Pantagruel - François Rabelais - ebook
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About
The Author's Prologue
Chapter 1 - Of the original and antiquity of the great Pantagruel
Chapter 2 - Of the nativity of the most dread and redoubted Pantagruel
Chapter 3 - Of the grief wherewith Gargantua was moved at the decease of his wife Badebec
About Rabelais:

François Rabelais (c. 1494 - April 9, 1553) was a major French Renaissance writer.

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The Author's Prologue

Most illustrious and thrice valorous champions, gentlemen and others, who willingly apply your minds to the entertainment of pretty conceits and honest harmless knacks of wit; you have not long ago seen, read, and understood the great and inestimable Chronicle of the huge and mighty giant Gargantua, and, like upright faithfullists, have firmly believed all to be true that is contained in them, and have very often passed your time with them amongst honourable ladies and gentlewomen, telling them fair long stories, when you were out of all other talk, for which you are worthy of great praise and sempiternal memory. And I do heartily wish that every man would lay aside his own business, meddle no more with his profession nor trade, and throw all affairs concerning himself behind his back, to attend this wholly, without distracting or troubling his mind with anything else, until he have learned them without book; that if by chance the art of printing should cease, or in case that in time to come all books should perish, every man might truly teach them unto his children, and deliver them over to his successors and survivors from hand to hand as a religious cabal; for there is in it more profit than a rabble of great pocky loggerheads are able to discern, who surely understand far less in these little merriments than the fool Raclet did in the Institutions of Justinian.

I have known great and mighty lords, and of those not a few, who, going a-deer-hunting, or a-hawking after wild ducks, when the chase had not encountered with the blinks that were cast in her way to retard her course, or that the hawk did but plain and smoothly fly without moving her wings, perceiving the prey by force of flight to have gained bounds of her, have been much chafed and vexed, as you understand well enough; but the comfort unto which they had refuge, and that they might not take cold, was to relate the inestimable deeds of the said Gargantua. There are others in the world—these are no flimflam stories, nor tales of a tub—who, being much troubled with the toothache, after they had spent their goods upon physicians without receiving at all any ease of their pain, have found no more ready remedy than to put the said Chronicles betwixt two pieces of linen cloth made somewhat hot, and so apply them to the place that smarteth, sinapizing them with a little powder of projection, otherwise called doribus.

But what shall I say of those poor men that are plagued with the pox and the gout? O how often have we seen them, even immediately after they were anointed and thoroughly greased, till their faces did glister like the keyhole of a powdering tub, their teeth dance like the jacks of a pair of little organs or virginals when they are played upon, and that they foamed from their very throats like a boar which the mongrel mastiff-hounds have driven in and overthrown amongst the toils,—what did they then? All their consolation was to have some page of the said jolly book read unto them. And we have seen those who have given themselves to a hundred puncheons of old devils, in case that they did not feel a manifest ease and assuagement of pain at the hearing of the said book read, even when they were kept in a purgatory of torment; no more nor less than women in travail use to find their sorrow abated when the life of St. Margaret is read unto them. Is this nothing? Find me a book in any language, in any faculty or science whatsoever, that hath such virtues, properties, and prerogatives, and I will be content to pay you a quart of tripes. No, my masters, no; it is peerless, incomparable, and not to be matched; and this am I resolved for ever to maintain even unto the fire exclusive. And those that will pertinaciously hold the contrary opinion, let them be accounted abusers, predestinators, impostors, and seducers of the people. It is very true that there are found in some gallant and stately books, worthy of high estimation, certain occult and hid properties; in the number of which are reckoned Whippot, Orlando Furioso, Robert the Devil, Fierabras, William without Fear, Huon of Bordeaux, Monteville, and Matabrune: but they are not comparable to that which we speak of, and the world hath well known by infallible experience the great emolument and utility which it hath received by this Gargantuine Chronicle, for the printers have sold more of them in two months' time than there will be bought of Bibles in nine years.

I therefore, your humble slave, being very willing to increase your solace and recreation yet a little more, do offer you for a present another book of the same stamp, only that it is a little more reasonable and worthy of credit than the other was. For think not, unless you wilfully will err against your knowledge, that I speak of it as the Jews do of the Law. I was not born under such a planet, neither did it ever befall me to lie, or affirm a thing for true that was not. I speak of it like a lusty frolic onocrotary (Onocratal is a bird not much unlike a swan, which sings like an ass's braying.), I should say crotenotary (Crotenotaire or notaire crotte, croquenotaire or notaire croque are but allusions in derision of protonotaire, which signifieth a pregnotary.) of the martyrized lovers, and croquenotary of love. Quod vidimus, testamur. It is of the horrible and dreadful feats and prowesses of Pantagruel, whose menial servant I have been ever since I was a page, till this hour that by his leave I am permitted to visit my cow-country, and to know if any of my kindred there be alive.

And therefore, to make an end of this Prologue, even as I give myself to a hundred panniersful of fair devils, body and soul, tripes and guts, in case that I lie so much as one single word in this whole history; after the like manner, St. Anthony's fire burn you, Mahoom's disease whirl you, the squinance with a stitch in your side and the wolf in your stomach truss you, the bloody flux seize upon you, the cursed sharp inflammations of wild-fire, as slender and thin as cow's hair strengthened with quicksilver, enter into your fundament, and, like those of Sodom and Gomorrah, may you fall into sulphur, fire, and bottomless pits, in case you do not firmly believe all that I shall relate unto you in this present Chronicle.


Chapter 1 Of the original and antiquity of the great Pantagruel

It will not be an idle nor unprofitable thing, seeing we are at leisure, to put you in mind of the fountain and original source whence is derived unto us the good Pantagruel. For I see that all good historiographers have thus handled their chronicles, not only the Arabians, Barbarians, and Latins, but also the gentle Greeks, who were eternal drinkers. You must therefore remark that at the beginning of the world—I speak of a long time; it is above forty quarantains, or forty times forty nights, according to the supputation of the ancient Druids—a little after that Abel was killed by his brother Cain, the earth, imbrued with the blood of the just, was one year so exceeding fertile in all those fruits which it usually produceth to us, and especially in medlars, that ever since throughout all ages it hath been called the year of the great medlars; for three of them did fill a bushel. In it the kalends were found by the Grecian almanacks. There was that year nothing of the month of March in the time of Lent, and the middle of August was in May. In the month of October, as I take it, or at least September, that I may not err, for I will carefully take heed of that, was the week so famous in the annals, which they call the week of the three Thursdays; for it had three of them by means of their irregular leap-years, called Bissextiles, occasioned by the sun's having tripped and stumbled a little towards the left hand, like a debtor afraid of sergeants, coming right upon him to arrest him: and the moon varied from her course above five fathom, and there was manifestly seen the motion of trepidation in the firmament of the fixed stars, called Aplanes, so that the middle Pleiade, leaving her fellows, declined towards the equinoctial, and the star named Spica left the constellation of the Virgin to withdraw herself towards the Balance, known by the name of Libra, which are cases very terrible, and matters so hard and difficult that astrologians cannot set their teeth in them; and indeed their teeth had been pretty long if they could have reached thither.

However, account you it for a truth that everybody then did most heartily eat of these medlars, for they were fair to the eye and in taste delicious. But even as Noah, that holy man, to whom we are so much beholding, bound, and obliged, for that he planted to us the vine, from whence we have that nectarian, delicious, precious, heavenly, joyful, and deific liquor which they call the piot or tiplage, was deceived in the drinking of it, for he was ignorant of the great virtue and power thereof; so likewise the men and women of that time did delight much in the eating of that fair great fruit, but divers and very different accidents did ensue thereupon; for there fell upon them all in their bodies a most terrible swelling, but not upon all in the same place, for some were swollen in the belly, and their belly strouted out big like a great tun, of whom it is written, Ventrem omnipotentem, who were all very honest men, and merry blades. And of this race came St. Fatgulch and Shrove Tuesday (Pansart, Mardigras.). Others did swell at the shoulders, who in that place were so crump and knobby that they were therefore called Montifers, which is as much to say as Hill-carriers, of whom you see some yet in the world, of divers sexes and degrees. Of this race came Aesop, some of whose excellent words and deeds you have in writing. Some other puffs did swell in length by the member which they call the labourer of nature, in such sort that it grew marvellous long, fat, great, lusty, stirring, and crest-risen, in the antique fashion, so that they made use of it as of a girdle, winding it five or six times about their waist: but if it happened the foresaid member to be in good case, spooming with a full sail bunt fair before the wind, then to have seen those strouting champions, you would have taken them for men that had their lances settled on their rest to run at the ring or tilting whintam (quintain). Of these, believe me, the race is utterly lost and quite extinct, as the women say; for they do lament continually that there are none extant now of those great, &c. You know the rest of the song. Others did grow in matter of ballocks so enormously that three of them would well fill a sack able to contain five quarters of wheat. From them are descended the ballocks of Lorraine, which never dwell in codpieces, but fall down to the bottom of the breeches. Others grew in the legs, and to see them you would have said they had been cranes, or the reddish-long-billed-storklike-scrank-legged sea-fowls called flamans, or else men walking upon stilts or scatches. The little grammar-school boys, known by the name of Grimos, called those leg-grown slangams Jambus, in allusion to the French word jambe, which signifieth a leg. In others, their nose did grow so, that it seemed to be the beak of a limbeck, in every part thereof most variously diapered with the twinkling sparkles of crimson blisters budding forth, and purpled with pimples all enamelled with thickset wheals of a sanguine colour, bordered with gules; and such have you seen the Canon or Prebend Panzoult, and Woodenfoot, the physician of Angiers. Of which race there were few that looked the ptisane, but all of them were perfect lovers of the pure Septembral juice. Naso and Ovid had their extraction from thence, and all those of whom it is written, Ne reminiscaris. Others grew in ears, which they had so big that out of one would have been stuff enough got to make a doublet, a pair of breeches, and a jacket, whilst with the other they might have covered themselves as with a Spanish cloak: and they say that in Bourbonnois this race remaineth yet. Others grew in length of body, and of those came the Giants, and of them Pantagruel.

And the first was Chalbroth,

Who begat Sarabroth,

Who begat Faribroth,

Who begat Hurtali, that was a brave eater of pottage, and reigned

in the time of the flood;

Who begat Nembroth,

Who begat Atlas, that with his shoulders kept the sky from falling;

Who begat Goliah,

Who begat Erix, that invented the hocus pocus plays of legerdemain;

Who begat Titius,

Who begat Eryon,

Who begat Polyphemus,

Who begat Cacus,

Who begat Etion, the first man that ever had the pox, for not drinking

fresh in summer, as Bartachin witnesseth;

Who begat Enceladus,

Who begat Ceus,

Who begat Tiphaeus,

Who begat Alaeus,

Who begat Othus,

Who begat Aegeon,

Who begat Briareus, that had a hundred hands;

Who begat Porphyrio,

Who begat Adamastor,

Who begat Anteus,

Who begat Agatho,

Who begat Porus, against whom fought Alexander the Great;

Who begat Aranthas,

Who begat Gabbara, that was the first inventor of the drinking of

healths;

Who begat Goliah of Secondille,

Who begat Offot, that was terribly well nosed for drinking at the

barrel-head;

Who begat Artachaeus,

Who begat Oromedon,

Who begat Gemmagog, the first inventor of Poulan shoes, which are

open on the foot and tied over the instep with a lachet;

Who begat Sisyphus,

Who begat the Titans, of whom Hercules was born;

Who begat Enay, the most skilful man that ever was in matter of

taking the little worms (called cirons) out of the hands;

Who begat Fierabras, that was vanquished by Oliver, peer of France

and Roland's comrade;

Who begat Morgan, the first in the world that played at dice with

spectacles;

Who begat Fracassus, of whom Merlin Coccaius hath written, and of

him was born Ferragus,

Who begat Hapmouche, the first that ever invented the drying of

neat's tongues in the chimney; for, before that, people salted

them as they do now gammons of bacon;

Who begat Bolivorax,

Who begat Longis,

Who begat Gayoffo, whose ballocks were of poplar, and his pr… of

the service or sorb-apple-tree;

Who begat Maschefain,

Who begat Bruslefer,

Who begat Angoulevent,

Who begat Galehaut, the inventor of flagons;

Who begat Mirelangaut,

Who begat Gallaffre,

Who begat Falourdin,

Who begat Roboast,

Who begat Sortibrant of Conimbres,

Who begat Brushant of Mommiere,

Who begat Bruyer that was overcome by Ogier the Dane, peer of

France;

Who begat Mabrun,

Who begat Foutasnon,

Who begat Haquelebac,

Who begat Vitdegrain,

Who begat Grangousier,

Who begat Gargantua,

Who begat the noble Pantagruel, my master.

I know that, reading this passage, you will make a doubt within yourselves, and that grounded upon very good reason, which is this—how it is possible that this relation can be true, seeing at the time of the flood all the world was destroyed, except Noah and seven persons more with him in the ark, into whose number Hurtali is not admitted. Doubtless the demand is well made and very apparent, but the answer shall satisfy you, or my wit is not rightly caulked. And because I was not at that time to tell you anything of my own fancy, I will bring unto you the authority of the Massorets, good honest fellows, true ballockeering blades and exact Hebraical bagpipers, who affirm that verily the said Hurtali was not within the ark of Noah, neither could he get in, for he was too big, but he sat astride upon it, with one leg on the one side and another on the other, as little children use to do upon their wooden horses; or as the great bull of Berne, which was killed at Marinian, did ride for his hackney the great murdering piece called the canon-pevier, a pretty beast of a fair and pleasant amble without all question.

In that posture, he, after God, saved the said ark from danger, for with his legs he gave it the brangle that was needful, and with his foot turned it whither he pleased, as a ship answereth her rudder. Those that were within sent him up victuals in abundance by a chimney, as people very thankfully acknowledging the good that he did them. And sometimes they did talk together as Icaromenippus did to Jupiter, according to the report of Lucian. Have you understood all this well? Drink then one good draught without water, for if you believe it not,—no truly do I not, quoth she.


Chapter 2 Of the nativity of the most dread and redoubted Pantagruel

Gargantua at the age of four hundred fourscore forty and four years begat his son Pantagruel, upon his wife named Badebec, daughter to the king of the Amaurots in Utopia, who died in childbirth; for he was so wonderfully great and lumpish that he could not possibly come forth into the light of the world without thus suffocating his mother. But that we may fully understand the cause and reason of the name of Pantagruel which at his baptism was given him, you are to remark that in that year there was so great drought over all the country of Africa that there passed thirty and six months, three weeks, four days, thirteen hours and a little more without rain, but with a heat so vehement that the whole earth was parched and withered by it. Neither was it more scorched and dried up with heat in the days of Elijah than it was at that time; for there was not a tree to be seen that had either leaf or bloom upon it. The grass was without verdure or greenness, the rivers were drained, the fountains dried up, the poor fishes, abandoned and forsaken by their proper element, wandering and crying upon the ground most horribly. The birds did fall down from the air for want of moisture and dew wherewith to refresh them. The wolves, foxes, harts, wild boars, fallow deer, hares, coneys, weasels, brocks, badgers, and other such beasts, were found dead in the fields with their mouths open. In respect of men, there was the pity, you should have seen them lay out their tongues like hares that have been run six hours. Many did throw themselves into the wells. Others entered within a cow's belly to be in the shade; those Homer calls Alibants. All the country was idle, and could do no virtue. It was a most lamentable case to have seen the labour of mortals in defending themselves from the vehemency of this horrific drought; for they had work enough to do to save the holy water in the churches from being wasted; but there was such order taken by the counsel of my lords the cardinals and of our holy Father, that none did dare to take above one lick. Yet when anyone came into the church, you should have seen above twenty poor thirsty fellows hang upon him that was the distributor of the water, and that with a wide open throat, gaping for some little drop, like the rich glutton in Luke, that might fall by, lest anything should be lost. O how happy was he in that year who had a cool cellar under ground, well plenished with fresh wine!

The philosopher reports, in moving the question, Wherefore it is that the sea-water is salt, that at the time when Phoebus gave the government of his resplendent chariot to his son Phaeton, the said Phaeton, unskilful in the art, and not knowing how to keep the ecliptic line betwixt the two tropics of the latitude of the sun's course, strayed out of his way, and came so near the earth that he dried up all the countries that were under it, burning a great part of the heavens which the philosophers call Via lactea, and the huffsnuffs St. James's way; although the most coped, lofty, and high-crested poets affirm that to be the place where Juno's milk fell when she gave suck to Hercules. The earth at that time was so excessively heated that it fell into an enormous sweat, yea, such a one as made it sweat out the sea, which is therefore salt, because all sweat is salt; and this you cannot but confess to be true if you will taste of your own, or of those that have the pox, when they are put into sweating, it is all one to me.

Just such another case fell out this same year: for on a certain Friday, when the whole people were bent upon their devotions, and had made goodly processions, with store of litanies, and fair preachings, and beseechings of God Almighty to look down with his eye of mercy upon their miserable and disconsolate condition, there was even then visibly seen issue out of the ground great drops of water, such as fall from a puff-bagged man in a top sweat, and the poor hoidens began to rejoice as if it had been a thing very profitable unto them; for some said that there was not one drop of moisture in the air whence they might have any rain, and that the earth did supply the default of that. Other learned men said that it was a shower of the antipodes, as Seneca saith in his fourth book Quaestionum naturalium, speaking of the source and spring of Nilus. But they were deceived, for, the procession being ended, when everyone went about to gather of this dew, and to drink of it with full bowls, they found that it was nothing but pickle and the very brine of salt, more brackish in taste than the saltest water of the sea. And because in that very day Pantagruel was born, his father gave him that name; for Panta in Greek is as much to say as all, and Gruel in the Hagarene language doth signify thirsty, inferring hereby that at his birth the whole world was a-dry and thirsty, as likewise foreseeing that he would be some day supreme lord and sovereign of the thirsty Ethrappels, which was shown to him at that very same hour by a more evident sign. For when his mother Badebec was in the bringing of him forth, and that the midwives did wait to receive him, there came first out of her belly three score and eight tregeneers, that is, salt-sellers, every one of them leading in a halter a mule heavy laden with salt; after whom issued forth nine dromedaries, with great loads of gammons of bacon and dried neat's tongues on their backs. Then followed seven camels loaded with links and chitterlings, hogs' puddings, and sausages. After them came out five great wains, full of leeks, garlic, onions, and chibots, drawn with five-and-thirty strong cart-horses, which was six for every one, besides the thiller. At the sight hereof the said midwives were much amazed, yet some of them said, Lo, here is good provision, and indeed we need it; for we drink but lazily, as if our tongues walked on crutches, and not lustily like Lansman Dutches. Truly this is a good sign; there is nothing here but what is fit for us; these are the spurs of wine, that set it a-going. As they were tattling thus together after their own manner of chat, behold! out comes Pantagruel all hairy like a bear, whereupon one of them, inspired with a prophetical spirit, said, This will be a terrible fellow; he is born with all his hair; he is undoubtedly to do wonderful things, and if he live he shall have age.


Chapter 3 Of the grief wherewith Gargantua was moved at the decease of his wife Badebec

When Pantagruel was born, there was none more astonished and perplexed than was his father Gargantua; for of the one side seeing his wife Badebec dead, and on the other side his son Pantagruel born, so fair and so great, he knew not what to say nor what to do. And the doubt that troubled his brain was to know whether he should cry for the death of his wife or laugh for the joy of his son. He was hinc inde choked with sophistical arguments, for he framed them very well in modo et figura, but he could not resolve them, remaining pestered and entangled by this means, like a mouse caught in a trap or kite snared in a gin. Shall I weep? said he. Yes, for why? My so good wife is dead, who was the most this, the most that, that ever was in the world. Never shall I see her, never shall I recover such another; it is unto me an inestimable loss! O my good God, what had I done that thou shouldest thus punish me? Why didst thou not take me away before her, seeing for me to live without her is but to languish? Ah, Badebec, Badebec, my minion, my dear heart, my sugar, my sweeting, my honey, my little c— (yet it had in circumference full six acres, three rods, five poles, four yards, two foot, one inch and a half of good woodland measure), my tender peggy, my codpiece darling, my bob and hit, my slipshoe-lovey, never shall I see thee! Ah, poor Pantagruel, thou hast lost thy good mother, thy sweet nurse, thy well-beloved lady! O false death, how injurious and despiteful hast thou been to me! How malicious and outrageous have I found thee in taking her from me, my well-beloved wife, to whom immortality did of right belong!

With these words he did cry like a cow, but on a sudden fell a-laughing like a calf, when Pantagruel came into his mind. Ha, my little son, said he, my childilolly, fedlifondy, dandlichucky, my ballocky, my pretty rogue! O how jolly thou art, and how much am I bound to my gracious God, that hath been pleased to bestow on me a son so fair, so spriteful, so lively, so smiling, so pleasant, and so gentle! Ho, ho, ho, ho, how glad I am! Let us drink, ho, and put away melancholy! Bring of the best, rinse the glasses, lay the cloth, drive out these dogs, blow this fire, light candles, shut that door there, cut this bread in sippets for brewis, send away these poor folks in giving them what they ask, hold my gown. I will strip myself into my doublet (en cuerpo), to make the gossips merry, and keep them company.

As he spake this, he heard the litanies and the mementos of the priests that carried his wife to be buried, upon which he left the good purpose he was in, and was suddenly ravished another way, saying, Lord God! must I again contrist myself? This grieves me. I am no longer young, I grow old, the weather is dangerous; I may perhaps take an ague, then shall I be foiled, if not quite undone. By the faith of a gentleman, it were better to cry less, and drink more. My wife is dead, well, by G—! (da jurandi) I shall not raise her again by my crying: she is well, she is in paradise at least, if she be no higher: she prayeth to God for us, she is happy, she is above the sense of our miseries, nor can our calamities reach her. What though she be dead, must not we also die? The same debt which she hath paid hangs over our heads; nature will require it of us, and we must all of us some day taste of the same sauce. Let her pass then, and the Lord preserve the survivors; for I must now cast about how to get another wife. But I will tell you what you shall do, said he to the midwives, in France called wise women (where be they, good folks? I cannot see them): Go you to my wife's interment, and I will the while rock my son; for I find myself somewhat altered and distempered, and should otherwise be in danger of falling sick; but drink one good draught first, you will be the better for it. And believe me, upon mine honour, they at his request went to her burial and funeral obsequies. In the meanwhile, poor Gargantua staying at home, and willing to have somewhat in remembrance of her to be engraven upon her tomb, made this epitaph in the manner as followeth.

{verse

Dead is the noble Badebec,

Who had a face like a rebeck;

A Spanish body, and a belly

Of Switzerland; she died, I tell ye,

In childbirth. Pray to God, that her

He pardon wherein she did err.

Here lies her body, which did live

Free from all vice, as I believe,

And did decease at my bedside,

The year and day in which she died.

{verse