Графични страници
PDF файл

From the Bed. • That the bed is the best rendezvous of mankind, and the most necessary ornament of a chamber. That soldiers are good antiquaries in keeping the old fashion, for the first bed was the bare ' ground. That a man's pillow is his best counsellor. That Adam lay in state when the heaven was his canopy. That the naked • truth is, Adam and Eve lay without sheets.

Art. VI. The Life and Adventures of LAZARILLO GONSALES, surnamed DE TORMEs. Written by himself. Translated from the original Spanish. In two parts: 12mo. 19th Edition ; London, 1777.

This is one of the amusing histories of Spanish roguery; and, in gratitude for the eutertainment Lazarillo has afforded us, we intend to devote a few pages to him.-It may be thought that we are easily pleased, and if it be so, we are rather disposed to consider it as an advantage than otherwise.—We would rather belong to that class which

“ Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,

Sermons in stones, and good in every thing ;” than be enrolled in the ranks of those critics, who can find a blot in every author's scutcheon, and whose chief pleasure is to be displeased. We would, by our own will, have the critic, were his knowledge as ample and comprehensive as the “casing air,” as pliant and impressible. We think it no proof of a man's wisdom, or of his knowledge, to be niggardly of praise, and, like a certain insect, to pass over that which is good to light upon that which is unsound and worthless. But so it is—

“ The bee and spider, by a diverse power,

Suck honey and poison from the self-same flow'r." While some read for information, many read for amusement, but both objects have the same tendency-the increase of human happiness; and the power of enjoyment is the greatest proof of wisdom. This little work will perhaps be thought by some of a low and trifling nature; but it is the first of a race of comic romances, which have added to the innocent delight of thousands. Indeed, for wit, spirit, and inexhaustible resources, in all emergencies, there is nothing like your Spanish rogue; he is the very pattern of a good knave, the perfection of trickery. Foul weather or fair, it is much the same to him; in winter or summer he is ever blithe and jocund. If his face be as plump and bright as the orange of his own Seville, he is not without its tartness; and if it be as lean and sunken as an apple kept over the spring-time, he can laugh with the season. In fact, he is never out of season; for, if we have a black cloud on

one side of the hill, there is sunshine on the other. He is the true Spanish blade, sharp and well tempered. And then for his plots and shifts, and pleasant adventures, there is no end to them; they are countless. Of all rogues, the Spanish rogue is, after all, the only agreeable companion. A French rogue is nothing to him; and your Jeremy Sharpes and Meriton Latroons are mere dullards in the comparison. The first is but a mechanical sharper, and the others are indecent blackguards. They are bread without saltmere animal matter without soul. We would not, however, for the world, depreciate our old acquaintance, Gil Blas, a book which we cannot leave without regret, whenever we dip into it; but he is, in reality, nothing more nor less than a Spanish rogue. Spain gave him birth, and furnished his adventures. Nor would we say any thing against that pleasantly extravagant book, the “ Comic Romance” of Scarron, which has more of the English cast of humour, than any other work, of the same country, that we are acquainted with. As to those eminent individuals who first figure at Tyburn, and then in the “Newgate Calendar,” there is too much of reality in their deeds; and besides, they present, with the dreadful inadequacy and inequality of their punishments, a too uniformly sanguinary and gloomy picture for us to introduce here. But the Spanish rogue is too light for the gallows—" hemp was not sown for him.” And we escape with gladness from the reflections which were just awakening in our minds, to the more immediate object of this article.—What depth of knowledge and acuteness of observation do the Spanish “ Laves” and “ Adventures" display; and what a fund of wisdom is mingled with their rogueries, as in the Gusman de Alfarache, for instance, the most celebrated of all Lazarillo's successors, and which will form the subject of an article in one of our future numbers. Books of this description have, some how or other, obtained an uncommon degree of popularity; and, judging from the number of editions through which the book before us has passed, it has received its share. For ourselves, we can say, with truth, they have beguiled us of many an hour which would otherwise have been wearisome; and we can still turn from perusing, in the pages of the historian, the graver knaveries of your rich thieves, such as ride on their foot-cloths of velvet, that hang their horses with hangings of tissue and costly arras, and cover the floors of their chambers with gold and silk, and curious Turkey carpets—who live bravely, upheld by their reputation, graced by their power, and favoured by flattery;"*--and divert ourselves with the more ingenious and less fatal tricks of the vulgar hero, who commenced his youthful career by leading a blind beggar. Lazarillo, however, is a low and wretched rogue he has neither the

* Gusman de Alfarache. VOL. II.



genius, or the ambition, to figure in a higher sphere than that in which he was bred-he neither possesses the various and versatile inventions, nor embarks in the intricate and impudent plots, of Gusman, nor meets with the romantic adventures or arrives at the digpity of Gil Blas. In short, Lazarillo is not a professed or finished sharper, but is more the victim of the knavery of others, than a knave himself. Some of the scenes are of a sombre cast, but relieved by the usual quaintness, liveliness, and spirit of enjoyment, of the Spanish writers.-Lazarillo, in his greatest straights, loses not his good humour.

Than his first master, the devil never hatched an archer or cunninger old fellow-be had more prayers by heart, than all the blind meu of Spain—and, for his guide's misfortune, was stingy and avaricious, as he was cunning. Our Lazarillo was half starved to death by him, and obliged to exert his utmost ingenuity to extract a portion of his master's provisions. One of his expedients will be found in the ensuing extract.

At meals, the blind old man used always to keep his wine in an earthen mug, which he set between his legs, from whence I used, as often as I could, to move it slily to my head, and after giving it a hearty kiss, returned it to the place from whence it came. But . my master being as cunning as I was sly, and finding his draughts, 'were shortened, after that, always beld ibe mug by the handle.

• That new precaution proved but a whet to my industry; for by means of a reed, one end of which I pul into the pot,

I used to drink with more satisfaction and conveniency than before ; till the ótraitor, I suppose, bearing me suck, rendered my darling machine useless, by keeping one hand upon the mouth of the can.

Used to wine as I then was, I could more easily have dispensed with my shirt; and that exigency put me upon a fresh invention of making a hole near the bottom of the mug, which, stopping with • a little wax, at dinner-tiine I took the opportunity to tap the can,

and getting my head between the old man's legs, received into my mouth the delicious juice with all the decency imaginable. So that the old man, not knowing to what he should impute the continual leakage of his liquor, used to swear and domineer, wishing both the wine and the pot were at the devil.

• You won't accuse me any more, I hope (cried I,) of drinking · your wine, after all the fine precautions you have taken to prevent sit.-To that he said not a word; but feeling all about the pot, he • at last unluckily discovered the hole, which cunningly dissembling "at that time, he let me alone, till next day at dinner, not dreaming, God knows, of the old man's malicious intention, but getting in between his legs, according to my wonted custom, receiving into my mouth the distilling dew, and pleasing myself with the success of my own ingenuity, my eyes upward, but half shut, the furious


[ocr errors]

tyrant, taking up the sweet but hard pot with both his hands, flung it down again with all his force upon my face; by the vio* lence of which blow, imagining the house had fallen upon my head, • I lay sprawling without any sentiment or judgment, my forehead, 'pose and mouth, gushing out with blood, and the latter full of bro•ken teeth and broken pieces of the can.

• From that time forward, I ever abominated the monstrous old churl, and, in spite of all his flattering stories, could easily observe how my punishment tickled the old rogue's fancy.

• He washed my sores with wine, and with a smile, what sayest thou, (quoth he,) Lazarillo; the thing that hurt thee, now restores thee health ? Courage, my boy !-But all bis raillery could not 'make me change my mind.'

The portraiture of the Squire, his third master, is an admirable full length of a Spanish hidalgo, with no other inheritance than bis name and a sword-of pride truckling to a neat's foot. Indeed, it is so complete and finished, that we shall give nearly the whole of it. Hogarth never struck off a more felicitous picture, and we think it partakes of his manner in some of his pieces.

In other hands it would bave been purely gloomy and miserable; but here the abstract wretchedness is so redeemed and relieved by the spirit of the author, that we fancy it a positive enjoyment. "Dost thou want a master, boy ?" said the 'Squire, a grave and stately person, “Yes, sir,” answered Lazarillo; “Then follow me,” said the 'Squire, “and surely thou hast said some very efficacious prayer this morning, or art a particular favourite of heaven, since 'tis thy fortune to fall in my way.”—Lazarillo blessed his stars and followed. ****

[He gets nothing lo eat for the whole day, except some pieces of bread which he had in his own pocket.]

The next day, the 'squire leaves home to take his usual rounds. Lazarillo waits in vain for his return until two o'clock, till he is, at last, driven, in order to satisfy the yearning of an empty stomach, to walk forth and solicit the charity of well-disposed persons.

• After this manner I went from door to door, demanding a mor• sel of bread, with my hands joined, my eyes looking up to heaven, "and the names of all the saints in my mouth, and was always sure "to stop at the houses of best appearance. I had suck'd in all the

niceties and secrets of my profession like my mother's milk, in the service of my blind master, and so effectually did I exert my fa"culties on that occasion, that before four o'clock, though the sea• son was then very bad, and charity as cold, I had four pounds of 'good bread in my belly, and at least two pounds in my pockets. 'In my way home, going through the market, a butcher-woman 'gave me a piece of an ox foot and some boiled tripe. The poor • 'squire was got home before me, and having already laid aside bis 'cloak, was walking at a great rate in the yard. He made up to

me when I came in, as I thought with a design to chide me for

staying so long; but God had made him of a more peaceable temper : his business was only to ask me where I had been. I told him, that having stood it out till two o'clock, and not seeing him come home, I had been to the city to recommend myself to the

charity of well-disposed persons, who had given me the bread and tripe, which I then showed him; and though I could easily observe he was rejoiced at the sight, Poor boy, (quoth he,) seeing thou wert so long a coming, I dined alone. Better beg in God's 'pame than steal; only take care, for my honour, that nobody know

thou art in my service, which 'tis very easy for thee to do, since I ‘am so little known in this town, and wou'd to God I had never seen

it.—- Alas! sir, (said I,) why should you trouble yourself about that? Nobody asks me such questions, and I have no occasion to "talk to any body of it.-Well, poor Lazarillo, (quoth he,) eat thy

dinner. We shall be in a better condition, an't please God, in a O little while; though, to tell the truth, this is a most unlucky house;

nothing has prospered with me since I came to it; it must certainly 'be situated under some unhappy planet; there are several such houses, which communicate their unluckiness to those that dwell in them, of which, doubtless, this is one ; but I promise thee, as soon as this month is out, I will bid adieu to it.

· I sat down upon the end of the stone seat, and began to eat, that he might fancy I was fasting; and observed, without seeming to take notice, that his eye was fixed upon my skirt, which was all the plate and table that I had.

• May God pity me as I had compassion on that poor 'squire; daily experience made me sensible of his trouble. I did not know whether I should invite him; for since he had told me he had dined, I thought he would inake a point of honour to refuse to eat; but, in short, being very desirous to supply his necessity, as I had . done the day before, and which I was then much better in a cou. dition to do, having already sufficiently stuffed my own guts, it

was not long before an opportunity fairly offered itself; for he taking occasion to come near me in his walks, Lazarillo, quoth

he, (as soon as he observed me begin to eat,) I never saw any body • eat so handsomely as thee; a body can scarce see thee fall to work without desiring to bear thee company; let their stomachs be ever so full, or their mouth ever so much out of taste. Faith, thought • I to myself, with such an empty belly as yours, my own mouth • would water at a great deal less.

But finding he was come where I wished him; Sir, (said I, good stuff makes a good workman. This is admirable bread, and here's an ox foot so nicely drest, and so well seasoned, that 'any body would delight to taste of it.

• How! cry'd the 'squire, interrupting me, an ox foot? Yes, sir,

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« ПредишнаНапред »