How Panurge Praiseth the Debtors and Borrowers

But, quoth Pantagruel, when will you be out of debt?  At the next ensuing term of the Greek kalends, answered Panurge, when all the world shall be content, and that it be your fate to become your own heir.  The Lord forbid that I should be out of debt, as if, indeed, I could not be trusted.  Who leaves not some leaven over night, will hardly have paste the next morning.

Be still indebted to somebody or other, that there may be somebody always to pray for you, that the giver of all good things may grant unto you a blessed, long, and prosperous life; fearing, if fortune should deal crossly with you, that it might be his chance to come short of being paid by you, he will always speak good of you in every company, ever and anon purchase new creditors unto you; to the end, that through their means you may make a shift by borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, and with other folk’s earth fill up his ditch.

When of old, in the region of the Gauls, by the institution of the Druids, and servants, slaves, and bondmen were burnt quick at the funerals and obsequies of their lords and masters, had not they fear enough, think you, that their lords and masters should die?  For, perforce, they were to die with them for company.  Did not they incessantly send up their supplications to their great god Mercury, as likewise unto Dis, the father of wealth, to lengthen out their days, and to preserve them long in health?  Were not they very careful to entertain them well, punctually to look unto them, and to attend them faithfully and circumspectly?  For by those means were they to live together at least until the hour of death.

Believe me, your creditors with a more fervent devotion will beseech Almighty God to prolong your life, they being of nothing more afraid than that you should die; for that they are more concerned for the sleeve than the arm, and love silver better than their own lives.  As it evidently appeareth by the usurers of Landerousse, who not long since hanged themselves because the price of the corn and wines was fallen by the return of a gracious season.

François Rabelais was a French humanist writer and medical doctor in the age of the Renaissance, who died in Paris on 9 April 1553.  The text above is an excerpt from the Third Book of Gargantua and Pantagruel.  See, also, Bank for International Settlements, “Detailed Tables on Provisional Locational and Consolidated Banking Statistics at End-June 2010” (Basel, October 2010); and Juan Francisco Coloane, “El estilo ‘K’: ‘Los muertos no pagan'” (27 October 2010).

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