Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Alchemical Allegory in Rabelais' Fifth Book of Gargantua and Pantagruel
Chapter 5.XVIII.—How our ships were stranded, and we were relieved by some people that were subject to Queen Whims (qui tenoient de la Quinte).
We weighed and set sail with a merry westerly gale. When about seven leagues off (twenty-two miles) some gusts or scuds of wind suddenly arose, and the wind veering and shifting from point to point, was, as they say, like an old woman's breech, at no certainty; so we first got our starboard tacks aboard, and hauled off our lee-sheets. Then the gusts increased, and by fits blowed all at once from several quarters, yet we neither settled nor braided up close our sails, but only let fly the sheets, not to go against the master of the ship's direction; and thus having let go amain, lest we should spend our topsails, or the ship's quick-side should lie in the water and she be overset, we lay by and run adrift; that is, in a landloper's phrase, we temporized it. For he assured us that, as these gusts and whirlwinds would not do us much good, so they could not do us much harm, considering their easiness and pleasant strife, as also the clearness of the sky and calmness of the current. So that we were to observe the philosopher's rule, bear and forbear; that is, trim, or go according to the time.
However, these whirlwinds and gusts lasted so long that we persuaded the master to let us go and lie at trie with our main course; that is, to haul the tack aboard, the sheet close aft, the bowline set up, and the helm tied close aboard; so, after a stormy gale of wind, we broke through the whirlwind. But it was like falling into Scylla to avoid Charybdis (out of the frying-pan into the fire). For we had not sailed a league ere our ships were stranded upon some sands such as are the flats of St. Maixent.
All our company seemed mightily disturbed except Friar John, who was not a jot daunted, and with sweet sugar-plum words comforted now one and then another, giving them hopes of speedy assistance from above, and telling them that he had seen Castor at the main-yardarm. Oh! that I were but now ashore, cried Panurge, that is all I wish for myself at present, and that you who like the sea so well had each man of you two hundred thousand crowns. I would fairly let you set up shop on these sands, and would get a fat calf dressed and a hundred of faggots (i.e. bottles of wine) cooled for you against you come ashore. I freely consent never to mount a wife, so you but set me ashore and mount me on a horse, that I may go home. No matter for a servant, I will be contented to serve myself; I am never better treated than when I am without a man. Faith, old Plautus was in the right on't when he said the more servants the more crosses; for such they are, even supposing they could want what they all have but too much of, a tongue, that most busy, dangerous, and pernicious member of servants. Accordingly, 'twas for their sakes alone that the racks and tortures for confession were invented, though some foreign civilians in our time have drawn alogical and unreasonable consequences from it.
That very moment we spied a sail that made towards us. When it was close by us, we soon knew what was the lading of the ship and who was aboard of her. She was full freighted with drums. I was acquainted with many of the passengers that came in her, who were most of 'em of good families; among the rest Harry Cotiral, an old toast, who had got a swinging ass's touch-tripe (penis) fastened to his waist, as the good women's beads are to their girdle. In his left hand he held an old overgrown greasy foul cap, such as your scald-pated fellows wear, and in the right a huge cabbage-stump.
As soon as he saw me he was overjoyed, and bawled out to me, What cheer, ho? How dost like me now? Behold the true Algamana (this he said showing me the ass's tickle-gizzard). This doctor's cap is my true elixir; and this (continued he, shaking the cabbage-stump in his fist) is lunaria major, you old noddy. I have 'em, old boy, I have 'em; we'll make 'em when thou'rt come back. But pray, father, said I, whence come you? Whither are you bound? What's your lading? Have you smelt the salt deep? To these four questions he answered, From Queen Whims; for Touraine; alchemy; to the very bottom.
Whom have you got o' board? said I. Said he, Astrologers, fortune-tellers, alchemists, rhymers, poets, painters, projectors, mathematicians, watchmakers, sing-songs, musicianers, and the devil and all of others that are subject to Queen Whims (Motteux gives the following footnote:—'La Quinte, This means a fantastic Humour, Maggots, or a foolish Giddiness of Brains; and also, a fifth, or the Proportion of Five in music, &c.'). They have very fair legible patents to show for't, as anybody may see. Panurge had no sooner heard this but he was upon the high-rope, and began to rail at them like mad. What o' devil d'ye mean, cried he, to sit idly here like a pack of loitering sneaksbies, and see us stranded, while you may help us, and tow us off into the current? A plague o' your whims! you can make all things whatsoever, they say, so much as good weather and little children; yet won't make haste to fasten some hawsers and cables, and get us off. I was just coming to set you afloat, quoth Harry Cotiral; by Trismegistus, I'll clear you in a trice. With this he caused 7,532,810 huge drums to be unheaded on one side, and set that open side so that it faced the end of the streamers and pendants; and having fastened them to good tacklings and our ship's head to the stern of theirs, with cables fastened to the bits abaft the manger in the ship's loof, they towed us off ground at one pull so easily and pleasantly that you'd have wondered at it had you been there. For the dub-a-dub rattling of the drums, with the soft noise of the gravel which murmuring disputed us our way, and the merry cheers and huzzas of the sailors, made an harmony almost as good as that of the heavenly bodies when they roll and are whirled round their spheres, which rattling of the celestial wheels Plato said he heard some nights in his sleep.
We scorned to be behindhand with 'em in civility, and gratefully gave 'em store of our sausages and chitterlings, with which we filled their drums; and we were just a-hoisting two-and-sixty hogsheads of wine out of the hold, when two huge whirlpools with great fury made towards their ship, spouting more water than is in the river Vienne (Vigenne) from Chinon to Saumur; to make short, all their drums, all their sails, their concerns, and themselves were soused, and their very hose were watered by the collar.
Panurge was so overjoyed, seeing this, and laughed so heartily, that he was forced to hold his sides, and it set him into a fit of the colic for two hours and more. I had a mind, quoth he, to make the dogs drink, and those honest whirlpools, egad, have saved me that labour and that cost. There's sauce for them; ariston men udor. Water is good, saith a poet; let 'em Pindarize upon't. They never cared for fresh water but to wash their hands or their glasses. This good salt water will stand 'em in good stead for want of sal ammoniac and nitre in Geber's kitchen.
We could not hold any further discourse with 'em; for the former whirlwind hindered our ship from feeling the helm. The pilot advised us henceforwards to let her run adrift and follow the stream, not busying ourselves with anything, but making much of our carcasses. For our only way to arrive safe at the queendom of Whims was to trust to the whirlwind and be led by the current.
Chapter 5.XIX.—How we arrived at the queendom of Whims or Entelechy.
We did as he directed us for about twelve hours, and on the third day the sky seemed to us somewhat clearer, and we happily arrived at the port of Mateotechny, not far distant from Queen Whims, alias the Quintessence.
We met full butt on the quay a great number of guards and other military men that garrisoned the arsenal, and we were somewhat frighted at first because they made us all lay down our arms, and in a haughty manner asked us whence we came.
Cousin, quoth Panurge to him that asked the question, we are of Touraine, and come from France, being ambitious of paying our respects to the Lady Quintessence and visit this famous realm of Entelechy.
What do you say? cried they; do you call it Entelechy or Endelechy? Truly, truly, sweet cousins, quoth Panurge, we are a silly sort of grout-headed lobcocks, an't please you; be so kind as to forgive us if we chance to knock words out of joint. As for anything else, we are downright honest fellows and true hearts.
We have not asked you this question without a cause, said they; for a great number of others who have passed this way from your country of Touraine seemed as mere jolt-headed doddipolls as ever were scored o'er the coxcomb, yet spoke as correct as other folks. But there has been here from other countries a pack of I know not what overweening self-conceited prigs, as moody as so many mules and as stout as any Scotch lairds, and nothing would serve these, forsooth, but they must wilfully wrangle and stand out against us at their coming; and much they got by it after all. Troth, we e'en fitted them and clawed 'em off with a vengeance, for all they looked so big and so grum.
Pray tell me, does your time lie so heavy upon you in your world that you do not know how to bestow it better than in thus impudently talking, disputing, and writing of our sovereign lady? There was much need that your Tully, the consul, should go and leave the care of his commonwealth to busy himself idly about her; and after him your Diogenes Laertius, the biographer, and your Theodorus Gaza, the philosopher, and your Argiropilus, the emperor, and your Bessario, the cardinal, and your Politian, the pedant, and your Budaeus, the judge, and your Lascaris, the ambassador, and the devil and all of those you call lovers of wisdom; whose number, it seems, was not thought great enough already, but lately your Scaliger, Bigot, Chambrier, Francis Fleury, and I cannot tell how many such other junior sneaking fly-blows must take upon 'em to increase it.
A squinsy gripe the cod's-headed changelings at the swallow and eke at the cover-weasel; we shall make 'em—But the deuce take 'em! (They flatter the devil here, and smoothify his name, quoth Panurge, between his teeth.) You don't come here, continued the captain, to uphold 'em in their folly; you have no commission from 'em to this effect; well then, we will talk no more on't.
Aristotle, that first of men and peerless pattern of all philosophy, was our sovereign lady's godfather, and wisely and properly gave her the name of Entelechy. Her true name then is Entelechy, and may he be in tail beshit, and entail a shit-a-bed faculty and nothing else on his family, who dares call her by any other name; for whoever he is, he does her wrong, and is a very impudent person. You are heartily welcome, gentlemen. With this they colled and clipped us about the neck, which was no small comfort to us, I'll assure you.
Panurge then whispered me, Fellow-traveller, quoth he, hast thou not been somewhat afraid this bout? A little, said I. To tell you the truth of it, quoth he, never were the Ephraimites in a greater fear and quandary when the Gileadites killed and drowned them for saying sibboleth instead of shibboleth; and among friends, let me tell you that perhaps there is not a man in the whole country of Beauce but might easily have stopped my bunghole with a cartload of hay.
The captain afterwards took us to the queen's palace, leading us silently with great formality. Pantagruel would have said something to him, but the other, not being able to come up to his height, wished for a ladder or a very long pair of stilts; then said, Patience, if it were our sovereign lady's will, we would be as tall as you; well, we shall when she pleases.
In the first galleries we saw great numbers of sick persons, differently placed according to their maladies. The leprous were apart; those that were poisoned on one side; those that had got the plague on another; those that had the pox in the first rank, and the rest accordingly.
Chapter 5.XX.—How the Quintessence cured the sick with a song.
The captain showed us the queen, attended with her ladies and gentlemen, in the second gallery. She looked young, though she was at least eighteen hundred years old, and was handsome, slender, and as fine as a queen, that is, as hands could make her. He then said to us: It is not yet a fit time to speak to the queen; be you but mindful of her doings in the meanwhile.
You have kings in your world that fantastically pretend to cure some certain diseases, as, for example, scrofula or wens, swelled throats, nicknamed the king's evil, and quartan agues, only with a touch; now our queen cures all manner of diseases without so much as touching the sick, but barely with a song, according to the nature of the distemper. He then showed us a set of organs, and said that when it was touched by her those miraculous cures were performed. The organ was indeed the strangest that ever eyes beheld; for the pipes were of cassia fistula in the cod; the top and cornice of guiacum; the bellows of rhubarb; the pedas of turbith, and the clavier or keys of scammony.
While we were examining this wonderful new make of an organ, the leprous were brought in by her abstractors, spodizators, masticators, pregustics, tabachins, chachanins, neemanins, rabrebans, nercins, rozuins, nebidins, tearins, segamions, perarons, chasinins, sarins, soteins, aboth, enilins, archasdarpenins, mebins, chabourins, and other officers, for whom I want names; so she played 'em I don't know what sort of a tune or song, and they were all immediately cured.
Then those who were poisoned were had in, and she had no sooner given them a song but they began to find a use for their legs, and up they got. Then came on the deaf, the blind, and the dumb, and they too were restored to their lost faculties and senses with the same remedy; which did so strangely amaze us (and not without reason, I think) that down we fell on our faces, remaining prostrate, like men ravished in ecstasy, and were not able to utter one word through the excess of our admiration, till she came, and having touched Pantagruel with a fine fragrant nosegay of white roses which she held in her hand, thus made us recover our senses and get up. Then she made us the following speech in byssin words, such as Parisatis desired should be spoken to her son Cyrus, or at least of crimson alamode:
The probity that scintillizes in the superfices of your persons informs my ratiocinating faculty, in a most stupendous manner, of the radiant virtues latent within the precious caskets and ventricles of your minds. For, contemplating the mellifluous suavity of your thrice discreet reverences, it is impossible not to be persuaded with facility that neither your affections nor your intellects are vitiated with any defect or privation of liberal and exalted sciences. Far from it, all must judge that in you are lodged a cornucopia and encyclopaedia, an unmeasurable profundity of knowledge in the most peregrine and sublime disciplines, so frequently the admiration, and so rarely the concomitants of the imperite vulgar. This gently compels me, who in preceding times indefatigably kept my private affections absolutely subjugated, to condescend to make my application to you in the trivial phrase of the plebeian world, and assure you that you are well, more than most heartily welcome.
I have no hand at making of speeches, quoth Panurge to me privately; prithee, man, make answer to her for us, if thou canst. This would not work with me, however; neither did Pantagruel return a word. So that Queen Whims, or Queen Quintessence (which you please), perceiving that we stood as mute as fishes, said: Your taciturnity speaks you not only disciples of Pythagoras, from whom the venerable antiquity of my progenitors in successive propagation was emaned and derives its original, but also discovers, that through the revolution of many retrograde moons, you have in Egypt pressed the extremities of your fingers with the hard tenants of your mouths, and scalptized your heads with frequent applications of your unguicules. In the school of Pythagoras, taciturnity was the symbol of abstracted and superlative knowledge, and the silence of the Egyptians was agnited as an expressive manner of divine adoration; this caused the pontiffs of Hierapolis to sacrifice to the great deity in silence, impercussively, without any vociferous or obstreperous sound. My design is not to enter into a privation of gratitude towards you, but by a vivacious formality, though matter were to abstract itself from me, excentricate to you my cogitations.
Having spoken this, she only said to her officers, Tabachins, a panacea; and straight they desired us not to take it amiss if the queen did not invite us to dine with her; for she never ate anything at dinner but some categories, jecabots, emnins, dimions, abstractions, harborins, chelemins, second intentions, carradoths, antitheses, metempsychoses, transcendent prolepsies, and such other light food.
Then they took us into a little closet lined through with alarums, where we were treated God knows how. It is said that Jupiter writes whatever is transacted in the world on the dipthera or skin of the Amalthaean goat that suckled him in Crete, which pelt served him instead of a shield against the Titans, whence he was nicknamed Aegiochos. Now, as I hate to drink water, brother topers, I protest it would be impossible to make eighteen goatskins hold the description of all the good meat they brought before us, though it were written in characters as small as those in which were penned Homer's Iliads, which Tully tells us he saw enclosed in a nutshell.
For my part, had I one hundred mouths, as many tongues, a voice of iron, a heart of oak, and lungs of leather, together with the mellifluous abundance of Plato, yet I never could give you a full account of a third part of a second of the whole.
Pantagruel was telling me that he believed the queen had given the symbolic word used among her subjects to denote sovereign good cheer, when she said to her tabachins, A panacea; just as Lucullus used to say, In Apollo, when he designed to give his friends a singular treat; though sometimes they took him at unawares, as, among the rest, Cicero and Hortensius sometimes used to do.
Chapter 5.XXI.—How the Queen passed her time after dinner.
When we had dined, a chachanin led us into the queen's hall, and there we saw how, after dinner, with the ladies and the princes of her court, she used to sift, searce, bolt, range, and pass away time with a fine large white and blue silk sieve. We also perceived how they revived ancient sports, diverting themselves together at—
1. Cordax. 6. Phrygia. 11. Monogas.
2. Emmelia. 7. Thracia. 12. Terminalia.
3. Sicinnia. 8. Calabrisme. 13. Floralia.
4. Jambics. 9. Molossia. 14. Pyrrhice.
5. Persica. 10. Cernophorum. 15. (Nicatism.)
And a thousand other dances.
(Motteux has the following footnote:—'1. A sort of country-dance. 2. A still tragic dance. 3. Dancing and singing used at funerals. 4. Cutting sarcasms and lampoons. 5. The Persian dance. 6. Tunes, whose measure inspired men with a kind of divine fury. 7. The Thracian movement. 8. Smutty verses. 9. A measure to which the Molossi of Epirus danced a certain morrice. 10. A dance with bowls or pots in their hands. 11. A song where one sings alone. 12. Sports at the holidays of the god of bounds. 13. Dancing naked at Flora's holidays. 14. The Trojan dance in armour.')
Afterwards she gave orders that they should show us the apartments and curiosities in her palace. Accordingly we saw there such new, strange, and wonderful things, that I am still ravished in admiration every time I think of't. However, nothing surprised us more than what was done by the gentlemen of her household, abstractors, parazons, nebidins, spodizators, and others, who freely and without the least dissembling told us that the queen their mistress did all impossible things, and cured men of incurable diseases; and they, her officers, used to do the rest.
I saw there a young parazon cure many of the new consumption, I mean the pox, though they were never so peppered. Had it been the rankest Roan ague (Anglice, the Covent-garden gout), 'twas all one to him; touching only their dentiform vertebrae thrice with a piece of a wooden shoe, he made them as wholesome as so many sucking-pigs.
Another did thoroughly cure folks of dropsies, tympanies, ascites, and hyposarcides, striking them on the belly nine times with a Tenedian hatchet, without any solution of the continuum.
Another cured all manner of fevers and agues on the spot, only with hanging a fox-tail on the left side of the patient's girdle.
One removed the toothache only with washing thrice the root of the aching tooth with elder-vinegar, and letting it dry half-an-hour in the sun.
Another the gout, whether hot or cold, natural or accidental, by barely making the gouty person shut his mouth and open his eyes.
I saw another ease nine gentlemen of St. Francis's distemper ('A consumption in the pocket, or want of money; those of St. Francis's order must carry none about 'em.'—Motteux.) in a very short space of time, having clapped a rope about their necks, at the end of which hung a box with ten thousand gold crowns in't.
One with a wonderful engine threw the houses out at the windows, by which means they were purged of all pestilential air.
Another cured all the three kinds of hectics, the tabid, atrophes, and emaciated, without bathing, Tabian milk, dropax, alias depilatory, or other such medicaments, only turning the consumptive for three months into monks; and he assured me that if they did not grow fat and plump in a monastic way of living, they never would be fattened in this world, either by nature or by art.
I saw another surrounded with a crowd of two sorts of women. Some were young, quaint, clever, neat, pretty, juicy, tight, brisk, buxom, proper, kind-hearted, and as right as my leg, to any man's thinking. The rest were old, weather-beaten, over-ridden, toothless, blear-eyed, tough, wrinkled, shrivelled, tawny, mouldy, phthisicky, decrepit hags, beldams, and walking carcasses. We were told that his office was to cast anew those she-pieces of antiquity, and make them such as the pretty creatures whom we saw, who had been made young again that day, recovering at once the beauty, shape, size, and disposition which they enjoyed at sixteen; except their heels, that were now much shorter than in their former youth.
This made them yet more apt to fall backwards whenever any man happened to touch 'em, than they had been before. As for their counterparts, the old mother-scratch-tobies, they most devoutly waited for the blessed hour when the batch that was in the oven was to be drawn, that they might have their turns, and in a mighty haste they were pulling and hauling the man like mad, telling him that 'tis the most grievous and intolerable thing in nature for the tail to be on fire and the head to scare away those who should quench it.
The officer had his hands full, never wanting patients; neither did his place bring him in little, you may swear. Pantagruel asked him whether he could also make old men young again. He said he could not. But the way to make them new men was to get 'em to cohabit with a new-cast female; for this they caught that fifth kind of crinckams, which some call pellade, in Greek, ophiasis, that makes them cast off their old hair and skin, just as the serpents do, and thus their youth is renewed like the Arabian phoenix's. This is the true fountain of youth, for there the old and decrepit become young, active, and lusty.
Just so, as Euripides tells us, Iolaus was transmogrified; and thus Phaon, for whom kind-hearted Sappho run wild, grew young again, for Venus's use; so Tithon by Aurora's means; so Aeson by Medea, and Jason also, who, if you'll believe Pherecides and Simonides, was new-vamped and dyed by that witch; and so were the nurses of jolly Bacchus, and their husbands, as Aeschylus relates.
Chapter 5.XXII.—How Queen Whims' officers were employed; and how the said lady retained us among her abstractors.
I then saw a great number of the queen's officers, who made blackamoors white as fast as hops, just rubbing their bellies with the bottom of a pannier.
Others, with three couples of foxes in one yoke, ploughed a sandy shore, and did not lose their seed.
Others washed burnt tiles, and made them lose their colour.
Others extracted water out of pumice-stones, braying them a good while in a mortar, and changed their substance.
Others sheared asses, and thus got long fleece wool.
Others gathered barberries and figs off of thistles.
Others stroked he-goats by the dugs, and saved their milk in a sieve; and much they got by it.
(Others washed asses' heads without losing their soap.)
Others taught cows to dance, and did not lose their fiddling.
Others pitched nets to catch the wind, and took cock-lobsters in them.
I saw a spodizator, who very artificially got farts out of a dead ass, and sold 'em for fivepence an ell.
Another did putrefy beetles. O the dainty food!
Poor Panurge fairly cast up his accounts, and gave up his halfpenny (i.e. vomited), seeing an archasdarpenin who laid a huge plenty of chamber lye to putrefy in horsedung, mishmashed with abundance of Christian sir-reverence. Pugh, fie upon him, nasty dog! However, he told us that with this sacred distillation he watered kings and princes, and made their sweet lives a fathom or two the longer.
Others built churches to jump over the steeples.
Others set carts before the horses, and began to flay eels at the tail; neither did the eels cry before they were hurt, like those of Melun.
Others out of nothing made great things, and made great things return to nothing.
Others cut fire into steaks with a knife, and drew water with a fish-net.
Others made chalk of cheese, and honey of a dog's t—d.
We saw a knot of others, about a baker's dozen in number, tippling under an arbour. They toped out of jolly bottomless cups four sorts of cool, sparkling, pure, delicious, vine-tree sirup, which went down like mother's milk; and healths and bumpers flew about like lightning. We were told that these true philosophers were fairly multiplying the stars by drinking till the seven were fourteen, as brawny Hercules did with Atlas.
Others made a virtue of necessity, and the best of a bad market, which seemed to me a very good piece of work.
Others made alchemy (i.e. sir-reverence) with their teeth, and clapping their hind retort to the recipient, made scurvy faces, and then squeezed.
Others, in a large grass plot, exactly measured how far the fleas could go at a hop, a step, and jump; and told us that this was exceedingly useful for the ruling of kingdoms, the conduct of armies, and the administration of commonwealths; and that Socrates, who first got philosophy out of heaven, and from idling and trifling made it profitable and of moment, used to spend half his philosophizing time in measuring the leaps of fleas, as Aristophanes the quintessential affirms.
I saw two gibroins by themselves keeping watch on the top of a tower, and we were told they guarded the moon from the wolves.
In a blind corner I met four more very hot at it, and ready to go to loggerheads. I asked what was the cause of the stir and ado, the mighty coil and pother they made. And I heard that for four livelong days those overwise roisters had been at it ding-dong, disputing on three high, more than metaphysical propositions, promising themselves mountains of gold by solving them. The first was concerning a he-ass's shadow; the second, of the smoke of a lantern; and the third of goat's hair, whether it were wool or no. We heard that they did not think it a bit strange that two contradictions in mode, form, figure, and time should be true; though I will warrant the sophists of Paris had rather be unchristened than own so much.
While we were admiring all those men's wonderful doings, the evening star already twinkling, the queen (God bless her!) appeared, attended with her court, and again amazed and dazzled us. She perceived it, and said to us:
What occasions the aberrations of human cogitations through the perplexing labyrinths and abysses of admiration, is not the source of the effects, which sagacious mortals visibly experience to be the consequential result of natural causes. 'Tis the novelty of the experiment which makes impressions on their conceptive, cogitative faculties; that do not previse the facility of the operation adequately, with a subact and sedate intellection, associated with diligent and congruous study. Consequently let all manner of perturbation abdicate the ventricles of your brains, if anyone has invaded them while they were contemplating what is transacted by my domestic ministers. Be spectators and auditors of every particular phenomenon and every individual proposition within the extent of my mansion; satiate yourselves with all that can fall here under the consideration of your visual or auscultating powers, and thus emancipate yourselves from the servitude of crassous ignorance. And that you may be induced to apprehend how sincerely I desire this in consideration of the studious cupidity that so demonstratively emicates at your external organs, from this present particle of time I retain you as my abstractors. Geber, my principal Tabachin, shall register and initiate you at your departing.
We humbly thanked her queenship without saying a word, accepting of the noble office she conferred on us.
Chapter 5.XXIII.—How the Queen was served at dinner, and of her way of eating.
Queen Whims after this said to her gentlemen: The orifice of the ventricle, that ordinary embassador for the alimentation of all members, whether superior or inferior, importunes us to restore, by the apposition of idoneous sustenance, what was dissipated by the internal calidity's action on the radical humidity. Therefore spodizators, gesinins, memains, and parazons, be not culpable of dilatory protractions in the apposition of every re-roborating species, but rather let them pullulate and superabound on the tables. As for you, nobilissim praegustators, and my gentilissim masticators, your frequently experimented industry, internected with perdiligent sedulity and sedulous perdiligence, continually adjuvates you to perficiate all things in so expeditious a manner that there is no necessity of exciting in you a cupidity to consummate them. Therefore I can only suggest to you still to operate as you are assuefacted indefatigably to operate.
Having made this fine speech, she retired for a while with part of her women, and we were told that 'twas to bathe, as the ancients did more commonly than we use nowadays to wash our hands before we eat. The tables were soon placed, the cloth spread, and then the queen sat down. She ate nothing but celestial ambrosia, and drank nothing but divine nectar. As for the lords and ladies that were there, they, as well as we, fared on as rare, costly, and dainty dishes as ever Apicius wot or dreamed of in his life.
When we were as round as hoops, and as full as eggs, with stuffing the gut, an olla podrida ('Some call it an Olio. Rabelais Pot-pourry.'—Motteux.) was set before us to force hunger to come to terms with us, in case it had not granted us a truce; and such a huge vast thing it was that the plate which Pythius Althius gave King Darius would hardly have covered it. The olla consisted of several sorts of pottages, salads, fricassees, saugrenees, cabirotadoes, roast and boiled meat, carbonadoes, swingeing pieces of powdered beef, good old hams, dainty somates, cakes, tarts, a world of curds after the Moorish way, fresh cheese, jellies, and fruit of all sorts. All this seemed to me good and dainty; however, the sight of it made me sigh; for alas! I could not taste a bit on't, so full I had filled my puddings before, and a bellyful is a bellyful you know. Yet I must tell you what I saw that seemed to me odd enough o' conscience; 'twas some pasties in paste; and what should those pasties in paste be, d'ye think, but pasties in pots? At the bottom I perceived store of dice, cards, tarots ('Great cards on which many different things are figured.' —Motteux.), luettes ('Pieces of ivory to play withal.'—Motteux.), chessmen, and chequers, besides full bowls of gold crowns, for those who had a mind to have a game or two and try their chance. Under this I saw a jolly company of mules in stately trappings, with velvet footcloths, and a troop of ambling nags, some for men and some for women; besides I don't know how many litters all lined with velvet, and some coaches of Ferrara make; all this for those who had a mind to take the air.
This did not seem strange to me; but if anything did 'twas certainly the queen's way of eating, and truly 'twas very new, and very odd; for she chewed nothing, the good lady; not but that she had good sound teeth, and her meat required to be masticated, but such was her highness's custom. When her praegustators had tasted the meat, her masticators took it and chewed it most nobly; for their dainty chops and gullets were lined through with crimson satin, with little welts and gold purls, and their teeth were of delicate white ivory. Thus, when they had chewed the meat ready for her highness's maw, they poured it down her throat through a funnel of fine gold, and so on to her craw. For that reason they told us she never visited a close-stool but by proxy.
Chapter 5.XXIV.—How there was a ball in the manner of a tournament, at which Queen Whims was present.
After supper there was a ball in the form of a tilt or a tournament, not only worth seeing, but also never to be forgotten. First, the floor of the hall was covered with a large piece of velveted white and yellow chequered tapestry, each chequer exactly square, and three full spans in breadth.
Then thirty-two young persons came into the hall; sixteen of them arrayed in cloth of gold, and of these eight were young nymphs such as the ancients described Diana's attendants; the other eight were a king, a queen, two wardens of the castle, two knights, and two archers. Those of the other band were clad in cloth of silver.
They posted themselves on the tapestry in the following manner: the kings on the last line on the fourth square; so that the golden king was on a white square, and the silvered king on a yellow square, and each queen by her king; the golden queen on a yellow square, and the silvered queen on a white one: and on each side stood the archers to guide their kings and queens; by the archers the knights, and the wardens by them. In the next row before 'em stood the eight nymphs; and between the two bands of nymphs four rows of squares stood empty.
Each band had its musicians, eight on each side, dressed in its livery; the one with orange-coloured damask, the other with white; and all played on different instruments most melodiously and harmoniously, still varying in time and measure as the figure of the dance required. This seemed to me an admirable thing, considering the numerous diversity of steps, back-steps, bounds, rebounds, jerks, paces, leaps, skips, turns, coupes, hops, leadings, risings, meetings, flights, ambuscadoes, moves, and removes.
I was also at a loss when I strove to comprehend how the dancers could so suddenly know what every different note meant; for they no sooner heard this or that sound but they placed themselves in the place which was denoted by the music, though their motions were all different. For the nymphs that stood in the first file, as if they designed to begin the fight, marched straight forwards to their enemies from square to square, unless it were the first step, at which they were free to move over two steps at once. They alone never fall back (which is not very natural to other nymphs), and if any of them is so lucky as to advance to the opposite king's row, she is immediately crowned queen of her king, and after that moves with the same state and in the same manner as the queen; but till that happens they never strike their enemies but forwards, and obliquely in a diagonal line. However, they make it not their chief business to take their foes; for, if they did, they would leave their queen exposed to the adverse parties, who then might take her.
The kings move and take their enemies on all sides square-ways, and only step from a white square into a yellow one, and vice versa, except at their first step the rank should want other officers than the wardens; for then they can set 'em in their place, and retire by him.
The queens take a greater liberty than any of the rest; for they move backwards and forwards all manner of ways, in a straight line as far as they please, provided the place be not filled with one of her own party, and diagonally also, keeping to the colour on which she stands.
The archers move backwards or forwards, far and near, never changing the colour on which they stand. The knights move and take in a lineal manner, stepping over one square, though a friend or foe stand upon it, posting themselves on the second square to the right or left, from one colour to another, which is very unwelcome to the adverse party, and ought to be carefully observed, for they take at unawares.
The wardens move and take to the right or left, before or behind them, like the kings, and can advance as far as they find places empty; which liberty the kings take not.
The law which both sides observe is, at the end of the fight, to besiege and enclose the king of either party, so that he may not be able to move; and being reduced to that extremity, the battle is over, and he loses the day.
Now, to avoid this, there is none of either sex of each party but is willing to sacrifice his or her life, and they begin to take one another on all sides in time, as soon as the music strikes up. When anyone takes a prisoner, he makes his honours, and striking him gently in the hand, puts him out of the field and combat, and encamps where he stood.
If one of the kings chance to stand where he might be taken, it is not lawful for any of his adversaries that had discovered him to lay hold on him; far from it, they are strictly enjoined humbly to pay him their respects, and give him notice, saying, God preserve you, sir! that his officers may relieve and cover him, or he may remove, if unhappily he could not be relieved. However, he is not to be taken, but greeted with a Good-morrow, the others bending the knee; and thus the tournament uses to end.
Chapter 5.XXV.—How the thirty-two persons at the ball fought.
The two companies having taken their stations, the music struck up, and with a martial sound, which had something of horrid in it, like a point of war, roused and alarmed both parties, who now began to shiver, and then soon were warmed with warlike rage; and having got in readiness to fight desperately, impatient of delay stood waiting for the charge.
Then the music of the silvered band ceased playing, and the instruments of the golden side alone were heard, which denoted that the golden party attacked. Accordingly, a new movement was played for the onset, and we saw the nymph who stood before the queen turn to the left towards her king, as it were to ask leave to fight; and thus saluting her company at the same time, she moved two squares forwards, and saluted the adverse party.
Now the music of the golden brigade ceased playing, and their antagonists began again. I ought to have told you that the nymph who began by saluting her company, had by that formality also given them to understand that they were to fall on. She was saluted by them in the same manner, with a full turn to the left, except the queen, who went aside towards her king to the right; and the same manner of salutation was observed on both sides during the whole ball.
The silvered nymph that stood before her queen likewise moved as soon as the music of her party sounded a charge; her salutations, and those of her side, were to the right, and her queen's to the left. She moved in the second square forwards, and saluted her antagonists, facing the first golden nymph; so that there was not any distance between them, and you would have thought they two had been going to fight; but they only strike sideways.
Their comrades, whether silvered or golden, followed 'em in an intercalary figure, and seemed to skirmish a while, till the golden nymph who had first entered the lists, striking a silvered nymph in the hand on the right, put her out of the field, and set herself in her place. But soon the music playing a new measure, she was struck by a silvered archer, who after that was obliged himself to retire. A silvered knight then sallied out, and the golden queen posted herself before her king.
Then the silvered king, dreading the golden queen's fury, removed to the right, to the place where his warden stood, which seemed to him strong and well guarded.
The two knights on the left, whether golden or silvered, marched up, and on either side took up many nymphs who could not retreat; principally the golden knight, who made this his whole business; but the silvered knight had greater designs, dissembling all along, and even sometimes not taking a nymph when he could have done it, still moving on till he was come up to the main body of the enemies in such a manner that he saluted their king with a God save you, sir!
The whole golden brigade quaked for fear and anger, those words giving notice of their king's danger; not but that they could soon relieve him, but because their king being thus saluted they were to lose their warden on the right wing without any hopes of a recovery. Then the golden king retired to the left, and the silvered knight took the golden warden, which was a mighty loss to that party. However, they resolved to be revenged, and surrounded the knight that he might not escape. He tried to get off, behaving himself with a great deal of gallantry, and his friends did what they could to save him; but at last he fell into the golden queen's hands, and was carried off.
Her forces, not yet satisfied, having lost one of her best men, with more fury than conduct moved about, and did much mischief among their enemies. The silvered party warily dissembled, watching their opportunity to be even with them, and presented one of their nymphs to the golden queen, having laid an ambuscado; so that the nymph being taken, a golden archer had like to have seized the silvered queen. Then the golden knight undertakes to take the silvered king and queen, and says, Good-morrow! Then the silvered archer salutes them, and was taken by a golden nymph, and she herself by a silvered one.
The fight was obstinate and sharp. The wardens left their posts, and advanced to relieve their friends. The battle was doubtful, and victory hovered over both armies. Now the silvered host charge and break through their enemy's ranks as far as the golden king's tent, and now they are beaten back. The golden queen distinguishes herself from the rest by her mighty achievements still more than by her garb and dignity; for at once she takes an archer, and, going sideways, seizes a silvered warden. Which thing the silvered queen perceiving, she came forwards, and, rushing on with equal bravery, takes the last golden warden and some nymphs. The two queens fought a long while hand to hand; now striving to take each other by surprise, then to save themselves, and sometimes to guard their kings. Finally, the golden queen took the silvered queen; but presently after she herself was taken by the silvered archer.
Then the silvered king had only three nymphs, an archer, and a warden left, and the golden only three nymphs and the right knight, which made them fight more slowly and warily than before. The two kings seemed to mourn for the loss of their loving queens, and only studied and endeavoured to get new ones out of all their nymphs to be raised to that dignity, and thus be married to them. This made them excite those brave nymphs to strive to reach the farthest rank, where stood the king of the contrary party, promising them certainly to have them crowned if they could do this. The golden nymphs were beforehand with the others, and out of their number was created a queen, who was dressed in royal robes, and had a crown set on her head. You need not doubt the silvered nymphs made also what haste they could to be queens. One of them was within a step of the coronation place, but there the golden knight lay ready to intercept her, so that she could go no further.
The new golden queen, resolved to show herself valiant and worthy of her advancement to the crown, achieved great feats of arms. But in the meantime the silvered knight takes the golden warden who guarded the camp; and thus there was a new silvered queen, who, like the other, strove to excel in heroic deeds at the beginning of her reign. Thus the fight grew hotter than before. A thousand stratagems, charges, rallyings, retreats, and attacks were tried on both sides; till at last the silvered queen, having by stealth advanced as far as the golden king's tent, cried, God save you, sir! Now none but his new queen could relieve him; so she bravely came and exposed herself to the utmost extremity to deliver him out of it. Then the silvered warden with his queen reduced the golden king to such a stress that, to save himself, he was forced to lose his queen; but the golden king took him at last. However, the rest of the golden party were soon taken; and that king being left alone, the silvered party made him a low bow, crying, Good morrow, sir! which denoted that the silvered king had got the day.
This being heard, the music of both parties loudly proclaimed the victory. And thus the first battle ended to the unspeakable joy of all the spectators.
After this the two brigades took their former stations, and began to tilt a second time, much as they had done before, only the music played somewhat faster than at the first battle, and the motions were altogether different. I saw the golden queen sally out one of the first, with an archer and a knight, as it were angry at the former defeat, and she had like to have fallen upon the silvered king in his tent among his officers; but having been baulked in her attempt, she skirmished briskly, and overthrew so many silvered nymphs and officers that it was a most amazing sight. You would have sworn she had been another Penthesilea; for she behaved herself with as much bravery as that Amazonian queen did at Troy.
But this havoc did not last long; for the silvered party, exasperated by their loss, resolved to perish or stop her progress; and having posted an archer in ambuscado on a distant angle, together with a knight-errant, her highness fell into their hands and was carried out of the field. The rest were soon routed after the taking of their queen, who, without doubt, from that time resolved to be more wary and keep near her king, without venturing so far amidst her enemies unless with more force to defend her. Thus the silvered brigade once more got the victory.
This did not dishearten or deject the golden party; far from it. They soon appeared again in the field to face their enemies; and being posted as before, both the armies seemed more resolute and cheerful than ever. Now the martial concert began, and the music was above a hemiole the quicker, according to the warlike Phrygian mode, such as was invented by Marsyas.
Then our combatants began to wheel about, and charge with such a swiftness that in an instant they made four moves, besides the usual salutations. So that they were continually in action, flying, hovering, jumping, vaulting, curvetting, with petauristical turns and motions, and often intermingled.
Seeing them then turn about on one foot after they had made their honours, we compared them to your tops or gigs, such as boys use to whip about, making them turn round so swiftly that they sleep, as they call it, and motion cannot be perceived, but resembles rest, its contrary; so that if you make a point or mark on some part of one of those gigs, 'twill be perceived not as a point, but a continual line, in a most divine manner, as Cusanus has wisely observed.
While they were thus warmly engaged, we heard continually the claps and episemapsies which those of the two bands reiterated at the taking of their enemies; and this, joined to the variety of their motions and music, would have forced smiles out of the most severe Cato, the never-laughing Crassus, the Athenian man-hater, Timon; nay, even whining Heraclitus, though he abhorred laughing, the action that is most peculiar to man. For who could have forborne? seeing those young warriors, with their nymphs and queens, so briskly and gracefully advance, retire, jump, leap, skip, spring, fly, vault, caper, move to the right, to the left, every way still in time, so swiftly, and yet so dexterously, that they never touched one another but methodically.
As the number of the combatants lessened, the pleasure of the spectators increased; for the stratagems and motions of the remaining forces were more singular. I shall only add that this pleasing entertainment charmed us to such a degree that our minds were ravished with admiration and delight, and the martial harmony moved our souls so powerfully that we easily believed what is said of Ismenias's having excited Alexander to rise from table and run to his arms, with such a warlike melody. At last the golden king remained master of the field; and while we were minding those dances, Queen Whims vanished, so that we saw her no more from that day to this.
Then Geber's michelots conducted us, and we were set down among her abstractors, as her queenship had commanded. After that we returned to the port of Mateotechny, and thence straight aboard our ships; for the wind was fair, and had we not hoisted out of hand, we could hardly have got off in three quarters of a moon in the wane.