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Gargantua and Pantagruel, Book I. by Francois Rabelais

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Make it to see the clearer, and who shut
Its passages from hatred, avarice,
Pride, factions, covenants, and all sort of vice.
Come, settle here a charitable faith,
Which neighbourly affection nourisheth.
And whose light chaseth all corrupters hence,
Of the blest word, from the aforesaid sense.

The holy sacred Word,
May it always afford
T' us all in common,
Both man and woman,
A spiritual shield and sword,
The holy sacred Word.

Here enter you all ladies of high birth,
Delicious, stately, charming, full of mirth,
Ingenious, lovely, miniard, proper, fair,
Magnetic, graceful, splendid, pleasant, rare,
Obliging, sprightly, virtuous, young, solacious,
Kind, neat, quick, feat, bright, compt, ripe, choice, dear, precious.
Alluring, courtly, comely, fine, complete,
Wise, personable, ravishing, and sweet,
Come joys enjoy. The Lord celestial
Hath given enough wherewith to please us all.

Gold give us, God forgive us,
And from all woes relieve us;
That we the treasure
May reap of pleasure,
And shun whate'er is grievous,
Gold give us, God forgive us.

Chapter 1.LV.

What manner of dwelling the Thelemites had.

In the middle of the lower court there was a stately fountain of fair
alabaster. Upon the top thereof stood the three Graces, with their
cornucopias, or horns of abundance, and did jet out the water at their
breasts, mouth, ears, eyes, and other open passages of the body. The
inside of the buildings in this lower court stood upon great pillars of
chalcedony stone and porphyry marble made archways after a goodly antique
fashion. Within those were spacious galleries, long and large, adorned
with curious pictures, the horns of bucks and unicorns: with rhinoceroses,
water-horses called hippopotames, the teeth and tusks of elephants, and
other things well worth the beholding. The lodging of the ladies, for so
we may call those gallant women, took up all from the tower Arctic unto the
gate Mesembrine. The men possessed the rest. Before the said lodging of
the ladies, that they might have their recreation, between the two first
towers, on the outside, were placed the tiltyard, the barriers or lists for
tournaments, the hippodrome or riding-court, the theatre or public
playhouse, and natatory or place to swim in, with most admirable baths in
three stages, situated above one another, well furnished with all necessary
accommodation, and store of myrtle-water. By the river-side was the fair
garden of pleasure, and in the midst of that the glorious labyrinth.
Between the two other towers were the courts for the tennis and the
balloon. Towards the tower Criere stood the orchard full of all
fruit-trees, set and ranged in a quincuncial order. At the end of that was
the great park, abounding with all sort of venison. Betwixt the third
couple of towers were the butts and marks for shooting with a snapwork gun,
an ordinary bow for common archery, or with a crossbow. The office-houses
were without the tower Hesperia, of one storey high. The stables were
beyond the offices, and before them stood the falconry, managed by
ostrich-keepers and falconers very expert in the art, and it was yearly
supplied and furnished by the Candians, Venetians, Sarmates, now called
Muscoviters, with all sorts of most excellent hawks, eagles, gerfalcons,
goshawks, sacres, lanners, falcons, sparrowhawks, marlins, and other kinds
of them, so gentle and perfectly well manned, that, flying of themselves
sometimes from the castle for their own disport, they would not fail to
catch whatever they encountered. The venery, where the beagles and hounds
were kept, was a little farther off, drawing towards the park.

All the halls, chambers, and closets or cabinets were richly hung with
tapestry and hangings of divers sorts, according to the variety of the
seasons of the year. All the pavements and floors were covered with green
cloth. The beds were all embroidered. In every back-chamber or
withdrawing-room there was a looking-glass of pure crystal set in a frame
of fine gold, garnished all about with pearls, and was of such greatness
that it would represent to the full the whole lineaments and proportion of
the person that stood before it. At the going out of the halls which
belong to the ladies' lodgings were the perfumers and trimmers through
whose hands the gallants passed when they were to visit the ladies. Those
sweet artificers did every morning furnish the ladies' chambers with the
spirit of roses, orange-flower-water, and angelica; and to each of them
gave a little precious casket vapouring forth the most odoriferous
exhalations of the choicest aromatical scents.

Chapter 1.LVI.

How the men and women of the religious order of Theleme were apparelled.

The ladies at the foundation of this order were apparelled after their own
pleasure and liking; but, since that of their own accord and free will they
have reformed themselves, their accoutrement is in manner as followeth.
They wore stockings of scarlet crimson, or ingrained purple dye, which
reached just three inches above the knee, having a list beautified with
exquisite embroideries and rare incisions of the cutter's art. Their
garters were of the colour of their bracelets, and circled the knee a
little both over and under. Their shoes, pumps, and slippers were either
of red, violet, or crimson-velvet, pinked and jagged like lobster waddles.

Next to their smock they put on the pretty kirtle or vasquin of pure silk
camlet: above that went the taffety or tabby farthingale, of white, red,
tawny, grey, or of any other colour. Above this taffety petticoat they had
another of cloth of tissue or brocade, embroidered with fine gold and
interlaced with needlework, or as they thought good, and according to the
temperature and disposition of the weather had their upper coats of satin,
damask, or velvet, and those either orange, tawny, green, ash-coloured,
blue, yellow, bright red, crimson, or white, and so forth; or had them of
cloth of gold, cloth of silver, or some other choice stuff, enriched with
purl, or embroidered according to the dignity of the festival days and
times wherein they wore them.

Their gowns, being still correspondent to the season, were either of cloth
of gold frizzled with a silver-raised work; of red satin, covered with gold
purl; of tabby, or taffety, white, blue, black, tawny, &c., of silk serge,
silk camlet, velvet, cloth of silver, silver tissue, cloth of gold, gold
wire, figured velvet, or figured satin tinselled and overcast with golden
threads, in divers variously purfled draughts.

In the summer some days instead of gowns they wore light handsome mantles,
made either of the stuff of the aforesaid attire, or like Moresco rugs, of
violet velvet frizzled, with a raised work of gold upon silver purl, or
with a knotted cord-work of gold embroidery, everywhere garnished with
little Indian pearls. They always carried a fair panache, or plume of
feathers, of the colour of their muff, bravely adorned and tricked out with
glistering spangles of gold. In the winter time they had their taffety
gowns of all colours, as above-named, and those lined with the rich
furrings of hind-wolves, or speckled lynxes, black-spotted weasels, martlet
skins of Calabria, sables, and other costly furs of an inestimable value.
Their beads, rings, bracelets, collars, carcanets, and neck-chains were all
of precious stones, such as carbuncles, rubies, baleus, diamonds,
sapphires, emeralds, turquoises, garnets, agates, beryls, and excellent
margarites. Their head-dressing also varied with the season of the year,
according to which they decked themselves. In winter it was of the French
fashion; in the spring, of the Spanish; in summer, of the fashion of
Tuscany, except only upon the holy days and Sundays, at which times they
were accoutred in the French mode, because they accounted it more
honourable and better befitting the garb of a matronal pudicity.

The men were apparelled after their fashion. Their stockings were of
tamine or of cloth serge, of white, black, scarlet, or some other ingrained
colour. Their breeches were of velvet, of the same colour with their
stockings, or very near, embroidered and cut according to their fancy.
Their doublet was of cloth of gold, of cloth of silver, of velvet, satin,
damask, taffeties, &c., of the same colours, cut, embroidered, and suitably
trimmed up in perfection. The points were of silk of the same colours; the
tags were of gold well enamelled. Their coats and jerkins were of cloth of
gold, cloth of silver, gold, tissue or velvet embroidered, as they thought
fit. Their gowns were every whit as costly as those of the ladies. Their
girdles were of silks, of the colour of their doublets. Every one had a
gallant sword by his side, the hilt and handle whereof were gilt, and the
scabbard of velvet, of the colour of his breeches, with a chape of gold,
and pure goldsmith's work. The dagger was of the same. Their caps or
bonnets were of black velvet, adorned with jewels and buttons of gold.
Upon that they wore a white plume, most prettily and minion-like parted by
so many rows of gold spangles, at the end whereof hung dangling in a more
sparkling resplendency fair rubies, emeralds, diamonds, &c., but there was
such a sympathy betwixt the gallants and the ladies, that every day they
were apparelled in the same livery. And that they might not miss, there
were certain gentlemen appointed to tell the youths every morning what
vestments the ladies would on that day wear: for all was done according to
the pleasure of the ladies. In these so handsome clothes, and habiliments
so rich, think not that either one or other of either sex did waste any
time at all; for the masters of the wardrobes had all their raiments and
apparel so ready for every morning, and the chamber-ladies so well skilled,
that in a trice they would be dressed and completely in their clothes from
head to foot. And to have those accoutrements with the more conveniency,
there was about the wood of Theleme a row of houses of the extent of half a
league, very neat and cleanly, wherein dwelt the goldsmiths, lapidaries,
jewellers, embroiderers, tailors, gold-drawers, velvet-weavers,
tapestry-makers and upholsterers, who wrought there every one in his own
trade, and all for the aforesaid jolly friars and nuns of the new stamp.
They were furnished with matter and stuff from the hands of the Lord
Nausiclete, who every year brought them seven ships from the Perlas and
Cannibal Islands, laden with ingots of gold, with raw silk, with pearls and
precious stones. And if any margarites, called unions, began to grow old and
lose somewhat of their natural whiteness and lustre, those with their art
they did renew by tendering them to eat to some pretty cocks, as they use to
give casting unto hawks.

Chapter 1.LVII.

How the Thelemites were governed, and of their manner of living.

All their life was spent not in laws, statutes, or rules, but according to
their own free will and pleasure. They rose out of their beds when they
thought good; they did eat, drink, labour, sleep, when they had a mind to
it and were disposed for it. None did awake them, none did offer to
constrain them to eat, drink, nor to do any other thing; for so had
Gargantua established it. In all their rule and strictest tie of their
order there was but this one clause to be observed,

Do What Thou Wilt;

because men that are free, well-born, well-bred, and conversant in honest
companies, have naturally an instinct and spur that prompteth them unto
virtuous actions, and withdraws them from vice, which is called honour.
Those same men, when by base subjection and constraint they are brought
under and kept down, turn aside from that noble disposition by which they
formerly were inclined to virtue, to shake off and break that bond of
servitude wherein they are so tyrannously enslaved; for it is agreeable
with the nature of man to long after things forbidden and to desire what is
denied us.

By this liberty they entered into a very laudable emulation to do all of
them what they saw did please one. If any of the gallants or ladies should
say, Let us drink, they would all drink. If any one of them said, Let us
play, they all played. If one said, Let us go a-walking into the fields
they went all. If it were to go a-hawking or a-hunting, the ladies mounted
upon dainty well-paced nags, seated in a stately palfrey saddle, carried on
their lovely fists, miniardly begloved every one of them, either a
sparrowhawk or a laneret or a marlin, and the young gallants carried the
other kinds of hawks. So nobly were they taught, that there was neither he
nor she amongst them but could read, write, sing, play upon several musical
instruments, speak five or six several languages, and compose in them all
very quaintly, both in verse and prose. Never were seen so valiant
knights, so noble and worthy, so dexterous and skilful both on foot and
a-horse-back, more brisk and lively, more nimble and quick, or better
handling all manner of weapons than were there. Never were seen ladies so
proper and handsome, so miniard and dainty, less froward, or more ready
with their hand and with their needle in every honest and free action
belonging to that sex, than were there. For this reason, when the time
came that any man of the said abbey, either at the request of his parents,
or for some other cause, had a mind to go out of it, he carried along with
him one of the ladies, namely, her whom he had before that chosen for his
mistress, and (they) were married together. And if they had formerly in
Theleme lived in good devotion and amity, they did continue therein and
increase it to a greater height in their state of matrimony; and did
entertain that mutual love till the very last day of their life, in no less
vigour and fervency than at the very day of their wedding. Here must not I
forget to set down unto you a riddle which was found under the ground as
they were laying the foundation of the abbey, engraven in a copper plate,
and it was thus as followeth.

Chapter 1.LVIII.

A prophetical Riddle.

Poor mortals, who wait for a happy day,
Cheer up your hearts, and hear what I shall say:
If it be lawful firmly to believe
That the celestial bodies can us give
Wisdom to judge of things that are not yet;
Or if from heaven such wisdom we may get
As may with confidence make us discourse
Of years to come, their destiny and course;
I to my hearers give to understand
That this next winter, though it be at hand,
Yea and before, there shall appear a race
Of men who, loth to sit still in one place,
Shall boldly go before all people's eyes,
Suborning men of divers qualities
To draw them unto covenants and sides,
In such a manner that, whate'er betides,
They'll move you, if you give them ear, no doubt,
With both your friends and kindred to fall out.
They'll make a vassal to gain-stand his lord,
And children their own parents; in a word,
All reverence shall then be banished,
No true respect to other shall be had.
They'll say that every man should have his turn,
Both in his going forth and his return;
And hereupon there shall arise such woes,
Such jarrings, and confused to's and fro's,
That never were in history such coils
Set down as yet, such tumults and garboils.
Then shall you many gallant men see by
Valour stirr'd up, and youthful fervency,
Who, trusting too much in their hopeful time,
Live but a while, and perish in their prime.
Neither shall any, who this course shall run,
Leave off the race which he hath once begun,
Till they the heavens with noise by their contention
Have fill'd, and with their steps the earth's dimension.
Then those shall have no less authority,
That have no faith, than those that will not lie;
For all shall be governed by a rude,
Base, ignorant, and foolish multitude;
The veriest lout of all shall be their judge,
O horrible and dangerous deluge!
Deluge I call it, and that for good reason,
For this shall be omitted in no season;
Nor shall the earth of this foul stir be free,
Till suddenly you in great store shall see
The waters issue out, with whose streams the
Most moderate of all shall moistened be,
And justly too; because they did not spare
The flocks of beasts that innocentest are,
But did their sinews and their bowels take,
Not to the gods a sacrifice to make,
But usually to serve themselves for sport:
And now consider, I do you exhort,
In such commotions so continual,
What rest can take the globe terrestrial?
Most happy then are they, that can it hold,
And use it carefully as precious gold,
By keeping it in gaol, whence it shall have
No help but him who being to it gave.
And to increase his mournful accident,
The sun, before it set in th' occident,
Shall cease to dart upon it any light,
More than in an eclipse, or in the night,--
So that at once its favour shall be gone,
And liberty with it be left alone.
And yet, before it come to ruin thus,
Its quaking shall be as impetuous
As Aetna's was when Titan's sons lay under,
And yield, when lost, a fearful sound like thunder.
Inarime did not more quickly move,
When Typheus did the vast huge hills remove,
And for despite into the sea them threw.
Thus shall it then be lost by ways not few,
And changed suddenly, when those that have it
To other men that after come shall leave it.
Then shall it be high time to cease from this
So long, so great, so tedious exercise;
For the great waters told you now by me,
Will make each think where his retreat shall be;
And yet, before that they be clean disperst,
You may behold in th' air, where nought was erst,
The burning heat of a great flame to rise,
Lick up the water, and the enterprise.
It resteth after those things to declare,
That those shall sit content who chosen are,
With all good things, and with celestial man (ne,)
And richly recompensed every man:
The others at the last all stripp'd shall be,
That after this great work all men may see,
How each shall have his due. This is their lot;
O he is worthy praise that shrinketh not!

No sooner was this enigmatical monument read over, but Gargantua, fetching
a very deep sigh, said unto those that stood by, It is not now only, I
perceive, that people called to the faith of the gospel, and convinced with
the certainty of evangelical truths, are persecuted. But happy is that man
that shall not be scandalized, but shall always continue to the end in
aiming at that mark which God by his dear Son hath set before us, without
being distracted or diverted by his carnal affections and depraved nature.

The monk then said, What do you think in your conscience is meant and
signified by this riddle? What? said Gargantua,--the progress and carrying
on of the divine truth. By St. Goderan, said the monk, that is not my
exposition. It is the style of the prophet Merlin. Make upon it as many
grave allegories and glosses as you will, and dote upon it you and the rest
of the world as long as you please; for my part, I can conceive no other
meaning in it but a description of a set at tennis in dark and obscure
terms. The suborners of men are the makers of matches, which are commonly
friends. After the two chases are made, he that was in the upper end of
the tennis-court goeth out, and the other cometh in. They believe the
first that saith the ball was over or under the line. The waters are the
heats that the players take till they sweat again. The cords of the
rackets are made of the guts of sheep or goats. The globe terrestrial is
the tennis-ball. After playing, when the game is done, they refresh
themselves before a clear fire, and change their shirts; and very willingly
they make all good cheer, but most merrily those that have gained. And so,

End book 1

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