Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/787

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and the terrible mare. But there is no trace of the action or other characters of Gargantua that was to be, nor is the manner of the piece in the least worthy of Rabelais. No one supposes that he wrote it, though it has been supposed that he edited it and that in reality it is older than 1532, and may be the direct subject of Bordigné's allusion six years earlier. What does, however, seem probable is that the first book of Pantagruel (the second of the whole work) was composed with a definite view to this chap book and not to the existing first book of Gargantua, which was written afterwards, when Rabelais discovered the popularity of his work and felt that it ought to have some worthier starting-point than the Grandes chroniques. The earliest known and dated edition of Pantagruel is of 1533, of Gargantua 1535, though this would not be of itself conclusive, especially as we actually possess editions of both which, though undated, seem to be earlier. But the definite description of Gargantua in the title as “ Père de Pantagruel,” the omission of the words “ second livre ” in the title of the first book of Pantagruel while the second and third are duly entitled “ tiers ” and “ quart,” the remarkable fact that one of the most important personages, Friar John, is absent from book ii., the first of Pantagruel, though he appears in book i. (Gargantua), and many other proofs show the order of publication clearly enough. There is also in existence a letter of Calvin, dated 1533, in which he speaks of Pantagruel, but not of Gargantua, as having been condemned as an obscene book. Besides this, 1533 saw the publication of an almanac, the first of a long series which exists only in titles and fragments, and of the amusing Prognostication Pautagrueline (still, be it observed, Pantagrueline, not Gargantuine). Both this and Pantagruel itself were published under the anagrammatic pseudonym of “ Alcofribas Nasier,” shortened to the first word only in the case of the Prognostication.

This busy and interesting period of Rabelais's life was brought to a close apparently by his introduction or reintroduction to jean du Bellay, who, in October 1533, passing through Lyons on an embassy to Rome, engaged Rabelais as physician. The visit did not last very long, but it left literary results in an edition of a description of Rome by Marliani, which Rabelais published in September 1534. It is also thought that the first edition of Gargantua may have appeared this year.

In the spring of 1535 the authorities of the Lyons hospital, considering that Rabelais had twice absented himself without leave, elected Pierre de Castel in his room; but the documents which exist do not seem to infer that any blame was thought due to him, and the appointment of his successor was once definitely postponed in case he should return. At the end of 1535 Rabelais once more accompanied Jean du Bellay, now a cardinal, to Rome and stayed there till April in the next year. This stay furnishes some biographical documents of importance in the shape of letters to Geoffroy d'Estissac, of the already-mentioned Supplicatio pro Apostasia, and of the bull of absolution which was the reply to it. This bull not only freed Rabelais from ecclesiastical censure, but gave him the right to return to the order of St Benedict when he chose, and to practise medicine. He took advantage of this bull and became a canon of St Maur. In 1537 he took his doctor's degree at Montpellier, lectured on the Greek text of Hippocrates, and next year made a public anatomical demonstration. During these two years he seems to have resided either at Montpellier or at Lyons. But in 1539 he entered the service of Guillaume du Bellay-Langey, elder brother of Jean, and would appear to have been with him (he was governor of Piedmont) till his death on 9th January 1543. Rabelais wrote a panegyrical memoir of Guillaume, which is lost, and the year before saw the publication of an edition of Gargantua and Pantagruel, book i., together (both had been repeatedly reprinted separately), in which some dangerous expressions were cut away. Nothing at all is known of his life, whereabouts, or occupations till the publication of the third book, which appeared in 1546, “ avec privilege du roi,” which had been given in September 1545.

Up to this time Rabelais, despite the condemnation of the Sorbonne referred to above, had experienced nothing like persecution or difficulty. Even the spiteful or treacherous act of Dolet, who in 1542 reprinted the earlier form of the books which Rabelais had just slightly modified, seems to have done him no harm. But the storm of persecution which towards the end of the reign of Francis I. was fatal to Dolet himself and to Des Périers, while it exiled and virtually killed Marot, threatened him. There is no positive evidence of any measures taken or threatened against him; but it is certain that he passed nearly the whole of 1546 and part of 1547 at Metz in Lorraine as physician to the town at the salary of 120 livres, and Sturm speaks of him as having been “ cast out of France by the times ” (with the exclamation φεῦ τῶν χρόνων) in a contemporary letter, and says that he himself in another letter gives a doleful account of his pecuniary affairs and asks for assistance. At Francis's death on 31st March 1547 Du Bellay went to Rome, and at some time not certain Rabelais joined him. He was certainly there in February 1549, when he dates from Du Bellay's palace a little account of the festivals given at Rome to celebrate the birth of the second son of Henry II. and Catherine de' Medici. This account, the Sciomachie as it is called, is extant. In the same year a monk of Fontevrault, Gabriel du Puits-Herbault, made in a book called Theotimus the first of the many attacks on Rabelais. It is, however, as vague as it is violent, and it does not seem to have had any effect. Rabelais had indeed again made for himself protectors whom no clerical or Sorbonist jealousy could touch. The Sciomachie was written to the cardinal of Guise, whose family were all-powerful at court, and Rabelais dedicated his next book to Odet de Chatillon, afterwards cardinal, a man of great influence. Thus Rabelais was able to return to France, and in 1550 was presented to the livings of Meudon and St Christophe de Jambet. It may, however, surprise those who have been accustomed to hear him spoken of as “curé de Meudon,” and who have read lives of him founded on legend, to find that there is very little ground for believing that he ever officiated or resided there. He certainly held the living but two years, resigning it in January 1552 along with his other benefice, and it is noteworthy that at the episcopal visitation of 1551 he was not present. To this supposed residence at Meudon and to the previous stay at Rome, however, are attached two of the most mischievous items of the legend, though fortunately two of the most easily refutable. It is said that Rabelais met and quarrelled with Joachim du Bellay the poet at Rome, and with Ronsard at Meudon and elsewhere, that this caused a breach between him and the Pléiade, that he satirized its classicizing tendencies in the episode of the Limousin scholar, and that Ronsard after his death avenged himself by a libellous epitaph. The facts are these. Nothing is heard of the quarrel with Du Bellay or of any meeting with him, nothing of the meetings and bickering's with Ronsard, till 1697, when Bernier tells the story without any authority. The supposed allusions to the Pléiade date from a time when Ronsard was a small boy, and are mainly borrowed from an earlier writer still, Geoffroy Tory. Lastly, the epitaph, read impartially, is not libellous at all, but simply takes up the vein of the opening scenes of Gargantua in reference to Gargantua's author. There is indeed no reason to suppose that either Ronsard or Du Bellay was a fervent admirer of Rabelais, for they belonged to a very different literary school; but there is absolutely no evidence of any enmity between them, and Du Bellay actually refers to Rabelais with admiration.

Some chapters of Rabelais's fourth book had been published in 1548, but the whole did not appear till 1552. The Sorbonne censured it and the parliament suspended the sale, taking advantage of the king's absence from Paris. But it was soon relieved of the suspension. He died, it is said, on the 9th of April 1553, but actual history is quite silent save on the point that he was not alive in May of the next year, and the legends about his deathbed utterances—“ La farce est jouée," “Je vais chercher un grand peut-étre,” &c.— are altogether