Chapter 18 How Pantagruel and Panurge did diversely expound the verses o_he Sibyl of Panzoust
The leaves being thus collected and orderly disposed, Epistemon and Panurg_eturned to Pantagruel's court, partly well pleased and other par_iscontented; glad for their being come back, and vexed for the trouble the_ad sustained by the way, which they found to be craggy, rugged, stony, rough,
and ill-adjusted. They made an ample and full relation of their voyage unt_antagruel, as likewise of the estate and condition of the sibyl. Then, havin_resented to him the leaves of the sycamore, they show him the short an_wattle verses that were written in them. Pantagruel, having read an_onsidered the whole sum and substance of the matter, fetched from his heart _eep and heavy sigh; then said to Panurge, You are now, forsooth, in a goo_aking, and have brought your hogs to a fine market. The prophecy of the siby_oth explain and lay out before us the same very predictions which have bee_enoted, foretold, and presaged to us by the decree of the Virgilian lots an_he verdict of your own proper dreams, to wit, that you shall be very muc_isgraced, shamed, and discredited by your wife; for that she will make you _uckold in prostituting herself to others, being big with child by anothe_han you, —will steal from you a great deal of your goods, and will beat you,
scratch and bruise you, even to plucking the skin in a part from off you,—wil_eave the print of her blows in some member of your body. You understand a_uch, answered Panurge, in the veritable interpretation and expounding o_ecent prophecies as a sow in the matter of spicery. Be not offended, sir, _eseech you, that I speak thus boldly; for I find myself a little in choler,
and that not without cause, seeing it is the contrary that is true. Take heed,
and give attentive ear unto my words. The old wife said that, as the bean i_ot seen till first it be unhusked, and that its swad or hull be shelled an_eeled from off it, so is it that my virtue and transcendent worth will neve_ome by the mouth of fame to be blazed abroad proportionable to the height,
extent, and measure of the excellency thereof, until preallably I get a wif_nd make the full half of a married couple. How many times have I heard yo_ay that the function of a magistrate, or office of dignity, discovereth th_erits, parts, and endowments of the person so advanced and promoted, and wha_s in him. That is to say, we are then best able to judge aright of th_eservings of a man when he is called to the management of affairs; for whe_efore he lived in a private condition, we could have no more certai_nowledge of him than of a bean within his husk. And thus stands the firs_rticle explained; otherwise, could you imagine that the good fame, repute,
and estimation of an honest man should depend upon the tail of a whore?
Now to the meaning of the second article! My wife will be with child, —her_ies the prime felicity of marriage,—but not of me. Copsody, that I do believ_ndeed! It will be of a pretty little infant. O how heartily I shall love it!
I do already dote upon it; for it will be my dainty feedle- darling, m_enteel dilly-minion. From thenceforth no vexation, care, or grief shall tak_uch deep impression in my heart, how hugely great or vehement soever i_therwise appear, but that it shall evanish forthwith at the sight of that m_uture babe, and at the hearing of the chat and prating of its childis_ibberish. And blessed be the old wife. By my truly, I have a mind to settl_ome good revenue or pension upon her out of the readiest increase of th_ands of my Salmigondinois; not an inconstant and uncertain rent-seek, lik_hat of witless, giddy-headed bachelors, but sure and fixed, of the nature o_he well-paid incomes of regenting doctors. If this interpretation doth no_lease you, think you my wife will bear me in her flanks, conceive with me,
and be of me delivered, as women use in childbed to bring forth their youn_nes; so as that it may be said, Panurge is a second Bacchus, he hath bee_wice born; he is re-born, as was Hippolytus,—as was Proteus, one time o_hetis, and secondly, of the mother of the philosopher Apollonius,—as were th_wo Palici, near the flood Simaethos in Sicily. His wife was big of child wit_im. In him is renewed and begun again the palintocy of the Megarians and th_alingenesy of Democritus. Fie upon such errors! To hear stuff of that natur_ends mine ears.
The words of the third article are: She will suck me at my best end. Why not?
That pleaseth me right well. You know the thing; I need not tell you that i_s my intercrural pudding with one end. I swear and promise that, in what _an, I will preserve it sappy, full of juice, and as well victualled for he_se as may be. She shall not suck me, I believe, in vain, nor be destitute o_er allowance; there shall her justum both in peck and lippy be furnished t_he full eternally. You expound this passage allegorically, and interpret i_o theft and larceny. I love the exposition, and the allegory pleaseth me; bu_ot according to the sense whereto you stretch it. It may be that th_incerity of the affection which you bear me moveth you to harbour in you_reast those refractory thoughts concerning me, with a suspicion of m_dversity to come. We have this saying from the learned, That a marvellousl_earful thing is love, and that true love is never without fear. But, sir,
according to my judgment, you do understand both of and by yourself that her_tealth signifieth nothing else, no more than in a thousand other places o_reek and Latin, old and modern writings, but the sweet fruits of amorou_alliance, which Venus liketh best when reaped in secret, and culled b_ervent lovers filchingly. Why so, I prithee tell? Because, when the feat o_he loose-coat skirmish happeneth to be done underhand and privily, betwee_wo well-disposed, athwart the steps of a pair of stairs lurkingly, and i_overt behind a suit of hangings, or close hid and trussed upon an unboun_aggot, it is more pleasing to the Cyprian goddess, and to me also —I spea_his without prejudice to any better or more sound opinion—than to perfor_hat culbusting art after the Cynic manner, in the view of the clear sunshine,
or in a rich tent, under a precious stately canopy, within a glorious an_ublime pavilion, or yet on a soft couch betwixt rich curtains of cloth o_old, without affrightment, at long intermediate respites, enjoying o_leasures and delights a bellyfull, at all great ease, with a huge fly-fla_an of crimson satin and a bunch of feathers of some East-Indian ostric_erving to give chase unto the flies all round about; whilst, in the interim,
the female picks her teeth with a stiff straw picked even then from out of th_ottom of the bed she lies on. If you be not content with this my exposition,
are you of the mind that my wife will suck and sup me up as people use to gul_nd swallow oysters out of the shell? or as the Cilician women, according t_he testimony of Dioscorides, were wont to do the grain of alkermes? Assuredl_hat is an error. Who seizeth on it, doth neither gulch up nor swill down, bu_akes away what hath been packed up, catcheth, snatcheth, and plies the pla_f hey-pass, repass.
The fourth article doth imply that my wife will flay me, but not all. O th_ine word! You interpret this to beating strokes and blows. Speak wisely. Wil_ou eat a pudding? Sir, I beseech you to raise up your spirits above the low-
sized pitch of earthly thoughts unto that height of sublime contemplatio_hich reacheth to the apprehension of the mysteries and wonders of Dam_ature. And here be pleased to condemn yourself, by a renouncing of thos_rrors which you have committed very grossly and somewhat perversely i_xpounding the prophetic sayings of the holy sibyl. Yet put the case (albeit _ield not to it) that, by the instigation of the devil, my wife should g_bout to wrong me, make me a cuckold downwards to the very breech, disgrace m_therwise, steal my goods from me, yea, and lay violently her hands upo_e;—she nevertheless should fail of her attempts and not attain to th_roposed end of her unreasonable undertakings. The reason which induceth m_ereto is grounded totally on this last point, which is extracted from th_rofoundest privacies of a monastic pantheology, as good Friar Arthur Wagtai_old me once upon a Monday morning, as we were (if I have not forgot) eating _ushel of trotter-pies; and I remember well it rained hard. God give him th_ood morrow! The women at the beginning of the world, or a little after,
conspired to flay the men quick, because they found the spirit of mankin_nclined to domineer it, and bear rule over them upon the face of the whol_arth; and, in pursuit of this their resolution, promised, confirmed, swore,
and covenanted amongst them all, by the pure faith they owe to the nocturna_anct Rogero. But O the vain enterprises of women! O the great fragility o_hat sex feminine! They did begin to flay the man, or peel him (as say_atullus), at that member which of all the body they loved best, to wit, th_ervous and cavernous cane, and that above five thousand years ago; yet hav_hey not of that small part alone flayed any more till this hour but the head.
In mere despite whereof the Jews snip off that parcel of the skin i_ircumcision, choosing far rather to be called clipyards, rascals, than to b_layed by women, as are other nations. My wife, according to this femal_ovenant, will flay it to me, if it be not so already. I heartily grant m_onsent thereto, but will not give her leave to flay it all. Nay, truly will _ot, my noble king.
Yea but, quoth Epistemon, you say nothing of her most dreadful cries an_xclamations when she and we both saw the laurel-bough burn without yieldin_ny noise or crackling. You know it is a very dismal omen, an inauspiciou_ign, unlucky indice, and token formidable, bad, disastrous, and most unhappy,
as is certified by Propertius, Tibullus, the quick philosopher Porphyrius,
Eustathius on the Iliads of Homer, and by many others. Verily, verily, quot_anurge, brave are the allegations which you bring me, and testimonies of two-
footed calves. These men were fools, as they were poets; and dotards, as the_ere philosophers; full of folly, as they were of philosophy.