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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

François Rabelais (c. 1490–1553)


From “Gargantua and Pantagruel”

’TIS the oddest whimsy in the world to fancy there are stars for kings, popes, and great dons, any more than for the poor and needy. As if, forsooth, some new stars were made since the flood, or since Romulus or Pharamond, at the making somebody king; a thing that Triboulet or Caillette would have been ashamed to have said, and yet they were men of no common learning or fame; and for aught you or I know, this same Triboulet may have been of the kings of Castile’s blood in Noah’s ark, and Caillette of that of King Priam. Now, mark ye me, those odd notions come from nothing in the world but want of faith: I say, the true Catholic faith. Therefore, resting fully satisfied that the stars care not a fig more for kings than for beggars, nor a jot more for your rich, topping fellows than for the most sorry, mangy, lousy rascal, I’ll e’en leave other addle-pated fortune-tellers to speak of the great folks, and I will only talk of the little ones.

And, in the first place, of those who are subject to Saturn; as, for example, such as lack the ready, jealous, or horn-mad, self-tormenting prigs, dreaming fops, crabbed eavesdroppers, raving, doting churls, hatchers and brooders of mischief, suspicious, distrustful slouches, mole-catchers, close-fisted, griping misers, usurers and pawnbrokers, Christian-Jews, pinch-crusts, hold-fasts, michers and penny-fathers; redeemers of dipped, mortgaged, and bleeding copyholds and messuages, fleecers of sheared asses, shoe-makers and translators, tanners, bricklayers, bell-founders, compounders of loans, patchers, clouters, and botchers of old trumpery stuff, and all moping melancholic folks, shall not have this year whatever they’d have; and will think more than once how they may get good store of the king’s pictures into their clutches; in the mean time they’ll hardly throw shoulders of mutton out at the windows, and will often scratch their working noddles where they do not itch.

As for those who are under Jupiter, as canting vermin, bigots, pardon-pedlers, voluminous abbreviators, scribblers of briefs, copyists, pope’s bull-makers, dataries, pettifoggers, Capuchins, monks, hermits, hypocrites, cushion-thumping mountebanks, spiritual comedians, forms of holiness, paternoster faces, wheedling gabblers, wry-necked scoundrels, spoilers of paper, stately gulls, notched, crop-eared mea-cocks, public register’s clerks, wafer-makers, rosary-makers, engrossers of deeds, notaries, grave-bubbles, protecoles, and prompters to speakers, deceitful makers of promises, shall fare according as they have money. So many clergymen will die, that there will not be enough found on whom their benefices may be conferred, so that many will hold two, three, four, or more. The tribe of hypocrites shall lose a good deal of its ancient fame, since the world is grown a rake, and will not be fooled much longer, as Avenzagel saith.

Those who are under Mars, as hangmen, cut-throats, dead-doing fellows, free-booters, hedge-birds, footpads, and highwaymen, catch-poles, bum-bailiffs, beadles and watchmen, reformadoes, tooth-drawers and corn-cutters, pintle-smiths, shavers and frig-beards, butchers, coiners, paltry quacks and mountebanks, renegadoes, apostates and marranized miscreants, incendiaries, chimney-sweepers, boorish cluster-fists, charcoal-men, alchemists, merchants of eel-skins and egg-shells, gridiron and rattle-makers, cooks, paltry pedlers, trash-mongers and spangle-makers, bracelet-makers, lantern-makers and tinkers, this year will do fine things; but some of them will be somewhat subject to be rib-roasted, and have a St. Andrew’s cross scored over their jobbernols at unawares. This year one of those worthy persons will go nigh to be made a field-bishop, and, mounted on a horse that was foaled of an acorn, give the passengers a blessing with his legs.

Those who belong to Sol, as topers, quaffers, whipcans, tosspots, whittled, mellow, cup-shotten swillers, merry Greeks with crimson snouts of their own dyeing; fat, pursy gorbellies, brewers of wine and of beer, bottlers of hay, porters, mowers, menders of tiled, slated, and thatched houses, burden-bearers, patchers, shepherds, ox-keepers, and cow-herds, swine-herds, and hog-drivers, fowlers and bird-catchers, gardeners, barn-keepers, hedgers, common mumpers and vagabonds, day-laborers, scourers of greasy thrum-caps, stuffers and bum-basters of pack-saddles, rag-merchants, idle lusks, and drowsy loiterers, smell-feasts, and snap-gobbets, gentlemen generally wearing shirts with neckbands, or heartily desiring to wear such; all these will be hale and sharp-set, and not troubled with the gout at the grinders, or a stoppage at the gullet, when at a feast on free-cost.

Those whom Venus is said to rule will be famous this year. But when the sun enters Cancer and other signs, let them beware.

As for those who come under Mercury, as sharpers, rooks, cozeners, setters, as sharks, cheats, pickpockets, divers, thieves, millers, night-walkers, masters of arts, decretists, picklocks, deer-stealers, hedge-rimers, composers of serious doggerel meter, merry-andrews, jack-puddings, tumblers, masters in the art of hocus-pocus, legerdemain, and powder of prelinpinpin; such as break Priscian’s head, quibblers and punsters, stationers, paper-makers, card-makers, and pirates, will strive to appear more merry than they’ll often be; sometimes they’ll laugh without any cause, and will be pretty apt to be blown up and march off, if they find themselves better stored with chink than they should be.

Those who belong to Madam Luna, as hawkers of almanacs and pamphlets, huntsmen, ostrich-catchers, falconers, couriers, salt-carriers, lunatics, maggotty fools, crack-brained coxcombs, addle-pated frantic wights, giddy, whimsical foplings, exchange-brokers, post-boys, foot-boys, tennis-courtkeepers’ boys, glass-mongers, light-horse, watermen, mariners, messengers, rakers, and gleaners will not long stay in a place this year. However, so many swag-bellies and puff-bags will hardly go to St. Hiacco as there did in the year 524. Great numbers of pilgrims will come down from the mountains of Savoy and Auvergne, but Sagittarius sorely threatens them with kibed heels.