The hind part of their faces were always uncovered, as are our faces, which made them either go with their belly or the arse foremost, which they pleased. When their hind face went forwards, you would have sworn this had been their natural gait, as well on account of their round shoes as of the double codpiece, and their face behind, which was as bare as the back of my hand, and coarsely daubed over with two eyes and a mouth, such as you see on some Indian nuts. Now, if they offered to waddle along with their bellies forwards, you would have thought they were then playing at blindman’s buff. May I never be hanged if ’twas not a comical sight.
Their way of living was thus: about owl-light they charitably began to boot and spur one another. This being done, the least thing they did was to sleep and snore; and thus sleeping, they had barnacles on the handles of their faces, or spectacles at most.
You may swear we did not a little wonder at this odd fancy; but they satisfied us presently, telling us that the day of judgment is to take mankind napping; therefore, to show they did not refuse to make their personal appearance as fortune’s darlings use to do, they were always thus booted and spurred, ready to mount whenever the trumpet should sound.
At noon, as soon as the clock struck, they used to awake. You must know that their clock-bell, church-bells, and refectory-bells were all made according to the pontial device, that is, quilted with the finest down, and their clappers of fox-tails.
Having then made shift to get up at noon, they pulled off their boots, and those that wanted to speak with a maid, alias piss, pissed; those that wanted to scumber, scumbered; and those that wanted to sneeze, sneezed. But all, whether they would or no (poor gentlemen!), were obliged largely and plentifully to yawn; and this was their first breakfast (O rigorous statute!). Methought ’twas very comical to observe their transactions; for, having laid their boots and spurs on a rack, they went into the cloisters. There they curiously washed their hands and mouths; then sat them down on a long bench, and picked their teeth till the provost gave the signal, whistling through his fingers; then every he stretched out his jaws as much as he could, and they gaped and yawned for about half-an-hour, sometimes more, sometimes less, according as the prior judged the breakfast to be suitable to the day.
After that they went in procession, two banners being carried before them, in one of which was the picture of Virtue, and that of Fortune in the other. The last went before, carried by a semi-quavering friar, at whose heels was another, with the shadow or image of Virtue in one hand and an holy-water sprinkle in the other—I mean of that holy mercurial water which Ovid describes in his Fasti. And as the preceding Semiquaver rang a handbell, this shaked the sprinkle with his fist. With that says Pantagruel, This order contradicts the rule which Tully and the academics prescribed, that Virtue ought to go before, and Fortune follow. But they told us they did as they ought, seeing their design was to breech, lash, and bethwack Fortune.