Pantagruel, having perused the letter, had a long conference with the esquire Malicorne; insomuch that Panurge, at last interrupting them, asked him, Pray, sir, when do you design to drink? When shall we drink? When shall the worshipful esquire drink? What a devil! have you not talked long enough to drink? It is a good motion, answered Pantagruel: go, get us something ready at the next inn; I think ’tis the Centaur. In the meantime he writ to Gargantua as followeth, to be sent by the aforesaid esquire:
Most gracious Father,—As our senses and animal faculties are more discomposed at the news of events unexpected, though desired (even to an immediate dissolution of the soul from the body), than if those accidents had been foreseen, so the coming of Malicorne hath much surprised and disordered me. For I had no hopes to see any of your servants, or to hear from you, before I had finished our voyage; and contented myself with the dear remembrance of your august majesty, deeply impressed in the hindmost ventricle of my brain, often representing you to my mind.
But since you have made me happy beyond expectation by the perusal of your gracious letter, and the faith I have in your esquire hath revived my spirits by the news of your welfare, I am as it were compelled to do what formerly I did freely, that is, first to praise the blessed Redeemer, who by his divine goodness preserves you in this long enjoyment of perfect health; then to return you eternal thanks for the fervent affection which you have for me your most humble son and unprofitable servant.
Formerly a Roman, named Furnius, said to Augustus, who had received his father into favour, and pardoned him after he had sided with Antony, that by that action the emperor had reduced him to this extremity, that for want of power to be grateful, both while he lived and after it, he should be obliged to be taxed with ingratitude. So I may say, that the excess of your fatherly affection drives me into such a strait, that I shall be forced to live and die ungrateful; unless that crime be redressed by the sentence of the Stoics, who say that there are three parts in a benefit, the one of the giver, the other of the receiver, the third of the remunerator; and that the receiver rewards the giver when he freely receives the benefit and always remembers it; as, on the contrary, that man is most ungrateful who despises and forgets a benefit. Therefore, being overwhelmed with infinite favours, all proceeding from your extreme goodness, and on the other side wholly incapable of making the smallest return, I hope at least to free myself from the imputation of ingratitude, since they can never be blotted out of my mind; and my tongue shall never cease to own that to thank you as I ought transcends my capacity.
As for us, I have this assurance in the Lord’s mercy and help, that the end of our voyage will be answerable to its beginning, and so it will be entirely performed in health and mirth. I will not fail to set down in a journal a full account of our navigation, that at our return you may have an exact relation of the whole.