Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

with the bowling-green behind it, to live in certain profligate tracts that were published when he liked. The Du Bellays were now in his name. Nor were the papistical dochis chief friends. At Paris, the Cardinal's tors his only critics and antagonists. In the house was his own when he chose ; in Nor- great controversy between Ramus and Galmandy, he visited Martin du Bellay, the lieu- land regarding the merits of Aristotle, the tenant-general of the province; the young- name of Rabelais was frequently and studiest of the brothers, René du Bellay, the ously bandied to and fro. Calvin, too, now Bishop of Mans, was glad at any time to en- “the Pope of Geneva," as the Catholics detertain him; and of the attachment that sub- lighted to call him, and, since Luther's death, sisted between Rabelais and Guillaume du the chief of European protestantism, had Bellay, Lord of Langey, Rabelais himself, thought it his duty to announce his opinion more than once, makes affectionate mention of the character and worth of so conspicu. In 1542, he was present at the death of this ous a contemporary. “Quotquot videmus," highly popular chieftain, who bequeathed to he says in his treatise De Scandalis, pubhim, by his will

, a considerable annual lega- lished in 1550, “ hodie Lucianicos homines, cy. To René du Bellay he was also indebted qui totam Christi religionem subsannant ! for an accession of income in the form of a Alii (ut Rabelæsus, Deperus, et Goveanus), curacy, which he was allowed to manage by gustato Evangelio, eâdem cæcitate sunt pera substitute.

cussi. Cur istud, nisi quia illud vitæ æterIt was not till the year 1546, or ten years næ pignus sacrilegâ ludendi aut ridendi auafter the publication of Gargantua, that the daciá antè profanârant ?" In Calvin's estisecond part of “ The Heroic Deeds and Say- mation, therefore, Rabelais was a man who ings of the Noble Pantagruel” made its ap- had once tasted the gospel, but who, in conpearance. There were circumstances to ac- sequence of bis inveterate habit of jesting count for this delay. The storm of Perse- on sacred things, bad been struck with judicution had by no means yet blown over. Per- cial blindness, and hardened in his old age sonal friends of Rabelais had fallen victims. into a hopeless Lucianist. Here, however, Etienne Dolet had been burnt as a heretic; the reference is clearly to the personal spiritBonaventure des Periers had escaped a like ual condition of Rabelais; Calvin's estimate fate by suicide; Marot was in exile. It was of the secular force of his writings was probfor the Canon of Saint-Maur des Fosses, now ably more favorable. Many Calvinists, inin his sixty-third year, to be as cautious as deed, considered Rabelais one of themselves. possible. Accordingly, when the new book Beza eulogized him. The opinion of Stedid appear, it was under the protection of a phanus is well known. “Though Rabelais special privilege or guarantee of copyright seems,” said he,“ to be one of us, he often from the king; a favor obtained for Rabelais throws stones into our garden.” But the by his influential friends, on the ground that truth is exactly as Calvin perceived it. Rahis previous books had been tampered with belais, from whatever point he may have by the piratical printers. The pseudonym started, had ended at last as a confirmed Luof Alcofribus Nasier was now discarded, cianist-sceptical, epicurean, creedless; haand the real name of the author advertised. bitually a scoffer and preacher of sensualism,

The second part of Pantagruel was quite yet liable, it is clear, to wild, speculative as pungent and audacious as either of its longings of his own, and with a soul capable predecessors; and the doctors of the Sor- by fits of grand poetic flashes. His young bonne were soon prepared to sustain a charge disciples, the Pantagruelists of the court, of atheism and heresy against it. A very("chacun s'est voulu meler de pantagrueliser, simple accident, however, saved the author. says a contemporary gossip,) formulized his The king, interested in the book by the ex- doctrine somewhat too easily, and yet not altraordinary excitement it had created, and together falsely, when they interpreted it to pestered with petitions for leave to put it on mean-Laugh and get drunk. trial, notwithstanding the royal privilege by The third part of “ The Heroic Deeds and which it was protected, resolved to read it Sayings of the noble Pantagruel,constituhimself. He did read it; and after that, Ra- ting the fourth book of the general work, belais was out of all danger. For four or was published in 1552. Rabelais had, in five years, however, (during which time the mean time, paid a third visit, of some Francis I. died, and was succeeded by his length, to Rome, in the train of Cardinal du son, Henry II.,) he had to bear attacks of all Bellay; and had amused himself while there kinds through the press, directed partly by writing letters, issuing some fugitive pubagainst his real writings, and partly against lications, including two almanacs, and casting horoscopes for the Roman ladies. On | tempered—one that is always glad to see his return to France, where the Cardinal de his friends, and a most delightful talker.' Lorraine now held the same position of in- All this we may take on the word of M. fluence under Henry II. that the Cardinal Jacob. Swift, Sterne, and (as good a Pandu Bellay had held under Francis I., he had tagruelist as any of them) Skinner of Aberbeen presented to the curacy of Meudon, deenshire, the author of "Tullochgorum," near Paris, by an arrangement between the must have been just such priests. Nor are two cardinals. A third cardinal, who was the following details less pleasant in their known at this time as an open patron of way. “ Free from any of the infirmities of Rabelais, was the celebrated Odet de Châtil- age, with the exception of a big belly, the lon, then at the height of his power, not- result of good living, he preserved to the withstanding the strong suspicions that were last his love of study. He had a library already entertained of his orthodoxy-sus- consisting of rare and curious books, for he picions that were soon afterward justified by used to buy all bad books, saying they were his declaration that he was a reformer, and sure not to be reprinted; he had also a colby the scandal of his public marriage in his lection of manuscripts. He would cover the cardinal's robe. It was to him that Rabelais margins of the books he read with critical or dedicated his new book; and it was by his explanatory notes, abandoning himself in influence that a prosecution, begun against these notes to the caprices of his imaginait, was quashed, and an order of the Parlia- tion, and to his philosophic doubts." By no ment of Paris, forbidding its sale, canceled. means an ungenial picture of an easy old The circulation of such a book at such a priest in his parsonage! But what are we time was indeed a wonder; for, surpassing to make of the stories of his manner of all its predecessors in audacity, it is through- death ? He died, it appears, not at Meudon, out, with but the thinnest possible veil of al- but at Paris, in a house in the Rue des Jarlegory thrown over it, a merciless onslaught dins, on the 9th of April, 1553, having just on the papal system, in mass and in detail

. completed his seventieth year. “When he Nor do those that had been recently attack- had received extreme unction,” says M. Jaing himself escape. The Ramists and Gal- cob," he observed aloud, that they had landists are made game of in the preface; greased his boots for the great journey." and Calvin is paid off for his allusion in the To this story, which is quoted by Bacon, are “De Scandalis” by a studied passage in one usually added two others—that of his profane of the chapters, where “demoniacal Calvins, pun, “ Beati sunt qui in Domino moriuntur ;' impostors of Geneva," are classed along with and that of his last bequest, “I have noth“superstitious pope-mongers," "gluttonous ing; I owe much ; I leave the rest to the monks,” &c., as all alike the offspring of poor.” Neither story seems in the least deAntiphysis or Anti-Nature.

gree credible. More dismal in itself, and The last two years of the life of Rabelais more difficult to be set aside, is the story of were spent chietly at his parish-cure of Meu- his answer to a page sent by the Cardinal du don. « There,” says M. Jacob," he acquit- Bellay or the Cardinal de Châtillon to inquire ted himself as well as possible of the duties how he was. “Tell Monseigneur,” he said, of bis ministry. He admitted no females in what brave spirits you find me. I go to into his parsonage, careful lest, old as he seek a great Perhaps ; he is in the cockwas, their presence should occasion scandal ; loft, tell him to keep there; as for you, you but he received continual visits from savans will never be anything else than a fool.” and distinguished persons from Paris. He Just before dying, it is added, he gathered occupied himself with the decoration of his his strength for one last burst of laughter, church, and with teaching the children of the saying, when he had ceased, “ Draw the curchoir to sing, and the poor of the parish to tain, the farce is over.” Nay, to crown all, read. People came from far and near to see (and if, with M. Jacob, we accept the other him in his garb of cure, and to hear him stories, it will be but charitable to accept the preach or perform mass. Meudon became a solution,) "The priest that confessed him, favorite resort of the Parisians in their coun- and performed the last offices, spread the try walks ; so that, even a century after the report everywhere that he died drunk.” death of Rabelais, it was a proverbial saying Reading this, it is best to be dumb! in Paris, “Let us go to Meudon; there we Such, as we are able now to represent it, shall see the castle, the terrace, the grottoes, was the history of a man, whom, to omit and M. le Cure, the most pleasant-looking meaner testimonies, Coleridge, whose admirold gentleman in the world, and the best- I ation of him was unbounded, used to rank with Shakespeare, Dante, and Cervantes, as his friend Panurge, accompanied by Friar one of the great creative minds of the world. John, and many other persons, shall proceed The work on which his title to this eminence in a ship to the other end of the world, there rests was composed by him during the last to consult the famous oracle of Bacbuc, or twenty years of his age. Had Rabelais died the Holy Bottle. Finally, in Books Fourth before the

age of fifty, his name would have and Fifth, (Book Fifth was published from been quite unknown.

the MS., after the death of Rabelais,) we of the work itself, considered as a narra- have a narrative of the voyage—how the tive, it is easy to give an outline. In the voyagers conversed and amused themselves First Book, or Gargantua, we are told how while on board ; how they encountered a the great giant, Gargantua, the son of King great storm; how they touched at one place Grangousier and his wife Gargamelle, is born atter another—the land of the Chitterlings, into the world; how he is educated at home; or Sausages; the land of the Papimanes, or how he is sent to Paris to be further instruct- Pope-maniacs ; the land of Gaster, or Lord ed; how there he astonishes the citizens by Belly; the Ringing Island; the Queendom of various exploits, the chief of which is the Quintessence, &c. &c.—what wonders they carrying away of the great bells of Notre saw in each ; and how at last they arrived Dame round his mare's neck; how he is call- safely at their destination, and consulted the ed back from his studies to help his father Bottle. And here the tale abruptly closes. against Picrochole, King of Lerné, who has To give one that does not know the work invaded his paternal territories; how, assist- an idea of the extraordinary mass of misceled by his friends, and especially by a jolly laneous matter that is piled up in it on this and valiant monk, called Friar John des En- almost absurd basis, is impossible. Dissertomeures, or Friar John of the Chopping- tation, dialogue, anecdote, quaint learning, knives, he routs the enemy; and how peace grotesque conception, trenchant sarcasm, the is restored, and Friar John rewarded. In oddest and sharpest wit, the most riotous the next Book, or the First Part of Panta- laughter, the profoundest allegory, the most gruel, we have the early life and actions of abject driveling, the filthiest word-garbage, Prince Pantagruel, the son of the foregoing the most astounding profanity — are here Gargantua, who has now succeeded his fa- mingled, and jumbled into union. The book ther, Grangousier, on the throne; how this is literally unique. There does not exist in prince, who was a giant like his father, was the whole literature of the world any other sent, like him, to Paris to be educated; how, that can be said really to resemble it. What in a curious way, be there fell in with a Jean Paul is in German, Rabelais is in French; strange being, called Panurge, whom he im- and yet the two men are wholly unlike. mediately engaged as his companion, and Dismissing, as irrelevant and absurd, the whom · he loved all his life-time;" how, controversy carried on with such pitiful rewhile he and Panurge are having odd adven- sults by Motteux and others, as to the real tures in Paris, he receives intelligence of the dramatis persona (Louis XII., Francis I., invasion of his father's kingdom by the Dip- Henry II., Cardinal Châtillon, the Cardinal sodes and the giants; and how, thereupon, d'Amboise, &c. &c.) supposed to be reprehe returns, defeats the invaders, and intro- sented under the names, Grangousier, Garduces Panurge to his father, and to all his gantua, Pantagruel, Friar John, Panurge, friends, including, of course, Friar John of &c. &c., and believing nothing more than that the Chopping-knives. In the Third Book, Rabelais designed his work to be, as M. Jacob or Second Part of Pantagruel, we learn how well names it, “a critique of the world,” Pantagruel colonizes Dipsody; how he makes clutching here and there, possibly, at a real Panurge laird of Salmagundin in that coun- bit of fact when it suited his purpose, a juditry, with a noble income; how, nevertheless, cious critic, we imagine, would find it conPanurge gets into debt, and becoming half venient to discuss specially these four things crazy, resolves to marry, if only he can first in respect to Rabelais — his obscenity, his be assured that his matrimonial fortune will humor, his poetic or dramatic power, and his be a happy one; how, in order to obtain this opinions or philosophy. We have space but assurance, he consults one person after an- for a word on each. other—Pantagruel, Friar John, a lawyer, a The obscenity of Rabelais, it has been retheologian, a physician, a witch, a fool, a marked, is something stupendous. "He who philosopher, but all without satisfaction; and has his mind stored,” says a critic, “with how, at last, to put all beyond a doubt, it is the objectionable passages of Swift, Sterne, arranged by Gargantua that Pangruel and Boccaccio, and the Elizabethan dramatists,

[ocr errors]

may fancy that he knows the limit to which making it more accessible than it was. It grossness in writing may extend. But alas! is but fair, however, after all this, to quote, if he has not read Rabelais, his knowledge in regard to this very point, the deliberate in this respect is as nothing; he cannot con- judgment of so high an authority as Coleceive the full strong torrent of undisguised ridge. “I could write,” says Coleridge," a and elaborated filth which rolls through a treatise in praise of the moral elevation of work as bulky as Don Quixote."

Rabelais' work, which would make the All that mass of objects and facts, in church stare and the conventicle groan, and short, that society has agreed to keep nailed yet would be truth and nothing but truth." down under hatches, as suppressed and un- And again (Table Talk, p. 93), “the monameable between cleanly men, is here rality of the work is of the most refined and broken in upon, shoveled out, and exposed exalted kind; as for the manners, to be sure, to the sun. Here, of course, there start up I cannot say as much.” And really, whatthe two apologetic commonplaces—the cus- ever may be the impression made by parts, tom of the age, and the difference between it is with a feeling toward the author very mere coarseness and studiously-seductive different from that of disgust, that one condescription. Both apologies are worth some cludes a continuous perusal of the Panthing; but neither is sufficient. That gentagruel. tlemen and ladies of the age of Francis I. The humor of Rabelais is a subject for read Rabelais and found him “delectable ;” a dissertation rather than a paragraph ; and that the Cardinal du Bellay called his book, the critic in such a case should prepare

his par excellence, “The Book,” and caused a ground by means of whole pages of examgentleman that had not read it to retire from ples. All that we can do here is to quote a his table,—is all very true ; but it is just as specimen or two, to exhibit a frequent verbal true, that in no age whatever could " The form of the Rabelæsian jest. Book” have been written except by a man æsthetically depraved. Again ; that the Panurge's Praise of Indebtedness.-_“God forstyle is not purposely seductive—that it is bid that I should ever be out of debt

. He that not pictures of intellectual Aspasias, or of leaves not some leaven overnight will hardly have

paste the next morning. Be still indebied to Laises rosy from the bath, that Rabelais somebody or other, that there may always be delights to offer, but pictures of dirty Molls somebody to pray for you. * Creditors, and hag-like Sycoraxes—is just as true; but I will maintain it to the very fire, are fair we question is, all things considered, this and goodly creatures ; and whoso lendeth nothing mends the matter. In short, let it be dis is a foul and ugly creature-an imp of the rogue

below. () what a rare and ancient thing are tinctly understood by all heads of house

debts ! holds that Rabelais is not a family author: all my life, I have not esteemed debts to be, as it

* I give myself to Saint Babolin, if, Nor is our English translation a whit purer, were, a connection and colligation of the heavens in this respect, than the original. Begun and the earth—the sole cement of the human lineby Sir Thomas Urquhart, a wit of the reign age (yea, without them all humanity would perish); of Charles II., who, in the execution of his perchance that they are even that great soul of difficult task, ransacked the entire vocabu- the universe which, according to the academicians, lary of the English tongue, besides dipping sent to your calm mind the idea and form of some

vivifies all things. To perceive this, only repreoccasionally into his native Scotch, for ex- world

(iake, if you please, the thirtieth of those pressions tantamount to those of the origi- that the philosopher, Metrodorus, imagined) nal; and continued by Mr. Peter Motteux, wherein there shall be neither debtor nor creditor. a naturalized French Londoner of the begin- A world without debts! Then, among the stars ning of last century, who, after a desultory, there will be no regular course; all will be disorsemi-Jiterary life, was found dead, under der. Jupiter, not considering himself a debtor to suspicious circumstances, in a house of bad Saturn, will depose him from his sphere ; and

&c."-Book iii., chap. 3. fame in St. Clement Danes, on the morning of his fifty-eighth birthday,—this translation - Panurge having fed the fishes with the contents

How Panurge behaved during the Storm.is a perfect marvel for exuberance of foul of his stomach, lay on the deck all huddled up, speech. The most terrible sight on earth, forlorn, jointless, and half dead; invoked all the as the critic quoted above has very truly blessed saints and saintesses to his aid ; vowed said, would be that of a young lady in white he would confess himself in time and place conmuslin opening a volume of Úrquhart's venient; then called out • Steward, my friend, my “Rabelais.” We are not sure, indeed, if Mr. drink too much anon, I fear. Would I were now

father, my uncle, a little salt meat; we shall Bohn has done right in including this work at this very moment safe on shore. O thrice and in his valuable series of reprints, and so four times happy those that plant cabbages! O VOL. XIX. NO. II.

15

*

*

*

die,' *

Fates, why did you not spin me to be a planter neither heaven nor earth! Alas, alas! O that of cabbages ? O how small is the number of at this present hour I were in the close of Seuille, those that Jupiter has been so propritious to, as or at Innocent the pastrycook's, before the public to predestinate them to plant cabbages ! house at Chinon, though I had to put on an apron Murder, this wave will sweep us away. Omy and make pies myself! My honest man-(he friends, a little vinegar! I sweat with sheer speaks to a sailor)--could you throw me ashore ? agony. Bou, bou, bou, bons, bous. It is You can do never so many things, they have inall over with me. Bou, bou, bou, bou. Otto, to, formed me. I will give you all Salmagondin to to, to, ti. Bou, bou, bou, ou, ou, ou, bou, bou, yourself, if by any contrivance you can get me bous, bous, I drown, í sink, I die, good people, i ashore."-Book iv. chapters 18–20.

Friar John perceived him as he was going on the quarter-deck, and said, “What,

Were we required to characterize, in one Panurge the calf-Panurge the weeper-Panurge word, the style, or method, as it may be callthe whiner! Much better for you to help us here than to cry like a calf, sitting on your hams ed, of the peculiar humor of Rabelais, we like a monkey.' • Be, be, be, bous, bous, bous,' should say it consists in abandonment–i. e., answered Panurge, Friar John, my friend, my in unchecked, headlong effusion of everything good father, I drown, I drown, my friend, I that comes into the head. In many passages drown. It is all over with me, my spiritual he reminds us of a rough, uncultivated gedius, father, my friend, it is all over with me. Be, be, scribbling off page after page

of prose fit for be, bous, bous. I drown. O my father, my horses, simply to make his friends laugh. uncle, my all. The water has got into my shoes. There is no erasure, no suppression ; sentence Bous, bous, bous, pash, hu, hu, hu, ha, ha, ha, ha.tumbles after sentence; rubbish is rolled I drown: Alas! alas ! hu, hu, hu. Bebebous, bous, bobous, bobous, bous, alas ! alas! Would upon sense; good things are not picked I were just now with those good holy friars going out and placed in concatenation, but are preto the council, that we met this morning, so sented native as they grew, amid whole beds godly, so fat, so merry, so plump: so happy of weeds. Analyzing this method of humor. Holos, holos, holos, alas, alas, Friar John, my father, my friend, confession. Here I am at your faculties to their own course, psychologists

ous invention by sheer abandonment of the knees ; Confiteor ; your holy blessing.' (Here a volley of oaths at his cowardice from Friar John.) would probably arrive at the conclusion that · Let us not suear,' said Panurge, my father, its extreme efficacy depends on the extraormy friend; not just now, at least. To-morrow, dinary complexity of the associative or sugas much as you please. Holos, holos, alas, our gestive processes it gives rise to. In ordinaship leaks. "I drown, alas ! alas ! I will give ry conversation, in a calm mood, one passes eighteen hundred thousand crowns to any one from thought to thought by very simple bonds that will put me on shore just as I am. Confiteor, one little word of testament, or codicil of association ; in public speaking, again, the at least." (Another burst of wrath from Friar associative links or hooks by which one advanJohn.) 'Alas!'alas!' said Panurge. “Alas! ces from one thought on to its successor, are bou, bou, bous, bous. Alas! alas ! was it here more numerous- -the associations of cadence we were predestined to perish ? Holos, good or rhythm, for example, and those of gesticupeople, I drown, I die. Consummatum est. I lation or muscular movement, not to speak am a dead man.' (Friar John swears again.)

of the high suggestive power of emotional 0, Friar John, my spiritual father, my friend, let us not swear. You sin. Alas, alas ! bebebebous,

warmth, all working in unison with the mere bous, bous ! I drown, I die, my friends! I die logical connection of reason, so as to lead to at peace with all the world! Farewell! In more splendid reaches of invention, and promanus-Bous, bous, bouououous! St. Michael! duce richer effects ; but a higher complicaSt. Nicholas ! now or never ! I here solemnly tion still, and consequently a more marvelous vow, that if you help me this bout-I mean, if power of production, comes into play, in those you a fine, large, little chapel of two, between special moods of either Pythic fervor on the Luande and Moussoreau. Álas, alas! there has

one hand, or voluntary zanyism on the other, gone into my mouth above eighteen bucketfuls or

when the mind loses all control,as it were, over 80! Bous, bous, bous, bous ! How bitter and any part of itself, and drifts along as fate desalt it is !'' (Another shower of curses from Friar crees. Omitting the higher kind of abandonJohn, who threatens to throw him overboard.) ment–Pythic fervor, as we have here named "Oh,' said Panurge, 'you sin, Friar John, my, it that leads to bursts of lofty and earnest former crony! Former, I say, for at present I am not , you are not. It grieves me to tell yon in abundance from our noted humorists, illus

expression, we think we could cull passages 80; for I believe this swearing does your spleen a deal of good, as a wood-cleaver finds great trative of the force, for purely humorous relief in crying

“ hem!” at every blow. Never- effect, of that other variety of the same mentheless, you sin, my sweet friend. Bebe tal condition, that consists in mere zanyism. bebous, bous, bous, bous, bous-1 drown! I see “I would I were a, weaver; I could sing

*

« ZurückWeiter »