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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,
  • vigorous and indefatigable.