But what shall I say of those poor men that are plagued with the pox and the gout? O how often have we seen them, even immediately after they were anointed and thoroughly greased, till their faces did glister like the keyhole of a powdering tub, their teeth dance like the jacks of a pair of little organs or virginals when they are played upon, and that they foamed from their very throats like a boar which the mongrel mastiff-hounds have driven in and overthrown amongst the toils,—what did they then? All their consolation was to have some page of the said jolly book read unto them. And we have seen those who have given themselves to a hundred puncheons of old devils, in case that they did not feel a manifest ease and assuagement of pain at the hearing of the said book read, even when they were kept in a purgatory of torment; no more nor less than women in travail use to find their sorrow abated when the life of St. Margaret is read unto them. Is this nothing? Find me a book in any language, in any faculty or science whatsoever, that hath such virtues, properties, and prerogatives, and I will be content to pay you a quart of tripes. No, my masters, no; it is peerless, incomparable, and not to be matched; and this am I resolved for ever to maintain even unto the fire exclusive. And those that will pertinaciously hold the contrary opinion, let them be accounted abusers, predestinators, impostors, and seducers of the people. It is very true that there are found in some gallant and stately books, worthy of high estimation, certain occult and hid properties; in the number of which are reckoned Whippot, Orlando Furioso, Robert the Devil, Fierabras, William without Fear, Huon of Bordeaux, Monteville, and Matabrune: but they are not comparable to that which we speak of, and the world hath well known by infallible experience the great emolument and utility which it hath received by this Gargantuine Chronicle, for the printers have sold more of them in two months’ time than there will be bought of Bibles in nine years.
I therefore, your humble slave, being very willing to increase your solace and recreation yet a little more, do offer you for a present another book of the same stamp, only that it is a little more reasonable and worthy of credit than the other was. For think not, unless you wilfully will err against your knowledge, that I speak of it as the Jews do of the Law. I was not born under such a planet, neither did it ever befall me to lie, or affirm a thing for true that was not. I speak of it like a lusty frolic onocrotary (Onocratal is a bird not much unlike a swan, which sings like an ass’s braying.), I should say crotenotary (Crotenotaire or notaire crotte, croquenotaire or notaire croque are but allusions in derision of protonotaire, which signifieth a pregnotary.) of the martyrized lovers, and croquenotary of love. Quod vidimus, testamur. It is of the horrible and dreadful feats and prowesses of Pantagruel, whose menial servant I have been ever since I was a page, till this hour that by his leave I am permitted to visit my cow-country, and to know if any of my kindred there be alive.