Gargantua by Rabelais

From Project Gutenberg

Rabelais to the Reader.

Good friends, my Readers, who peruse this Book,
Be not offended, whilst on it you look:
Denude yourselves of all depraved affection,
For it contains no badness, nor infection:
'Tis true that it brings forth to you no birth
Of any value, but in point of mirth;
Thinking therefore how sorrow might your mind
Consume, I could no apter subject find;
One inch of joy surmounts of grief a span;
Because to laugh is proper to the man.


Chapter 1.I.

Of the Genealogy and Antiquity of Gargantua.

I must refer you to the great chronicle of Pantagruel for the knowledge of
that genealogy and antiquity of race by which Gargantua is come unto us.
In it you may understand more at large how the giants were born in this
world, and how from them by a direct line issued Gargantua, the father of
Pantagruel: and do not take it ill, if for this time I pass by it,
although the subject be such, that the oftener it were remembered, the more
it would please your worshipful Seniorias; according to which you have the
authority of Plato in Philebo and Gorgias; and of Flaccus, who says that
there are some kinds of purposes (such as these are without doubt), which,
the frequentlier they be repeated, still prove the more delectable.

Would to God everyone had as certain knowledge of his genealogy since the
time of the ark of Noah until this age. I think many are at this day
emperors, kings, dukes, princes, and popes on the earth, whose extraction
is from some porters and pardon-pedlars; as, on the contrary, many are now
poor wandering beggars, wretched and miserable, who are descended of the
blood and lineage of great kings and emperors, occasioned, as I conceive
it, by the transport and revolution of kingdoms and empires, from the
Assyrians to the Medes, from the Medes to the Persians, from the Persians
to the Macedonians, from the Macedonians to the Romans, from the Romans to
the Greeks, from the Greeks to the French.

And to give you some hint concerning myself, who speaks unto you, I cannot
think but I am come of the race of some rich king or prince in former
times; for never yet saw you any man that had a greater desire to be a
king, and to be rich, than I have, and that only that I may make good
cheer, do nothing, nor care for anything, and plentifully enrich my
friends, and all honest and learned men. But herein do I comfort myself,
that in the other world I shall be so, yea and greater too than at this
present I dare wish. As for you, with the same or a better conceit
consolate yourselves in your distresses, and drink fresh if you can come by

To return to our wethers, I say that by the sovereign gift of heaven, the
antiquity and genealogy of Gargantua hath been reserved for our use more
full and perfect than any other except that of the Messias, whereof I mean
not to speak; for it belongs not unto my purpose, and the devils, that is
to say, the false accusers and dissembled gospellers, will therein oppose
me. This genealogy was found by John Andrew in a meadow, which he had near
the pole-arch, under the olive-tree, as you go to Narsay: where, as he was
making cast up some ditches, the diggers with their mattocks struck against
a great brazen tomb, and unmeasurably long, for they could never find the
end thereof, by reason that it entered too far within the sluices of
Vienne. Opening this tomb in a certain place thereof, sealed on the top
with the mark of a goblet, about which was written in Etrurian letters Hic
Bibitur, they found nine flagons set in such order as they use to rank
their kyles in Gascony, of which that which was placed in the middle had
under it a big, fat, great, grey, pretty, small, mouldy, little pamphlet,
smelling stronger, but no better than roses. In that book the said
genealogy was found written all at length, in a chancery hand, not in
paper, not in parchment, nor in wax, but in the bark of an elm-tree, yet so
worn with the long tract of time, that hardly could three letters together
be there perfectly discerned.

I (though unworthy) was sent for thither, and with much help of those
spectacles, whereby the art of reading dim writings, and letters that do
not clearly appear to the sight, is practised, as Aristotle teacheth it,
did translate the book as you may see in your Pantagruelizing, that is to
say, in drinking stiffly to your own heart's desire, and reading the
dreadful and horrific acts of Pantagruel. At the end of the book there was
a little treatise entitled the Antidoted Fanfreluches, or a Galimatia of
extravagant conceits. The rats and moths, or (that I may not lie) other
wicked beasts, had nibbled off the beginning: the rest I have hereto
subjoined, for the reverence I bear to antiquity....

Chapter 1.XI.

Of the youthful age of Gargantua.

Gargantua, from three years upwards unto five, was brought up and
instructed in all convenient discipline by the commandment of his father;
and spent that time like the other little children of the country, that is,
in drinking, eating, and sleeping: in eating, sleeping, and drinking: and
in sleeping, drinking, and eating. Still he wallowed and rolled up and
down himself in the mire and dirt--he blurred and sullied his nose with
filth--he blotted and smutched his face with any kind of scurvy stuff--he
trod down his shoes in the heel--at the flies he did oftentimes yawn, and
ran very heartily after the butterflies, the empire whereof belonged to his
father. He pissed in his shoes, shit in his shirt, and wiped his nose on
his sleeve--he did let his snot and snivel fall in his pottage, and
dabbled, paddled, and slobbered everywhere--he would drink in his slipper,
and ordinarily rub his belly against a pannier. He sharpened his teeth
with a top, washed his hands with his broth, and combed his head with a
bowl. He would sit down betwixt two stools, and his arse to the ground
--would cover himself with a wet sack, and drink in eating of his soup. He
did eat his cake sometimes without bread, would bite in laughing, and laugh
in biting. Oftentimes did he spit in the basin, and fart for fatness, piss
against the sun, and hide himself in the water for fear of rain. He would
strike out of the cold iron, be often in the dumps, and frig and wriggle
it. He would flay the fox, say the ape's paternoster, return to his sheep,
and turn the hogs to the hay. He would beat the dogs before the lion, put
the plough before the oxen, and claw where it did not itch. He would pump
one to draw somewhat out of him, by griping all would hold fast nothing,
and always eat his white bread first. He shoed the geese, kept a
self-tickling to make himself laugh, and was very steadable in the kitchen:
made a mock at the gods, would cause sing Magnificat at matins, and found
it very convenient so to do. He would eat cabbage, and shite beets,--knew
flies in a dish of milk, and would make them lose their feet. He would
scrape paper, blur parchment, then run away as hard as he could. He would
pull at the kid's leather, or vomit up his dinner, then reckon without his
host. He would beat the bushes without catching the birds, thought the
moon was made of green cheese, and that bladders are lanterns. Out of one
sack he would take two moultures or fees for grinding; would act the ass's
part to get some bran, and of his fist would make a mallet. He took the
cranes at the first leap, and would have the mail-coats to be made link
after link. He always looked a given horse in the mouth, leaped from the
cock to the ass, and put one ripe between two green. By robbing Peter he
paid Paul, he kept the moon from the wolves, and hoped to catch larks if
ever the heavens should fall. He did make of necessity virtue, of such
bread such pottage, and cared as little for the peeled as for the shaven.
Every morning he did cast up his gorge, and his father's little dogs eat
out of the dish with him, and he with them. He would bite their ears, and
they would scratch his nose--he would blow in their arses, and they would
lick his chaps.

But hearken, good fellows, the spigot ill betake you, and whirl round your
brains, if you do not give ear! This little lecher was always groping his
nurses and governesses, upside down, arsiversy, topsyturvy, harri
bourriquet, with a Yacco haick, hyck gio! handling them very rudely in
jumbling and tumbling them to keep them going; for he had already begun to
exercise the tools, and put his codpiece in practice. Which codpiece, or
braguette, his governesses did every day deck up and adorn with fair
nosegays, curious rubies, sweet flowers, and fine silken tufts, and very
pleasantly would pass their time in taking you know what between their
fingers, and dandling it, till it did revive and creep up to the bulk and
stiffness of a suppository, or street magdaleon, which is a hard rolled-up
salve spread upon leather. Then did they burst out in laughing, when they
saw it lift up its ears, as if the sport had liked them. One of them would
call it her little dille, her staff of love, her quillety, her faucetin,
her dandilolly. Another, her peen, her jolly kyle, her bableret, her
membretoon, her quickset imp: another again, her branch of coral, her
female adamant, her placket-racket, her Cyprian sceptre, her jewel for
ladies. And some of the other women would give it these names,--my
bunguetee, my stopple too, my bush-rusher, my gallant wimble, my pretty
borer, my coney-burrow-ferret, my little piercer, my augretine, my dangling
hangers, down right to it, stiff and stout, in and to, my pusher, dresser,
pouting stick, my honey pipe, my pretty pillicock, linky pinky, futilletie,
my lusty andouille, and crimson chitterling, my little couille bredouille,
my pretty rogue, and so forth. It belongs to me, said one. It is mine,
said the other. What, quoth a third, shall I have no share in it? By my
faith, I will cut it then. Ha, to cut it, said the other, would hurt him.
Madam, do you cut little children's things? Were his cut off, he would be
then Monsieur sans queue, the curtailed master. And that he might play and
sport himself after the manner of the other little children of the country,
they made him a fair weather whirl-jack of the wings of the windmill of


Chapter 1.XIII.

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

About the end of the fifth year, Grangousier returning from the conquest of
the Canarians, went by the way to see his son Gargantua. There was he
filled with joy, as such a father might be at the sight of such a child of
his: and whilst he kissed and embraced him, he asked many childish
questions of him about divers matters, and drank very freely with him and
with his governesses, of whom in great earnest he asked, amongst other
things, whether they had been careful to keep him clean and sweet. To this
Gargantua answered, that he had taken such a course for that himself, that
in all the country there was not to be found a cleanlier boy than he. How
is that? said Grangousier. I have, answered Gargantua, by a long and
curious experience, found out a means to wipe my bum, the most lordly, the
most excellent, and the most convenient that ever was seen. What is that?
said Grangousier, how is it? I will tell you by-and-by, said Gargantua.
Once I did wipe me with a gentle-woman's velvet mask, and found it to be
good; for the softness of the silk was very voluptuous and pleasant to my
fundament. Another time with one of their hoods, and in like manner that
was comfortable. At another time with a lady's neckerchief, and after that
I wiped me with some ear-pieces of hers made of crimson satin, but there
was such a number of golden spangles in them (turdy round things, a pox
take them) that they fetched away all the skin of my tail with a vengeance.
Now I wish St. Antony's fire burn the bum-gut of the goldsmith that made
them, and of her that wore them! This hurt I cured by wiping myself with a
page's cap, garnished with a feather after the Switzers' fashion.

Afterwards, in dunging behind a bush, I found a March-cat, and with it I
wiped my breech, but her claws were so sharp that they scratched and
exulcerated all my perinee. Of this I recovered the next morning
thereafter, by wiping myself with my mother's gloves, of a most excellent
perfume and scent of the Arabian Benin. After that I wiped me with sage,
with fennel, with anet, with marjoram, with roses, with gourd-leaves, with
beets, with colewort, with leaves of the vine-tree, with mallows,
wool-blade, which is a tail-scarlet, with lettuce, and with spinach leaves.
All this did very great good to my leg. Then with mercury, with parsley,
with nettles, with comfrey, but that gave me the bloody flux of Lombardy,
which I healed by wiping me with my braguette. Then I wiped my tail in the
sheets, in the coverlet, in the curtains, with a cushion, with arras
hangings, with a green carpet, with a table-cloth, with a napkin, with a
handkerchief, with a combing-cloth; in all which I found more pleasure than
do the mangy dogs when you rub them. Yea, but, said Grangousier, which
torchecul did you find to be the best? I was coming to it, said Gargantua,
and by-and-by shall you hear the tu autem, and know the whole mystery and
knot of the matter. I wiped myself with hay, with straw, with
thatch-rushes, with flax, with wool, with paper, but,

Who his foul tail with paper wipes,
Shall at his ballocks leave some chips.

What, said Grangousier, my little rogue, hast thou been at the pot, that
thou dost rhyme already? Yes, yes, my lord the king, answered Gargantua, I
can rhyme gallantly, and rhyme till I become hoarse with rheum. Hark, what
our privy says to the skiters:

Thy bung
Hath flung
Some dung
On us:
St. Antony's fire seize on thy toane (bone?),
If thy
Thou do not wipe, ere thou be gone.

Will you have any more of it? Yes, yes, answered Grangousier. Then, said

A Roundelay.

In shitting yes'day I did know
The sess I to my arse did owe:
The smell was such came from that slunk,
That I was with it all bestunk:
O had but then some brave Signor
Brought her to me I waited for,
In shitting!

I would have cleft her watergap,
And join'd it close to my flipflap,
Whilst she had with her fingers guarded
My foul nockandrow, all bemerded
In shitting.

Now say that I can do nothing! By the Merdi, they are not of my making,
but I heard them of this good old grandam, that you see here, and ever
since have retained them in the budget of my memory.

Let us return to our purpose, said Grangousier. What, said Gargantua, to
skite? No, said Grangousier, but to wipe our tail. But, said Gargantua,
will not you be content to pay a puncheon of Breton wine, if I do not blank
and gravel you in this matter, and put you to a non-plus? Yes, truly, said

There is no need of wiping one's tail, said Gargantua, but when it is foul;
foul it cannot be, unless one have been a-skiting; skite then we must
before we wipe our tails. O my pretty little waggish boy, said
Grangousier, what an excellent wit thou hast? I will make thee very
shortly proceed doctor in the jovial quirks of gay learning, and that, by
G--, for thou hast more wit than age. Now, I prithee, go on in this
torcheculative, or wipe-bummatory discourse, and by my beard I swear, for
one puncheon, thou shalt have threescore pipes, I mean of the good Breton
wine, not that which grows in Britain, but in the good country of Verron.
Afterwards I wiped my bum, said Gargantua, with a kerchief, with a pillow,
with a pantoufle, with a pouch, with a pannier, but that was a wicked and
unpleasant torchecul; then with a hat. Of hats, note that some are shorn,
and others shaggy, some velveted, others covered with taffeties, and others
with satin. The best of all these is the shaggy hat, for it makes a very
neat abstersion of the fecal matter.

Afterwards I wiped my tail with a hen, with a cock, with a pullet, with a
calf's skin, with a hare, with a pigeon, with a cormorant, with an
attorney's bag, with a montero, with a coif, with a falconer's lure. But,
to conclude, I say and maintain, that of all torcheculs, arsewisps,
bumfodders, tail-napkins, bunghole cleansers, and wipe-breeches, there is
none in the world comparable to the neck of a goose, that is well downed,
if you hold her head betwixt your legs. And believe me therein upon mine
honour, for you will thereby feel in your nockhole a most wonderful
pleasure, both in regard of the softness of the said down and of the
temporate heat of the goose, which is easily communicated to the bum-gut
and the rest of the inwards, in so far as to come even to the regions of
the heart and brains. And think not that the felicity of the heroes and
demigods in the Elysian fields consisteth either in their asphodel,
ambrosia, or nectar, as our old women here used to say; but in this,
according to my judgment, that they wipe their tails with the neck of a
goose, holding her head betwixt their legs, and such is the opinion of
Master John of Scotland, alias Scotus.


Chapter 1.LII.

How Gargantua caused to be built for the Monk the Abbey of Theleme.

There was left only the monk to provide for, whom Gargantua would have made
Abbot of Seville, but he refused it. He would have given him the Abbey of
Bourgueil, or of Sanct Florent, which was better, or both, if it pleased
him; but the monk gave him a very peremptory answer, that he would never
take upon him the charge nor government of monks. For how shall I be able,
said he, to rule over others, that have not full power and command of
myself? If you think I have done you, or may hereafter do any acceptable
service, give me leave to found an abbey after my own mind and fancy. The
motion pleased Gargantua very well, who thereupon offered him all the
country of Theleme by the river of Loire till within two leagues of the
great forest of Port-Huaulx. The monk then requested Gargantua to
institute his religious order contrary to all others. First, then, said
Gargantua, you must not build a wall about your convent, for all other
abbeys are strongly walled and mured about. See, said the monk, and not
without cause (seeing wall and mur signify but one and the same thing);
where there is mur before and mur behind, there is store of murmur, envy,
and mutual conspiracy. Moreover, seeing there are certain convents in the
world whereof the custom is, if any woman come in, I mean chaste and honest
women, they immediately sweep the ground which they have trod upon;
therefore was it ordained, that if any man or woman entered into religious
orders should by chance come within this new abbey, all the rooms should be
thoroughly washed and cleansed through which they had passed. And because
in all other monasteries and nunneries all is compassed, limited, and
regulated by hours, it was decreed that in this new structure there should
be neither clock nor dial, but that according to the opportunities and
incident occasions all their hours should be disposed of; for, said
Gargantua, the greatest loss of time that I know is to count the hours.
What good comes of it? Nor can there be any greater dotage in the world
than for one to guide and direct his courses by the sound of a bell, and
not by his own judgment and discretion.

Item, Because at that time they put no women into nunneries but such as
were either purblind, blinkards, lame, crooked, ill-favoured, misshapen,
fools, senseless, spoiled, or corrupt; nor encloistered any men but those
that were either sickly, subject to defluxions, ill-bred louts, simple
sots, or peevish trouble-houses. But to the purpose, said the monk. A
woman that is neither fair nor good, to what use serves she? To make a nun
of, said Gargantua. Yea, said the monk, and to make shirts and smocks.
Therefore was it ordained that into this religious order should be admitted
no women that were not fair, well-featured, and of a sweet disposition; nor
men that were not comely, personable, and well conditioned.

Item, Because in the convents of women men come not but underhand, privily,
and by stealth, it was therefore enacted that in this house there shall be
no women in case there be not men, nor men in case there be not women.

Item, Because both men and women that are received into religious orders
after the expiring of their noviciate or probation year were constrained
and forced perpetually to stay there all the days of their life, it was
therefore ordered that all whatever, men or women, admitted within this
abbey, should have full leave to depart with peace and contentment
whensoever it should seem good to them so to do.

Item, for that the religious men and women did ordinarily make three vows,
to wit, those of chastity, poverty, and obedience, it was therefore
constituted and appointed that in this convent they might be honourably
married, that they might be rich, and live at liberty. In regard of the
legitimate time of the persons to be initiated, and years under and above
which they were not capable of reception, the women were to be admitted
from ten till fifteen, and the men from twelve till eighteen.


Chapter 1.LIV.

The inscription set upon the great gate of Theleme.

Here enter not vile bigots, hypocrites,
Externally devoted apes, base snites,
Puffed-up, wry-necked beasts, worse than the Huns,
Or Ostrogoths, forerunners of baboons:
Cursed snakes, dissembled varlets, seeming sancts,
Slipshod caffards, beggars pretending wants,
Fat chuffcats, smell-feast knockers, doltish gulls,
Out-strouting cluster-fists, contentious bulls,
Fomenters of divisions and debates,
Elsewhere, not here, make sale of your deceits.

Your filthy trumperies
Stuffed with pernicious lies
(Not worth a bubble),
Would do but trouble
Our earthly paradise,
Your filthy trumperies.

Here enter not attorneys, barristers,
Nor bridle-champing law-practitioners:
Clerks, commissaries, scribes, nor pharisees,
Wilful disturbers of the people's ease:
Judges, destroyers, with an unjust breath,
Of honest men, like dogs, even unto death.
Your salary is at the gibbet-foot:
Go drink there! for we do not here fly out
On those excessive courses, which may draw
A waiting on your courts by suits in law.

Lawsuits, debates, and wrangling
Hence are exiled, and jangling.
Here we are very
Frolic and merry,
And free from all entangling,
Lawsuits, debates, and wrangling.

Here enter not base pinching usurers,
Pelf-lickers, everlasting gatherers,
Gold-graspers, coin-gripers, gulpers of mists,
Niggish deformed sots, who, though your chests
Vast sums of money should to you afford,
Would ne'ertheless add more unto that hoard,
And yet not be content,--you clunchfist dastards,
Insatiable fiends, and Pluto's bastards,
Greedy devourers, chichy sneakbill rogues,
Hell-mastiffs gnaw your bones, you ravenous dogs.

You beastly-looking fellows,
Reason doth plainly tell us
That we should not
To you allot
Room here, but at the gallows,
You beastly-looking fellows.

Here enter not fond makers of demurs
In love adventures, peevish, jealous curs,
Sad pensive dotards, raisers of garboils,
Hags, goblins, ghosts, firebrands of household broils,
Nor drunkards, liars, cowards, cheaters, clowns,
Thieves, cannibals, faces o'ercast with frowns,
Nor lazy slugs, envious, covetous,
Nor blockish, cruel, nor too credulous,--
Here mangy, pocky folks shall have no place,
No ugly lusks, nor persons of disgrace.

Grace, honour, praise, delight,
Here sojourn day and night.
Sound bodies lined
With a good mind,
Do here pursue with might
Grace, honour, praise, delight.

Here enter you, and welcome from our hearts,
All noble sparks, endowed with gallant parts.
This is the glorious place, which bravely shall
Afford wherewith to entertain you all.
Were you a thousand, here you shall not want
For anything; for what you'll ask we'll grant.
Stay here, you lively, jovial, handsome, brisk,
Gay, witty, frolic, cheerful, merry, frisk,
Spruce, jocund, courteous, furtherers of trades,
And, in a word, all worthy gentle blades.

Blades of heroic breasts
Shall taste here of the feasts,
Both privily
And civilly
Of the celestial guests,
Blades of heroic breasts.

Here enter you, pure, honest, faithful, true
Expounders of the Scriptures old and new.
Whose glosses do not blind our reason, but
Make it to see the clearer, and who shut
Its passages from hatred, avarice,
Pride, factions, covenants, and all sort of vice.
Come, settle here a charitable faith,
Which neighbourly affection nourisheth.
And whose light chaseth all corrupters hence,
Of the blest word, from the aforesaid sense.

The holy sacred Word,
May it always afford
T' us all in common,
Both man and woman,
A spiritual shield and sword,
The holy sacred Word.

Here enter you all ladies of high birth,
Delicious, stately, charming, full of mirth,
Ingenious, lovely, miniard, proper, fair,
Magnetic, graceful, splendid, pleasant, rare,
Obliging, sprightly, virtuous, young, solacious,
Kind, neat, quick, feat, bright, compt, ripe, choice, dear, precious.
Alluring, courtly, comely, fine, complete,
Wise, personable, ravishing, and sweet,
Come joys enjoy. The Lord celestial
Hath given enough wherewith to please us all.

Gold give us, God forgive us,
And from all woes relieve us;
That we the treasure
May reap of pleasure,
And shun whate'er is grievous,
Gold give us, God forgive us.


Chapter 1.LVII.

How the Thelemites were governed, and of their manner of living.

All their life was spent not in laws, statutes, or rules, but according to
their own free will and pleasure. They rose out of their beds when they
thought good; they did eat, drink, labour, sleep, when they had a mind to
it and were disposed for it. None did awake them, none did offer to
constrain them to eat, drink, nor to do any other thing; for so had
Gargantua established it. In all their rule and strictest tie of their
order there was but this one clause to be observed,

Do What Thou Wilt;

because men that are free, well-born, well-bred, and conversant in honest
companies, have naturally an instinct and spur that prompteth them unto
virtuous actions, and withdraws them from vice, which is called honour.
Those same men, when by base subjection and constraint they are brought
under and kept down, turn aside from that noble disposition by which they
formerly were inclined to virtue, to shake off and break that bond of
servitude wherein they are so tyrannously enslaved; for it is agreeable
with the nature of man to long after things forbidden and to desire what is
denied us.

By this liberty they entered into a very laudable emulation to do all of
them what they saw did please one. If any of the gallants or ladies should
say, Let us drink, they would all drink. If any one of them said, Let us
play, they all played. If one said, Let us go a-walking into the fields
they went all. If it were to go a-hawking or a-hunting, the ladies mounted
upon dainty well-paced nags, seated in a stately palfrey saddle, carried on
their lovely fists, miniardly begloved every one of them, either a
sparrowhawk or a laneret or a marlin, and the young gallants carried the
other kinds of hawks. So nobly were they taught, that there was neither he
nor she amongst them but could read, write, sing, play upon several musical
instruments, speak five or six several languages, and compose in them all
very quaintly, both in verse and prose. Never were seen so valiant
knights, so noble and worthy, so dexterous and skilful both on foot and
a-horse-back, more brisk and lively, more nimble and quick, or better
handling all manner of weapons than were there. Never were seen ladies so
proper and handsome, so miniard and dainty, less froward, or more ready
with their hand and with their needle in every honest and free action
belonging to that sex, than were there. For this reason, when the time
came that any man of the said abbey, either at the request of his parents,
or for some other cause, had a mind to go out of it, he carried along with
him one of the ladies, namely, her whom he had before that chosen for his
mistress, and (they) were married together. And if they had formerly in
Theleme lived in good devotion and amity, they did continue therein and
increase it to a greater height in their state of matrimony; and did
entertain that mutual love till the very last day of their life, in no less
vigour and fervency than at the very day of their wedding. Here must not I
forget to set down unto you a riddle which was found under the ground as
they were laying the foundation of the abbey, engraven in a copper plate,
and it was thus as followeth.


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

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.



Created by: allen.webb@wmich.edu
Revised Date: 12/07