8/6/2019 Gautier Under the Table
Under The Table By Thophile Gautier
It might have been two oclock in the morning. The candle, unsnuffed, was guttering. The fire was nearly
My friend Thodore, leaning on the table with a truly bacchic unconcern, was smoking a short black pipe,
nobly blackened, a veritable cutty-pipe, calculated to wake envy in a corporal of the Old Guard.
Now and then he put down his pipe, and gravely lifted his glass over his shoulder, or to the side of his
mouth, or poured out from an empty bottle, or let his full glass fall. In short, our friend Thodore was
And that would not have astonished any one who noted the long line of bottles.
Unless he had thrown their contents out of the window, which was unlikely, he must be mathematically
and logically dead-drunk. There would have been enough to make a drum-major and two bell-ringers tipsy,
and our friend Thodore was alone.
I confess it with a blush, he was alone in spite of the famous adage: He who drinks alone is unworthy to
live an adage religiously followed in every state that pretends to any civilization.
He was alonethat is to say, he seemed to be so; for a deep sigh coming from under the table suddenly
revealed a capsized comrade, and made it easier to explain the formidable array of empty and broken bottles
that loaded the table.
With an expression of ineffable pity, Thodore let fall from above an uncertain, vacant glance on the
shapeless mass moving about in the shadow, and ostentatiously blew out a mouthful of smoke.
Oh, Thodore, your beastly floor is as hard as a womans heart. Give me your hand; I want to get up and
have something to drink; Im thirsty.If you like, Ill give you your glass, replied Thodore, feeling sure that he was too far gone to help his
comrade up. How can a man soak himself like that! Fie, the drunkard! he added, by way of reflection.
Unnatural being, rejoined the voice from below, you wont help me up? Then fix lamps to peoples
heads, so that carriages may not run over them when they fall off the curb because they forgot to water their
wine that day. Ill not be friends with you any more. Ungrateful wretch!
Thodore, moved and softened by that touching remembrance, determined to attempt the dangerous
operation of placing his friend on his chair. But the pious enterprise was not crowned with success. He
made a plunge between the table and the seat and disappeared.
For a few minutes dull, stifled grunting might be heard; for Theodore had fallen on top of his friend, andhe weighed on him more than remorse. However, after immense efforts, they succeeded in getting into a
less uncomfortable position, and quiet was restored.
After a rather long silence
Alas! said Rodrigue.
Whats the matter, my dear fellow? said Thodore, with the characteristic amiability of drunkards.
Im very unhappy.
Is it your sweethearts fault?http://www.tastearts.com/under-the-table-by-theophile-gautier/http://www.tastearts.com/under-the-table-by-theophile-gautier/
8/6/2019 Gautier Under the Table
On the contrary, the poor womans not capable of that. To my sorrow, shes the most virtuous creature
What is virtue, Theodore?
How do I know?
Thats out of Montaigne, and the most sensible thing youve said since youve murdered the language Godgave you. Brutus defined virtue as a name. In fact, if it is a name, never have six letters met together to form
a more insignificant word. Virtue is essentially negative. What is virtue if not to say no to everything that is
pleasant in life, an absurd struggle with natural inclinations and passions, the triumph of hypocrisy and
falsehood over truth. When state were founded on fictions, fictitious virtues were necessary, otherwise they
could not have existed. But in a positive age, under a constitutional monarchy, surrounded by republican
institutions, it is indecent and ill-bred to be virtuous. Only convicts are virtuous. As for virtuous women, the
race is extinct. They are all in the Pere Lachaise or some other cemetery. The epitaphs bear witness to the
But you said just now that your sweetheart was virtuous.
Curse you! when one says that all women are bad, it is always understood that ones mother and ones
sweetheart are excepted. So your remark has not even common sense.
My Aunt Gryselde, interrupted Thodore, was a virtuous woman.
My dear fellow, your father and mother neglected to endow you with brains. Your Aunt Gryselde was
hump-backed, red-haired, gat-toothed, and squint-eyed. She had no temptations.
Youre a materialist, Rodrigue!
Of course; so are all intelligent men. So ought you to be, for its very evident that there exists some
hundred odd pounds of flesh called Thodore; and the existence of his mind is, to say the least of it,
problematical, judging from the idiotic conversation we are indulging in.
It occurs to me, Rodrigue, that we might as well try to get onto our chairs again.
Why? Let us remain on the floor now were there. People should follow our example. The world would
jog along all the better.
So be it, then, rejoined the other. Its more bacchic and more shameless; theres more character about
it. But you commenced by lamenting the virtue of your sweetheart, and it seems that the conversation has
My dear fellow, you have no idea what torture I endure, having never experienced anything of the sort
yourself. Its the most unfortunate thing imaginable to love any one who has no vice. The vices of our
friends and sweethearts attach us to them, because they afford us the means of flattering them, and making
ourselves agreeable to them. You make yourself the slave and purveyor of one of their vices, becomenecessary to them, and thus the most lasting friendships are formed.
The two friends turned their backs on each other and snored loudly.
A month afterward they found themselves under the same table, and had a serious conversation, which
ended by sending all women to the devil!
From that time they got drunk every day, and thought themselves extremely well off.