Pantagruel sent them by Gymnast in the pinnace seventy-eight thousand fine pretty little gold half-crowns, of those that are marked with a lantern. After this he asked, What’s o’clock? Past nine, answered Epistemon. It is then the best time to go to dinner, said Pantagruel; for the sacred line so celebrated by Aristophanes in his play called Concionatrices is at hand, never failing when the shadow is decempedal.
Formerly, among the Persians, dinner-time was at a set hour only for kings; as for all others, their appetite and their belly was their clock; when that chimed, they thought it time to go to dinner. So we find in Plautus a certain parasite making a heavy do, and sadly railing at the inventors of hour-glasses and dials as being unnecessary things, there being no clock more regular than the belly.
Diogenes being asked at what times a man ought to eat, answered, The rich when he is hungry, the poor when he has anything to eat. Physicians more properly say that the canonical hours are,
To rise at five, to dine at nine,
To sup at five, to sleep at nine.
The famous king Petosiris’s magic was different,—Here the officers for the gut came in, and got ready the tables and cupboards; laid the cloth, whose sight and pleasant smell were very comfortable; and brought plates, napkins, salts, tankards, flagons, tall-boys, ewers, tumblers, cups, goblets, basins, and cisterns.
Friar John, at the head of the stewards, sewers, yeomen of the pantry, and of the mouth, tasters, carvers, cupbearers, and cupboard-keepers, brought four stately pasties, so huge that they put me in mind of the four bastions at Turin. Ods-fish, how manfully did they storm them! What havoc did they make with the long train of dishes that came after them! How bravely did they stand to their pan-puddings, and paid off their dust! How merrily did they soak their noses!