered.

In the remainder the sentiment is distinctly Protestant. Rabelais was much
struck by the vices of the clergy and did not spare them. Whether we are
unable to forgive his criticisms because they were conceived in a spirit of
raillery, or whether, on the other hand, we feel admiration for him on this
point, yet Rabelais was not in the least a sectary. If he strongly desired
a moral reform, indirectly pointing out the need of it in his mocking
fashion, he was not favourable to a political reform. Those who would make
of him a Protestant altogether forget that the Protestants of his time were
not for him, but against him. Henri Estienne, for instance, Ramus,
Theodore de Beze, and especially Calvin, should know how he was to be
regarded. Rabelais belonged to what may be called the early reformation,
to that band of honest men in the beginning of the sixteenth century,
precursors of the later one perhaps, but, like Erasmus, between the two
extremes. He was neither Lutheran nor Calvinist, neither German nor
Genevese, and it is quite natural that his work was not reprinted in
Switzerland, which would certainly have happened had the Protestants looked
on him as one of themselves.

That Rabelais collected the materials for the fifth book, had begun it, and
got on some way, there can be no doubt: the excellence of a large number
of passages prove it, but--taken as a whole--the fifth book has not the
value, the verve, and the variety of the others. The style is quite
different, less rich, briefer, less elaborate, drier, in parts even
wearisome. In the first four books Rabelais seldom repeats himself. The
fifth book contains from the point of view of the vocabulary really the
least novelty. On the contrary, it is full of words and expressions
already met with, which is very natural in an imitation, in a copy, forced
to keep to a similar tone, and to show by such reminders and likenesses
that it is really by the same pen. A very striking point is the profound
difference in the use of anatomical terms. In the other books they are
most frequently used in a humorous sense, and nonsensically, with a quite
other meaning than their own; in the fifth they are applied correctly. It
was necessary to include such terms to keep up the practice, but the writer
has not thought of using them to add to the comic effect: one cannot
always think of everything. Trouble has been taken, of course, to include
enumerations, but there are much fewer fabricated and fantastic words. In
short, the hand of the maker is far from showing the same suppleness and

A eulogistic quatrain is signed Nature quite, which, it is generally
agreed, is an anagram of Jean Turquet. Did the adapter of the fifth book
sign his work in this indirect fashion? He might be of the Genevese family
to whom Louis Turquet and his son Theodore belonged, both well-known, and
both strong Protestants. The obscurity relating to this matter is far from
being cleared up, and perhaps never will be.

It fell to my lot--here, unfortunately, I am forced to speak of a personal
matter--to print for the first time the manuscript of the fifth book. At
first it was hoped it might be in Rabelais' own hand; afterwards that it
might be at least a copy of his unfinished work. The task was a difficult
one, for the writing, extremely flowing and rapid, is execrable, and most
difficult to decipher and to transcribe accurately. Besides, it often
happens in the sixteenth and the end of the fifteenth century, that
manuscripts are much less correct than the printed versions, even when they
have not been copied by clumsy and ignorant hands. In this case, it is the
writing of a clerk executed as quickly as possible. The farther it goes
the more incorrect it becomes, as if the writer were in haste to finish.

What is really the origin of it? It has less the appearance of notes or
fragments prepared by Rabelais than of a first attempt at revision. It is
not an author's rough draft; still less is it his manuscript. If I had not
printed this enigmatical text with scrupulous and painful fidelity, I would
do it now. It was necessary to do it so as to clear the way. But as the
thing is done, and accessible to those who may be interested, and who wish
to critically examine it, there is no further need of reprinting it. All
the editions of Rabelais continue, and rightly, to reproduce the edition of
1564. It is not the real Rabelais, but however open to criticism it may
be, it was under that form that the fifth book appeared in the sixteenth
century, under that form it was accepted. Consequently it is convenient
and even necessary to follow and keep to the original edition.

The first sixteen chapters may, and really must be, the text of Rabelais,
in the final form as left by him, and found after his death; the framework,
and a number of the passages in the continuation, the best ones, of course,
are his, but have been patched up and tampered with. Nothing can have been
suppressed of what existed; it was evidently thought that everything should
be admitted with the final revision; but the tone was changed, additions
were made, and 'improvements.' Adapters are always strangely vain.

In the seventeenth century, the French printing-press, save for an edition
issued at Troyes in 1613, gave up publishing Rabelais, and the work passed
to foreign countries. Jean Fuet reprinted him at Antwerp in 1602. After
the Amsterdam edition of 1659, where for the first time appears 'The
Alphabet of the French Author,' comes the Elzevire edition of 1663. The
type, an imitation of what made the reputation of the little volumes of the
Gryphes of Lyons, is charming, the printing is perfect, and the paper,
which is French--the development of paper-making in Holland and England did
not take place till after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes--is
excellent. They are pretty volumes to the eye, but, as in all the reprints
of the seventeenth century, the text is full of faults and most

France, through a representative in a foreign land, however, comes into
line again in the beginning of the eighteenth century, and in a really
serious fashion, thanks to the very considerable learning of a French
refugee, Jacob Le Duchat, who died in 1748. He had a most thorough
knowledge of the French prose-writers of the sixteenth century, and he made
them accessible by his editions of the Quinze Joies du Mariage, of Henri
Estienne, of Agrippa d'Aubigne, of L'Etoile, and of the Satyre Menippee.
In 1711 he published an edition of Rabelais at Amsterdam, through Henry
Bordesius, in five duodecimo volumes. The reprint in quarto which he
issued in 1741, seven years before his death, is, with its engravings by
Bernard Picot, a fine library edition. Le Duchat's is the first of the
critical editions. It takes account of differences in the texts, and
begins to point out the variations. His very numerous notes are
remarkable, and are still worthy of most serious consideration. He was the
first to offer useful elucidations, and these have been repeated after him,
and with good reason will continue to be so. The Abbe de Massy's edition
of 1752, also an Amsterdam production, has made use of Le Duchat's but does
not take its place. Finally, at the end of the century, Cazin printed
Rabelais in his little volume, in 1782, and Bartiers issued two editions
(of no importance) at Paris in 1782 and 1798. Fortunately the nineteenth
century has occupied itself with the great 'Satyrique' in a more competent
and useful fashion.

In 1820 L'Aulnaye published through Desoer his three little volumes,
printed in exquisite style, and which have other merits besides. His
volume of annotations, in which, that nothing might be lost of his own
notes, he has included many things not directly relating to Rabelais, is
full of observations and curious remarks which are very useful additions to
Le Duchat. One fault to be found with him is his further complication of
the spelling. This he did in accordance with a principle that the words
should be referred to their real etymology. Learned though he was,
Rabelais had little care to be so etymological, and it is not his theories
but those of the modern scholar that have been ventilated.

Somewhat later, from 1823 to 1826, Esmangart and Johanneau issued a
variorum edition in nine volumes, in which the text is often encumbered by
notes which are really too numerous, and, above all, too long. The work
was an enormous one, but the best part of it is Le Duchat's, and what is
not his is too often absolutely hypothetical and beside the truth. Le
Duchat had already given too much importance to the false historical
explanation. Here it is constantly coming in, and it rests on no evidence.
In reality, there is no need of the key to Rabelais by which to discover
the meaning of subtle allusions. He is neither so complicated nor so full
of riddles. We know how he has scattered the names of contemporaries about
his work, sometimes of friends, sometimes of enemies, and without
disguising them under any mask. He is no more Panurge than Louis XII. is
Gargantua or Francis I. Pantagruel. Rabelais says what he wants, all he
wants, and in the way he wants. There are no mysteries below the surface,
and it is a waste of time to look for knots in a bulrush. All the
historical explanations are purely imaginary, utterly without proof, and
should the more emphatically be looked on as baseless and dismissed. They
are radically false, and therefore both worthless and harmful.

In 1840 there appeared in the Bibliotheque Charpentier the Rabelais in a
single duodecimo volume, begun by Charles Labiche, and, after his death,
completed by M. Paul Lacroix, whose share is the larger. The text is that
of L'Aulnaye; the short footnotes, with all their brevity, contain useful
explanations of difficult words. Amongst the editions of Rabelais this is
one of the most important, because it brought him many readers and
admirers. No other has made him so well and so widely known as this
portable volume, which has been constantly reprinted. No other has been so
widely circulated, and the sale still goes on. It was, and must still be
looked on as a most serviceable edition.

The edition published by Didot in 1857 has an altogether special character.
In the biographical notice M. Rathery for the first time treated as they
deserve the foolish prejudices which have made Rabelais misunderstood, and
M. Burgaud des Marets set the text on a quite new base. Having proved,
what of course is very evident, that in the original editions the spelling,
and the language too, were of the simplest and clearest, and were not
bristling with the nonsensical and superfluous consonants which have given
rise to the idea that Rabelais is difficult to read, he took the trouble
first of all to note the spelling of each word. Whenever in a single
instance he found it in accordance with modern spelling, he made it the
same throughout. The task was a hard one, and Rabelais certainly gained in
clearness, but over-zeal is often fatal to a reform. In respect to its
precision and the value of its notes, which are short and very judicious,
Burgaud des Marets' edition is valuable, and is amongst those which should
be known and taken into account.

Since Le Duchat all the editions have a common fault. They are not exactly
guilty of fabricating, but they set up an artificial text in the sense
that, in order to lose as little as possible, they have collected and
united what originally were variations--the revisions, in short, of the
original editions. Guided by the wise counsels given by Brunet in 1852 in
his Researches on the old editions of Rabelais, Pierre Jannet published the
first three books in 1858; then, when the publication of the Bibliotheque
Elzevirienne was discontinued, he took up the work again and finished the
edition in Picard's blue library, in little volumes, each book quite
distinct. It was M. Jannet who in our days first restored the pure and
exact text of Rabelais, not only without retouching it, but without making
additions or insertions, or juxtaposition of things that were not formerly
found together. For each of the books he has followed the last edition
issued by Rabelais, and all the earlier differences he gives as variations.
It is astonishing that a thing so simple and so fitting should not have
been done before, and the result is that this absolutely exact fidelity has
restored a lucidity which was not wanting in Rabelais's time, but which had
since been obscured. All who have come after Jannet have followed in his
path, and there is no reason for straying from it.




To the Honoured, Noble Translator of Rabelais.

Rabelais, whose wit prodigiously was made,
All men, professions, actions to invade,
With so much furious vigour, as if it
Had lived o'er each of them, and each had quit,
Yet with such happy sleight and careless skill,
As, like the serpent, doth with laughter kill,
So that although his noble leaves appear
Antic and Gottish, and dull souls forbear
To turn them o'er, lest they should only find
Nothing but savage monsters of a mind,--
No shapen beauteous thoughts; yet when the wise
Seriously strip him of his wild disguise,
Melt down his dross, refine his massy ore,
And polish that which seem'd rough-cast before,
Search his deep sense, unveil his hidden mirth,
And make that fiery which before seem'd earth
(Conquering those things of highest consequence,
What's difficult of language or of sense),
He will appear some noble table writ
In the old Egyptian hieroglyphic wit;
Where, though you monsters and grotescoes see,
You meet all mysteries of philosophy.
For he was wise and sovereignly bred
To know what mankind is, how 't may be led:
He stoop'd unto them, like that wise man, who
Rid on a stick, when 's children would do so.
For we are easy sullen things, and must
Be laugh'd aright, and cheated into trust;
Whilst a black piece of phlegm, that lays about
Dull menaces, and terrifies the rout,
And cajoles it, with all its peevish strength
Piteously stretch'd and botch'd up into length,
Whilst the tired rabble sleepily obey
Such opiate talk, and snore away the day,
By all his noise as much their minds relieves,
As caterwauling of wild cats frights thieves.
But Rabelais was another thing, a man
Made up of all that art and nature can
Form from a fiery genius,--he was one
Whose soul so universally was thrown
Through all the arts of life, who understood
Each stratagem by which we stray from good;
So that he best might solid virtue teach,
As some 'gainst sins of their own bosoms preach:
He from wise choice did the true means prefer,
In the fool's coat acting th' philosopher.
Thus hoary Aesop's beasts did mildly tame
Fierce man, and moralize him into shame;
Thus brave romances, while they seem to lay
Great trains of lust, platonic love display;
Thus would old Sparta, if a seldom chance
Show'd a drunk slave, teach children temperance;
Thus did the later poets nobly bring
The scene to height, making the fool the king.
And, noble sir, you vigorously have trod
In this hard path, unknown, un-understood
By its own countrymen, 'tis you appear
Our full enjoyment which was our despair,
Scattering his mists, cheering his cynic frowns
(For radiant brightness now dark Rabelais crowns),
Leaving your brave heroic cares, which must
Make better mankind and embalm your dust,
So undeceiving us, that now we see
All wit in Gascon and in Cromarty,
Besides that Rabelais is convey'd to us,
And that our Scotland is not barbarous.

J. De la Salle.


The First Decade.

The Commendation.

Musa! canas nostrorum in testimonium Amorum,
Et Gargantueas perpetuato faces,
Utque homini tali resultet nobilis Eccho:
Quicquid Fama canit, Pantagruelis erit.

The Argument.

Here I intend mysteriously to sing
With a pen pluck'd from Fame's own wing,
Of Gargantua that learn'd breech-wiping king.

Decade the First.


Help me, propitious stars; a mighty blaze
Benumbs me! I must sound the praise
Of him hath turn'd this crabbed work in such heroic phrase.


What wit would not court martyrdom to hold
Upon his head a laurel of gold,
Where for each rich conceit a Pumpion-pearl is told:


And such a one is this, art's masterpiece,
A thing ne'er equall'd by old Greece:
A thing ne'er match'd as yet, a real Golden Fleece.


Vice is a soldier fights against mankind;
Which you may look but never find:
For 'tis an envious thing, with cunning interlined.


And thus he rails at drinking all before 'em,
And for lewd women does be-whore 'em,
And brings their painted faces and black patches to th' quorum.


To drink he was a furious enemy
Contented with a six-penny--
(with diamond hatband, silver spurs, six horses.) pie--


And for tobacco's pate-rotunding smoke,
Much had he said, and much more spoke,
But 'twas not then found out, so the design was broke.


Muse! Fancy! Faith! come now arise aloud,
Assembled in a blue-vein'd cloud,
And this tall infant in angelic arms now shroud.


To praise it further I would now begin
Were 't now a thoroughfare and inn,
It harbours vice, though 't be to catch it in a gin.



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