Gargantua and Pantagruel

Author: François Rabelais

Chapter 3.XLII.

How suits at law are bred at first, and how they come afterwards to their perfect growth.

For this cause, quoth Bridlegoose, going on in his discourse, I temporize and apply myself to the times, as your other worships use to do, waiting patiently for the maturity of the process, full growth and perfection thereof in all its members, to wit, the writings and the bags. Arg. in l. si major. c. commun. divid. et de cons. di. I. c. solemnitates, et ibi gl. A suit in law at its production, birth, and first beginning, seemeth to me, as unto your other worships, shapeless, without form or fashion, incomplete, ugly and imperfect, even as a bear at his first coming into the world hath neither hands, skin, hair, nor head, but is merely an inform, rude, and ill-favoured piece and lump of flesh, and would remain still so, if his dam, out of the abundance of her affection to her hopeful cub, did not with much licking put his members into that figure and shape which nature had provided for those of an arctic and ursinal kind; ut not. Doct. ff. ad l. Aquil. l. 3. in fin. Just so do I see, as your other worships do, processes and suits in law, at their first bringing forth, to be numberless, without shape, deformed, and disfigured, for that then they consist only of one or two writings, or copies of instruments, through which defect they appear unto me, as to your other worships, foul, loathsome, filthy, and misshapen beasts. But when there are heaps of these legiformal papers packed, piled, laid up together, impoked, insatchelled, and put up in bags, then is it that with a good reason we may term that suit, to which, as pieces, parcels, parts, portions, and members thereof, they do pertain and belong, well-formed and fashioned, big-limbed, strongset, and in all and each of its dimensions most completely membered. Because forma dat esse. rei. l. si is qui. ff. ad leg. Falcid. in c. cum dilecta. de rescript. Barbat. consil. 12. lib. 2, and before him, Baldus, in c. ult. extra. de consuet. et l. Julianus ad exhib. ff. et l. quaesitum. ff. de leg. 3. The manner is such as is set down in gl. p. quaest. I. c. Paulus.

Debile principium melior fortuna sequetur.

Like your other worships, also the sergeants, catchpoles, pursuivants, messengers, summoners, apparitors, ushers, door-keepers, pettifoggers, attorneys, proctors, commissioners, justices of the peace, judge delegates, arbitrators, overseers, sequestrators, advocates, inquisitors, jurors, searchers, examiners, notaries, tabellions, scribes, scriveners, clerks, pregnotaries, secondaries, and expedanean judges, de quibus tit. est. l. 3. c., by sucking very much, and that exceeding forcibly, and licking at the purses of the pleading parties, they, to the suits already begot and engendered, form, fashion, and frame head, feet, claws, talons, beaks, bills, teeth, hands, veins, sinews, arteries, muscles, humours, and so forth, through all the similary and dissimilary parts of the whole; which parts, particles, pendicles, and appurtenances are the law pokes and bags, gl. de cons. d. 4. c. accepisti. Qualis vestis erit, talia corda gerit. Hic notandum est, that in this respect the pleaders, litigants, and lawsuitors are happier than the officers, ministers, and administrators of justice. For beatius est dare quam accipere. ff. commun. l. 3. extra. de celebr. Miss. c. cum Marthae. et 24. quaest. I. cap. Od. gl.

Affectum dantis pensat censura tonantis.

Thus becometh the action or process by their care and industry to be of a complete and goodly bulk, well shaped, framed, formed, and fashioned according to the canonical gloss.

Accipe, sume, cape, sunt verba placentia Papae.

Which speech hath been more clearly explained by Albert de Ros, in verbo Roma.

Roma manus rodit, quas rodere non valet, odit.
Dantes custodit, non dantes spernit, et odit.

The reason whereof is thought to be this:

Ad praesens ova cras pullis sunt meliora.

ut est gl. in l. quum hi. ff. de transact. Nor is this all; for the inconvenience of the contrary is set down in gloss. c. de allu. l. fin.

Quum labor in damno est, crescit mortalis egestas.

In confirmation whereof we find that the true etymology and exposition of the word process is purchase, viz. of good store of money to the lawyers, and of many pokes—id est, prou-sacks—to the pleaders, upon which subject we have most celestial quips, gibes, and girds.

Ligitando jura crescunt; litigando jus acquiritur.

Item gl. in cap. illud extrem. de praesumpt. et c. de prob. l. instrum. l. non epistolis. l. non nudis.

Et si non prosunt singula, multa juvant.

Yea but, asked Trinquamelle, how do you proceed, my friend, in criminal causes, the culpable and guilty party being taken and seized upon flagrante crimine? Even as your other worships use to do, answered Bridlegoose. First, I permit the plaintiff to depart from the court, enjoining him not to presume to return thither till he preallably should have taken a good sound and profound sleep, which is to serve for the prime entry and introduction to the legal carrying on of the business. In the next place, a formal report is to be made to me of his having slept. Thirdly, I issue forth a warrant to convene him before me. Fourthly, he is to produce a sufficient and authentic attestation of his having thoroughly and entirely slept, conform to the Gloss. 37. Quest. 7. c. Si quis cum.

Quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus.

Being thus far advanced in the formality of the process, I find that this consopiating act engendereth another act, whence ariseth the articulating of a member. That again produceth a third act, fashionative of another member; which third bringing forth a fourth, procreative of another act. New members in a no fewer number are shapen and framed, one still breeding and begetting another—as, link after link, the coat of mail at length is made—till thus, piece after piece, by little and little, by information upon information, the process be completely well formed and perfect in all his members. Finally, having proceeded this length, I have recourse to my dice, nor is it to be thought that this interruption, respite, or interpellation is by me occasioned without very good reason inducing me thereunto, and a notable experience of a most convincing and irrefragable force.

I remember, on a time, that in the camp at Stockholm there was a certain Gascon named Gratianauld, native of the town of Saint Sever, who having lost all his money at play, and consecutively being very angry thereat—as you know, Pecunia est alter sanguis, ut ait Anto. de Burtio, in c. accedens. 2. extra ut lit. non contest. et Bald. in l. si tuis. c. de opt. leg. per l. advocati. c. de advoc. div. jud. Pecunia est vita hominis et optimus fide-jussor in necessitatibus—did, at his coming forth of the gaming-house, in the presence of the whole company that was there, with a very loud voice speak in his own language these following words: Pao cap de bious hillots, que maux de pipes bous tresbire: ares que de pergudes sont les mires bingt, et quouatre bagnelles, ta pla donnerien pics, trucs, et patacts, Sey degun de bous aulx, qui boille truquar ambe iou a bels embis. Finding that none would make him any answer, he passed from thence to that part of the leaguer where the huff-snuff, honder sponder, swashbuckling High Germans were, to whom he renewed these very terms, provoking them to fight with him; but all the return he had from them to his stout challenge was only, Der Gasconner thut sich ausz mit ein iedem zu schlagen, aber er ist geneigter zu stehlen, darum, liebe frawen, habt sorg zu euerm hauszrath. Finding also that none of that band of Teutonic soldiers offered himself to the combat, he passed to that quarter of the leaguer where the French freebooting adventurers were encamped, and reiterating unto them what he had before repeated to the Dutch warriors, challenged them likewise to fight with him, and therewithal made some pretty little Gasconado frisking gambols to oblige them the more cheerfully and gallantly to cope with him in the lists of a duellizing engagement; but no answer at all was made unto him. Whereupon the Gascon, despairing of meeting with any antagonists, departed from thence, and laying himself down not far from the pavilions of the grand Christian cavalier Crissie, fell fast asleep. When he had thoroughly slept an hour or two, another adventurous and all-hazarding blade of the forlorn hope of the lavishingly wasting gamesters, having also lost all his moneys, sallied forth with sword in his hand, of a firm resolution to fight with the aforesaid Gascon, seeing he had lost as well as he.

Ploratur lachrymis amissa pecunia veris,

saith the Gl. de poenitent. distinct. 3. c. sunt plures. To this effect having made inquiry and search for him throughout the whole camp, and in sequel thereof found him asleep, he said unto him, Up, ho, good fellow, in the name of all the devils of hell, rise up, rise up, get up! I have lost my money as well as thou hast done; let us therefore go fight lustily together, grapple and scuffle it to some purpose. Thou mayest look and see that my tuck is no longer than thy rapier. The Gascon, altogether astonished at his unexpected provocation, without altering his former dialect spoke thus: Cap de Saint Arnault, quau seys to you, qui me rebeillez? Que mau de taberne te gire. Ho Saint Siobe, cap de Gascoigne, ta pla dormy jou, quand aquoest taquain me bingut estee. The venturous roister inviteth him again to the duel, but the Gascon, without condescending to his desire, said only this: He paovret jou tesquinerie ares, que son pla reposat. Vayne un pauque te pausar com jou, peusse truqueren. Thus, in forgetting his loss, he forgot the eagerness which he had to fight. In conclusion, after that the other had likewise slept a little, they, instead of fighting, and possibly killing one another, went jointly to a sutler’s tent, where they drank together very amicably, each upon the pawn of his sword. Thus by a little sleep was pacified the ardent fury of two warlike champions. There, gossip, comes the golden word of John Andr. in cap. ult. de sent. et re. judic. l. sexto.

Sedendo, et dormiendo fit anima prudens.


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Chicago: François Rabelais, "Chapter 3.XLII.," Gargantua and Pantagruel, ed. CM01B10.Txt - 149 Kb, CM01B10.Zip - 56 Kb and trans. Serrano, Mary Jane Christie, D. 1923 in Gargantua and Pantagruel (New York: The Modern Library Publishers, 1918), Original Sources, accessed October 3, 2022,

MLA: Rabelais, François. "Chapter 3.XLII." Gargantua and Pantagruel, edited by CM01B10.Txt - 149 Kb, CM01B10.Zip - 56 Kb, and translated by Serrano, Mary Jane Christie, D. 1923, in Gargantua and Pantagruel, New York, The Modern Library Publishers, 1918, Original Sources. 3 Oct. 2022.

Harvard: Rabelais, F, 'Chapter 3.XLII.' in Gargantua and Pantagruel, ed. and trans. . cited in 1918, Gargantua and Pantagruel, The Modern Library Publishers, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 3 October 2022, from