Thereupon, incontinently, without any further lingering, to the way they all three went, and quickly thereafter—for they made good speed—arriving at the poetical habitation, they found the jolly old man, albeit in the agony of his departure from this world, looking cheerfully, with an open countenance, splendid aspect, and behaviour full of alacrity. After that Panurge had very civilly saluted him, he in a free gift did present him with a gold ring, which he even then put upon the medical finger of his left hand, in the collet or bezel whereof was enchased an Oriental sapphire, very fair and large. Then, in imitation of Socrates, did he make an oblation unto him of a fair white cock, which was no sooner set upon the tester of his bed, than that, with a high raised head and crest, lustily shaking his feather-coat, he crowed stentoriphonically loud. This done, Panurge very courteously required of him that he would vouchsafe to favour him with the grant and report of his sense and judgment touching the future destiny of his intended marriage. For answer hereto, when the honest old man had forthwith commanded pen, paper, and ink to be brought unto him, and that he was at the same call conveniently served with all the three, he wrote these following verses:
Take, or not take her,
Off, or on:
Handy-dandy is your lot.
When her name you write, you blot.
’Tis undone, when all is done,
Ended e’er it was begun:
Hardly gallop, if you trot,
Set not forward when you run,
Nor be single, though alone,
Take, or not take her.
Before you eat, begin to fast;
For what shall be was never past.
Say, unsay, gainsay, save your breath:
Then wish at once her life and death.
Take, or not take her.
These lines he gave out of his own hands unto them, saying unto them, Go, my lads, in peace! the great God of the highest heavens be your guardian and preserver! and do not offer any more to trouble or disquiet me with this or any other business whatsoever. I have this same very day, which is the last both of May and of me, with a greal deal of labour, toil, and difficulty, chased out of my house a rabble of filthy, unclean, and plaguily pestilentious rake-hells, black beasts, dusk, dun, white, ash-coloured, speckled, and a foul vermin of other hues, whose obtrusive importunity would not permit me to die at my own ease; for by fraudulent and deceitful pricklings, ravenous, harpy-like graspings, waspish stingings, and such-like unwelcome approaches, forged in the shop of I know not what kind of insatiabilities, they went about to withdraw and call me out of those sweet thoughts wherein I was already beginning to repose myself and acquiesce in the contemplation and vision, yea, almost in the very touch and taste of the happiness and felicity which the good God hath prepared for his faithful saints and elect in the other life and state of immortality. Turn out of their courses and eschew them, step forth of their ways and do not resemble them; meanwhile, let me be no more troubled by you, but leave me now in silence, I beseech you.