Chapter 8 How Pantagruel, being at Paris, received letters from his fathe_argantua, and the copy of them
Pantagruel studied very hard, as you may well conceive, and profite_ccordingly; for he had an excellent understanding and notable wit, togethe_ith a capacity in memory equal to the measure of twelve oil budgets or butt_f olives. And, as he was there abiding one day, he received a letter from hi_ather in manner as followeth.
Most dear Son,—Amongst the gifts, graces, and prerogatives, with which th_overeign plasmator God Almighty hath endowed and adorned human nature at th_eginning, that seems to me most singular and excellent by which we may in _ortal state attain to a kind of immortality, and in the course of thi_ransitory life perpetuate our name and seed, which is done by a progen_ssued from us in the lawful bonds of matrimony. Whereby that in some measur_s restored unto us which was taken from us by the sin of our first parents,
to whom it was said that, because they had not obeyed the commandment of Go_heir Creator, they should die, and by death should be brought to nought tha_o stately frame and plasmature wherein the man at first had been created.
But by this means of seminal propagation there ("Which continueth" in the ol_opy.) continueth in the children what was lost in the parents, and in th_randchildren that which perished in their fathers, and so successively unti_he day of the last judgment, when Jesus Christ shall have rendered up to Go_he Father his kingdom in a peaceable condition, out of all danger an_ontamination of sin; for then shall cease all generations and corruptions,
and the elements leave off their continual transmutations, seeing the so muc_esired peace shall be attained unto and enjoyed, and that all things shall b_rought to their end and period. And, therefore, not without just an_easonable cause do I give thanks to God my Saviour and Preserver, for that h_ath enabled me to see my bald old age reflourish in thy youth; for when, a_is good pleasure, who rules and governs all things, my soul shall leave thi_ortal habitation, I shall not account myself wholly to die, but to pass fro_ne place unto another, considering that, in and by that, I continue in m_isible image living in the world, visiting and conversing with people o_onour, and other my good friends, as I was wont to do. Which conversation o_ine, although it was not without sin, because we are all of us trespassers,
and therefore ought continually to beseech his divine majesty to blot ou_ransgressions out of his memory, yet was it, by the help and grace of God,
without all manner of reproach before men.
Wherefore, if those qualities of the mind but shine in thee wherewith I a_ndowed, as in thee remaineth the perfect image of my body, thou wilt b_steemed by all men to be the perfect guardian and treasure of the immortalit_f our name. But, if otherwise, I shall truly take but small pleasure to se_t, considering that the lesser part of me, which is the body, would abide i_hee, and the best, to wit, that which is the soul, and by which our nam_ontinues blessed amongst men, would be degenerate and abastardized. This I d_ot speak out of any distrust that I have of thy virtue, which I hav_eretofore already tried, but to encourage thee yet more earnestly to procee_rom good to better. And that which I now write unto thee is not so much tha_hou shouldst live in this virtuous course, as that thou shouldst rejoice i_o living and having lived, and cheer up thyself with the like resolution i_ime to come; to the prosecution and accomplishment of which enterprise an_enerous undertaking thou mayst easily remember how that I have spare_othing, but have so helped thee, as if I had had no other treasure in thi_orld but to see thee once in my life completely well-bred and accomplished,
as well in virtue, honesty, and valour, as in all liberal knowledge an_ivility, and so to leave thee after my death as a mirror representing th_erson of me thy father, and if not so excellent, and such in deed as I d_ish thee, yet such in my desire.
But although my deceased father of happy memory, Grangousier, had bent hi_est endeavours to make me profit in all perfection and political knowledge,
and that my labour and study was fully correspondent to, yea, went beyond hi_esire, nevertheless, as thou mayest well understand, the time then was not s_roper and fit for learning as it is at present, neither had I plenty of suc_ood masters as thou hast had. For that time was darksome, obscured wit_louds of ignorance, and savouring a little of the infelicity and calamity o_he Goths, who had, wherever they set footing, destroyed all good literature,
which in my age hath by the divine goodness been restored unto its forme_ight and dignity, and that with such amendment and increase of the knowledge,
that now hardly should I be admitted unto the first form of the littl_rammar-schoolboys—I say, I, who in my youthful days was, and that justly,
reputed the most learned of that age. Which I do not speak in vain boasting,
although I might lawfully do it in writing unto thee—in verification whereo_hou hast the authority of Marcus Tullius in his book of old age, and th_entence of Plutarch in the book entitled How a man may praise himself withou_nvy—but to give thee an emulous encouragement to strive yet further.
Now is it that the minds of men are qualified with all manner of discipline,
and the old sciences revived which for many ages were extinct. Now it is tha_he learned languages are to their pristine purity restored, viz., Greek,
without which a man may be ashamed to account himself a scholar, Hebrew,
Arabic, Chaldaean, and Latin. Printing likewise is now in use, so elegant an_o correct that better cannot be imagined, although it was found out but in m_ime by divine inspiration, as by a diabolical suggestion on the other sid_as the invention of ordnance. All the world is full of knowing men, of mos_earned schoolmasters, and vast libraries; and it appears to me as a truth,
that neither in Plato's time, nor Cicero's, nor Papinian's, there was eve_uch conveniency for studying as we see at this day there is. Nor must an_dventure henceforward to come in public, or present himself in company, tha_ath not been pretty well polished in the shop of Minerva. I see robbers,
hangmen, freebooters, tapsters, ostlers, and such like, of the very rubbish o_he people, more learned now than the doctors and preachers were in my time.
What shall I say? The very women and children have aspired to this praise an_elestial manner of good learning. Yet so it is that, in the age I am now of,
I have been constrained to learn the Greek tongue—which I contemned not lik_ato, but had not the leisure in my younger years to attend the study o_t—and take much delight in the reading of Plutarch's Morals, the pleasan_ialogues of Plato, the Monuments of Pausanias, and the Antiquities o_thenaeus, in waiting on the hour wherein God my Creator shall call me an_ommand me to depart from this earth and transitory pilgrimage. Wherefore, m_on, I admonish thee to employ thy youth to profit as well as thou canst, bot_n thy studies and in virtue. Thou art at Paris, where the laudable example_f many brave men may stir up thy mind to gallant actions, and hast likewis_or thy tutor and pedagogue the learned Epistemon, who by his lively and voca_ocuments may instruct thee in the arts and sciences.
I intend, and will have it so, that thou learn the languages perfectly; firs_f all the Greek, as Quintilian will have it; secondly, the Latin; and the_he Hebrew, for the Holy Scripture sake; and then the Chaldee and Arabi_ikewise, and that thou frame thy style in Greek in imitation of Plato, an_or the Latin after Cicero. Let there be no history which thou shalt not hav_eady in thy memory; unto the prosecuting of which design, books o_osmography will be very conducible and help thee much. Of the liberal arts o_eometry, arithmetic, and music, I gave thee some taste when thou wert ye_ittle, and not above five or six years old. Proceed further in them, an_earn the remainder if thou canst. As for astronomy, study all the rule_hereof. Let pass, nevertheless, the divining and judicial astrology, and th_rt of Lullius, as being nothing else but plain abuses and vanities. As fo_he civil law, of that I would have thee to know the texts by heart, and the_o confer them with philosophy.
Now, in matter of the knowledge of the works of nature, I would have thee t_tudy that exactly, and that so there be no sea, river, nor fountain, of whic_hou dost not know the fishes; all the fowls of the air; all the several kind_f shrubs and trees, whether in forests or orchards; all the sorts of herb_nd flowers that grow upon the ground; all the various metals that are hi_ithin the bowels of the earth; together with all the diversity of preciou_tones that are to be seen in the orient and south parts of the world. Le_othing of all these be hidden from thee. Then fail not most carefully t_eruse the books of the Greek, Arabian, and Latin physicians, not despisin_he Talmudists and Cabalists; and by frequent anatomies get thee the perfec_nowledge of the other world, called the microcosm, which is man. And at som_ours of the day apply thy mind to the study of the Holy Scriptures; first i_reek, the New Testament, with the Epistles of the Apostles; and then the Ol_estament in Hebrew. In brief, let me see thee an abyss and bottomless pit o_nowledge; for from henceforward, as thou growest great and becomest a man,
thou must part from this tranquillity and rest of study, thou must lear_hivalry, warfare, and the exercises of the field, the better thereby t_efend my house and our friends, and to succour and protect them at all thei_eeds against the invasion and assaults of evildoers.
Furthermore, I will that very shortly thou try how much thou hast profited,
which thou canst not better do than by maintaining publicly theses an_onclusions in all arts against all persons whatsoever, and by haunting th_ompany of learned men, both at Paris and otherwhere. But because, as the wis_an Solomon saith, Wisdom entereth not into a malicious mind, and tha_nowledge without conscience is but the ruin of the soul, it behoveth thee t_erve, to love, to fear God, and on him to cast all thy thoughts and all th_ope, and by faith formed in charity to cleave unto him, so that thou mays_ever be separated from him by thy sins. Suspect the abuses of the world. Se_ot thy heart upon vanity, for this life is transitory, but the Word of th_ord endureth for ever. Be serviceable to all thy neighbours, and love them a_hyself. Reverence thy preceptors: shun the conversation of those whom tho_esirest not to resemble, and receive not in vain the graces which God hat_estowed upon thee. And, when thou shalt see that thou hast attained to al_he knowledge that is to be acquired in that part, return unto me, that I ma_ee thee and give thee my blessing before I die. My son, the peace and grac_f our Lord be with thee. Amen.
Thy father Gargantua.
From Utopia the 17th day of the month of March.
These letters being received and read, Pantagruel plucked up his heart, took _resh courage to him, and was inflamed with a desire to profit in his studie_ore than ever, so that if you had seen him, how he took pains, and how h_dvanced in learning, you would have said that the vivacity of his spiri_midst the books was like a great fire amongst dry wood, so active it was,