Gargantua and Pantagruel eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 952 pages of information about Gargantua and Pantagruel.

From the stalk of this Pantagruelian plant there issue forth several large and great branches, whose leaves have thrice as much length as breadth, always green, roughish, and rugged like the orcanet, or Spanish bugloss, hardish, slit round about like unto a sickle, or as the saxifragum, betony, and finally ending as it were in the points of a Macedonian spear, or of such a lancet as surgeons commonly make use of in their phlebotomizing tiltings.  The figure and shape of the leaves thereof is not much different from that of those of the ash-tree, or of agrimony; the herb itself being so like the Eupatorian plant that many skilful herbalists have called it the Domestic Eupator, and the Eupator the Wild Pantagruelion.  These leaves are in equal and parallel distances spread around the stalk by the number in every rank either of five or seven, nature having so highly favoured and cherished this plant that she hath richly adorned it with these two odd, divine, and mysterious numbers.  The smell thereof is somewhat strong, and not very pleasing to nice, tender, and delicate noses.  The seed enclosed therein mounteth up to the very top of its stalk, and a little above it.

This is a numerous herb; for there is no less abundance of it than of any other whatsoever.  Some of these plants are spherical, some rhomboid, and some of an oblong shape, and all of those either black, bright-coloured, or tawny, rude to the touch, and mantled with a quickly-blasted-away coat, yet such a one as is of a delicious taste and savour to all shrill and sweetly-singing birds, such as linnets, goldfinches, larks, canary birds, yellow-hammers, and others of that airy chirping choir; but it would quite extinguish the natural heat and procreative virtue of the semence of any man who would eat much and often of it.  And although that of old amongst the Greeks there was certain kinds of fritters and pancakes, buns and tarts, made thereof, which commonly for a liquorish daintiness were presented on the table after supper to delight the palate and make the wine relish the better; yet is it of a difficult concoction, and offensive to the stomach.  For it engendereth bad and unwholesome blood, and with its exorbitant heat woundeth them with grievous, hurtful, smart, and noisome vapours.  And, as in divers plants and trees there are two sexes, male and female, which is perceptible in laurels, palms, cypresses, oaks, holms, the daffodil, mandrake, fern, the agaric, mushroom, birthwort, turpentine, pennyroyal, peony, rose of the mount, and many other such like, even so in this herb there is a male which beareth no flower at all, yet it is very copious of and abundant in seed.  There is likewise in it a female, which hath great store and plenty of whitish flowers, serviceable to little or no purpose, nor doth it carry in it seed of any worth at all, at least comparable to that of the male.  It hath also a larger leaf, and much softer than that of the male, nor doth it altogether grow to so great a height.  This Pantagruelion is to be sown at the first coming of the swallows, and is to be plucked out of the ground when the grasshoppers begin to be a little hoarse.

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Gargantua and Pantagruel from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.