End of Book II.
THE THIRD BOOK
Francois Rabelais to the Soul of the Deceased Queen of Navarre.
Abstracted soul, ravished with ecstasies,
Gone back, and now familiar in the skies,
Thy former host, thy body, leaving quite,
Which to obey thee always took delight,—
Obsequious, ready,—now from motion free,
Senseless, and as it were in apathy,
Wouldst thou not issue forth for a short space,
From that divine, eternal, heavenly place,
To see the third part, in this earthy cell,
Of the brave acts of good Pantagruel?
The Author’s Prologue.
Good people, most illustrious drinkers, and you, thrice precious gouty gentlemen, did you ever see Diogenes, and cynic philosopher? If you have seen him, you then had your eyes in your head, or I am very much out of my understanding and logical sense. It is a gallant thing to see the clearness of (wine, gold,) the sun. I’ll be judged by the blind born so renowned in the sacred Scriptures, who, having at his choice to ask whatever he would from him who is Almighty, and whose word in an instant is effectually performed, asked nothing else but that he might see. Item, you are not young, which is a competent quality for you to philosophate more than physically in wine, not in vain, and henceforwards to be of the Bacchic Council; to the end that, opining there, you may give your opinion faithfully of the substance, colour, excellent odour, eminency, propriety, faculty, virtue, and effectual dignity of the said blessed and desired liquor.
If you have not seen him, as I am easily induced to believe that you have not, at least you have heard some talk of him. For through the air, and the whole extent of this hemisphere of the heavens, hath his report and fame, even until this present time, remained very memorable and renowned. Then all of you are derived from the Phrygian blood, if I be not deceived. If you have not so many crowns as Midas had, yet have you something, I know not what, of him, which the Persians of old esteemed more of in all their otacusts, and which was more desired by the Emperor Antonine, and gave occasion thereafter to the Basilico at Rohan to be surnamed Goodly Ears. If you have not heard of him, I will presently tell you a story to make your wine relish. Drink then,—so, to the purpose. Hearken now whilst I give you notice, to the end that you may not, like infidels, be by your simplicity abused, that in his time he was a rare philosopher and the cheerfullest of a thousand. If he had some imperfection, so have you, so have we; for there is nothing, but God, that is perfect. Yet so it was, that by Alexander the Great, although he had Aristotle for his instructor and domestic, was he held in such estimation, that he wished, if he had not been Alexander, to have been Diogenes the Sinopian.