Gargantua/Chapter XL

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Why monks are the outcasts of the world; and wherefore some have bigger noses than others

By the faith of a Christian, said Eudemon, I do wonderfully dote and enter in a great ecstasy when I consider the honesty and good fellowship of this monk, for he makes us here all merry. How is it, then, that they exclude the monks from all good companies, calling them feast-troublers, marrers of mirth, and disturbers of all civil conversation, as the bees drive away the drones from their hives? Ignavum fucos pecus, said Maro, a praesepibus arcent. Hereunto, answered Gargantua, there is nothing so true as that the frock and cowl draw unto itself the opprobries, injuries, and maledictions of the world, just as the wind called Cecias attracts the clouds. The peremptory reason is, because they eat the ordure and excrements of the world, that is to say, the sins of the people, and, like dung-chewers and excrementitious eaters, they are cast into the privies and secessive places, that is, the convents and abbeys, separated from political conversation, as the jakes and retreats of a house are. But if you conceive how an ape in a family is always mocked and provokingly incensed, you shall easily apprehend how monks are shunned of all men, both young and old. The ape keeps not the house as a dog doth, he draws not in the plough as the ox, he yields neither milk nor wool as the sheep, he carrieth no burden as a horse doth. That which he doth, is only to conskite, spoil, and defile all, which is the cause wherefore he hath of all men mocks, frumperies, and bastinadoes.

After the same manner a monk--I mean those lither, idle, lazy monks--doth not labour and work, as do the peasant and artificer; doth not ward and defend the country, as doth the man of war; cureth not the sick and diseased, as the physician doth; doth neither preach nor teach, as do the evangelical doctors and schoolmasters; doth not import commodities and things necessary for the commonwealth, as the merchant doth. Therefore is it that by and of all men they are hooted at, hated, and abhorred. Yea, but, said Grangousier, they pray to God for us. Nothing less, answered Gargantua. True it is, that with a tingle tangle jangling of bells they trouble and disquiet all their neighbours about them. Right, said the monk; a mass, a matin, a vesper well rung, are half said. They mumble out great store of legends and psalms, by them not at all understood; they say many paternosters interlarded with Ave-Maries, without thinking upon or apprehending the meaning of what it is they say, which truly I call mocking of God, and not prayers. But so help them God, as they pray for us, and not for being afraid to lose their victuals, their manchots, and good fat pottage. All true Christians, of all estates and conditions, in all places and at all times, send up their prayers to God, and the Mediator prayeth and intercedeth for them, and God is gracious to them. Now such a one is our good Friar John; therefore every man desireth to have him in his company. He is no bigot or hypocrite; he is not torn and divided betwixt reality and appearance; no wretch of a rugged and peevish disposition, but honest, jovial, resolute, and a good fellow. He travels, he labours, he defends the oppressed, comforts the afflicted, helps the needy, and keeps the close of the abbey. Nay, said the monk, I do a great deal more than that; for whilst we are in despatching our matins and anniversaries in the choir, I make withal some crossbow-strings, polish glass bottles and bolts, I twist lines and weave purse nets wherein to catch coneys. I am never idle. But now, hither come, some drink, some drink here! Bring the fruit. These chestnuts are of the wood of Estrox, and with good new wine are able to make you a fine cracker and composer of bum-sonnets. You are not as yet, it seems, well moistened in this house with the sweet wine and must. By G--, I drink to all men freely, and at all fords, like a proctor or promoter's horse. Friar John, said Gymnast, take away the snot that hangs at your nose. Ha, ha, said the monk, am not I in danger of drowning, seeing I am in water even to the nose? No, no, Quare? Quia, though some water come out from thence, there never goes in any; for it is well antidoted with pot-proof armour and syrup of the vine-leaf.

Oh, my friend, he that hath winter-boots made of such leather may boldly fish for oysters, for they will never take water. What is the cause, said Gargantua, that Friar John hath such a fair nose? Because, said Grangousier, that God would have it so, who frameth us in such form and for such end as is most agreeable with his divine will, even as a potter fashioneth his vessels. Because, said Ponocrates, he came with the first to the fair of noses, and therefore made choice of the fairest and the greatest. Pish, said the monk, that is not the reason of it, but, according to the true monastical philosophy, it is because my nurse had soft teats, by virtue whereof, whilst she gave me suck, my nose did sink in as in so much butter. The hard breasts of nurses make children short-nosed. But hey, gay, Ad formam nasi cognoscitur ad te levavi. I never eat any confections, page, whilst I am at the bibbery. Item, bring me rather some toasts.