Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 50 Gargantua's speech to the vanquished

  • Our forefathers and ancestors of all times have been of this nature an_isposition, that, upon the winning of a battle, they have chosen rather, fo_ sign and memorial of their triumphs and victories, to erect trophies an_onuments in the hearts of the vanquished by clemency than by architecture i_he lands which they had conquered. For they did hold in greater estimatio_he lively remembrance of men purchased by liberality than the dum_nscription of arches, pillars, and pyramids, subject to the injury of storm_nd tempests, and to the envy of everyone. You may very well remember of th_ourtesy which by them was used towards the Bretons in the battle of St. Aubi_f Cormier and at the demolishing of Partenay. You have heard, and hearin_dmire, their gentle comportment towards those at the barriers (th_arbarians) of Spaniola, who had plundered, wasted, and ransacked the maritim_orders of Olone and Thalmondois. All this hemisphere of the world was fille_ith the praises and congratulations which yourselves and your fathers made,
  • when Alpharbal, King of Canarre, not satisfied with his own fortunes, did mos_uriously invade the land of Onyx, and with cruel piracies molest all th_rmoric Islands and confine regions of Britany. Yet was he in a set nava_ight justly taken and vanquished by my father, whom God preserve and protect.
  • But what? Whereas other kings and emperors, yea, those who entitle themselve_atholics, would have dealt roughly with him, kept him a close prisoner, an_ut him to an extreme high ransom, he entreated him very courteously, lodge_im kindly with himself in his own palace, and out of his incredible mildnes_nd gentle disposition sent him back with a safe conduct, laden with gifts,
  • laden with favours, laden with all offices of friendship. What fell out upo_t? Being returned into his country, he called a parliament, where all th_rinces and states of his kingdom being assembled, he showed them the humanit_hich he had found in us, and therefore wished them to take such course by wa_f compensation therein as that the whole world might be edified by th_xample, as well of their honest graciousness to us as of our gracious honest_owards them. The result hereof was, that it was voted and decreed by a_nanimous consent, that they should offer up entirely their lands, dominions,
  • and kingdoms, to be disposed of by us according to our pleasure.
  • Alpharbal in his own person presently returned with nine thousand and thirty-
  • eight great ships of burden, bringing with him the treasures, not only of hi_ouse and royal lineage, but almost of all the country besides. For h_mbarking himself, to set sail with a west-north-east wind, everyone in heap_id cast into the ship gold, silver, rings, jewels, spices, drugs, an_romatical perfumes, parrots, pelicans, monkeys, civet-cats, black-spotte_easels, porcupines, &c. He was accounted no good mother's son that did no_ast in all the rare and precious things he had.
  • Being safely arrived, he came to my said father, and would have kissed hi_eet. That action was found too submissively low, and therefore was no_ermitted, but in exchange he was most cordially embraced. He offered hi_resents; they were not received, because they were too excessive: he yielde_imself voluntarily a servant and vassal, and was content his whole posterit_hould be liable to the same bondage; this was not accepted of, because i_eemed not equitable: he surrendered, by virtue of the decree of his grea_arliamentary council, his whole countries and kingdoms to him, offering th_eed and conveyance, signed, sealed, and ratified by all those that wer_oncerned in it; this was altogether refused, and the parchments cast into th_ire. In end, this free goodwill and simple meaning of the Canarians wrough_uch tenderness in my father's heart that he could not abstain from sheddin_ears, and wept most profusely; then, by choice words very congruousl_dapted, strove in what he could to diminish the estimation of the goo_ffices which he had done them, saying, that any courtesy he had conferre_pon them was not worth a rush, and what favour soever he had showed them h_as bound to do it. But so much the more did Alpharbal augment the reput_hereof. What was the issue? Whereas for his ransom, in the greatest extremit_f rigour and most tyrannical dealing, could not have been exacted abov_wenty times a hundred thousand crowns, and his eldest sons detained a_ostages till that sum had been paid, they made themselves perpetua_ributaries, and obliged to give us every year two millions of gold at four-
  • and-twenty carats fine. The first year we received the whole sum of tw_illions; the second year of their own accord they paid freely to us three-
  • and-twenty hundred thousand crowns; the third year, six-and-twenty hundre_housand; the fourth year, three millions, and do so increase it always out o_heir own goodwill that we shall be constrained to forbid them to bring us an_ore. This is the nature of gratitude and true thankfulness. For time, whic_naws and diminisheth all things else, augments and increaseth benefits;
  • because a noble action of liberality, done to a man of reason, doth gro_ontinually by his generous thinking of it and remembering it.
  • Being unwilling therefore any way to degenerate from the hereditary mildnes_nd clemency of my parents, I do now forgive you, deliver you from all fine_nd imprisonments, fully release you, set you at liberty, and every way mak_ou as frank and free as ever you were before. Moreover, at your going out o_he gate, you shall have every one of you three months' pay to bring you hom_nto your houses and families, and shall have a safe convoy of six hundre_uirassiers and eight thousand foot under the conduct of Alexander, esquire o_y body, that the clubmen of the country may not do you any injury. God b_ith you! I am sorry from my heart that Picrochole is not here; for I woul_ave given him to understand that this war was undertaken against my will an_ithout any hope to increase either my goods or renown. But seeing he is lost,
  • and that no man can tell where nor how he went away, it is my will that hi_ingdom remain entire to his son; who, because he is too young, he not bein_et full five years old, shall be brought up and instructed by the ancien_rinces and learned men of the kingdom. And because a realm thus desolate ma_asily come to ruin, if the covetousness and avarice of those who by thei_laces are obliged to administer justice in it be not curbed and restrained, _rdain and will have it so, that Ponocrates be overseer and superintenden_bove all his governors, with whatever power and authority is requisit_hereto, and that he be continually with the child until he find him able an_apable to rule and govern by himself.
  • Now I must tell you, that you are to understand how a too feeble and dissolut_acility in pardoning evildoers giveth them occasion to commit wickednes_fterwards more readily, upon this pernicious confidence of receiving favour.
  • I consider that Moses, the meekest man that was in his time upon the earth,
  • did severely punish the mutinous and seditious people of Israel. I conside_ikewise that Julius Caesar, who was so gracious an emperor that Cicero sai_f him that his fortune had nothing more excellent than that he could, and hi_irtue nothing better than that he would always save and pardon every man—he,
  • notwithstanding all this, did in certain places most rigorously punish th_uthors of rebellion. After the example of these good men, it is my will an_leasure that you deliver over unto me before you depart hence, first, tha_ine fellow Marquet, who was the prime cause, origin, and groundwork of thi_ar by his vain presumption and overweening; secondly, his fellow cake-bakers,
  • who were neglective in checking and reprehending his idle hairbrained humou_n the instant time; and lastly, all the councillors, captains, officers, an_omestics of Picrochole, who had been incendiaries or fomenters of the war b_rovoking, praising, or counselling him to come out of his limits thus t_rouble us.