Chapter 19 How Pantagruel praiseth the counsel of dumb men
Pantagruel, when this discourse was ended, held for a pretty while his peace,
seeming to be exceeding sad and pensive, then said to Panurge, The malignan_pirit misleads, beguileth, and seduceth you. I have read that in times pas_he surest and most veritable oracles were not those which either wer_elivered in writing or uttered by word of mouth in speaking. For many times,
in their interpretation, right witty, learned, and ingenious men have bee_eceived through amphibologies, equivoques, and obscurity of words, no les_han by the brevity of their sentences. For which cause Apollo, the god o_aticination, was surnamed Loxias. Those which were represented then by sign_nd outward gestures were accounted the truest and the most infallible. Suc_as the opinion of Heraclitus. And Jupiter did himself in this manner giv_orth in Ammon frequently predictions. Nor was he single in this practice; fo_pollo did the like amongst the Assyrians. His prophesying thus unto thos_eople moved them to paint him with a large long beard, and clothes beseemin_n old settled person of a most posed, staid, and grave behaviour; not naked,
young, and beardless, as he was portrayed most usually amongst the Grecians.
Let us make trial of this kind of fatidicency; and go you take advice of som_umb person without any speaking. I am content, quoth Panurge. But, say_antagruel, it were requisite that the dumb you consult with be such as hav_een deaf from the hour of their nativity, and consequently dumb; for none ca_e so lively, natural, and kindly dumb as he who never heard.
How is it, quoth Panurge, that you conceive this matter? If you apprehend i_o, that never any spoke who had not before heard the speech of others, I wil_rom that antecedent bring you to infer very logically a most absurd an_aradoxical conclusion. But let it pass; I will not insist on it. You do no_hen believe what Herodotus wrote of two children, who, at the special comman_nd appointment of Psammeticus, King of Egypt, having been kept in a pett_ountry cottage, where they were nourished and entertained in a perpetua_ilence, did at last, after a certain long space of time, pronounce this wor_ec, which in the Phrygian language signifieth bread. Nothing less, quot_antagruel, do I believe than that it is a mere abusing of our understanding_o give credit to the words of those who say that there is any such thing as _atural language. All speeches have had their primary origin from th_rbitrary institutions, accords, and agreements of nations in their respectiv_ondescendments to what should be noted and betokened by them. An articulat_oice, according to the dialecticians, hath naturally no signification at all;
for that the sense and meaning thereof did totally depend upon the good wil_nd pleasure of the first deviser and imposer of it. I do not tell you thi_ithout a cause; for Bartholus, Lib. 5. de Verb. Oblig., very seriousl_eporteth that even in his time there was in Eugubia one named Sir Nello d_abrielis, who, although he by a sad mischance became altogether deaf,
understood nevertheless everyone that talked in the Italian dialect howsoeve_e expressed himself; and that only by looking on his external gestures, an_asting an attentive eye upon the divers motions of his lips and chaps. I hav_ead, I remember also, in a very literate and eloquent author, that Tyridates,
King of Armenia, in the days of Nero, made a voyage to Rome, where he wa_eceived with great honour and solemnity, and with all manner of pomp an_agnificence. Yea, to the end there might be a sempiternal amity an_orrespondence preserved betwixt him and the Roman senate, there was n_emarkable thing in the whole city which was not shown unto him. At hi_eparture the emperor bestowed upon him many ample donatives of an inestimabl_alue; and besides, the more entirely to testify his affection towards him,
heartily entreated him to be pleased to make choice of any whatsoever thing i_ome was most agreeable to his fancy, with a promise juramentally confirme_hat he should not be refused of his demand. Thereupon, after a suitabl_eturn of thanks for a so gracious offer, he required a certain Jack-puddin_hom he had seen to act his part most egregiously upon the stage, and whos_eaning, albeit he knew not what it was he had spoken, he understood perfectl_nough by the signs and gesticulations which he had made. And for this suit o_is, in that he asked nothing else, he gave this reason, that in the severa_ide and spacious dominions which were reduced under the sway and authority o_is sovereign government, there were sundry countries and nations muc_iffering from one another in language, with whom, whether he was to spea_nto them or give any answer to their requests, he was always necessitated t_ake use of divers sorts of truchman and interpreters. Now with this ma_lone, sufficient for supplying all their places, will that grea_nconveniency hereafter be totally removed; seeing he is such a fin_esticulator, and in the practice of chirology an artist so complete, expert,
and dexterous, that with his very fingers he doth speak. Howsoever, you are t_itch upon such a dumb one as is deaf by nature and from his birth; to the en_hat his gestures and signs may be the more vively and truly prophetic, an_ot counterfeit by the intermixture of some adulterate lustre and affectation.
Yet whether this dumb person shall be of the male or female sex is in you_ption, lieth at your discretion, and altogether dependeth on your ow_lection.
I would more willingly, quoth Panurge, consult with and be advised by a dum_oman, were it not that I am afraid of two things. The first is, that th_reater part of women, whatever be that they see, do always represent unt_heir fancies, think, and imagine, that it hath some relation to the sugare_ntering of the goodly ithyphallos, and graffing in the cleft of th_verturned tree the quickset imp of the pin of copulation. Whatever signs,
shows, or gestures we shall make, or whatever our behaviour, carriage, o_emeanour shall happen to be in their view and presence, they will interpre_he whole in reference to the act of androgynation and the culbutizin_xercise, by which means we shall be abusively disappointed of our designs, i_egard that she will take all our signs for nothing else but tokens an_epresentations of our desire to entice her unto the lists of a Cyprian comba_r catsenconny skirmish. Do you remember what happened at Rome two hundred an_hreescore years after the foundation thereof? A young Roman gentlema_ncountering by chance, at the foot of Mount Celion, with a beautiful Lati_ady named Verona, who from her very cradle upwards had always been both dea_nd dumb, very civilly asked her, not without a chironomatic Italianizing o_is demand, with various jectigation of his fingers and other gesticulation_s yet customary amongst the speakers of that country, what senators in he_escent from the top of the hill she had met with going up thither. For yo_re to conceive that he, knowing no more of her deafness than dumbness, wa_gnorant of both. She in the meantime, who neither heard nor understood s_uch as one word of what he had said, straight imagined, by all that she coul_pprehend in the lovely gesture of his manual signs, that what he the_equired of her was what herself had a great mind to, even that which a youn_an doth naturally desire of a woman. Then was it that by signs, which in al_ccurrences of venereal love are incomparably more attractive, valid, an_fficacious than words, she beckoned to him to come along with her to he_ouse; which when he had done, she drew him aside to a privy room, and the_ade a most lively alluring sign unto him to show that the game did pleas_er. Whereupon, without any more advertisement, or so much as the uttering o_ne word on either side, they fell to and bringuardized it lustily.
The other cause of my being averse from consulting with dumb women is, that t_ur signs they would make no answer at all, but suddenly fall backwards in _ivarication posture, to intimate thereby unto us the reality of their consen_o the supposed motion of our tacit demands. Or if they should chance to mak_ny countersigns responsory to our propositions, they would prove so foolish,
impertinent, and ridiculous, that by them ourselves should easily judge thei_houghts to have no excursion beyond the duffling academy. You know very wel_ow at Brignoles, when the religious nun, Sister Fatbum, was made big wit_hild by the young Stiffly-stand-to't, her pregnancy came to be known, and sh_ited by the abbess, and, in a full convention of the convent, accused o_ncest. Her excuse was that she did not consent thereto, but that it was don_y the violence and impetuous force of the Friar Stiffly-stand-to't. Heret_he abbess very austerely replying, Thou naughty wicked girl, why didst tho_ot cry, A rape, a rape! then should all of us have run to thy succour. He_nswer was that the rape was committed in the dortour, where she durst not cr_ecause it was a place of sempiternal silence. But, quoth the abbess, tho_oguish wench, why didst not thou then make some sign to those that were i_he next chamber beside thee? To this she answered that with her buttocks sh_ade a sign unto them as vigorously as she could, yet never one of them did s_uch as offer to come to her help and assistance. But, quoth the abbess, tho_curvy baggage, why didst thou not tell it me immediately after th_erpetration of the fact, that so we might orderly, regularly, and canonicall_ave accused him? I would have done so, had the case been mine, for th_learer manifestation of mine innocency. I truly, madam, would have done th_ike with all my heart and soul, quoth Sister Fatbum, but that fearing _hould remain in sin, and in the hazard of eternal damnation, if prevented b_ sudden death, I did confess myself to the father friar before he went out o_he room, who, for my penance, enjoined me not to tell it, or reveal th_atter unto any. It were a most enormous and horrid offence, detestable befor_od and the angels, to reveal a confession. Such an abominable wickednes_ould have possibly brought down fire from heaven, wherewith to have burnt th_hole nunnery, and sent us all headlong to the bottomless pit, to bear compan_ith Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.
You will not, quoth Pantagruel, with all your jesting, make me laugh. I kno_hat all the monks, friars, and nuns had rather violate and infringe th_ighest of the commandments of God than break the least of their provincia_tatutes. Take you therefore Goatsnose, a man very fit for your presen_urpose; for he is, and hath been, both dumb and deaf from the very remotes_nfancy of his childhood.