Panurge’s excuse and exposition of the monastic mystery concerning powdered beef.
The Lord save those who see, and do not hear! quoth Panurge. I see you well enough, but know not what it is that you have said. The hunger-starved belly wanteth ears. For lack of victuals, before God, I roar, bray, yell, and fume as in a furious madness. I have performed too hard a task to-day, an extraordinary work indeed. He shall be craftier, and do far greater wonders than ever did Mr. Mush, who shall be able any more this year to bring me on the stage of preparation for a dreaming verdict. Fie! not to sup at all, that is the devil. Pox take that fashion! Come, Friar John, let us go break our fast; for, if I hit on such a round refection in the morning as will serve thoroughly to fill the mill-hopper and hogs-hide of my stomach, and furnish it with meat and drink sufficient, then at a pinch, as in the case of some extreme necessity which presseth, I could make a shift that day to forbear dining. But not to sup! A plague rot that base custom, which is an error offensive to Nature! That lady made the day for exercise, to travel, work, wait on and labour in each his negotiation and employment; and that we may with the more fervency and ardour prosecute our business, she sets before us a clear burning candle, to wit, the sun’s resplendency; and at night, when she begins to take the light from us, she thereby tacitly implies no less than if she would have spoken thus unto us: My lads and lasses, all of you are good and honest folks, you have wrought well to-day, toiled and turmoiled enough,—the night approacheth,—therefore cast off these moiling cares of yours, desist from all your swinking painful labours, and set your minds how to refresh your bodies in the renewing of their vigour with good bread, choice wine, and store of wholesome meats; then may you take some sport and recreation, and after that lie down and rest yourselves, that you may strongly, nimbly, lustily, and with the more alacrity to-morrow attend on your affairs as formerly.
Falconers, in like manner, when they have fed their hawks, will not suffer them to fly on a full gorge, but let them on a perch abide a little, that they may rouse, bait, tower, and soar the better. That good pope who was the first institutor of fasting understood this well enough; for he ordained that our fast should reach but to the hour of noon; all the remainder of that day was at our disposure, freely to eat and feed at any time thereof. In ancient times there were but few that dined, as you would say, some church men, monks and canons; for they have little other occupation. Each day is a festival unto them, who diligently heed the claustral proverb, De missa ad mensam. They do not use to linger and defer their sitting down and placing of themselves at table, only so long as they have a mind in waiting