Pantagruel/Chapter XI

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Pantagruel by François Rabelais, translated by Thomas Urquhart and Peter Antony Motteux
~ How the Lords of Kissbreech and Suckfist did plead before Pantagruel without an attorney


How the Lords of Kissbreech and Suckfist did plead before Pantagruel without an attorney

Then began Kissbreech in manner as followeth. My lord, it is true that a good woman of my house carried eggs to the market to sell. Be covered, Kissbreech, said Pantagruel. Thanks to you, my lord, said the Lord Kissbreech; but to the purpose. There passed betwixt the two tropics the sum of threepence towards the zenith and a halfpenny, forasmuch as the Riphaean mountains had been that year oppressed with a great sterility of counterfeit gudgeons and shows without substance, by means of the babbling tattle and fond fibs seditiously raised between the gibblegabblers and Accursian gibberish-mongers for the rebellion of the Switzers, who had assembled themselves to the full number of the bumbees and myrmidons to go a-handsel-getting on the first day of the new year, at that very time when they give brewis to the oxen and deliver the key of the coals to the country-girls for serving in of the oats to the dogs. All the night long they did nothing else, keeping their hands still upon the pot, but despatch, both on foot and horseback, leaden-sealed writs or letters, to wit, papal commissions commonly called bulls, to stop the boats; for the tailors and seamsters would have made of the stolen shreds and clippings a goodly sagbut to cover the face of the ocean, which then was great with child of a potful of cabbage, according to the opinion of the hay-bundle-makers. But the physicians said that by the urine they could discern no manifest sign of the bustard's pace, nor how to eat double-tongued mattocks with mustard, unless the lords and gentlemen of the court should be pleased to give by B.mol express command to the pox not to run about any longer in gleaning up of coppersmiths and tinkers; for the jobbernolls had already a pretty good beginning in their dance of the British jig called the estrindore, to a perfect diapason, with one foot in the fire, and their head in the middle, as goodman Ragot was wont to say.

Ha, my masters, God moderates all things, and disposeth of them at his pleasure, so that against unlucky fortune a carter broke his frisking whip, which was all the wind-instrument he had. This was done at his return from the little paltry town, even then when Master Antitus of Cressplots was licentiated, and had passed his degrees in all dullery and blockishness, according to this sentence of the canonists, Beati Dunces, quoniam ipsi stumblaverunt. But that which makes Lent to be so high, by St. Fiacre of Bry, is for nothing else but that the Pentecost never comes but to my cost; yet, on afore there, ho! a little rain stills a great wind, and we must think so, seeing that the sergeant hath propounded the matter so far above my reach, that the clerks and secondaries could not with the benefit thereof lick their fingers, feathered with ganders, so orbicularly as they were wont in other things to do. And we do manifestly see that everyone acknowledgeth himself to be in the error wherewith another hath been charged, reserving only those cases whereby we are obliged to take an ocular inspection in a perspective glass of these things towards the place in the chimney where hangeth the sign of the wine of forty girths, which have been always accounted very necessary for the number of twenty pannels and pack-saddles of the bankrupt protectionaries of five years' respite. Howsoever, at least, he that would not let fly the fowl before the cheesecakes ought in law to have discovered his reason why not, for the memory is often lost with a wayward shoeing. Well, God keep Theobald Mitain from all danger! Then said Pantagruel, Hold there! Ho, my friend, soft and fair, speak at leisure and soberly without putting yourself in choler. I understand the case,--go on. Now then, my lord, said Kissbreech, the foresaid good woman saying her gaudez and audi nos, could not cover herself with a treacherous backblow, ascending by the wounds and passions of the privileges of the universities, unless by the virtue of a warming-pan she had angelically fomented every part of her body in covering them with a hedge of garden-beds; then giving in a swift unavoidable thirst (thrust) very near to the place where they sell the old rags whereof the painters of Flanders make great use when they are about neatly to clap on shoes on grasshoppers, locusts, cigals, and such like fly-fowls, so strange to us that I am wonderfully astonished why the world doth not lay, seeing it is so good to hatch.

Here the Lord of Suckfist would have interrupted him and spoken somewhat, whereupon Pantagruel said unto him, St! by St. Anthony's belly, doth it become thee to speak without command? I sweat here with the extremity of labour and exceeding toil I take to understand the proceeding of your mutual difference, and yet thou comest to trouble and disquiet me. Peace, in the devil's name, peace. Thou shalt be permitted to speak thy bellyful when this man hath done, and no sooner. Go on, said he to Kissbreech; speak calmly, and do not overheat yourself with too much haste.

I perceiving, then, said Kissbreech, that the Pragmatical Sanction did make no mention of it, and that the holy Pope to everyone gave liberty to fart at his own ease, if that the blankets had no streaks wherein the liars were to be crossed with a ruffian-like crew, and, the rainbow being newly sharpened at Milan to bring forth larks, gave his full consent that the good woman should tread down the heel of the hip-gut pangs, by virtue of a solemn protestation put in by the little testiculated or codsted fishes, which, to tell the truth, were at that time very necessary for understanding the syntax and construction of old boots. Therefore John Calf, her cousin gervais once removed with a log from the woodstack, very seriously advised her not to put herself into the hazard of quagswagging in the lee, to be scoured with a buck of linen clothes till first she had kindled the paper. This counsel she laid hold on, because he desired her to take nothing and throw out, for Non de ponte vadit, qui cum sapientia cadit. Matters thus standing, seeing the masters of the chamber of accompts or members of that committee did not fully agree amongst themselves in casting up the number of the Almany whistles, whereof were framed those spectacles for princes which have been lately printed at Antwerp, I must needs think that it makes a bad return of the writ, and that the adverse party is not to be believed, in sacer verbo dotis. For that, having a great desire to obey the pleasure of the king, I armed myself from toe to top with belly furniture, of the soles of good venison-pasties, to go see how my grape-gatherers and vintagers had pinked and cut full of small holes their high-coped caps, to lecher it the better, and play at in and in. And indeed the time was very dangerous in coming from the fair, in so far that many trained bowmen were cast at the muster and quite rejected, although the chimney-tops were high enough, according to the proportion of the windgalls in the legs of horses, or of the malanders, which in the esteem of expert farriers is no better disease, or else the story of Ronypatifam or Lamibaudichon, interpreted by some to be the tale of a tub or of a roasted horse, savours of apocrypha, and is not an authentic history. And by this means there was that year great abundance, throughout all the country of Artois, of tawny buzzing beetles, to the no small profit of the gentlemen-great-stick-faggot-carriers, when they did eat without disdaining the cocklicranes, till their belly was like to crack with it again. As for my own part, such is my Christian charity towards my neighbours, that I could wish from my heart everyone had as good a voice; it would make us play the better at the tennis and the balloon. And truly, my lord, to express the real truth without dissimulation, I cannot but say that those petty subtle devices which are found out in the etymologizing of pattens would descend more easily into the river of Seine, to serve for ever at the millers' bridge upon the said water, as it was heretofore decreed by the king of the Canarians, according to the sentence or judgment given thereupon, which is to be seen in the registry and records within the clerk's office of this house.

And, therefore, my lord, I do most humbly require, that by your lordship there may be said and declared upon the case what is reasonable, with costs, damages, and interests. Then said Pantagruel, My friend, is this all you have to say? Kissbreech answered, Yes, my lord, for I have told all the tu autem, and have not varied at all upon mine honour in so much as one single word. You then, said Pantagruel, my Lord of Suckfist, say what you will, and be brief, without omitting, nevertheless, anything that may serve to the purpose.