Go, go, said Pantagruel, be bathed and cleaned, calm your fears, put on a clean shift, and then your clothes. What! do you think I am afraid? cried Panurge. Not I, I protest. By the testicles of Hercules, I am more hearty, bold, and stout, though I say it that should not, than if I had swallowed as many flies as are put into plumcakes and other paste at Paris from Midsummer to Christmas. But what’s this? Hah! oh, ho! how the devil came I by this? Do you call this what the cat left in the malt, filth, dirt, dung, dejection, faecal matter, excrement, stercoration, sir-reverence, ordure, second-hand meats, fumets, stronts, scybal, or spyrathe? ’Tis Hibernian saffron, I protest. Hah, hah, hah! ’tis Irish saffron, by Shaint Pautrick, and so much for this time. Selah. Let’s drink.
The Author’s Prologue.
Indefatigable topers, and you, thrice precious martyrs of the smock, give me leave to put a serious question to your worships while you are idly striking your codpieces, and I myself not much better employed. Pray, why is it that people say that men are not such sots nowadays as they were in the days of yore? Sot is an old word that signifies a dunce, dullard, jolthead, gull, wittol, or noddy, one without guts in his brains, whose cockloft is unfurnished, and, in short, a fool. Now would I know whether you would have us understand by this same saying, as indeed you logically may, that formerly men were fools and in this generation are grown wise? How many and what dispositions made them fools? How many and what dispositions were wanting to make ’em wise? Why were they fools? How should they be wise? Pray, how came you to know that men were formerly fools? How did you find that they are now wise? Who the devil made ’em fools? Who a God’s name made ’em wise? Who d’ye think are most, those that loved mankind foolish, or those that love it wise? How long has it been wise? How long otherwise? Whence proceeded the foregoing folly? Whence the following wisdom? Why did the old folly end now, and no later? Why did the modern wisdom begin now, and no sooner? What were we the worse for the former folly? What the better for the succeeding wisdom? How should the ancient folly be come to nothing? How should this same new wisdom be started up and established?
Now answer me, an’t please you. I dare not adjure you in stronger terms, reverend sirs, lest I make your pious fatherly worships in the least uneasy. Come, pluck up a good heart; speak the truth and shame the devil. Be cheery, my lads; and if you are for me, take me off three or five bumpers of the best, while I make a halt at the first part of the sermon; then answer my question. If you are not for me, avaunt! avoid, Satan! For I swear by my great-grandmother’s placket (and that’s a horrid oath), that if you don’t help me to solve that puzzling problem,