I made two notable observations at that dinner: the one, that there was not one dish served up, whether of cabrittas, capons, hogs (of which latter there is great plenty in Papimany), pigeons, coneys, leverets, turkeys, or others, without abundance of magistral stuff; the other, that every course, and the fruit also, were served up by unmarried females of the place, tight lasses, I’ll assure you, waggish, fair, good-conditioned, and comely, spruce, and fit for business. They were all clad in fine long white albs, with two girts; their hair interwoven with narrow tape and purple ribbon, stuck with roses, gillyflowers, marjoram, daffadowndillies, thyme, and other sweet flowers.
At every cadence they invited us to drink and bang it about, dropping us neat and genteel courtesies; nor was the sight of them unwelcome to all the company; and as for Friar John, he leered on them sideways, like a cur that steals a capon. When the first course was taken off, the females melodiously sung us an epode in the praise of the sacrosanct decretals; and then the second course being served up, Homenas, joyful and cheery, said to one of the she-butlers, Light here, Clerica. Immediately one of the girls brought him a tall-boy brimful of extravagant wine. He took fast hold of it, and fetching a deep sigh, said to Pantagruel, My lord, and you, my good friends, here’s t’ye, with all my heart; you are all very welcome. When he had tipped that off, and given the tall-boy to the pretty creature, he lifted up his voice and said, O most holy decretals, how good is good wine found through your means! This is the best jest we have had yet, observed Panurge. But it would still be a better, said Pantagruel, if they could turn bad wine into good.
O seraphic Sextum! continued Homenas, how necessary are you not to the salvation of poor mortals! O cherubic Clementinae! how perfectly the perfect institution of a true Christian is contained and described in you! O angelical Extravagantes! how many poor souls that wander up and down in mortal bodies through this vale of misery would perish were it not for you! When, ah! when shall this special gift of grace be bestowed on mankind, as to lay aside all other studies and concerns, to use you, to peruse you, to understand you, to know you by heart, to practise you, to incorporate you, to turn you into blood, and incentre you into the deepest ventricles of their brains, the inmost marrow of their bones, and most intricate labyrinth of their arteries? Then, ah! then, and no sooner than then, nor otherwise than thus, shall the world be happy! While the old man was thus running on, Epistemon rose and softly said to Panurge: For want of a close-stool, I must even leave you for a moment or two; this stuff has unbunged the orifice of my mustard-barrel; but I’ll not tarry long.