History of Literature






Alain-René Lesage



"Gil Blas"


 



THE ADVENTURES OF GIL BLAS OF SANTILLANE

 

 

TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH BY TOBIAS SMOLLETT

 

 

 

 

 

 




BOOK THE EIGHTH.


CH. I. -- Gil Blas scrapes an acquaintance of some value, and
finds wherewithal to make him amends for the Count de Galiano's
ingratitude. Don Valerio de Luna's story.

IT seemed so strange to have heard not a syllable from Nunez
during this long interval, that I concluded he must be in the
country. I went to look after him as soon as I could walk, and
found the fact to be, that he had gone into Andalusia three weeks
ago, with the Duke of Medina Sidonia.

One morning when rubbing my eyes after a sound sleep, Melchior de
la Ronda started into my recollection; and that bringing to mind
my promise at Grenada, of going to see his nephew, if ever I
should return to Madrid, it seemed advisable not to defer
fulfilling my promise for a single day. I inquired where Don
Balthazar de Zuniga lived, and went thither straightway. On
asking if Signor Joseph Navarro was at home, he made his
appearance immediately. We exchanged bows with a well-bred
coolness on his part, though I had taken care to announce my name
audibly. There was no reconciling such a frosty reception with
the glowing portrait ascribed to this paragon of the buttery. I
was just going to withdraw in the full determination of not
coming again, when assuming all at once an open and smiling
aspect, he said with considerable earnestness: Ah! Signor Gil
Blas de Santillane, pray forgive the formality of your welcome.
My memory ill seconded the warmth of my disposition towards you.
Your name had escaped me, and was not at the moment identified
with the gentleman, of whom mention was made in a letter from
Grenada more than four months ago.

How happy I am to see you! added he, shaking hands with me most
cordially. My uncle Melchior, whom I love and honour like my
natural father, charges me, if by chance I should have the honour
of seeing you, to entertain you as his own son, and in case of
need, to stretch my own credit and that of my friends to the
utmost in your behalf. He extols the qualities of your heart and
mind in terms sufficient of themselves to engage me in your
service, though his recommendation had not been added to the
other motives. Consider me, therefore, I entreat you, as
participating in all my uncle's sentiments. You may depend on my
friendship; let me hope for an equal share in yours.

I replied to Joseph's polite assurances in suitable terms of
acknowledgment; so that being both of us warm-headed and sincere,
a close intimacy sprung up without waiting for common forms. I
felt no embarassment about laying open the state of my affairs.
This I had no sooner done, than he said: I take upon myself the
care of finding you a situation; meanwhile, there is a knife and
fork for you here every day. You will live rather better than at
an ordinary. This offer was sure to be well relished by an
invalid just recovering with a fastidious palate and an empty
pocket. It could not but be accepted; and I picked up my crumbs
so fast that at the end of a fortnight I began to look like a
rosy-gilled son of the church. It struck me that Melchior's
nephew larded his lean sides to some purpose. But how could it be
otherwise? he had three strings to his bow, as holding the
undermentioned pluralities: the butler's place, the clerkship of
the kitchen, and the stewardship. Furthermore, without meaning to
question my friend's honesty, they do say that the comptroller of
the household and he looked over each other's hands.

My recovery was entirely confirmed, when my friend Joseph, on my
coming in to dinner as usual one day, said with an air of
congratulation: Signor Gil Blas, I have a very tolerable
situation in view for you. You must know that the Duke of Lerma,
first minister of the crown in Spain, giving himself up entirely
to state affairs, throws the burden of his own on two
confidential persons. Don Diego de Monteser takes the charge of
collecting his rents, and Don Rodrigo de Calderona superintends
the finances of his household. These two officers are paramount
in their departments, having nothing to do with one another. Don
Diego has generally two deputies to transact the business; and
finding just now that one of them had been discharged, I have
been canvassing for you. Signor Monteser having the greatest
possible regard for me, granted my request at once, on the
strength of my testimony to your morals and capacity. We will pay
our respects to him after dinner.

We did not miss our appointment. I was received with every mark
of favour, and promoted in the room of the dismissed deputy. My
business consisted in visiting the farms, in giving orders for
the necessary repairs, in dunning the farmers, and keeping them
to time in their payments; in a word, the tenants were all under
my thumb, and Don Diego checked my accounts every month with a
minuteness which few receivers could have borne. But this was
exactly what I wanted. Though my uprightness had been so ill
requited by my late master, it was my only inheritance, and I was
determined not to sell the reversion.

One day news came that the castle of Lerma had taken fire, and
was more than half burnt down. I immediately went thither to
estimate the loss. In forming myself to a nicety, and on the
spot, respecting all the particulars of the unlucky accident, I
drew up a detailed narrative, which Monteser shewed to the Duke
of Lerma. That minister, though vexed at the circumstance, was
struck with the memorial, and inquired who was the author. Don
Diego thought it not enough to answer the question, but spoke of
me in such high terms, that his excellency recollected it six
months afterwards, on occasion of an incident I shall now relate,
had it not been for which I might never, perhaps, have been
employed at court. It was as follows: --

There lived at that time in Princes Street an elderly lady, by
name Inйsilla de Cantarilla. Her birth was a matter of mystery.
Some said she was the daughter of a musical instrument-maker, and
others gave her a high military extraction. However that might
be, she was a very extraordinary personage. Nature had gifted her
with the singular talent of winning men's hearts in defiance of
time, and in contradiction to her own laws; for she was now
entering upon the fourth quarter of her century. She had been the
reigning toast of the old court, and levied tribute on the
passions of the new. Age, though at daggers drawn with beauty,
was completely foiled in its assault upon her charms; they might
be somewhat faded, but the touch of sympathy they excited in
their decline was more pleasing that the vivid glow of their
meridian lustre. An air of dignity, a transporting wit and
humour, an unborrowed grace in her deportment, perpetuated the
reign of passion, and silenced the suggestions of reason.

Don Valerio de Luna, one of the Duke of Lerma's secretaries, a
young fellow of five-and-twenty, meeting with Inйsilla, fell
violently in love with her. He made his sentiments known, enacted
all the mummery of despair, and followed up the usual catastrophe
of every amorous drama so much according to the unities and
rules, that it was difficult, in the very torrent and whirlwind
of his passion, to beget a temperance that might give it
smoothness. The lady, who had her reason for not choosing to fall
in with his humour, was at a loss how to get out of the
difficulty. One day she was in hopes to have found the means by
calling the young man into her closet, and there pointing to a
clock upon the table. Mark the precise hour, said she; just
seventy-five years ago was I brought upon the stage of this
fantastical world. In good earnest, would it sit well upon my
time of life to be engaged in affairs of gallantry? Betake
yourself to reflection, my good child; stifle sentiments so
unsuitable to your own circumstances and mine. Sensible as this
language was, the spark, no longer bowing to the authority of
reason, answered the lady with all the impetuosity of a man
racked by the most excruciating torments: Cruel Inйsilla, why
have you recourse to such frivolous remonstrances? Do you think
they can change your charms or my desires? Delude not yourself
with so false a hope. As long as your loveliness or my delusion
lasts, I shall never cease to adore you. Well, then, rejoined
she, since you are obstinate enough to persist in the resolution
of wearying me with your importunities, my doors shall henceforth
be shut against you. You are banished, and I beg to be no longer
troubled with your company.

It may be supposed, perhaps, that after this, Don Valerio,
baffled, made good his retreat like a prudent general. Quite the
reverse! He became more troublesome than ever. Love is to lovers
just what wine is to drunkards. The swain intreated, sighed,
looked, and sighed again; when all at once, changing his note
from childish treble to the big manly voice of bluster and
ravishment, he swore that he would have by foul means what he
could not obtain by fair. But the lady, repulsing him
courageously, said with a piercing look of strong resentment,
Hold, imprudent wretch! I shall put a curb on your mad career.
Learn that you are my own son.

Don Valerio was thunderstruck at these words; the tempest of his
rage subsided. But, conjecturing that Inesilla had only started
this device to rid herself of his solicitations, he answered,
That is a mere romance of the moment to steal away from my ardent
desires. No, no, said she, interrupting him, I disclose a mystery
which should have been for ever buried, had you not reduced me to
so painful a necessity. It is six-and-twenty years since I was in
love with your father, Don Pedro de Luna, then governor of
Segovia; you were the fruit of our mutual passion: he owned you,
brought you up with care and tenderness, and having no children
born in wedlock, he had nothing to hinder him from distinguishing
your good qualities by the gifts of fortune. On my part, I have
not forsaken you; as soon as you were of an age to be introduced
into the world, I drew you into the circle of my acquaintance, to
form your manners to that polish of good company, so necessary
for a gentleman, which is only to be gained in female society. I
have done more: I have employed all my credit to introduce you to
the prime minister. In short, I have interested myself for you as
I should have done for my own son. After this confession, take
your measures accordingly. If you can purge your affections from
their dross, and look on me as a mother, you are not banished
from my presence, and I shall treat you with my accustomed
tenderness. But if you are not equal to an effort, which nature
and reason demand from you, fly instantly, and release me from
the horror of beholding you.

Inesilla spoke to this effect. Meanwhile Don Valerio preserved a
sudden silence: it might have been interpreted into a virtuous
struggle, a conquest over the weakness of his heart. But his
purposes were far different; he had another scene to act before
his mother. Unable to withstand the total overthrow of all his
wild projects, he basely yielded to despair. Drawing his sword,
he plunged it in his own bosom. His fate resembled that of
Oedipus, with this distinction; that the Theban put out his own
eyes from remorse for the crime he had perpetrated, while the
Castilian, on the contrary, committed suicide from disappointment
at the frustration of his purposes.

The unhappy Don Valerio was not released from his sufferings
immediately. He had leisure left for recollection, and for making
his peace with heaven, be fore he rushed into the presence of his
Maker. As his death vacated one of the secretaryships on the Duke
of Lerma's establishment, that minister, not having forgotten my
memoir on the subject of the fire, nor the high character he had
heard of me, nominated me to succeed to the post in question.


CH. II. -- Gil Blas is introduced to the Duke of Lerma, who
admits him among the number of his secretaries, and requires a
specimen of his talents, with which he is well satisfied.

MONTESER was the person to inform me of this agreeable
circumstance, which he did in the following terms: My friend Gil
Blas, though I do not lose you without regret, I am too much your
well-wisher not to be delighted at your promotion in the room of
Don Valerio. You cannot fail to make a princely fortune, provided
you act upon two hints which I have to give you: the first, to
affect so total a devotion to his excellency's good pleasure, as
to leave no room to conceive it possible that you have any other
object or interest in life -- the second, to pay your court
assiduously to Signor Don Rodrigo de Calderona; for that
personage models and remodels, fashions and touches upon the mind
of his master, just as if it was clay under the hands of the
designer. If you are fortunate enough to chime in with that
favourite secretary, you will travel post to wealth and honour,
and find relays upon the road.

Sir, said I to Don Diego, returning him thanks at the same time
for his good advice, be pleased to give some little opening to
Don Rodrigo's character. I have heard a few anecdotes of him. One
would suppose him, from some accounts, not to be the best
creature in the world; but the people at large are inveterate
caricaturists when they draw courtiers at full length; though,
after all, the likeness will strike, in spite of the aggravation.
Tell me, therefore, I beseech you, what is your own sincere
opinion of Signor Calderona. That is rather an awkward question,
answered my principal with an ironical smile. I should tell any
one but yourself, without flinching, that he was a gentleman of
the strictest honour, upon whose fair fame the breath of calumny
had never dared to blow; but I really cannot put off such a copy
of my countenance upon you. Relying as I do on your discretion,
it becomes a duty to deal candidly in the delineation of Don
Rodrigo; for without that, it would be playing fast and loose
with you to recommend the cultivation of his good-will.

You are to know then, that when his excellency was no more than
plain Don Francisco de Sandoval, this man had the humility to
serve him as his lackey; since which time he has risen by degrees
to the post of principal secretary. A prouder excrescence of the
dunghill never sprung into vegetation on a summer's day. He
considers himself as the Duke of Lerma's colleague; and in point
of fact, he may truly be said to parcel out the loaves and fishes
of administration, since he gives away offices and governments at
the suggestions of his own caprice. The public grumbles and
growls upon occasion; but who cares for the grumbling and
growling of the public? Let him steal a pair of gloves from the
prostitution of political honour, and the bronze upon his
forehead will be proof against the peltings of scandal. What I
have said will decide your dealings towards so supercilious a
compound of dust and ashes. Yes, to be sure, said I; leave me
alone for that It will be strange indeed if I cannot wriggle
myself into his good graces. If one can but get on the blind side
of a man who is to be made a property, it must be want of skill
in the player if the game is lost. Exactly so, replied Monteser;
and now I will introduce you to the Duke of Lerma.

We went at once to the minister, whom we found in his audience-
chamber. His levee was more crowded than the king's. There were
commanders and knights of St James and of Calatrava, making
interest for governments and viceroyalties; bishops who,
labouring under oppression of the breath and tightness of the
chest in their own dioceses, had been recommended the air of an
archbishopric by their physicians; while the sounder lungs of
lower dignitaries were strong enough to inhale the Theban
atmosphere of a suffragan see. I observed besides some reduced
officers dancing attendance to Captain Chinchilla's tune, and
catching cold in fishing for a pension, which was never likely to
pay the doctor for their cure. If the duke did not satisfy their
wants, he put a pleasant face upon their importunities; and it
struck me that he returned a civil answer to all applicants.

We waited patiently till the routine of ceremony was despatched.
Then said Don Diego: My lord, this is Gil Blas de Santillane, the
young man appointed by your excellency to succeed Don Valerio.
The duke now took more particular notice of me, saying
obligingly, that I had already earned my promotion by my
services. He then took me to a private conference in his closet,
or rather to an examination. My birth, parentage, and course of
life were the objects of his inquiry; nor would he be satisfied
without the particulars, and those in the spirit of sincerity.
What a career to run over before a patron! Yet it was impossible
to lie, in the presence of a prime minister. On the other hand,
my vanity was concerned in suppressing so many circumstances,
that there was no venturing on an unqualified confession. What
cunning scene had Roscius then to act? A little painting and
tattooing might decently be employed to disguise the nakedness of
truth, and spare her unsophisticated blushes. But he had studied
her complexion, as well as the beauties of her natural form.
Monsieur de Santillane, said he with a smile on the close of my
narrative, I perceive that hitherto you have had your principles
to choose. My lord, answered I, colouring up to the eyes, your
excellency enjoined me to deal sincerely; and I have complied
with your orders. I take your doing so in good part, replied he.
It is all very well, my good fellow: you have escaped from the
snares of this wicked world more by luck than management: it is
wonderful that bad example should not have corrupted you
irreparably. There are many men of strict virtue and exemplary
piety, who would have turned out the greatest rogues in
existence, if their destinies had exposed them to but half your
trials.

Friend Santillane, continued the minister, ponder no longer on
the past; consider yourself as to the very bone and marrow the
king's; live henceforth but for his service. Come this way; I
will instruct you in the nature of your business. He carried me
into a little closet adjoining his own, which contained a score
of thick folio registers. This is your workshop, said he. All
these registers compose an alphabetical peerage, giving the
heraldry and history of all the nobility and gentry in the
several kingdoms and principalities of the Spanish monarchy. In
these volumes are recorded the services rendered to the state by
the present possessors and their ancestors, descending even to
the personal animosities and rencounters of the individuals and
their houses. Their fortunes, their manners, in a word, all the
pros and cons of their character are set down according to the
letter of ministerial scrutiny; so that they no sooner enter on
the list of court candidates, that my eye catches up the very
chapter and verse of their pretensions. To furnish this necessary
information, I have pensioned scouts everywhere on the look-out,
who send me private notices of their discoveries; but as these
documents are for the most part drawn up in a gossiping and
provincial style, they require to be translated into gentlemanly
language, or the king would not be able to support the perusal of
the registers. This task demands the pen of a polite and
perspicuous writer; I doubt not but you will justify your claim
to the appointment.

After this introduction, he put a memorial into my hand, taken
from a large portfolio full of papers, and then withdrew from my
closet, that my first specimen might be manufactured in all the
freedom of solitude. I read the memorial, which was not only
stuffed with a most uncouth jargon, but breathed a brimstone
spirit of rancour and personal revenge. This was most foul,
strange, and unnatural! for the homily was written by a monk. He
hacked and hewed a Catalan family of some note most unmercifully;
with what reason or truth, it must be reserved for a more
penetrating inquirer to decide. It read for all the world like an
infamous libel, and I had some scruples about becoming the
publisher of the calumny; nevertheless, young as I was at court,
I plunged head foremost, at the risk of sinking and destroying
his reverence's soul. The wickedness, if there was any, would be
put down to his running account with the recording angel; I
therefore had nothing to do but to vilify, in the purest Spanish
phraseology, some two or three generations of honest men and
loyal subjects.

I had already blackened four or five pages, when the duke,
impatient to know how I got on, came back and said -- Santillane,
shew me what you have done; I am curious to see it. At the same
time, casting his eye over the transcript, he read the beginning
with much attention. It seemed to please him; strange that he
could be so pleased! Prepossessed as I have been in your favour,
observed he, I must own that you have surpassed my expectations.
It is not merely the elegance and distinctness of the
handwriting! There is something animated and glowing in the
composition. You will do ample credit to my choice, and fully
make up for the loss of your predecessor. He would not have cut
my panegyric so short, if his nephew the Count de Lemos had not
interrupted him in the middle of it. By the warmth and frequency
of his excellency's welcome, it was evident that they were the
best friends in the world. They were immediately closeted
together on some family business, of which I shall speak in the
sequel. The king's affairs at this time were obliged to play
second to those of the minister.

While they were caballing it struck twelve. As I knew that the
secretaries and their clerks quitted office at that hour to go
and dine wherever their business and desire should point them, I
left my prize performance behind me, and went to the gayest
tavern at the court end of the town, for I had nothing further to
do with Monteser, who had paid my salary, and taken his leave of
me. But a common eating-house would have been a very improper
place for me to be seen in. "Consider yourself as to the very
bone and marrow the king's." This metaphorical expression of the
duke had given birth to a real and tangible ambition in my soul,
which put forth shoots like a plantation in a fat and unvexed
soil.


CH. III. -- All is not gold that glitters. Some uneasiness
resulting from the discovery of that principle in philosophy, and
its practical application to existing circumstances.

I TOOK especial care, on my first entrance, to instil into the
tavern-keeper's conception that I was secretary to the prime
minister; nor was it easy, in that view of my rank and
consequence, to order anything sufficiently sumptuous for dinner.
To have selected from the bill of fare, might have looked as if I
descended to the meanness of calculation; I therefore told him to
send up the best the house afforded. My orders were punctually
obeyed; and the anxious assiduity of the attendance pampered my
fancy as much as the dishes did my palate. As to the bill, I had
nothing to do with it but to pay it. Down went a pistole upon the
table, and the waiters pocketed the difference, which was
somewhat more than a quarter. After this display of grandeur I
strutted out, practising those obstreperous clearings of the
throat which announce, by empty sound, the approach of a
substantial coxcomb.

There was at the distance of twenty yards a large house with
lodgings to let, principally frequented by foreign nobility. I
rented at once a suite of apartments, consisting of five or six
rooms elegantly furnished. From my style of living, any one would
have thought I had two or three thousand ducats of yearly income.
The first month was paid in advance. Afterwards I returned to
business, and employed the whole afternoon in going on with what
I had begun in the morning. In a closet adjoining mine there were
two other secretaries; but their office was only to copy out
fair. I got acquainted with them as we were shutting up for the
evening; and, by way of smoothing the first overtures towards
friendship, invited them home with me to my tavern, where I
ordered the choicest delicacies of the season, with a profusion
of the most exquisite wines.

We sat down to table, and began bandying about more merriment
than wit; for with all due deference to my guests, it was but too
visible that they owed their official situations to any
circumstance rather than to their abilities. They were adepts, it
must be confessed, in all the history and mystery of scrivening
and clerkship; but as for polite literature and university
education, there was not even a suspicion of it in all their
talk.

To make amends for that defect, they had a keen eye to the main
chance; and though sensible how high an honour it was to be on
the prime minister's establishment, there were some dashes of
acid in the cup of good fortune. It is now full five months, said
one of them, that we have been serving at our own cost. We do not
touch one farthing of salary; and, what is worst of all, our very
board wages are shamefully in arrear. There is no knowing what
footing we are upon. As for me, said the other, I would willingly
be tied up to the halbert, and receive a percentage in lashes,
for the liberty of changing my berth; but I dare not either take
myself off or petition for my discharge, after having transcribed
such state secrets as have passed under my inspection. I might
chance to become too well acquainted with the tower of Segovia or
the castle of Alicant.

How do you manage for a subsistence, then? said I. You must of
course have means of your own. These they represented as very
slender; but that, fortunately for them, they lodged with a kind-
hearted widow, who boarded them on tick, at the rate of a hundred
pistoles a year for each These anecdotes of a court life, not one
of which escaped me, completely ventilated all the rising fumes
of pride. It could not be supposed that more consideration would
be shewn to me than to others, and consequently there was nothing
to be so puffed up with in my post; there seemed to be much cry
and little wool, a discovery which rendered it expedient to
husband my finances with a narrower economy. A picture like this
was enough to cure my taste for treating. I repented not having
left these secretaries to find their own supper; for they played
a most cruel knife and fork at mine! and, when the bill was
brought, I squabbled with the landlord about the charges.

We parted at midnight; and the early breaking up was to be laid
at my door; for I did not propose another bottle. They went home
to their widow, and I withdrew to my magnificent lodgings, which
I was now mad with myself for having taken, and was fully
determined to give up at the month's end. My bed of down was now
converted into a couch of thorns; sleep had abandoned his
narcotic tenement, and sold the fee-simple of my repose to the
demon of eternal wakefulness. The remainder of the night was
passed in contriving not to serve the state too patriotically.
For that purpose I bethought me of Monteser's good counsel. I got
up with the intention of making my bow to Don Rodrigo de
Calderona. My present temper was just pat to the purpose of
ingratiating myself with so high and mighty a gentleman; whose
patronage was indispensable to my existence. I therefore
presented my person in that secretary's ante-chamber.

His apartments communicated with the duke's, and rivalled them in
the lustre of their decorations. The field officer could scarcely
be distinguished from the subaltern by any outward distinction in
his paraphernalia. I sent in my name as Don Valerio's successor;
but that did not hinder me from being kept kicking my heels for a
good hour. Trusty, but novice officer of the king, said I, while
ruminating on court manners, lean a lesson of patience, if so
please you. You must begin with shewing paces yourself, and
afterwards make others bite the bridle.

At length the door of the inner room opened. I went in, and
advanced towards Don Rodrigo, who had just been writing an
amorous epistle to his charming Siren, and was giving it to
Pedrillo at that very moment. I had never manufactured my face
and air into such a counterfeit of reverence before the
Archbishop of Grenada, nor on my introduction to the Count de
Galiano, nor even in presence of the prime minister himself: the
crisis of my fawning was reserved for Signor de Calderona. I paid
my respects to him with my body bent down to the very ground, as
if crouching under the ken of a superior intelligence; and
solicited his protection in strains of humble hypocrisy, at which
my cheek now burns with shame, to think that man can so debase
himself before his fellow-man. My servility would have recoiled
to my own undoing, had it been practised towards a compound of
any manly and independent ingredients. As for this fellow, he
swallowed flattery by the lump without mastication; and assured
me, just as if he meant what he said, that he would leave no
stone unturned to do me service.

Hereupon, thanking him with unlimited expressions of attachment
for his kind and generous sentiments, I sold my very soul and all
my little stock of conscience to his free disposal. But as this
farce might be tiresome if prolonged, I took my leave,
apologizing for having broken in upon his more serious
avocations. As soon as I had finished this abominable scene, I
slunk back to my desk, where I finished my prescribed task. The
duke was at my elbow the next morning. The end of my performance
was not less to his mind than the beginning; and he praised it
accordingly: This is extremely well indeed! Copy this abridgment
in your best hand into the register of Catalonia. You shall not
want employment of this kind. I had a very long conversation with
his excellency, and was delighted at his mild and familiar
deportment. What a contrast to Calderona! They might have sat to
a painter for Pan and Apollo.

To-day I dined at a cheap ordinary, and sunk the secretary upon
my messmates, till I should ascertain what solid profit might
accrue from all my bows and scrapes. I had funds for three
months, or thereabouts. That interval I allowed myself for
casting my bread upon the waters. But as the shortest
speculations are the safest, if my salary was not paid by that
time, a long farewell to the court, its frippery, and its
falsehood! Thus were my plans arranged. For two months I laboured
hard and fast to stand well with Calderona: but his senses were
so callous to all my assiduity, that it seemed labour in vain to
build on so hopeless a foundation. This idea produced a change in
my conduct. I left some greener fool to fumigate the nostrils of
this idol; and placed all my own dependence on making my ground
sure with the duke, by the benefit of our frequent conferences.


CH. IV. -- Gil Blas becomes a favourite with the Duke of Lerma,
and the confidant of an important secret.

THOUGH his grace's interviews with me were short as the fleeting
visions of supernatural communication, my turn and character won
its way gradually into his excellency's good liking. One day
after dinner, he said: Attend to me, Gil Blas. I really like you
very muck You are a zealous, confidential lad, full of
understanding and discretion. My trust cannot be misplaced in
such hands. I threw myself at his feet, at the music of these
words; and kissing his outstretched hand, answered thus: Is it
possible that your excellency can think so favourably of your
servant? What a host of enemies will such a preference conjure up
against me! But Don Rodrigo is the only man whose privy grudge is
formidable enough to alarm me.

You have nothing to fear from that quarter, replied the duke. I
know Calderona. He has loved me from his cradle. Every movement
of his heart is in unison with mine. He cherishes whatever I
love, and hates in exact proportion to my dislike. So far from
being alarmed at his ill-will, you ought, on the contrary, to hug
yourself on his peculiar partiality. This let me at once into the
abysses of Don Rodrigo's character. He shuffled and cut the cards
to his own deal, and paid his debts of honour out of his
excellency's pool. One could not be too wary with this gentleman.

To begin, pursued the duke, with a proof my thorough reliance on
your faith, I will open to you a long-projected design. It is
necessary for you to be informed of it, to qualify you for the
commissions with which I shall hereafter have occasion to intrust
to you. For a great length of time have I beheld my authority
universally respected, my decisions implicitly adopted, places,
pensions, governments, vice-royalties, and church preferments all
awaiting my disposal. Without umbrage to my royal master, I may
be said to be absolute in Spain. My individual fortunes can be
pushed no higher. But I would willingly fix firm the structure I
have raised; for the storms are already beginning to beat about
the citadel of my peace. My only safety must consist in
nominating my nephew, the Count de Lemos, as my successor in the
ministry.

This profound courtier, observing my astonishment, went on thus.
I see plainly, Santillane, I see plainly what surprises you. It
seems strange and unaccountable that I should prefer my nephew to
my own son, the Duke d'Uzeda. But you are to learn that this last
has too narrow a genius to fill up my place in politics; and
there are other reasons why I set my face against him. He has
found out the secret of making himself agreeable to the king, who
wants him for his interior cabinet; and back-stairs influence is
what I cannot bear. Royal favour is a sort of political mistress;
exclusive possession is its only charm. The very existence of the
passion is identified with inextinguishable jealousy; nor can we
the better endure to share the bliss, because our rival has been
nursed in our own bosom.

Thus do I lay bare the very recesses of my soul. I have already
tried to ruin the Duke d'Uzeda with the king; but having failed,
am pointing my artillery towards another object. I am determined
that the Count de Lemos shall stand first with the Prince of
Spain. Being gentleman of his bedchamber, he has opportunities of
talking with him continually; and, besides that he has a winning
manner with him, I know a sure method of enabling him to succeed
in his enterprise. By this device, my nephew will be pitted
against my son. The cousins harbouring unfavourable suspicions of
each other, will both be forced to place themselves under my
protection; and the necessity of the case will render them
submissive to my will. This is my project; nor will your
assistance be of slender avail to its success. It is you whom I
shall make the private channel of communication between the Count
de Lemos and myself.

After this confidence, which sounded for all the world like the
clink of current coin, my mind was easy about the future. At
length, said I, behold me taking shelter under Plutus's gutter;
the golden shower may drench me to the skin, before I shall cry
hold, enough! It is impossible that the bosom friend of a man, by
whom the whole music of the political machine is tempered, should
be left to thrum upon the discord of poverty. Full of these
harmonious visions, my fifths and octaves were but little untuned
by the sensible declension of my purse.


CH. V. -- The joys, the honours, and the miseries of a court
life, in the person of Gil Blas.

THE minister's growing partiality towards me was soon noticed. He
displayed it ostentatiously, by committing his portfolio to my
custody, which it was his habit to carry in his own hand when he
went to council. This novelty causing me to be looked upon as a
rising favourite, excited the envy of certain persons, so that I
was preciously sprinkled with the hellish dew of court
malevolence. My two neighbours the secretaries were not the last
to compliment me on my budding honours, and invited me to supper
at the widow's, not so much by way of returning my hospitality,
as with an eye to business in the cultivation of my acquaintance.
Parties were made for me everywhere. Even the haughty Don Rodrigo
was cap-in-hand to me. He now called me nothing less than Signor
de Santillane, though the moon had scarcely changed her face
since he thee'd and thou'd me, without ever bethinking him that
he was talking to something above a pauper. He heaped me up and
pressed me down with civilities, especially within eyeshot of our
common patron. But the fool was wiser than to be caught with
chaff. The good breeding of my returns was nicely proportioned to
my thorough detestation of my humble servant: a rascal who had
lived in court all his life could not have played the rascal
better than I did.

I likewise accompanied my lord duke when he had an audience of
the king, which was usually three times a day. In the morning he
went into his majesty's chamber as soon as he was awake. There he
dropped down on his marrow bones by the bed-side, talked over
what was to be done in the course of the day, and put into the
royal mouth the speeches the royal tongue was to make. He then
withdrew. After dinner he came back again; not for state affairs,
but for what, what? and a little gossip. He was well instructed
in all the tittle-tattle of Madrid, which was sold to him at the
earliest of the season. Lastly, in the evening he saw the king
again for the third time, put whatever colour he pleased on the
transactions of the day, and, as a matter of course, requested
his instructions for the morrow. While he was with the king, I
kept in the ante-chamber, where people of the first quality,
sinking that they might rise, threw themselves in the way of my
observation, and thought the day not lost if I had deigned to
exchange a few words of common civility with them. Was it to be
wondered at, if myself-importance fattened upon such food? There
are many folks at court, who stalk about on stilts of much
frailer materials.

One day my vanity was still more highly pampered. The king, to
whom the duke had puffed off my style, was curious to see a
sample of it. His excellency made me bring the register of
Catalonia and myself into the royal presence; telling me to read
the first memorial I had digested. If so catholic a critic
overpowered my modesty at first, the minister's encouragement
recalled my scattered spirits, and I read with good tone and
emphasis what his majesty deigned to hear with some symptoms of
approbation. He spoke handsomely of my performance, and
recommended my fortunes to the special care of his minister. My
humility was not the greater for the augmentation of my
consequence; and a particular conversation some days afterwards
with the Count de Lemos swelled high the spring tide of all my
ambitious anticipations.

I waited on that nobleman from his uncle at the Prince of Spain's
court, and presented credentials from the duke, directing him to
deal unreservedly with me, as with a man who was embarked in
their design and selected by himself exclusively as their go-
between. The count then took me to a room, where he locked the
door, and then spoke as follows: Since you are confidential with
the Duke of Lerma, I doubt not you deserve to be so, and shall
unbosom myself to you without hesitation. You are to know that
matters go on just as we could wish. The Prince of Spain
distinguishes me above the most assiduous of his courtiers. I had
a private conversation with him this morning, wherein he
expressed some disgust at being restrained by the king's avarice
from following the inclinations of his liberal heart, and living
on a scale befitting his august rank. On this head I chimed in
with his regrets; and taking advantage of the opportunity,
promised to carry him a thousand pistoles early to-morrow
morning, as an earnest of larger sums with which I have engaged
to feed his necessities forthwith. He was in ecstasy at my
promises; and I am certain of securing his grace and favour in
tail, if I can but fulfil my engagement Acquaint my uncle with
these particulars, and come back in the evening with his
sentiments on the subject.

I left the Count de Lemos with the last words still quivering on
his lips, and went back to the Duke of Lerma, who, on my report,
sent to ask Calderona for a thousand pistoles, which he charged
me to carry to the count in the evening. Away went I on my
errand, muttering to myself -- So, so! now I have discovered the
minister's infallible receipt for the cure of all evils. Faith
and troth, he is in the right; and to all appearance he may draw
as copiously as he pleases from the spring, without exhausting
the source. I can easily guess what bag those pistoles come from;
but after all, is it not the order of nature that the parent
should nurture and maintain the child! The Count de Lemos, at our
parting, said to me in a low voice -- Farewell, my good and
worthy friend. The Prince of Spain has a little hankering after
the women; we must have a little conversation on that subject one
of these days; I foresee that your agency will be very applicable
on that head. I returned with my head full of this last hint,
which it was impossible to misinterpret. Neither did I wish to do
so, for it suited my talents to a nicety. What the devil is to
happen next? said I. Behold me on the point of becoming pimp to
the heir of the monarchy. Whether pimping was a virtue or a vice,
I did not stop to inquire: the coarse surtout of morality would
have worn but shabbily while the passions of so exalted a gallant
were in the glare and glow of all their newest gloss. What a
promotion for me to be the provider of pleasure to a great
prince! Fair and softly, Master Gil Blas, some one may say: after
all, you will be but second minister. May be so; but at bottom
the honour of both these posts is equal; the difference lies in
the profit only.

While executing these honourable commissions, and getting forward
daily in the good graces of the prime minister, what a happy
being should I have been, if statesmen were born with a set of
intestines to turn the chameleon's diet into chyle! It was more
than two months since I had got rid of my grand lodging, and had
taken up my quarters in a little room scarcely good enough for a
banker's clerk. Though this was not quite as it should be, yet
since I went out betimes in the morning, and never returned at
night before bed-time, there was not much to quarrel about on
that score. All day I was the hero of my own stage, or rather of
the duke's. It was a principal part that I was playing. But when
I retired from this brilliant theatre to my own cockloft, the
great lord vanished, and poor Gil Blas was left behind, without a
royal image in his pocket, and what was worse, without the means
of conjuring up his glorious resemblance. Besides that it would
have wounded my pride to have divulged my necessities, there was
not a creature of my acquaintance who could have assisted me but
Navarro, and him I had too palpably neglected since my
introduction at court, to venture on soliciting his benevolence.
I had been obliged to sell my wardrobe article by article. There
was nothing more left than was absolutely necessary to make a
decent appearance. I no longer went to the ordinary, because I
had no longer wherewithal to pay my score. How then did I make
shift to keep body and soul together? There was every morning, in
our offices, a scanty breakfast set out, consisting of a little
bread and wine; this was the whole of our commons on the
minister's establishment. I never knew what it was to exceed this
stint during the day, and at night I most frequently went
supperless to bed.

Such was the fare of a man who made a splendid figure at court;
but his illustrious fortunes, like those of other courtiers, were
more a subject of pity than of grudge. I could no longer resist
the pressure of my circumstances, and ultimately resolved on
their disclosure at a seasonable opportunity. By good luck such
an occasion offered at the Escurial, whither the king and the
Prince of Spain removed some days afterwards.


CH. VI. -- Gil Blas gives the Duke of Lerma a hint of his
wretched condition. That minister deals with him accordingly.

WHEN the king kept his court at the Escurial, all the world was
at free quarters: under such easy circumstances I did not feel
where the saddle galled. My bed was in a wardrobe near the duke's
chamber. One morning that minister, having got up according to
his cursed custom at daybreak, made me take my writing apparatus,
and follow him into the palace gardens. We went and sat down
under an avenue of trees; myself, as he would have it, in the
posture of a man writing on the crown of his hat; his attitude
was with a paper in his hand, and any one would have supposed he
had been reading. At some distance, we must have looked as if the
scale of Europe was to turn upon our decision; but between
ourselves, who partook of it, the talk was miserably trifling.

For more than an hour had I been tickling his excellency's fancy
with all the conceits, engendered by a merry nature and an
eccentric course of life, when two magpies perched on the trees
above us. Their clack and clatter was so obstreperous, as to
force our attention whether we would or no. These birds, said the
duke, seem to be in dudgeon with one another. I should like to
learn the cause of their quarrel. My lord, said I, your curiosity
reminds me of an Indian story in Pilpay or some other fabulist.
The minister insisted on the particulars, and I related them in
the following terms:

There reigned in Persia a good monarch, who not being blessed
with capacities of sufficient compass to govern his dominions in
his own person, left the care of them to his grand vizier. That
minister, whose name was Atalmuc, was possessed of first-rate
talents. He supported the weight of that unwieldy monarchy,
without sinking under the burden. He preserved it in profound
peace. His art consisted in uniting the love of the royal
authority with the reverence of it; while the people at large
looked up to the vizier as to an affectionate father, though a
devoted servant of his prince. Atalmuc had a young Cachemirian
among his secretaries, by name Zeangir, to whom he was
particularly attached. He took pleasure in his conversation,
invited him frequently to the chase, and opened to him his most
secret thoughts. One day as they were hunting together in a wood,
the vizier, at the croaking of two ravens on a tree, said to his
secretary -- I should like to know what those birds are talking
about in their jargon. My lord, answered the Cachemirian, your
wishes may be fulfilled. Indeed! How so? replied Atalmuc.
Because, rejoined Zeangir, a dervise read in many mysteries, has
taught me the language of birds. If you wish it, I will lay my
ear close to these, and will repeat to you word for word whatever
they may happen to say.

The vizier agreed to the proposal. The Cachemirian got near the
ravens, and affected to suck in their discourse. Then, returning
to his master, My lord, said he, would you believe it? We are
ourselves the topic of their talk. Impossible! exclaimed the
Persian minister. Prithee now, what do they say of us? One of the
two, replied the secretary, spoke thus: Here he is, the very man;
the grand vizier Atalmuc, the guardian eagle of Persia, hovering
over her like the parent bird over its nest, watching without
intermission for the safety of its brood. For the purpose of
unbending from his wearisome toils, he is hunting in this wood
with his faithful Zeangir. How happy must that secretary be, to
serve so partial and indulgent a master! Fair and softly,
observed the other raven shrewdly, fair and softly! Make not too
much parade about that Cachemirian's happiness. Atalmuc, it is
true, talks and jokes familiarly with him, honours him with his
confidence, and may very possibly intend to signalize his
friendship by a lucrative post; but between the cup and the lip
Zeangir may perish with thirst. The poor devil lodges in a ready-
furnished apartment, where there is not an article of furniture
for his use. In a word, he leads a starving life, with all the
paraphernalia of a plump-fed courtier. The grand vizier never
troubles his head about inquiring into the right or wrong of his
affairs; but satisfied with empty good wishes towards him, leaves
his favourite within the ruthless gripe of poverty.

I stopped here, to see how the Duke of Lerma would take it; and
he asked me with a smile what effect the fable had produced on
the mind of Atalmuc; and whether the grand vizier had not felt a
little offended at the secretary's presumption. No, my noble
lord, answered I, with some little embarrassment at the question;
historians say that his ingenuity was amply rewarded. He was more
lucky than discreet, replied the duke with a serious air; there
are some ministers who would esteem it no joke to be lectured at
that rate. But the king will not be long before he is getting up;
my duty demands my attendance. After this hint he walked off with
hasty strides towards the palace without throwing away a word
more upon me, and to all appearance in high dudgeon at my Indian
parable.

I followed him up to the very door of his majesty's chamber, and
went thence to arrange my papers in the places whence they had
been taken. Then I entered a closet where our two copying
secretaries were at work; for they also were of the migratory
party. What is the matter with you, Signor de Santillane? said
they at the sight of me. You are quite down in the mouth! Has
anything untoward happened?

I was too much mortified at the ill success of my narrative, to
be cautious in the expression of my grief. On the recital of what
had passed with the duke, they sympathized in my disappointment
You have some reason to fret, said one of them. Heaven grant you
may be better treated than a secretary of Cardinal Spinosa. This
unlucky secretary, tired of working for fifteen months without
pay, took the liberty of representing his necessities to his
Eminence one afternoon, and of asking for a little money towards
his subsistence. It is very proper, said the minister, that you
should be paid. Here, pursued he, putting into his hands an order
on the royal treasury for a thousand ducats; go and receive that
sum; but take notice at the same time that it balances accounts
between us. The secretary would have pocketed his thousand ducats
without remorse, had the thousand ducats been tangible, and the
liberty of changing services secure; but just as he stepped down
from the cardinal's threshold, he was tapped on the shoulder by
an alguazil, and carried away to the tower of Segovia, where he
has been a prisoner for a length of lime.

This little historical anecdote set my teeth chattering. All was
lost and gone! There was no comfort from within nor from without!
My own impatience had been my ruin! just as if I had not borne
starving, till patience could avail no longer. Alas! said I,
wherefore must I have blurted out that ill-starred fable, which
went so much against the grain of the minister? He might have
been just on the point of extricating me from all my miseries; it
might have been the moment of that tide in the affairs of men,
which sets in for sudden and enormous elevation. What wealth,
what honours have slipped through the fingers by my blunder! I
ought to have been aware that great folks do not love to be
forestalled, but require the common privileges of elementary
subsistence to be received as favours at their hands. It would
have been more prudent to have kept my lenten entertainment
longer without bothering the duke about it, and even to have died
with hunger, that he might be blamed for letting me.

Supposing any hope to have remained, my master, when I saw him
after dinner, put an extinguisher over it at once. He was very
serious with me, contrary to his usual custom, and spoke scarcely
at all; an omen of dire dismay for the remainder of the evening.
The night did not pass more tranquilly: the chagrin of seeing my
agreeable illusions vanish, and the fear of swelling the calendar
of state prisoners, left no room but for sighs and lamentations.

The following was the critical day. The duke sent for me in the
morning. I went into his chamber, with the ague fit of a criminal
before his judge. Santillane, said he, showing me a paper in his
hand, take this order . . . . I shuddered at the word order, and
said within myself: Oh heaven! here is the Cardinal Spinosa over
again; the carriage is ordered out for Segovia. Such was my alarm
at this moment, that I interrupted the minister, and throwing
myself at his feet, May it please your lordship, said I, bathed
in tears, I most humbly beseech your excellency to forgive me for
my boldness; necessity alone impelled me to acquaint you with my
wretched circumstances.

The duke could not help laughing at my distress. Be comforted,
Gil Blas, answered he, and hearken attentively. Though by
betraying your necessities a reproach lights upon me for not
having prevented them, I do not take it ill, my friend. I rather
ought to be angry with myself for not having inquired how you
were going on. But to begin making amends for my want of
attention, there is an order on the royal treasury for fifteen
hundred ducats, payable at sight. This is not all; I promise you
the same sum annually; and moreover, when people of rank and
substance shall solicit your interest, I have no objection to
your addressing me on their behalf.

In the excess of joy occasioned by such tidings, I kissed the
feet of the minister, who, having commanded me to rise, continued
in familiar conversation. I endeavoured to rally my free and easy
humour; but the transition from sorrow to rapture was too
instantaneous to be natural. I felt as comical as a culprit, with
a pardon singing in his ears, just when he was on the point of
being launched into eternity. My master attributed all my flurry
to the sole dread of having offended him; though the fear of
perpetual imprisonment had its share of influence on my nerves.
He owned that he had affected to look cool, to see whether I
should be hurt at the alteration; that thereby he formed his
opinion with respect to the liveliness of my attachment to his
person, and that his own regard for me would always be
proportionate.


CH. VII. -- A good use made of the fifteen hundred ducats. A
first introduction to the trade of office, and an account of the
profit accruing therefrom.

THE king, as if on purpose to play into the hands of my
impatience, returned to Madrid the very next day. I flew like a
harpy to the royal treasury, where they paid me down upon the
nail the sum drawn for in my order. Ambition and vanity now
obtained complete empire over my soul. My paltry lodging was fit
only for secretaries of an inferior cast, unpractised in the
mysterious language of birds; for which reason, my grand suite of
apartments fortunately being vacant, I engaged them for the
second time. My next business was to send for an eminent tailor,
who arrayed the pretty persons of all the fine gentlemen in town.
He took my measure, and then introduced me to a draper, who sold
me five ells of cloth, the exact quantity, as he said, to make a
suit for a man of my size. Five ells for a light Spanish dress!
Whither did this draper and tailor expect to go? . . . . But we
must not be uncharitable. Tailors who have a reputation to
support require more materials for the exercise of their genius
than the vulgar snippers of the shopboard. I then bought some
linen, of which I was very bare; an assortment of silk stockings,
and a laced hat.

With such an equipage, there was no doing without a footman; so
that I desired Vincent Ferrero, my landlord, to look out for one.
Most of the foreigners who were recommended to his lodgings, on
their arrival at Madrid, were wont to hire Spanish servants; and
this was the means of turning his house into a register office.
The first who offered was a lad of so mortified and devotional an
aspect, that I would have nothing to say to him; he put me in
mind of Ambrose de Lamela. I am quite out of conceit, said I to
Ferrero, with these pious coat-brushers; I have been taken in by
them already.

I had scarcely turned virtue in a livery out of doors, when
another came upstairs. This seemed to be a good sprightly fellow,
with as little mock modesty as if he had been bred at court, and
a certain something about him which indicated that he did not
carry principle to any dangerous excess. He was just to my mind.
His answers to my questions were pat and to the purpose: he
evinced a talent for intrigue beyond my most sanguine hopes. This
was exactly the subject for my purpose; so I fixed him at once.
Neither had I any reason to repent of my bargain; for it was very
soon evident that further off I must have fared worse. As the
duke had allowed me to solicit on behalf of my friends, and it
was my design to push that permission to the utmost, a staunch
hound was necessary to put up the game; or in phrase familiar to
dull capacities, an active chap, with a turn for routing out and
bringing to my market all palm-tickling petitioners for the
loaves and fishes of the prime minister. This was just where
Scipio shone most; for my servant's name was Scipio. He had lived
last with Donna Anna de Guevara, the Prince of Spain's nurse,
where he had ample scope for the exercise of that accomplishment.

As soon as he became acquainted with my credit at court and the
use to which I meant to put it, he took the field like his great
ancestors, and began the campaign without the loss of a day.
Master, said he, a young gentleman of Grenada is just come to
Madrid; his name is Don Roger de Rada. He has been engaged in an
affair of honour which compels him to throw himself on the Duke
of Lerma's protection, and he is well disposed to come down
handsomely for any grace and favour he may obtain. I have talked
with him on the subject. He had a mind to have made friends with
Don Rodrigo de Calderona, whose influence had been represented to
him in magnificent terms: but I dissuaded him, by pointing out
that secretary's method of selling his good offices for more than
their weight in gold; whereas, on the contrary, you would be
satisfied with any decent expression of gratitude for yours, and
would even do the business for the mere pleasure of doing it, if
you were in circumstances to follow the bent of your own generous
and disinterested temper. In short, I talked to him in such a
strain, that you will see the gentleman early to-morrow morning.
How is all this, Master Scipio? said I. You must have transacted
a great deal of business in a short time. You are no novice in
back-stairs influence. It is very strange that you have not
feathered your own nest. That ought not to surprise you at all,
answered he. I love to make money circulate; not to hoard it up.

Don Roger de Rada came according to his appointment. I received
him with a mixture of courtly plausibility and ministerial pride.
My worthy sir, said I, before I engage in your interests, I wish
to know the nature of the affair which brings you to court;
because it may be such as to preclude me from speaking to the
minister in your favour. Give me, therefore, if you please, the
particulars faithfully, and rest assured that I shall enter
warmly into your interests, if they are proper to be espoused by
a man who moves in my sphere. My young client promised to be
sincere in his representation, and began his narrative in the
following words.


CH. VIII. -- History of Don Roger de Rada.

DON ANASTASIO DE RADA, a gentleman of Grenada, was living happily
in the town of Antequera, with Donna Estephania his wife, who
united every charm of person and mind with the most
unquestionable virtue. If her affection was lively towards her
husband, his love for her was violent beyond all bounds. He was
naturally prone to jealousy; and though wantonness could never
assume such a semblance as his wife's, his thoughts were not
quite at rest upon the subject. He was apprehensive lest some
secret enemy to his repose might make some attempt upon his
honour. His eye was turned askance upon all his friends, except
Don Huberto de Hordales, who frequented the house without
suspicion in quality of Estephania's cousin, and was the only man
in whom he ought not to have confided.

Don Huberto did actually fall in love with his cousin, and
ventured to make his sentiments known, in contempt of
consanguinity and the ties of friendship. The lady, who was
considerate, instead of making an outcry which might have led to
fatal consequences, reproved her kinsman gently, represented to
him the extreme criminality of attempting to seduce her and
dishonour her husband, and told him very seriously that he must
not flatter himself with the most distant hope.

This moderation only inflamed the seducer's appetite the more.
Taking it for granted that, as a woman who had been accustomed to
save appearances, she only wanted to be more strongly urged, he
began to adopt little freedoms of more warmth than delicacy; and
had the assurance one day to put the question home to her. She
repulsed him with unbridled indignation, and threatened to refer
the punishment of his offence to Don Anastasio. Her suitor,
alarmed at such an intimation, promised to drop the subject; and
Estephania in the candour of her soul forgave him for the past.

Don Huberto, a man totally devoid of principle, could not feel
his passion to be foiled, without entertaining a mean spirit of
revenge. He knew the weak side of Don Anastasio's temper. This
was enough to engender the blackest design that ever scoundrel
plotted. One evening as he was walking alone with this misguided
husband, he said with an air of extreme uneasiness: My dear
friend, I can no longer live without unburdening my mind; and yet
I would be for ever silent, but that you value honour far above a
treacherous repose. Your acute feelings and my own, on points
which concern domestic injuries, forbid me to conceal what is
passing in your family. Prepare to hear what will occasion you as
much grief as astonishment. I am going to wound you in the
tenderest part.

I know what you mean, interrupted Don Anastasio, in the first
bunt of agony; your cousin is unfaithful. I no longer acknowledge
her for my cousin, replied Hordales with impassioned vehemence; I
disown her, as unworthy to share my friend's embraces. This is
keeping me too long upon the rack, exclaimed Don Anastasio: say
on, what has Estephania done? She has betrayed you, replied Don
Huberto. You have a rival to whom she listens in private, but I
cannot give you his name; for the adulterer, under favour of
impenetrable darkness, has escaped the ken of those who watched
him. All I know is, that you are duped: of that fact I am well
assured. My own share in the disgrace is a sufficient pledge of
my veracity. Her infidelity must be palpable indeed, when I turn
Estephania's accuser.

It is to no purpose, continued he, watching the successful
impression of his discourse, it is to no purpose to discuss the
subject further. I perceive your indignation at the treacherous
requital of your love, and your thoughts all aiming at a just
revenge. Take your own course. Heed not in what relation to you
your victim may stand: but convince the whole city that there is
no earthly being whom you would not sacrifice to your honour.

Thus did the traitor exasperate a too credulous husband against
an innocent wife; depicting in such glowing colours the infamy in
which he would be plunged if he left the insult unpunished, as to
heighten his anger into madness. Behold Don Anastasio, with his
mind completely overturned; as if goaded by the furies. He
returned homewards with the frantic design of murdering his ill-
fated wife. She was just going to bed when he came in. He kept
his passion under for a time, and waited till the attendants had
withdrawn. Then, unrestrained by the fear of vengeance from
above, by the vulgar scorn which must recoil upon an honourable
family, by natural affection for his unborn child, since his wife
was near her time, he approached his victim, and said to her in a
furious tone of voice: Now is your hour to die, wretch as you
are! One moment only is your own, which my relenting pity leaves
you to make your peace with heaven. I would not that your soul
should perish eternally, though your earthly honour is for ever
lost.

At these words he drew his dagger. Estephania, just speechless
with terror, throwing herself at his feet, besought him with
uplifted hands and inarticulate agony, to tell her why he raised
his arm against her life. If he suspected her fidelity, she
called heaven to attest her innocence.

In vain, in vain, replied the infuriated murderer; your treason
is but too well proved. My information is not to be contradicted:
Don Huberto . . . . Ah! my lord, interrupted she with eager
haste, you must hold your trust aloof from Don Huberto. He is
less your friend than you imagine. If he has said aught against
my virtue, believe him not. Restrain that infamous tongue,
replied Don Anastasio. By appealing against Hordales, you condemn
yourself. You would ruin your relation in my esteem, because he
is acquainted with your misconduct. You would invalidate his
evidence against you; but the artifice is palpable, and only
whets my appetite for vengeance. My dear husband, rejoined the
innocent Estephania, while her tears flowed in torrents, beware
of this blind rage. If you follow its instigation, you will
perpetrate a deed for which you will hate yourself, when
convinced of its injustice. In the name of heaven, compose your
disordered spirits. At least give me time to clear up your
suspicions; you will then deal candidly by a wife who has nothing
to reproach herself with.

Any other than Don Anastasio would have been touched by her
pleadings, and still more by her agonizing affliction; but the
barbarian, far from being softened, ordered the lady once again
to recommend herself briefly to mercy, and lifted his arm to
strike the blow. Hold, inhuman as you are! cried she. If your
love for me is as if it had never been, if my lavish fondness in
return is all blotted from your memory, if my tears have no
eloquence to disarm your hellish purpose, have some pity on your
own blood. Launch not your frantic hand against an innocent, who
has not yet breathed this vital air. You cannot be its
executioner without the curse of heaven and earth. As for myself,
I can forgive my murderer; but the butcher of his own child,
think deeply of it, must pay the dreadful forfeit of so
detestable a deed.

Determined as Don Anastasio was to pay no attention to anything
Estephania could say, he could not help being affected by the
frightful images these last words presented to his soul.
Wherefore, as if apprehensive lest nature should play the
traitress to revenge, he hastened to make sure of his staggering
resolves, and plunged his dagger into her bosom. She fell
motionless on the ground. He thought her dead; and on that
supposition left his house immediately to be no more seen at
Antequera.

In the mean time, the unhappy victim of groundless suspicion was
so stunned with the blow she had received, as to remain for a
short interval on the ground without any signs of life.
Afterwards, coming to herself, she brought an old female servant
to her assistance by her plaints and lamentations. That good old
woman, beholding her mistress in so deplorable a state, waked the
whole household and even the neighbourhood by her cries. The room
was soon filled with spectators. Surgical assistance was sent
for. The wound was probed, and pronounced not to be mortal. Their
opinion turned out to be correct; for Estephania soon recovered,
and was in due time delivered of a son, not withstanding the
cruel circumstances in which she had been placed. That son,
Signor Gil Blas, you behold in me: I am the fruit of that
dreadful pregnancy.

Women, when chaste as ice, when pure as snow, seldom escape
calumny: this plague, however, though virtue's dowry, did not
alight upon my mother. The bloody scene passed in common fame for
the transport of a jealous husband. My father, it is true, bore
the character of a passionate man, prone to kindle into fury on
the slightest occasion. Hordales could not but suppose that his
kinswoman must suspect him of having sown wild fancies in the
mind of Don Anastasio; so that he satisfied himself with this
imperfect relish of revenge, and ceased to importune her. But,
not to be tedious, I shall pass over the detail of my education.
Suffice it to say, that my principal exercise was fencing, which
I practised regularly in the most famous schools of Grenada and
Seville. My mother waited with impatience till I was of age to
measure swords with Don Huberto, that she might instruct me in
the grounds of her complaint against him. In my eighteenth year
she submitted her cause to my arbitrement, not without floods of
tears, and every symptom of the deepest anguish. What must not a
son feel, if he has the spirit and the heart of a son, at the
sight of a mother in such distressing circumstances? I went
immediately and called out Hordales; our place of meeting was
private as it should be; we fought long and furiously; three of
my thrusts took place, and I threw him to the ground, like a dead
dog despised.

Don Huberto, feeling his wound to be mortal, fixed his last looks
upon me, and declared that he met his death at my hands as a just
punishment for his treason against my mother's honour. He owned
that in revenge for the pangs of despised love he had resolved on
her ruin. Thus did he breathe his last, imploring pardon from
heaven, from Don Anastasio, from Estephania, and from myself. I
deemed it imprudent to return home and acquaint my mother of the
issue; fame was sure to perform that office for me I passed the
mountains, and repaired to Malaga, where I embarked on board a
privateer. My outside not altogether indicating cowardice, the
captain consented at once to enrol me among his crew.

We were not long before we went into action. Near the island of
Alboutan, a corsair of Millila fell in with us, on his return
towards the African coast with a Spanish vessel richly laden,
taken off Carthagena. We attacked the African briskly, and made
ourselves masters of both ships, with eighty Christians on board,
going as slaves to Barbary. Afterwards, availing ourselves of a
wind direct for the coast of Grenada, we shortly arrived at Punta
de Helena.

While we were inquiring into the birth-place and condition of our
rescued captives, a man about fifty, of prepossessing aspect,
fell under my examination. He stated himself, with a sigh, to
belong to Antequera. My heart palpitated, without my knowing why;
and my emotion, too strong to pass unnoticed, excited a visible
sympathy in him. I avowed myself his townsman, and asked his
family name. Alas! answered he, your curiosity makes my sorrow
flow afresh. Eighteen years ago did I leave my home, where my
remembrance is coupled with scenes of blood and horror. You must
yourself have heard but too much of my story. My name is Don
Anastasio de Rada. Merciful heaven! exclaimed I, may I believe my
senses? And can this be Don Anastasio? Father! What is it you
say, young man? exclaimed he in his turn, with surprise and
agitation equal to my own. Are you that ill-fated infant, still
in its mother's womb, when I sacrificed her to my fury? Yes, said
I; none other did the virtuous Estephania bring into the world,
after the fatal night when you left her weltering in her own
blood.

Don Anastasio stifled my words in his embraces. For a quarter of
an hour we could only mingle our inarticulate sighs and
exclamations. After exhausting our tender recollections, and
indulging in the wild expression of our feelings, my father
lifted his eyes to heaven, in gratitude for Estephania saved; but
the next moment, as if doubtful of his bliss, he demanded by what
evidence his wife's innocence had been cleared. Sir, answered I,
none but yourself ever doubted it. Her conduct has been uniformly
spotless. You must be undeceived. Know that Don Huberto was a
traitor. In proof of this I unfolded all his perfidy, the
vengeance I had taken, and his own confession before he expired.

My father was less delighted at his liberty restored than at
these happy tidings. In the forgetfulness of ecstacy, he repeated
all his former transports. His approbation of me was ardent and
entire. Come, my son, said he, let us set out for Antequera. I
burn with impatience to throw myself at the feet of a wife whom I
have treated so unworthily. Since you have brought me acquainted
with my own injustice, my heart has been torn by remorse.

I was too eager to bring together a couple so near and dear to
me, not to expedite our journey as much as possible. I quitted
the privateer, and with my share of prize-money bought two mules
at Adra, my father not choosing again to incur the hazard of a
voyage. He found leisure on the road to relate his adventures,
which I inclined to hear as seriously as did the Prince of Ithaca
the various recitals of the king his father. At length, after
several days, we halted at the foot of a mountain near Antequera.
Wishing to reach home privately, we went not into the town till
midnight.

You may guess my mother's astonishment at beholding a husband
whom she had thought for ever lost; and the almost miraculous
circumstances of his restoration were a second source of wonder.
He entreated forgiveness for his barbarity with marks of
repentance so lively, that she could not but be moved. Instead of
looking on him as a murderer, she only saw the man to whose will
high heaven had subjected her; such religion is there in the name
of husband to a virtuous wife! Estephania had been so alarmed
about me, that my return filled her with rapture. But her joy on
this account was not without alleviation. A sister of Hordales
had instituted a criminal prosecution against her brother's
antagonist. The search for me was hot, so that my mother,
considering home as insecure, was painfully anxious about me. It
was therefore necessary to set out that very night for court,
whither I come to solicit my pardon, and hope to obtain it by
your generous intercession with the prime minister.

The gallant son of Don Anastasio thus closed his narrative; after
which I observed, with a self-sufficient physiognomy: It is well,
Signor Don Roger; the offence seems to me to be venial. I will
undertake to lay the case before his excellency, and may venture
to promise you his protection. The thanks my client lavished
would have passed in at one ear and out at the other, if they had
not been backed by assurances of more substantial gratitude. But
when once that string was touched, every nerve and fibre of my
frame vibrated in unison. On the very same day did I relate the
whole story to the duke, who allowed me to present the gentleman,
and addressed him thus: Don Roger, I have been informed of the
duel which has brought you to court; Santillane has laid all the
particulars before me. Make yourself perfectly easy: you have
done nothing but what the circumstances of the case might almost
warrant; and it is especially on the ground of wounded honour,
that his Majesty is best pleased to extend his grace and favour.
You must be committed for mere form's sake; but you may depend on
it, your confinement shall be of short duration. In Santillane
you have a zealous friend, who will watch over your interests,
and hasten your release.

Don Roger paid his respectful acknowledgments to the minister, on
whose pledge he went and surrendered himself His pardon was soon
made out, owing to my activity. In less than ten days, I sent
this modern Telemachus home, to say "how do you do?" to his
Ulysses and Penelope; had he stood upon the merits of his case
without a protector, he might have whined out a year's
imprisonment, and scarcely have got off at last. My commission
was but a poor hundred pistoles. It was no very magnificent haul;
but I was not as yet a Calderona, to turn up my nose at the small
fry.


CH. IX. -- Gil Blas makes a large fortune in a short time, and
behaves like other wealthy upstarts.

THIS affair gave me a relish for my trade; and ten pistoles to
Scipio by way of brokerage, whetted his eagerness to start more
game of the same sort. I have already done justice to his talents
that way; he might as modestly have appended "the great" to the
tail of his name, as the most noted scoundrel of antiquity. The
second customer he brought me was a printer, who manufactured
books of chivalry, and had made his fortune by waging war against
common sense. This printer had pirated a work belonging to a
brother printer, and his edition had been seized. For three
hundred ducats I rescued his copies out of jeopardy, and saved
him from a heavy fine. Though this was a transaction beneath the
prime minister's notice, his excellency condescended at my
request to interpose his authority. After the printer, a merchant
passed through my hands; the occasion was thus: A Portuguese
vessel had been taken by a Barbary corsair, and re-taken by a
privateer from Cadiz. Two-thirds of the cargo belonged to a
merchant at Lisbon, who, having claimed his due to no purpose,
came to the court of Spain in search of a protector, with
sufficient credit to procure him restitution. I took up his
cause, and he recovered his property, deducting the sum of four
hundred pistoles, paid to me in consideration of my disinterested
zeal for justice.

And now most surely the reader will call out to me at this place:
Well said, good master Santillane! Make hay while the sun shines.
You are on the high road to fortune; push forward, and outstrip
your rivals. Oh! let me alone for that. I spy, or my eyes deceive
me, my servant coming in with a new gull that he has just caught.
Even so! It is my very Scipio. Let us hear what he has to say.
Sir, quoth he, give me leave to introduce this eminent
practitioner. He wants a licence to sell his drugs during the
term of ten years in all the towns of the Spanish monarchy, to
the exclusion of all other quacks; in short, a monopoly of
poisons. In gratitude for this patent to thin mankind, he will
present the donor with a gratuity of two hundred pistoles. I
looked superciliously, like a patron, at the mountebank, and told
him that his business should be done. As lameness and leprosy
would have it, in the course of a few days I sent him on his
progress through Spain, invested with full powers to make the
world his oyster, and leave nothing but the shell to his
unpatented competitors.

Besides that my avarice outran my accumulating wealth, I had
obtained the four boons just specified so easily from his grace,
as not to be mealy mouthed about asking for a fifth. The town of
Vera, on the coast of Grenada, wanted a governor; and a knight of
Calatrava wanted the government, for which he was willing to pay
me one thousand pistoles. The minister was ready to burst with
laughing, to see me so eager after the scut. By all the powers!
my friend Gil Blas, said he, you go to work tooth and nail! You
have a most inveterate itch to do as you would be done by. But
mark me! When mere trifles stand between us, I shall not stand
upon trifles; but when governments or other places of real value
are in question, you will have the modesty to be content with
half the fee for yourself and will account to me for the other
half. It is inconceivable at what expense I stand, and how it
presses on my finances to support the dignity of my station; for
though disinterestedness looks vastly well in the eyes of the
world, you are to understand between ourselves that I have made a
solemn vow against dipping into my private fortune. On this hint,
arrange your future plans.

My master, by this discourse, relieving me from the fear of being
troublesome, or rather egging me on to run at the ring for every
prize, made me still more worldly-minded than ever I had been
before. I should not have objected to circulating hand-bills,
with an invitation to all candidates for places to apply on
certain terms at the secretary's office. My functions were here,
Scipio's were there; and we met at the receipt of custom. My
client got the government of Vera for his thousand pistoles; and
as our price was fixed, a knight of St James met his brother of
Calatrava in the market on an equal footing. But mere governors
were paltry fish to fry; I distributed orders of knighthood, and
converted some good stupid burgesses into most insufferable
gentry by one stroke of the pen, and a lacing across the
shoulders with a broad-sword. The clergy, too, were not forgotten
in my charities. Lesser preferments were in my gift; everything
up to prebendal stalls and collegiate dignities. With regard to
bishoprics and archbishoprics, Don Rodrigo de Calderona had the
charge of our holy religion. As church and state must always go
together, supreme magistracies, commanderies, and viceroyalties
were all in his gift; whence the reader will naturally infer,
that the upper offices were little better tenanted than the lower
ones; since the subjects on whom our election fell, establishing
their pretensions on a certain palpable criterion, were not
necessarily and unavoidably either the cleverest or the best-
principled people in the world. We knew very well that the wits
and lampooners of Madrid made themselves merry at our expense;
but we borrowed our philosophy from misers, who hug themselves
under the hootings of the people, when they count over the
accumulation of their pelf.

Isocrates was in the right to insinuate, in his elegant Greek
expression, that what is got over the devil's back is spent under
his belly. When I saw myself master of thirty thousand ducats,
and in a fair way to gain perhaps ten times as much, it seemed to
be a necessary of office to make such a figure as became the
right hand of a prime minister. I took a house to myself, and
furnished it in the immediate taste. I bought an attorney's
carriage at second hand: he had set it up at the suggestion of
vanity, and laid it down at the suggestion of his banker. I hired
a coachman and three footmen. Justice demands that old and
faithful servants should be promoted; I therefore invested Scipio
with the threefold honour of valet-de-chambre, private secretary,
and steward. But the minister raised my pride to its highest
pitch, for he was pleased to allow my people to wear his livery.
My poor little wits were now completely turned. I was little more
in my senses than the disciples of Porcius Latro, who, by dint of
drinking cummin, having made themselves as pale as their master,
thought themselves every whit as learned; so I could scarcely
refrain from fancying myself next of kin and presumptive heir to
the Duke of Lerma himself. The populace might take me for his
cousin, and people who knew better, for one of his bastards; a
suspicion most flattering to my pride of blood.

Add to this, that after the example of his excellency, who kept a
public table, I determined to give parties of my own. Pursuant
thereunto, I commissioned Scipio to find me out a professed cook,
and he stumbled upon one who might have dished up a dinner for
Nomentanus, of dripping-pan notoriety. My cellar was well stored
with the choicest wines. My establishment being now complete, I
gave my house-warming. Every evening some of the clerks in the
public offices came to sup with me, and affected a sort of
political high life be low-stairs. I did the honours hospitably,
and always sent them home half seas over. Like master like man!
Scipio, too, had his parties in the servants' hall, where he
treated all his chums at my expense. But besides that I felt a
real kindness for that lad, he contributed to grease the wheels
of my establishment, and was entitled to have a finger in the
dissipation. As a young man, some little licence was allowable;
and the ruinous consequences did not strike me at the time.
Another reason, too, prevented me from taking notice of it;
incessant vacancies, ecclesiastical and secular, paid me amply in
meal and in malt. My surplus was increasing every day. Fortune's
curricle seemed to have driven to my door, there to have broken
down, and the driver to have taken shelter with me.

One thing more was wanting to my complete intoxication, that
Fabricio might be witness to my pomp. He was most probably come
back from Andalusia. For the fun of surprising him, I sent an
anonymous note, importing that a Sicilian nobleman of his
acquaintance would be glad of his company to supper, with the
day, hour, and place of appointment, which was at my house. Nunez
came, and was most inordinately astonished to recognize me in the
Sicilian nobleman. Yes, my friend, said I, behold the master of
this family. I have a retinue, a good table, and a strong box
besides. Is it possible, exclaimed he with vivacity, that all
this opulence should be yours? It was well done in me to have
placed you with Count Galiano. I told you beforehand that he was
a generous nobleman, and would not be long before he set you at
your ease. Of course you followed my wise advice, in giving the
rein a little more freely to your servants; you find the benefit
of it. It is only by a little mutual accommodation, that the
principal officers in great houses feather their nests so
comfortably.

I suffered Fabricio to go on as long as he liked, complimenting
himself for having introduced me to Count Galiano. When he had
done, to chastise his ecstasies at having procured me so good a
post, I stated at full length the returns of gratitude with which
that nobleman had recompensed my services. But, perceiving how
ready my poet was to string his lyre to satire at my recital, I
said to him -- The Sicilian's contemptible conduct I readily
forgive. Between ourselves, it is more a subject of
congratulation than of regret. If the count had dealt honourably
by me, I should have followed him into Sicily, where I should
still be in a subordinate capacity, waiting for dead men's shoes.
In a word, I should not now have been hand in glove with the Duke
of Lerma.

Nunez felt so strange a sensation at these last words, that he
was tongue-tied for some seconds. Then gulping. up his stammering
accents like harlequin, Did I hear aright? said he. What! you
hand in glove with the prime minister. I on one side, and Don
Rodrigo de Calderona on the other, answered I; and according to
all appearance, my fortunes will move higher. Truly, replied he,
this is admirable. You are cut out for every occasion. What an
universal genius! To borrow an expression from the tennis-court,
you have a racket for every ball; nothing comes amiss to you. At
all events, my lord, I am sincerely rejoiced at your lordship's
prosperity. The deuce and all, Master Nunez! interrupted I; good
now, dispense with your lords and lordships. Let us banish such
formalities, and live on equal terms together. You are in the
right, replied he; altered circumstances should not make strange
faces. I will own my weakness; when you announced your elevation
you took away my breath; but the chill and the shudder are over,
and I see only my old friend Gil Blas.

Our conversation was interrupted by the arrival of four or five
clerks. Gentlemen, said I, introducing Nunez, you are to sup with
Signor Don Fabricio, who writes verses of impenetrable sublimity,
and such prose as would not know itself in the glass. Unluckily I
was talking to gentry who would have had more fellow-feeling with
an Oran Outang than with a poet They scarcely condescended to
look at him. In vain did he pun, parody, rally, or rail to hit
their fancies, for they had none. He was so nettled at their
indifference, that he assumed the poetic licence, and made his
escape. Our clerks never missed him, but forgot at once that he
had been there.

Just as I was going out the next morning, the poet of the
Asturias came into my room. I beg pardon, said he, for having cut
your clerks so abruptly last night; but, to deal freely, I was so
much out of my element, that I should soon have played old chaos
with them. Proud puppies, with their starch and self-important
air! I cannot conceive how a clever fellow like you can sit it
out with such loutish guests. To-day I will bring you some of
more life and spirit. I shall be very much obliged to you,
answered I; your introduction is sufficient. Exactly so, replied
he. You shall have the feast of reason and the flow of soul. I
will go forthwith and invite them, for fear they should engage
themselves elsewhere; for happy man be his dole who can get them
to dinner or supper; they are such excellent company!

Away went he; and in the evening, at supper-time, returned with
six authors in his train, whom he presented one after another
with a set speech in their praise. According to his account, the
wits of Greece and Italy were nothing in comparison of these,
whose works ought to be printed in letters of gold. I received
this deputation from the tuneful sisters very politely. My
behaviour was even in the extravagance of good breeding; for the
republic of authors is a little monarchical in its demands upon
our flattery. Though I had given Scipio no express direction
respecting the number of covers at this entertainment, yet
knowing what a hungry and voluptnous race were to be crammed, he
had mustered the courses in more than their full complement.

At length supper was announced, and we fell to merrily. My poets
began talking of their poems and themselves. One fellow, with the
most lyrical assurance, numbered up whole hosts of first-rate
nobility and high-flying dames, who were quite enraptured with
his muse. Another, though it was not for him to arraign the
choice which a learned society had lately made of two new
members, could not help saying that it was strange they should
not have elected him. All the rest were much in the same story.
Amid the clatter of knives and forks, my ears were more
discordantly dinned with verses and harangues. They each took it
by turns to give me a specimen of their composition. One
languishes out a sonnet; another mouths a scene in a tragedy; and
a third reads a melancholy criticism on the province of comedy.
The next in turn spouts an ode of Anacreon, translated into most
un-anacreontic Spanish verse. One of his brethren interrupts him,
to point out the unclassical use of a particular phrase. The
author of the version by no means acquiesces in the remark; hence
arises an argument, in which all the literati take one side or
the other. Opinions are nearly balanced; the disputants are
nearly in a passion; as argument weakens, invective grows
stronger; they get from bad to worse; over goes the table, and up
jump they to fisty-cuffs. Fabricio, Scipio, my coachman, my
footman, and myself, have scarcely lungs or strength to bring
them to their senses. The moment the battle was over, off
scampered they as if my house had been a tavern, without the
slightest apology for their ill behaviour.

Nunez, on whose word I had anticipated a very pleasant party,
looked rather blue at this conclusion. Well, my friend, said I,
what do you think of your literary acquaintance now? As sure as
Apollo is on Parnassus, you brought me a most blackguard set. I
will stick to my clerks; so talk no more to me about authors. I
shall take care, answered he, not to invite any of them to a
gentleman's house again; for these are the most select and well-
mannered of the tribe.


CH. X. -- The morals of Gil Blas become at court much as if they
had never been at all. A commission from the Count de Lemos,
which, like most court commissions, implies an intrigue.

WHEN once my name was up for a man after the Duke of Lerma's own
heart, I had very soon my court about me. Every morning was my
ante-chamber crowded with company, and my levees were all the
fashion. Two sorts of customers came to my shop; one set, to
engage my interposition with the minister, on fair commercial
principles; the other set, to excite my compassion by pathetic
statements of their cases, and give me a lift to heaven on the
packhorse of charity. The first were sure of being heard
patiently and served diligently; with regard to the second order,
I got rid of them at once by plausible evasions, or kept them
dangling till they wore their patience threadbare, and went off
in a huff. Before I was about the court my nature was
compassionate and charitable; but tenderness of heart is an
unfashionable frailty there, and mine became harder than any
flint. Here was an admirable school to correct the romantic
sensibilities of friendship: nor was my philosophy any longer
assailable in that quarter. My manner of dealing with Joseph
Navarro, under the following circumstances, will prove more than
volumes on that head.

This Navarro, the founder of my fortune, to whom my obligations
were thick and threefold, paid me a visit one day. With the
warmest expressions of regard such as he was in the habit of
lavishing, he begged me to ask the Duke of Lerma for a certain
situation for one of his friends, a young man of excellent
qualities and undoubted merit, but incumbered with an inability
of getting on in the world. I am well assured, added Joseph, that
with your good and obliging disposition, you will be enraptured
to confer a favour on a worthy man with a very slender purse; I
am sure you will feel obliged to me for giving you an opportunity
of carrying your benevolent inclinations into effect This was
just as good as telling me that the business was to be done for
nothing. Though such doctrine was not quite level to my capacity,
I still affected a wish to do as he desired. It gives me infinite
pleasure, answered I to Navarro, to have it in my power to evince
my lively sense of all your former kindness to me. It is enough
for you to take any man living by the hand; from that moment he
becomes the object of my unwearied care. Your friend shall have
the situation you want for him; nay, he has it already: it is no
longer any concern of yours; leave it entirely to me.

On this assurance Joseph went away in high glee; nevertheless,
the person he recommended had not the post in question. It was
given to another man, and my strong box was the stronger by a
thousand ducats. This sum was infinitely preferable to all the
thanks in the world, so that I looked pitifully blank when next
we met, saying -- Ah, my dear Navarro! you should have thought of
speaking to me sooner. That Calderona got the start of me; he has
given away a certain thing that shall be nameless. I am vexed to
the soul not to meet you with better tidings.

Joseph was fool enough to give me credit, and we parted better
friends than ever; but I suspect that he soon found out the
truth, for he never came near me again. This was just what I
wanted. Besides that the memory of benefits received grated
harshly, it would not have been at all the thing for a person in
my then sphere to keep company with a certain description of
people.

The Count de Lemos has been long in the background, let us bring
him a little forwarder on the canvas. We met occasionally. I had
carried him a thousand pistoles, as the reader will recollect;
and I now carried him a thousand more, by order of his uncle the
duke, out of his excellency's funds lying in my hands. On this
occasion the Count de Lemos honoured me with a long conference.
He informed me that at length he had completely gained his end,
and was in unrivalled possession of the Prince of Spain's good
graces, whose sole confidant he was. His next concern was to
invest me with a right honourable commission, of which he had
already given me a hint. Friend Santillane, said he, now is the
time to strike while the iron is hot. Spare no pains to find out
some young beauty, worthy to while away the prince's amorous
hours. You have your wits about you; and a word to the wise is
sufficient. Go; run about the town; pry into every hole and
corner; and when you have pounced upon anything likely to suit,
you will come and let me know. I promised the count to leave no
stone unturned in the due discharge of my employment, which
seemed to require no great force of genius, since the professors
of the science are so numerous.

I had not hitherto been much practised in such delicate
investigations, but it was more than probable that Scipio had,
and that his talent lay peculiarly that way. On my return home I
called him in, and spoke thus to him in private: My good fellow,
I have a very important secret to impart. Do you know that in the
midst of fortune's favours, there is something still wanting to
crown all my wishes? I can easily guess what that is, interrupted
he, without giving me time to finish what I was going to say; you
want a little snug bit of contraband amusement, to keep you awake
of evenings, and rub off the dust of business. And, in fact, it
is a marvellous thing that you should have played the Joseph in
the heyday of your blood, when so many greybeards around you are
playing the Elder. I admire the quickness of your apprehension,
replied I with a smile. Yes, my friend, a mistress is that
something still wanting; and you shall choose for me. But I
forewarn you that I am nice hungry, and must have a pretty
person, with more than passable manners. The sort of thing that
you require, returned Scipio, is not always to be met with in the
market. Yet, as luck will have it, we are in a town where
everything is to be got for money, and I am in hopes that your
commission will not hang long on hand.

Accordingly within three days he pulled me by the sleeve: I have
discovered a treasure! a young lady whose name is Catalina, of
good family and matchless beauty, living with her aunt in a small
house, where they make both ends meet by clubbing their little
matters, and set the slanderous world at defiance. Their waiting-
maid, a girl of my acquaintance, has given me to understand that
their door, though barred against all impertinent intruders,
would turn upon its hinges to a rich and generous suitor, if he
would only consent, for fear of prying neighbours, not to pay his
visits till after night-fall, and then in the most private manner
possible. Hereupon I magnified you as the properest gentleman in
the world, and intreated piety in pattens to offer your humble
services to the ladies. She promised to do so, and to bring me
back my answer to-morrow morning at an appointed place. That is
all very well, answered I; but I am afraid your goddess of bed-
making has been running her rig upon you. No, no, replied he, old
birds are not to be caught with chaff; I have already made
inquiry in the neighbourhood, and by the general report of her,
Signora Catalina is a second Danae, on whom you will have the
happiness of coming down,

Like Jove descending from his tower,
To court her in a silver shower.

Out of conceit as I was with the intrinsic value of ladies'
favours, this was not to be scoffed at; and as our Mercury in
petticoats came the next day to tell Scipio that it only depended
on me to be introduced that very evening, I dropped in between
eleven and twelve o'clock. The knowing one received me without
bringing a candle, and led me by the hand into a very neat
apartment, where the two ladies were sitting on a satin sofa,
dressed in the most elegant taste. As soon as they saw me enter,
they got up and welcomed me in a style of such superior breeding,
as would not have disgraced the highest rank. The aunt, whose
name was Signora Mencia, though with the remains of beauty, had
no attractions for me. But the niece had a million, for she was a
goddess in mortal form. And yet, to examine her critically, she
could not have been admitted for a perfect beauty; but then there
was a charm above all rules of symmetry, with a tingling and
luxurious warmth about her, that seized on men's hearts through
their eyes, and prevented their brains from being too busy.

Neither were my senses proof against so dazzling a display. I
forgot my errand as proxy, and spoke on my own private individual
account, with the enthusiasm of a raw recruit in the tender
passion. The dear little creature, whose wit sounded in my ears
with three times its actual acuteness, under favour of her
natural endowments, made a complete conquest of me by her
prattle. I began to launch out into foolish raptures, when the
aunt, to bring me to my bearings, led the conversation to the
point in hand: Signor de Santillane, I shall deal very explicitly
with you. On the high encomiums I have heard of your character,
you have been admitted here, without the affectation of making
much ado about trifles: but do not imagine that your views are
the nearer their termination for that. Hitherto I have brought my
niece up in retirement, and you are, as it were, the very first
male creature on whom she has ever set eyes. If you deem her
worthy of being your wife, I shall feel myself highly honoured by
the alliance: it is for you to consider whether those terms suit
you; but you cannot have her on cheaper.

This was proceeding to business with a vengeance! It put little
Cupid to flight at once: or else he was just going to try one of
his sharpest arrows upon me. But a truce with the Pantheon! A
marriage so bluntly proposed dispelled the fairy vision: I sunk
back at once into the count's plodding agent; and changing my
tone, answered Signora Mencia thus: Madam, your frankness
delights me, and I will meet it half-way. Whatever rank I may
hold at court, lower than the highest is too low for the peerless
Catalina. A far more brilliant offer waits her acceptance; the
Prince of Spain shall be thrown into her toils. Surely it was
enough to have refused my niece, replied the aunt sarcastically;
such compliments are sufficiently unpleasing to our sex; it could
not be necessary to make us your unfeeling sport. I really am not
in so merry a mood, madam! exclaimed I: it is a plain matter of
fact; I am commissioned to look out for a young lady of merit
sufficient to engage the prince's heart, and receive his private
visits; the object of my search is in your house, and here his
royal highness shall fix his quarters.

Signora Mencia could scarcely believe her cars; neither were they
grievously offended. Nevertheless, thinking it decent to be
startled at the immorality of the proceeding, she replied to the
following effect: Though I should give implicit credit to what
you tell me, you must understand that I am not of a character to
take pleasure in the infamous distinction of seeing my niece a
prince's concubine. Every feeling of virtue and of honour revolts
at the idea . . . . What a simpleton you are with your virtue and
honour! interrupted I. You have not a notion above the level of a
tradesman's wife. Was there ever anything so stupid as to
consider affairs of this kind with a view to their moral
tendency? It is stripping them of all their beauty and
excellence. In the magic lanthorn of plenty, pleasure, and
preferment, they appear with all their brightest gloss. Figure to
yourself the heir to the monarchy at the happy Catalina's feet;
fancy him all rapture and lavish bounty; nor doubt but that from
her shall spring a hero, who shall immortalize his mother's name,
by enrolling his own in the unperishable records of eternal fame.

Though the aunt desired no better sport than to take me at my
word, she affected not to know what she had best do; and
Catalina, who longed to have a grapple with the Prince of Spain,
affected not to care about the matter; which made it necessary
for me to press the siege closer; till at length Signora Mencia,
finding me chop-fallen and ready to withdraw my forces, sounded a
parley, and agreed to a convention, containing the two following
articles. Imprimis, if the Prince of Spain, on the fame of
Catalina's charms, should take fire, and determine to pay her a
nightly visit, it should be my care to let the ladies know when
they might expect him. Secondo, that the prince should be
introduced to the said ladies as a private gentleman, accompanied
only by himself and his principal purveyor.

After this capitulation, the aunt and niece were upon the best
terms possible with me: they behaved as if we had known one
another from our cradles; on the strength of which I ventured on
some little familiarities, which were not taken at all unkindly;
and when we parted, they embraced me of their own accord, and
slabbered me over with inexpressible fondness. It is marvellous
to think with what facility a tender connection is formed between
persons in the same line of trade, but of opposite sexes. It
might have been suspected by an eye-witness of my departure, in
all the plenitude of warm and repeated salutation, that my visit
had been more successful than it was.

The Count de Lemos was highly delighted when I announced the
long-expected discovery. I spoke of Catalina in terms which made
him long to see her. The following night I took him to her house,
and he owned that I had beat the bush to some purpose. He told
the ladies, he had no doubt but the Prince of Spain would be
fully satisfied with my choice of a mistress, who, on her part,
would have reason to be well pleased with such a lover; that the
young prince was generous, good-tempered, and amiable; in short,
he promised in a few days to bring him in the mode they enjoined,
without retinue or publicity. That nobleman then took leave of
them, and I withdrew with him. We got into his carriage, in which
we had both driven thither, and which was waiting at the end of
the street. He set me down at my own door, with a special charge
to inform his uncle next day of the new game started, not
forgetting to impress strongly how conducive a good bag of
pistoles would be to the successful accomplishment of the
adventure.

I did not fail on the following morning to go and give the Duke
of Lerma an exact account of all that had passed. There was but
one thing kept back. I did not mention Scipio's name, but took
credit to myself for the discovery of Catalina. One makes a merit
of any dirty work in the service of the great.

Abundant were the compliments paid me on this occasion. My good
friend Gil Blas, said the minister with a bantering air, I am
delighted that with all your talents you have that besides of
discovering kind-hearted beauties; whenever I have occasion for
such an article, you will have the goodness to supply me. My
lord, answered I with mock gravity like his own, you are very
obliging to give me the preference; but it may not he
unseasonable to observe that there would be an indelicacy in my
administering to your excellency's pleasures of this description.
Signor Don Rodrigo has been so long in possession of that post
about your person, that it would be manifest injustice to rob him
of it. The duke smiled at my answer; and then changing the
subject, asked whether his nephew did not want money for this new
speculation. Excuse my negligence! said I; he will thank you to
send him a thousand pistoles. Well and good! replied the
minister; you will furnish him accordingly, with my strict
injunction not to be niggardly, but to encourage the prince in
whatever pleasurable expenses his heart may prompt him to
indulge.


CH. XI. -- The Prince of Spain's secret visit, and presents to
Catalina.

I WENT to the Count de Lemos on the spur of the occasion, with
five hundred double pistoles in my hand. You could not have come
at a better time, said that nobleman. I have been talking with
the prince; he has taken the bait, and burns with impatience to
see Catalina. This very night he intends to slip privately out of
the palace, and pay her a visit; it is a measure determined on,
and our arrangements are already made. Give notice to the ladies,
through the medium of the cash you have just brought; it is
proper to let them know they have no ordinary lover to receive;
and a matter of course that generosity in princes should be the
herald of their partialities. As you will be of our party, take
care to be in the way at bed-time: and as your carriage will be
wanted, let it wait near the palace about midnight.

I immediately repaired to the ladies. Catalina was not visible,
having just gone to lie down. I could only speak with Signora
Mencia. Madam, said I, forgive my appearance here in the day-
time, but there was no avoiding it; you must know that the Prince
of Spain will be with you to-night; and here, added I, putting my
pecuniary credentials into her hand, here is an offering which he
lays on the Cytherean shrine, to propitiate the divinities of the
temple. You may perceive, I have not entangled you in a
sleeveless concern. You have been excessively kind indeed,
answered she; but tell me, Signor de Santillane, does the prince
love music? To distraction, replied I. There is nothing he so
much delights in as a fine voice, with a delicate lute
accompaniment So much the better, exclaimed she in a transport of
joy; you give me great pleasure by saying so; for my niece has
the pipe of a nightingale, and plays exquisitely on the lute:
then her dancing is in the finest style! Heavens and earth!
exclaimed I in my turn, here are accomplishments by wholesale,
aunt; more than enough to make any girl's fortune! Any one of
those talents would have been a sufficient dowry.

Having thus smoothed his reception, I waited for the prince's
bed-time. When it was near at hand, I gave my coachman his
orders, and went to the Count de Lemos, who told me that the
prince, the sooner to get rid of the people about him, meant to
feign a slight indisposition, and even to go to bed, the better
to cajole his attendants; but that he would get up an hour
afterwards, and go through a private door to a back staircase
leading into the court-yard.

Conformably with their previous arrangements, he fixed my
station. There had I to beat the hoof so long, that I began to
suspect our forward sprig of royalty had gone another way, or
else had changed his mind about Catalina; just as if princes ever
began to be fickle, till the goad of novelty and curiosity began
to be blunted. In short, I thought they had forgotten me, when
two men came up. Finding them to be my party, I led the way to my
carriage, into which they both got, and I upon the coach-box to
direct the driver, whom I stopped fifty yards from the house,
whither we walked. The door opened at our approach, and shut
again as soon as we got in.

At first we were in absolute darkness, as on my former visit,
though a small lamp was fixed to the wall on the present
occasion. But the light which it shed was so faint, as only to
render itself visible without assisting us. All this served only
to heighten the romance in the fancy of its hero, fixed as he was
in steadfast gaze at the sight of the ladies as they received him
in a saloon whose brilliant illumination was more dazzling, when
contrasted with the gloom of the avenue. The aunt and niece were
in a tempting undress, where the science of coquetry was
displayed in all its luxury and absolute sway. Our prince could
have been happy with Signora Mencia, had the dear charmer
Catalina been away; but as there was a choice, the younger,
according to the rules of precedency in the court of Cupid, had
the preference.

Well! prince, said the Count de Lemos, could you have desired a
better specimen of beauty? They are both enchanting, answered the
prince, and my heart may as well surrender at once; for the aunt
would arrest it in its flight, if it attempted to sound a retreat
from the niece's all-subduing charms.

After such compliments, as do not fall by wholesale to the share
of aunts, he addressed his choicest terms of flattery to
Catalina, who answered him in kind. As convenient personages of
my stamp are allowed to mingle in the conversation of lovers, for
the purpose of making fire hotter, I introduced the subject of
singing and playing on the lute. This was the signal of fresh
rapture! and the nymph, the muse, the anything but mortal, was
supplicated to outtune the jingle of the spheres. She complied
like a good-humoured goddess; played some tender airs, and sung
so deliciously, that the prince flopped down on his knees in a
tumult of love and pleasure. But scenes like these are vapid in
description: suffice it to say that hours glided away like
moments in this sweet delirium, till the approach of day warned
the sober plotters of the lunacy to provide for their patient's
safety, and their own. When the parties were all snugly housed,
we gave ourselves as much credit for the negotiation as if we had
patched up a marriage with a princess.

The next morning the Duke of Lerma desired to know all the
particulars. Just as I had finished relating them, the Count de
Lemos came in and said -- The Prince of Spain is so engrossed by
Catalina; he has taken so decided a fancy to her, that he
actually proposes to be constant. He wanted to have sent her
jewels to the amount of two thousand pistoles to-day, but his
finances wee aground. My dear Lemos, said he, addressing himself
to me, you must absolutely get me that sum. I know it is very
inconvenient; you have pawned your credit for me already, but my
heart owns itself your debtor; and if ever I have the means of
returning your kindness by more than empty words, your fortunes
shall not suffer by your complaisance. In answer, I assured him
that I had friends and credit, and promised to bring him what he
wanted.

There is no difficulty about that, said the duke to his nephew.
Santillane will bring you the money; or, to save trouble, he may
purchase the jewels, for he is an admirable judge, especially of
rubies. Are you not, Gil Blas? This stroke of satire was of
course designed to entertain the count at my expense, and it was
successful, for his curiosity could not but be excited to know
the meaning of the mystery. No mystery at all, replied his uncle
with a broad laugh. Only Santillane took it into his head one day
to exchange a diamond for a ruby, and the barter operated equally
to the advantage of his pocket and his penetration.

Had the minister stopped there, I should have come off cheaply;
but he took the trouble of dressing out in aggravated colours the
trick that Camilla and Don Raphael played me, with a most
provoking enlargement of the circumstances most to the
disadvantage of my sagacity. His excellency having enjoyed his
joke, ordered me to attend the Count de Lemos to a jeweller's,
where we selected trinkets for the Prince of Spain's inspection,
and they were intrusted to my care to be delivered to Catalina.

There can be little doubt of my kind reception on the following
night, when I displayed a fine pair of drop ear-rings, as the
presents of my embassy. The two ladies, out of their wits at
these costly tokens of the prince's love, suffered their tongues
to run into a gossiping strain, while they were thanking me for
introducing them into such worshipful society. In the excess of
their joy, they forgot themselves a little. There escaped now and
then certain peculiar idioms of speech, which made me suspect
that the party in question was no such dainty morsel for royalty
to feed upon. To ascertain precisely what degree of obligation I
had conferred on the heir-apparent, I took my leave with the
intention of coining to a right understanding with Scipio.


CH. XII. -- Catalina's real condition a worry and alarm to Gil
Blas. His precautions for his own ease and quiet.

ON coming home, I heard a devil of a noise, and inquired what was
the meaning of it. They told me that Scipio was giving a supper
to half-a-dozen of his friends. They were singing as loud as
their kings could roar, and threatening the stability of the
house with their protracted peals of laughter. This meal was not
in all respects the banquet of the seven wise men.

The founder of the feast, informed of my arrival, said to his
company: Sit still, gentlemen, it is only the master of the house
come home, but that need not disturb you. Go on with your merry-
making; I will but just whisper a word in his ear, and be back
again in a moment. He came to me accordingly. What an infernal
din! said I. What sort of company do you keep below? Have you,
too, got in among the poets? Thank you for nothing! answered he.
Your wine is too good to be given to such gentry; I turn it to
better account. There is a young man of large property in my
party, who wishes to lay out your credit and his own money in the
purchase of a place. This little festivity is all for him. For
every glass he fills, I put on ten pistoles, in addition to the
regular fee. He shall drink till he is under the table. If that
is the case, replied I, go to your presidentship, and do not
spare the cellar.

Then was no proper time to talk about Catalina; but the next
morning I opened the business thus: Friend Scipio, the terms we
are upon entitle me to fair dealing. I have treated you more like
an equal than a servant, consequently you would be much to blame
to cheat me on the footing of a master. Let us, therefore, have
no secrets towards each other. I am going to tell you what will
surprise you; and you on your part shall give me your sincere
opinion about the two women with whom you have brought me
acquainted. Between ourselves, I suspect them to be no better
than they should be; with so much the more of the knave in their
composition, because they affect the simpleton. If my conjecture
be right, the Prince of Spain has no great reason to be delighted
with my activity; for I will own to you frankly, that it was for
him I spoke to you about a mistress. I brought him to see
Catalina, and he is over head and ears in love with her. Sir,
answered Scipio, you have dealt so handsomely by me, that I shall
act upon the square with you. I had yesterday a private inter
view with the abigail, and she gave me a most entertaining
history of the family. You shall have it briefly, though it did
not come briefly to me.

Catalina was daughter to a sort of gentleman in Arragon. An
orphan at fifteen, with no fortune but a pretty face, she lent a
complying ear to an officer who carried her off to Toledo, where
he died in six months, having been more like a father than a
husband to her. She collected his effects together, consisting of
their joint wardrobe and three hundred pistoles in ready money,
and then went to housekeeping with Signora Mencia, who was still
in fashion, though a little on the wane. These sisters, every way
but in blood, began at length to attract the attention of the
police. The ladies took umbrage at this, and decamped in dudgeon
for Madrid, where they have been living for these two years,
without making any acquaintance in the neighbourhood. But now
comes the best of the joke: they have taken two small houses
adjoining each other, with a passage of communication through the
cellars. Signora Mencia lives with a servant girl in one of these
houses, and the officer's widow inhabits the other, with an old
duenna, whom she passes off for her grandmother, so that her
versatile child of nature is sometimes a niece brought up by her
aunt, and sometimes an orphan under her grandam's fostering wing.
When she enacts the niece, her name is Catalina; and when she
personates the grand-daughter, she calls herself Sirena.

At the grating sound of Sirena I turned pale, and interrupted
Scipio, saying -- What do you tell me? Alas! it must be so: This
cursed imp of Arragon is Calderona's charming Siren. To be sure
she is, answered he, the very same! I thought you would be
delighted at the news. Quite the reverse, replied I. It portends
more sorrow than laughter; do not you anticipate the
consequences? None of any ill omen, rejoined Scipio. What is
there to be afraid of? It is not certain that Don Rodrigo will
rub his forehead; and in case any good-natured friend should show
it him in the glass, you had better let the minister into the
secret beforehand. Tell him all the circumstances straightforward
as they happened; he will see that there has been no trick on
your part; and if after that Calderona should attempt to do you
an ill office with his excellency, it will be as clear as
daylight that he is only actuated by a spirit of revenge.

Scipio removed all my apprehensions by this advice, which I
followed, in acquainting the Duke of Lerma at once with this
unlucky discovery. My aspect, while telling my tale, was
sorrowful, and my tone faltering, in evidence of my contrition
for having unadvisedly brought the prince and Don Rodrigo into
such close quarters; but the minister was more disposed to roast
his favourite than to pity him. Indeed, he ordered me to let the
matter take its own course, considering it as a feather in
Calderona's cap to dispute the empire of love with so illustrious
a rival, and not to be worse used than his lawful prince. The
Count de Lemos, too, was informed how things stood, and promised
me his protection, if the first secretary should come at the
knowledge of the intrigue, and attempt to undermine me with the
duke.

Trusting to have secured the frail bark of my fortunes by this
notable contrivance from the rocks and quicksands that threatened
it, my mind was once more at rest. I continued attending the
prince on his visits to Catalina, sirenlike in nature as in
nickname, who was fertile in quaint devices to keep Don Rodrigo
away from next door, whenever the course of business required her
to devote her nights to his royal competitor.


CH. XIII. -- Gil Blas goes on personating the great man. He hears
news of his family: a touch of nature on the occasion. A grand
quarrel with Fabricio.

I MENTIONED some time ago, that in the morning there was usually
a crowd of people in my ante-chamber, coming to negotiate little
private concerns in the way of politics; but I would never suffer
them to open their business by word of mouth; but adopting court
precedent, or rather giving myself the airs of a jack in office,
my language to every suitor was -- Send in a memorial on the
subject. My tongue ran so glibly to that tune, that one day I
gave my landlord the official answer, when he came to put me in
mind of a twelvemonth's rent in arrear. As for my butcher and
baker, they spared the trouble of asking for their memorials, by
never giving me time to run up a bill. Scipio, who mimicked me so
exactly, that only those behind the scenes could distinguish the
double from the principal performer, held his head just as high
with the poor devils who curried favour with him, as a step of
the ladder to my ministerial patronage.

There was another foolish trick of mine, of which I do not by any
means pretend to make a merit; neither more nor less than the
extreme assurance of talking about the first nobility, just as if
I had been one of their kidney. Suppose, for example, the Duke of
Alva, the Duke of Ossuna, or the Duke of Medina Sidonia were
mentioned in conversation, I called them without ceremony, my
friend Alva, that good-natured fellow Ossuna, or that comical dog
Medina Sidonia. In a word, my pride and vanity had swelled to
such a height, that my father and mother were no longer among the
number of my honoured relatives. Alas! poor understrappers, I
never thought of asking whether you had sunk or were swimming in
the Asturias. A thought about you never came into my head. The
court has all the soporific virtues of Lethe, in the case of poor
relations.

My family was completely obliterated from the tablets of my
memory, when one morning a young man knocked at my door and
begged to speak with me for a moment in private. He was shown
into my closet, where, without asking him to take a chair, as he
seemed to be quite a common fellow, I desired to know abruptly
what he wanted. How! Signor Gil Blas? said he, do you not
remember me? It was in vain that I perused the lines of his face
over and over again; I was obliged to tell him fairly that he had
the advantage of me. Why, I am one of your old schoolfellows!
replied he, bred and born in Oviedo; Bertrand Muscada, the
grocer's son, next-door neighbour to your uncle the canon. I
recollect you as well as if it was but yesterday. We have played
a thousand times together at blind man's buff and prison bars.

My youthful recollections, answered I, are very transient and
confused. Blind man's buff and prison bars are but childish
amusement! The burden of state affairs leaves me little time to
ruminate on the trifles of my younger days. I am come to Madrid,
said he, to settle accounts with my father's correspondent. I
heard talk of you! Folks say that you have, a good berth at
court, and are already almost as well off as a Jew broker. I
thought I would just call in and say, how d'ye do? On my return
into the country, your family will jump out of their skins for
joy, when they hear how famously you are getting on.

It was impossible in decency to avoid asking how my father, my
mother, and my uncle stood in the world; but that duty was
performed in so gingerly a manner, as to leave the grocer little
room to compliment dame Nature on her liberal provision of
instinct. He seemed quite shocked at my indifference for such
near kindred, and told me bluntly, with his coarse shopman's
familiarity, Methinks you might have shown more heartiness and
natural feeling for your kinsfolk! Why, you ask after them just
as if they were vermin! Your father and mother are still at
service; take that in your dish! And the good canon, Gil Perez,
eat up with gout, rheumatism, and old age, has one foot in the
grave. People should feel as people ought; and seeing that you
are in a berth to be a blessing to your poor parents, take a
friend's advice, and allow them two hundred pistoles a year. That
will be doing a handsome thing, and making them comfortable, and
then you may spend the rest upon yourself with a good conscience.
Instead of being softened by this family picture, I only resented
the officiousness of unasked advice. A more delicate and covert
remonstrance might perhaps have made its impression, but so bold
a rebuke only hardened my heart. My sulky silence was not lost
upon him, so that while he moralized himself out of charity into
downright abuse, my choler began to overflow. Nay, then! this is
too much, answered I, in a devil of a passion. Get about your
business, Master Muscada, and mind your own shop. You are a
pretty fellow to preach to me! As if I were to be taught my duty
by you. Without further parley I handed the grocer out of my
closet by the shoulder, and sent him off to weigh figs and
nutmegs at Oviedo.

The home-strokes he had laid on were not lost to my sober
recollection. My neglect of filial piety struck home to my heart,
and melted me into tears. When I recollected how much my
childhood was indebted to my parents, what pains they had taken
in my education, these affecting thoughts gave language for the
moment to the still small voice of nature and gratitude; but the
language was never translated into solid sense and service. An
habitual callousness succeeded this transient sensation, and
peremptorily cancelled every obligation of humanity. There are
many fathers besides mine, who will acknowledge this portrait of
their sons.

Avarice and ambition, dividing me between them, annihilated every
trace of my former temper. I lost all my gaiety, became absent
and moping, -- in short, a most unsociable animal. Fabricio
seeing me so furiously bent on accumulation, and so perfectly
indifferent to him, very rarely came to see me. He could not help
saying one day: In truth, Gil Blas, you are quite an altered man.
Before you were about the court, you were always pleasant and
easy. Now you are all agitation and turmoil. You form project
after project to make a fortune, and the more you realize, the
wider your views of aggrandizement extend. But this is not the
worst! You have no longer that expansion of heart, those open
manners, which form the charm of friendship. On the contrary, you
wrap yourself round, and shut the avenues of your heart even to
me. In your very civilities, I detect the violence you impose
upon yourself. In short, Gil Blas is no longer the same Gil Blas
whom I once knew.

You really have a most happy talent for bantering, answered I,
with repulsive jocularity. But this metamorphose into the shag of
a savage is not perceptible to myself. Your own eyes, replied he,
are insensible to the change, because they are fascinated. But
the fact remains the same. Now, my friend, tell me fairly and
honestly, shall we live together as heretofore? When I used to
knock at your door in the morning, you came and opened it
yourself; between asleep and awake, and I walked in without
ceremony. Now, what a difference! You have an establishment of
servants. They keep me cooling my heels in your ante-chamber; my
name must be sent in before I can speak to you. When this is got
over, what is my reception? A cold inclination of the head, and
the insolent strut of office. Any one would suppose that my
visits were growing troublesome! Can you suppose this to be
treatment for a man who was once on equal terms with you? No,
Santillane, it can never be, nor will I bear it longer. Farewell!
Let us part without ill blood. We shall both be better asunder;
you will get rid of a troublesome censor, and I of a purse-proud
upstart who does not know himself.

I felt myself more exasperated than reformed by his reproaches;
and suffered him to take his departure without the slightest
effort to overcome his resolution. In the present temper of my
mind, the friendship of a poet did not seem a catch of sufficient
importance to break one's heart about its loss. I found ample
amends in the intimacy of some subaltern attendants about the
king's person, with whom a similarity of humour had lately
connected me closely. These new acquaintance of mine were for the
most part men from no one knows where, pushed up to their
appointments more by luck than merit. They had all got into warm
berths; and, wretches as they were, measuring their own
consequence by the excess of royal bounty, forgot their origin as
scandalously as I forgot mine. We gave ourselves infinite credit
for what told so much and bitterly to our disgrace. O fortune!
what a jade you are, to distribute your favours at haphazard as
you do! Epictetus was perfectly in the right, when he likened you
to a jilt of fashion, prowling about in masquerade, and tipping
the wink to every blackguard who parades the street.



 

 

 





BOOK THE NINTH.




CH. I. -- Scipio's scheme of marriage for Gil Blas. The match, a
rich goldsmith's daughter. Circumstances connected with this
speculation.

ONE evening, on the departure of my supper company, finding
myself alone with Scipio, I asked him what he had been doing that
day. Striking a masterstroke, answered he. I intend that you
should marry. A goldsmith of my acquaintance has an only
daughter, and I mean to make up a match between you.

A goldsmith's daughter! exclaimed I with a disdainful air: are
you out of your senses? Can you think of tying me up to a
trinket-maker? People of a certain character in society, and on a
certain footing at court, ought to have much higher views of
things. Pardon me, sir! rejoined Scipio, do not take the subject
up in that light. Recollect that nobility accrues by the male
side, and do not ride a higher horse than a thousand jockeys of
quality whom I could name. Do you know that the heiress in
question will bring a hundred thousand ducats in her pocket? Is
not that a pretty little sprig of jewellery? To the resounding
echo of so large a sum, my ears were instantly symphonious. The
day is your own, said I to the secretary; the fortune determines
the case in the lady's favour. When do you mean to put me in
possession? Fair and softly, sir, answered he, the more haste the
worse speed. It will be necessary for me first to communicate the
affair to the father, and instil the advantage of it into his
capacity. Good! rejoined I with a burst of laughter; is it
thereabouts you are? The match is far advanced in its progress
towards consummation. Much nearer than you suppose, replied he.
But one hour's conversation with the goldsmith, and I pledge
myself for his consent But, before we go any further, let us come
to an agreement, if you please. Supposing that I should transfer
a hundred thousand ducats to you, what would my commission be?
Twenty thousand! was my answer. Heaven be praised therefore! said
he. I guessed your gratitude at ten thousand; so that it doubles
mine in a similar case. Come on then! I will set this negotiation
on foot to-morrow morning; and you may count upon its success, or
I am little better than one of the foolish ones.

In fact, he said to me two days afterwards, I have spoken to
Signor Gabriel Salero, my friend the goldsmith. On the loud
report of your high desert and credit, he has lent a favourable
ear to my offer of you for a son-in-law. You are to have his
daughter with a hundred thousand ducats, provided you can make it
appear clearly that you are in possession of the minister's good
graces. Since that is the case, said I confidently to Scipio, I
shall soon be married. But, not entirely to forget the girl, have
you seen her? is she pretty? Not quite so pretty as her fortune,
answered he. Between ourselves, this heiress's looks are as hard
as her cash. Luckily, you are perfectly indifferent about that.
Stone blind, by the light of the sun, my good fellow! replied I.
As for us whimsical fellows about court, we marry merely for the
sake of marrying. When we want beauty, we look for it in our
friends' wives; and if, by fates and destinies, the sweets are
wasted on our own, their flavour is so mawkish to our palate,
that there is some merit in their not carrying the commodity to a
foreign market.

This is not all, resumed Scipio: Signor Gabriel hopes for the
pleasure of your company to supper this evening. By agreement,
there is to be no mention of marriage. He has invited several of
his mercantile friends to this entertainment, where you will take
your chance with the rest, and to-morrow he means to sup with you
on the same terms. By this you will perceive his drift of looking
before he leaps. You will do well to be a little on your guard
before him. Oh! for the matter of that, interrupted I with an air
of confidence, let him scrutinize me as closely as he pleases,
the result cannot fail to be in my favour.

All this happened as it was foretold. I was introduced at the
goldsmith's, who received me with the familiarity of an old
acquaintance. A vulgar dog, but warm; and as troublesome with his
civility as a prude with her virtue. He presented me to Signora
Eugenia his wife, and the youthful Gabriela his daughter. I
opened wide my budget of compliments, without infringing the
treaty, and prattled soft nothings to them, in all the vacuity of
courtly dialogue.

Gabriela, with submission to my secretary's better taste, was not
altogether so repulsive; whether by dint of being outrageously
bedizened, or because I looked at her in the raree-shew box of
her fortune. A charming house this of Signor Gabriel! There is
less silver, I verily believe, in the Peruvian mines, than under
his roof. That metal presented itself to the view in all
directions, under a thousand different forms. Every room, and
especially that where we were entertained, was a fairy palace.
What a bird's eye view for a son-in-law! The old codger, to do
the thing genteelly, had collected five or six merchants about
him, all plodding spirit-wearing personages. Their tongues could
only talk of what their hearts were set upon; it was high change
all supper-time; but unfortunately wit was at a discount.

Next night, it was my turn to treat the goldsmith. Not being able
to dazzle him with my sideboard, I had recourse to another
artifice. I invited to supper such of my friends as made the
finest figure at court; hangers-on of state noted for the
unwieldiness of their ambition. These fellows could not talk on
common topics: the brilliant and lucrative posts at which they
aimed were all canvassed in detail; this too made its way. Poor
counting-house Gabriel, in amazement at the loftiness of their
ideas, shrunk into insignificance, in spite of all his hoards, on
a comparison with these wonderful men. As for me, in all the
plausibility of moderation, I professed to wish for nothing more
than a comfortable fortune; a snug box and a competence:
whereupon these gluttons of the loaves and fishes cried out with
one voice that I was wrong, absolutely criminal; for the prime
minister would do anything upon earth for me, and it was an act
of duty to anoint my fingers with bird-lime. My honoured papa
lost not a word of all this; and seemed, at going away, to take
his leave with some complacency.

Scipio went of course the next morning, to ask him how he liked
me. Extremely well indeed, answered the knight of the ledger; the
lad has won my very heart. But, good master Scipio, I conjure you
by our long acquaintance to deal with me as a true friend. We
have all our weak side, as you well know. Tell me where Signor de
Santillane is fallible. Is he fond of play? does he wench? On
what lay are his snug little vices? Do not fight shy, I beset
you. It is very unkind, Signor Gabriel, to put such a question,
retorted the go-between. Your interest is more to me than my
master's. If he had any slippery propensities, likely to make
your daughter unhappy, would I ever have proposed him as a son-
in-law? The deuce a bit! I am too much at your service. But,
between ourselves, he has but one fault; that of being faultless.
He is too wise for a young man. So much the better, replied the
goldsmith; he is the more like me. You may go, my friend, and
tell him he shall have my daughter, and should have her though he
knew no more of the minister than I do.

As soon as my secretary had reported this conversation, I flew to
thank Salero for his partiality. He had already told his mind to
his wife and daughter, who gave me to understand by their
reception, that they yielded without disgust. I carried my
father-in-law to the Duke of Lerma, whom I had informed the
evening before, and presented him with due ceremony. His
excellency gave him a most gracious reception, and congratulated
him on having chosen a man for his son-in-law, for whom he
himself had so great a regard, and meant to do such great things.
Then did he expatiate on my good qualities, and, in fact, said so
much to my honour, that honest Gabriel thought he had met with
the best match in Spain. His joy oozed out at his eyes. On
parting, he pressed me in his arms, and said: My son, I am so
impatient to see you Gabriela's husband, that the affair shall be
finally settled within a week at latest.


CH. II. -- In the progress of political vacancies, Gil Blas
recollects that there is such a man in the world as Don Alphonso
de Leyva; and renders him a service from motives of vanity.

LET us leave my marriage to take care of itself for a season. The
order of events requires me to recount a service rendered to my
old master Don Alphonso. I had entirely forgotten that
gentleman's existence; but a circumstance recalled it to my
recollection.

The government of Valencia became vacant at this time; and put me
in mind of Don Alphonso de Leyva. I considered within myself that
the employment would suit him to a nicety; and determined to
apply for it on his be half, not so much out of friendship as
ostentation. If I could but procure it for him, it would do me
infinite honour. I told the Duke of Lerma that I had been steward
to Don Caesar de Leyva and his son; and that having every reason
in the world to feel myself obliged to them, I should take it as
a favour if he would give the government of Valencia to one or
other of them. The minister answered: Most willingly, Gil Blas. I
love to see you grateful and generous. Besides, the family stands
very high in my esteem. The Leyvas are loyal subjects; so that
the place cannot be better bestowed. You may take it as a wedding
present, and do what you like with it.

Delighted at the success of my application, I went to Calderona
in a prodigious hurry, to get the patent made out for Don
Alphonso. There was a great crowd, waiting in respectful silence
till Don Rodrigo should come and give audience. I made my way
through, and the closet door opened as if by sympathy. There were
no one knows how many military and civil officers, with other
people of consequence, among whom Calderona was dividing his
attentions. His different reception of different people was
curious. A slight inclination of the head was enough for some;
others he honoured with a profusion of courtly grimace, and bowed
than out of the closet. The proportions of civility were weighed
to a scruple. On the other hand, there were some suitors who,
shocked at his cold indifference, cursed in their secret soul the
necessity for their cringing before such a monkey of an idol.
Others, on the contrary, were laughing in their sleeve at his
gross and self-sufficient air. But the scene was thrown away upon
me; nor was I likely to profit by such a lesson. It was exactly
the counterpart of my own behaviour: and I never thought of
ascertaining whether my deportment was popular or offensive, so
long as there was no violation of outward respect.

Don Rodrigo accidentally casting a look towards me, left a
gentleman, to whom he was speaking, without ceremony, and came to
pay his respects with the most unaccountable tokens of high
consideration. Ah, my dear colleague! exclaimed he, what occasion
procures me the pleasure of seeing you here! Is there anything we
can do for you? I told him my business; whereupon he assured me,
in the most obliging terms, that the affair should be expedited
within four-and-twenty hours. Not satisfied with these
overwhelming condescensions, he conducted me to the door of his
ante-chamber, whither he never attended any but the nobility of
first rank. His farewell was as flattering as his reception.

What is the meaning of all this palaver? said I while retreating;
has any raven croaked my entrance, and prophesied promotion to
Calderona by my overthrow? Does he really languish for my
friendship? or does he feel the ground giving way under his feet,
and wish to save himself by clinging to the branches of my favour
and protection? It seemed a moot point, which of these
conjectures might be the right. The following day, on my return,
his behaviour was of the same stamp; caresses and civilities
poured in upon me in torrents. It is true that other people who
attempted to speak to him, were ramped in exact proportion with
the blandishments of his face towards me. He snarled at some,
petrified others, and made the whole circle run the gauntlet of
his displeasure. But they were all amply avenged by an
occurrence, the relation of which may give a gentle hint to all
the clerks and secretaries on the list of my readers.

A man very plainly dressed, and certainly not looking at all like
what he was, came up to Calderona and spoke to him about a
memorial, stated to have been presented by himself to the Duke of
Lerma. Don Rodrigo, without looking from his clothes up to his
face, said in a sharp, ungracious tone -- Who may you happen to
be, honest man? They called me Francillo in my childhood,
answered the stranger unabashed; my next style and title was that
of Don Francillo de Zuniga; and my present name is the Count de
Pedrosa. Calderona was all in a twitter at this discovery, and
attempted to stammer out an excuse, when he found that he had to
do with a man of the first quality. Sir, said he to the Count, I
have to beg you, ten thousand pardons; but not knowing whom I had
the honour to . . . . I want none of your apologies, interrupted
Francillo with proud indignation; they are as nauseous as your
rudeness was unbecoming. Recollect henceforth, that a minister's
secretary ought to receive all descriptions of people with good
manners. You may be vain enough to affect the representative of
your master, but the public know you for his menial servant.

The haughty Don Rodrigo blushed blue at this rebuke. Yet it did
not mend his manners one whit. On me it made a salutary
impression. I determined to take care and ascertain the rank of
my petitioners, before I gave a loose to the insolence of office,
and to inflict torture only upon mutes. As Don Alphonso's patent
was made out, I sent it by a purpose messenger, with a letter
from the Duke of Lerma, announcing the royal favour. But I took
no notice of my own share in the appointment, nor even
accompanied it with a line, in the fond hope of announcing it by
word of mouth, and surprising him agreeably, when he came to the
court on occasion of taking the customary oaths.


CH. III. -- Preparations for the marriage of Gil Blas. A spoke
in the wheel of Hymen.

AND now once more for my lovely Gabriela! We were to be married
in a week. Preparations were making on both sides for the
ceremony. Salero ordered a rich wardrobe for the bride, and I
hired a waiting-woman for her, a footman, and a gentleman usher
of decent aspect and advanced years. The whole establishment was
provided by Scipio, who longed more longingly than myself for the
hour when we were to be fingering the fortune.

On the evening before the happy day, I was supping with my
father-in-law, the rest of the company being made up of uncles,
aunts, and cousins of either sex and every degree. The part of a
supple-visaged son-in-law sat upon me to perfection. Nothing
could exceed my profound respect for the goldsmith and his wife,
or the transports of my passion at Gabriela's feet, while I
smoothed my way into the graces of the family, by listening with
impregnable patience to their witless repartees and irrational
ratiocinations. Thus did I gain the great end of all my
forbearance, the pleasure of pleasing my new relations. Every
individual of the clan felt himself a foot taller for the honour
of my alliance.

The repast ended, the company moved into a large room, where we
were entertained with a concert of vocal and instrumental music,
not the worst that was ever heard, though the performers were not
selected from the choicest bands at Madrid. Some lively airs put
us in mind of dancing. Heaven knows what sort of performers we
must have been, when they took me for the Coryphaeus of the
opera, though I never had but two or three lessons from a petty
dancing-master, who taught the pages on the establishment of the
Marchioness de Chaves. After we had tired our tendons, it was
time to think of going home. There was no end of my bows and God-
bless-you's. Farewell, my dear son-in-law, said Salero as he
squeezed my hand, I shall be at your house in the morning with
the portion in ready money. You will be welcome, come when you
list, my dear father-in-law, answered I. Afterwards, wishing the
family good night, I jumped into my carriage, and ordered it to
drive home.

Scarcely had I got two hundred yards from Signor Gabriel's house,
when fifteen or twenty men, some on foot and some on horseback,
all with swords and fire-arms, surrounded and stopped the coach,
crying out, In the name of our sovereign lord the king. They
dragged me out by main force, and thrust me into a hack-chaise,
when the leader of the party got in with me, and ordered the
driver to go for Segovia. There could be no doubt but the honest
gentle man by my side was an alguazil. I wanted to know something
about the cause of my arrest, but he answered in the language of
those gentry, which is very bad language, that he had other
things to do than to satisfy my impertinent curiosity. I
suggested that he might have mistaken his man. No, no, retorted
he, the fool is wiser than that. You are Signor de Santillane;
and in that case you are to go along with me. Not being able to
deny that fact, it became an act of prudence to hold my tongue.
For the remainder of the night we traversed Mancanarez in sulky
silence, changed horses at Colmenar, and arrived the next evening
at Segovia, where the lodging provided for me was in the tower.


CH. IV. -- The treatment of Gil Blas in the tower of Segovia. The
cause of his imprisonment.

THEIR first favour was to clap me up in a cell, where they left
me on the straw like a criminal, whose only earthly portion was
to con over his dying speech in solitude. I passed the night, not
in bewailing my fate, for it had not yet presented itself in all
its aggravation, but in endeavouring to divine its cause.
Doubtless it must have been Calderona's handiwork. And yet though
his branching honours might have pressed thick upon his senses, I
could not conceive how the Duke of Lerma could have been induced
to treat me so inhumanly. Sometimes I apprehended my arrest to
have been without his excellency's knowledge; at other times I
thought him the contriver of it, for some political reasons, such
as weigh with ministers when they sacrifice their accomplices at
the shrine of state policy.

My mind was vibrating to and fro with these various conjectures,
when the dawn peeping in at my little grated window, presented to
my sight all the horror of the place where I was confined. Then
did I vent my sorrows without ceasing, and my eyes became two
springs of tears, flowing inexhaustibly at the remembrance of my
prosperous state. Pending this paroxysm of grief, a turnkey
brought me my day's allowance of bread and water. He looked at
me, and on the contemplation of my tear-besprinkled visage,
gaoler as he was, there came over him a sentiment of pity: Do not
despair, said he. This life is full of crosses, but mind them
not. You are young; after these days, you will live to see
better. In the meantime, eat at the king's mess, with what
appetite you may.

My comforter withdrew with this quaint invitation, answered by my
groans and tears. The rest of the day was spent in cursing my
wayward destiny, without thinking of my empty stomach. As for the
royal morsel, it seemed more like the message of wrath than the
boon of benevolence; the tantalizing protraction of pain, rather
than the solace of affliction.

Night came, and with it the rattle of a key in my keyhole. My
dungeon door opened, and in came a man with a wax-light in his
hand. He advanced towards me, saying -- Signor Gil Blas, behold
in me one of your old friends. I am Don Andrew de Tordesillas, in
the Archbishop of Grenada's service while you enjoyed that
prelate's favour. You may recollect engaging his interest in my
behalf, and thereby procuring me a post in Mexico; but instead of
embarking for the Indies, I stopped in the town of Alicant. There
I married the governor's daughter, and by a series of adventures
of which you shall hereafter have the particulars, I am now
warden of this tower. It is expressly forbidden me to let you
speak to any living soul, to give you any better bed than straw,
or any other sustenance than bread and water. But besides that
your misfortunes interest my humanity, you have done me service,
and gratitude countervails the harshness of my orders. They think
to make me the instrument of their cruelty, but it is my better
purpose to soften the rigour of your captivity. Get up and follow
me.

Though my humane keeper was entitled to some acknowledgment, my
spirits were so affected as to interdict my speech. All I could
do was to attend him. We crossed a court, and mounted a narrow
staircase to a little room at the top of the tower. It was no
small surprise, on entering, to find a table with lights on it,
neatly set out with covers for two. They will serve up
immediately, said Tordesillas. We are going to sup together. This
snug retreat is appointed for your lodging; it will agree better
with you than your cell. From your window you will look down on
the flowery banks of the Erкma, and the delicious vale of Coca,
bounded by the mountains which divide the two Castiles. At first
you will care little for prospects; but when time shall have
softened your keener sensations into a composed melancholy, it
will be a pleasure to feast your eyes on such engaging scenes.
Then, as for linen and other necessaries befitting a man
accustomed to the comforts of life, they shall be always at your
service. Your bed and board shall be such as you could wish, with
a plentiful supply of books. In a word, you shall have everything
but your liberty.

My spirits were a little tranquillized by these obliging offers.
I took courage and returned my best thanks, assuring him that his
generous conduct restored me to life, and that I hoped at some
time or other to find an opportunity of testifying my gratitude.
To be sure! and why should you not? answered he. Did you fancy
yourself a prisoner for life? Nothing less likely! and I would
lay a wager that you will be released in a very few months. What
say you, Signor Don Andrew? exclaimed I. Then surely you are
acquainted with the occasion of my misfortune. You guess right,
replied he. The alguazil who brought you hither told me the whole
story in confidence. The king, hearing that the Count de Lemos
and you were in the habit of escorting the Prince of Spain by
night to a house of suspicious character, as a punishment for
your loose morals, has banished the count, and sent you hither,
to be treated in the style of which you have had a specimen. And
how, said I, did that circumstance come to the king's knowledge?
That is what I am most curious to ascertain. And that, answered
he, is precisely what the alguazil did not tell, apparently
because he did not know.

At this epoch of our conversation, the servants brought in
supper. When everything was set in order, Tordesillas sent away
the attendants, not wishing our conversation to be overheard. He
shut the door, and we took our seats opposite to each other. Let
us say grace, and fall to, said he. Your appetite ought to be
good after two days of fasting. Under this impression he loaded
my plate as if he had been cramming the craw of a starveling. In
fact, nothing was more likely than that I should play the devil
among the ragouts; but what is likely does not always happen.
Though my intestines were yearning for support, their staple
stuck in my throat, for my heart loathed all pleasurable
indulgence in the present state of my affairs. In vain did my
warden, to drive away the blue devils, pledge me continually, and
expatiate on the excellence of his wine; imperishable nectar
would have been pricked according to the fastidious report of my
palate. This being the case, he went another way to work, and
told me the story of his marriage, with as much humour as such a
subject would admit. Here he was still less successful. So
wandering was my attention, that before the end I had forgotten
the beginning and the middle. At length he was convinced that
there was no diverting my gloomy thoughts for that evening. After
finishing his solitary supper, he rose from table, saying: Signor
de Santillane, I shall leave you to your repose, or rather to the
free indulgence of your own reveries. But, take my word for it,
your misfortune will not be of long continuance. The king is
naturally good. When his anger shall have passed away, and your
deplorable estate shall occur to his milder thoughts, your
punishment will appear sufficient in his eyes. With these words,
my kind hearted gaoler went down-stairs, and sent the servants to
take away. Not even the brass candlesticks were left behind; and
I went to bed by the palpable darkness of a glimmering lamp
suspended against the wall.


CH. V. -- His reflections before he went to sleep that night, and
the noise that waked him.

Two hours at least were my thoughts employed on what Tordesillas
had told me. Here, then, am I, for having lent myself to the
pleasures of the heir-apparent! It was certainly not having my
wits about me, to pander for so young a prince. Therein consists
my crime; had he been arrived at a more knowing age, the king
perhaps might only have laughed at what has now made him so
angry. But who can have given such counsel to the monarch,
without dreading the prince's resentment or the Duke of Lerma's?
That minister will doubtless take ample vengeance for his nephew
the Count de Lemos. How can the king have made the discovery?
That is above my comprehension.

This last was the eternal burden of my song. But the idea most
afflictive to my mind, what drove me to despair, and laid fiend-
like hold upon my fancy, was the unquestioned plunder of my
effects. My strong box, exclaimed I, my dear wealth, what is
become of you? Into what hands have you fallen? Alas! you are
lost in less time than you were gained! The ruinous confusion of
my household was the perpetual death's-head of my imagination.
Yet this wilderness of melancholy ideas sheltered me from
absolute distraction: sleep, which had shunned my wretched straw,
now paid his readier visit to my soft and gentle manly couch.
Watching and wine, too, imparted a strong narcotic to his
poppies. My slumbers were profound; and to all appearance, the
day might have peeped in upon my repose, if I had not been
awakened all at once by such sounds as rarely perforate a prison
wall. I heard the thrum of a guitar, accompanying a man's voice.
My whole attention was absorbed; but the invisible musician
paused, and left the fleeting impression of a dream. An instant
after wards, my ear was soothed with the sound of the same
instrument, and the same voice.

Wisely the ant against poor winter hoards
The stock which summer's wealth affords;
In grasshoppers, that must at autumn die,
How vain were such an industry.

Of love or fortune the deceitful light
Might half excuse our cheated sight,
If it of life the whole small time would stay,
And be our sunshine all the day.

[To have substituted, with a slight variation, these two stanzas
from Cowley for a translation of the common-place couplet in the
original, will probably not be thought to require any apology.
They necessarily involve a change in the consequent reflections
of our hero. TRANSLATOR]

These verses, which sounded as if they had been sung expressly
for the dirge of my departed happiness, were only an aggravation
of my feelings. The truth of the sentiment, said I, is but too
well exemplified in me. The meteor of court favour has but
plunged me in substantial darkness; the summer sunshine of
ambition is quenched in these autumnal glooms. Now did I sink
again into cold and comfortless meditation; my miseries began to
flow afresh, as if they fed and grew upon their own vital stream.
Yet my wailings ended with the night; and the first rays which
played upon my chamber wall amused my mind into composure. I got
up to open my window, and let the vivid air of morning into my
room. Then I glanced over the country, so attractively depicted
in the description of my keeper. It did not seem to justify his
panegyric. The Erкma, a second Tagus in my magnifying fancy, was
little better than a brook. Its flowery banks were fringed with
nettles, and arrayed in all the majesty of thistles; the
delicious vale in this fairy prospect was a barren wilderness,
untamed by human labour. It therefore was very evident that my
keener sensations were not yet softened into such a composed
melancholy, as could give any but a jaundiced colouring to the
landscape.

I began dressing, and had already half finished my toilet, when
Tordesillas ushered in an old chambermaid, laden with shirts and
towels. Signor Gil Blas, said he, here is your linen. Do not be
saving of it; there shall always be as many changes as you can
possibly want. Well now! and how have you passed the night? Has
the drowsy god administered his anodyne? I could have slept till
this time, answered I, if I had not been awakened by a voice
singing to a guitar. The cavalier who has disturbed your repose,
resumed he, is a state prisoner; and his chamber is contiguous to
yours. He is a knight of the military order of Calatrava, and is
a very accomplished person. His name is Don Gaston de Cogollos.
You may meet as often as you like, and take your meals together.
It will afford reciprocal consolation to compare your fortunes.
There can be no doubt of your being agreeable to one another. I
assured Don Andrew how sensible I was of his indulgence in
allowing me to blend my sorrows with those of my fellow-sufferer;
and, as I betrayed some impatience to be acquainted with him, our
accommodating warden met my wishes on the very same day. He fixed
me to dine with Don Gaston, whose prepossessing physiognomy and
symmetry of feature struck me sensibly. Judge what it must have
been, to make so strong an impression on eyes accustomed to
encounter the dazzling exterior of the court. Figure to yourself
a man fashioned in the mould of pleasure; one of those heroes in
romance, who has only to shew his face, and banish the sweet
sleep from the eyelids of princesses. Add to this, that nature,
who is generally bountiful with one hand and niggardly with the
other, had crowned the perfections of Cogollos with wit and
valour. He was a man, whose like, take him for all in all, we
might not soon look upon again.

If this fine fellow was mightily to my taste, it was my good luck
not to be altogether offensive to him. He no longer sang at night
for fear of annoying me, though I begged him by no means to
restrain his inclinations on my account. A bond of union is soon
formed between brethren in misfortune. A close friendship
succeeded to mere acquaintance, and strengthened from day to day.
The liberty of uninterrupted intercourse contributed greatly to
our mutual support; our burden became lighter by division.

One day after dinner I went into his room, just as he was tuning
his guitar. To hear him more at my ease, I sat down on the only
stool; while he, reclining on his bed, played a pathetic air, and
sang to it a ditty, expressing the despair of a lover and the
cruelty of his mistress. When he had finished, I said to him with
a smile, Sir knight, such strains as these could never be
applicable to your own successes with the fair. You were not made
to cope with female repulse. You think too well of me, answered
he. The verses you have just heard were composed to fit my own
case; to soften a heart of adamant. You must hear my story, and
in my story, my distresses.


CH. VI -- History of Don Gaston de Cogollos and Donna Helena de
Galisteo.

IT will be very soon four years since I left Madrid to go and see
my aunt Donna Eleonora de Laxarilla at Coria: she is one of the
richest dowagers in Old Castile, with myself for her only heir.
Scarcely had I got within her doors, when love invaded my repose.
The windows of my room faced the lattice of a lady living
opposite: but the street was narrow, and her blinds pervious to
the eye. It was an opportunity too delicious to be lost; and I
found my neighbour so lovely that my heart was captivated. The
subject of my sentry-watch could not be mistaken. She marked it
well; but she was not a girl to glory in the detection, still
less to encourage my fooleries.

It was natural to inquire the name of this mighty conqueror. I
learnt it to be Donna Helena, only daughter of Don George de
Galisteo, lord of a large domain near Coria. She had innumerable
offers of marriage; but her father repulsed them all, because he
meant to bestow her hand on his nephew, Don Austin de Olighera,
who had uninterrupted access to his cousin while the settlements
were preparing. This was no bar to my hopes: on the contrary, it
whetted my eagerness: and the insolent pleasure of supplanting a
favoured rival was, perhaps, at bottom equally my motive with a
more noble passion. My visual artillery was obstinately planted
against my unyielding fair. Her attendant Felicia was not without
the incense of a glance, to soften her rigid constancy in my
favour; while nods and becks stood for the current coin of
language. But all these efforts of gallantry were in vain -- the
maid was impregnable like her mistress -- never was there such a
pair of cold and cruel ones.

The commerce of the eyes being so unthrifty, I had recourse to
different agents. My scouts were on the watch to hunt out what
acquaintance Felicia might have in town. They discovered an old
lady, by name Theodora, to be her most intimate friend, and that
they often met. Delighted at the intelligence, I went point blank
to Theodora, and engaged her by presents in my interest. She took
my cause up heartily, promised to contrive an interview for me
with her friend, and kept her engagement the very next day.

I am no longer the wretch of yesterday, said I to Felicia, since
my sufferings have melted you to pity. How deep is my debt to
your friend for her kind interference in my behalf. Sir, answered
she, Theodora can do what she pleases with me. She has brought me
over to your side of the question; and if I can do you a
kindness, you shall soon be at the summit of your wishes; but,
with all my partiality in your favour, I know not how far my
efforts may be successful. It would be cruel to mislead you: the
prize will not be gained without a severe conflict. The object of
your passion is betrothed to another gentleman, and her character
most inauspicious to your designs. Such is her pride, and so
closely locked are her secrets within her own breast, that if, by
constancy and assiduities, you could extort from her a few sighs,
fancy not that her haughty spirit would indulge your ears with
their music. Ah! my dear Felicia, exclaimed I in an agony, why
will you thus magnify the obstacles in my way? To set them in
array will kill me. Lead me on with false hopes, if you will; but
do not drive me to despair. With these words I took one of her
hands, pressed it between mine, and slid a diamond on her finger
value three hundred pistoles, with such a moving compliment as
made her weep again.

Such speeches and corresponding actions deserved some scanty
comfort. She smoothed a little the rugged path of love. Sir, said
she, what I have just been telling you need not quite quench your
hope. Your rival, it is true, is in possession of the ground. He
comes back and fore as he pleases, he toys with her as often as
he likes, but all that is in your favour. The habit of constant
intercourse sheds a languor over their meetings. They part
without pain, and come together without emotion. One would take
them for man and wife. In a word, my mistress has no marks of
violent love for Don Austin. Besides, in point of person, there
is such a difference between you and him as cannot fail to catch
the eye of a nice observer like Donna Helena. Therefore do not be
cast down. Continue your particular attentions. You shall have a
second in me. I shall let no opportunity escape of pointing out
to my mistress the merit of all your exertions to please her. In
vain shall she intrench herself behind reserve. In spite of guard
and garrison, I will ransack the muster-roll of her sentiments.

Now were my open attacks and secret ambuscades more fiercely
pointed against the daughter of Don George. Among the rest, I
entertained her with a serenade. After the concert Felicia, to
sound her mistress, begged to know how she had been entertained.
The singer had a good voice, said Donna Helena. But how did you
like the words? replied the abigail. I scarcely noted them,
returned the lady; the music engrossed my whole attention. The
poetry excited as little curiosity as its author. If that is the
case, exclaimed the chambermaid, poor Don Gaston do Cogollos is
reckoning without his host; and a miserable spendthrift of his
glances, to be always ogling at our lattice-work. Perhaps it may
not be he, said the mistress with petrifying indifference, but
some other spark, announcing his passion by this concert. Excuse
me, answered Felicia, it is Don Gaston himself who accosted me
this morning in the street, and implored me to assure you how he
adored, in defiance of your rigorous repulses: but that he should
esteem himself the most blest of mortals, if you would allow him
to soothe his desponding thoughts by all the most delicate and
impassioned attentions. Judge now if I can be mistaken, after so
open an avowal.

Don George's daughter changed countenance at once, and said to
her servant with a severe frown, You might well have dispensed
with the relation of this impertinent discourse. Bring me no more
such idle tales; and tell this young madman, when next he accosts
you, to play off his shallow artifices on some more accommodating
fool; but, at all events, let him choose a more gentlemanly
recreation than that of lounging all day at his window, and
prying into the privacy of my apartment.

This message was faithfully delivered at my next interview with
Felicia, who assured me that her mistress's modes of speech were
not to be taken in their literal construction, but that my
affairs were in the best possible train. For my part, being
little read in the science of coquetry, and finding no favourable
sense on the face of the author's original words, I was half out
of humour with the wire-drawn comments of the critic. She laughed
at my misgiving, and asked her friend for pen, ink, and paper,
saying: Sir knight of the doleful countenance, write immediately
to Donna Helena as dolefully as you look. Make echo ring with
your sufferings; outsigh the river's murmur; and, above all, let
rocks and woods resound with the prohibition of appearing at your
window. Then pawn your existence on obeying her, though without
the possibility ever to redeem the pledge. Turn all that nonsense
into pretty sentences, as you gay deceivers so well know how to
do, and leave the rest to me. The event, I flatter myself will
redound more than you are aware to the honour of my penetration.

He must have been a strange lover who would not have profited by
so opportune an occasion of writing to his mistress. My letter
was couched in the most pathetic terms. Felicia smiled at its
contents; and said, that if the women knew the art of infatuating
men, the men in return had borrowed their influence over women
from the arch wheedler himself. My privy counsellor took the
note, and went back to Don George's, with a special injunction
that my windows should be fast shut for some days.

Madam, said she, going up to Donna Helena, I met Don Gaston. He
must needs endeavour to come round me with his flattering
speeches. In tremulous accents, like a culprit pleading against
his sentence, he begged to know whether I had spoken to you on
his behalf. Then, in prompt and faithful compliance with your
orders, I snapped up the words out of his mouth. To be sure, my
tongue did run at a fine rate against him. I called him all
manner of names, and left him in the street like a stock, staring
at my termagant loquacity. I am delighted, answered Donna Helena,
that you have disengaged me from that troublesome person. But
there was no occasion to have snubbed him so unmercifully. A
creature of your degree should always keep a good tongue in its
mouth. Madam, replied the domestic, one cannot get rid of a
determined lover by mincing one's words, though it comes to much
the same thing when one flies into a passion. Don Gaston, for
instance, was not to be bullied out of his senses. After having
given it him on both sides of his ears, as I told you, I went on
that errand of yours to the house of your relation. The lady, as
ill-luck would have it, kept me longer than she ought. I say
longer than she ought, because my plague and torment met me on my
return. Who the deuce would have thought of seeing him? It put me
all in a twitter; but then my tongue, which at other times is apt
to be in a twitter, stuck motionless in my mouth. While my tongue
stuck motionless in my mouth, what did he do? He slid a paper
into my hand without giving me time to consider whether I should
take it or no, and made off in a moment.

After this introduction, she drew my letter from under her stays,
and gave it with half a banter to her mistress, who affected to
read it in humorous scorn, but digested the contents most
greedily, and then put on the starch, offended prude. In good
earnest, Felicia, said she with all the gravity she could assume,
you were extremely off your guard, quite bewildered and
fascinated, to have taken the charge of such an epistle. What
construction would Don Gaston put upon it? What must I think of
it myself? You give me reason, by this strange behaviour, to
mistrust your fidelity, while he must suspect me of encouraging
his odious suit. Alas! he may, perhaps, lay that flattering
unction to his soul, that my love is legible in these characters,
and not his trespass. Only consider how you lay my towering
pride. Oh! quite the reverse, madam, answered the petticoated
pleader; it is impossible for him to think that; and if he did,
he would soon be convinced with a flea in his ear. I shall tell
him, when next we meet, that I have delivered his letter, that
you glanced at the superscription with petrifying indifference,
and then, without reading a word, tore it into ten thousand
pieces. You may swear that I did not read it with a safe
conscience, replied Donna Helena. I should be puzzled to retrace
a single sentiment. Don George's daughter, not contented with
these words, suited the action to them, tore my letter, and
imposed silence on my advocate.

As I had promised no longer to play the lover at my window, the
farce of obedience was kept up for several days. Ogling being
interdicted, my courtship was doomed to enter in at my Helena's
obdurate ears. One night I at tended under her balcony with
musicians; the first bars of the serenade were already playing,
when a swaggering blade, sword in hand, rushed in upon our
harmony, laying about him to the right and left, to the utter
discomfiture of the troop. Such mad warfare fired my tilting
propensities to equal fury. The affray became serious. Donna
Helena and her maid were disturbed by the clash of swords. They
looked out at their lattice, and saw two men engaged. Their cries
roused Don George and his servants. The whole neighbourhood was
assembled to part the combatants. But they came too late: on the
field of battle, bathed in his own blood and almost lifeless, lay
my unfortunate body. They carried me to my aunt's, and sent for
the best surgical assistance in the place.

All the world was merciful, and wished me well, especially Donna
Helena, whose heart was now unmasked. Her forced severity yielded
to her natural feelings. Would you believe it? The cold,
relentless, insensible, was kindled into the warmest of love's
votaries. She wore out the remainder of the night in weeping with
her faithful confidante, and giving her cousin, Don Austin de
Olighera, to perdition: for him they taxed with the plotted
massacre, and the bill was a true one. He could hide his heart as
well as his cousin; he therefore watched my motions, without
seeming to suspect them; and fancying them not to be without a
corresponding impulse, he resolved not to be sacrificed with
impunity. The accident was an awkward one to me, but it ended in
overpowering rapture. Dangerous as my wound was, the surgeons
soon brought me about. I was still confined to my chamber, when
my aunt, Donna Eleonora, went over to Don George, and made
proposals for Donna Helena. He consented the more readily to the
marriage, as he never expected to see Don Austin again. The good
old man was afraid of his daughter's not liking me, because
cousin Olighera had kept her company; but she was so tractable to
the parental behest, as to furnish grounds for believing that in
Spain, as in other countries, the species, not the individual, is
the object with the sex.

Felicia, at our first private meeting, communicated the emotions
of her mistress on my misfortune. Now, like another Paris, I
thought Troy well lost for my Helen, and blessed the happy
consequences of my wound. Don George allowed me to speak with his
daughter in presence of her attendant. What a heavenly interview!
I begged and prayed the lady so earnestly to tell me whether her
sufferance of my vows was forced upon her by her father, that she
at length confessed her obedience to be in unison with her
inclinations. After so delicious a declaration, my whole soul was
given up to love and pleasurable gratifications. Our nuptials
were to be graced by a magnificent procession of all the
principal people in Coria and the neighbourhood.

I gave a splendid party at my aunt's country-house, in the
suburbs on the side of Manroi. Don George, his daughter, the
family, and friends on both sides were present. There was a
concert of vocal and instrumental music, with a company of
strolling players, to represent a comedy. In the middle of the
festivities, some one whispered me that a man wanted to speak
with me in the hall. I got up from table to go and see who it
was. The stranger looked like a gentleman's servant. He put a
letter into my hand, containing these words:

"If you have any sense of honour, as a knight of your order ought
to have, you will not fail to attend to-morrow morning in the
plain of Manroi. There you will find an antagonist, ready to give
you your revenge for his former attack upon your person, or, what
he rather hopes and meditates, to spoil your connubial transports
with Donna Helena.

"DON AUSTIN DE OLIGHERA."

If love is a Spanish passion, revenge is the Spanish lunacy. Such
a note as this was not to be read with composure. At the mere
subscription of Don Austin, there kindled in my veins a fire,
which almost made me forget the claims of hospitality. I was
tempted to steal away from my company, and seek my antagonist on
the instant. For fear of disturbing the merriment, however, I
bridled in my rage, and said to the messenger: My friend, you may
tell your employer that I shall meet him on the appointed spot at
sun-rise, and resume the contest with obstinacy equal to his own.

After sending this answer, I resumed my seat at table with so
composed a mien, that no creature had the least suspicion of what
had occurred. During the rest of the day, I gave myself up to the
pleasures of the festival, which ended not till midnight. The
guests then returned to town, but I staid behind, under pretext
of taking the air on the following morning. Instead of going to
bed, I watched for the dawn with maddening impatience. With the
first ray I got on horseback, and rode alone towards Manroi. On
the plain was a horseman, riding up to me at full speed. I pushed
forward, and we met half way. It was my rival. Knight, said he,
superciliously, it is against my will that I meet you a second
time on the same occasion, but you have brought your fate on
yourself. After the adventure of the serenade, you ought to have
waived your pretensions to Don George's daughter, or at least to
have been assured that the support of them must cost you dearer
than a single encounter. You are too much elated, answered I,
with an advantage which is less owing, perhaps, to your superior
skill, than to the darkness of the night. Remember, that victory
is of the same blind family with fortune. It shall be my lot to
teach you, replied he with insulting scorn, that I have unsealed
the eyes of both.

At this proud defiance, we both dismounted, tied our horses to a
tree, and engaged with equal fury. I must candidly acknowledge
the prowess of my antagonist, who was a consummate master of
fencing. My life was exposed to the greatest possible danger.
Nevertheless, as the strong is often vanquished by the weak, my
rival, in spite of all his science, received a thrust through the
heart, and fell a lifeless corpse.

I immediately returned, and told a confidential servant what had
happened, requesting him to take horse and acquaint my aunt,
before the officers of justice could get intelligence of the
event. He was also to obtain from her a supply of money and
jewels, and then join me at the first inn as you enter Plazencia.

All this was performed within three hours. Donna Eleonora rather
triumphed than mourned over a catastrophe, which restored my
injured honour; and sent me large remittances for my travels
abroad, till the affair had blown over.

Not to dwell on indifferent circumstances, suffice it to say,
that I embarked for Italy, and equipped myself so as to make a
respectable figure at the several courts.

While I was endeavouring to beguile the weary hours of absence,
Helena was weeping at home from the same cause. Instead of
joining in the family resentment, her heart was panting for a
compromise, and for my speedy return. Six months had already
elapsed, and I firmly believe that her constancy would have been
proof against the track of time, had time been seconded by no
more powerful ally. Don Blas de Combados, a gentleman from the
western coast of Galicia, came to Coria, to take possession of a
rich inheritance unsuccessfully contested by a near relation. He
liked that country so much better than his own, that he made it
his principal residence. Combados was a personable man. His
manners were gentle and well-bred, his conversation most
insinuating. With such a passport, he soon got into the best
company, and knew all the family concerns of the place.

It was not long before he heard of Don George's daughter, and of
her extraordinary beauty. This touched his curiosity nearly; he
was eager to behold so formidable a lady. For this purpose, he
endeavoured to worm himself into the good graces of her father,
and succeeded so well, that the old gentleman, already looking on
him as a son-in-law, gave him free admission to the house, and
the liberty of conversing with Donna Helena in his presence. The
Galician soon became deeply enamoured of her: indeed, it was the
common fate of all who had ever beheld her charms. He opened his
heart to Don George, who consented to his paying his addresses,
but told him that so far from offering violence to her
inclination, he should never interfere in her choice. Hereupon
Don Blas pressed every device that impassioned ingenuity could
suggest into his service, to melt and warm the icicles of
reserve; but the lady was impenetrable to his arts, fast bound in
the fetters of an earlier love. Felicia, however, was in the new
suitor's interest, convinced of his merit by the universal
argument. All the faculties of her soul were called forth in his
cause. On the other hand, the father urged his wishes and
entreaties. Thus was Donna Helena tormented for a whole year with
their importunities, and yet her faith continued unshaken.

Combados finding that Don George and Felicia took up his cause
with very little success, proposed an expedient for conquering
prejudice to the following effect. We will suppose a merchant of
Coria to have received a letter from his Italian correspondent,
in which, among the news of the day, there shall be the following
paragraph: "A Spanish gentleman, Don Gaston de Cogollos, has
lately arrived at the court of Parma. He is said to he nephew and
sole heir to a rich widow of Coria. He is paying his addresses to
a nobleman's daughter; but the family wishes to ascertain the
validity of his pretensions. Send me word, therefore, whether you
know this Don Gaston, together with the amount of his aunt's
fortune. On your answer the marriage will depend. Parma, day of,
&c."

The old gentleman considered this trick as a mere ebullition of
humour, a lawful stratagem of amorous warfare; and the jade of a
go-between, with conscience still more callous than her master's,
was delighted with the probability of the manoeuvre. It seemed to
be so much the more happily imagined, as they knew Helena to be a
proud girl, capable of taking decisive measures, in the moment of
surprise and indignation. Don George undertook to be the herald
of my fickleness, and by way of colouring the contrivance more
naturally, to confront the pretended correspondent with her. This
project was executed as soon as formed. The father, with
counterfeit emotions of displeasure, said to Donna Helena:
Daughter, it is not enough now to tell you that our relations
inveigh against an alliance with Don Austin's murderer; a still
stronger reason henceforward presses, to detach you from Don
Gaston. It may well overwhelm you with shame, to have been his
dupe so long. Here is an undeniable proof of his inconstancy.
Only read this letter just received by a merchant of Coria from
Italy. The trembling Helena caught at this forged paper; glanced
over the writing; then weighed every expression, and stood aghast
at the import of the whole. A keen pang of disappointment wrung
from her a few reluctant tears; but pride came to her assistance;
she wiped away the falling drops of weakness, and said to her
father in a determined tone: Sir, you have just been witness of
my folly; now bear testimony to my triumph over myself. The
delusion is past; Don Gaston is the object of my utter contempt.
I am ready to meet Don Blas at the altar, and be beforehand with
the traitor in the pledge of our transferred affections. Don
George, transported with joy at this change, embraced his
daughter, extolled her spirit to the skies, and hastened the
necessary preparations, with all the self-complacency of a
successful plotter.

Thus was Donna Helena snatched from me. She threw herself into
the arms of Combados in a pet, not listening to the secret
whispers of love within her breast, nor suspecting a story which
ought to have seemed so improbable in the annals of true passion.
The haughty are always the victims of their own rash conclusions.
Resentment of insulted beauty triumphed wholly over the
suggestions of tenderness. And yet, a few days after marriage,
there came over her some feelings of remorse for her
precipitation; it struck her that the letter might have been a
forgery; and the very possibility disturbed her peace. But the
enamoured Don Blas left his wife no time to nurse up thoughts
injurious to
their new-found joys; a succession of gaiety and pleasure kept
her in a thoughtless whirl, and shielded her from the pangs of
unavailing repentance.

She appeared to be in high good humour with so spirit-stirring a
husband; so that they were living together in perfect unanimity,
when my aunt adjusted my affair with Don Austin's relations. Of
this she wrote me word to Italy. I returned on the wings of love.
Donna Eleonora, not having announced the marriage, informed me of
it on my arrival; and remarking what pain it gave me, said: You
are in the wrong, nephew, to shew so much feeling for a faithless
fair. Banish from your memory a person so unworthy to share in
its tender recollections.

As my aunt did not know how Donna Helena had been played upon,
she had reason to talk as she did: nor could she have given me
better advice. To affect indifference, if not to conquer my
passion, was my bounden duty. Yet there could be no harm in just
inquiring by what means this union had been brought to bear. To
get at the truth, I determined on applying to Felicia's friend
Theodora. There I met with Felicia herself, who was confounded at
my unwelcome presence, and would have escaped from the necessity
of explanation. But I stopped her. Why do you avoid me? said I.
Has your perjured mistress forbidden you to give ear to my
complaints? or would you make a merit with the ungrateful woman,
of your voluntary refusal?

Sir, answered the plotting abigail, I confess my fault, and throw
myself on your mercy. Your appearance here has filled me with
remorse. My mistress has been betrayed, and unhappily in part by
my agency. The particulars of their infernal device followed this
avowal, with an endeavour to make me amends for its lamentable
consequence. To this effect, she offered me her services with her
mistress, and promised to undeceive her; in a word, to work night
and day, that she might soften the rigour of my sufferings, and
open the career of hope.

I pass over the numberless contradictions she experienced, before
she could accomplish the projected interview. It was at length
arranged to admit me privately, while Don Blas was at his
hunting-seat. The plot did not linger. The husband went into the
country, and they sent for me to his lady's apartment.

My onset was reproachful in the extreme, but my mouth was shut
upon the subject. It is useless to look back upon the past, said
the lady. It can be no part of our present intention to work upon
each other's feelings; and you are grievously mistaken, if you
fancy me inclined to flatter your aspiring hopes. My sole
inducement for receiving you here was to tell you personally,
that you have only henceforth to forget me. Perhaps I might have
been better satisfied with my lot, had it been united with yours;
but since heaven has ordered it otherwise, we must submit to its
decrees.

What! madam, answered I, is it not enough to have lost you, to
see my successful rival in quiet possession of all my soul holds
dear, but I must also banish you from my thoughts? You would tear
from me even my passion, my only remaining blessing! And think
you that a man, whom you have once enchanted, can recover his
self-possession? Know yourself better, and cease to enforce
impracticable behests. Well then! if so, rejoined she with
hurried importunity, do you cease to flatter yourself with
interesting my gratitude or my pity. In one short word, the wife
of Don Blas shall never be the mistress of Don Gaston. Let us at
once end a conversation at which delicacy revolts m spite of
virtue, and peremptorily forbids its longer continuance.

I now threw myself at the lady's feet in despair. All the powers
of language and of tears were called forth to soften her. But
even this served only to excite some inbred sentiments of
compassion, stifled as soon as born, and sacrificed at the shrine
of duty. After having fruitlessly exhausted all my stores of
tender persuasion, rage took possession of my breast. I drew my
sword, and would have fallen on its point before the inexorable
Helena, but she saw my design and prevented it. Stay your rash
hand, Cogollos, said she. Is it thus that you consult my
reputation? In dying thus and here, you will brand me with
dishonour, and my husband with the imputation of murder.

In the agony of my despair, far from yielding to these
suggestions, I only struggled against the preventive efforts of
the two women, and should have struggled too successfully, if Don
Blas had not appeared to second them. He had been apprized of our
assignation; and instead of going into the country, had concealed
himself behind the hangings, to overhear our conference. Don
Gaston, cried he, as he arrested my uplifted arm, recall your
scattered senses, and no longer give a loose to these mad
transports.

Here I could hold no longer. Is it for you, said I, to turn me
from my resolution? You ought rather yourself to plunge a dagger
in my bosom. My love, with all its train of miseries, is an
insult to you. Have you not surprised me in your wife's apartment
at this unseasonable hour? what greater provocation can you want
for your revenge? Stab me, and rid yourself of a man, who can
only give up the adoration of Donna Helena with his life. It is
in vain, answered Don Blas, that you endeavour to interest my
honour in your destruction. You are sufficiently punished for
your rashness; and my wife's imprudence, in giving you this
opportunity of indulging it, is sanctified by the purity of her
sentiments. Take my advice, Cogollos: shrink not effeminately
from your wayward destiny, but bear up against it with the
patient courage of a hero.

The prudent Galician, by such language, gradually composed the
ferment of my mind, and waked me once more to virtue. I withdrew
in the determination of removing far from the scene of my folly,
and went for Madrid, two days afterwards. There, pursuing the
career of fortune and preferment, I appeared at court, and laid
myself out for connections. But it was my ill luck to attach
myself particularly to the Marquis of Villareal, a Portuguese
grandee, who, lying under a suspicion of intending to emancipate
his country from the Spanish yoke, is now in the castle of
Alicant. As the Duke of Lerma knew me to be closely connected
with this nobleman, he gave orders for my arrest and detention
here. That minister thought me capable of engaging in such a
project -- he could not have offered a more outrageous affront to
a man of noble birth and a Castilian.

Don Gaston thus ended his story. By way of consolation I said to
him, Illustrious sir, your honour can receive no taint from this
temporary detainer, and your interest will probably be promoted
by it in the end. When the Duke of Lerma shall be convinced of
your innocence, he will not fail to give you a considerable post,
and thus retrieve the character of a gentleman unjustly accused
of treason.


CH. VII. -- Scipio finds Gil Blas out in the tower of Segovia,
and brings him a budget of news.

OUR conversation was interrupted by Tordesillas, who came into
the room, and addressed me thus: Signor Gil Blas, I have just
been speaking with a young man at the prison gate. He inquired if
you were not here, and looked much mortified at my refusal to
satisfy his curiosity. Noble governor, said he, with tears in his
eyes, do not reject my most humble petition. I am Signor de
Santillane's principal domestic, and you will do an act of
charity by allowing me to see him. You pass for a kind-hearted
gentleman in Segovia; I hope you will not deny me the favour of
conversing for a few minutes with my dear master, who is
unfortunate rather than criminal. In short, continued Don Andrew,
the lad was so importunate, that I promised to comply with his
wishes this evening.

I assured Tordesillas that he could not have pleased me better
than by bringing this young man to me, who could probably
communicate tidings of the last importance. I waited with
impatience for the entrance of my faithful Scipio; since I could
not doubt him to be the man, nor was I mistaken in my conjecture.
He was introduced at the time appointed; and his joy, which only
mine could equal, broke forth into the most whimsical
demonstrations. On my side, in the ecstasy of delight, I
stretched out my arms to him, and he rushed into them with no
courtly measured embrace. All distinctions of master and
dependent were levelled in the sympathetic rapture of our
meeting.

When our transports had subsided a little, I inquired into the
state of my household. You have neither household nor house,
answered he: to spare you a long string of questions, I will sum
up your worldly concerns in two words. Your property has been
pillaged at both ends, both by the banditti of the law and by
your own retainers, who, regarding you as a ruined man, paid
themselves their own wages out of whatever they found that was
portable. Luckily for you, I had the dexterity to save from their
harpy clutches two large bags of double pistoles. Salero, in
whose custody I deposited them, will make restitution on your
release, which cannot be far distant, as you were put upon his
majesty's pension list of prisoners without the Duke of Lerma's
knowledge or consent.

I asked Scipio how he knew his excellency to have had no share in
my arrest. You may depend on it, answered he, my information is
undeniable. One of my friends in the Duke of Uzeda's confidence
acquainted me with all the circumstances of your imprisonment.
Calderona, having discovered by a spy that Signora Sirena, with
the handle of an alias to her name, was receiving night visits
from the Prince of Spain, and that the Count de Lemos managed
that intrigue by the panderism of Signor de Santillane,
determined to be revenged on the whole knot. To this end he
waited on the Duke of Uzeda, and discovered the whole affair. The
duke, overjoyed at such a fine opportunity of ruining his enemy,
did not fail to bestir himself. He laid his information before
the king, and painted the prince's danger in the most lively
colours. His majesty was much angered, and shewed that he was so,
by sending Sirena to the nunnery provided for such frail sisters,
banishing the Count de Lemos, and condemning Gil Blas to
perpetual imprisonment.

This, pursued Scipio, is what my friend told me. Hence, you
gather your misfortune to be the Duke of Uzeda's handiwork, or
rather Calderona's.

Thus it seemed probable that my affairs might be reinstated in
time; that the Duke of Lerma, chagrined at his nephew's
banishment, would move heaven and earth for that nobleman's
recall; and it might not be too much to expect that his
excellency would not forget me. What a delicate gipsy is hope!
She wheedled me out of all anxiety about my shattered fortunes,
and made me as light-hearted as if I had good reason to be so. My
prison looked not like the dungeon of perpetual misery, but like
the vestibule to a more distinguished station. For thus ran the
train of my reasoning: Don Fernando Borgia, Father Jerome of
Florence, and more than all, Friar Louis of Aliaga, who may thank
him for his place about the king's person, are the prime
minister's partisans. With the aid of such powerful friends, his
excellency will bear down all opposition, even supposing no
change to take place in the political barometer. But his
majesty's health is very precarious. The first act of a new reign
would be to recall the Count de Lemos; he would not feel himself
at home in the young monarch's presence till he had introduced me
at court; and the young monarch
would not sit easy on his throne till he had showered benefits on
my head. Thus, feasting by anticipation on the pleasures of
futurity, I became callous to existing evils. The two bags, snug
in the goldsmith's custody, were no bad doubles to the part which
hope acted in this shifting pantomime.

It was impossible not to express my gratitude to Scipio for his
zeal and honesty. I offered him half the salvage, but he rejected
it. I expect, said he, a very different acknowledgment.
Astonished as much at his mysterious claim as at his refusal, I
asked what more I could do for him. Let us never part, answered
he. Allow me to link my fate with yours. I feel for you what I
never felt for any other master. And on my part, my good fellow,
said I, you may rest assured that your attachment is not thrown
away. You caught my fancy at first sight. We must have been born
under Libra or Gemini, where friendship is lord of the ascendant.
I willingly accept your proffered partnership, and will commence
business by prevailing with the warden to immure you along with
me in this tower. That is the very thing, exclaimed he. You were
beforehand with me, for I was just going to beg that favour. Your
company is dearer to me than liberty itself. I shall only just go
to Madrid now and then, to snuff the gale of the ministerial
atmosphere, and try whether any scent lies which may be
favourable for your pursuit. Thus will you combine in me a bosom
friend, a trusty messenger, and an unsuspected spy.

These advantages were too important for me to forego them. I
therefore kept so useful a person about me, with leave of the
obliging warden, who would not stand in the way of so soothing a
relief to the weariness of solitude.


CH. VIII. -- Scipio's first journey to Madrid: its object and
success. Gil Blas falls sick. The consequence of his illness.

IF it is a common proverb that our direst enemies are those of
our own household, the converse ought equally to be admitted
among the saws of a more candid experience. After such
incontestable proofs of Scipio's zeal, he became to me like
another self. All distinction of place was confounded between Gil
Blas and his secretary; all insolence was dropped on the one
hand, all cringing on the other. Their lodging, bed, and board
were in common.

Scipio's conversation was of a very lively turn; he might have
been dubbed the Spanish Momus, without any derogation to the
Punch of the Pantheon. But he had a long head, as well as a
fanciful brain, combining the characters of counsellor and
jester. My friend, said I, one day, what do you think of writing
to the Duke of Lerma? It could, methinks, do no harm. Why, as to
that, answered he, the great are such chameleons, that there is
no knowing where to have them. At all events you may risk it;
though I would not lay the postage of your letter on its success.
The minister loves you, it is true; but then political love lacks
memory, as much as personal love lacks visual discrimination. Out
of sight, out of mind! is at once the motto and the stigma of
these gentry.

True as this may be in the general, replied I, my patron is a
glorious exception. His kindness lives in my recollection. I am
persuaded that he suffers for my sufferings, and that they are
incessantly preying on his spirits. We must give him credit for
only waiting till the king's anger shall pass away. Be it so,
resumed he; I wish you may not reckon without your host. Assail
his excellency then with an epistle to stir the waters. I will
engage to deliver it into his own hands. Pen, ink, and paper
being brought, I composed a specimen of eloquence which Scipio
declared to be a paragon of pathos, and Tordesillas preferred,
for the cant of sermonizing prolixity, to the old archbishop's
homilies.

I flattered myself that there would be tears in the Duke of
Lerma's eyes, and distraction in his aspect, at the detail of
miseries which existed only on paper. In that assurance, I
despatched my messenger, who no sooner got to Madrid, than he
went to the minister's. Meeting with an old domestic of my
acquaintance, he had no difficulty in gaining access to the duke.
My lord, said Scipio to his excellency, as he delivered the
packet, one of your most devoted servants, lying at his length on
straw, in a damp and dreary dungeon at Segovia, most humbly
supplicates for the perusal of this letter, which a tender-
hearted turnkey has furnished him with the means of writing. The
minister opened the letter, and glanced over the contents. But
though he found there a motive and a cue for passion, enough to
amaze all his faculties at once, far from drowning the floor with
briny secretions, he cleaved the ear of his household, and smote
the heart of my courier with horrid speech: Friend, tell
Santillane that he has a great deal of impudence to address me,
after so rank an offence, worthily confronted by the severe
sentence of the king. Under that sentence let the wretch drag out
his days, nor look to my mediation for a respite.

Scipio, though neither dull nor muddy-mettled, began to be
unpregnant of this defeated cause. Yet he was not so pigeon-
livered as to retire without an effort in my favour. My lord,
replied he, this poor prisoner will give up the ghost with grief,
at the recital of your excellency's displeasure. The duke
answered like a prime minister, with a supercilious corrugation
of features, and a decisive revolution of his front to some more
prosperous suitor. This he did, to cover his own share in the
shame of pimping; and such treatment must all those hireling
scavengers expect, who rake in the filth and ordure of rotten
statesmen, courtiers, and politicians.

My secretary came back to Segovia and delivered the result of his
mission. And now behold me, sunk deeper than on the first day of
my imprisonment, in the gulf of affliction and despair! The Duke
of Lerma's turning king's evidence gave a hanging posture to my
affairs. My courage was run out; and though they did all they
could to keep up my spirits, the agitation and distress of my
mind threw me into a fever.

The warden, who took a lively interest in my recovery, fancying
in his unmedical head that physicians cured fevers, brought me a
double dose of death in two of that doleful deity's most
practised executioners. Signor Gil Blas, said he, as he ushered
in their grisly forms, here are two godsons of Hippocrates, who
are come to feel your pulse, and to augment the number of their
trophies in your person. I was so prejudiced against the whole
faculty, that I should certainly have given them a very
discouraging reception, had life retained its usual charms in my
estimation; but being bent on my departure from this vale of
tears, I felt obliged to Tordesillas for hastening my journey, by
a safer conveyance than the crime of suicide.

My good sir, said one of the pair, your recovery will, under
Providence, depend on your entire confidence in our skill.
Implicit confidence I answered I: with your assistance, I am
fully persuaded that a few days will place me beyond the reach of
fever, and all the shocks that flesh is heir to. Yes! with the
blessing of Heaven, rejoined he, it is a consummation devoutly to
be wished, and easily to be effected. At all events, our best
endeavours shall not be wanting. And indeed it was no joke: for
they got me into such fine training for the other world, that few
of my material particles were left in this. Already had Don
Andrew, observing me fumble with the sheets, and smile upon my
fingers' ends, and thinking there was but one way, sent for a
Franciscan to shew it me: already had the good father, having
mumbled over the salvation of my soul, retired to the refection
of his own body: and my own opinion leaned to the immediate
necessity of making a good end. I beckoned Scipio to my bedside,
My dear friend, said I, in the faint accents of a tortured and
evacuated patient I give and bequeath to you one of the bags in
Gabriel's possession; the other you must carry to my father and
mother in the Asturias, who, if still living, must be in narrow
circumstances. But, alas! I fear, they have not been able to bear
up against my ingratitude. Muscada's report of my unnatural
behaviour must have brought their grey hairs with sorrow to the
grave. Should Heaven have fortified their tender hearts against
my indifference, you will give them the bag of doubloons, with
assurances of my dying remorse: and, if they are no more, I
charge you to lay out the money in masses for the repose of their
souls and of mine. Then did I stretch out my hand, which he
bathed in silent tears. It is not always true, that the mourning
of an heir is mirth in masquerade.

For some hours I fancied myself outward-bound, and on the point
of sailing; but the wind changed. My pilots having quitted the
helm, and left the vessel to the steerage of nature, the danger
of shipwreck disappeared. The fever, mutinying against its
commanding officers, gave all their prognostics the lie, and
acted contrary to general orders. I got better by degrees, in
mind as well as in body. My consolation was all derived from
within. I looked at wealth and honours with the eye of a dying
anchorite, and blessed the malady which restored my soul. I
abjured courts, politics, and the Duke of Lerma. If ever my
prison doors were opened, it was my fixed resolve to buy a
cottage, and live like a philosopher.

My bosom friend applauded my design, and to further its
execution, under took a second journey to solicit my release, by
the intervention of a clever girl about the person of the
prince's nurse. He contended that a prison was a prison still, in
spite of kind indulgence and good cheer. In this I agreed, and
gave him leave to depart, with a fervent prayer to Heaven that we
might soon take possession of our hermitage.


CH. IX. -- Scipio's second journey to Madrid. Gil Blas is set at
liberty on certain conditions. Their departure from the tower of
Segovia, and conversation on their journey.

WHILE waiting for Scipio's return from Madrid, I began a course
of study. Tordesillas furnished me with more books than I wanted.
He borrowed them from an old officer who could not read, but had
fitted up a magnificent library, that he might pass for a man of
learning. Above all, I delighted in moral essays and treatises,
because they abounded in common-places according with my
antipathy to courts and philosophic relish of solitude.

Three weeks elapsed before I heard a syllable from my negotiator,
who returned at length with a cheerful countenance, and news to
the following effect: By the intercession of a hundred pistoles
with the chambermaid, and her intercession with her mistress, the
Prince of Spain has been prevailed with to plead for your
enlargement with his royal father. I hastened hither to announce
these happy tidings, and must return immediately to put the last
hand to my work. With these words, he left me, and went back to
court

At the week's end my expeditious agent returned, with the
intelligence that the prince had procured my liberty, not without
some difficulty. On the same day my generous keeper confirmed the
assurance in person, with the kindest congratulations, and the
following notice: -- Your prison doors are open, but on two
conditions, which I am sorry that my duty obliges me to announce,
because they will probably be disagreeable to you. His majesty
expressly forbids you to shew your face at court, or to be found
within the limits of the two Castiles on this day month. I am
extremely sorry that you are interdicted from court. And I am
delighted at it, answered I. Witness all the powers above! I
asked the king for only one favour; he has granted me two.

With my liberty thus confirmed, I hired a couple of mules, on
which we mounted the next day, after taking leave of Cogollos,
and thanking Tordesillas a thousand times for all his instances
of friendship. We set forward cheerfully on the road to Madrid,
to draw our deposit out of Signor Gabriel's hands, amounting to a
thousand doubloons. On the road my fellow-traveller observed: If
we are not rich enough to purchase a splendid property, we can at
least secure ease and competency to ourselves. A cabin, answered
I, would be large enough for my most ambitious thoughts. Though
scarcely at the middle period of life, the world has lost its
charms for me; its hopes, its fears, its cares, its duties, are
all absorbed in the selfishness of philosophical retirement.
Independently of these principles, I can assure you I have
painted for myself a rural landscape, with a foreground of
innocent pleasures, and pastoral simplicity in the perspective.
Already does the enamel of the meadows glitter under my eyes;
already does the river's murmur accord with the winged chorus of
the grove: hunting exasperates the manly virtues, and fishing
preaches patience. Only figure to yourself; my friend, what a
continual round of amusement solitude may furnish, and you will
pant to be admitted of her crew. Then for the economy of our
table, the simplest will be the cheapest, and of course the best.
Unadulterated Ceres shall be our official caterer: when hunger
shall have tamed our fastidious appetites into sobriety, a
mumbled crust will relish like an ortolan. The supreme delight of
eating is not in the thing ate, but in the palate of him who
eats; a proposition in culinary philosophy, proved by the
frequent loathing of my own stomach, through a long series of
ministerial dinners. Abstemiousness is a luxury of the most
exquisite refinement, and the best recipe in the materia medica.

With your good leave, Signor Gil Blas, interrupted my secretary,
I am not altogether of your mind respecting the luscious treat of
abstemiousness. Why should we mess like the bankrupt sages of
antiquity? Surely we may indulge the carnal man a little, without
any reasonable offence to the spiritual. Since we have, by the
blessing of Providence and my forecast, wherewithal to keep the
spit and the spigot in exercise, do not let us take up our abode
with famine and wretchedness. As soon as we get settled, we must
stock our cellar, and establish a respectable larder, like people
who know what is what, and do not separate themselves from the
vulgar crowd to renounce the good things of this life, but to
taste them with a more exquisite relish. As Hesiod says,
Enjoy thy riches with a liberal soul;Plenteous the feast, all
smiling be the bowl.
And again,To stint the wine a frugal husband shows,When from the
middle of the cask it flows.

What the devil, Master Scipio, interrupted I in my turn, you can
cap verses out of the Greek poets! And pray where did you get
acquainted with Hesiod? In very learned company, answered he. I
lived some time with a walking dictionary at Salamanca, a fellow
up to the elbows in quotation and commentary. He could put a
large volume together like a house of cards. His library
furnished him with a hodge-podge of Hebrew, Greek, and Latin
common places, which he translated into buckram Castilian. As I
was his transcriber, some tags of verses, stings of epigrams, and
sage truisms stuck by the way. With such an apparatus, replied I,
your memory must be most philosophically stocked. But, not to
lose sight of our future prospects, whereabouts in Spain had we
best fix our Socratic abode? My voice is for Arragon, resumed my
counsellor. We shall there enjoy all the beauties of nature, and
lead the life of Paradise. Well, then, for Arragon! said I. May
it teem with all the dear delights that youthful poets fancy when
they dream!


CH. X. -- Their doings at Madrid. The rencounter of Gil Blas in
the street, and its consequences.

ON our arrival in Madrid, we alighted at a little public-house
where Scipio had been accustomed to put up, whence our first
visit was to my banker, Salero. He received us very cordially,
and expressed the highest satisfaction at my release. Indeed,
added he, your untoward fate touched me so nearly as to change my
views of a political alliance. The fortunes of courtiers are like
castles in the air: so I have married my daughter Gabriela to a
wealthy trader. You have acted very wisely, answered I; for
besides that a bird in the hand is worth two in a bush, when a
plodding citizen aspires to the honour of bringing a man of
fashion into his family, he very often has an impertinent puppy
for his son-in-law.

Then changing the topic, and coming to the point: Signor Gabriel,
pursued I, we came to talk a little about the two thousand
pistoles which. . . . Your money is all ready, said the
goldsmith, interrupting me. He then took us into his closet, and
delivered the two bags, carefully labelled with my name on them.

I thanked Salero for his exactness, and heaven in my sleeve for
my escape from his daughter. At our inn we counted over the
money, and found it right, deducting fifty doubloons for the
expenses of my enlargement. Our thoughts were now wholly bent
upon Arragon. My secretary undertook to buy a carriage and two
mules. It was my office to provide household and body linen.
During my peregrinations for that purpose, I met Baron Steinbach,
the officer in the German Guards with whom Don Alphonso had been
brought up.

I touched my hat to him; he knew me again, and returned my
greeting warmly. My joy is extreme, said I, at seeing your
lordship in such fine health, to say nothing of my wish to
inquire after Don Caesar and Don Alphonso de Leyva. They are both
in Madrid, answered he, and staying at my house. They came to
town about three months ago, to be presented on occasion of Don
Alphonso's promotion. He has been appointed Governor of Valencia,
on the score of old family claims, without having in any shape
pushed his interest at court. Nothing could be more grateful to
his feelings, or prove more strongly our royal master's goodness,
who delights to recognize the merits of ancestry in the persons
of their descendants.

Though I knew more of this matter than Steinbach, I kept my
knowledge in the background. Yet so lively was my impatience to
hail my old masters, that he would not damp my ardour by delay. I
had a mind to try Don Alphonso, whether he still retained his
regard for me. He was playing at chess with Baroness Steinbach,
On my entrance, he started up from his game, ran towards me, and
squeezing me tight in his embrace: Santillane, said he, with
demonstrations of the sincerest joy, at length, then, you are
restored to my heart. I am delighted at it! It was not my fault
that we ever parted. You may remember how strongly I urged you
not to withdraw from the Castle of Leyva. You were deaf to my
entreaties. But I must not chide your obstinacy, because its
motive was the peace of the family. Yet you ought to have let me
hear from you, and to have spared my fruitless inquiries at
Grenada, where my brother-in-law, Don Ferdinand, sent me word
that you were. And now tell me what you are doing at Madrid. Of
course you have some situation here. Be assured that I shall
always take a lively interest in your concerns. Sir, answered I,
it is but four months since I occupied a considerable post at
court. I had the honour of being the Duke of Lerma's confidential
secretary. Can it be possible? exclaimed Don Alphonso, as if he
could scarcely believe his ears. What, were you so near the
person of the prime minister? I then related how I had gained and
lost his favour, and ended with avowing my determination to buy a
cottage and garden with the wreck of my shattered fortunes.

The son of Don Caesar heard me attentively, and made this answer:
My dear Gil Blas, you know how I have always loved you; nor shall
you longer be fortune's puppet I will set you above her vagaries,
by securing you an independence. Since you declare for a country
life, a little estate of ours near Lirias, about four leagues
from Valencia, shall be settled on you. You are acquainted with
the spot. Such a present we can make, without putting ourselves
to the least inconvenience. I can answer for my father's joining
in the act, and for Seraphina's entire approbation.

I threw myself at Don Alphonso's feet, who raised me immediately.
More penetrated by his affection than by his bounty, I pressed
his hand and said, Sir, your conduct charms me. Your noble gift
is the more welcome, as it precedes the knowledge of a service it
has been in my power to render you; and I had rather owe it to
your generosity, than to your gratitude. This governor of my
making did not know what to understand by the hint, and pressed
for an explanation. I gave it in full, to his utter astonishment.
Neither he nor Baron Steinbach could ever have the slightest
suspicion that the government of Valencia was owing to my
interest at court. Yet having no reason to doubt the fact, my
friend proposed to grant me an annuity of two thousand ducats, in
addition to the little farm at Lirias.

Hold your hand, Signor Don Alphonso! exclaimed I at this offer.
You must not set my avarice afloat again. I am myself a living
witness, that fortune may give superfluities to her favourites,
but has no competence to bestow. With pleasure will I accept of
the estate at Lirias, where my present property will be
sufficient for all my wants. Rather than increase my cares with
my possessions, I would build a hospital out of my existing
funds. Riches are a burden: and it must be a foolish animal that
would bear fardels in the manger or the field.

While we were talking after this fashion, Den Caesar came in. His
joy was not less than his son's at the sight of me; and being
informed of the family obligations, he again pressed me to accept
of the annuity, which I again refused. When the writings were
drawn, the father and son made the assignment their joint act and
deed, transferring to me the fee simple, and putting me in
immediate possession. My secretary half stared the eyes out of
his head, when I told him we lad a landed estate of our own, and
how we came by it. What is the value of this little freehold?
said he. Five hundred ducats per annum, answered I, and the farm
in high cultivation, within a ring fence. I have often been there
during my stewardship. There is a small house on the banks of the
Guadalaviar, in a little hamlet, surrounded by a charming
country.

What pleases me better than all, cried Scipio, is that we shall
have plenty of sporting, rare living, and excellent wine. Come,
master, let us leave this crowded city, and hasten to our
hermitage. I long to be there as much as you can do, answered I;
but I must first go to the Asturias. My father and mother are not
in comfortable circumstances. They shall therefore end their days
with me at Lirias. Heaven, perhaps, has thrown this windfall in
my way to try my filial duty, and would punish me for the neglect
of it Scipio approved my purpose, and urged its speedy execution.
Yes, my friend, said I, we will set out as soon as possible. I
shall consider it as my dear delight to
share the gifts of fortune with the authors of my existence. We
shall soon be settled in our country retreat; and then will I
write these two Latin verses over the door of my farm-house, in
letters of gold, for the pious edification of my rustic
neighbours:

Inveni portum. Spes et fortuna, valete.
Sat me lusistis; ludite nunc alios.



 

 

 





BOOK THE TENTH.




CH. I. -- Gil Blas sets out for the Asturias; and passes through
Valladolid, where he goes to see his old master, Doctor Sangrado.
By accident, he comes across Signor Manuel Ordonnez, governor of
the hospital.

JUST as I was arranging matters to take my departure from Madrid,
and go with Scipio to the Asturias, Paul V. gave the Duke of
Lerma a cardinal's hat. This pope, wishing to establish the
inquisition in the kingdom of Naples, invested the minister with
the purple, and by that means hoped to bring King Philip over to
so pious and praiseworthy a design. Those who were best
acquainted with this new member of the sacred college, thought
much like myself, that the church was in a fair way for
apostolical purity, after so ghostly an acquisition.

Scipio, who would have liked better to see me once more blazing
at court, than either cloistered or rusticated, advised me to
shew my face at the cardinal's audience. Perhaps, said he, his
eminence, finding you at large by the king's order, may think it
unnecessary to affect any further displeasure against you, and
may even reinstate you in his service. My good friend Scipio,
answered I, you seem to forget that my liberty was granted only
on condition of making myself scarce in the two Castiles.
Besides, can you suppose me so soon inclined to become an
absentee from my domain of Lirias? I have told you before, and I
tell it you once again: Though the Duke of Lerma should restore
me to his good graces, though he should even offer me Don Rodrigo
de Calderona's place, I would refuse it. My resolution is taken:
I mean to go and find out my parents at Oviedo, and carry them
with me to Valencia. As for you, my good fellow, if you repent of
having linked your fate with mine, you have only to say so: I am
ready to give you half of my ready money, and you may stay at
Madrid, where fortune puts on her kindest smiles to those who woo
her lustily.

What then! replied my secretary, a little affected by these
words, can you suspect me of any unwillingness to follow you into
your retreat? The very idea is an injury to my zeal and my
attachment . . . . What, Scipio! that faithful appendage, who
would willingly have passed the remnant of his days with you in
the tower of Segovia, rather than abandon you to your wretched
fate, can he feel sorrowful at the prospect of an abode, where a
thousand rural delights are waiting to smile on his arrival? No,
no, I have not a wish to turn you aside from your resolution. Nor
can I refrain from owning my malicious drift; when I advised you
to shew your face at the Duke of Lerma's audience, it was for the
purpose of ascertaining whether any seedlings of ambition were
scattered among the fallows of your philosophy. Since that point
is settled, and you are mortified to all the pomps and vanities
of the world; let us make the best of our way from court, to go
and suck in with Zephyrus and Flora the innocent, delicious
pleasures so luxuriant in the nursery of our imaginations.

In fact, we soon afterwards took our departure together, in a
chaise drawn by two good mules, driven by a postilion whom I had
added to my establishment. We stopped the first day at Alcala de
Henarиs, and the second at Segovia, whence, without stopping to
see our generous warden, Tordesillas, we went forward to Penбfiel
on the Duero, and the next day to Valladolid. At sight of this
large town, I could not help fetching a deep sigh. My companion,
surprised at that conscientious ventilation, inquired the reason
of it. My good fellow, said I, it is because I practised medicine
here for a long time. It gives me the horrors, even now, to think
of my unexpiated murders. The whole list of killed and wounded
are mustered in battle-array yonder: the tomb and the hospital
yawn with their disgorged inhabitants, who are rushing on to tear
me piece-meal, and exact the vengeance due to the drenched crew.
What a dreadful fancy! said my secretary. In truth, Signor de
Santillane, your nature is too tender. Why should you be shocked
at the common course of exchange in your branch of trade? Look at
all the oldest physicians: their withers are unwrung. What can
exceed the self-complacency with which they view the exits of
patients, and the entrances of diseases? Natural constitution
bears the brunt of all their failures, and medical infallibility
takes the credit of lucky accidents.

It is very true, replied I, that Doctor Sangrado, on whose
practice I formed myself, was like the rest of the old physicians
in point of self-complacency. It was to little purpose that
twenty people in a day yielded to his prowess; he was so
persuaded that bleeding in the arm and copious libations of warm
water were specifics for every case, that instead of doubting
whether the death of his patients might not possibly invalidate
the efficacy of his prescriptions, he ascribed the result to a
vacillating compliance with his system. By all the powers! cried
Scipio with a burst of laughter, you open to me an incomparable
character. If you have any curiosity to be better acquainted with
him, said I, it may be gratified to-morrow, should Sangrado be
still living, and resident at Valladolid: but it is highly
improbable; for he had one foot in the grave when I left him
several years ago.

Our first care, on putting up at the inn, was to inquire after
this doctor. We were told that he was not dead; but being
incapacitated by age from paying visits or any other vigorous
exertions, he had been superseded by three or four other doctors
who had risen into repute by a new practice, accomplishing the
same end by different means. We determined on lying by for a day
at Valladolid, as well to rest our mules, as to call on Signor
Sangrado. About ten o'clock next morning we knocked at his door;
and found him sitting in his elbow-chair, with a book in his
hand. He rose on our entrance; advanced to meet us with a firm
step for a man of seventy, and begged to know our business. My
worthy and approved good master, said I, have you lost all
recollection of an old pupil? There was formerly one Gil Blas, as
you may remember, a boarder in your house, and for some time your
deputy. What! is it you, Santillane? answered he, with a cordial
embrace. I should not have known you again. It, however, gives me
great pleasure to see you once more. What have you been doing
since we parted? Doubtless you have made medicine your
profession. It was very strongly my inclination so to do, replied
I; but imperious circumstances made me reluctantly abandon so
illustrious a calling.

So much the worse, rejoined Sangrado: with the principles you
sucked in under my tuition, you would have become a physician of
the first skill and eminence, with the guiding influence of
heaven to defend you from the dangerous allurements of chemistry.
Ah, my son! pursued he with a mournful air, what a change in
practice within these few years! The whole honour and dignity of
the art is compromised. That mystery, by whose inscrutable
decrees the lives of men have in all ages been determined, is now
laid open to the rude, untutored gaze of blockheads, novices, and
mountebanks. Facts are stubborn things; and ere long the very
stones will cry aloud against the rascality of these new
practitioners: lapides clamabunt! Why, sir, there are fellows in
this town, calling themselves physicians, who drag their degraded
persons at the currus triumphalis antimonii, or as it should
properly be translated, the cart's tail of antimony. Apostates
from the faith of Paracelsus, idolaters of filthy kermes, healers
at haphazard, who make all the science of medicine to consist in
the preparation and prescription of drugs. What a change have I
to announce to you! There is not one stone left upon another in
the whole structure which our great predecessors had raised.
Bleeding in the feet, for example, so rarely practised in better
times, is now among the fashionable follies of the day. That
gentle, civilized system of evacuation which prevailed under my
auspices is subverted by the reign of anarchy and emetics, of
quackery and poison. In short, chaos is come again! Every one
orders what seems good in his own eyes; there is no deference to
the authority of ancient wisdom; our masters are laid upon the
shelf, and their axioms not one tittle the more regarded, for
being delivered in languages as defunct as the subjects of their
application.

However desirable it might seem to laugh at so whimsical a
declamation, I had the good manners to resist the impulse; and
not only that, but to inveigh bitterly against kermes, without
knowing whether it was a vegetable or an animal, and to pour
forth a commination of curses against the authors and inventors
of so diabolical an engine. Scipio, observing my by-play in this
scene, had a mind to come in for his share in the banter. Most
venerable prop of the true practice, said he to Sangrado, as I am
descended in the third generation from a physician of the old
school, give me leave to join you in your philippic against
chemical conspiracies. My late illustrious progenitor, heaven
forgive him all his sins! was so warm a partisan of Hippocrates,
that he often came to blows with ignorant pretenders, who vomited
forth blasphemies against that high priest of the faculty. What
is bred in the bone will not come out of the flesh: I could
willingly inflict tortures and death with my own hands on those
rash innovators whose daring enormities you have characterized
with such accuracy of discrimination and such force of language.
When wretches like these gain an ascendancy in civilized society,
can we wonder at the disjointed condition of the world?

The times are even more out of joint than you are aware of, said
the doctor. My book against the vanities and delusions of the new
practice might as well have fallen still-born from the press; it
seems, if anything, to have acted by contraries, and to have
exasperated heresy. The apothecaries, like the Titans of old,
heaping potion upon pill, and invading the Olympus of medicine,
think themselves fully qualified to usurp and maintain the
throne, now that it is only thought necessary to set open the
doors, and to drive the enemy out at the portal or the postern by
main force. They go to the length of infusing their deadly drugs
into apozems and cordials, and then set themselves up against the
most eminent of the fraternity. This contagion has spread its
influence even among the cloisters. There are monks in our
convents who unite surgery and pharmacy to the labours of the
confessional. Those medical baboons are always dipping their paws
into chemistry, and inventing compositions strong enough to lay a
scene of ecclesiastical mortality in the temperate abodes of
peace and religion. Now there are in Valladolid above sixty
religious houses for both sexes; judge what ravage must have been
made there by unmerciful pumping and the lancet misapplied.
Signor Sangrado, said I, you are perfectly in the right to give
these poisoners no quarter. I utter groan for groan with you, and
heave the philanthropic sigh over the invaded lives of our
fellow-creatures, sinking under the fell attack of so heterodox a
practice. It fills me with horror to think what a dead weight
chemistry may one day be to medicine, just as adulterated coin
operates on national credit. Far be that evil day from this
generation.

Just at this climax of our discourse, in came an old female
servant, with a salver for the doctor, on which was a little
light roll and a glass with two decanters, the one filled with
water and the other with wine. After he had eaten a slice, he
washed it down with a diluted beverage, two parts water to one of
wine; but this temperate use of the good creature did not at all
save him from the acrimony of my ridicule. So so, good master
doctor, said I, you are fairly caught in the fact. You a wine-
bibber! you, who have entered the lists like a knight-errant
against that unauthenticated fermentation? you, who reached your
grand climacteric on the strength of the pure element? How long
have you been so at odds with yourself? Your time of life can be
no excuse for the alteration; since, in one passage of your
writings, you define old age to be a natural consumption, which
withers and attenuates the system; and as an inference from that
position, you reprobate the ignorance of those writers who
dignify wine with the appellation of old men's milk. What can you
say, therefore, in your own defence?

You belabour me most unjustly, answered the old physician. If I
drank neat wine, you would have a right to treat me as a deserter
from my own standard; but your eyes may convince you that my wine
is well mixed. Another heresy, my dear apostle of the wells and
fountains! replied I. Recollect how you rated the canon Sйdillo
for drinking wine, though plentifully dashed with the salubrious
fluid. Own modestly and candidly that your theory was unfounded
and fanciful, and that wine is not a poisonous liquor, as you
have so falsely and scandalously libelled it in your works, any
further than, like any other of nature's bounties, it may be
abused to excess.

This lecture sat rather uneasily on our doctor's feelings, as a
candidate for consistency. He could not deny his inveteracy
against the use of wine in all his publications; but pride and
vanity not allowing him to acknowledge the justice of my attack
on his apostasy, he was left without a word to say for himself.
Not wishing to push my sarcasm beyond the bounds of good humour,
I changed the subject; and after a few minutes' longer stay, took
my leave, gravely exhorting him to maintain his ground against
the new practitioners. Courage, Signor Sangrado! said I: never be
weary of setting your wits against kermes; and deafen the health-
dispensing tribe with your thunders against the use of bleeding
in the feet. If, spite of all your zeal and affection for medical
orthodoxy, this empiric generation should succeed in supplanting
true and legitimate practice, it will be at least your
consolation to have exhausted your best endeavours in the support
of truth and reason.

As my secretary and myself were walking to the inn, making our
observations in high glee on the doctor's entertaining and
original character, n man from fifty five to sixty years of age
happened to pass near us in the street, walking with his eyes
fixed on the ground, and a large rosary in his hand. I conned
over the distinctive cut of his appearance most cunningly, and
was rewarded in the recognition of Signor Manuel Ordonnez, that
faithful trustee for the affairs of the hospital, of whom so
honourable mention is made in the first volume of these true and
instructive memoirs. Accosting him with the most profound and
unquestionable tokens of respect, I paid my compliments in due
form and order to the venerable and trust-worthy Signor Manuel
Ordonnez, the man of all the world in whose hands the interests
of the poor and needy are most safely and beneficially placed. At
these words he looked me steadfastly in the face, and answered
that my features were not altogether strange to him, but that he
could not recollect where he had seen me. I used to go backwards
and forwards to your house, replied I, when one of my friends, by
name Fabricio Nunez, was in your service. Ah! I recollect the
circumstance at once, rejoined the worthy director with a cunning
leer, and have good reason to do so; for you were a brace of
pleasant lads, and were by no means backward in the little scape-
grace tricks of youth and inexperience. Well! and what is become
of poor Fabricio? Whenever he comes across my thoughts, I cannot
help feeling a little uneasy about his temporal and eternal
welfare.

It was to relieve your mind upon that subject, said I to Signor
Manuel, that I have taken the liberty of stopping you in the
street. Fabricio is settled at Madrid, where he employs himself
in publishing miscellanies and collections. What do you mean by
miscellanies and collections? replied he. I mean, resumed I, that
he writes in verse and prose, from epic poems and the highest
branches of philosophy, down to plays, novels, epigrams, and
riddles. In short, he is a lad of universal genius, and most
exemplary benevolence; sometimes modestly taking to himself the
credit of his own compositions, and sometimes lending out his
talents to the literary ambition of those noblemen who write for
their own amusement, but wish their names to be concealed, except
from a chosen circle. By traffic like this he sits at the very
first tables. But how does he sit at his own? said the director:
upon what terms does he live with his baker? Not quite so
confidentially as with people of fashion, answered I; for between
ourselves, I take him to be quite as much out at elbows as ever
Job was. More bonds and judgments against him than ever Job had,
take my word for it! replied Ordonnez. Let him lick the spittle
of his titled friends and patrons till his stomach heaves at the
nauseating saliva; his printed dedications and his oral flattery,
in spite of all the cringing and all the toad-eating, which
constitute the stock-in-trade of his profession, with all the
profits of his works, whether by subscription or ordinary
publication, will not bring grist enough to his mill, to keep
hunger from the door. Mind if what I say does not turn out to be
true! He will come to the dogs at last.

Nothing more likely! replied I; for he cohabits with the muses
already; and many a plain man has found, to his cost, that there
is no keeping company with the sisters, without being worried by
their bullying brethren. My friend Fabricio would have done much
better by remaining quietly with your lordship; he would now have
been lying on a bed of roses, and everything he had touched would
have turned to gold. He would at least have been in a very snug
berth, said Manuel. He was a great favourite of mine; and I
meant, by a regular gradation from subaltern to principal
situations, to have established him in ease and affluence on the
basis of public charity; but the foolish fellow took it into his
head to set up for a wit. He wrote a play, and brought it out at
the theatre in this town: the piece went off tolerably well, and
nothing thenceforth would serve his turn but commencing author by
profession. Lope de Vega, in his estimation, was but a type of
him: preferring, therefore, the intoxicating vapour of public
applause to the plain roast and boiled of this substantial
ordinary, he came to me for his discharge. It was to no purpose
for me to argue the point, or to prove to him what a silly cur he
was, to drop the bone and run after the shadow: the mad blockhead
was so suffocated by the smother of authorship, that the
instinctive dread of fire could not rouse his alacrity to escape
burning. In short, he was miserably unconscious of his own
interest, as his successor can testify: for he, possessing
practical good sense, though without half Fabricio's quickness
and versatility, makes it his whole study and delight to go
through his business in a workmanlike manner, and to fall in with
all my little ways. In return for such good conduct, I pushed him
forward in a manner corresponding with his deserts; and he unites
in his own person, even at this time of day, two offices in the
hospital, the least lucrative of which would be more than
sufficient to place any honest man at his ease, though encumbered
with a yearly teeming wife.


CH. II. -- Gil Blas continues his journey, and arrives in safety
at Oviedo. The condition of his family. His father's death, and
its consequences.

FROM Valladolid we got to Oviedo in four days, without any
untoward accident on the road, in spite of the proverb, which
says, that robbers lay their ears to the ground, when pilgrims
are going with rich offerings, and traders are riding with fat
purses. It would have been a feasible, as well as a tempting
speculation. Two tenants of a subterraneous abode might have
presented an aspect to have frightened our doubloons into a
surrender; for courage was not one of the qualities I had imbibed
at court; and Bertrand, my mule-driver, seemed not to be of a
temper to get his brains blown out in defending a purse into
which he had no free ingress. Scipio was the only one of the
party who was anything of a bully.

It was night when we came into town. Our lodgings were at an inn
near my uncle, Gil Perez, the canon. I was very desirous of
ascertaining the circumstances of my parents before my first
interview with them; and, in order to gain that information, it
was impossible to make my inquiries in a better channel than
through my landlord and landlady, into the lines of whose faces
you could not look without being satisfied that they knew every
tittle of their neighbours' concerns. As it turned out, the
landlord kenned me after a diligent perusal of my features, and
cried out: By Saint Anthony of Padua! this is the son of the
honest usher, Blas of Santillane. Ay, indeed! said the hostess;
and so it is: without a single muscle altered! just for all the
world that same little stripling Gil Blas, of whom we used to say
that he was as saucy as he was high. It brings old times to my
memory! when he used to come hither with his bottle under his
arm, to fetch wine for his uncle's supper.

Madam, said I, you have a most inveterate memory; but for
goodness' sake change the subject, and tell me the modern news of
my family. My father and mother are doubtless in no very enviable
situation. In good truth, you may say that, answered the
landlady: you may rack your brains as long as you like, but you
will never think of anything half so miserable as what they are
suffering at this present moment. Gil Perez, good soul! is
defunct all down one side by a stroke of the palsy, and the other
half of him is little better than a corpse; we cannot expect him
to last long: then your father, who went to live with his
reverence a little while ago, is troubled with an inflammation of
the lungs, and is standing, as a body may say, quavery-mavery
between life and death; while your mother, who is not over and
above hale and hearty herself, is obliged to nurse them both.

On this intelligence, which made me feel some compunctious
yearnings of nature, I left Bertrand with my stud and baggage at
the inn: then, with my secretary at my heels, who would not
desert me in my time of need, I repaired to my uncle's house. The
moment I came within my mother's reach, a natural emotion of
maternal instinct unfolded to her who I was, before her eyes
could possibly have run over the traces of my countenance. Son,
said she, with a melancholy expression, after having embraced me,
come and be present at your father's death; your visit is just in
time to take in all the piteous circumstances of so deplorable an
event. With this heart-rending reception, she led me by the hand
into a chamber where the wretched Blas of Santillane, stretched
on a comfortless bed, in cold and dismal accord with the thinness
of his fortunes, was just entering on the last great act of human
nature. Though surrounded by the shades of death, he was not
quite unconscious of what was passing about him. My dearest
friend, said my mother, here is your son Gil Blas, who entreats
your forgiveness for all his undutiful behaviour, and is come to
ask your blessing before you die. At these tidings my father
opened his eyes, which where on the point of closing for ever: he
fixed them upon me; and reading in my countenance,
notwithstanding the awful brink on which he stood, that I was a
sincere mourner for his loss, his feelings were recalled to
sympathy by my sorrow. He even made an attempt to speak, but his
strength was too much exhausted. I took one of his hands in mine,
and while I bathed it with my tears, in speechless agony of soul,
he breathed his last, as if he had only waited my arrival to pay
the debt of nature, and wing his way to scenes of untried being.

This event had been too long present to my mother's mind to
overwhelm her with any unparalleled affliction. Perhaps it sat
more heavily on me than on her, though my father had never in his
life given me any reason to feel for him as a father. But besides
that mere filial instinct would have made me weep over his cold
remains, I reproached myself with not having contributed to the
comfort of his latter days; then, when I considered what a hard-
hearted villain I had been, I seemed to myself like a monster of
ingratitude, or rather like an impious parricide. My uncle, whom
I afterwards saw lying at his length on another wretched couch,
and in a most lamentable pickle, made me experience fresh agonies
of upbraiding conscience. Unnatural son! said I, communing with
my own uneasy thoughts, behold the chastisement of heaven upon
thy sins, in the disconsolate condition of thy nearest relations.
Hadst thou but thrown to them the superflux of that abundance, in
which before thy imprisonment thou rolledst, thou mightest have
procured for them those little comforts which thy uncle's
ecclesiastical pittance was too scanty to furnish, and perhaps
have lengthened out the term of thy father's life.

Gil Perez had fallen into a state of second childhood, and was,
though numerically upon the list of the living, in every
individual organ a mere corpse. His memory, nay, his very senses
had retired from their allotted stations in his system. Bootless
was it for me to strain him in my pious arms, and lavish outward
tokens of affection on him: they might as well have been wasted
on the desert air. To as little purpose did my mother ring in his
unnerved ear, that I was his nephew Gil Blas; be gazed at me with
a vacant, stupid stare, and gave neither sign nor answer. Had the
ties of consanguinity and gratitude been all too weak, to awaken
my tender sympathy for an uncle, to whom I owed the means of my
first launch into the world, the impression of helpless dotage on
my senses must have softened me into something like the
counterfeit of virtuous emotion.

While this scene was passing, Scipio preserved a melancholy
silence, sharing in all my sorrows, and mingling his sighs with
mine in the chastised luxury of friendship. But concluding that
my mother, after so long an absence, might wish to have some such
conversation with me, as the presence of a stranger must rather
repress than promote, I drew him aside, saying, Go, my good
fellow, sit down quietly at the inn, and leave me here with my
only surviving parent, who might consider your company as an
intrusion, while talking over family affairs. Scipio withdrew,
for fear of being a clog upon our confidence; and I sat down with
my mother to an interchange of communication, which lasted all
night. We reciprocally gave a faithful account of all that had
happened to each of us, since my first sally from Oviedo. She
related, in full measure and running over, all the petty insults,
disappointments, and mortifications, which she had undergone in
her pilgrimage from house to house as a duenna. A great number of
these little anecdotes it would have hurt my pride that my
secretary should have noted down in his biographical budget,
though I had never concealed from him the ups and downs in the
lottery of my own life. With all the respect I owe to my mother's
sainted memory, the good lady had not the knack of going the
shortest road to the end of a story; had she but pruned her own
memoirs of all luxuriant circumstances, there would not have been
materials for more than a tithe of her narrative.

At length she got to the end of her tether, and I began my
career. With respect to my general adventures, I passed them over
lightly; but when I came to speak of the visit which the son of
Bertrand Muscada, the grocer of Oviedo, had paid me at Madrid, I
enlarged with decent compunction on that dark article in the
history of my life. I must frankly own, said I to my mother, that
I gave that young fellow a very bad reception; and he, doubtless,
in revenge, must have drawn a hideous outline of my moral
features. He did you more than justice, I trust, answered she;
for he told us that he found you so puffed and swollen with the
good fortune thrust upon you by the prime minister, as scarcely
to acknowledge him among your former acquaintance; and when he
gave you a moving description of our miseries, you listened as if
you had no interest in the tale, or knowledge of the parties. But
as fathers and mothers can always find some clue for palliation
in the conduct of their graceless children, we were loath to
believe that you had so bad a heart. Your arrival at Oviedo
justifies our favourable interpretation, and those tears which
are now flowing down your cheeks, are so many pledges either of
your innocence or your reformation.

Your constructions were too partial, replied I; there was a great
deal of truth in young Muscada's report. When he came to see me
all my faculties were engrossed by vanity and mammon; ambition,
the prevailing devil which possessed me, left not a thought to
throw away on the desolate condition of my parents. It therefore
could be no wonder, if in such a disposition of mind I gave
rather a freezing reception to a man who, accosting me in a
peremptory style, took upon him to say, without mincing the
matter, that it was well known I was as rich as a Jew, and
therefore he advised me to send you a good round sum, seeing that
you were very much put to your shifts: nay, he went so far as to
reproach me, in phrase of more sincerity than good manners, with
my unfeeling negligence of my family. His confounded personality
stuck in my throat; so that losing my little stock of patience, I
shoved him fairly by the shoulders out of my closet. It must be
confessed that I took the administration of justice a little too
much into my own hands, being judge and party in the same cause;
neither was it proper that you should bear the brunt, because the
grocer was a little anti-saccharine in his phraseology; nor was
his advice the less pertinent or just, though couched in homely
terms, or urged with plodding vulgarity.

All this came plump in the teeth of my conscience, the moment I
had turned Muscada out of doors. The voice of natural instinct
contrived to make its way; my duty to my parents brought the
blood into my face; but it was the blush of shame for its
neglect, and not the glow of triumph at its performance. Yet even
my remorse can give me little credit in your eyes, since it was
soon stifled in the fumes of avarice and ambition. But some time
afterwards, having been safely lodged in the tower of Segovia by
royal mandate, I fell dangerously ill there; and that timely
remembrancer was the cause of bringing back your son to you. So
true is it, that sickness and imprisonment were my best moral
tutors; for they enabled nature to resume her rights, and weaned
me effectually from the court. Henceforth all my dear delight is
in solitude; and my only business in the Asturias is to entreat
that you would share with me in the mild pleasures of a retired
life. If you reject not my earnest petition, I will attend you to
an estate of mine in the kingdom of Valencia, and we will live
there together very comfortably. You are of course aware that I
intended to take my father thither also; but since heaven has
ordained it otherwise, let me at least have the satisfaction of
affording an asylum to my mother, and making amends by all the
attentions in my power for the fallow seasons in the former
harvest of my filial duty.

I accept your kind intentions in very good part, said my mother;
and would take the journey without hesitation, if I saw no
obstacles in the way. But to desert your uncle in his present
condition would be unpardonable; and I am too much accustomed to
this part of the country, to like living elsewhere: nevertheless,
as the proposal deserves to be maturely weighed, I will consider
further of it at my leisure, At present, your father's funeral
requires to be ordered and arranged. As for that, said I, we will
leave it to the care of the young man whom you saw with me; he is
my secretary, with as clever a head and as good a heart as you
have often been acquainted with; let the business rest with him;
it cannot be in better hands.

Hardly had I pronounced these words, when Scipio came back; for
it was already broad day. He inquired whether he could be of any
service in our present distresses. I answered that he was come
just in time to receive some very important directions. As soon
as he was made acquainted with the business in hand: A word to
the wise! said he: the whole procession with its appropriate
heraldry is already marshalled in this head of mine; you may
trust me for a very pretty funeral. Have a care, said my mother,
to make it plain and decent without anything like pomp or parade.
It can scarcely be too humble for my husband, whom all the town
knows to have been low in rank, and indigent in circumstances.
Madam, replied Scipio, though he had been the meanest and most
destitute of the human race, I would not bate one button in the
array of his posthumous honours. My master's credit is at stake
in the proper conduct of the ceremony; he has been in an
ostensible situation under the Duke of Lerma, and his father
ought to be buried with all the forms of state and nobility.

I thought exactly as my secretary did upon the subject; and even
went so far as to bid him spare no expense on the occasion. A
little leaven of vanity still fermented in the mass of my
philosophy, and rose in my bosom with all the effervescence of
its original lightness. I flattered myself that by lavishing
posthumous honours on a father who had blessed the day of his
decease by no lucrative bequest, I should instil into the
conceptions of the bystanders a high sense of my generous nature.
My mother, on her part, whatever airs of humility she might put
on, had no dislike to seeing her husband carried out with due
observance of funeral pomp and ceremony. We therefore left Scipio
to do just as he pleased; and he, without a moment's delay,
adopted all the necessary measures for the display of the
undertaker's liveliest fancy.

The genius of that artist was called forth but too successfully.
His emblems, devices, and draperies, were so ostentatious, as to
disgust instead of cajoling the natives: every individual,
whether of the town or the suburbs, whether high or low, rich or
poor, felt shocked and insulted by this after-thought parade.
This ministerial beggar on horseback, said one, can put his hand
into his pocket for his father's funeral baked meats, but never
found in his heart wherewithal to furnish his living table with
common necessaries. It would have been much more to the purpose,
said another, to have made the old gentleman's latter days
comfortable, than to have wasted such thriftless sums on a post
obit act of filial munificence. In short, quips of the brain and
peltings of the tongue pattered round our execrated heads. It
would have been well had the storm been only a whirlwind of
passion, or hurricane of words; but we were all, Scipio,
Bertrand, and myself, corporally admonished of our misdeeds, on
our coming out of church; they abused us like pickpockets, made
mouths and odious noises as we passed, and followed Bertrand at
his heels to the inn with a copious volley of stones and mud. To
disperse the mob which had collected before my uncle's house, my
mother was obliged to shew herself at the window, and to declare
publicly, that she was thoroughly satisfied with my proceedings.
Another detachment had filed off to the stable-yard where my
carriage stood, in the full determination of breaking it to
pieces; and this they would inevitably have done, if the landlord
and lady had not found some means of quieting their perturbed
spirits, and turning them aside from their outrageous purpose.

All these affronts, so revolting to my dignity, the effect of the
tales which the young grocer had been spreading about town,
inspired me with such a thorough hatred for my native place, that
I determined on quitting Oviedo almost immediately, though but
for this bustle I might have made it my residence for some time.
I announced my intention, with the reasons of it, to my mother,
who, considering my uncouth reception as no very flattering
compliment to herself, did not urge my longer stay among people
so little inclined to treat me civilly. The only point remaining
now to be discussed was her future destiny and provision. My dear
mother, said I, since my uncle stands so much in need of your
attendance, I will no longer urge you to go along with me; but,
as his days seem likely to be very few on earth, you must promise
to come and take up your abode with me at my farm, as soon as the
last duties are performed to his honoured remains.

I shall make no such promise, answered my mother, for I mean to
pass the remnant of my days in the Asturias, and in a state of
perfect independence. Will you not on all occasions, replied I,
be absolute mistress in my household? May be so, and may be not!
rejoined she: you have only to fall in love with some flirt of a
girl, and then you will marry: then she will be my daughter-in-
law, and I shall be her stepmother; and then we shall live
together as step mothers and daughters-in-law usually do. Your
prognostics, said I, are fetched from a great distance. I have
not at present the most remote intention of entering into the
happy state: but even though such a whim should take possession
of my brain, I will pledge myself for instructing my wife betimes
in an implicit submission to your will and pleasure. That is
giving security, without the means of making good your contract,
replied my mother: you would scarcely be able to justify bail. I
would not even swear that in our sparring-matches, you might not
take your wife's part in preference to mine, however ill she
might behave, or however unreasonably she might argue.

You talk very excellent sense, madam, cried my secretary, coming
in for his share of the conversation: I think just as you do,
that docility is about as much the virtue of a donkey as of a
daughter-in-law. As the matter stands, that there may be no
difference of opinion between my master and you, since you are
absolutely determined to live asunder, you in the Asturias, and
he in the kingdom of Valencia, he must allow you an annuity of a
hundred pistoles, and send me hither every year for the payment.
By thus arranging matters, mother and son will be very good
friends, with an interval of two hundred leagues between them.
The parties concerned fell in at once with the proposal: I paid
the first year in advance, and stole out of Oviedo the next
morning before dawn, for fear of vying with Saint Stephen in
popular favour. Such were the charms of my return to my native
place. An admirable lesson this for those successful upstarts,
who having gone abroad to make their fortunes, come home to be
the purse-proud tyrants of their birth-place.


CH. III. -- Gil Blas sets out for Valencia, and arrives at
Lirias; description of his seat; the particulars of his
reception, and the characters of the inhabitants he found there.

We took the road for Leon, afterwards that of Palencia; and,
continuing our journey by short stages, arrived on the evening of
the tenth day at the town of Segorba, whence early on the morrow
we repaired to my seat, at the distance of very little more than
three leagues. In proportion as we approached nearer, it was
amusing to see with what a longing eye my secretary looked at all
the estates which lay in our way, to the right and left of the
road. Whenever he caught a glimpse of any which bespoke the rank
and opulence of its owner, he never missed pointing at it with
his finger, and wishing that were the place of our retreat.

I know not, my good friend, said I, what idea you have formed of
our habitation; but if you have taken it into your head that ours
is a magnificent house, with the domain of a great landed
proprietor, I warn you in time that you are laying much too
flattering an unction to your vanity.

If you have no mind to be the dupe of a warm imagination, figure
to yourself the little ornamented cottage which Horace fitted up
near Tibur in the country of the Sabines, on a small farm, the
fee-simple of which was given hint by Maecenas. Don Alphonso has
made me just such another present, more as a token of affection
than for the value of the thing. Then I must expect to see
nothing but a dirty hovel! exclaimed Scipio. Bear in mind,
replied I, that I have always given you quite an unvarnished
description of my place; and now, even at this moment, you may
judge for yourself whether I have not stuck to truth and nature
in my representations. Just carry your eye along the course of
the Guadalaviar, and observe at a little distance from the
further bank, near that hamlet, consisting of nine or ten
tenements, a house with four small turrets; that is my mansion.

The deuce and all! stammered out my secretary, short-breathed
with sudden admiration: why, that house is one of the prettiest
things in nature. Besides the castellated air which those turrets
give it, all the beauties of situation and architecture,
fertility of soil, and perfection of landscape, combine to rival
or excel the immediate neighbourhood of Seville, complimented as
it is for its picturesque attractions by the appellation of an
earthly paradise. Had we chosen the place of our settlement for
ourselves, it could not have been more to my taste: a river
meanders through the grounds, distilling plenty and verdure from
its fertilizing bosom; the leafy honours of an umbrageous wood
invite the mid-day walk, and qualify the temperature of the
seasons. What a heavenly abode of solitude and contemplation! Ah!
my dear master, we shall act very foolishly if we are in a hurry
to run away from our happiness. I am delighted, answered I, that
you are so well satisfied with the retreat provided for us,
though yet acquainted with only a small part of its attractions.

As we were chatting in this strain, we got nearer and nearer to
the house, where the door opened, as by magic, the moment Scipio
announced Signor Gil Blas de Santillane, who was coming to take
possession of his estate. At the mention of this name, received
with reverential homage by the people who had been instructed in
the transfer of their obedience, my carriage was admitted into a
large court, where I alighted; then leaning with all my weight
upon Scipio, as if walking was a derogation from my dignity, and
putting on the great man after the most consequential models, I
reached the hall, where, on my entrance, seven or eight servants
made their obeisances. They told me they were come to welcome
their new master with their best loves and duties: that Don
Caesar and Don Alphonso de Leyva had chosen them to farm my
establishment, one in quality of cook, another as under-cook, a
third as scullion, a fourth as porter, and the rest as footmen;
with an express injunction to receive no wages or perquisites, as
those two noblemen meant to defray all the expenses of my
household. The cook, Master Joachim by name, was commander-in-
chief of this battalion, and announced to me the whole array of
the campaign; he declared that he had laid in a large stock of
the choicest wines in Spain, and insinuated that for the solid
supply of the table, he flattered himself a person of his
education and experience, who had been six years at the head of
my Lord Archbishop of Valencia's kitchen, must know how to dish
up a dinner so as to meet the ideas of the most fastidious layman
in Christendom. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating,
added he; so I will just go and give you a specimen of my talent.
You had better take a walk, my lord, while dinner is getting
ready: look about the premises; and see whether you find them in
tenantable condition for a person of your lordship's dignity.

The reader may guess whether I did not stir my stumps; and
Scipio, still more eager than myself to take a bird's eye
inventory of our goods and chattels, dragged me back and fore
from room to room. There was not a corner of the house that we
did not peep into, from the garret to the cellar: not a closet or
a cranny, at least as we supposed, could escape our prying
curiosity; and in every fresh room we went into, I had occasion
to admire the kindness of Don Caesar and his son towards me. I
was struck, among other things, with two apartments, which were
as elegantly furnished as they could be, without misplaced
magnificence. One of them was hung with tapestry, the celebrated
manufacture of the Low Countries; the velvet bed and chairs were
still very handsome, though in the fashion of the time when the
Moors possessed the kingdom of Valencia. The furniture of the
other room was in the same taste; to wit, an old suit of
hangings, made of yellow Genoa damask, with a bed and arm-chairs
to match, fringed with blue silk. All these effects, which would
have furnished but a sorry display in an upholsterer's shop, made
no contemptible appearance in their present situation.

After having rummaged over every article of the paraphernalia, my
secretary and myself returned to the dining-room, where the cloth
was laid for two; we sat down; and in an instant they served up
so delicious an olla podrida, that we could not help revolving on
the various turns of the fate below which had parted the good
Archbishop of Valencia from his cook. We had in truth a most
catholic and ravenous appetite; a circumstance which added new
zest to our praises and enjoyments. Between every succeeding help
my servants, with all the alacrity of fresh and holiday service,
filled our large glasses to the brim with wine, the choicest
vintage of La Mancha. Scipio, not thinking it genteel to express
aloud the inward chucklings of his heart at our dainty fare,
winked and nodded his delight, and spoke by signs, which I
returned with the like dumb eloquence of overflowing
satisfaction. The remove was a dish of roast quails, flanking a
little leveret in high order, just kept long enough; for this we
left our hash, good as it was, and gorged ourselves to a surfeit
on the game. When we had eaten as if we had never eaten before,
and pledged one another in due proportion, we rose from table and
went into the garden to look out for some cool, pleasant spot,
and take our afternoon's nap voluptuously.

If hitherto my secretary had goggled satisfaction at what he had
seen, he stared wider and grinned broader at this vista vision of
the garden. He scarcely allowed the comparison to be in favour of
the Escurial. The reason of its extreme niceness was that Don
Caesar, who came backwards and forwards to Lirias, took pleasure
in improving and ornamenting it. All the walks well gravelled and
lined with orange trees, a large reservoir of white marble, with
a lion in bronze spouting water like a dolphin's deputy in the
middle, the beauty of the flower borders, the profusion and
variety of the fruit trees; such pretty particulars as these made
Scipio smack his lips and snuff the air; but his raptures reached
their summit at the gradual descent of a long walk, leading to
the bailiff's cottage, and over-arched by the interwoven boughs
of the trees planted on each side. While eulogizing a place so
well adapted for a refuge from the intenseness of the heat, we
made a halt, and sat down at the foot of an elm, where sleep
required very little cunning to entangle two high-fed, half-tipsy
blades, just risen from so voluptuous and voracious a repast.

In about two hours we were startled out of our sleep by the
report of musketry, popping so near the head-quarters of our
repose that we apprehended the camp to be attacked. On the alert!
was the first idea that invaded our dozing minds. That we might
procure the most authentic intelligence, in what direction the
enemy was approaching, we directed our march towards the
bailiff's tenement. There were collected eight or ten
clodhoppers, all friends and neighbours, assembled on the green
for the purpose of honouring my arrival, just communicated to the
vacant senses of the said clodhoppers, by a discharge of fire-
arms, whose barrels and furniture might thank me for the unusual
favour of a thorough cleaning. The greater part of them were
acquainted with my person, having seen me more than once at the
castle, while engaged in the business of my stewardship. No
sooner did they set eyes on me, than they all shouted in unison:
Long life to our new lord and master! welcome to Lirias! Then
they loaded once again, and fired another volley in honour of the
occasion. My habits and manners were softened down to the most
condescending urbanity, though with a decorous infusion of
distance, lest any degrading constructions might he put upon too
unlimited a freedom of address. With respect to my protection, I
promised it according to the customary charter of newly-installed
possessors; and went so far as to throw them a purse of twenty
pistoles: and this, in my opinion, was the point of all others in
my conduct which touched their hearts most nearly. After this
benefaction, I left them at liberty to waste as much powder as
they pleased, and withdrew with my secretary into the wood, where
we walked to and fro till night-fall, without being at all tired
of our rural prospect: so many charms had the view of a
landscape, heightened by the substantial beauties of ownership in
fee-simple, to our elevated and delighted imaginations.

The cook, the under-cook, and the scullion were not resting upon
their oars all this time: they were working hard to fit up for us
an artifice of belly timber more magnificent that what we had
already demolished; so that we were over head and ears in
amazement, when on our return to the room where we had dined, we
saw on the table a dish of four roast partridges, with a
smothered rabbit on one side, and a fricasseed capon on the
other. The second course consisted of pigs' ears, jugged game,
and chocolate cream. We drank deeply of the most delicious wines,
and began to think of going to bed, when it became a matter of
doubt whether we could sit up any longer. Then my people, with
lighted candles before me, led the way to the best bed-room,
where they were all most officious in assisting to undress me:
but when they had tendered me my gown and nightcap, I dismissed
them with an authoritative undulation of my hand, signifying that
their services were dispensed with for the remainder of that
night.

Thus I sent them all about their business, keeping Scipio for a
little private conference between ourselves; and I led to it by
asking him what he thought of my reception, as arranged by order
of my noble patrons. Indeed and indeed, answered he, the human
heart could not devise anything more delicious. I only wish we
may go on as we have begun. I have no wish of the kind, re plied
I: it is contrary to my principles to allow that my benefactors
should put themselves to so much expense on my account; it would
be a downright fraud upon their benevolence. Besides, I could
never feel myself at home with servants in the pay of other
people; it is just like living in a lodging or an inn. Then it is
to be remembered, that I did not come hither to live upon so
expensive a scale. What occasion have we for so large an
establishment of servants? Our utmost want, with Bertrand, is a
cook, a scullion, and a footman. Though my secretary would not
have been at all sorry to table for a continuance at the governor
of Valencia's expense, he did not oppose his own luxurious taste
to my moral delicacy, but conformed at once to my sentiments, and
approved the reduction I was meditating to introduce. That point
being decided, he left my chamber, and betook himself to his
pillow in his own.


CH. IV. -- A journey to Valencia, and a visit to the lords of
Leyva. The conversation of the gentlemen, and Seraphina's
demeanour.

I GOT my clothes off as soon as possible, and went to bed, where,
finding no great inclination to sleep, I communed with my own
thoughts. The mutual attachment between the lords of Leyva and
myself was uppermost in the various topics of my contemplation.
With my heart full of their late kindness, I determined on
setting out for their residence the next day, and quenching my
impatience to thank them for their favours. Neither was it a
slender gratification to anticipate another interview with
Seraphina; though there was somewhat of alloy in that pleasure:
it was impossible to reflect without shuddering, that I should at
the same time have to encounter the glances of Dame Lorenza
Sephora, who might not be greatly delighted at the renewal of our
acquaintance, should her memory happen to stumble upon the
circumstances connected with a certain box on the ear. With my
mind exhausted by all these different suggestions, my eyelids at
length closed, and the sun had peeped in at my window long before
they turned upon their hinges.

I was soon out of bed; and dressed myself with all possible
expedition, in the earnest desire of prosecuting my intended
journey. Just as I had finished my hasty operations, my secretary
came into the room. Scipio, said I, you behold a man on the point
of setting out for Valencia. I ought to lose no time in paying my
respects to those noblemen to whom I am indebted for my little
independence. Every moment of delay in the performance of this
duty throws a new weight of ingratitude on my conscience. As for
you, my friend, there is no necessity for your attendance; stay
here during my absence; I shall come back to you within the space
of a week. Heaven speed you, sir! answered he -- be sure you do
not slight Don Alphonso and his father -- they seem to me to
thrill with the kindly vibrations of friendship, and to be
unbounded in their acknowledgment of obligation: gratitude and
benevolence are so uncommon in people of rank, that they deserve
to be made the most of where found. I sent a message to Bertrand,
to hold himself in readiness for setting out, and took my
chocolate while he was harnessing the mules. When all was
prepared, I got into my carriage, after having directed my people
to consider my secretary as master of the house in my absence,
and to obey his orders as if they were my own.

I got to Valencia in less than four hours, and drove at once to
the governor's stables, where I alighted and left my equipage. On
going to the house, I was informed that Don Caesar and his son
were together. I did not wait for an introduction, but went in
without ceremony; and addressing myself to both of them,
Servants, said I, never send in their names to their masters;
here is an old piece of family furniture, not ornamental indeed,
but of a fashion when gratitude was neither out of date nor out
of countenance. These words were accompanied with an effort to
throw myself on my knees; but they anticipated my purpose, and
embraced me one after the other with all possible evidence of
sincere affection. Well, then, my dear Santillane, said Don
Alphonso, you have been at Lirias to take possession of your
little property. Yes, my lord, answered I; and my next request
is, that you would be pleased to take it back again. What is your
reason for that? replied he. Is there anything about it at all
offensive to your taste? Not in the place itself, rejoined I: on
the contrary, that is everything that my heart can wish; the only
fault I have to find with it is, that the kitchen smells too
strongly of the hierarchy; a lay Christian should not live like
an archbishop; besides that, there are three times as many
servants as are necessary, and consequently you are put to an
expense at once enormous and useless.

Had you accepted the annuity of two thousand ducats which we
offered you at Madrid, said Don Caesar, we should have thought it
enough to give you the mansion furnished as it is: but you know,
you refused it; and we felt it but right to do what we have done
as an equivalent. Your bounty has been too lavish, answered I:
the gift of the estate was the utmost limit to which it should
have been extended, and that was more than sufficient to crown my
largest wishes. But to say nothing about what it has cost you to
keep up so great and expensive an establishment, I declare to you
most solemnly that these people stand in my way, and are a great
annoyance. In one word, gentlemen, either take back your boon, or
give me leave to enjoy it in my own way. I pronounced these last
words so much as if I was in earnest, that the father and son,
not meaning to lay me under any unpleasant restraint, at length
gave me their permission to manage my household as it should seem
expedient to my better judgment.

I was thanking them very kindly for having granted me that
privilege, without which a dukedom would have been but splendid
slavery, when Don Alphonso interrupted me by saying: My dear Gil
Blas, I will introduce you to a lady who will be extremely happy
to see you. Thus preparing me for the interview, he took me by
the hand and led the way to Seraphina s apartment, who set up a
scream of joy on recognizing me. Madam, said the governor, I
flatter myself that the visit of our friend Santillane at
Valencia is not less acceptable to you than myself. On that head,
answered she, he may rest confidently assured; time has not
obliterated the remembrance of the service which he once rendered
me and to that must be added a new debt of gratitude incurred on
the score of your obligations. I told the governor's lady that I
was already too well requited for the danger which I had shared
in common with her deliverers, in exposing my life for her sake:
compliments to the like effect were bandied about for some time
on both sides, when Don Alphonso motioned to quit Seraphina's
room. We then went back to Don Caesar, whom we found in the
saloon with a fashionable party, who were come to dinner.

All these gentleman were introduced, and paid their compliments
to me in the politest manner; nor did their attentions relax in
assiduity, when Don Caesar told them that I had been one of the
Duke of Lerma's principal secretaries. In all likelihood several
of them might not be unacquainted that Don Alphonso had been
promoted to the government of Valencia by my interest, for
political secrets are seldom kept. However that might be, while
we were at table, the conversation principally turned on the new
cardinal. Some of the company either were, or affected to be, his
unqualified admirers, while others allowed his merit upon the
whole, but thought it had been rather overrated. I plainly saw
through their design of drawing me on to enlarge on the subject
of his eminence, and to gratify their taste for scandal with
court anecdotes at his expense. I could have been well enough
pleased to have delivered my real sentiments on his character,
but I kept my tongue within my teeth, and thereby passed in the
estimation of the guests for a close, confidential, politic,
trustworthy young statesman.

The party respectively retired home after dinner to take their
usual nap, what Don Caesar and his son, yielding to a similar
inclination, shut themselves up in their apartments.

For my own part, full of impatience to see a town which I had so
often heard extolled for its beauty, I went out of the governor's
palace with the intention of walking through the streets. At the
gate a man accosted me with the following address: Will Signor de
Santillane allow me to take the liberty of paying my respects to
him? I asked him who and what he was. I am Don Caesar's valet-de-
chambre, answered he, but was one of his ordinary footmen during
your stewardship; I used to make my court to you every morning,
and you used to take a great deal of notice of me. I regularly
gave you intelligence of what was passing in the house. Do you
recollect my apprising you one day that the village surgeon of
Leyva was privately admitted into Dame Lorenza Sephora's
bedchamber? It is a circumstance which I have by no means
forgotten, replied I. But now that we are talking of that
formidable duenna, what is become of her? Alas! resumed he, the
poor creature moped and dwindled after your departure, and at
length gave up the ghost, more to the grief of Seraphina than of
Don Alphonso, who seemed to consider her death as no great evil.

Don Caesar's valet-de-chambre, having thus acquainted me with
Sephora's melancholy end, made an humble apology for having
presumed to stop my walk, and then left me to continue my
progress. I could not help paying the tribute of a sigh to the
memory of that ill-fated duenna; and her decease affected me the
more, because I taxed myself with that melancholy catastrophe,
though a moment's reflection would have convinced me, that the
grave owed its precious prey to the inroads of her cancer rather
than to the cruel charms of my person.

I looked with an eye of pleasure upon everything worth notice in
the town. The archbishop's marble palace feasted my eyes with all
the magnificence of architecture; nor were the piazzas which
surrounded the exchange much inferior in commercial grandeur; but
a large building at a distance, with a great crowd standing
before the doors, attracted all my attention. I went nearer, to
ascertain the reason why so great a concourse of both sexes was
collected, and was soon let into the secret by reading the
following inscription in letters of gold on a tablet of black
marble over the door: La Posada de los Representantes [The
theatre] . The play-bills announced for that day a new tragedy,
never performed, and gave the name of Don Gabriel Triaquero as
the author.


CH. V. -- Gil Blas goes to the play, and sees a new tragedy. The
success of the piece. The public taste at Valencia.

I STOPPED for some minutes before the door, to make my remarks on
the people who were going in. There were some of all sorts and
sizes. Here was a knot of genteel-looking fellows, whose tailors
at least had done justice to their fashionable pretensions; there
a mob of ill-favoured and ill-mannered mortals, in a garb to
identify vulgarity. To the right was a bevy of noble ladies,
alighting from their carriages to take possession of their
private boxes; to the left a tribe of female traders in
lubricity, who came to sell their wares in the lobby. This mixed
concourse of spectators, as various in their minds as in their
faces, gave me an itching inclination to increase their number.
Just as I was taking my check, the governor and his lady drove
up. They spied me out in the crowd, and having sent for me, took
me with them to their box, what I placed myself behind them, in
such a position as to converse at my ease with either.

The theatre was filled with spectators from the ceiling
downwards, the pit thronged almost to suffocation, and the stage
crowded with knights of the three military orders. Here is a full
house! said I to Don Alphonso. You are not to consider that as
anything extraordinary, answered he; the tragedy now about to be
produced is from the pen of Don Gabriel Triaquero, the most
fashionable dramatic writer of his day. Whenever the play-bill
announces any novelty from this favourite author, the whole town
of Valencia is in a bustle. The men as well as the women talk
incessantly on the subject of the piece: all the boxes are taken;
and, on the first night of performance, there is a risk of broken
limbs in getting in, though the price of admission is doubled,
with the exception of the pit, which is too authoritative a part
of the house for the proprietors to tamper with its patience.
What a paroxysm of partiality! said I to the governor. This eager
curiosity of the public, this hot-headed impatience to be present
at the first representation of Don Gabriel's pieces, gives me a
magnificent idea of that poet's genius.

At this period of our conversation the curtain rose. We
immediately left off talking, to fix our whole attention on the
stage. The applauses were rapturous even at the prologue: as the
performance advanced, every sentiment and situation, nay, almost
every line of the piece called forth a burst of acclamation; and
at the end of each act the clapping of hands was so loud and
incessant, as almost to bring the building about our ears. After
the dropping of the curtain, the author was pointed out to me,
going about from box to box, and with all the modesty of a
successful poet, submitting his head to the imposition of those
laurels, which the genteeler, and especially the fairer part of
the audience had prepared for his coronation.

We returned to the governor's palace, where we were met by a
party of three or four gentlemen. Besides these mere amateurs,
there were two veteran authors of considerable eminence in their
line, and a gentleman of Madrid with tolerably fair claims to
critical authority and judgment They had all been at the play.
The new piece was the only topic of conversation during supper-
time. Gentlemen, said a knight of St James, what do you think of
this tragedy? Has it not every claim to the character of a
finished work? Thoughts that breathe, and words that burn, a hand
to touch the true chords of pity, and sweep the lyre of poetry;
requisites how rarely, and yet how admirably united! In a word,
it is the performance of a person mixing in the higher circles of
society. There can be no possible difference of opinion on that
subject, said a knight of Alcantara. The piece is full of strokes
which Apollo himself might have aimed, and of perplexities
contrived so that none but the author himself could have
unravelled them. I appeal to that acute and ingenious stranger,
added he, addressing his discourse to the Castilian gentleman; he
looks to me like a good judge, and I will lay a wager that he is
on my side of the question. Take care how you stake on an
uncertainty, my worthy knight, answered the gentleman with a
sarcastic smile. I am not of your provincial school; we do not
pass our judgment so hastily at Madrid. Far from sentencing a
piece on its first representation, we are jealous of its apparent
merit while aided by scenic deception; our fancies and our
feelings may be carried away for the moment, but our serious
decision is suspended till we have read the work; and the most
common result of its appeal to the press is a defalcation from
its powers of pleasing on the stage.

Thus you perceive, pursued he, that it is our practice to examine
a work of genius closely before we stamp on it the mark of a
stock piece: its author's fame, let it ring as loudly as it may,
can never confound our exactness of discrimination. When Lope de
Vega himself or Calderona ventured on the boards, they
encountered rigid critics, though in an audience which doted on
them: critics who would not sign their passport to the regions of
immortality till they had sifted their claims to be admitted
there.

That is a little too much, interrupted the knight of St James. We
are not quite so cautious as you. It is not our custom to wait
for the printing of a piece in order to decide on its reputation.
By the very first performance it sinks or swims. It does not even
seem necessary to be inconveniently attentive to the business of
the stage. It is sufficient that we know it for a production of
Don Gabriel, to be persuaded that it combines every excellence.
The works of that poet may justly be considered as commencing a
new era, and fixing the criterion of good taste. The school of
Lope and Calderona was the mere cart of Thespis, compared with
the polished scenes of this great dramatic master. The gentleman,
who looked up to Lope and Calderona as the Sophocles and
Euripides of the Spaniards, could not easily be brought to
acknowledge such wild canons of criticism. This is dramatic
heresy with a vengeance! exclaimed he. Since you compel me,
gentlemen, to decide like you on the fallacious evidence of a
first night, I must tell you that I am not at all satisfied with
this new tragedy of your Don Gabriel. As a poem it abounds more
with glittering conceits than with passages of pathos or
delineations of nature. The verses, three out of four, are
defective either in measure or rhyme; the characters, clumsily
imagined or incongruously supported; and the thoughts have often
the obscurity of a riddle without its ingenuity.

The two authors at table, who, with a prudence equally
commendable and unusual, had said nothing for fear of lying under
the imputation of jealousy, could not help assenting to the last
speaker's opinions by their looks; which warranted me in
concluding that their silence was less owing to the perfection of
the work than to the dictates of personal policy. As for the
military critics, they got to their old topic of ringing the
changes on Don Gabriel, and exalted him to a level with the
under-tenants of Olympus. This extravagant association with the
demi-gods, this blind and stiff-necked idolatry, divorced the
Castilian from his little stock of patience, so that, raising his
hands to heaven, he broke out abruptly into a volley of
enthusiasm: O divine Lope de Vega, sublime and unrivalled genius,
who has left an immeasurable space between thee and all the
Gabriels who would light their tapers from thy bright effulgence!
and thou, mellow, soft-voiced Calderona, whose elegance and
sweetness, rejecting buskined rant and tragic swell, reign with
undisputed sway over the affections, fear not, either of you,
lest your altars should be overturned by this tongue-tied
nurseling of the muses! It will be the utmost of his renown, if
posterity, before whose eyes your works shall live in daily view,
and form their dear delight, shall enrol his name, as. matter of
history and curious record, on the list of obsolete authors.

This animated apostrophe, for which the company was not at all
prepared, raised a hearty laugh, after which we all rose from
table and withdrew. An apartment had been got ready for me by Don
Alphonso's order, where I found a good bed; and my lordship,
lying down in luxurious weariness, went to sleep upon the tag of
the Castilian gentleman's impassioned vindication, and dreamed
most crustily of the injustice done to Lope and Calderona by
ignorant pretenders.


CH. VI. -- Gil Blas, walking about the streets of Valencia, meets
with a man of sanctity, whose pious face he has seen somewhere
else. What sort of man this man of sanctity turns out to be.

As I had not been able to complete my view of the city on the
preceding day, I got up betimes in the morning with the intention
of taking another walk. In the street I remarked a Carthusian
friar, who doubtless was thus early in motion to promote the
interests of his order, He walked with his eyes fixed on the
ground, and a gait so holy and contemplative, as to inspire every
passenger with religious awe. His path was in the same direction
as mine, I looked at him with more than ordinary curiosity, and
could not help fancying it was Don Raphael, that man of shifts
and expedients, who has already secured so honourable a niche in
the temple of fame. (See Books I. to VI. of my Memoirs.)

I was so utterly astonished, so thrown off my balance by this
meeting, that instead of accosting the monk, I remained
motionless for some seconds, which gave him time to get the start
of me. Just heaven! said I, were there ever two faces more
exactly alike? I do not know what to make of it! It seems
incredible that Raphael should turn up in such a guise! And yet
how is it possible to be any one else! I felt too great a
curiosity to get at the truth not to pursue the inquiry. Having
ascertained the way to the monastery of the Carthusians, I
repaired thither immediately, in the hope of coming across the
object of my search on his return, and with the full intent of
stopping and parleying with him. But it was quite unnecessary to
wait for his arrival to enlighten my mind on the subject: on
reaching the convent gate, another physiognomy, such as few
persons had read without paying for their lesson, resolved all my
doubts into certainty; for the friar who served in the capacity
of porter was unquestionably my old and godly-visaged servant,
Ambrose de Lamela.

Our surprise was equal on both sides at meeting again in such a
place. Is not this a play upon the senses? said I, paying my
compliments to him. Is it actually one of my friends who presents
himself to my astonished sight? He did not know me again at
first, or probably might pretend not to do so; but reflecting
within himself that it was in vain to deny his own identity, he
assumed the start of a man who all at once hits upon a
circumstance which had hitherto escaped his recollection, Ah,
Signor Gil Blas! exclaimed he, excuse my not recognizing your
person immediately. Since I have lived in this holy place, every
faculty of my soul has been absorbed in the performance of the
duties prescribed by our rules, so that by degrees I lose the
remembrance of all worldly objects and events.

After a separation of ten years, said I, it gives me much
pleasure to find you again in so venerable a garb. For my part,
answered he, it fills me with shame and confusion to appear in it
before a man who has been an eye-witness of my guilty courses.
These ghostly weeds are at once the charm of my present life, and
the condemnation of my former. Alas! added he, heaving a
righteous sigh, to be worthy of wearing it, my earlier years
should have been passed in primitive innocence. By this
discourse, so rational and edifying, replied I, it is plain, my
dear brother, that the finger of the Lord has been upon you, that
you are marked out for a vessel of sanctification. I tell you
once again, I am delighted at it, and would give the world to
know in what miraculous manner you and Raphael were led into the
path of the righteous; for I am persuaded that it was his own
self whom I met in the town, habited as a Carthusian. I was
extremely sorry afterwards not to have stopped and spoken to him
in the street; and I am waiting here to apologize for my neglect
on his return.

You were not mistaken, said Lamela, it was Don Raphael himself
whom you saw; and as for the particulars of our conversion, they
are as follow: After parting with you near Segorba, we struck
into the Valencia road, with the design of bettering our trade by
some new speculation. Chance or destiny one day led our steps
into the church of the Carthusians, while service was performing
in the choir. The demeanour of the brethren attracted our notice,
and we experienced in our own persons the involuntary homage
which vice pays to virtue. We admired the fervour with which they
poured forth their devotions, their looks of pious mortification,
their deadness to the pleasures of the world and the flesh, and
in the settled composure of their countenances, the outward sign
of an approving conscience within.

While making these observations, we fell into a train of thought
which became like manna to the hungry and thirsty soul: we
compared our habits of life with the employments of these holy
men, and the wide difference between our spiritual conditions
filled us with confusion and affright. Lamela, said Don Raphael,
as we went out of church, how do you stand affected by what we
have just seen? For my part, there is no disguising the truth, my
mind is ill at ease. Emotions, new and indescribable, are rushing
upon my mind: and, for the first time in my life, I reproach
myself with the wickedness of my past actions. I am just in the
same temper of soul, answered I; my iniquities are all drawn up
in array against me, they beset me, they stare me in the face; my
heart, hitherto proof against all the arrows of remorse, is at
this moment shot through, torn and disfigured, tormented and
destroyed. Ah! my dear Ambrose, resumed my partner, we are two
stray sheep, whom our Heavenly Father, in mercy, would lead back
gently to the fold. It is he himself, my child, it is he who
warms and guides us. Let us not be deaf to the call of his voice;
let us abandon all our wicked courses, let us begin from this day
to work out our salvation with diligence and in the spirit of
repentance: we had better spend the remainder of our days in this
convent, and consecrate them to penitence and devotion.

I applauded Raphael's sentiment, continued brother Ambrose; and
we formed the glorious resolution of becoming Carthusians. To
carry it into effect, we applied to the venerable prior, who was
no sooner made acquainted with our purpose, than to ascertain
whether our call was front the world above or the world beneath,
he appointed us to cells, and all the strictness of monkish
discipline, for a whole year. We acted up to the rules with equal
regularity and fortitude, and, by way of reward, were admitted
among the novices. Our condition was so much what we wished it,
and our hearts were so full of religious zeal, that we underwent
the toils of our noviciate with unflinching courage. When that
was over, we professed; after which, Don Raphael, appearing
admirably well qualified, both by natural talent and various
experience, for the management of secular concerns, was chosen
assistant to an old friar who was at that time proctor. The son
of Lucinda would infinitely have preferred dedicating every
remaining moment of his existence to prayer; but he found it
necessary to sacrifice his taste for devotion, in furtherance of
the general prosperity. He entered with so much zeal and
knowledge into the interests of the house, that he was considered
as the most eligible person to succeed the old proctor, who died
three years afterwards. Don Raphael accordingly fills that office
at present; and it may be truly said that he discharges his duty
to the entire satisfaction of all our fathers, who praise in the
highest terms his conduct in the administration of our
temporalities. What is most of all miraculous, and shews the hand
of heaven in his conversion, is that, with such an accumulation
of business rushing in upon him in his bursarial department, his
regards are inalienably fixed on the world to come. When business
leaves him but a moment to recruit nature, instead of lavishing
the short period in indulgence, his thoughts wing their way into
the regions of devout and holy meditation. In short, he is the
most exemplary member of this body.

At this period of our conversation I interrupted Lamela by an
ebullition of joy to which I gave vent at the sight of Raphael
coming in. Here he is! exclaimed I: behold that righteous bursar
for whom I have been so impatiently waiting. With a leap and a
bound did I run to meet and embrace him. He submitted to the hug
with his newly-acquired resignation; and, without betraying the
slightest shock at meeting with an old companion of his profaner
hours, his words were dictated by the spirit of gentleness and
humility: The powers above be praised, Signor de Santillane, the
powers be praised for this kind providence whereby we meet again.
In good truth, my dear Raphael, replied I, your happy destiny
pleases me as much as if it had been my own good luck; brother
Ambrose has told me the whole story of your conversion, and the
tale almost moved me to a similar change. What a glorious lot for
you two, my friends, when you have reason to flatter yourselves
with being among that picked number of the elect, who have
eternal happiness thrust upon them whether they will or no!

Two miserable sinners like ourselves, resumed the son of Lucinda,
with an air which marked the extreme of sanctified morality, must
not hope that our own merits are of weight enough to save our
souls; but even the wicked one who repenteth, findeth grace with
the Father of mercies. And you, Signor Gil Blas, added he, is it
not time to lay in a claim for pardon of the offences which you
have committed? What is your business here in Valencia? Are you
not hankering after some office of devil's deputy, and making
shipwreck of your voyage to another world? Not so, by the
blessing of heaven, answered I; since I turned my back on the
court, I have led a very moral sort of life: sometimes enjoying
rural recreations on an estate of mine at a few leagues distance
from this town, and sometimes coming hither to pass my time with
my friend the governor, whom you both of you must know perfectly
well.

On this cue I related to them the story of Don Alphonso de Leyva.
They heard the particulars with attention; and on my telling them
that I had carried to Samuel Simon, on the part of that nobleman,
the three thousand ducats of which we had robbed him, Lamela
interrupted the thread of my narrative, and addressing his
discourse to Raphael, said: Father Hilary, if this be true, the
honest vendor of wares has no reason to quarrel with a robbery
which has paid him fifty per cent; and our consciences, as far as
that indictment goes, may bask in the sunshine of acquitted
innocence. Brother Ambrose and I, said the bursar, did actually,
on the assumption of the habit, send Samuel Simon fifteen hundred
ducats privately, by a pious ecclesiastic who made a pilgrimage
to Xelva for the sole purpose of accomplishing this restitution;
but it will go hard with Samuel at the general reckoning, if he
for filthy lucre could soil his fingers with that sum, after
having been reimbursed in full by Signor de Santillane. But, said
I, how do you know that your fifteen hundred ducats were
faithfully paid into his hands? Unquestionably they were!
exclaimed Don Raphael; I would answer for the disinterested
purity of that ecclesiastic as soon as for my own. I would be
your collateral security, said Lamela; he is a priest of the
strictest sanctity, a sort of universal almoner; and though many
times cited for sums of money, deposited with him for charitable
uses, he has always nonsuited the plaintiff and gone out of court
with an augmentation of alms-giving notoriety.

Our conversation continued for some time longer: at length we
parted, with many a pious exhortation on their side, always to
have the fear of the Lord before my eyes, and with many an
earnest intreaty on mine, that they would remember me constantly
in their prayers. Don Alphonso was now the first object of my
search. You will never guess, said I, with whom I have just had a
long conference. I am but now come from two venerable Carthusians
of your acquaintance; the name of the one is father Hilary, that
of the other, brother Ambrose. You are mistaken, answered Don
Alphonso; I am not acquainted with a single Carthusian. Pardon
me, replied I; you have seen brother Ambrose at Xelva in the
capacity of commissary, and father Hilary as register to the
Inquisition. Oh heaven! exclaimed the governor with surprise, can
it be within the bounds of possibility that Raphael and Lamela
should have turned Carthusians? It is even so, answered I; they
professed several years ago. The former is bursar and proctor to
the convent; the latter, porter.

The son of Don Caesar rubbed his forehead twice or thrice, then
shaking his bead, These worshipful officers of the Inquisition,
said he, most assuredly purpose playing over the old farce on a
new stage here. You judge of them by prejudice, answered I, from
the impression of their characters as men of sin: but had you
been edified by their lectures as I have been, you would think
more favourably of their holiness. To be sure, it is not for
mortal men to fathom the depth of other men's hearts; but to all
appearance they are two prodigals returned home. It possibly may
be so, replied Don Alphonso: there are many instances of
libertines, who hide their heads in cloisters, after having
scandalized human nature by their obliquities, to expiate their
offences by a severe penance: I heartily wish that our two monks
may be such libertines restored.

Well! and why not? said I. They have embraced the monastic life
of their own accord, and have squared their conduct for a length
of time according to the maxims of their order. You may say what
you please, retorted the governor; but I do not like the
convent's rents being received by this father Hilary, of whom I
cannot help entertaining a very untoward opinion. When the fine
story he told us of his adventures comes across my mind, I
tremble for the reverend brotherhood. I am willing to believe
with you, that he has taken the vow with the pious intention of
keeping it; but the blaze of gold may be too much for the
weakness of his regenerated eye-sight. It is bad policy to lock
up a reformed drunkard in a wine cellar.

In the course of a few days Don Alphonso's misgivings were fully
justified; these two official props and stays of the
establishment ran away with the year's revenue. This news, which
was immediately noised about the town, could not do otherwise
than set the tongues of the wits in motion; for they always make
themselves merry at the crosses and losses of the well-endowed
religious orders. As for the governor and myself, we condoled
with the Carthusians, but kept our acquaintance with the apostate
pilferers in the background.


CH. VII. -- Gil Blas returns to his seat at Lirias. Scipio's
agreeable intelligence, and a reform in the domestic
arrangements.

I PASSED a week at Valencia in the first company, living on equal
terms with the best of the nobility. Plays, balls, concerts,
grand dinners, ladies' parties, all things that heart could wish
or vanity grow tall upon, were provided for me by the governor
and his lady, to whom I paid my court so dexterously, that they
were heartily sorry to see me set out on my return to Lirias.
They even obliged me, before they would let me go, to engage for
a division of my time between them and my hermitage. It was
determined that I should spend the winter in Valencia, and the
summer at my seat. After this bargain, my benefactors left me at
liberty to tear myself from them, and go where their kindness
would be always staring me in the face.

Scipio, who was waiting impatiently for my return, was ready to
jump out of his skin for joy at the sight of me; and his
ecstasies were doubled at my circumstantial account of the
journey. And now for your history, my friend, said I, taking
breath: to what moral uses have you turned the solitary period of
my absence? Has the time passed agreeably? As well, answered he,
as it could with a servant to whom nothing is so dear as the
presence of his master. I have walked over our little domain,
circuitously and diagonally: sometimes seated on the margin of a
fountain in our wood, I have taken pleasure in be holding the
transparency of its waters, which are as pellucid as those of the
sacred spring, whose projection from the rock made the vast
forest of Albunea to resound with the roar of the cascade:
sometimes lying at the foot of a tree, I have listened to the
song of the linnet or the nightingale. At other times I have
hunted or fished; and, what has given me more rational delight
than all these pastimes, I have whiled away many a profitable
hour in the improvement of my mind.

I interrupted my secretary in a tone of eager inquiry, to ask
where he had procured books. I found them, said he, in an elegant
library here in the house, whither master Joachim took me.
Heyday! in what corner, resumed I, can this said library be? Did
we not go over the whole building on the day of our arrival? You
fancied so, rejoined he; but you are to know that we only
explored three sides of the square, and forgot the fourth. It was
there that Don Caesar, when he came to Lirias, employed part of
his time in reading. There are in this library some very good
books, left as a never-failing phylactery against the blue
devils, when our gardens despoiled of Flora's treasure, and our
woods of their leafy honours, shall no longer challenge those
miscreant invaders to combat in the forest or the bower. The
lords of Lena have not done things by halves, but have catered
for the mind as well as for the body.

This intelligence filled me with sincere rapture. I was shewn to
the fourth side of the square, and feasted with an intellectual
banquet Don Caesar's room I immediately determined to make my
own. That nobleman's bed was still there, with correspondent
furniture, consisting of historical tapestry, representing the
rape of the Sabine women by the Romans. From the bed-chamber, I
went into a closet fitted up with low bookcases well filled, and
over them the portraits of the Spanish kings. Near a window
whence you command a prospect of a most bewitching country, there
was an ebony writing-desk and a large sofa, covered with black
morocco. But I gave my attention principally to the library. It
was composed of philosophers, poets, historians; and abounded in
romances. Don Caesar seemed to give the preference to that light
reading, if one might judge by the profusion of supply. I must
own, to my shame, that my taste was not at all above the level of
those productions, notwithstanding the extravagances they delight
in stringing together; whether it was owing to my not being a
very critical reader at that time, or because the Spaniards are
naturally addicted to the marvellous. I must nevertheless plead
in my own justification, that I was alive to the charms of a
sprightly and popular morality, and that Lucian, Horace, and
Erasmus became my favourite and standard authors.

My friend, said I to Scipio, when my eyes had coursed over my
library, here is wherewithal to feed and pamper our minds; but
our present business is to reform our household. On that subject
I can spare you a great deal of trouble, answered he. During your
absence I have sifted your people thoroughly, and flatter myself
it is no empty boast to say that I know them. Let us begin with
master Joachim: I take him to be as great a scoundrel as ever
breathed, and have no doubt but he was turned away from the
archbishop's for errors which were too great to be excepted in
the passing of his accounts. Yet we must keep him for two
reasons: the first, because he is a good cook; and the second,
because I shall always have an eye over him; I shall peep into
his actions like a jackdaw into a marrow-bone, and he must be a
more cunning fellow than I take him for, to evade my vigilance. I
have already told him that you intended discharging three-fourths
of your establishment. This declaration stuck in his stomach; and
he assured me that, owing to his extreme desire of living with
you, he would be satisfied with half his present wages rather
than be turned off, which made me suspect that he was tied to the
string of some petticoat in the hamlet, and did not like to break
up his quarters. As for the under-cook, he is a drunkard, and the
porter a foul-mouthed Cerberus, of whose guardianship our gates
are in no want; neither is the gamekeeper a necessary evil. I
shall take the latter office myself, as you may see to-morrow,
when we have got our fowling-pieces in order, and are provided
with powder and shot. With regard to the footmen, one of them is
an Arragonese, and to my mind a very good sort of fellow. We will
keep him; but all the rest are such rapscallions, that I would
not advise you to harbour one of them, if you wanted an army of
attendants.

After having fully debated the point, we resolved to keep well
with the cook, the scullion, the Arragonese, and to get rid of
the remainder as decently as we could: all which was planned and
executed on the same day, mollifying the bitter dose by the
application of a few pistoles, which Scipio took from our strong
box, and distributed among them as from me. When we had carried
this reform into effect, order was soon established in our
mansion; we divided the business fairly among our remaining
people, and began to look into our expenses. I could willingly
have been contented with very frugal commons; but my secretary,
loving high dishes and relishing bits, was not a man who would
suffer master Joachim to hold his place as a sinecure. He kept
his talents in such constant play, working double tides at dinner
and at supper, that any one would have thought we had been
converted by father Hilary, and were working out the term of our
probation.


CH. VIII. -- The loves of Gil Blas and the fair Antonia.

Two days after my return from Valencia to Lirias, clodpole Basil,
my farming man, came at my dressing-time, to beg the favour of
introducing his daughter Antonia, who was very desirous, as he
said, to have the honour of paying her respects to her new
master. I answered that it was very proper, and would be well
received. He withdrew, and in a few minutes returned with his
peerless Antonia. That epithet, though bold, will not be thought
extravagant, in the case of a girl from sixteen to eighteen years
of age, uniting to regular features the finest complexion and the
brightest eyes in the world. She was dressed in nothing better
than a stuff gown; but a stature somewhat above the female
standard, a dignified deportment, and such graces as soared
higher than the mere freshness and glow of youth, communicated to
her rustic attire the simplicity of classical costume. She had no
cap on her head; her hair was fastened behind with a knot of
flowers, according to the chaste severity of the Spartan
fashionables.

When she illumined my chamber with her presence, I was struck as
much on a heap by her beauty, as ever were the princes, knights,
nobles, and strangers assembled at the solemn feast and
tournament of Charlemain, by the personal charms of Angelica.
Instead of receiving Antonia with modish indifference, and paying
her compliments of course, instead of ringing the changes on her
father's happiness in possessing so lovely a daughter, I stood
stock still, staring, gaping, stammering: I could not have
uttered an articulate sound for the universal world. Scipio, who
saw clearly what was the matter with me, took the words out of my
mouth, and accepted those bills of admiration which my affairs
were in too much disorder to admit of my duly honouring For her
part, my figure being shrouded by a dressing-gown and night-cap,
like the orb of day by a winter fog, she accosted me without
being shame-faced, and paid her duty in terms which fired all the
combustibles in my composition, though her words were but the
holiday expressions of common-place salutation. In the mean time,
while my secretary, Basil, and his daughter, were engaged in
reciprocal exchange of civility, I found my senses again; and
passed from one extreme of absurdity to another, just as if I had
thought that a hare-brained loquacity would be a set-off against
the idiotic silence of my first encounter. I exhausted all my
stock of well-bred rodomontade; and expressed myself with so
unguarded a freedom, as to make Basil look about him: so that he,
with his eye upon me as a man who would set every engine at work
to seduce Antonia, was in a hurry to get her safely out of my
apartment, with a resolved purpose, probably, of withdrawing her
for ever from my pursuit.

Scipio finding himself alone with me, said with a smile: Here is
another defence for you against the blue devils! I did not know
that your farming man had so pretty a daughter; for I had never
seen her before, though I have been twice at his house. He must
have taken infinite pains to keep her out of the way, and it is
impossible to be angry with him for it What the plague! here is a
morsel for a liquorish palate! But there seems to be no necessity
for blazoning her perfections to you; their very first glance
dazzled you out of countenance. I do not deny it, answered I. Ah!
my beloved friend, I have surely seen an inhabitant of the realms
above; the electrical spark now thrills through all my frame, it
scorches like lightning, yet tingles like the vivifying fluid at
my heart.

You slight me beyond measure, replied my secretary, by giving me
to understand that you have at length fallen in love. Nothing but
a mistress was wanting to complete your rural establishment at
all points. Thanks to Heaven, you are now likely to be
accommodated in every way. I am well aware that we shall have a
hard matter to elude Basil's vigilance; but leave that to me, and
I will undertake before the end of three days to manage a private
meeting for you with Antonia. Master Scipio, said I, it is not so
sure that you would be able to keep your word; but at all events,
I have not the least desire to make the experiment I will have
nothing to do with the ruin of that girl; for she is an angel,
and does not deserve to be numbered among the fallen ones.
Therefore, instead of laying the guilt upon your soul of
assisting me in her dishonour, I have made up my mind to marry
her with your kind help, supposing her heart not to be pre-
occupied by a prior attachment I had no idea, said he, of your
directly plunging headlong into the cold bath of matrimony. The
generality of landlords, in your place, would stand upon the
ancient tenure of manorial rights: they would not deal with
Antonia upon the square of modern law and gospel, till after
failure in the establishment of their feudal privileges. But
though this may be the way of the world, do not suppose that I am
by any means against your honourable passion, or at all wish to
dissuade you from your purpose. Your bailiff's daughter deserves
the distinction you design for her, if she can give you the
first-fruits of her heart, an offering of sensibility and
gratitude; that is what I shall ascertain this very day by
talking with her father, and possibly with her.

My agent was a man to transact his business according to the
letter. He went to see Basil privately, and in the evening came
to me in my closet, where I waited for him with impatience,
somewhat exasperated by apprehension. There was a slyness in his
countenance, whence my prognostic inclined to the brighter side.
Judging, said I, by that look of suppressed merriment, you are
come to acquaint me that I shall soon be at the summit of human
bliss. Yes, my dear master, answered he, the heavens smile upon
your vows. I have talked the matter over with Basil and his
daughter, declaring your intentions without reserve. The father
is delighted at the idea of your asking his blessing as a son-in-
law; and you may set your heart at rest about Antonia's taste in
a husband. Darts and flames! cried I in an ecstacy of amorous
transport; what! am I so happy as to have made myself agreeable
to that lovely creature? Never question it, replied he; she loves
you already. It is true, she has not owned so much by word of
mouth; but my assurance rests on the tale-telling sparkle of her
eye, when your proposals were made known to her. And yet you have
a rival! A rival! exclaimed I, with a faltering voice, and a
cheek blanched with fear. Do not let that give you the least
uneasiness, said he; your competitor cannot bid very high, for he
is no other than master Joachim your cook. Ah! the hangdog! said
I, with an involuntary shout of laughter: this is the reason,
then, why he had so great an objection to being turned out of my
service. Exactly so, answered Scipio; within these few days he
made proposals of marriage to Antonia, who politely declined
them. With submission to your better judgment, replied I, it
would be expedient, at least so it strikes me, to get rid of that
strange fellow, before he is informed of my intended match with
Basil's daughter: a cook, as you are aware, is a dangerous rival.
You are perfectly in the right, rejoined my trusty counsellor; we
must clear the premises of him -- he shall receive his discharge
from me to-morrow morning, before he puts a finger in the
fricandeaus; thus you will have nothing more to fear either from
his poisonous sauces or bewitching tongue. Yet it goes rather
against the grain with me to part with so good a cook; but I
sacrifice the interests of my own belly to the preservation of
your precious person. You need not, said I, take on so for his
loss: he had no exclusive patent; and I will send to Valencia for
a cook, who shall outcook all his fine cookery. According to my
promise I wrote immediately to Don Alphonso, to let him know that
our kitchen wanted a prime minister; and on the following day he
filled up the vacancy in so worthy a manner, as reconciled Scipio
at once to the change in culinary politics.

Though my adroit and active secretary had assured me of Antonia's
secret self-congratulation on the conquest of her landlord's
heart, I could not venture to rely solely on his report. I was
fearful lest he should have been entrapped by false appearances.
To be more certain of my bliss, I determined on speaking in
person to the fair Antonia. I therefore went to Basil's house,
and confirmed to him what my ambassador had announced. This
honest peasant, of patriarchal simplicity and golden-aged
frankness, after having heard me through, did not hesitate to own
that it would be the greatest happiness of his life to give me
his daughter; but, added he, you are by no means to suppose that
it is because you are lord of the manor. Were you still steward
to Don Caesar and Don Alphonso, I should prefer you to all other
suitors who might apply: I have always felt a sort of kindness
towards you: and nothing vexes me, but that Antonia has not a
thumping fortune to bring with her. I want not the vile dross,
said I; her person is the only dowry that I covet. Your humble
servant for that, cried he; but you will not settle accounts with
me after that fashion; I am not a beggar, to marry my daughter
upon charity. Basil de Buenotrigo is in circumstances, by the
blessing of Providence, to portion her off decently; and I mean
that she should set out a little supper, if you are to be at the
expense of dinners. In a word, the rental of this estate is only
five hundred ducats: I shall raise it to a thousand on the
strength of this marriage.

Just as you please, my dear Basil, replied I; we are not likely
to have any dispute about money matters. We are both of a mind;
all that remains is to get your daughter's consent. You have
mine, said he, and that is enough. Not altogether so, answered I;
though yours may he absolutely necessary, no business can be done
without hers. Hers follows mine of course, replied he; I should
like to catch her murmuring against my sovereign commands.
Antonia, rejoined I, with dutiful submission to paternal
authority, is ready without question to obey your will implicitly
in all things; but I know not whether in the present instance she
would do so without violence to her own feelings; and should that
be the case, I could never forgive myself for being the occasion
of unhappiness to her; in short, it is not enough that I obtain
her hand from you, if her heart is to heave a sigh at the
decision of her destiny. Oh, blessed virgin! said Basil, all
these fine doctrines of philosophy are far above my reach; speak
to Antonia your own self, and you wilt find, or I am very much
mistaken, that she wishes for nothing better than to be your
wife. These words were no sooner out of his mouth than he called
his daughter, and left me with her for a few short minutes.

Not to trifle with so precious an opportunity, I broke my mind to
her at once: Lovely Antonia, said I, it remains with you to fix
the colour of my future days. Though I have your father's
consent, do not think so meanly of me as to suppose that I would
avail myself of it to violate the sacred freedom of your choice.
Rapturous as must be the possession of your charms, I waive my
pretensions if you but tell me that your duty and not your will
complies. It would be affectation to put on such a repugnance,
answered she; the honour of your addresses is too flattering to
excite any other than agreeable sensations, and I am thankful for
my father's tender care of me, instead of demurring to his will.
I am not sure whether such an acknowledgment may not be contrary
to the rules of female reserve in the polite world; but if you
were disagreeable to me, I should be plain-spoken enough to tell
you so; why, then, should I not be equally free in owning the
kind feelings of my heart?
At sounds like these, which I could not bear without being
enraptured, I dropped on my knee before Antonia, and in the
excess of my tender emotions, taking one of her fair hands,
kissed it with an affectionate and impassioned action. My dear
Antonia, said I, your frankness enchants me; go on, let nothing
induce you to depart from it; you are conversing with your future
husband; let your soul expand itself, and reveal all its inmost
emotions in his presence. Thus, then, may I entertain the
flattering hope that you will not frown on the union of our
destinies! The coming in of Basil at this moment prevented me
from giving further vent to the delightful sensations which
thrilled through me. Impatient to know how his daughter had
behaved, and ready primed for scolding in case she had been
perverse or coy, he made up to me immediately. Well, now! said
he, are you satisfied with Antonia? So much so, answered I, that
I am going this very moment to set forward the preparations for
our marriage. So saying, I left the father and daughter, for the
purpose of taking counsel with my secretary thereupon.


CH. IX. -- Nuptials of Gil Blas with the fair Antonia; the style
and manner of the ceremony; the persons assisting thereat; and
the festivities ensuing there upon.

THOUGH there was no occasion to consult with the lords of Leyva
about my marriage, yet both Scipio and myself were of opinion
that I could not decently do otherwise than communicate to them
my purpose of connecting myself with Basil's daughter, and just
pay them the compliment of asking their advice, after the act was
finally determined on.

I immediately went off for Valencia, where my visit was a matter
of surprise, and still more the purport of it Don Caesar and Don
Alphonso, who were acquainted with Antonia, having seen her more
than once, wished me joy on my good fortune in a wife. Don
Caesar, in particular, made his speech upon the occasion with so
much youthful fire, that if there had not been reason to suppose
his lordship weaned, by that icy moralist, time, from certain
naughty propensities, I should have suspected him of going to
Lirias now and then, not so much to look after his concerns
there, as after his little empress of the dairy. Seraphina, too,
with the kindest assurances of a lively interest in whatever
might befall me, said that she had heard a very favourable
character of Antonia; but, added she, with a malicious fling, as
if to taunt me with my supercilious reception of Sephora's
amorous advances, even though her beauty had not been so much the
talk of the country, I could have depended on your taste, from
former experience of its delicacy and fastidiousness.

Don Caesar and his son did not stop at cold approbation of my
marriage, but declared that they would defray all the expenses of
it. Measure back your steps, said they, to Lirias, and stay
quietly there till you hear further from us. Make no preparation
for your nuptials, for we shall make that our concern. To meet
their kind intentions with becoming gratitude, I returned to my
mansion, and acquainted Basil and his daughter with the projected
kindness of our patrons. We determined to wait their pleasure
with as much patience as falls to the lot of poor human nature
under such circumstances. Eight long days dragged out their
tedious measure, and brought no tidings of our bliss. But the
rewards of self-control are not the less assured for being slow:
on the ninth, a coach drawn by four mules drove up, with a cargo
of mantua-makers for the bride, and an assortment of rich silks
on which to exercise their art. Several livery servants, mounted
on mules, accompanied the cavalcade. One of them brought me a
letter from Don Alphonso. That nobleman sent me word that he
would be at Lirias next day with his father and his wife, and
that the marriage ceremony should he performed on the day after
that, by the vicar-general of Valencia. And just so it came to
pass: Don Caesar, his son, and Seraphina, with that venerable
dignitary, were punctual to their appointment; all four of them
in a coach and six; none of your mules, like the mantua-makers!
preceded by an other coach and four, with Seraphina's women; and
the rear was brought up by a company of the governor's guards.

The governor's lady had hardly entered the house before she
testified an ardent longing to see Antonia, who on her part no
sooner knew that Seraphina was arrived, than she ran forward to
bid her welcome, with a respectful kiss upon her hand, so
gracefully and modestly impressed, that all the company were
enchanted at the action. And now, madam! said Don Caesar to his
daughter-in-law, what do you think of Antonia? Could Santillane
have made a better choice? No, answered Seraphina, they are
worthy each of the other; there can be no doubt but their union
will be most happy. In short, every one was lavish in the praise
of my intended; and if they felt her beams so powerfully under
the eclipse of a stuff gown, what must they not have endured from
her brightness, in the meridian sunshine of her wedding finery?
One would have fancied she had been clothed in silks, jewels, and
fine linen from her cradle, by the dignity of her air and the
ease of her deportment.

The happy moment which was to unite two fond lovers in the bands
of Hymen being arrived, Don Alphonso took me by the hand and led
me to the altar, while Seraphina conferred the like honour on the
bride elect. Our procession had marched in fit and decent order
through the hamlet to the chapel, where the vicar-general was
waiting to go through the service; and the ceremony was performed
amidst the heartfelt congratulations of the inhabitants, and of
all the wealthy farmers in the neighbourhood, whom Basil had
invited to Antonia's wedding. Their daughters too came in their
train, tricked out in ribbons and in flowers, and dancing to the
music of their own tambourines. We returned to the mansion under
the same escort: and there, by the provident attentions of
Scipio, who officiated as high steward and master of the
ceremonies, we found three tables set out; one for the principals
of the party, another for their household, and the third, which
was by far the largest, for all invited guests promiscuously.
Antonia was at the first, the governor's lady having made a point
of it; I did the honours of the second, and Basil was placed at
the head of that where the country people dined. As for Scipio,
he never sat down, but was here, there, and everywhere, fetching
and carrying, changing plates and filling bumpers, urging the
company to call freely for what they wanted, and egging them on
to mirth and jollity.

The entertainment had been prepared by the governor's cooks; and
that is as much as to say, that there were all the delicacies
imaginable, in season or out of season. The good wines laid in
for me by master Joachim, were set running at a furious rate; the
guests were beginning to feel their jovial influence, pleasantry
and repartee gave a zest and conviviality, when on a sudden our
harmony was interrupted by an alarming occurrence. My secretary,
being in the hall where I was dining with Don Alphonso's
principal officers and Seraphina's women, suddenly fainted. I
started up and ran to his assistance; and while I was employed in
bringing him about, one of the women was taken ill also. It was
evident to the whole company that this sympathetic malady must
involve some mysterious incident, as in effect it turned out
almost immediately, that thereby hung a tale; for Scipio soon
recovered, and said to me in a low voice, Why must one man's meat
be another man's poison, and the most auspicious of your days the
curse of mine? But every man bears the bundle of his sins upon
his back, and my pack-saddle is once more thrown across my
shoulders in the person of my wife.

Powers of mercy! exclaimed I, this can never be; it is all a
romance. What! you the husband of that lady whose nerves were so
affected by the disturbance? Yes, sir, answered he, I am her
husband; and fortune, if you will take the word of a sinner,
could not have done me a dirtier office than by conjuring up such
a grievance as this. I know not, my friend, replied I, what
reasons you may have for thus belabouring your rib with wordy
buffets, but however she may be to blame, in mercy keep a bridle
on your tongue; if you have any regard for me, do not displace
the mirth and spoil the pleasure of this nuptial meeting, by
ominous disorder or enraged questions of past injuries. You shall
have no reason to complain on that score, rejoined Scipio; but
shall see presently whether I am not a very apt dissembler.

With this assurance he went forward to his wife, whom her
companions had also brought back to life and recollection; and,
embracing her with as much apparent fervour as if his raptures
had been real, Ah, my dear Beatrice, said he, heaven has at
length united us again after ten years of cruel separation! But
this blissful moment is well purchased by whole ages of torturing
suspense! I know not, answered his spouse, whether you really are
at all the happier for having recovered a part of yourself: but
of this at least I am fully certain, that you never had any
reason to run away from me as you did. A fine story indeed! You
found me one night with Signor Don Ferdinand de Leyva, who was in
love with my mistress Julia, and consulted me on the subject of
his passion; and only for that, you must take it into your stupid
head, that I was caballing with him against your honour and my
own: thereupon that poor brain of yours was turned with jealousy;
you quitted Toledo in a huff, and ran away from your own flesh
and blood as you would from a monster of the deserts, without
leaving word why or wherefore. Now which of us two, be so good as
to tell me, has most reason to take on and be pettish? Your own
dear self, beyond all question, replied Scipio. Beyond all
question, re-echoed she, my own ill-used self. Don Ferdinand,
very shortly after you had taken yourself off from Toledo,
married Julia, with whom I continued as long as she lived; and,
after we had lost her by sudden death, I came into my lady her
sister's service, who, as well as all her maids, and I would do
as much for them, will give me a good character; honest and
sober, and a very termagant among the impertinent fellows.

My secretary, having nothing to allege against such a character
from my lady and her maids, was determined to make the best of a
bad bargain. Once for all, said he to his spouse, I acknowledge
my bad behaviour, and beg pardon for it before this honourable
assembly. It was now time for me to act the mediator, and to move
Beatrice for an act of amnesty, assuring her that her husband
from this time forward would make it the great object of his life
to play the husband to her satisfaction. She began to see that
there was reason in roasting of eggs, and all present were loud
in their congratulations, on the triumph of suffering virtue, and
the renovated pledge of broken vows. To bind the contract firmer,
and make it memorable, they were seated next to one another at
table; their healths were drank according to the laws of
toasting; wish you joy! many returns of this happy day! rang
round on every side: one would have sworn that the dinner was
given for their reconciliation, and not on account of my
marriage.

The third table was the first to be cleared. The young villagers
jumped up in a body; the lads took out their blooming partners;
the tambourines struck up a merry beat; spectators flocked from
the other tables, and caught the enlivening spirit from the gay
bustle of the scene. Every limb and muscle of every individual
was in motion: the household of the governor and his lady formed
a set, apart from the rustics of the company, while their
superiors did not disdain to mingle with the homelier dancers.
Don Alphonso danced a saraband with Seraphina, and Don Caesar
another with Antonia, who afterwards took me for her partner. She
did not perform much amiss, considering that she never got much
further than the five positions, in learning which she had her
ankles kicked to pieces by a provincial dancing-master at
Albarazin, while on a visit to a tradesman's wife, one of her
relations. As for me, who, as I have already said, had taken
lessons at the Marchioness de Chaves's, I figured away as the
principal man in this rural ballet. With regard to Beatrice and
Scipio, they preferred a little private conversation to dancing,
that they might compare notes on the subject of war and tear
during the painful period of separation: but their billing and
cooing was interrupted by Seraphina, who, having been informed of
this dramatic discovery, sent for them to pay the customary
compliments of congratulation. My good people, said she, on this
day of general joy, it gives me additional pleasure to see you
two restored to one another. My friend Scipio, I return you your
wife under a firm belief that she has always conducted herself as
became a woman; take up your abode with her here, and be a good
husband to her. And you, Beatrice, attach yourself to Antonia,
and let her be as much the object of your devoted service as
Signor de Santillane is that of your husband. Scipio, who could
not possibly, after this, think of Penelope as fit to hold a
candle to his own wife, promised to treat her with all the
deference due to such a paragon of conjugal fidelity.

The country people, having kept up the dance till late, withdrew
to their own homes; but the rejoicings were prolonged by the
company in the house. There was a grand supper, and at bed-time
the vicar-general pronounced the
blessing of consummation. Seraphina undressed the bride, and the
lords of Leyva did me the same honour. The ridiculous part of the
business was, that Don Alphonso's officers and his lady's
attendants took it into their heads, by way of diverting
themselves, to perform the same ceremony: they also undressed
Beatrice and Scipio, who, to render the scene supremely farcical,
gravely allowed themselves to be untrussed, and put to bed with
all nuptial pomp and state.


CH. X. -- The honey-moon (a very dull time for the reader as a
third person) enlivened by the commencement of Scipio's story.

"'Tis heaven itself, 'tis ecstacy of bliss,
Uninterrupted joy, untired excess;
Mirth following mirth, the moments dance away;
Love claims the night, and friendship rules the day."

ON the day after the wedding the lords of Leyva returned to
Valencia, after having lavished on me a thousand marks of
friendship. There was such a general clearance, that my secretary
and myself, with our respective wives, and our usual
establishment, were left in undisturbed possession of our own
home.

The efforts which we both made to please our ladies were not
thrown away: I breathed by degrees into the partner of my joys
and sorrows as much love for me as I entertained for her; and
Scipio made his better part forget the woes and privations he had
occasioned her. Beatrice, who had very winning ways with her, and
was all things to all women, had no difficulty about worming
herself into the good graces of her new mistress, and gaining her
complete confidence. In short, we all four agreed admirably well
together, and began to enjoy a bliss above the common lot of
humanity. Every day rolled along more delightfully than the last.
Antonia was pensive and demure; but Beatrice and myself were
enlisted in the crew of mirth; and even though we had been
constitutionally sedate, Scipio was among us, and he was of
himself a pill to purge melancholy. The best creature in the
world for a snug little party! one of those merry drolls who have
only to shew their comical faces, and set the table in a roar of
inextinguishable laughter.

One day, when we had taken a fancy to go after dinner, and doze
away the usual interval in the most sequestered spot about the
grounds, my secretary got into such exuberant spirits, as to
chase away the drowsy god by his exhilarating sallies. Do hold
your tongue, my loquacious friend, said I: or else, if you are
determined to wage war against this lazy custom of our
afternoons, at least tell us something which we shall he the
wiser for hearing. With all my heart and soul, sir, answered he.
Would you have me go through all fabulous histories of wandering
knights, distressed damsels, giants, enchanted castles, and the
whole train of legendary adventures? I had much rather hear your
own true history, replied I; but that is a pleasure which you
have not thought fit to give me so long as we have lived
together, and I seem likely to go without it to the end of the
chapter. How happens that? said he. If I have not told you my own
story, it is because you never expressed the slightest wish to be
troubled with the recital: therefore it is not my fault if you
are in the dark about my past life; but if you are really at all
curious to be let into the secret, my loquacity is very much at
your service on the occasion. Antonia, Beatrice, and myself,
unanimously took him at his word, and arranged ourselves for
listening like an attentive audience. The speculation was a safe
one on our parts; for the tale was sure to answer, either as a
stimulant or a soporific.

I certainly ought to have been descended, said Scipio, from some
family of the highest rank and earliest antiquity; or in default
of such parentage, from the most distinguished orders of personal
merit, such as that of St James or Alcantara, if a man may be
permitted to decide on the fittest circumstances his own birth:
but as it is not among the privileges of human nature to elect
one's own father, you are to know that mine, by name Torribio
Scipio, was a subaltern myrmidon of the Holy Brotherhood. As he
was going back and fore on the king's highway, and looking after
business in his own line, he met once on a time, between Cuenзa
and Toledo, with a young Bohemian babe of chance, who appeared
very pretty in his eyes. She was alone, on foot, and carried her
whole patrimony at her back in a kind of knapsack. Whither are
you going, my little darling? said he in a philandering tone of
voice, unlike the natural hoarseness of his accents. Good worthy
gentleman, answered she, I am going to Toledo, where I hope to
gain an honest livelihood by hook or by crook. Your intentions
are highly commendable, retorted he; and I doubt not but you have
many a hook and many a crook among the implements of your trade.
Yes, with a blessing on my endeavours, rejoined she: I have
several little ways of doing for myself: I know how to make
washes and creams for the ladies' faces, perfumes for their noses
and their chambers; then I can tell fortunes, can search for
things lost with a sieve and shears, and erect figures for the
taking in of shadows with a glass.

Torribio, concluding that so well-provided a girl would be a very
advantageous match for a man like himself, who could scarcely
scrape wherewithal to support life by his own profession, though
he was as good a thief-taker as the best of them, made her an
offer of marriage, and she was nothing loth, nor prudishly coy.
They flew on the wings of inclination and convenience to Toledo,
where they were joined together; and you behold in me the happy
pledge of holy and lawful matrimony. They fixed themselves in a
shop on the outskirts of the town, where my mother commenced her
career by selling the said washes, creams, tapes, laces, silk,
thread, toys, and pedlar's ware; but trade not being brisk enough
to live comfortably by it, she turned fortune-teller. This drew
her customers, got her countenance, credit, crowns, and pistoles:
a thousand dupes of either sex soon trumpeted up the reputation
of Coselina; for so my gipsy mamma had the honour to be named.
Some one or other came every day to bargain for the exercise of
her skill in the black art: at one time a nephew at his wit's and
purse's end, wanting to know how soon his uncle was to set off
post for the other world, and leave behind him wherewithal to
piece his worn-out fortunes: at another, some yielding, love-sick
girl, to inquire whether the swain who kept her company, and had
promised to marry her, would keep his word or be false-hearted.

You will take notice, if you please, that my mother always sold
good luck for good money; if the accomplishment trod on the heels
of the prediction, well and good; if it was fulfilled according
to the rule of contraries, she was always cool, though the
parties were ever so violently in a passion, and told them
plainly that it was her familiar's fault, not hers; for though
she paid him the highest wages, and bound him by potent spells to
stir up the cauldron of futurity from the bottom, like earthly
cooks, he would sometimes be careless or out of humour, and
apportion the ingredients wrongly.

When my mother thought the conjuncture momentous enough to raise
the devil without cheapening him in the eyes of the vulgar,
Torribio Scipio enacted his infernal majesty, and played the part
just as if he had been born to it, humouring the hideous features
of the character by a very small aggravation of his own natural
face, and practising the pandemonian note of elocution in the
lower octave of his voice. A person in the slightest degree
superstitious would
be scared out of his senses at my father's figure. But one day,
as his satanic prototype would have it, there came a savage
rascal of a captain, who asked to see the devil, for no earthly
purpose but to run him clean through the body. The Inquisition,
having received notice of the devil's death, sent to take charge
of his widow, and administer to his effects; as for poor little
me, just seven years old at the time, I was sent to the foundling
hospital. There were some charitable ecclesiastics on that
establishment, who, being liberally paid for the education of the
poor orphans, were so zealous in their office as to teach them
reading and writing. They fancied there was something
particularly promising about me, which made them pick me out from
all the rest, and send me on their errands. I was letter-carrier,
messenger, and chapel clerk. As a token of their gratitude, they
undertook to teach me Latin; but their mode of tuition was so
harsh, and their discipline so severe, though I was a sort of pet
with them, that, not being able to stand it any longer, I ran
away one morning while out on an errand; and, so far from
returning to the hospital, got out of Toledo through the suburbs
on the Seville side.

Though I had not then completed my ninth year, I already felt the
pleasure of being free, and master of my own actions. I was
without money and without food; no matter! I had no lessons to
say by heart, no themes to hammer out. After having pushed on for
two hours, my little legs began to refuse their office. I had
never before made so long a trip. It became necessary to stop and
take some rest. I sat myself down at the foot of a tree close by
the high. way; there, by way of amusement, I took my grammar out
of my pocket, and began conning it over by way of a joke; but at
length, coming to recollect the raps on the knuckles, and the
castigations on the more classical seat of punishment which it
had cost me, I tore it leaf by leaf with an apostrophe of angry
import. Ah! you odious thing of a book! you shall never make me
shed tears any more. While I was assuaging my vindictive spirit,
by strewing the ground about me with declensions and
conjugations, there passed that way a hermit with a white beard,
with a large pair of spectacles on his nose, and altogether an
outside of much sanctity. He came up to me; and, if I was an
object of speculation to him, he was no less so to me. My little
man, said he with a smile, it should seem as if we had both taken
a sudden liking to each other, and in that case we cannot do
better than to live together in my hermitage, which is not two
hundred yards distant. Your most obedient for that, answered I
pertly enough; I have not the least desire to turn hermit. At
this answer, the good old man set up a roar of laughter, and said
with a kind embrace: You must not be frightened at my dress; if
it is not becoming, it is useful; it gives me my title to a
charming retreat, and to the good-will of the neighbouring
villages, whose inhabitants love or rather idolize me. Come this
way, and I will clothe you in a jacket of the same stuff as mine.
If you think well of it, you shall share with me the pleasures of
the life I lead; and, if it does not hit your fancy, you shall
not only be at liberty to leave me, but you may depend on it that
in the event of our parting, I shall not fail to do something
handsome by you.

I suffered myself to be persuaded, and followed the old hermit,
who put several questions to me, which I answered with a truth-
telling simplicity, not always to be found in a more advanced
stage of morality. On our arrival at the hermitage he set some
fruit before me, which I devoured, having eaten nothing all day
but a slice of dry bread, on which I had breakfasted at the
hospital in the morning. The recluse, seeing me play so good a
part with my jaws, said: Courage, my good boy, do not spare my
fruit; there is plenty of it, Heaven be praised. I have not
brought you hither to starve you. And indeed that was true
enough; for an hour after our coming in, he kindled a fire, put a
leg of mutton down to roast; and while I turned the spit, laid a
small table for himself and me, with a very dirty napkin upon it.

When the meat was done enough he took it up, and cut some slices
for our supper, which was no dry bargain, since we quaffed a
delicious wine, of which he had laid in ample store. Well! my
chicken, said he, as he rose from table, are you satisfied with
my style of living? You see how we shall fare every day, if you
fix your quarters here. Then with respect to liberty, you shall
do just as you please in this hermitage. All I require of you is
to accompany me whenever I go begging to the neighbouring
villages; you will be of use in driving an ass laden with two
panniers, which the charitable peasants usually fill with eggs,
bread, meat, and fish. I ask no more than that. I will do, said
I, whatever you desire, provided you will not oblige me to learn
Latin. Friar Chrysostom, for that was the old hermit's name,
could not help smiling at my school-boy frowardness, and assured
me once more that he should not pretend to interfere either with
my studies or my inclinations.

On the very next day we went on a foraging party with the donkey,
which I led by the halter. We made a profitable gleaning; for all
the farmers took a pleasure in throwing somewhat into our
panniers. One chucked in an uncut loaf; another a large piece of
bacon; here a goose, there a pair of giblets, and a partridge to
crown the whole. But without entering further into particulars,
we carried home provender enough for a week; and hence you may
infer the esteem and friendship in which the country people held
the holy man. It is true that he was a great blessing to the
neighbourhood: his advice was always at their service when they
came to consult him: he restored peace where discord had reigned
in families, and made up matches for the daughters; he had a
nostrum for almost any disease you could mention, with an
assortment of pious rituals, to avert the curse of barrenness.

Hence you perceive that I was in no danger of starving in my
hermitage. My lodging, too, was none of the worst: stretched on
good fresh straw, with a cushion of ratteen under my head, and a
coverlet over me of the same stuff I made but one nap of it all
night. Brother Chrysostom, who had promised me a hermit's dress,
made up an old gown of his own for me, and called me little
brother Scipio. No sooner did I appear in my religious uniform,
than the ass's back suffered for my genteel appearance in the
eyes of the villagers. It was who should give most to the little
brother! so much were they delighted with his spruce figure.

The easy, slothful life I led with the old hermit could not be
very revolting to a boy of my age. On the contrary, it suited my
taste so exactly, that I should have continued it to this time,
but that the fates and destinies were weaving a more complicated
tissue for my future years. It was cast in the figure of my
nativity, early to rouse myself from the effeminacy of a
religious life, and to take leave of brother Chrysostom after the
following manner.

I often observed the old man at work upon his pillow, unsewing
and sewing it up again; and one day, I saw him put in some money.
This circumstance excited a tingling curiosity, which I promised
myself to satisfy the first time he went to Toledo, as he
generally did once a week. I waited impatiently for the day, but
as yet, without any other motive than the mere desire of prying.
At last the good man went his way, and I unpicked his pillow,
where I found, among the stuffing, the amount of about fifty
crowns in all sorts of coin.

This treasure must have accumulated from the gratitude of the
peasantry, whom the hermit had cured by his nostrums, and of
their wives, who had be come pregnant by virtue of his spiritual
interference. But however it got there, I no sooner set my eyes
on the money, which might be mine without any one near me to say
nay, than the gipsy voice of nature and pedigree spoke within me.
An inextinguishable itch of pilfering tingled in my veins, and
proved that we come into the world with the mark of our descent,
and with our characters about us. I yielded to the temptation
without a struggle; tied up my booty in a canvas bag where we
kept our combs and night-caps: then, having laid aside the
hermit's and resumed my foundling's dress, got clear off from the
hermitage, and hugged my bag as though it had contained the
boundless treasure of the Indies.

You have heard my first exploit, continued Scipio; and I doubt
not but you will expect a succession of similar practices. Your
anticipations will not be disappointed; for there are many such
evidences of genius behind, before I come to those of my actions
which prove me good as well as clever; but I shall come to them,
and you will be convinced by the sequel, that a scoundrel born
may be licked into virtue, as the cub of a bear into shape.

Child as I was, I knew better than to take the Toledo road; it
would have been exposing myself to the hazard of meeting friar
Chrysostom, who would have balanced accounts with me on a very
thriftless principle. I therefore travelled in another direction
leading to the village of Galves, where I stopped at an inn, kept
by a landlady who was a widow of forty, and hung out the bunch of
grapes to a very good purpose. This good woman no sooner kenned
me, than, judging by my dress that I must be a truant from the
orphan school, she asked who I was and whither I was going. I
answered that, having lost my father and mother, I was looking
for a place. Can you read, my dear? said she. I assured her that
I could read, and write too, with the best of them. In point of
fact, I could just form my letters, and join them so as to look a
little like writing; and that was clerkship enough for a village
pothouse. Then I will take you into my service, replied the
hostess. You may earn your board easily enough, by scoring up the
customers, and keeping my ledger. I shall give you no wages,
because this inn is frequented by very genteel company, who never
forget the waiters. You may reckon upon very considerable
perquisites.

I clenched the bargain, reserving to myself, as you may suppose,
the right of emigration whenever my abode at Galves should cease
to be pleasant. No sooner was I settled in my place, than a
weight lay heavy on my mind. I did not wish it to be known that I
had money; and it was no easy matter to devise where it could be
hidden, so as that what was sauce for the goose should not be
sauce for the gander. I was not yet well enough acquainted with
the house to trust the places obviously most proper for such a
deposit. What a source of embarrassment is great wealth! I
determined, however, on a corner of our granary under some straw;
and believing it to be safer there than anywhere else, made
myself as easy about it as I well could.

The household consisted of three servants: a lubberly ostler, a
young Galician chambermaid, and myself. Each of us spunged what
we could upon travellers, whether on foot or on horseback. I
always came in for some small change, when the bill was paid.
Then the equestrians gave something to the ostler, for taking
care of their beasts: but as for our female fellow-servant, the
muleteers who passed that way chucked her under the chin, and
gave her more crowns than we got farthings. I had no sooner
realized a penny, than away it went to the granary, and slept
with its precursors; so that the higher rose my heap, the more
greedy did my little heart become. Sometimes would I kiss the
hallowed images of my idolatry, and look at them with a
devotional glow, which few worshippers feel, but those whose
religion is their gold.

This inordinate passion sent me back and fore to gratify it, at
least thirty times a day. I often met the landlady on the
staircase. She, being naturally of a suspicious temper, had a
mind to find out one day what could carry me every minute to the
corn-loft. She therefore went up and began rummaging about
everywhere, supposing perhaps that it was my receptacle for
articles purloined in the house. Of course she did not forget to
pull the straw about; and behold, there was my bag! Two hands in
a dish and one in a purse, was not one of her proverbs; so that
finding the contents in crowns and pistoles, she thought, or
seemed to think, that the money was lawfully and honestly hers.
At least she had possession, and that is nine points of the law,
though scarcely one of honesty. But to do the thing decently,
after calling me little wretch, little rascal, and so forth, she
ordered the ostler, a fellow without any will but hers, to give
me a hearty flogging; and then turn me out of doors, with this
salt eel for my breakfast, and a lady-like oath that no light-
fingered gentry should ever darken her doors. In vain did I
protest and vow that I never wronged my mistress: she affirmed
the direct contrary, and her word would go further than mine at
any time. Thus were friar Chrysostom's savings transferred from
one thief to a greater thief in the thief-taker.

I wept over the loss of my money, as a father over the death of
his only son: and though my tears could not bring back what I had
lost, they at least answered the purpose of exciting pity in some
people, who saw how bitterly they flowed, and among others in the
parson, who was accidentally going by. He seemed affected by my
sad plight, and took me home with him. There, to gain my
confidence, or rather to pump me, he began soothing my sorrows.
How much this poor child is to be pitied! said he. Is it any
wonder if, thrown upon the wide world at so tender an age, he has
committed a bad action? Grown up men are not always proof against
the flesh or the devil. Then, addressing me, Child, added he,
front what part of Spain do you come, and who are your parents?
You have the look of family about you. Open your heart to me
confidentially, and depend upon it, I never will desert you.

His reverence, by this kind and insinuating language, engaged me
by degrees to tell him all my history, without falsification or
reserve. I owned everything; and thus he moralized on the leading
article of my confession: My little friend, though hermits ought
to lay up such treasures as neither force nor fraud can wrest
from them, that was no excuse for your taking the measure of
punishment into your own hands: by robbing brother Chrysostom,
you nevertheless sinned against that article of the decalogue,
which tells you not to steal; but I will engage to make the
hostess return the money, and will punctually remit it to the
reverend friar at his hermitage: you may therefore make your
conscience perfectly easy on that score. Now, between ourselves,
my conscience was perfectly callous to everything like
compunction with respect to the crime in question. The parson,
who had his own ends to answer, had not done with me yet. My lad,
pursued he, I mean to take you by the hand, and find a good berth
for you. I shall send you to-morrow morning, by the carrier, to
my nephew, a canon of Toledo. He will not refuse, at my request,
to admit you upon his establishment, where they live like so many
sons of the church, rosily, merrily, and fatly, upon the rents of
his prebendal stall: you will be perfectly comfortable there,
take my word for it.

Patronage like this gave me so much encouragement, that I did not
throw away another thought either upon my bag or my whipping. My
mind was wholly occupied with the idea of living rosily, merrily,
and fatly, like a son of the church. The following day, at
breakfast-time, there came, according to orders, a muleteer to
the parsonage, with two mules saddled and bridled. They helped me
to mount one, the muleteer flung his leg over the other, and we
trotted on for Toledo. My fellow-traveller was a good, pleasant
companion, arid desired nothing better than to indulge his humour
at the expense of his neighbour. My little volunteer, said he,
you have a good friend in his reverence, the minister of Galves.
He could not give you a better proof of his kindness, than by
placing you with his nephew the canon, whom I have the honour of
knowing, far beyond all question or comparison, to be the cock of
the chapter, and a hearty one he is. None of your lantern-jawed
saints, with Lent in his face, a cat-of-nine-tails on his back,
and a cholera morbus in his belly. No such thing! Our doctor is
rubicund in the jowl, efflorescent on the nose, with a wicked eye
at a bumper or a girl militant against no earthly pleasure, but
most addicted to the good things of the table. You will be as
snug there as a bug in a blanket.

This hangman of a muleteer, perceiving with what exquisite
satisfaction I took in all this, went on tantalizing me with the
joys of an ecclesiastical life. He never dropped the subject till
we got to the village of Obisa, and stopped there to refresh our
mules. Then, while bustling about the inn, he accidentally
dropped a paper from his pocket, which I was cunning enough to
pick up without his seeing me, and took an opportunity of reading
while he was in the stable. It was a letter addressed to the
governors and superintendents of the orphan school, conceived in
these terms: "Gentlemen, I consider it as an act at once of
charity and of duty, to send you back a little truant; he seems a
shrewd lad enough, and may do very well with good looking after.
By dint of hard and frequent chastisement, I doubt not but you
will ultimately bring him to a sense of his own unworthiness and
your benevolence. May a blessing be vouchsafed on your pious and
charitable labours, for the early extirpation of sin and
wickedness! (Signed) "THE MINISTER OF GALVES."

When I had finished reading this pleasant letter, which let me
into the good intentions of his reverence the rector, it required
little deliberation to determine what I was to do: from the inn
to the banks of the Tagus, a space of three good miles, was but a
hop, step, and jump. Fear lent me wings to escape from the
governors of the foundling hospital, whither I was absolutely
resolved never to return, having formed principles of taste
diametrically opposite to their method of teaching the classics.
I went into Toledo with as light a heart as if I had known where
to get my daily bread. To be sure, it is a town of ways and
means, where a man who can live by his wits need never die of
hunger. Scarcely had I reached the high street, when a well-
dressed gentleman by whom I brushed, caught me by the arm,
saying: My little fellow, do you want a place? You are just such
a smart lad as I was looking for. And you are just the master for
my money, answered I. Since that is the case, rejoined he, you
are mine from this moment, and have only to follow me, which I
did without asking any more questions.

This spark, about the age of thirty, and bearing the name of Don
Abel, lodged in very handsome ready-furnished apartments. He was
by profession a blacklegs; and the following was the nature of
our engagement. In the morning I got him as much tobacco as would
smoke five or six pipes; brushed his clothes, and ran for a
barber to shave him and trim his whiskers; after which he made
the circle of the tennis-courts, whence he never returned home
till eleven or twelve at night. But every morning, at going out,
he gave me three reals for the expenses of the day, leaving me
master of my own time till ten o'clock in the evening; and
provided I was within-doors by his return, all was well. He gave
me a livery besides, in which I looked like a little lackey of
illicit love. I took very kindly to my condition, and certainly
could not have met with any more congenial with my temper.

Such and so happy had been my way of life for nearly a month,
when my employer inquired whether I liked his service; and on my
answer in the affirmative, Well, then, resumed he, to-morrow we
shall set out for Seville, whither my concerns call me. You will
not be sorry to see the capital of Andalusia. "He that hath not
Seville seen," says the proverb. "Is no traveller I ween." I
engaged at once to follow him all over the world. On that very
day, the Seville carrier fetched away a large trunk with my
master's wardrobe, and on the next morning we were on the road
for Andalusia.

Signor Don Abel was so lucky at play, that he never lost but when
it was convenient; but then it was seldom convenient to stay long
in a place, because those who are always losers find out at last,
that though chance is a dangerous antagonist, certainly it is a
desperate one; and that accounted for our journey. On our arrival
at Seville, we took lodgings near the Cordova gate, and resumed
the same mode of life as at Toledo. But my master found some
difference between the two towns. The Seville tennis-courts could
produce players equally in fortune's good graces with himself; so
that he sometimes came home a good deal out of humour. One
morning, when he was biting the bridle for the loss of a hundred
pistoles the day before, he asked why I had not carried his linen
to the laundress. I pleaded forgetfulness. Thereupon, flying into
a passion, be gave me half-a-dozen boxes on the ear, in such a
style, as to kindle an illumination in my blinking eyes, to which
the glories of Solomon's temple were no more to be compared, than
the torches in a Candlemas procession to a rushlight. There is
for you, you little scoundrel! said he; take that, and learn to
mind your business. Must I be eternally at your heels to remind
you of what you are to do? Are your brains in your belly, and all
your wits in your grinders? You are not a downright idiot! Then
why not prevent my wants and anticipate my orders? After this
experimental lecture, he went out for the day, leaving me in high
dudgeon, at a reprimand so much in the manner of my friend the
ostler, for such a trifle as not getting up his things for the
wash.

I could never learn what happened to him a short time after at a
tennis-court; but one evening he came home in a terrible heat.
Scipio, said he, I am bent on going to Italy, and must embark the
day after to-morrow on board a vessel bound for Genoa. I have my
reasons for making this little excursion; of course you will be
glad to attend me, and to profit by so fine an opportunity of
seeing the loveliest country on the face of the earth. My tongue
gave consent; but with a salvo in my heart and a bargain with my
revenge, to give him the slip just at the moment of embarkation.
This was so delightful a scheme, that I could not help imparting
it to a bully by profession, whom I met in the street. During my
abode in Seville, I had picked up some awkward acquaintance, and
this was one of the most ungainly. I told him how and why my ears
had been boxed, and then communicated my project of running away
from Don Abel just before the ship was to sail, begging to know
what he thought of the plan.

My bluff adviser puckered his eyebrows while he listened, and
fiddled with his fingers about his whiskers: then, blaming my
master very seriously, My little hero, said he, you are eternally
disgraced, can never shew your face again, if you sit down
quietly with so paltry a satisfaction as what you propose. To let
Don Abel go off by himself, would be a poor revenge for wrongs
like yours; the punishment should be proportioned to his crime.
Let us fine him to the full amount of his purse and effects,
which we will share like brothers after he is gone. Now it is to
be noted, that though thieving fell in very naturally with the
bent of my genius, the proposal rather startled me, as the
robbery was upon a large scale for so young an apprentice.

And yet the arch deceiver of my innocence found the means of
working me up to the perpetration, so that the result of our
enterprise was as follows. This glorious ruffian, a tall, brawny
fellow, came in the evening about twilight to our lodging. I
shewed my master's travelling trunk ready packed, and asked him
whether he could carry so heavy a load upon his shoulders. So
heavy as that! said he: shew me where a transfer of property is
to be made in my favour, and I could run with Noah's ark to the
top of Mount Ararat. To prove his words, he felt the trunk, flung
it carelessly over his back, and scampered down-stairs, I
followed nimbly; and we had just got to the street door, when Don
Abel, brought home in the nick of time by the ascendancy of his
lucky stars, stood like an apparition, to appal our guilty souls.

Whither are you going with that trunk? said he. I was so taken by
surprise that my assurance failed me; and broad-shoulders,
finding that he had drawn a blank in the lottery, threw down his
booty, and took to his heels, rather than be troubled for an
explanation. Once more, whither are you going with that trunk?
said my master. Sir, answered I, with all the honest simplicity
of a criminal, pleading in arrest of judgment, I was going to put
it on board the vessel, that we might have the less to do to-
morrow, before we embark ourselves. Indeed! Then you know,
retorted he, in what ship I have taken my passage? No, sir,
replied I! but those who can talk Latin may always find their way
to Rome: I should have inquired at the port, and somebody would
have informed me. At this explanation, which left his opinion
where it found it, he darted a furious glance at me. I thought
for all the world, he was going to cuff me again about the head.
Who ordered you, cried he, to take my trunk out of this house?
You, your own self; said I. Can you possibly have forgotten how
you rated me but a few days ago? Did you not tell me, with a flea
in my ear, that you would have me prevent your wants, and do
beforehand from my own head whatever your service might require?
Now, not to be threshed a second time for want of forethought, I
was seeing your trunk safe and soon enough on board. On this the
gamester, finding that I had cut my teeth of wisdom sooner than
suited his purpose, turned me off very coolly, saying: Go about
your business, master Scipio, and speed as you may deserve. I do
not like to play with folks who are in the habit of revoking. Get
out of my sight, or I shall set your solfeggio in a crying key.

I spared him the trouble of telling me to go twice. Off I shot
like an arrow, for fear he should unfledge me, by taking away my
livery. When distant enough to slacken my pace, I walked along in
the streets, musing whither I might betake myself for a night's
lodging, with only two reals in my pocket. The gate of the
archbishop's palace at length stared me in the face; and, as his
grace's supper was then dressing, a savoury odour exhaled from
the kitchens, impregnating the gale with soup and sauce for a
mile round. Ods haricots and cutlets! thought I, it would be no
hard matter for me to dispense with one of those little side
dishes, which will be of no use to the archbishop but to make out
the figure of his table: nay, I would be contented only just to
dip in my four fingers and thumb, and then to sup like a bear
upon suckings. But how to accomplish it! Is there no way of
bringing these choice morsels to a better test than that of
smell? And why not? Hunger, they say, will break through stone
walls. On this idea did I set my wits to work; and, by dint of
conning over the subject, a stratagem struck me, which set my
lungs as well as appetite in motion, just as the old carpenter
kept bawling, "I have found it," like a madman, when he had hit
the right nail of his proposition on the head. I ran into the
court of the palace, and made the best of my way to the kitchens,
calling out with all my might, "Help! help!" as if some assassin
had been at my heels.

At my reiterated cries master Diego, the archbishop's cook, ran
with three or four kitchen drudges to learn what was the matter;
and seeing only me, asked why I roared so loud. Ah! good sir,
answered I, with every token of exquisite distress, for mercy's
sake and for St Polycarp's! save me, I beseech you, from the fury
of a blusterer, who swears he will kill me. But where is this
disturber of the public peace? cried Diego. You have no one to
quarrel with but yourself; for I do not see so much as a cat to
spit at you. Go your ways, my little man, and do not be afraid;
it is evidently some wag who has been playing upon your cowardice
for his diversion; but he knew better than to follow you within
these walls, for we would have cut his ears off at the least. No,
no, said I, it was for no laughing matter that he ran after me.
He is a noted footpad, and meant to rob me; I am certain that he
is now waiting for me at the corner of the street. Then he may
wait long enough, replied the knight of the iron spit; for you
shall stay here till to-morrow. You shall sup with us, and we
will give you a bed.

I was out of my little wits with joy at the mention of these last
tidings; and it was like the turnpike road to paradise after
crossing an Arabian desert, when being led by master Diego
through the kitchens, I there saw my lord archbishop's supper,
and the stew-pans in the last throes of parturition. There were
fifteen accountable souls, for I reckoned them up, in attendance
on the labour; but the litter of dishes far out-numbered the
fecundity of nature in her most prolific mood: so much more
gracious and bountiful is providence to the heads of the church
in the indulgence of their appetites, than mindful of the
worthless brute creation in the propagation of its kind. Here it
was, at the fountain-head of prelacy, inhaling an atmosphere of
gravy, instead of just snuffing the scent as it lay upon the
breeze, that I first shook hands with sensuality. I had the
honour of supping with the scullions, and of sleeping in their
room; an initiation of friendship so sincere and strong, that on
the following day, when I went to thank master Diego for his
goodness in vouchsafing me a refuge, he said: Our kitchen lads
have been with me in a body, to declare how excessively delighted
they are with your manners, and to propose having you among them
as a fellow-servant. How should you, on your part, like to make
one of the society? I answered that, with such a feather in my
cap, I should be the vainest and the happiest of mortals. Then so
be it, my friend, replied he; consider yourself henceforth as a
buttress of the hierarchy. With this invitation, he introduced me
to the major-domo, who thought he saw talent enough in me for a
turnspit.

No sooner was I in possession of so honourable an office, than
master Diego, following the practice of cooks in great houses,
who pamper up their pretty dears in private with all sorts of
good things, selected me to supply a lady in the neighbourhood
with a regular table of butcher's meat, poultry, and game. This
good friend of his was a widow on the right side of thirty, very
pretty, very lively, and to all appearance contenting herself
with cupboard love for her cook. His generous passion was not
confined to furnishing her with bread, meat, and garnish; she
drank her wine too, and the archbishop was her wine-merchant.

The improvement of my parts kept pace with that of my carnal
condition in his grace's palace: where I gave a specimen of
rising genius, still ringing on the trump of fame at Seville. The
pages and some others of the household had a mind to get up a
play on my lord archbishop's birthday. They chose a popular
Spanish tragedy; and wanting a boy about my age to personate the
young King of Leon, cast me for the part. The major-domo, a great
spouter, undertook to train me for the stage; and after a few
lessons, pronounced that I should not be the worst actor of the
company. His grace not wishing to starve so handsome a compliment
to himself, no expense was spared in getting it up magnificently.
The largest hall in the palace was fitted up as a theatre, with
appropriate decorations. At the side scene there was a bed of
turf, on which I was to be discovered asleep, when the Moors were
to rush in and take me prisoner. When we had got so forward with
our rehearsals as to be sure of being ready by the time fixed,
the archbishop sent out cards of invitation to all the principal
families in the city.

At length the great, the important day arrived; and each
performer was big with the contrivance and adjustment of his
dress. Mine was brought by a tailor, accompanied by our major-
domo, who, after taking the trouble of drilling me at rehearsal,
wished to see justice done to my outward appearance. The tailor
put me on a rich robe of blue velvet, with hanging sleeves, gold
lace, fringe, and buttons: the major-domo himself crowned me with
a pasteboard crown, studded with false diamonds and real pearls.
Moreover, they gave me a sash of pink silk worked in silver; so
that every new ornament was like a quill-feather in the wing of a
bird. At last, about dusk, the play began. The curtain drew up
for my soliloquy; the purport of which was to express, in a
roundabout, poetical way, that not being able to defend myself
from the influence of sleep, I was going to lie down and take it
as it came. To suit the action to the word, I sidled off to the
corner between the flat and the wings, and squatted down on my
bed of turf, but instead of going to sleep, according to promise,
I was hammering upon the means of getting into the street, and
running away with my coronation finery. A little private
staircase, leading under the theatre into the lower saloon,
seemed to furnish the probability of success. I slid away slily,
while the audience were considering some necessary question of
the play, and ran down the staircase, through the saloon, to the
door, calling out, "Make way! make way! I must change my dress,
and run up again in a moment!" They all made a lane, for fear of
hindering me; so that in less than two minutes I got clear out of
the palace, under cover of the darkness, and scampered to the
house of my friend who saw gentlemen's trunks safe on board.

He stared like a stuck pig at my equipment l But when I let him
into the why and the wherefore, he laughed ready to split his
sides. Then, shaking hands in the sincerity of his heart, because
he flattered himself with the hope of a pension on the King of
Leon's civil list, he wished me joy of so successful a first
appearance, and joined issue with the major-domo in the
prognostic, that with encouragement and practice I should turn
out a first-rate actor, and make no little noise in the world.
After we had diverted ourselves for some time at the expense of
my manager and audience, I said to the bully -- What shall we do
with this magnificent dress? Do not make yourself uneasy about
that, answered he. I know an honest broker, without an atom of
curiosity in his composition, who will buy or sell anything with
any person, provided that he gets the turn of the market upon the
transaction. I will fetch him to you to-morrow morning. The
knowing fellow was as good as his word; for he went out early the
next day, leaving me in bed, and returned two hours afterwards
with the broker, carrying a yellow bundle under his arm. My
friend, said he, give me leave to introduce Signor Ybagnez of
Segovia, who, in spite of the bad example set him by the trade in
general, trusts to fair dealing and small profits for a moderate
pittance and an unblemished character. He will tell you to a
fraction what the dress you want to part with is really worth,
and you may take his calculation as the balance of justice,
between, man and man. Oh yes I to a nicety, said the broker. Else
wherefore live I in a Christian land, but to appraise for my
neighbour as for myself? To take a mean advantage never was,
thank heaven! and at these years never shall be, imputed to
Ybagnez of Segovia. Let us look a little at those articles! You
are the seller; I am the buyer! We have only to agree upon an
equitable price. Here they are, said the bully, pulling them out:
now own the truth, was there ever anything more magnificent? You
do not often see such velvet: and then the trimming! You cannot
say too much of it, answered the salesman, examining the suit
with the prying eye of a dealer, it is of the very first quality.
And what think you of the pearls upon this crown? resumed my
friend. A little rounder, observed Ybagnez, and there would be no
setting a price upon them! however, take them as they are, it is
a very fine set, and I do not want to find fault about trifles.
Now your common run of appraisers, under my circumstances, would
affect to disparage the goods for the sake of getting them
cheaper; one of those fellows would have the conscience to offer
twenty pistoles; but there is nothing like bargaining with an
upright, downright man! I will give forty at a word; take them or
leave them!

Had Ybagnez ventured up to a hundred, he would not have burned
his fingers; for the pearls alone would have fetched two hundred
anywhere. The bully, who went snacks, then said -- Now only look!
what a mercy it is, to fall into the hands of a man not of this
world. Signor Ybagnez estimates money as dross, in comparison of
his principles and his soul. He may die to-night, and yet not be
taken unprepared! That is too much! You make me blush, said the
salesman of principle and soul; but so far is true, that my price
is always fixed. Well, now, is it a bargain? The money down upon
the nail too! Stop a moment! answered the bully; my little friend
must first try on the clothes you have brought for him by my
order: I am very much mistaken if they will not just fit him. The
salesman then, untying his bundle, shewed me a second-hand suit
of dark cloth with silver buttons. I got up, and got into it; too
big for me every way! but these gentlemen could have sworn it had
been made to my measure. Ybagnez put it at ten pistoles; and as
he was an upright, downright man, of fixed principle and soul,
estimating money as dross in comparison of integrity, his first
price was of course his last. He therefore took out his purse,
and counted down thirty pistoles upon a table; after which he
packed up the King of Leon's regalia, and went his way.

When he was gone, the bully said -- I am very well satisfied with
that broker. And so he well might be; for I am certain he must
have received at least a hundred pistoles as hush-money. But
there was no reason why the broker's benevolence should pay the
debts of my gratitude: so he took half the money on the table,
without saying with your leave or by your leave, and suffered me
to pocket the remainder, with the following advice: My dear
Scipio, with that balance of fifteen pistoles, I would have you
get out of this town as fast as you can; for you may suppose that
my lord archbishop will ferret you out if you are above-ground.
It would grieve me to the heart if, after having risen so
superior to the prejudice of honesty, you had the weakness to
fall foul of what alone keeps it afloat, the house of correction.
I answered that it was my fixed purpose to make myself scarce at
Seville, and accordingly, after buying a hat and some shirts, I
travelled through vineyards and olive groves to the ancient city
of Carmona; and in three days afterwards arrived at Cordova.

I put up at an inn close by the market-place, giving myself out
for the heir of a good family at Toledo, travelling for his
pleasure. My appearance did not belie the story, and a few
pistoles, which I contrived carelessly to chink within the
landlord's hearing, pinned his faith upon my veracity. Probably
my unfledged youth might lead him to take me for some graceless
little truant who had robbed his parents and run away. But that
was no concern of his: he took the thing just as I gave it him,
for fear lest his curiosity should clash with my continuance at
his house. For six reals a day one could live like a gentleman at
this inn, where there was generally a considerable concourse of
company. About a dozen people sat down at supper. It was
whimsical enough; but the whole party plied their knives and
forks without speaking a word, except one man, who talked
incessantly, right or wrong, and made up for the silence of the
rest by his eternal babble. He affected to be a wit, to tell a
good story, and took great pains to make the good folks merry by
his puns; and accordingly they did laugh most inextinguishably;
but it was at him, not with him.

For my part, I paid so little attention to the talk of this
rattle, that I should have got up from table without knowing what
it was all about, if he had not brought it home to my business
and my bosom. Gentlemen, cried he, just as supper was over, I
have kept my best story for the last; a very droll thing happened
within these few days at the archbishop of Seville's palace. I
had it from a young fellow of my acquaintance, who assures me
that he was present at the time. These words made my heart jump
up into my throat, for I had no doubt of this being my exploit --
and so it turned out This pleasant gentle man related the facts
as they actually happened, and even carried the adventure to its
conclusion, of which I was as yet ignorant: but now you shall be
made as wise as myself.

No sooner had I absconded, than the Moors, who were, according to
the progress of the fable and the rising of the interest, to lay
violent hands on me, appeared upon the stage, for the fell
purpose of surprising me on my bed of turf, where the author had
given them reason to expect me fast asleep; but when they thought
they were just going to capot the King of Leon, they found, to
their surprise, that both the king and the knave made a trick
against them. Here was a hole in the ballad! The actors all lost
their cue; some of them called me by name, others ran to look for
me; here is a fellow bawling as though his bellows would burst,
there stands another, muttering to himself about the devil, just
as if that reptile could stand upright in such a presence! The
archbishop, perceiving trouble and confusion to lord it behind
the scenes, asked what was the matter. At the sound of the
prelate's voice, a page, who was the fiddle of the piece, came to
the front and spoke thus: My lord archbishop, ladies, and
gentlemen! We are extremely sorry to inform you, as players, but
extremely glad, as men and Christians, that the King of Leon is
at present in no danger whatever of being taken prisoner by the
Moors: he has adopted effectual measures for the security of his
royal person; and to the royal person, as liberty avails little
without property, he has irrevocably attached the crown,
insignia, and robes. And a happy deliverance for himself and
Christendom! exclaimed the archbishop. He has done perfectly
right to escape from the enemies of our religion, and to burst
from the bonds in which their malice would have laid him. By this
time, probably, he has reached the confines of his kingdom, or
may have entered the capital. May no unlucky accident have
retarded him on his journey! And that the sin of none such may
lie heavy on my conscience, I beg leave very positively to make
my pleasure known, that he may proceed unmolested by any
interruption from this quarter; I should be highly mortified
indeed, if his majesty's pious endeavours were to be frustrated
by the slightest indignity from the ministers of that religion in
whose cause he labours and suffers. The prelate, having thus
declared his acquiescence in the motives of my flight, ordered my
part to be read, and the play to be resumed.


CH. XI. -- Continuation of Scipio's story.

As long as I had money in my purse, my landlord was cap in hand;
but the moment he began to suspect that the funds were low, he
became high and mighty, picked a German quarrel with me, and one
morning, before breakfast, begged it as a favour of me to march
out of his house. I followed his counsel as proudly as you
please, and betook me to a church belonging to the fathers of St
Dominic, where, while mass was performing, an old beggar accosted
me on the usual topic of alms. I dropped some small change into
his hat, which was truly the orphan's mite, saying at the same
time: My friend, remember in your prayers to mention a situation
for me; if your petition is heard with favour, it shall be all
the better for you; hearty thanks, and a handsome poundage!

At these words, the beggar surveyed me up and down from head to
foot, and answered in a grave tone: What place would you wish to
have? I should like, replied I, to be footman in some family
where I should do well. He inquired whether the matter pressed.
With all possible importunity, said I, for unless I have the good
luck to get settled very soon, the alternative will be horrible;
death by the gripe of absolute famine, or a livelihood in the
ranks of your fraternity. If the latter were, after all, to be
your lot, resumed he, it certainly would be rather hard upon you,
who have not been brought up to our habits of life; but, with a
little use and practice, you would prefer our condition to
service, which, partiality apart, is far less respectable than
the beggar's vocation. Nevertheless, since you like a menial
occupation better than leading a free and independent life like
me, you shall have a berth without more ado. Mean as my
appearance, is, you must not measure my power by it. Meet me here
at the same hour to-morrow.

I took care to keep the appointment. Though at the spot before
the time, I had not long to wait before the beggar joined me, and
told me to follow him. I did so. He led me to a cellar not far
from the church where he resided. We went in together; and
sitting down on a long bench, at least a hundred years the worse
for wear, the conversation took this turn on his part: A good
action, as the proverb says, always meets with its reward: you
gave me alms yesterday, and that has determined me to get you a
place, which shall be soon done, with a blessing on my
endeavours. I know an old Dominican, by name Father Alexis, a
holy monk, a ghostly confessor. I have the honour to do all his
little odd jobs, performing my task with so much discretion and
good faith, that he always lends his interest to me and my
friends. I have spoken to him about you, and in such terms as to
prepossess him in your favour. You may be introduced to his
reverence whenever you please.

There is not a moment to be lost, said I to the old beggar; let
us go to the good monk immediately. The mendicant agreed, and led
me by the arm to Father Alexis, whom we found in his room, hard
at work, writing spiritual letters. He broke off to talk with me.
As it was the wish of the mendicant, he would do all in his power
to serve me. Having learnt, pursued be, that Signor Balthasar
Velasquez is in want of a footboy, I wrote to him this morning on
your behalf; and he just sent me for answer, that he would take
you without further inquiry on my recommendation. This very day
you may call on him from me; he is one of my flock, and my very
good friend. Thereupon the monk preached to me for three quarters
of an hour on my moral and religious duties, and how to fulfil
them in conscience and honour. He enlarged principally on the
obligation of serving Velasquez with diligence and devotion; and
then assured me that he would take care and keep me in my place,
provided my master had no very material fault to find with me.

After having thanked the holy person for his goodness towards me,
I left the convent with the beggar, who told me that Signor
Balthasar Velasquez was an old woollen-draper, but with much
simplicity and good nature in his character. I doubt not, added
he, but you will be perfectly comfortable in his house. I begged
to know his place of residence, and repaired thither immediately,
after promising to make my gratitude manifest, as soon as I had
taken root in my new soil. I went into a large shop, where two
fashionable young apprentices were walking up and down,
practising new grimaces against the entrance of the next
customer. I inquired whether their master was at home, saying
that I wanted to speak with him from Father Alexis. At that
venerable name they shewed me into the counting-house, where
their principal was turning over the ledger. I made a low bow,
and coming up to him, Sir, said I, Father Alexis ordered me to
call here and offer myself as a servant to your honour. Ah! my
smart lad, answered he, you are heartily welcome. It is enough
that the holy man sent you; and I shall take you in preference to
three or four others who have been recommended. It is a clear
case; your wages begin from this day.

A very short time in the family convinced me that the head of it
was just such a man as he had been described, In point of
simplicity, be was everything that could be wished; so exquisite
a subject for imposition, that it seemed next to an impossibility
not to exercise my craft upon such a handle. He had been a
widower four years, and had two children, a son five-and-twenty,
and a daughter in her eleventh year. The girl, brought up by a
severe duenna, under the spiritual conduct of Father Alexis,
walked in the high road of virtue; but her brother, Gaspard
Velasquez, though no pains had been spared to make a good man of
him, picked out for himself all the vices of a young profligate.
Sometimes he stayed away from home two or three days together;
and if, on his return, his father ventured to remonstrate in the
least against his proceedings, Gaspard shut his mouth at once,
with a haughty toss of the head, and an impertinent answer.

Scipio, said the old man one day, my son is the plague of my
life. He is over head and ears in all kinds of debauchery: and
yet there is no accounting for it, since his education was by no
means neglected. I have given him the very best masters; and my
friend Father Alexis has done his utmost to train him up in the
way he should go; but there was no breaking him in; Master
Gaspard ran restive, and bolted into downright libertinism. You
may perhaps tell me, that I spared the rod and spoiled the child.
Quite otherwise! he was punished whenever the occasion seemed to
demand it; for, though good-tempered at bottom, I am not to be
played upon. I have even gone so far as to lock him up, but that
only made hint more headstrong than before. In short, he is one
of those impracticable beings, on whom good example, good advice,
and a good horsewhip, are equally thrown away. If ever he makes
any figure in the world, it must be by a miracle from heaven.

Though my heart was not grievously wrung by the sorrows of this
unhappy father, sympathy was expected from me, and I condoled
with him accordingly. How much to be pitied you are, sir! said I.
Virtues like yours deserved to have been handed down in your
progeny. The event is quite the reverse, my good lad, answered
he. Heaven heard my prayer, and gave me a son, but converted the
blessing into an affliction. Among other grounds of complaint
against Gaspard, I may tell you in confidence, there is one which
gives me a great deal of uneasiness; a vast longing to rob his
old father, which he too often finds the means of satisfying, in
spite of all my caution. Your predecessor played into his hands,
and was turned away in consequence. As for you, I flatter myself
that my son will never be able to tamper with your honesty. You
will take my side of the question; for doubtless Father Alexis
has given you your lesson on that head. You may rest assured of
that, said I; for a good long hour did his reverence lecture me
on doing your will and pleasure without let or hindrance; but I
can assure you, there was no need of his saying anything about
the matter. I feel within myself a sort of call to serve you
faithfully, and I promise to do it with a zeal beyond all the
temptations of the world to shake or lessen.

He who only hears one side is in danger of deciding partially.
Young Velasquez, a mixture of the fribble and the braggart,
concluding from the cut of my countenance that I was made up of
mortal frailty like my dear predecessor, drew me aside to a snug
corner, and there talked to me after this fashion. Now mind what
is said to you, my dear fellow; you may think I do not know that
you are set as a spy upon me by my father; but take especial care
how you proceed, for I can assure you most sincerely, that the
office is not without very considerable inconvenience to those
who undertake it. If ever I find that you tell tales out of
school, I will give you such a basting as you never had in your
life; but if you will make common cause with me, and a fool of my
father, you may buy golden returns of gratitude from your humble
servant. Do you wish me to deal with you upon the nail? You shall
go snacks in at that we can squeeze out of the old fellow. You
have only to take your choice: fall at once into the ranks either
of father or son; for neutrals will come worse off, where the
contending parties fight for their existence.

Sir, answered I, you make the shoe pinch very tight; it is self-
evident that there is nothing for me to do but to enlist under
your banners, though in my conscience it seems like a crying sin
to betray Signor Velasquez. That is no concern of yours, rejoined
Gaspard; he is an old hunks, who wants to keep me under his
thumb; a curmudgeon who refuses me the rights of nature, in
refusing to stand to the expenses and repairs of my pleasures;
for pleasures are the necessaries of life at five-and-twenty. It
is in this point of view that you must form your opinion of my
father. If that is the case, so be it, sir, said I; there is no
standing against so just a subject of complaint. I am quite at
your service to play second fiddle in all your laudable
enterprises; but let us take especial care to conceal our good
understanding, for fear your faithful, humble servant should be
kicked out of doors. It will not be amiss, in my poor opinion,
for you to affect an extreme antipathy against me: some good
round of abuse would have a very pretty effect; you need not be
nice; all the blackguard terms in the dictionary will come at
your call. Nay, a box on the ear now and then, or a kick on the
breech, will break no squares; on the contrary, the more you
express your thorough dislike, the more Signor Balthasar will pin
his faith upon my sleeve. My cue will be, apparently to avoid
speaking to you if possible. In waiting at table, I shall perform
my little attentions to you at arm's length; and whenever your
honour may happen to be called over the coals by the shopmen, you
must not take it amiss if I abuse you worse than a pick-pocket.

As plain as chalk from cheese! cried young Velasquez at this last
hint; this is admirable, my friend; at your early age, it is
uncommon to meet with such a talent for intrigue; I consider it
as a most happy omen for my purpose. With such a performer to
play up to me, I flatter myself the old codger will be pinched to
the bone and left penniless. You really carry your good opinion
of me beyond what my merit will justify, said I; some industry
may fall to my share, but not such exalted genius. But I shall do
my utmost; and if my honest endeavours fail, your candour most
find excuses for my imbecility.

It was not long before Gaspard had proof positive that I was to a
hair's breadth the very man he wanted; and the following was
precisely the first trick I played into his hand. Balthasar's
strong box was in the good man's chamber, by his bed-side, a sort
of oratory, with a prayer-book always lying upon it. Every time I
looked that way, my eyes glistened with hope and pleasure; my
heart chuckled over the very idea of what might happen: Fair,
sweet, cruel box, will you for ever be coy to my addresses? May I
never experience the heart-felt delight of possessing all your
charms for better, for worse? As I went into the room at
pleasure, and only Gaspard was warned off the premises, it
happened one day that I watched his father. The old gentleman,
fancying himself unobserved of human eye, after having opened his
treasury and closed it fast again, hid the key behind the
hangings. I took an accurate observation of the place, and
communicated the discovery to my young master, who said with an
improving hug: Ah! my dear Scipio, what glorious news you bring!
Our fortune is made, my dear fellow. I will furnish you with wax;
you shall take the impression of the key, and then our business
is done, There will be no difficulty in finding a benevolent
locksmith in Cordova, where, to do the place justice, there are
as many rogues as in any part of Spain.

Well! but why, said I to Gaspard, do you want a false key? We may
find our account in the proper one. Yes, answered he; but I am
afraid lest my father, through mistrust or whim, should take a
fancy to hiding it elsewhere; and the safest way is, to have one
of our own. I commended his precaution, and falling in with all
his principles, got ready for taking the impression of the key:
this was effected one morning early, while my old master was
paying a visit to Father Alexis, with whom he for the most part
held very long conferences. I did not stop here; but availed
myself of the key to open the strong box, wherein an ample range
of large and small bags threw me into the most delightful
perplexity imaginable. I did not know which to choose, there was
such a family likeness among them; nevertheless, as the fear of
being caught did not allow of any long deliberation, I laid
hands, haphazard, on the largest. Then, locking the box
carefully, and putting the key back again behind the hangings, I
got away out of the chamber with my booty, and hid it under my
bed, in a small closet where I lay.

Having performed this exploit so successfully, I ran back as fast
as my legs would carry me to young Velasquez, who was waiting at
a house where he had given me notice to meet him, and his delight
was extreme at the recital of what I had just done. He was so
fully satisfied with me, as to lavish caresses without number,
and to offer me thrice, in the fulness of his heart, half the
contents of the bag, which I did thrice refuse. No, no, sir, said
I, this first bag is yours and yours only; apply it to your own
uses and occasions. I shall return forth with to the strong box,
where, as our lucky stars have contrived it, there is money
enough for both of us. Accordingly, three days afterwards I
carried off a second bag, containing, like the first, five
hundred crowns, of which I would only handle the fourth part, let
Gaspard be as pressing as he pleased to force upon me a brotherly
division, share and share alike.

As soon as this young man found himself so flush of money, and
consequently in a condition to gratify his hankering after women
and play, he gave himself up entirely to the devices of his own
imagination; nay, his evil genius pursued him so far, as to make
him fall desperately in love with one of those female harpies,
who devour without remorse or intermission, and swallow up the
largest fortunes. His disbursements at her instigation were
frightful; and thus it became necessary for me to pay so many
visits to the strong box, that old Velasquez at length found out
he had been robbed. Scipio, said he one morning, I must give you
a piece of information; some one robs me, my friend; my strong
box has been opened; several bags have been taken out, that is a
certain fact. Whom ought I to accuse of this theft? or rather,
who else but my son can have committed it? Gaspard must have got
by stealth into my chamber, or else you yourself must have played
booty with him; for I am tempted to believe you are in league
with him, though to outward appearance you do not set up your
horses together. And yet I am unwilling to harbour that
suspicion, because Father Alexis undertook to answer for your
honesty. I gave him to understand that, by the blessing of heaven
on a good natural disposition, my neighbours' goods had no
temptation in my sight; and I so happily suited the action to the
lie, and the lie to the action, that my judge pronounced a
verdict of acquittal on the evidence of grimace and hypocrisy.

Accordingly the old man dropped the subject; but for all that,
there was a general misgiving in his breast, and it would
sometimes light upon me; taking precautions, therefore, against
our further attacks, he had a new lock put to his strong box and
always carried the key in his pocket By these means, an embargo
being laid on our traffic with the bags, we looked excessively
foolish, especially Gaspard, who, being unable any longer to keep
his nymph in her usual style, knew very well that he was likely
to be tossed out of her window. He had, however, invention enough
to devise an expedient for keeping his head above water a few
days longer, and that was neither more nor less than to get into
his clutches, in the form of a loan, my dividend on the joint
stock of the strong box. I refunded to the last farthing; and
this restitution, it is to be hoped, may be set off as an
anticipated act of justice to the old draper, in the person of
his heir.

The young man, having exhausted this scanty supply, and desperate
of any other, fell into a deep melancholy, and into ultimate
derangement. He no longer looked on his father in any other light
than as the bane of his life. His frenzy broke out into the most
dreadful projects; so that, without listening to the voice of
consanguinity or nature, the wretch conceived the impious design
of poisoning him. He was not content with making me privy to the
atrocious design, but even proposed to render me the instrument
of parricide. At the very thought, my blood ran cold within me.
Sir, said I, is it possible that you are so rejected of heaven as
to have formed this horrid plot? What! is it in your nature to
murder the author of your existence? Shall Spain, the favoured
abode of the Christian faith, bear witness to the commission of a
crime, at the first blush of which transatlantic savages would
recoil with horror? No, my dear master, added I, throwing myself
on my knees, no, you will not be guilty of an action which would
raise the hand of all mankind against you, and be overtaken by an
infamous punishment

I pressed many arguments beside on Gaspard, to dissuade him from
so fearful an enterprise. How the deuce I came by all the moral
and religious topics, which I brought to act against the fortress
of his despair, is more than I can account for; but it is certain
that I preached like a doctor of Salamanca, though a mere
stripling, born of a gipsy fortune-teller. And yet it was to no
purpose that I suggested the duty of communing with his own
better resolutions, and stoutly wrestling with the fiend, who was
lying in wait for his immortal soul; my pious eloquence was
dissipated into air. His head hung sullenly on his bosom, and his
tongue uttered no sound, in answer to all my mollifying
exhortations, so that there was every reason to conclude he would
not swerve from his purpose.

Hereupon, taking my own measures, I requested a private interview
with my old master; and being closeted with him, Sir, said I,
allow me to throw myself at your feet, and to implore your pity.
In pathetic accord with my moving accents, I prostrated myself
before him, with my face all bathed in tears. The merchant,
surprised at what he saw and heard, asked the cause of my
distress. Remorse of conscience and repentance, answered I; but
neither repentance nor remorse can ever wash out my guilt. I have
been weak enough to give ear to your son, and to be his
accomplice in robbing you. To this confession I added a sincere
acknowledgment of all that had happened, with the particulars of
my late conversation with Gaspard, whose design I laid open
without the least reserve.

Bad as was the opinion which old Velasquez entertained of his
son, he could scarcely believe his ears. Nevertheless, finding no
good reason to distrust the truth of my account, Scipio, said he,
raising me from the ground, where I had till now been prostrate
at his feet, I forgive you in consideration of the important
notice you have communicated. Gaspard! pursued he, raising his
voice up to the loudness of anguish, does Gaspard aim a blow at
my life! Ah l ungrateful son, unnatural monster! better thou
hadst never been born, or stifled at thy birth, than to have been
reared for the destruction of thy father! What plea, what object,
what palliation of the atrocious deed? I furnished thee annually
with a reasonable allowance for thy pleasures, and what wouldst
thou have more? Must I have drained my fortune to the dregs to
support thee in thy extravagance? Having vented his feelings in
this bitter apostrophe, he enjoined secrecy on me, and told me to
leave him alone, while be considered how to act in so delicate a
conjuncture.

I was very anxious to know what resolution this unhappy father
would take, when on that very day he sent for Gaspard, and
addressed hint thus without betraying the inward emotions of his
heart: My so; I have received a letter from Merida, purporting
that if you are disposed to marry, you may make a match with a
very fine girl of fifteen, with a handsome fortune in her pocket.
If you have not forsworn that happy and holy estate, we will set
out to-morrow morning by daybreak for Merida: you will see the
lady in question, and if she hits your fancy, the business may
soon be settled, Gaspard, pricking up his ears at a handsome
fortune, and already fingering the cash by anticipation, answered
unhesitatingly that he was ready to undertake the journey; and
accordingly they departed the following day at sun-rise, without
attendants, mounted on good mules.

Having reached the mountains of Fesira, in a delightful spot for
the operations of banditti, but terror-stirring to the timid
souls of travellers, Balthasar dismounted, and desired his son to
do likewise. The young man obeyed, but expressed his surprise at
such a requisition, in so lonely a place. I will tell you the
reason presently, answered the old man, darting at him a look of
mingled grief and anger: We are not going to Merida; and the
alleged courtship was only an invention of mine, for the purpose
of drawing you hither. I am not ignorant, ungrateful and
unnatural son, I am not uninformed of your meditated crime. I am
aware that a poison, prepared by your hands, was to have been
administered to me; but, mad as you are, could it enter into your
contemplation that my life could have been invaded with impunity
by such means? How fatally mistaken! Your crime would soon have
been detected, and you would have perished under the hands of the
executioner. There is a safer way of glutting your fell malice,
without exposing yourself to an ignominious death; we are here
without witnesses, and in a place where daily murders are
perpetrated; since you are so thirsty after my blood, plunge your
dagger into my bosom: the assassination will naturally be laid at
the door of some banditti. After these words, Balthasar, laying
his breast bare, and pointing to his heart, ended with this
challenge: Here, Gaspard, strike deep enough, strike home; make
me pay that forfeit for having engendered such a disgrace to
human nature, and no more than what is due to so monstrous a
production,

Young Velasquez, struck by this reproach as by a thunderbolt, far
from pleading in his own justification, fell instantly lifeless
at his father's feet. The good old man, hailing the germ of
repentance in this unfeigned testimony of shame, could not help
yielding to paternal weakness; he made all possible haste to give
his assistance; but Gaspard had no sooner recovered the use of
his senses, than unable to stand in the presence of a father so
justly offended, he made an effort to raise himself from the
ground, then sprang upon his mule, and galloped out of sight
without saying one word. Balthasar suffered him to take his own
course, and returned to Cordova, little doubting but conscience
would play its part in revenging his wrongs. Six months
afterwards it appeared that the culprit had thrown himself into
the Carthusian convent at Seville, there to pass the remnant of
his days in penance.


CH. XII. -- Conclusion of Scipio's story.

BAD example sometimes produces the converse of itself. The
behaviour of young Velasquez made me think seriously on my own
predicament. I began to wrestle with my thievish propensities,
and to live like one of the better sort. A confirmed habit of
pouncing upon money wherever I could get it, had been contracted
by such a long succession of individual acts, that it was no easy
matter to say where it should stop. And yet I was in hopes to
accomplish my own reformation, under the idea that to become
virtuous a man had nothing to do but to contract the desire of
being so. I therefore undertook this great work, and heaven
seemed to smile upon my efforts: I left off eyeing the old
draper's strong box with the carnal regard of avaricious longing:
nay, I verily believe, that if it had depended on my own will and
pleasure to have turned over the contents to my own use, I should
have abstained from the crime of picking and stealing. It must,
however, be admitted, that it would have been an unadvisable
measure to tempt my new-born integrity with meats too strong for
its stomach: and Velasquez was nurse enough to keep me on a
proper diet.

Don Manriquez de Medrano, a young gentleman, knight of Alcantara,
was in the habit of coming backwards and forwards to our house.
He was a customer, one of our principal in point of rank, if not
punctual in point of pay. I had the happiness to find favour with
this knight, who never met me without that sort of notice which
encouraged conversation, and with that conversation he appeared
always to be very much pleased. Scipio, said he, one day, if I
had a footman of your kidney, it would be as good as a fortune to
me, and if you were not in the service of a man who stands so
high in my regards, I should make no scruple about enticing you
away. Sir, answered I, you would have very little trouble in
succeeding; for I am distractedly partial to people of fashion;
it is my weak side; their free and easy manners fascinate me to
the extreme of folly. That being the case, replied Don Manriquez,
I will at once beg Signor Balthasar to turn you over from his
household to mine: he will scarcely refuse me such a request.
Accordingly Velasquez was kind and complying, with so much the
less violence to his own private feelings, as there seemed no
reason to think, that if a man parted with one knavish servant,
he might not easily get another in his place. To me the change
was all for the better, since a tradesman's service appeared but
a beggarly condition in comparison with the office of own man to
a knight of Alcantara.

To draw a faithful likeness of my new master, I must describe him
as a gentleman possessing every requisite of person, figure,
manners, and disposition. Nor was that all; for his courage and
honour were equal to his other qualities: the goods of fortune
were the only good things he wanted, but being the younger son of
a family more distinguished by descent than opulence, he was
obliged to draw for his expenses on an old aunt living at Toledo,
who loved him as her own child, and administered to his occasions
with affectionate liberality. He was always well dressed, and
everywhere well received. He visited the principal ladies in the
city, and among others the Marchioness of Almenara. She was a
widow of seventy-two, but the centre of attraction to all the
fashionable society of Cordova, by the elegance of her manners
and the sprightliness of her conversation: men as well as women
laid themselves out for an introduction, because her parties
conferred at once on the frequenters the patent of good company.

My master was one of that lady's most assiduous courtiers. After
leaving her one evening, his spirits seemed to be more elevated
than was natural to him. Sir, said I, you are evidently in a good
deal of agitation; may your faithful servant ask on what account?
Has anything happened out of the common way? The young gallant
smiled at so home a question, and owned candidly that he had just
been engaged in a serious conversation with the Marchioness of
Almenara. I will lay a wage; said I, laughing outright, that this
moppet of threescore and ten, this girl in her second childhood,
has been unfolding to you all the secret movements of a tender,
susceptible heart. Do not make a jest of it, answered he; for the
fact is, my friend, that the Marchioness is seriously in love
with me. She told me that the narrowness of my circumstances was
as well known to her as the nobility of my birth; that she had
taken a liking to me, and was determined to place me at my ease
by marriage, since she could not decently lay her fortune at my
feet on any other terms. That this marriage would expose her to
public ridicule, she professed to have considered; that scandal
would be busy at her expense; in short, that she should pass for
an old fool with an ambitious eye and a liquorish constitution.
No matter for that! She was not to be awed from the career of her
humour by quips and sentences: her only alarm was, lest I should
either make sport of her intentions, or torment her more
grievously by my aversion.

Such, continued the knight, was the substance of the
Marchioness's declaration, and I am the more astonished at it,
because she is the most prudent and sensible woman in Cordova;
wherefore I answered by expressing my surprise at her honouring
me with the offer of her hand, since she had hitherto persisted
in her resolution of remaining in a state of widowhood. To this
she replied, that having a considerable fortune, it would give
her pleasure to share it in her life-time with a man of honour to
whom she was attached. To all appearance then, rejoined I, you
have made up your mind to take a lover's leap. Can you doubt
about that? answered he. The Marchioness is immensely rich, with
excellent qualities both of head and heart. It would be the
extreme of folly and fastidiousness to let so advantageous a
settlement slip through my fingers.

I entirely approved my master's purpose of profiting by so fine
an opportunity to make his fortune, and even advised him to bring
the matter to a short issue, for fear of a change in the wind.
Happily the lady had the business more at heart than myself; her
orders were given so effectually, that the necessary forms and
ceremonies were soon got over. When it became known in Cordova
that the old Marchioness of Almenara was getting herself ready to
be the bride of young Don Manriquez de Medrano, the wits began
breaking their odd quirks and remnants in derision of the widow;
but though she heard her own detractions, she did not put them to
mending; the town might talk as they pleased; for when she said
she would die a widow, she did not think to live till she were
married. The wedding was solemnized with a publicity and
splendour which furnished fresh food for evil tongues. The bride,
said they, might at least have had the modesty to dispense with
noise and ostentation, so unbecoming in an old widow who marries
a young husband.

The Marchioness, far enough from yielding to the suggestions of
shame at her own inconsistency, or the disparity of their ages,
yielded herself up without constraint to the expression of the
most lively joy. She gave a grand concert and supper, with a ball
afterwards, and invited all the principal families in Cordova.
Just before the close of the ball, the new-married couple
disappeared, and were shewn to an apartment, where, with no other
witnesses but her own maid and myself she spoke to my master in
these terms: -- Don Manriquez, this is your apartment; mine is in
another part of the house: we will pass the night in separate
rooms, and will live together by day like mother and son. At
first the knight did not know what to make of this; he thought
that the lady was only trying his temper, as if her coldness must
be wooed to kindness, and her love, like her pardon, not
unsought, be won. Imagining, therefore, that good manners
required, at least, the shew of passion, he made his advances,
and offered, according to the laws of amorous suit enacted in
such cases, to assist in the disencumbering duties of her toilet;
but, so far from allowing him to interfere with the province of
her servant, she pushed him back with a serious air, saying:
Hold, Don Manriquez; if you take me for one of those sweet-
toothed old women who marry a second time from mere incontinence,
you do me a manifest injustice: my proposals were not fraught
with conditions of hard service as the tenure of our nuptial
contract; the gift of my heart was unmixed with sensual dross,
and your gratitude is only drawn upon for returns of pure and
platonic friendship. After this explanation, she left my master
and me in our apartment, and withdrew to her own with her
attendant, forbidding the bridegroom, in the most positive
manner, to attempt retiring with her.

After her departure, it was some time before we recovered from
our surprise at what we had just heard. Scipio, said my master,
could you ever have believed that the Marchioness would have
talked in such a strain? What think you of so philosophic a
bride? I think, sir, answered I, that she is a phoenix among the
brood of Hymen. It is for all the world like a good living
without parochial duties. For my part, replied Don Manriquez,
there is nothing so much to my taste as a wife of modest
pretensions; and I mean to make her amends for the trophy she has
raised to unadulterated esteem, by all the delicate attentions in
my power to pay. We kept up the subject of the lady's moderation
till it was full time to separate. My quarters were fixed in an
ante room with a book-case bedstead; my master's in an elegant
bed-chamber with every appurtenance except one: but however
necessary it might be to play the disappointed bridegroom, I am
much mistaken if in the bottom of his soul he was half so much
afraid of sleeping by himself as of being encumbered with a bed-
fellow.

The rejoicings began again on the following day, and the bride
was so jocund on the occasion, that the bolts of the fools among
her visitors were not soon shot. She was the first to laugh at
all their pointless jokes; nay, she even set the little wits to
work, by giving them an example of pleasantry, which they were
very little able to follow. The happy man, on his part, seemed to
be very little less happy than his partner; and one would have
sworn, judging by the glance of satisfaction which accompanied
his language and deportment, that he liked mutton better than
lamb. This well-matched pair had a second conversation in the
evening; and then it was decided that without interfering in the
least with one another, they should live together just on the
same footing as they had lived before marriage. At all events,
much credit must be given to Don Manriquez on one account: he
did, from delicate consideration towards his wife, what few
husbands would have done under his circumstances, for he
discarded a little sempstress of whom he was very fond, and who
was very fond of him, because he did not choose to keep up a
connection insulting to the feelings of a lady so studious of
his.

While he was furnishing such unusual testimonies of gratitude to
his elderly benefactress, she overpaid and doubly paid her debt
of obligation, even without diving into its nature or extent. She
gave him the master key of her strong box, which was better
provided than that of Velasquez. Though she had reduced her
establishment during widowhood, it was now replaced upon the same
footing as in the lifetime of her first husband; the complement
of household servants was enlarged, the stud and equipages were
in the very first style; in a word, by her generosity and
kindness, the most beggarly knight belonging to the order of
Alcantara became the most monied member of the fraternity. You
may perhaps be disposed to ask me, how much I was in pocket by
all that; and my answer is, fifty pistoles from my mistress, and
a hundred from my master, who, moreover, appointed me his
secretary, with a salary of four hundred crowns; nay, his
confidence was so unbounded, that I was fixed on to fill the
office of treasurer.

Treasurer! cried I, interrupting Scipio at the very idea, and
bursting into an immoderate fit of laughter. Yes, sir, replied
he, with a cool, unflinching seriousness; you are perfectly
right, treasurer was the word; and I may venture to say that the
duties of the office were executed without the slightest occasion
for a committee of inquiry. True it is that the balance may be
somewhat against me, for I was always in the habit of overdrawing
my wages; and as the firm was dissolved somewhat suddenly, it is
by no means impossible that the balance of my cash account might
be on the wrong side: but, at all events, it was my last slip;
and since that time my ways have been ways of uprightness and
honesty.

Thus was I, continued this son of a gipsy, secretary and
treasurer to Don Manriquez, who, to all appearance, was as happy
in me as I in him, when he received a letter from Toledo,
announcing that his aunt, Donna Theodora Moscoso, was on her last
legs. He was so much affected by the news, as to set out
instantly and pay his duty to that lady, who had been more than a
mother to him for several years. I attended him on the journey
with only two under-servants; we were all mounted on the best
horses in the stable, and reached Toledo without loss of time,
where we found Donna Theodora in a state to warrant our hopes
that she would not, at present, weigh anchor on her outward bound
voyage; and, in fact, our judgment on her case, though point
blank in contradiction to that of an old physician who attended
her, proved by the event that we knew at least as much of the
matter as he did.

While the health of our venerable relative was improving from day
to day, less, perhaps, from the effect of the prescriptions than
in consequence of her dear nephew's presence, your worthy friend
the treasurer passed his time in the pleasantest manner possible,
with some young people whose acquaintance was admirably
calculated to ventilate the confined cash in his pocket.
Sometimes they enticed me to the tennis-court, and took me in for
a game: on those occasions, not being quite so steady a player as
my master, Don Abel, I lost much oftener than I won. By degrees
play became a passion with me; and if the taste had been suffered
to gain complete possession, it would doubtless have laid me
under the necessity of drawing bills of accommodation on the
family bank; but happily love stepped in, and saved the credit
both of the bank and of my principles. One day, passing along
near the church of the Epiphany, I espied through a lattice with
the drapery drawn up, a young girl who might well be called a
thing divine, for nothing natural was ever seen so lovely. I
would lay on my compliment still thicker, if words were not
wanting to express the effect of her first appearance upon my
mind. I set my wits to work, and by dint of diligent inquiry,
learned that her name was Beatrice, and that she was waiting-maid
to Donna Julia, younger daughter of the Count de Polan.

Beatrice broke in upon the thread of Scipio's story by laughing
immoderately: then, directing her speech to my wife, Charming
Antonia, said she, do but just look at me, I beseech you, and
then say truly, whether I could be likened to a thing divine. You
might at that time, to my enamoured sight, said Scipio; and,
since your conjugal faith is no longer under a cloud, my visual
appetite increases by what it feeds on. It was a pretty
compliment! and my secretary, having fired it off, pursued his
narrative as follows.

This intelligence kindled the flame of passion within me; but
not, it must be confessed, a flame which could be acknowledged
without a blush. I took it for granted that my triumph over her
scruples would be easy if my biddings were high enough to command
the ordinary market of female chastity; but Beatrice was a pearl
beyond price. In vain did I solicit her, through the channel of
some intriguing gossips, with the offer of my purse and of my
most tender attentions; she rejected all my proposals with
disdain. I had recourse to the lover's last remedy, and offered
her my hand, which she deigned to accept on the strength of my
being secretary and treasurer to Don Manriquez. As it seemed
expedient to keep our marriage secret for some time, the ceremony
was performed privately, in presence of Dame Lorenza Sephora,
Seraphina's governess, and before some others of the Count de
Polan's household. After our happy union, Beatrice contrived the
means of our meeting by day, and passing some part of every night
together in the garden, whither I repaired through a little gate
of which she gave me a key. Never were man and wife better
pleased with each other than Beatrice and myself: with equal
impatience did we watch for the hour of our appointment; with
congenial emotions of eager sensibility did we hasten to the
spot, and the moments which we passed together, though countless
from their number in the calendar of cold indifference, to us
were few and fleeting, in comparison with that eternity of mutual
bliss for which we panted.

One night, a night which should be expunged from the almanac, a
night of darkness and despair, contrasted with the brightness of
all our former nights, I was surprised on approaching the garden,
to find the little gate open. This unusual circumstance alarmed
me; for it seemed to augur something inauspicious to my
happiness: I turned pale and trembled, as if with a foreknowledge
of what was going to happen. Advancing in the dark towards a
bower, where our private meetings had usually taken place, I
heard a man's voice. I stopped on the instant to listen, when the
following words struck like the sound of death upon my ear: Do
not keep me languishing in suspense, my dear Beatrice; make my
happiness complete, and consider that your own fortunes are
closely connected with mine. Instead of having patience to hear
further, it seemed as if more had been said than blood could
expiate; that devil, jealousy, took possession of my soul; I drew
my sword, and breathing only vengeance, rushed into the bower.
Ah! base seducer, cried I, whoever you are, you shall tear this
heart from out my breast, rather than touch my honour on its
tenderest point. With these words on my lips, I attacked the
gentleman who was talking with Beatrice. He stood upon his guard
without more ado, like a man much better acquainted with the
science of arms than myself, who had only received a few lessons
from a fencing-master at Cordova. And yet, strong as his sword-
arm was, I made a thrust which he could not parry, or what is
more likely, his foot slipped: I saw him fall; and fancying that
I had wounded him mortally, ran away as hard as my legs could
carry me, without deigning to answer Beatrice, who would have
called me back.

Yes, indeed! said Scipio's wife, resolved to have her share in
the development of the story; I called out for the purpose of
undeceiving him. The gentleman conversing with me in the arbour
was Don Ferdinand de Leyva. This nobleman, who was in love with
my mistress Julia, had laid a plan for running away with her,
from despair of being able to obtain her hand by any other means;
and I had myself made this assignation with him in the garden, to
concert measures for the elopement, and with his fortune he
assured me that my own was closely linked; but it was in vain
that I screamed after my husband; he darted from me as if my very
touch were contamination.

In such a state of mind, resumed Scipio, I was capable of
anything. Those who know by experience what jealousy is, into
what extravagance it drives the best-regulated spirits, will be
at no loss to conceive the disorder it must have produced in my
weak brain. I passed in a moment from one extreme to an other:
emotions of hatred succeeded instantaneously to all my former
sentiments of affection for my wife. I took an oath never to see
her more, and to banish her for ever from my memory. Besides, the
supposed death of a man lay upon my conscience; and under that
idea, I was afraid of falling into the hands of justice; so that
every torment which could be accumulated on the head of guilt and
misery by the fury of despair and the demon of remorse, was the
remediless companion of my wretched flight In this dreadful
situation, thinking only of my escape, I returned home no more,
but immediately quitted Toledo, with no other provision for my
journey but the clothes on my back. It is true, I had about sixty
pistoles in my pocket; a tolerable supply for a young man, whose
views in life pointed no higher than a good service.

I walked forward all night, or rather ran, for the phantom of an
alguazil always dogging me at the heels made me perform wonders
of pedestrian activity. The dawn overtook me between Rodillas and
Maqueda. When I was at the latter town, finding myself a little
weary, I went into the church which was just opened, and having
put up a short prayer, sat down on a bench to rest. I began
musing on the state of my affairs, which were sufficiently out at
elbows to require all my skill in patch-work, but the time for
reflection as well as for repentance were cut short. The church
echoed on a sudden with three or four smacks of a whip, which
made me conclude that some carrier was on the road. I immediately
got up to go and see whether I was right or wrong. At the door I
found a man, mounted on a mule, leading two others by the halter.
Stop, my friend, said I, whither are those two mules going? To
Madrid, answered he. I came hither with two good Dominicans, and
am now setting out on my return.

Such an opportunity of going to Madrid gave me an itching desire
for the expedition: I made my bargain with the muleteer, jumped
upon one of his mules, and away we scampered towards Ilescas,
where we were to put up for the night. Scarcely were we out of
Maqueda before the muleteer, a man from five-and-thirty to forty,
began chanting the church service with a most collegiate twang.
This trial of his lungs began with matins, in the drowsy tone of
a canon between asleep and awake; then he roared out the Belief;
alternately in contralto, tenor, and bass, in all the harmonious
confusion of high mass; and not content with that, he rang the
bell for vespers, without sparing me a single petition or so much
as a bar of the magnificat. Though the scoundrel almost cracked
the drum of my ear, I could not help laughing heartily; and even
egged him on to make the welkin reverberate with his hallelujahs,
when the anthem was suspended a few rests, for the necessary
purpose of supplying wind to the organ. Courage, my friend! said
I; go on and prosper. If heaven has given you a good capacious
throat, you are neither a niggard nor a perverter of its precious
boon. Oh! certainly not for the matter of that, cried he; happily
for my immortal soul, I am not like carriers in general, who sing
nothing but profane songs about love or drinking: I do not even
defile my lips with ballads on our wars against the Moors: such
subjects are at least light and unedifying, if not licentious and
impure. You have, replied I, an evangelical purity of heart which
belongs only to the elect among muleteers. With this excessive
squeamishness of yours about the choice of your music, have you
also taken a vow of continence, wherever there is a young bar-
maid to be picked up at an inn? Assuredly, rejoined he, chastity
is also a virtue by which it is my pride to ward off the
temptations of the road, where my only business is to look after
my mules. I was in no small degree astonished at such pious
sentiments from this prodigy of psalm-singing mule-drivers; so
that looking upon him as a man above the vanities and corruptions
of this nether world, I fell into chat with him after he had gone
the length of his tether in singing.

We got to Ilescas late in the day. On entering the inn-yard, I
left the care of the mules to my companion, and went into the
kitchen, where I ordered the landlord to get us a good supper,
which he promised to perform so much to my satisfaction, as to
make me remember all the days of my life what usage travellers
meet with at his house As, added he, now only ask your carrier
what sort of a man I am. By all the powers of seasoning! I would
defy the best cook in Madrid or Toledo to make an olio at all to
be compared to mine. I shall treat you this evening with some
stewed rabbit after a receipt of my own; you will then see
whether it is any boast to say that I know how to send up a
supper. Thereupon, shewing me a stew-pan with a young rabbit, as
he said, cut up into pieces: There, continued he, is what I mean
to favour you with. When I shall have thrown in a little pepper,
some salt, wine, a handful of sweet herbs, and a few other
ingredients which I keep for my own sauces, you may depend on
sitting down to such a dish as would not disgrace the table of a
chancellor or an archbishop.

The landlord, having thus done justice to his own merits, began
to work upon the materials he had prepared. While he was
labouring in his vocation, I went into a room, where lying down
on a sort of couch, I fell fast asleep through fatigue, having
taken no rest the night before, in the space of about two hours,
the muleteer came and awakened me, with the information that
supper was ready, and a pressing request to take my place at
table. The cloth was laid for two, and we sat down to the hashed
rabbit. I played my knife and fork most manfully, finding the
flavour delicious, whether from the force of hunger in
communicating a candid mode of interpretation to my palate, or
from the natural effect of the ingredients compounded by the
cook. A joint of roast mutton was next served up. It was
remarkable that the carrier only paid his respects to this last
article; and I asked him why he had not taken his share of the
other. He answered with a suppressed smile, that he was not fond
of made dishes. This reason, or rather the turn of countenance
with which it was alleged, seemed to imply more than was
expressed. You have not told me, said I, the real meaning of your
not eating the fricassee: do have the goodness to explain it at
once. Since you are so curious to be made acquainted with it,
replied he, I must own that I have an insuperable aversion to
cramming my stomach with meats in masquerade, since one evening
at an inn on the road between Toledo and Cuenзa, they served me
up, instead of a wild rabbit, a hash of tame cat; enough, of all
conscience, ever after to set my intestines in battle-array
against all minces, stews, and force-meats.

No sooner had the muleteer let me into this secret, than in spite
of the hunger which raged within me, my appetite left me
completely in the lurch. I conceived, in all the horrors of
extreme loathing, that I had been eating a cat dressed up as the
double of a rabbit; and the fricassee had no longer any power
over my senses, except by producing a strong inclination to
retch. My companion did not lessen my tendency that way, by
telling me that the inn-keepers in Spain, as well as the pastry-
cooks, were very much in the habit of making that substitution.
The drift of the conversation was, as you may perceive, very much
in the nature of a lenitive to my stomach; so much so, that I had
no mind to meddle any more with the dish of undefinables, nor
even to make an attack upon the roast meat, for fear the mutton
should have performed its duty by deputy as well as the rabbit. I
jumped up from table, cursing the cookery, the cook, and the
whole establishment; then, throwing myself down upon the sofa, I
passed the night with less nausea than might reasonably have been
expected. The day following with the dawn, after having paid the
reckoning with as princely an air as if we had been treated like
princes, away went I from Ilescas, bearing my faculties so
strongly impregnated with fricassee, that I took every animal
which crossed the road, of whatever species or dimensions, for a
cat.

We got to Madrid betimes, where I had no sooner settled with my
carrier than I hired a ready-furnished lodging near the Sun-gate.
My eyes, though accustomed to the great world, were nevertheless
dazzled by the concourse of nobility which was ordinarily seen in
the quarter of the court. I admired the prodigious number of
carriages, and the countless list of gentlemen, pages,
gentlemen's gentlemen, and plain, downright footmen in the train
of the grandees. My admiration exceeded all bounds, on going to
the king's levee, and beholding the monarch in the midst of his
court. The effect of the scene was enchanting, and I said to
myself, It is no wonder they should say that one must see the
court of Madrid to form an adequate idea of its magnificence: I
am delighted to have directed my course hither, and feel a sort
of prescience within me that I shall not come away without taking
fortune by surprise. I caught nothing napping, however, but my
own prudence, in making some thriftless, expensive acquaintance.
My money oozed away in the rapid thaw of my propriety and better
judgment, so that it became a measure of expedient degradation to
throw away my transcendent merit on a pedagogue of Salamanca,
whom some family lawsuit or other concern had brought to Madrid,
where he was born, and where chance, more whimsical than wise,
thrust me within the horizon of his knowledge. I became his right
hand, his prime principal agent; and dogged him at the heels to
the university when he returned thither.

My new employer went by the name of Don Ignacio de Ipigna. He
furnished himself with the handle of don, inasmuch as he had been
tutor to a nobleman of the first rank, who had recompensed his
early services with an annuity for life: he likewise derived a
snug little salary from his professorship in the university; and
in addition to all this, laid the public under a yearly
contribution of two or three hundred pistoles for books of
uninstructive morality, which he protruded from the press
periodically by weight and measure. The manner in which he worked
up the shreds and patches of his composition de serves a notice
somewhat more than cursory. The heavy hours of the forenoon were
spent in muzzing over Hebrew, Greek, and Latin authors, and in
writing down upon little squares of card every pithy sentence or
striking thought which occurred in the morning's reading.
According to the progress of this literary Pam, in winning tricks
from the ancients, he employed me to score up his honours in the
form of an Apollo's wreath: these metaphysical garlands were
strung upon wire, and each garland made a pocket volume. What an
execrable hash of wholesome viands did we cook up! The
commandments set at loggerheads with an utter confusion of
tables; Epicurean conclusions grafted on stoical premises! Tully
quoting Epictetus, and Seneca supporting his antitheses on the
authority of monkish rhyme! Scarcely a month elapsed without our
putting forth at least two volumes, so that the press was kept
continually groaning under the weight of our transgressions. What
seemed most extraordinary of all, was that these literary
larcenies were palmed upon the purchasers for spick and span new
wares, and if, by any strange and improbable chance, a thick-
headed critic should stumble with his noddle smack against some
palpable plagiarism, the author would plead guilty to the
indictment, and make a merit of serving up at second-hand

What Gellius or Stobaeus hash'd before,
Though chewed by blind old scholiasts o'er and o'er.

He was also a great commentator; and filled his notes chuck full
of so much erudition, as to multiply whole pages of discussion
upon what homely common-sense would have consigned to the brief
alternative of a query:

Disputes of Me or Te, or Aut at At,
To sound or sink in cano O or A,
Or give up Cicero to C or K.

As almost every author, ethical and didactic, from Hesiod down to
himself, took his turn to dangle on some one or other of our
manuscript garlands, it was impossible for me not to suck in
somewhat of sage nurture from so copious a stream of philosophy:
it would be rank ingratitude to shift off my obligation. My hand-
writing also became strictly and decidedly legible, by dint of
continual transcription; my estate was more that of a pupil than
of a servant, and my morals were not neglected, while my mind was
polished, and my faculties raised above their former level.
Scipio, he used to say, when he chanced to hear of any serving
lad with more cunning than honesty in his dealings, beware, my
good boy, how you take after the evil example of that graceless
villain. "The honour of a servant is his fidelity; his highest
virtues are submission and obedience. Be studious of thy master's
interests, be diligent in his affairs, and faithful to the trust
which he reposeth in thee. Thy time and thy labour belong unto
him. Defraud him not thereof; for he payeth thee for them." To
sum up all, Don Ignacio lost no opportunity of leading me on in
the path of virtue, and his prudent counsels sank so deep into my
heart, as to keep under anything like even the slightest wish of
playing him a rogue's trick during the fifteen months which I
spent in his service.

I have already mentioned that Doctor de Ipigna was a native of
Madrid. He had a relation there, by name Catalina, waiting-maid
to the lady who officiated as nurse to the heir-apparent. This
abigail, the same through whose intervention I got Signor de
Santillane released from the tower of Segovia, intent on
rendering a service to Don Ignacio, prevailed with her mistress
to petition the Duke of Lerma for some preferment. The minister
named him for the archdeaconry of Grenada, which, as a conquered
country, is in the king's gift. We repaired immediately to Madrid
on receiving the intelligence, as the doctor wished to thank his
patronesses before he took possession of his benefice. I had more
than one opportunity of seeing Catalina, and conversing with her.
The cheerful turn of my temper and a certain easy air of good
company were altogether to her taste; for my part, I found her so
much to my liking, that I could not help saying yes to the little
advances of partiality which she made in my favour: in short, we
got to feel very kindly towards each other. You must not write a
comment with your nails, my dear Beatrice, on this episode in the
romance of my amours, because I was firmly persuaded of your
inconstancy, and you will allow that heresy, though impious,
being also blind, my penance may reasonably be remitted on
sincere conversion.

In the mean time Doctor Ignacio was making ready to set out for
Grenada. His relation and myself, out of our wits at the
impending separation, had recourse to an expedient which rescued
us from its horrors: I shammed illness, complained of my head,
complained of my chest, and made a characteristic wry face for
every pain and ache in the catalogue of human infirmities. My
master called in a physician, who told me with a grave face,
after putting his questions in the usual course, that my
complaint was of a much more serious nature than might appear to
unprofessional observation, and that, according to all present
likelihood, I should keep my chamber a long time. The doctor,
impatient to take possession of his preferment, did not think it
quite so well to delay his departure, but chose rather to hire
another boy; he therefore contented himself with handing me over
to the care of a nurse, with whom he left a sum of money to bury
me if I should die, or to remunerate me for my services if I
should recover.
As soon as I knew Don Ignacio to be safe on the road for Grenada,
I was cured of all my maladies. I got up, made my final bow to
the physician who had evinced so thorough a knowledge of my ease,
and fairly turned my nurse out of doors, who made her retreat
good with baggage and ammunition, to the amount of more than half
the sum for which she ought to have accounted with me. While I
was enacting the sick man, Catalina was playing another part
about the person of her mistress, Donna Anna de Guйvra, into
whose conception having by dint of many a wordy process inserted
the notion, that I was the man of all others ready cut and dry
for an intrigue, she induced her to choose me for one of her
agents. The royal and most catholic nurse, whose genius for great
undertakings was either produced or exasperated by the love of
great possessions, having occasion for suitable ministers,
received me among her hangers-on, and lost no opportunity of
ascertaining how far I was for her purpose. She confided some
commissions to my ear; which, vanity apart, called for no little
address, and what they called for was ready at hand: accordingly,
she gave me all possible credit for the diligent execution of my
office, while my discontent swelled high against her for fobbing
me off with the cold recompense of approbation. The good lady was
so abominably avaricious, as not to give me a working partner's
share in the profits of my industry, nor to allow for the wear
and tear of my conscience. She seemed inclined to consider, that
by paying me my wages, all the requisitions of Christian charity
were made good between us. This excess of illiberal economy would
soon have parted us, had it not been for the fascination of
Catalina's gentle virtues, who became more desperately in love
with me from day to day, and completed the paroxysm by a formal
proposal of marriage.

Fair and softly, my pretty friend, said I: we must look before we
leap into that bottomless gulf: the first point to be settled is
to ascertain the death of a young woman, who obtained the refusal
before you, and made me supremely happy, for no other purpose but
to anticipate the purgatory of an intermediate state in the
present. All a mere sham, a put off! answered Catalina: you swear
you are married only by way of throwing a genteel veil over your
abhorrence of my person and manners. In vain did I call all the
powers to witness, that what I said was solemnly true: my sincere
avowal was considered as a mere copy of my countenance; the lady
was grievously offended, and changed her whole behaviour in
regard to me. There was no downright quarrel; but our tender
intercourse became visibly more rigid and unaccommodating, so
that nothing further took place between us but cold formality and
common-place attentions.

Just at the nick of time, I heard that Signor Gil Blas de
Santillane, secretary to the prime minister of the Spanish
monarchy, wanted a servant; and the situation was the more
flattering, as it bore the bell among all the vacancies of the
court register office. Signor de Santillane, they told me, was
one of the first men, high in favour with the Duke of Lerma, and
consequently in the direct road to fortune: his heart, too, was
cast in the mould of generosity: by doing his business, you most
assuredly did your own. The opportunity was too good to be
neglected I went and offered myself to Signor Gil Blas, to whom I
felt my heart grow from the first; for my sentiments were fixed
by the turn of his physiognomy. There could be no question about
leaving the royal and most catholic nurse for him; and it is to
be hoped, I shall never have any other master.

Here ended Scipio's story. But he continued speaking, and
addressed himself to me. Signor de Santillane, do me the favour
to assure those ladies that you have always known me for a
faithful and zealous servant. Your testimony will stand me in
good stead, and vouch for a sincere reformation in the son of
Coselina.

Yes, ladies, said I, it is even so. Though Scipio in his
childhood was a very scape-grace, he has been born anew, and is
now the exact model of a trusty domestic. Far from having any
complaints to make against him, my debt is infinite. On the fatal
night when I was earned off to the tower of Segovia, he saved my
effects from pillage, and refunded what he might have taken to
himself with impunity: not contented with rescuing my worldly
pelf, he came out of pure friendship and shut himself up with me
in my prison, preferring the melancholy sympathies of adverse
fortune to all the charms of lusty, buoyant liberty.




 

 

 





BOOK THE ELEVENTH.



CH. I. -- Containing the subject of the greatest joy that Gil
Blas ever felt, followed up, as our greatest pleasures too
generally are, by the most melancholy event of his life. Great
changes at court, producing, among other important revolutions,
the return of Santillane.

I HAVE observed already that Antonia and Beatrice understood one
another perfectly well; the latter falling meekly and modestly
into the trammels of an humble attendant on her lady, and the
former taking very kindly to the rank of a mistress and superior.
Scipio and myself were husbands too rich in nature's gifts and in
the affections of our spouses, not very soon to have the
satisfaction of becoming fathers: our lasses were as women wish
to be who love their lords, almost at the same moment. Beatrice's
time was up first: she was safely delivered of a daughter; and in
a few days afterwards Antonia completed the general joy, by
presenting me with a son. I sent my secretary to Valencia with
the welcome tidings: the governor came to Lirias with Seraphina
and the Marchioness de Pliego, to be present at the baptismal
ceremony; for he made it his pleasure to add this testimony of
affection to all his former kindnesses. As that nobleman stood
godfather, and the Marchioness godmother to my son, he was named
Alphonse; and the governor's lady, wishing to draw the bonds of
sponsorship still closer in this friendly party, stood for
Scipio's daughter, to whom we gave the name of Seraphina.

The rejoicings at the birth of my son were not confined to the
mansion-house; the villagers of Lirias celebrated the event by
festivities, which were meant as a grateful token, to prove how
much the little neighbourhood partook in all the satisfactions of
their landlord. But, alas! our carousals were of short
continuance; or, to speak more suitably to the subject, they were
turned into weeping, wailing, and lamentation, by a catastrophe
which more than twenty years have not been sufficient to blot
from my memory, nor will future time, however distant, make me
think of it but with the bitterest retrospect. My son died; and
his mother, though perfectly recovered from her confinement, very
soon followed him: a violent fever carried off my dear wife,
after we had been married fourteen months. Let the reader
conceive, if he is equal to the task, the grief with which I was
overwhelmed: I fell into a stupid insensibility; and felt my loss
so severely, as to seem not to feel it at all. I remained in this
condition for five or six days, in an obstinate determination to
take no nourishment; and I verily believe that, had it not been
for Scipio, I should either have starved myself, or my heart
would have burst; but my secretary, well knowing how to
accommodate himself to the turnings and windings of the human
heart, contrived to cheat my sorrows by fitting in with their
tone and tenor: he was artful enough to reconcile me to the duty
of taking food, by serving up soups and lighter fare with so
disconsolate an arrangement of features that it looked as if he
urged me to the revolting employment, not so much to preserve my
life, as to perpetuate and render immortal my affliction.

This affectionate servant wrote to Don Alphonso, to let him know
of the misfortune which had happened to me, and my lamentable
condition in consequence. That tender-hearted and compassionate
nobleman, that generous friend, very soon repaired to Lirias. I
cannot recall the moment when he first presented himself to my
view without even now being sensibly affected. My dear
Santillane, said he, embracing me, I am not come to offer you
impertinent consolation; but to weep over Antonia with you, as
you would have wept with me over Seraphina, had the hand of death
snatched her from me. In good truth, his tears bore testimony to
his sincerity, and his sighs were blended with mine in the most
friendly sympathy. Though overwhelmed with my affliction, I felt
in the most lively manner the kindness of Don Alphonso.

The governor had a long conversation with Scipio respecting the
measures to be taken for overcoming my despair. They judged it
best to remove me for some time from Lirias, where every object
incessantly brought back to my mind the image of Antonia. On this
account the son of Don Caesar proposed carrying me back with him
to Valencia; and my secretary seconded the plan with so many
unanswerable arguments, that I made no further opposition. I left
Scipio and his wife on my estate, where my longer stay could have
produced no other effect but that of aggravating and enhancing
all my sorrows, and took my own departure with the governor. On
my arrival at Valencia, Don Caesar and his daughter-in-law spared
no exertions to divert my sorrows from perpetual brooding; they
plied me alternately with every sort of amusement, the most
proper to turn the current of my thoughts to passing objects;
but, in spite of all their pains, I remained plunged in
melancholy, whence they were incompetent to draw me out. Nor was
it for want of Scipio's kind attentions that my peace of mind was
still so hopeless: he was continually going back and fore between
Lirias and Valencia to inquire after me; and his journey home was
cheerful or gloomy, in proportion as he found more or less
disposition in me to listen to the words of comfort, and to
reward the affectionate solicitude of my friends.

He came one morning into my room. Sir, said he, with a great deal
of agitation in his manner, a report is current about town, in
which the whole monarchy is deeply interested it is said that
Philip the Third has departed this life, and that the prince, his
son, is actually seated on the throne. To this it is added, that
the cardinal Duke of Lerma has lost the premiership, that he is
even forbidden to appear at court, and that Don Gaspard de
Guzman, Count of Olivarez, is actually at the head of the
administration. I felt a little agitated by this sudden change,
without knowing why. Scipio caught at this manifestation, and
asked whether the veering of the wind in the political horizon
might not blow me some good. How is that possible? What good can
it blow me, my worthy friend? answered I. The court and I have
shaken hands once for all: the revolutions which may take place
there are all alike indifferent to me.

For a man at your time of life, replied that cunning son of a
diviner, you are uncommonly mortified to all the uses of this
world. Under your circumstances my curiosity would be all alive;
I should go to Madrid and show my face to the young monarch, just
to see whether he would recollect it, merely for the amusement of
the thing. I understand you, said I; you would have me return to
court and try my fortune again, or rather you would plunge me
back into the gulf of avarice and ambition. Why should such
baleful passions any more take possession of your breast?
rejoined Scipio. Do not so much play the calumniator on your own
virtue. I will answer for your firmness to yourself. The sound
moral reflections which your disgrace has occasioned you to make
on the vanities of a court life, are a sufficient security
against all the dangers to be feared from that quarter. Embark
boldly once again upon an ocean where are acquainted with every
shoal and rock in the dangerous navigation. Hold your tongue, you
flatterer, said I, with a smile of no very positive
discouragement; are you weary of seeing me lead a retired and
tranquil life? I thought my repose had been more dear to you.

Just at this period of our conversation, Don Caesar and his son
came in. They confirmed the news of the king's death, as well as
the Duke of Lerma's misfortune. It appeared, moreover, that this
minister, having requested permission to retire to Rome, had not
been able to obtain it, but was ordered to confine himself to his
marquisate at Denia. On this, as if they had been in league with
my secretary, they advised me to go to Madrid and offer my
congratulations to the new king, as one of his former
acquaintances, with the merit of having rendered him even such
services, as the great are apt to reward more willingly than some
which are performed with cleaner hands. For my part, said Don
Alphonso, I have no doubt but they will be liberally
acknowledged. Philip the Fourth is bound in honour to pay the
Prince of Spain's debts. I consider the affair just in the same
light as you do, said Don Caesar; and Santillane's visit to court
will doubtless prove the occasion of his arriving at the very
first employments.

In good truth, my noble friends, exclaimed I, you do not consider
what you are talking about. It should seem, were one to give ear
to the soothing words of you both, as if I had nothing to do but
to shew my face at Madrid, and receive the key of office, or some
foreign government for my pains; but you are egregiously
mistaken. I am, on the contrary, well persuaded that the king
would pass me over as a stranger, were I to throw myself in his
way. I will make the experiment if you wish it, merely for the
sake of undeceiving you. The lords of Leyva took me at my word,
so that I could not help promising them to set out without loss
of time for Madrid. No sooner did my secretary perceive my mind
fully made up to the prosecution of this journey, than his
ecstasies were wound up to the highest pitch: he was satisfied
within himself that if I did but present my excellent person
before the new monarch, he would immediately single me out from
the crowd of political candidates, and weigh me down under a load
of dignities and emoluments. On the strength of these
conjectures, puffing himself out and amusing his fancy with the
most splendid extravagances of device, he raised me up to the
first offices of the state, and pushed forward his own preferment
in the path of my exaltation.

I therefore made my arrangements for returning to court, without
the most distant intention of again sacrificing at the shrine of
fortune, but merely to convince Don Caesar and his son of their
error, in imagining that I was at all likely to ingratiate myself
with the sovereign. It is true that there was some little lurking
vanity at the bottom of all my philosophy, sprouting up in the
shape of a desire to ascertain whether my royal master would
throw away a thought on me, now in the spring time of his new and
blushing honours. Led out of that course solely by that tempter,
curiosity, without a dream of hope, or any practical contrivance
for tuning the new reign to my own individual advantage, I set
out for Madrid with Scipio, consigning the management of my
household to Beatrice, who was well skilled in all the arts of
domestic economy.


CH. II. -- Gil Blas arrives in Madrid, and makes his appearance
at court: the king is blessed with a better memory than most of
his courtiers, and recommends him to the notice of his prime
minister. Consequences of that recommendation.

WE got to Madrid in less than eight days, Don Alphonso having
given us two of his best horses, that we might lose no time on
the road. We alighted at a ready-furnished lodging, where I had
lived formerly, kept by Vincent Ferrero, my old landlord, who was
uncommonly glad to see me again.

As this man prided himself on being in the secret of whatever was
going forward either in court or city, I asked him after the best
news. There is plenty of it, whether best or worst, answered he.
Since the death of Philip the Third, the friends and partisans of
the Cardinal Duke of Lerma have been moving heaven and earth to
support his Eminence on the pinnacle of ministerial authority,
but their efforts have been ineffectual: the Count of Olivarez
has carried the day, in spite of all their industry. It is
alleged that Spain will be no loser by the exchange, and that the
present premier is possessed of a genius so extensive, a mind so
capacious, that he would be competent to wield the machine of
universal government. New brooms, they say, sweep clean! But, at
all events, you may take this for certain, that the public is
fully impressed with a very favourable opinion of his capacity:
we shall see by and by whether the Duke of Lerma's situation is
well or ill filled up. Ferrero, having got his tongue into the
right train for wagging, gave me all the particulars of all the
changes which had taken place at court since the Count of
Olivarez had taken his seat at the helm of the state vessel.

Two days after my arrival at Madrid, I repaired to the royal
palace after my dinner, and threw myself in the king's way as he
was crossing the lobby to his closet; but his notice was not at
all attracted by my appearance. Next day, I returned to the same
place, but with no better success. On the third day he looked me
full in the face as he passed by, but the stare was perfectly
vacant, as far as my interest or my vanity was concerned. This
being the case, I resolved in my own mind what was proper to be
done: You see, said I to Scipio, who accompanied me, that the
king is grown out of my recollection; or if his memory is not
become more frail with the elevation of his circumstances, he has
some private reasons for not choosing to renew the acquaintance.
I think we cannot do better than make our way back as fast as
possible for Valencia. Let us not be in too great a hurry for
that, sir, answered my secretary: you know better than myself,
having served a long apprenticeship, that there is no getting on
at court without patience and perseverance. Be indefatigable in
exhibiting your person to the prince's regards: by dint of
forcing yourself on his observation, you will oblige him to ask
himself the question who this assiduous frequenter of his haunts
can possibly be, when memory must come to his aid, and trace the
features of his cheapener in the purchase of the lovely
Catalina's good graces.

That Scipio might have nothing to reproach me with, I so far lent
myself to his wishes as to continue the same proceeding for the
space of three weeks; when at length it happened one day that the
monarch, noticing the frequency of my appearance, sent for me
into his presence. I went into the closet, not without some
perturbation of mind at the idea of a private interview with my
sovereign. Who are you? said he: your features are not altogether
strange to me. Where have I seen you? Please your majesty,
answered I trembling, I had the honour of escorting you one night
with the Count of Lemos to the house of . . . . Ah! I recollect
it perfectly, cried the prince, as if a sudden light had broke in
upon him: you were the Duke of Lerma's secretary; and if I am not
mistaken, your name is Santillane. I have not forgotten that on
the occasion alluded to you served me with a most commendable
zeal, but received a left-handed recompense for your exertions.
Did you not get into prison at the conclusion of the adventure?
Yes, please your majesty, replied I: my confinement in the tower
of Segovia lasted six months; but your goodness was exercised in
procuring my release. That, replied he, does not cancel my debt
to my faithful servant Santillane: it is not enough to have
restored him to liberty, for I ought to make him ample amends for
the evils which he has suffered on the score of his alacrity in
my concerns.

Just as the prince was uttering these words, the Count of
Olivarez came into the closet. The nerves of favourites are
shaken by every breath, their irritability excited by every
trifle: he was as much astonished as any favourite need be at the
sight of a stranger in that place, and the king redoubled his
wondering propensities by the following recommendation -- Count,
I consign this young man to your care, employ him, and let me
find that you provide for his advancement. The minister affected
to receive this order with the most gracious acquiescence, but
looked me over from head to foot, with a glance from the corner
of his eye, and was on tenter-hooks to find out who had been so
strangely saddled upon him. Go, my friend, added the sovereign,
addressing himself to me, and waving his hand for me to withdraw;
the count will not fail to avail himself of your services in a
manner the most conducive to the interests of my government, and
the establishment of your own fortunes.

I immediately went out of the closet and made the best of my way
to the son of Coselina, who, being overrun with impatience to
inquire what the king had been talking about, fumbled at his
fingers' ends, and was all over in an agitation. His first
question was, whether we were to return to Valencia or become a
part of the court. You shall form your own conclusions, answered
I; at the same time delighting him with an account word for word
of the little conversation I had just held with the monarch. My
dear master, said Scipio at once in the excess of his joy, will
you take me for your almanac-maker another time? You must
acknowledge that we were not in the wrong! the lords of Leyva and
myself have our eye-teeth about us! a journey to Madrid was the
only measure to be adopted in such a case. Already I anticipate
your appointment to an eminent post: you will turn out to be some
time or other a Calderona to the Count of Olivarez. That is by no
means the object of my ambition, observed I in return; the
employment is placed on too rugged an eminence to excite any
longings in my mind. I could wish for a good situation where
there could be no inducement to do what might go against my
conscience, and where the favours of my prince are not likely to
be bartered away for filthy lucre. Having experienced my own
unfitness for the possession of patronage, I cannot be
sufficiently on my guard against the inroads of avarice and
ambition. Never think about that, sir! replied my secretary, the
minister will give you some handsome appointment, which you may
fill without any impeachment of your integrity or independence.

Induced more by Scipio's importunity than my own curiosity, I
repaired the following day before sunrise to the residence of the
Count d'Olivarez, having been informed that every morning,
whether in summer or winter, he gave audience by candlelight to
all comers. I ensconced myself modestly in a corner of the
saloon, and from my lurking-place took especial notice of the
count when he made his appearance; for I had marked his person
but cursorily in the king's closet. He was above the middle
stature, and might pass for fat in a country where it is a rarity
to see any but lean subjects. His shoulders were so high, as to
look exactly as if he was hump-backed, but appearances were
slanderous; for his blade-bones, though inelegant, were a pair;
his head, which was large enough to he capacious, dropped down
upon his chest by the unwieldiness of its own weight; his hair
was black and unconscious of a curl, his face lengthened, his
complexion olive-coloured, his mouth retiring inwards, with the
sharp-pointed, turn-up chin of a pantaloon.

This whole arrangement of structure and symmetry did not exactly
make up the complete model of a nobleman according to the ideas
of ancient art; nevertheless, as I believed him to be in a temper
of mind favourable to the gratification of my wishes, I looked at
his defects with an indulgent eye, and found him a man very much
to my satisfaction. One of the best points about him was, that he
received the public at large with the utmost affability and
complacency, holding out his hand for petitions with as much good
humour as if he were the person to be obliged, and this was a
sufficient set-off against anything untoward in the expression of
his countenance. In the mean time, when in my turn I came forward
to pay my respects and make myself known to him, he darted at me
a glance of rude dislike and frightful menace; then turning his
back, without condescending to give me audience, retired into his
closet. Then it was that the ugliness of this nobleman's features
appeared in all the extravagance of caricature: so that I made
the best of my way out of the saloon, thunder-struck at so savage
a reception, and quite at a loss how to conjecture what might be
the consequence.

Having got back to Scipio, who was waiting for me at the door --
Can you guess at all, said I, what sort of a greeting mine was?
No, answered he, not as to the minute particulars; but with
respect to the substance, easily enough: the minister, ready upon
all occasions to fall in with the fancies of his royal master,
must of course have made you a handsome offer of an ostensible
and lucrative situation. That is all you know about the matter,
replied I; and then went on to acquaint him circumstantially with
all that passed. He listened to me with serious attention, and
then said -- The count could not have recollected your person; or
rather, he must have been deceived by a fortuitous resemblance
between you and some impertinent suitor. I would advise you to
try another interview; I will lay a wager he will look on you
more kindly. I adopted my secretary's suggestion, and stood for a
second time in the presence of the minister; but he, behaving to
me still worse than at first, puckered up his features the moment
my unlucky countenance came within his ken, just as if it was
connected with some lodged hate and certain loathing, which of
force swayed him to offend, himself being offended; after this
significant demonstration, he turned away his glaring eyeballs,
and withdrew without uttering a word.

I was stung to the quick by so hostile a treatment, and in a
humour to set out immediately on my return to Valencia; but to
that project Scipio uniformly opposed his steady objections, not
knowing how for the life of him to part with those flattering
hopes which fancy had engendered in his brain. Do you not see
plainly, said I, that the count wishes to drive me away from
court? The monarch has testified in his presence some sort of
favourable intention towards me, and is not that enough to draw
down upon me the thorough hatred of the monarch's favourite? Let
us drive before the wind, my good comrade; let us make up our
minds to put quietly into port, and leave the open sea and the
honours of the flag in the possession of an enemy with whom we
are too feeble to contend. Sir, answered he, in high resentment
against the Count of Olivarez, I would not strike so easily. I
would go and complain to the king of the contempt in which his
minister held his recommendation. Bad advice, indeed, my friend,
said I; to take so imprudent a step as that, would soon bring
bitter repentance in the train of its consequences. I do not even
know whether it is safe for me to remain any longer in this town.

At this hint, my secretary communed a little with his own
thoughts; and, considering that in point of fact we had to do
with a man who kept the key of the tower of Segovia in his
pocket, my fears became naturalized in his breast. He no longer
opposed my earnest desire of leaving Madrid, and I determined to
take my measures accordingly on the very next day.


CH. III. -- The project of retirement is prevented, and Joseph
Navarro brought upon the stage again, by an act of signal
service.

ON my way home to my lodgings I met Joseph Navarro, whom the
render will recollect as on the establishment of Don Balthasar de
Zuniga, and one of my old friends. I made my bow first at a
distance, then went up to him, and asked whether he knew me
again, and if he would still be so good as to speak to a wretch
who had repaid his friendship with ingratitude. You acknowledge
then, said he, that you have not behaved very handsomely by me?
Yes, answered I; and you are fully justified in laying on your
reproaches thick and threefold: I deserve them all, unless indeed
my guilt may be thought to have been atoned by the remorse of
conscience attendant on it. Since you have repented of your
misconduct, replied Navarro, embracing me, I ought no longer to
hold it its remembrance. For my part, I knew not how to hug
Joseph close enough in my arms; and we both of us resumed our
original kind feelings towards one another.

He had heard of my imprisonment and the derangement of my
affairs; but of what followed he was totally ignorant I informed
him of it; relating word for word my conversation with the king,
without suppressing the minister's late ungracious reception of
me, any more than my present purpose of retiring into my
favourite obscurity. Beware of removing from the scene of action,
said he: since the sovereign has shown a disposition to befriend
you, there are always uses to be made of such a circumstance.
Between ourselves, the Count of Olivarez has something rather
unaccountable in his character: he is a very good sort of
nobleman, but rather whimsical withal: sometimes, as on the
present occasion, he acts in a most offensive manner, and none
but himself can furnish a clue to disentangle the intricate
thread of his motives and their results. But however this may be,
or whatever reasons might have swayed him to give you so scurvy a
reception, keep your footing here, and do not budge; he will not
be able to hinder you from thriving under the royal shelter and
protection; take my word for that! I will just give a hint upon
the subject this evening to Signor Don Balthasar de Zuniga, my
master; he is uncle to the Count of Olivarez, and shares with him
in the toils and cares of office. Navarro having given me this
assurance, inquired where I lived, and then we parted.

It was not long before we met again; for he came to call on me
the very next day. Signor de Santillane, said he, you are not
without a protector; my master will lend you his powerful
support: on the strength of the good character which I have given
your lordship, he has promised to speak to his nephew, the Count
of Olivarez, in your behalf; and I doubt not but he will
effectually prepossess him in your favour. My friend Navarro not
meaning to serve me by halves, introduced me two days afterwards
to Don Balthasar, who said with a gracious air: Signor de
Santillane, your friend Joseph has pronounced your panegyric in
terms which have won me over completely to your interest. I made
a low obeisance to Signor de Zuniga, and answered, that to the
latest period of my life I should entertain the most lively sense
of my obligation to Navarro, for having secured to me the
protection of a minister, who was considered, and that for the
best reasons possible, as the presiding genius, the greater
luminary, or, as it were, the eye and mind of the ministerial
council. Don Balthasar, at this unexpected stroke of flattery,
clapped me on the shoulder with an approving chuckle, and
returned my compliment by a more significant intimation: You may
call on the Count of Olivarez again to-morrow, and then you will
have more reason to be pleased with him.

For the third time, therefore, did I make my appearance before
the prime minister, who, picking me out from among the mob of
suitors, cast upon me a look conveying with it a simper of
welcome, from which I ventured to draw a good omen. This is all
as it should be, said I to myself; the uncle has brought the
nephew to his proper bearings. I no longer anticipated any other
than a favourable reception, and my confidence was fully
justified. The count, after having given audience to the
promiscuous crowd, took me with him into his closet, and said
with a familiar address: My friend Santillane, you must excuse
the little disquietude I have occasioned you merely for my own
amusement; it was done in sport, though it was death to you, for
the sole purpose of practising on your discretion, and observing
to what measures your disgust and disappointment would incite
you. Doubtless you must have concluded that your services were
displeasing to me; but on the contrary, my good fellow, I must
confess frankly, that, as far as appears at present, you are
perfectly to my mind. Though the king my master had not enjoined
me to take charge of your fortunes, I should have done so of my
own free choice. Besides, my uncle, Don Balthasar de Zuniga, to
whom I can refuse nothing, has requested me to consider you as a
man for whom he particularly interests himself: that alone would
be enough to fix my confidence in you, and make me most sincerely
your friend.

This outset of my career produced so lively an impression on my
feelings, that they became unintelligibly tumultuous. I threw
myself at the minister's feet, who insisted on my rising
immediately, and then went on to the following effect: Return
hither to-day after dinner, and ask for my steward: he will
acquaint you with the orders which I shall have given him. With
these words his excellency broke up the conference to hear mass,
according to his constant custom every day after giving audience:
he then attended the king's levee.


CH. IV. -- Gil Blas ingratiates himself with the Count of
Olivarez.

I DID not fail returning after dinner to the prime minister's
house, and asking for his steward, whose name was Don Raymond
Caporis. No sooner had I made myself known, than paying his
civilities to me in the most respectful manner, Sir, said he,
follow me if you please: I am to do myself the honour of shewing
you the way to the apartment which is ordered for you in this
family. Having spoken thus, he led me up a narrow staircase to a
gallery communicating with five or six rooms, which composed the
second story belonging to one wing of the house, and were
furnished neatly, but without ostentation. You behold, resumed
he, the lodging assigned you by his lordship, where you will
always have a table of six persons, kept at his expense. You will
be waited on by his own servants; and there will always be a
carriage at your command. But that is not all: his excellency
insisted on it in the most pointed manner, that you should be
treated in every respect with the same attention as if you
belonged to the house of Guzman.

What the devil is the meaning of all this? said I within myself.
What construction ought I to put upon all these honours? Is there
not some humorous prank at the bottom of it? and must it not be
more in the way of diversion than anything else, that the
minister is flattering me up with so imposing an establishment!
While I was ruminating in this uncertainty, fluctuating betweea
hope and fear, a page came to let me know that the count was
asking for me. I waited instantly on his lordship, who was quite
alone in his closet. Well! Santillane, said he, are you satisfied
with your rooms, and with my orders to Don Raymond? Your
excellency's liberality, answered I, seems out of all proportion
with its object; so that I receive it with fear and trembling.
Why so? replied he. Can I be too lavish of distinction to a man
whom the king has committed to my care, and for whose interests
he especially commanded me to provide? No, that is impossible;
and I do no more than my duty in placing you on a footing of
respectability and consequence. No longer, therefore, let what I
do for you he a subject of surprise; but rely on it that
splendour in the eye of the world, and the solid advantages of
accumulating wealth, are equally with in your grasp, if you do
but attach yourself as faithfully to me as you did to the Duke of
Lerma.

But now that we are on the subject of that nobleman, continued
he, it is said that you lived on terms of personal intimacy with
him. I have a strong curiosity to lean the circumstances which
led to your first acquaintance, as well as in what department you
acted under him. Do not disguise or gloss over the slightest
particular, for I shall not be satisfied without a full, true,
and circumstantial recital. Then it was that I recollected in
what an embarrassing predicament I stood with the Duke of Lerma
on a similar occasion, and by what line of conduct I extricated
myself; that same course I adopted once again with the happiest
success; whereby the reader is to understand that throughout my
narrative I softened down the passages likely to give umbrage to
my patron, and glanced with a superficial delicacy over
transactions which would have reflected but little lustre on my
own character. I likewise manifested a considerate tenderness for
the Duke of Lerma; though by giving that fallen favourite no
quarter, I should better have consulted the taste of him whom I
wished to please. As for Don Rodrigo de Calderona, there I laid
about me with the religious fury of a bishop in a battle. I
brought together, and displayed in the most glaring colours, all
the anecdotes I had been able to pick up respecting his corrupt
practices and underhand dealing in the sale of promotions,
military, ecclesiastical, and civil.

What you have told me about Calderona, cried the minister with
eagerness, exactly squares with certain memorials which have been
presented to me, containing the heads of charges still more
seriously affecting his character. He will very soon be put upon
his trial, and if you have any wish to glut your revenge by his
ruin, I am of opinion that the object of your desire is near at
hand. I am far from thirsting after his blood, said I, though had
it depended on him, mine might have been shed in the tower of
Segovia, where he was the occasion of my taking lodgings for a
pretty long term. What! inquired his excellency, was it Don
Rodrigo who procured you that sudden journey? this a part of the
story of which I was not aware before. Don Balthasar, to whom
Navarro gave a summary of your adventures, told me indeed that
the late king gave orders for your commitment, as a mark of his
indignation against you for having led the Prince of Spain
astray, and taken him to a house of suspicious character in the
night: but that is all I know of the matter, and cannot for the
life of me conjecture what part Calderona could possibly have had
to play in that tragicomedy. A principal part, whether on the
stage or in real life, answered I that of a jealous lover, taking
vengeance for an injury, sustained in the tenderest point. At the
same time I related minutely all the facts with which the reader
is already acquainted, and touched his risible propensities,
difficult as they were of access, so exactly in the right place,
that he could not help wagging his under-hung jaw in a paroxysm
of humour-stricken ecstasy, and laughing till he cried again.
Catalina's double cast in the drama delighted him exceedingly;
her sometimes playing the niece and sometimes personating the
grand-daughter seemed to tickle his fancy more than anything; nor
was he altogether inattentive to the appearance which the Duke of
Lerma made in this undignified farce of state. When I had
finished my story, the count gave me leave to depart, with an
assurance that on the next day he would not fail to make trial of
my talents for business. I ran immediately to the family hotel of
Zuniga, to thank Don Balthazar for his good offices, and to
acquaint my friend Joseph with the favourable dispositions of the
prime minister, and my brilliant prospects in con sequence.


CH. V. -- The private conversation of Gil Blas with Navarro,
and his first employment in the service of the Count d'Olivarez.

As soon as I got to the ear of Joseph, I told him with much
trepidation of spirits what a world of topics I had to deposit in
his private ear, He took me where we might be alone, when I asked
him, after having communicated a key to the whole transaction up
to the present time, what he thought of the business as it stood.
I think, answered he, that you are in a fair way to make an
enormous fortune. Everything turns out according to your wishes:
you have made yourself acceptable to the prime minister; and what
must be taken for some thing in the account, I can render you the
same service as my uncle Melchior de la Ronda, when you attached
yourself to the archiepiscopal establishment of Grenada. He
spared you the trouble of finding out the weak side of that
prelate and his principal officers, by discovering their
different characters to you; and it is my purpose, after his
example, to bring you perfectly acquainted with the count, his
lady countess, and their only daughter, Donna Maria de Guzman.

The minister's parts are quick, his judgment penetrating, and his
talents altogether calculated for the formation of extensive
projects. He affects the credit of universal genius, on the
strength of a showy smattering in general science; so that there
is no subject, in his own opinion, too difficult to be decided on
his mere authority. He sets himself up for a practical lawyer, a
complete general, and a politician of thorough-paced sagacity.
Add to all this, that he is so obstinately wedded to his own
opinions, as unchangeably to persevere in the path of his own
chalking out, to the absolute contempt of better advice, for fear
of seeming to be influenced by any good sense or intelligence,
but what he would be thought to engross in the resources of his
own mind. Between ourselves, this blot in his character may
produce strange consequences, which it may be well for the
monarchy should indulgent heaven for the defect of human means
avert! As for his talents in council, he shines in debate by the
force of natural eloquence; and would write as well as he speaks,
if he did not injudiciously affect a certain dignity of style,
which degenerates into affectation, quaintness, and obscurity.
His modes of thinking are peculiar to himself; he is capricious
in conduct, and visionary in design. Here you have the picture of
his mind, the light and shade of his intellectual merits: the
qualities of his heart and disposition remain to be delineated.
He is generous and warm in his friendships. It is said that he is
revengeful; but would he be a Spaniard if he were otherwise? In
addition to this, he has been accused of ingratitude, for having
driven the Duke of Uzeda and Friar Lewis Aliaga into banishment,
though he owed them, according to common report, obligations of
the most binding nature; and yet even this must not be looked
into so narrowly under his circumstances: there are few breasts
capacious enough to afford house-room for two such opposite
inmates as political ambition and gratitude.

Donna Agnes de Zuniga й Velasco, Countess of Olivarez, continued
Joseph, is a lady to whom it is impossible to impute more than
one fault, but that is a huge one; for it consists in making a
market, and a market the most exorbitant in its terms, of her
natural influence over the mind of her husband. As for Donna
Maria de Guzman, who beyond all dispute is at this moment the
very first match in Spain, she is a lady of first-rate
accomplishments, and absolutely idolized by her father. Regulate
your conduct upon these hints: make your court with art and
plausibility to these two ladies, and let it appear as if you
were more devoted to the Count of Olivarez than ever you were to
the Duke of Lerma before your forced excursion to Segovia; you
will become a leading and powerful member of the administration.

I should advise you, moreover, added he, to see my master, Don
Balthasar, from time to time; for though you have no longer any
occasion for his interest to push you forward, it will not be
amiss to waste a little incense upon him. You stand very high in
his good opinion; preserve your footing there, and cultivate his
friendship; it may stand you in some stead on any emergency. I
could not help observing, that as the uncle and nephew were in a
certain sort partners in the government of the state, there might
possibly be some little symptom of jealousy between brothers near
the throne. On the contrary, answered he, they are united by the
most confidential ties. Had it not been for Don Balthasar, the
Count of Olivarez might probably never have been prime minister;
for you are to know, that after Philip the Third had paid the
debt of nature, all the adherents and partisans belonging to the
house of Sandoval made a great stir, some in favour of the
cardinal, and others on his son's behalf; but my master, a
greater adept in court intrigue than any of them, and the count,
who is nearly as great an adept as himself disconcerted all their
measures, and took their own so judiciously for the purpose of
stepping into the vacant place, that their rivals had no chance
against them. The Count of Olivarez, being appointed prime
minister, divided the duties with his uncle, Don Balthasar;
leaving foreign affairs to him, and taking the home department to
himself; the consequence is, that the bonds of family friendship
are drawn closer between these two noblemen, than if political
influence had no share in their mutual interests: they are
perfectly independent in their respective lines of business, and
live together on terms of good understanding which no intrigue
can possibly affect or alter.

Such was the substance of my conversation with Joseph, and the
advantage to be derived from it was my own to make the most of:
at all events, it was my duty to thank Signor de Zuniga for all
the influence he had the goodness to exert in my favour. He
assured me with infinite good-breeding that he should avail
himself of every opportunity as it arose to promote my wishes,
and that he was very glad his nephew had behaved so as to meet my
ideas, because he meant to refresh his memory in my behalf, being
determined, as he was pleased to say, to place it beyond all
manner of doubt how far he himself participated in all my views,
and to make it evident that, instead of one fast friend, I had
two. In terms like these did Don Balthasar, through mere
friendship for Navarro, take the moulding of my fortunes on
himself.

On that same evening did I leave my paltry lodging to take up my
abode at the prime minister's, where I sat down to supper with
Scipio in my own suite of apartments. There were we both waited
on by the servants belonging to the household, who as they stood
behind our chairs, while we were affecting the pomp and
circumstance of political elevation, were more likely than not to
be laughing in their sleeves at the pantomime they had been
ordered by their manager to play in our presence. When they had
taken away and left us to ourselves, my secretary being no longer
under restraint, gave vent to a thousand wild imaginations which
his sprightly temper and inventive hopes engendered in his fancy.
On my part, though by no means cold or insensible to the
brilliant prospects which were opening on my view, I did not as
yet yield in the least degree to the weakness of being thrust
aside from the right line of my
philosophy by temporal allurements. So much otherwise, that on
going to bed I fell into a sound sleep, without being haunted in
my dreams by those phantoms of flattering delusion which might
have gained admittance with no severe question from a corruptible
door-keeper. The ambitious Scipio, on the contrary, tossed and
tumbled all night in the agitation of restless contrivance.
Whenever he dozed a little imp took possession of his brain, with
a pen behind its ear, working out by all the rules of arithmetic
the bulky sum total of his daughter Seraphina's marriage portion.

No sooner had I got my clothes on the next morning, than a
message came from his lordship. I flew like lightning at the
summons, when his excellency said: Now then, Santillane, suppose
you give us a specimen of your talents for business. You say that
the Duke of Lerma used to give you state papers to bring into
official form; and I have one, by way of experiment, on which you
shall try your skill. The subject you will easily comprehend: it
turns upon an exposition of public affairs, such as to throw an
artificial light on the first appearance of the new ministry, and
to prejudice the public in its favour. I have already whispered
it about by my emissaries, that every department of the state was
completely disorganized, that the talents which preceded us were
no talents at all; and the object at present is to impress both
court and city by a formal declaration with the idea, that our
aid is absolutely necessary to save the monarchy itself from
sinking. On this theme you may expatiate till the populace become
lock-jawed with astonishment, and the sober part of the public
are gravely argued out of all prepossession in favour of the
discarded party. By way of contrast, you will talk of the dignus
vindice nodus, taking care to translate it into Spanish; and
boast of the measures adopted under the new order of things, to
secure the permanent glory of the king's reign, to give perpetual
prosperity to his dominions, and to confer perfect, unchangeable
happiness on his good people.

His lordship, having given out the general subject of my thesis,
left me with a paper containing the heads of charges, whether
just or unjust, against the late administration: and I remember
perfectly well, that there were ten articles, whose lightest
word, even of the lightest article, would harrow up the soul of a
true Spaniard, and make his knotted and combined locks to part.
That the current of my fancy might experience no interruption, he
shut me into a little closet near his own, where the spirit of
poetry might possess me in all its freedom and in dependence. My
best faculties were called forth, to compose a statement of
affairs commensurate with my own concern in the sweeping of the
new brooms. My first object was to lay open the nakedness and
abandonment of the kingdom: the finances in a state of
bankruptcy, the civil list and immediate resources of the crown
pawned fifty times over, the navy unpaid, dismantled, and in
mutiny. All this hideous delineation was referred for its justice
and accuracy to the wrong-headedness and stupidity of government
at the close of the last reign, and the doctrine most strongly
enforced, that unexampled wisdom and patriotism only could ward
off the fatal consequences. In short, the monarchy could only be
sustained on the shoulders of our political sufficiency and
reforming prudence. The ex-ministry were so cruelly belaboured,
that the Duke of Lerma's ruin, according to the terms of my
syllogism, was the salvation of Spain. To own the truth, though
my professions were in the spirit of Christian charity towards
that nobleman, I was not sorry to give him a sly rub in the
exercise of my function. Oh man! man! what a compound of candour-
breathing satire and splenetic impartiality art thou!

Towards the conclusion, having finished my frightful portraiture
of overhanging evils, I endeavoured to allay the storm my art had
raised by making futurity as bright as the past had been gloomy.
The Count of Olivarez was
brought in at the close, like the tutelary deity of an ancient
commonwealth in the crisis of its fate. I promised more than
paganism ever feigned or chivalry fancied in the wildest of its
crusading projects. In a word, I so exactly executed what the new
minister meant, that he seemed not to know his own hints again,
when drawn out in my emphatic and appropriate language.
Santillane, said he, do you know that this is more like the
composition one might expect from a secretary of state, than like
that of a private secretary? I can no longer be surprised that
the Duke of Lerma was fond of calling your talents into action.
Your style is concise, and by no means inelegant; but it creeps
rather too much in the level paths of nature. At the same time,
pointing out the passages which did not hit his fancy, he
corrected them; and I gathered from the touches he threw in, that
Navarro was right in saying he affected sententious wit, but
mistook for it quaint and stale conceits. Nevertheless, though he
preferred the stately, or rather the grotesque in writing, he
suffered two thirds of my performance to stand without
alteration; and by way of proving how entirely he was satisfied,
sent me three hundred pistoles by Don Raymond after dinner.


CH. VI. The application of the three hundred pistoles, and
Scipio's commission connected with them. Success of the state
paper mentioned in the last chapter.

THIS handsome present of the minister furnished Scipio with a new
subject of congratulation, by reason of our second appearance at
court. You may remark, said he, that fortune is preparing a load
of aggrandizement to lay on your lordship's shoulders. Are you
still sorry for having turned your back on solitude? May the
Count of Olivarez live for ever! he is a very different sort of a
master from his predecessor. The Duke of Lerma, with all your
devotion to his service, left you to live upon suction for months
without a pistole to bless yourself with; and the count has
already made you a present which you could have had no reason to
expect but after a course of long service.

I should very much like, added he, that the lords of Leyva should
be witnesses of your great success, or at least that they should
be informed of it. It is high time indeed, answered I, and I
meant to speak with you on that subject. They must doubtless be
impatient to hear of my proceedings, but I waited till my fate
was fixed, and till I could decide for certain whether I should
stay at court or not. Now that I am sure of my destination, you
have only to set out for Valencia whenever you please, and to
acquaint those noblemen with my present situation, which I
consider as their doing, since it is evident that, but for them,
I should never have resolved on my journey to Madrid. My dear
master, cried the son of Bohemian accident, what joy shall I
communicate by relating what has happened to you! Why am I not
already at the gates of Valencia? But I shall be there forthwith.
Don Alphonso's two horses are ready in the stable. I shall take
one of my lord's livery servants with me. Besides that company is
pleasant on the road, you know very well the effect of official
parade, in making impression on the natives of a provincial town.

I could not help laughing at my secretary's foolish vanity; and
yet, with vanity perhaps more than equal to his own, I left him
to do as he pleased. Go about your business, said I, and make the
best of your way back; for I have an other commission to give
you. I mean to send you to the Asturias with some money for my
mother. Through neglect I have suffered the time to elapse when I
promised to remit her a hundred pistoles, and pledged you to make
the payment in person. Such engagements ought to be held sacred
by a son; and I reproach myself with inaccuracy in the observance
of mine. Sir, answered Scipio, within six weeks I shall bring you
an account of both your commissions; having opened my budget to
the lords of Leyva, looked in at your country-house, and taken a
peep at the town of Oviedo, the recollection of which I cannot
admit into my mind, without turning over three-fourths of the
inhabitants, and one-half of the remaining quarter, to the
corrective discipline of that infernal executioner, who is
supposed to be kept on foot for the purpose of castigating
sinners. I then counted down one hundred pistoles to that same
son of a wandering mother for my honoured parents' annuity, and
another hundred for himself; meaning that he should perform his
long journey without grumbling on my account by the way.

Some days after his departure his lordship sent our memorial to
press; and it was no sooner published than it became the topic of
conversation in every circle throughout Madrid. The people,
enamoured of novelty, took up this well written statement of
their own wretchedness with fond partiality; the derangement and
exhaustion of the finances, painted with a mixture of truth and
poetry, excited a strong feeling of popular indignation against
the Duke of Lerma; and if these paper bullets of the brain, cast
in the political armoury of a rival, failed to carry victory with
them in the opinions of all mankind, they were at all events
hailed with triumph by the most clamorous of our own partisans.
As for the magnificent promises which the Count of Olivarez threw
in, and among others that of keeping the machine of state in
motion, by a system of economy, without adding to the public
burdens, they were caught at with avidity by the citizens at
large, and considered as pledges of an enlightened and patriotic
policy, so that the whole city resounded with the acclamation of
panegyric and congratulation on the opening of new prospects.

The minister, delighted to have gained his end so easily, which
in that publication had only been to draw popularity upon
himself; was now determined to seize the substance as well as
catch at the shadow, by an act of unquestionable credit with the
subject, and high utility to the king's service. For that
purpose, he had recourse to the emperor Galba's contrivance,
consisting in a forced regurgitation of ill-gotten spoils from
individuals who had made large fortunes, hell and their own
consciences knew best how, in the superintendence of the royal
expenditure. When he had squeezed these spunges till they were
dry again, and had filled the king's coffers with the drainings,
he undertook to render the reform permanent by abolishing all
pensions, not excepting his own, and curtailing the gratuities
too frequently bestowed on favourites out of the prince's privy
purse. To succeed in this design, which he could not carry into
effect without changing the face of the government, he charged me
with the composition of a new state paper, furnishing the
substance and the form from his own idea. He then advised me to
raise my style as much as possible above the level of my ordinary
simplicity, and to give an air of more eloquence to my
phraseology. A hint is sufficient, my lord, said I; your
excellency wishes to unite sublimity with illumination, and it
shall be so I shut myself up in the same closet where I had
already worked so successfully, and sat down stiffly to my task,
first calling to my aid the lofty and clear perceptions, the
noble and sonorous expressions, of my old instructor, the
archbishop of Grenada.

I began by laying it down as a first maxim of political
philosophy, that the vital functions, the respiration as it were
of all monarchy, depended on the strict administration of the
finances; that in our particular case that duty became
imperiously urgent, irresistibly impressing on our consciences;
and that the revenue should be considered as the nerves and
sinews of Spain, to hold her rivals in check and keep her enemies
in awe. After this general declamation, I pointed out to the
sovereign, for to him the memorial was addressed, that by cutting
down all pensions and perquisites dependent on the ordinary
income, he would not thereby deprive himself of that truly royal
pleasure, a princely munificence towards those of his subjects
who had established a fair claim to his favours; because without
drawing upon his treasury, he had the means of distributing more
acceptable rewards; that for one branch of service, there were
viceroyalties, lieutenancies, orders of merit, and all sorts of
military commissions: for another, high judicial situations with
salaries annexed, civil offices of magistracy with sounding
titles to give them consequence; and though last, not least, all
the temporal possessions of the church to animate the piety of
its spiritual pastors.

This memorial, which was much longer than the first, occupied me
nearly three days; but as luck would have it, my performance was
exactly to my master's mind, who finding it written with
sententious cogency, and bristled up with metaphors in the
declamatory parts, complimented me in the highest terms That is
vastly well expressed indeed! said he, laying his finger on a
passage here and there, and picking out all the most inflated
sentences he could find that language bears the stamp of fine
composition, and might pass for the production of a classic.
Courage, my friend! I foresee that your services will be worth
their weight in gold. And yet, notwithstanding the applauses he
lavished on my classical composition, a few of his own
heightening touches, he thought, would make it read still better.
He put a good deal of his own stuff into it, and the medley was
manufactured into a piece of eloquence which was considered as
unanswerable by the king and all the court. The whole city joined
in opinion with the higher orders, deriving the most flattering
hopes of the future from these grand promises, and concluding
that the monarchy must re cover its pristine splendour during the
ministry of so illustrious a character. His excellency, finding
that my sermon on economy was fraught with practical inferences
of utility to him, was kind enough to wish that I should profit
by the exercise of my own talents. In conformity therefore with
his new system of patronage, he gave me an annuity of five
hundred crowns on the commandery of Castile; and the acceptance
of it was so much the more palatable, as no dirty work had been
done for it, but it was honestly, though cheaply, earned.


CH. VII. -- Gil Blas meets with his friend Fabricio once more;
the accident, place, and circumstances described; with the
particulars of their conversation together.

NOTHING gave his lordship greater pleasure than to hear the
general decision of Madrid on the conduct of his administration.
Not a day passed but he inquired what they were saying of him in
the political world. He kept spies in pay, to bring him an exact
account of what was going on in the city. They particularized the
most trivial discourses which they overheard; and their orders
being to suppress nothing, his self-love was grazed now and then,
for the people have a way of bolting out home truths, without any
nice calculation where they may glance.

Finding that the count loved political small talk, I made it my
business to frequent places of public resort after dinner, and to
chime in with the conversation of genteel people whenever
opportunity offered. Should the measures of government happen to
be canvassed among them, I pricked up my ears, and greedily took
in their discourse; if anything worth repeating was said, his
excellency was sure to hear of it. It can scarcely be necessary
to hint, that I never carried home anything which was not likely
to pay for the porterage.

One day, returning from one of these little conversational
parties, my road lay in front of an hospital. It occurred to me
to go in. I walked through two or three wards, filled with
diseased patients, and examined their beds to see that they were
properly taken care of. Among these unhappy wretches, whom I
could not look at without the most painful feelings, I observed
one whose features struck me: it surely could be no other than
Fabricio, my countryman and chum! To look at him more closely, I
drew near his bedside, and finding beyond a possibility of doubt
that it was the poet Nunez, I stopped to look at him for a few
seconds without saying a word. He also fixed his regards on me.
At length breaking silence: Do not my eyes deceive me? said I. Is
it indeed Fabricio, and here? It is indeed, answered he, coldly,
and you need not wonder at it. Since we parted, I have been
working indefatigably at the trade of an author: I have written
novels, play; and works of genius in every department. My brain
is fairly spun out, and here I am.

I could not help laughing at such a sketch of literary biography;
and still more at the serious air of the accompanying action.
What! cried I, has your muse brought you to this pass? Has she
played you such a jade's trick as this? Even as you witness,
answered he; this establishment is a sort of halfpay receptacle
for invalids on the muster-roll of disabled wit. You have acted
discreetly, my good friend, to lay yourself out for promotion in
a different line. But they tell me, you are no longer a courtier,
and that your prospects in political life were all blasted; nay,
they went so far as to affirm, that you were committed to close
custody by the king's order. They told you no more than the
truth, replied I: the delightful vision of political eminence
wherein you left me last, soon shifted the scene of my incoherent
dreams to a prison and complete destitution. But for all that, my
friend, here you behold me again in a better plight than ever.
That is quite out of the question, said Nunez: your deportment is
discreet and decent, you have not that supercilious and devil-
take-the-hindermost sort of aspect, which good keep communicates
to the human face. The reverses of this chequered life, replied
I, have brought me down to the level of the more modest virtues;
I have taken a lesson in the school of adversity, to enjoy the
possession of a good stud without riding the great horse.

Tell me then candidly, cried Fabricio, raising his head upon his
hand with his elbow upon the pillow, what your present occupation
can possibly be. A steward perhaps to some nobleman out at
elbows, or man of business to some rich widow! Something better
than either the one or the other, rejoined I, but excuse me from
saying more at present: another time your curiosity shall be
satisfied. It is enough at present to assure you that my means
are equal to my inclination, and that you may command
independence through me; but then you must submit to an embargo
on your wit, and a non-intercourse act between you and the
faculty of writing, whether in verse or prose. Can you make this
sacrifice to my friendship? I have already made it to the powers
above, said he, in my last critical sickness. A Dominican made me
forswear poetry, as an amusement bordering on criminality, but at
all events beside the turnpike-road of good sense. I wish you
joy, my dear Nunez, replied I; beware of a revoke. There is not
the least danger on that head, rejoined he: the Muses and I have
agreed on terms of separation: just as you came in at that door,
I was conning over a farewell ode. Good master Fabricio, said I,
with a wise swagging to and fro of my head, it is a doubtful
question whether your vow of abjuration ought to pass current
with the Dominican and myself: you seem over head and ears in
love with those virgins incarnate. No, no, contended he
peevishly, I have cut the connection asunder. Nay more, I have
quarrelled with their keepers, the public. The readers of these
days do not deserve an author of more genius than themselves: I
should be sorry to write down to their comprehension. You are not
to suppose that this is the language of disgust; it is my sincere
and well-weighed opinion. Applause and hisses are just the same
to me. It is a toss up who fails and who succeeds: the wit of to-
day is the blockhead of to-morrow. What cursed fools our
dramatists must be, to care for anything but their poundage when
their plays happen to be received! It is all very well for a few
nights! But only fancy a revival at the end of twenty years, and
what a figure they will cut then! The audiences of the present
day turn up their noses at the stock pieces of the last age, and
it is a question whether their taste will fare better with their
more critical descendants. If that conjecture be probable, the
inventors of clap-traps now will be the butt of cat calls
hereafter. It is just the same with novel writers, and all other
manufacturers of unnecessary literature: they strut and fret for
an hour, and then are no more seen or heard of. The glories of
successful authorship are the mere vapours of a murky atmosphere,
meteors of a marsh, foul coruscations of a dunghill, cathedral
tapers to put out the galaxy, blue flames of coarse paper held
over a candle.

Though these caricatures of rival renown were the mere creations
of jealousy in the poet of the Asturias, it was not my business
to correct his ill temper. I am delighted, said I, that wit and
you have had so serious a quarrel; and that the diarrhoea of your
inventive faculties has been cured by an astringent. You may
depend on it, I will put you in the way of a good livelihood,
without drawing deep upon your intellectual credit. So much she
better, cried he; wit smells like carrion in my nostrils, or
rather like a pungent and deleterious perfume; fragrant to the
sense, but corrosive to the vitals. I heartily wish, my dear
Fabricio, resumed I, that you may always keep in that mind. Only
wash your hands completely of poetry, and you may depend on it, I
will enable you to keep your head above water without picking or
stealing. In the mean while, added I, slipping a purse of sixty
pistoles into his hand, accept this as a slight instance of my
regard.

O friend like the friends in days of yore, cried the son of
barber Nunez, out of his wits with joy and gratitude, it was
heaven itself which sent you into this hospital, whence your
goodness is now discharging me! Before we parted, I gave him my
address, and invited him to come and see me as soon as his health
would permit. He opened his eyes as an oyster does its shell,
when I told him that I lodged under the minister's roof. O
illustrious Gil Blas! said he, great as Pompey and fortunate as
Sylla, whose lot it is to be hand in glove with the dictators of
modern times! I rejoice most disinterestedly in your good
fortune, because it is so very evident what a noble use you make
of it.


CH. VIII. -- Gil Blas gets forward progressively in his master's
affections. Scipio's return to Madrid, and account of his
journey.


THE Count of Olivarez, whom I shall henceforward call my lord
duke, because the king was pleased to confer that dignity on him
about this time, was infested with a weakness which I did not
suffer to pass without taking toll: it was a furious desire of
being beloved. The moment he fancied that any one really liked
him, his heart was caught in a trap. This was not lost upon my
keen sense of character. It was not enough to do precisely as he
ordered; I superadded a zeal in the execution which made him
mine. I laid myself out to his liking in everything, and provided
beforehand for his most eccentric wishes.

By conduct like this, which almost always answers, I became by
degrees my master's favourite; and he, on the other hand, as if
he had got round to my blind side also, wormed himself into my
affections, by giving me his own. So forward did I get into his
good graces, as to halve his confidence with Signor Carnero, his
principal secretary.

Carnero had played my game; and that so successfully, as to be
intrusted with the greater mysteries. We two therefore were the
keepers of the prime minister's conscience, and held the keys of
all his secrets: with this difference, that Carnero was consulted
on state affairs, myself about his private concerns, dividing the
business into two separate departments; and we were each of us
equally pleased with our own. We lived together without jealousy,
and certainly without attachment. I had every reason to be
satisfied with my quarters, where continual intercourse gave me
an opportunity of prying into the duke's inmost soul, which was a
masked battery to all mankind beside, but plain as a pikestaff to
me, when he no longer questioned the sincerity of my attachment
to hint.

Santillane, said he one day, you were witness to the Duke of
Lerma's possession of an authority, more like that of an absolute
monarch than a favourite minister; and yet I am still happier
than he was at the very summit of his good fortune. He had two
formidable enemies in his own son, the Duke of Uzeda, and in the
confessor of Philip the Third: but there is no one now about the
king who has credit enough to stand in my way, or even, as I am
aware, the slightest inclination to do me mischief.

It is true, continued he, that on my accession to the ministry,
it was my first care to remove all hangers-on from about the
prince but those of my own family or connections. By means of
viceroyalties or embassies I got rid of all the nobility who, by
their personal merit, could have interfered with me in the good
graces of the sovereign, whom I mean to engross entirely to
myself; in that I may say at the present moment, no statesman of
the time holds me in check by the ascendancy of his personal
influence. You see, Gil Blas, I open my mind to you. As I have
reason to think that you are mine heart and soul, I have chosen
to put you in possession of everything. You are a clever youth;
with reflection, penetration, and discretion: in short, you are
just the very creature to acquit yourself of all possible little
offices in all possible directions; you are also a young fellow
of very promising parts, and must in the nature of things be in
my interests.

There was no standing the attack which these flattering
representations were calculated to make upon the weakly defended
fortress of my philosophy. Unauthorized whims of avarice and
ambition mounted suddenly into my head, and brought forward
certain sentiments of political speculation which were supposed
to have been in abeyance. I gave the minister an assurance that I
should fulfil his intentions to the utmost of my power, and held
myself in readiness to execute without examination or inference
all the orders it might be his pleasure to give me.

While I was thus disposed to take fortune in her affable fit,
Scipio returned from his peregrination. I have no long story for
you, said he. The lords of Leyva were delighted at your reception
from the king, and at the manner in which the Count of Olivarez
and you came to understand one another.

My friend, said I, you would have delighted them still more, had
you been able to tell them on what a footing I am now with my
lord. My advances since your departure have been prodigious.
Happy man be his dole, my dear master, answered he: my mind
forebodes that we shall cut a figure.

Let us change the subject, said I, and talk of Oviedo. You have
been in the Asturias. How did you leave my mother? Ah, sir!
replied he, with an undertaker's decency of countenance, I have a
melancholy tale to tell you from that quarter. O heaven!
exclaimed I, my mother then is dead! Six months since, said my
secretary, did the good lady pay the debt of nature, and your
uncle, Signor Gil Perez, about the same period.

My mother's death preyed upon my susceptible nature, though in my
childhood I had not received from her those little fondling
indications of maternal love, so necessary to amalgamate with the
more serious convictions of filial duty. The good canon, too,
came in for his share in bringing me up according to the rules of
godliness and honesty. My serious grief was not lasting: but I
never lost sight of a certain tender recollection, whenever the
idea of my dear relations shot across my mind.


CH. IX.. -- How my lord duke married his only daughter, and to
whom: with the bitter consequences of that marriage.

VERY shortly after the son of Coselina's return, my lord duke
fell into a brown study, and it lasted a complete week. I
conceived, of course, that he was brooding over some great
measure of government; but family concerns were the object of his
musings. Gil Blas, said he one day after dinner, you may perceive
that my mind is a good deal distracted. Yes, my good friend, I am
pondering over an affair of the utmost consequence to my
feelings. You shall know all about it.

My daughter, Donna Maria, pursued he, is marriageable, and of
course beset with suitors. The Count de Niйblйs, eldest son of
the Duke de Medina Sidonia, head of the Guzman family, and Don
Lewis de Haro, eldest son of the Marquis de Carpio and my eldest
sister, are the two most likely competitors. The latter in
particular is superior in point of merit to all his rivals, so
that the whole court has fixed on him for my son-in-law.
Nevertheless, without entering into private motives for treating
him, as well as the Count de Niйblйs, with a refusal, my present
views are fixed upon Don Ramires Nunez de Guzman, Marquis of
Toni, head of the Guzmans d'Abrados, another branch of the
family. To that nobleman and his progeny by my daughter I mean to
leave all my property, and to entail on them the title of Count
d'Olivarez, with the additional dignity of grandee; so that my
grandchildren and their descendants, issue of the Abrados and
Olivarez branch, will be considered as taking precedence in the
house of Guzman.

Tell me now, Santillane, added he, do you not like my project?
Excuse me, my lord, pleaded I, with a shrug, the design is worthy
of the genius which gave birth to it: my only fear is, lest the
Duke of Medina Sidonia should think fit to be out of humour at
it. Let him take it as he list, resumed the minister; I give
myself very little concern about that. His branch is no favourite
with me: they have choused that of Abrados out of their
precedence and many of their privileges. I shall be far less
affected by his ill humours than by the disappointment of my
sister, the Marchioness de Carpio, when she sees my daughter slip
through her son's fingers. But let that be as it may. I am
determined to please myself, and Don Ramires shall be the man; it
is a settled point.

My lord duke, having announced this firm resolve, did not carry
it into effect without giving a new proof of his singular policy.
He presented a memorial to the king, entreating him and the queen
in concert, to do him the honour of taking the choice of a
husband for his daughter on themselves, at the same time
acquainting them with the pretensions of the suitors, and
professing to abide by their election; but he took care, when
naming the Marquis de Toral, to evince clearly whither his own
wishes pointed. The king, therefore, with a blind deference for
his minister, answered thus: "I think that Don Ramires Nunez
deserves Donna Maria: but determine for yourself. The match of
your own choosing will be most agreeable to me." (Signed) THE
KING.

The minister made a point of shewing this answer everywhere; and
affecting to consider it as a royal mandate, hastened his
daughter's marriage with the Marquis de Toral; a death-blow to
the hopes of the Marchioness de Carpio, and the rest of the
Guzmans who had been speculating on an alliance with Donna Maria.
These rival players of a losing game, not being able to break off
the match, put the best face they could upon it, and made the
fashionable world to resound with their costly celebrations of
the event A superficial observer might have fancied that the
whole family was delighted with the arrangement; but the pouters
and ill-wishers were soon revenged most cruelly at my lord duke's
expense. Donna Maria was brought to bed of a daughter at the end
of ten months; the infant was still-born, and the mother died a
few day afterwards.

What a loss for a father who had no eyes, as one may say, but for
his daughter, and in her loss felt the miscarriage of his design
to quash the right of precedence in the branch of Medina Sidonia!
Stung to the quick by his misfortune, he shut himself up for
several days, and was visible to no one but myself; a sincere
sympathiser, from the recollection of my own experience in his
sorrow. The occasion drew forth fresh tears to Antonia's memory.
The death of the Marchioness de Toral, under circumstances so
similar, tore open a wound imperfectly skinned over, and so
exasperated my affliction, that the minister, though he had
enough to do with his own sufferings, could not help taking
notice of mine. It seemed unaccountable how exactly his feelings
were echoed. Gil Blas, said he one day, when my tears seemed to
feed upon indulgence, my greatest consolation consists in having
a bosom friend so much alive to all my distresses. Ah! my lord,
answered I, giving him the full credit of my amiable tenderness,
I must be ungrateful and degenerate in my nature if I did not
lament as for myself. Can I be aware that you mourn over a
daughter of accomplished merit, whom you loved so tenderly,
without shedding tears of fellow-feeling! No, my lord, I am too
much naturalized to you on the side of obligation, not to take a
permanent interest in all your pleasures and disappointments.


CH. X. -- Gil Blas meets with the poet Nunez by accident, and
learns that he has written a tragedy, which is on the point of
being brought out at the theatre royal. The ill fortune of the
piece, and the good fortune of its author.

THE minister began to pick up his crumbs, and myself consequently
to get into feather again, when one evening I went out alone in
the carriage to take an airing. On the road I met the poet of the
Asturias, who had been lost to my knowledge ever since his
discharge from the hospital. He was very decently dressed. I
called him up, gave him a seat in my carriage, and we drove
together to Saint Jerome's meadow.

Master Nunez, said I, it is lucky for me to have met you
accidentally; for otherwise I should not have had the pleasure .
. . . No severe speeches, Santillane, interrupted he with
considerable eagerness: I most own frankly that I did not mean to
keep up your acquaintance, and I will tell you the reason. You
promised me a good situation provided I abjured poetry, but I
have found a very excellent one, on condition of keeping my
talents in constant play. I accepted the latter alternative, as
squaring best with my own humour. A friend of mine got me an
employment under Don Bertrand Gomez Del Ribero, treasurer of the
king's galleys. This Don Bertrand, wanting to have a wit in his
pay, and finding my turn for poetical composition very much in
unison with his own sense of what is excellent, has chosen me in
preference to five or six authors who offered themselves as
candidates for the place of his private secretary.

I am delighted at the news, my dear Fabricio, said I, for this
Don Bertrand must be very rich. Rich indeed! answered he; they
say that he does not know himself how much he is worth. However
that may be, my business under him is as follows. He prides
himself on his turn for gallantry, at the same time wishing to
pass for a man of genius: he therefore keeps up an epistolary
intercourse of wit with several ladies who have an infinite deal,
and borrows my brain to indite such letters as may amplify the
opinion of his sprightliness and elegance. I write to one for him
in verse, to another in prose, and sometimes carry the letters
myself, to prove the agility of my heels as well as the ingenuity
of my head.

But you do not tell me, said I, what I most want to know. Are you
well paid for your epigrammatic cards of compliment? Yes, most
plentifully, answered he. Rich men are not always open-handed;
and I know some who are downright curmudgeons; but Don Bertrand
has behaved in the most handsome manner. Besides a salary of two
hundred pistoles, I receive some little occasional perquisites
from him, sufficient to set me above the world, and enable me to
live on an equal footing with some choice spirits of the literary
circles, who are willing, like myself, to set care at defiance.
But then, resumed I, has your treasurer critical skill enough to
distinguish the beauties of a performance from its blemishes? The
least likely man in the world, answered Nunez: a flippant-tongued
smatterer, with a miserable assortment of materials for judging.
Yet he gives himself out for chief justice and lord president of
Apollo's tribunal. His decisions are adventurous, if not always
lucky; while his opinions are maintained in so high a tone and
with so bullying a challenge of infallibility, that nine times
out of ten the issue of an argument is silence, though not
conviction, on the part of the opponent, as a measure of
precaution against the gathering storm of foul language and
contemptuous sneers.

You may readily suppose, continued he, that I take especial care
never to contradict him, though it almost exceeds human patience
to forbear: for, to say nothing of the unpalatable phrases that
might be hailed down on my defenceless head, I should stand a
very good chance of being shoved by the shoulders out of doors. I
therefore am discreet enough to approve what he praises, and to
condemn without mitigation or appeal whatever he is pleased to
find fault with. By this easy compliance, for poets are compelled
to acquire a knack of knocking under to those by whom they live,
not even excepting their booksellers, I have gained the esteem
and friendship of my patron. He has employed me to write a
tragedy on a plot of his own. I have executed it under his
inspection; and if the piece succeeds, a percentage on the laud
and honour must accrue to him.

I asked our poet what was the title of his tragedy. He informed
me that it was "The Count of Saldagna," and that it would come
out in two or three days. I told him that I wished it all
possible success, and thought so favour ably of his genius, as to
entertain considerable hopes. So do I, said he, but hope never
tells a more flattering tale than in the ear of a dramatic
author. You might as well attempt to fix the wind by nailing the
weathercock, as speculate on the reception of a new piece with an
audience.

At length, the day of performance arrived. I could not go to the
play, being prevented by official business. The only thing to be
done was to send Scipio, that he might bring me back word how it
went off; for I was sincerely interested in the event. After
waiting impatiently for his return, in he came with a long face
which boded no good. Well, said I, how was "The Count of
Saldagna" welcomed by the critics? Very roughly, answered he;
never was there a play more brutally handled; I left the house in
high anger at the injustice and insolence of the pit. It serves
him right, rejoined I. Nunez is no better than a madman, to he
always running his head against the stone walls of a theatre. If
he was in his senses, could he have preferred the hisses and
catcalls of an unfeeling mob, to the ease and dignity he might
have commanded under my patronage? Thus did I inveigh with
friendly vehemence against the poet of the Asturias, and disturb
the even tenor of my mind for an event, which the sufferer hailed
with joy, and inserted among the well-omened particulars of his
journal.

He came to see me within two days, and appeared in high spirits.
Santillane, cried he, I am come to receive your congratulations.
My fortune is made, my friend, though my play is marred. You know
what a mistake they made on the first and last night of "The
Count of Saldagna;" hissed instead of applauding! You would have
thought all the wild beasts of the forest had been let loose,
with their ears fortified against the softening power of poetry:
but the more they bellowed, the better I fared, and they have
roared me into a provision for life.

There was no knowing what to make of this incident in the drama
of our poet's adventures. What is all this, Fabricio? said I: how
can theatrical damnation have conjured up such Elysian ecstacy?
It is exactly so, answered he: I told you before that Don
Bertrand had thrown in some of the circumstances; and he was
fully convinced that there was no defect but in the taste of the
spectators. They might he very good judges; but, if they were, he
was no judge at all! Nunez! said he this morning;

Victrix causa Diis placuit, sed victa Catoni.

[Members of parliament, and the ladies, will probably expect a
translation of these hard words; but I refer the former to their
dictionaries, to which they bade a long farewell on leaving Eton
or Harrow; and the latter to an extended paraphrase of five acts
in the tragedy of Cato. Those of the softer sex who may think the
Stoic philosophy rude and uncouth, will feel their nerves vibrate
in unison with the love scenes. -- Translator.]

Your piece has been ill-received by the public; but against that
you may place my entire approbation; and thus you ought to set
your heart at rest. By way of something to balance the bad taste
of the age, I shall settle an annuity of two thousand crowns on
you: go to my solicitor, and let him draw the deed. We have been
about it: the treasurer has signed and sealed; my first quarter
is paid in advance . . . .

I wished Fabricio joy on the unhappy fate of "The Count of
Saldagna," and probably most authors would have envied his
failure more than all the success that ever succeeded. You are in
the right, continued he, to prefer my fortune to my fame. What a
lucky peal of disapprobation in double choir! If the public had
chosen to ring the changes on my merits rather than my misdeeds,
what would they have done for my pocket? A mere paltry nothing.
The common pay of the theatre might have kept me from starving;
but the wind of popular malice has blown me a comfortable
pension, engrossed on safe and legal parchment.


CH. XI. -- Santillane gives Scipio a situation: the latter sets
out for New Spain.

MY secretary could not look at the unexpected good luck of Nunez
the poet without envy: he talked of nothing else for a week. The
whims of that baggage, Fortune, said he, are most unaccountable:
she delights to turn her lottery wheel into the lap of a sorry
author, while she deals out her disappointments like a step-
mother to the race of good ones. I should have no objection,
though, if she would throw me up a prize in one of her vertical
progresses. That is likely enough to happen, said I, and sooner
than you imagine. Here you are in her temple; for it is scarcely
too presumptuous to call the house of a prime minister the temple
of Fortune, where favours are conferred by wholesale, and
votaries grow fat on the spoils of her altar. That is very true,
sir, answered he; but we must have patience, and wait till the
happy moment comes. Take my advice while it is worth having,
Scipio, replied I, and make your mind easy: perhaps you are on
the eve of some good appointment. And so it turned out; for
within a few days an opportunity offered of employing him
advantageously in my lord duke's service; and I did not suffer
the happy moment to pass by.

I was engaged in chat one morning with Don Raymond Caporis, the
prime minister's steward, and our conversation turned on the
sources of his excellency's income. My lord, said he, enjoys the
commanderies of all the military orders, yielding a revenue of
forty thousand crowns a year; and he is only obliged to wear the
cross of Alcantara. Moreover, his three offices of great
chamberlain, master of the home, and high chancellor of the
Indies, bring him in nn income of two hundred thousand crowns;
and yet all this is nothing in comparison of the immense sums
which he receives through other transatlantic channels; but you
will be puzzled to guess how. When vessels clear out from Seville
or Lisbon for those parts of the world, he ships wine, oil,
grain, and other articles, the produce of his own estate; and his
consignments are duty free. With that perquisite in his pocket,
he sells his merchandise for four times its current price in
Spain, and then lays out the money in spices, colouring
materials, and other things which cost next to nothing in the new
world, and are sold very dear in Europe. Already has he realized
some millions by this traffic, without detracting from the dues
of his royal master.

You will easily account for it, continued he, that the people
concerned in carrying on this trade return with great fortunes in
their pockets; for my lord thinks it but reasonable that they
should divide their diligence between his business and their own.

That shrewd son of chance and opportunity, of whom we are
speaking, overheard our conversation, and could not help
interrupting Don Raymond to the following purport. Upon my word,
Signor Caporis, I should like to be one of those people; for I am
fond of travelling, and have long wished to see Mexico. Your
inclinations as a tourist shall soon be gratified, said the
steward, if Signor de Santillane will not stand in the way of
your wishes. However particular I may think it my duty to be
about the persons whom I send to the West Indies in that
capacity, and they are all of my appointment, you shall be placed
on the list at all adventures, if your master wishes it. You will
confer on me a particular favour, said I to Don Raymond; be so
good as to do it in kindness to me. Scipio is a young fellow much
in my good graces, very capable in business, and will be found
irreproachable in his conduct. In a word, I would as soon answer
for him as myself.

That being the case, replied Caporis, he has only to repair
immediately to Seville: the ships are to sail for South America
in a month. I shall give him a letter at his departure for a man
who will put him in the way of making a fortune, without the
slightest interference in his excellency's dues and profits,
which ought to be held sacred by him.

Scipio, delighted with his berth, was in haste to set out for
Seville with a thousand crowns with which I furnished him, to
make purchases of wine and oil in Andalusia, and enable him to
trade on his own bottom in the West Indies. And yet, overjoyed as
he was to make a voyage, and as he hoped his fortune therewithal,
he could not part from me without tears: and the separation
raised the waters even from my dry fountains.


CH. XII. -- Don Alphonso de Leyva comes to Madrid; the motive of
his journey a severe affliction to Gil Blas, and a cause of
rejoicing subsequent thereon.

No sooner had I parted with Scipio than one of the minister's
pages brought me a note conceived in the following terms: "If
Signor de Santillane will take the trouble of calling at the sign
of Saint Gabriel, in the Street of Toledo, he will there see a
friend who is not indifferent to him."

Who can this nameless friend possibly be? said I to myself. What
can be the meaning of all this mystery? Obviously to occasion me
the pleasure of a surprise. I attended the summons immediately,
and on my arrival at the place appointed, was not a little
astonished to find Don Alphonso de Leyva there. Is it possible!
exclaimed I: you here, my lord? Yes, my dear Gil Blas, answered
he with a close compression of my hand in his, it is Don Alphonso
himself. Well! but what brings you to Madrid? said I. You will be
not a little startled, rejoined he, and no less vexed at the
occasion of my journey. They have taken my government of Valencia
from me, and the prime minister has sent for me to give an
account of my conduct. For a whole quarter of an hour I was like
a man stupefied; then recovering the powers of speech: Of what,
said I, are you accused? I know nothing at all about it, answered
he; but my disgrace is probably owing to a visit paid about three
weeks ago to the Cardinal Duke of Lerma, who was banished about a
month since to his seat at Denia.

Yes, indeed! cried I in a pet, you may well attribute your
misfortune to that imprudent visit: there is no occasion to look
out for causes and effects else where; but give me leave to say
that you have not acted with your usual good sense, in claiming
acquaintance with that favourite out of favour. The leap is
taken, and the neck broken, said he; and I have nothing to do but
to make the best out of a bad bargain: I shall retire with my
family to our paternal estate at Leyva, where the remnant of my
days will glide away in peace and obscurity. What taunts and
teases me, is the requisition of appearing before a haughty
minister, who may receive me with all the insolence of office.
How humiliating to the pride of a Spaniard! And yet it is a
measure of necessity; but before the degrading ceremony took
place, I wanted to talk it over with you. Sir, said I, do not
announce your arrival to the minister, till I have ascertained
the nature of the reports to your discredit; for there are few
evils without a remedy. Whatever may be your alleged crimes, you
will give me leave, if you please, to act in the affair as
gratitude and friendship shall dictate. With this assurance, I
left him at his inn, and promised to let him hear from me soon.

As I had taken no active part in state affairs since the two
memorials, in which my eloquence was so signally displayed, I
went to look for Carnero, with a view to inquire whether Don
Alphonso's government was really taken from him. He answered in
the affirmative, but professed not to know the reason. Finding
how things stood, I determined to apply at head-quarters, and to
learn the grounds of grievance from his lordship's own mouth.

My spirits were really harassed; so that there was no need of
putting on the trappings and the suits of woe, to attract my lord
duke's notice. What is the matter, Santillane? said he, as soon
as he saw me. I perceive a marked unhappiness on your
countenance, and tears just ready to trickle down your cheeks.
Has any one behaved ill to you? Tell me, and you shall have your
revenge. My lord, answered I, in a melancholy tone, even though
my grief would seek to hide itself, it must have vent: my despair
is past endurance. The report goes that Don Alphonso is no longer
Governor of Valencia; a severer stroke could not have been
inflicted on me. What say you, Gil Blas? replied the minister in
astonishment: what interest can you take in this Don Alphonso and
his government? On this question, I detailed at length my
obligations to the Lords of Leyva, and modestly stated my own
interference with the Duke of Lerma, to obtain the appointment
for my friend.

When his excellency had heard me through with the most polite and
kind attention, he spoke thus: Make yourself easy, Gil Blas.
Besides my entire ignorance of what you have just told me, I must
own that I considered Don Alphonso as the cardinal's creature.
Only put yourself in my place: was not the visit to his eminence
a most suspicious circumstance? Yet I am willing to believe that
owing his preferment to that minister, he might have remembered
him in his adversity from a motive of pure gratitude. I am sorry
for having displaced a man who owed his elevation to you; but if
I have pulled down your handiwork I can build it up again. I mean
to do still more than the Duke of Lerma for you. Your friend Don
Alphonso was only Governor of Valencia; I appoint him Viceroy of
Arragon: you may send him word so yourself; and order him hither
to take the oaths.
At these words, my feelings changed from extreme grief to an
excess of joy, which completely caricatured the mediocrity of
common sense, and made me utter an incoherent rhapsody of thanks:
but the want of method in the madness of my discourse was not
taken amiss; and on my hinting that Don Alphonso was already at
Madrid, he told me that I might present him this very day. I ran
to the sign of Saint Gabriel, and communicated my own raptures to
Don Caesar's son, by informing him of his new appointment. He
could not believe what I told him; but found it a hard matter to
persuade himself; that the prime minister, though likely enough
to be very well disposed towards me, should attend his friendship
so far as to dispose of viceroyalties at my instance. I carried
him with me to my lord duke, who received him very affably,
complimented him on his uniform good conduct in his government of
Valencia, and finished by saying that the king, considering him
as qualified for a higher station, had named him for the
viceroyalty of Arragon. Besides, added he, your family is of a
rank not to disparage the dignity of the office; so that the
Arragonese nobility will have no plea for excepting against the
choice of the court.

His excellency made no mention of me, and the public was kept in
the dark as to my share in the business; indeed, this prudent
silence was lucky both for Don Alphonso and the minister, since
the tongues of defamers would have been busy in taking to pieces
the pretensions of a viceroy who owed his preferment to my
patronage.

As soon as Don Caesar's son could speak with certainty of his new
honours, he sent off an express for Valencia with the information
to his father and Seraphina, who soon arrived in Madrid. Their
first object was to find me out, and ply me thick and threefold
with acknowledgments. What a proud and affecting sight for me, to
behold the three persons in the world nearest my heart, vying
with each other in their testimonies of affection and gratitude!
The pleasure my zeal seemed personally to give them, was equal to
the dignity conferred on their house by the post of viceroy. They
even talked with me on a footing of equality, and scarcely
remembered my original distance or servitude in the fervour of
their present feelings. But not to dwell on unnecessary topics,
Don Alphonso having taken the oaths and returned thanks, left
Madrid with his family, to take up his abode at Saragossa. He
made his public entry with appropriate magnificence; and the
Arragonese caused it to appear, by their cordial reception, that
I had a very pretty knack at picking out a viceroy.


CH. XIII. -- Gil Blas meets Don Gaston de Cogollos and Don Andrew
de Tordesillas at the drawing-room, and adjourns with them to a
more convenient place. The story of Don Gaston and Donna Helena
de Galisteo concluded. Santillane renders some service to
Tordesillas.

I WAS up to the hilts in joy at having so marvellously
metamorphosed an ex-governor into a viceroy; the Lords of Leyva
themselves were not primed and loaded so near to bursting. But
very soon I had another opportunity of employing my credit in the
beaten track of friendship; and there is the more occasion to
quote these instances, that my readers may clearly discern with
how different a man they are in company, from that graceless Gil
Blas who, under the former ministry, carried on a shameless
traffic in the honours and emoluments of the state.

One day I was waiting in the king's ante-chamber, in conversation
with some noblemen, who, knowing me to stand well with the prime
minister, were not ashamed of taking me by the hand. In the crowd
was Don Gaston de Cogollos, whom I had left a prisoner in the
tower of Segovia. He was with Don Andrew de Tordesillas, the
warden. I readily quitted my company to go and renew my
acquaintance with my two friends. If they were astonished at the
sight of me, I was no less so to find them here. After mutual
greetings, Don Gaston said: Signor de Santillane, we have many
inquiries to make of each other, and this place affords little
opportunity for private intercourse; allow me to request your
company where we may open our hearts freely. I made no objection;
we pushed our way through the crowd, and left the palace. Don
Gaston's carriage was ready waiting in the street; we all three
got into it, and drove to the great market-place, where the bull-
fights are exhibited. There Cogollos lived in a very handsome
house.

Signor Gil Blas, said Don Andrew on our entrance, at your
departure from Segovia you seemed to have conceived a thorough
hatred against the court, and to have formed a settled purpose of
abandoning it for ever. Such was, in fact, my design, answered I;
nor were my sentiments at all changed during the lifetime of the
late king; but when the prince his son came to the throne, I had
a mind to see whether the new monarch would know me again. He did
so, and received me favourably, with a strong recommendation to
the prime minister, who admitted me to his friendship, and took
me more into his confidence than ever did the Duke of Lerma.
This, Signor Don Andrew, is my story. And now tell me whether you
still hold your office in the tower of Segovia. No, indeed!
answered he; my lord duke has removed me, and put another in my
room. He probably considered me as entirely devoted to his
predecessor. And I, said Don Gaston, was set at liberty for the
contrary reason; the prime minister was no sooner informed that
my imprisonment was by the Duke of Lerma's order, than he ordered
me to be released. The present business, Signor Gil Blas, is to
relate the subsequent particulars of my adventures.

The first thing I did, continued he, after thanking Don Andrew
for his kind attentions during my confinement, was to repair to
Madrid. I presented myself before the Count Duke of Olivarez, who
said: You need not be apprehensive of any blemish on your
character in consequence of your late misfortune; you are
honourably acquitted: nay, your innocence is so much the more
satisfactorily established, as the Marquis of Villareal, with
whom you were supposed to be implicated, was not guilty. Though a
Portuguese, and related to the Duke of Braganza, he is less in
his interests than in those of the king my master. That
connection, therefore, ought not to have been imputed to you as a
crime; but, to repair your wrongs, the king has given you a
lieutenant's commission in the Spanish guards. This I accepted,
begging it as a favour of his excellency to allow me, before I
joined my regiment, to go and see my aunt, Donna Eleonora de
Laxarilla, at Coria. The minister gave me leave of absence for a
month, and I departed with only one servant

We had got beyond Colmenar, and were threading a narrow pass
between two mountains, when we came within sight of a gentleman
defending himself bravely against three men, who all fell upon
him together. I did not hesitate about going to his aid; but
hastened forward and planted myself by his side. I remarked while
we were fighting, that our enemies were masked, and that we had
to do with expert swordsmen. But we triumphed over the united
advantages of their skill and disparity. I ran one of the three
through the body; he fell from his horse, and the two others
immediately betook themselves to flight. The victory indeed was
scarcely less fatal to us than to the wretch whom I had killed,
for we were both dangerously wounded. But conceive my surprise,
when I discovered the gentleman to be Combados, the husband of
Donna Helena. He was no less astonished at recognizing me as his
defender. Ah, Don Gaston! exclaimed he, was it you, then, who
came to my assistance? When you took my part so generously, you
little thought it was the person who had snatched your mistress
from you. I really did not know it, answered I; but though I had,
do you think I could have wavered about doing as I have done? Can
you entertain so ill an opinion of me, as to believe my soul so
sordid? No, no, replied he; I think better of you; and should I
die of my wounds, it will be my prayer that yours may not disable
you from profiting by my death. Combados, said I, though I have
not yet forgotten Donna Helena, know that I do not pant after the
possession of her charms at the expense of your life; so far from
it, that I congratulate myself on having contributed to your
rescue from assassination, since by so doing I have performed an
acceptable service to your wife

While we were communing together, my servant dismounted; and
drawing near to the gentleman stretched at his length, took off
his mask, when Combados, with sensations of gratitude for his
deliverance, distinctly traced the features. It is Caprara,
exclaimed he; that treacherous cousin who, in mere disgust at
having missed a rich inheritance which he had unjustly disputed
with me, has long since cherished a murderous design against my
life, and fixed on this day to put it in execution; but heaven
has turned him over to its determined vengeance, and made him the
victim of his own attempt.

While this conversation was going on, our blood was flowing at
the same rate, and we were becoming more exhausted every minute.
Nevertheless, disabled as we were, we had strength enough to
reach the town of Villarйjo, which lies within gun-shot or two
from the field of battle. At the very first house of call we sent
for surgeons. The most expert came at our summons. He examined
our wounds, and reported them as dangerous. After taking off the
bandages and dressing them a second time, he pronounced those of
Don Blas to be mortal. Of mine he thought more favourably, and
the event corresponded with his prognostic.

Combados, finding himself consigned to the grave, thought only of
due preparation for a most serious event. He sent an express to
his wife, with an account for what had happened, particularizing
his present sad condition. Donna Helena soon arrived at
Villarйjo. Her mind was drawn different ways by two opposite
occasions of distress; the hazard of her husband's life, and the
fear of feeling the revival of a half-extinguished flame at the
sight of me. This sight occasioned her to experience a terrible
agitation. Madam, said Don Blas, when she appeared in his
presence, you are come just in time to receive my farewell. I am
at the point of death, and I consider my fate as a punishment
from heaven for having taken you from Don Gaston by a feint: far
from murmuring at it, I exhort you with my last breath to restore
to him a heart which I had stolen from him. Donna Helena answered
him only by her tears: and indeed it was the best answer she
could make; for she had neither forgotten her first love, nor the
artifices whereby she had been influenced to renounce her
plighted faith.

It happened as the surgeon had anticipated, that in less than
three days Combados died of his wounds, while mine on the
contrary wore the appearance of convalescence. The young widow,
whom no earthly considerations could detach from the care of
transporting her late husband's remains to Coria, that they might
be deposited with due honours in the family vault, left Villarйjo
on her return, after inquiring, merely as a matter of course, how
I was going on. As soon as I was well enough to be removed, I
bent my course to Coria, where my recovery was soon ascertained.
My aunt, Donna Eleonora, and Don George de Galisteo, were
determined that my marriage with Helena should take place
forthwith, lest some new caprice of fortune should part us once
more. The ceremony was privately performed, on account of the
late melancholy event, and within a few days I returned to Madrid
with Donna Helena. As my leave of absence had expired, I was
afraid lest the minister should have superseded me in my
lieutenancy; but he had not filled up the vacancy, and received
my apologies very graciously.

Thus am I, continued Cogollos, lieutenant of the Spanish guards,
and my situation is exactly to my mind. The circle of my friends
is respectable and pleasant, and I live at my ease among them.
Would I could say as much! exclaimed Don Andrew: but I am very
far from being satisfied with my lot; I have lost my appointment,
which was not without its advantages, and have no friends of
sufficient interest to procure me a better berth. Excuse me,
Signor Don Andrew, cried I, with a sort of upbraiding smile, you
have a friend in me who may chance to be better than no friend at
all. I have told you already that I am a greater favourite with
my lord duke than with the Duke of Lerma; and will you tell me to
my face that you have no interest at court? Have you not already
experienced the contrary? Recollect that, through the archbishop
of Grenada's powerful recommendation, I procured you a nomination
for Mexico, where you would have made your fortune, if love had
not stepped in and marred it at Alicant. My means are now more
extensive, since I have the ear of the prime minister. I give
myself up to you then, replied Tordesillas; but do not send me
into New Spain, though the first appointment in the colonies were
at your disposal.

Here we were interrupted by Donna Helena, who came into the room,
and improved even upon the visions of my fancy by the reality of
her charms. Cogollos introduced me as the companion who had
solaced the tedious hours of his imprisonment. Yes, madam, said I
to Donna Helena, my conversation did indeed soothe his sorrows,
for it turned on you. The compliment was not thrown away, and I
took my leave with repeated congratulations. With respect to
Tordesillas, I assured him that within a week he should know how
far my power as well as will extended.

Nor were these mere words. On the very next day, the opportunity
occurred. Santillane, said his excellency, the place of governor
in the royal prison of Valladolid is vacant: it is worth more
than three hundred pistoles a year; and is yours if you will
accept of it. Not if it were worth ten thousand ducats, answered
I, for it would carry me away from your lordship. But, replied
the minister, you may fill it by deputy, and only visit
occasionally. That is as it may be, rejoined I; but I shall only
accept it on condition of resigning in favour of Don Andrew de
Tordesillas, a brave and loyal gentleman; I should like to give
him this place in acknowledgment of his kindness to me in the
tower of Segovia.

This plea made the minister laugh heartily, and say: As far as I
see, Gil Blas, you mean to make yourself a general patron. Even
so be it, my friend; the vacancy is yours for Tordesillas; but
tell me unfeignedly what fellow-feeling you have in the business,
for you are not such a fool as to throw away your interest for
nothing. My lord, answered I, Don Andrew charged me nothing for
all his acts of friendship, and should not a man repay his
obligations? You are become highly moral and self-mortified,
replied his excellency; rather more so than under the last
administration. Precisely so, rejoined I; then evil communication
corrupted my principles; bargain and sale were the order of the
day, and I conformed to the established practice: now, all
preferment is allotted on the footing of a meritorious free gift,
and my integrity shall not be the last to fall in with the
fashion.


CH. XIV. -- Santillane's visit to the poet Nunez, the company and
conversation.

ONE day, after dinner, a fancy seized me to go and see the poet
of the Asturias, feeling a sort of curiosity to know on what
floor he lodged. I repaired to the house of Signor Don Bertrand
Gomex Del Ribero, and asked for Nunez. He does not live here now,
said the porter, but over the way, in apartments at the back of
the house. I went thither, and crossing a small court, entered an
unfurnished parlour, where my friend Fabricio was sitting at
table, doing the honours to five or six guests from the hamlet
and liberty of Parnassus.

They were at the latter end of a feast, and of course at the
beginning of an affray; but as soon as they perceived me, a dead
silence succeeded to their obstreperous argumentation. Nunez rose
from his seat with much pomp and circumstance of politeness to
receive me, saying: Gentlemen, Signor de Santillane! He does me
the honour to visit me under this humble roof; as the favourite
of the prime minister, you will all join with me in tendering
your humble services. At this introduction, the worshipful
company got up and made their best bows; for my rank could not
fail of procuring me respect from the manufacturers of
dedications. Though I was neither hungry nor thirsty, it was
impossible not to sit down and drink a toast in such society.

My presence appearing to be a restraint, Gentlemen, said I, it
should seem that I have interrupted your conversation: resume it,
or you drive me away. My learned friends, said Fabricio, were
discussing the "Iphigenia" of Euripides. The bachelor, Melchior
de Villйgas, a clever man of the first rank in the republic of
letters, resumed the topic by asking Don Jacinto de Romerate
which was the point of interest in that tragedy. Don Jacinto
ascribed it to the imminent danger of Iphigenia. The bachelor
contended, offering to prove his proposition by all the evidence
admissible at the bar of logic or criticism, that the danger of a
trumpery girl had nothing to do with the real sympathy of that
affecting piece. What has to do with it then? bawled the old
licentiate Gabriel of Leon indignantly. It turns with the wind,
replied the bachelor.

The whole company burst into a shout of laughter at this
assertion, which they were far from considering as serious; and I
myself thought that Melchior had only launched it by way of
adding the zest of wit to the severity of critical discussion.
But I was out in my calculation respecting the character of that
eminent scholar: he had not a grain of sprightliness or
pleasantry in his whole composition. Laugh as you please,
gentlemen, replied he, very coolly; I maintain that there is no
circumstance but the wind, unless it be the weathercock, to
interest, to strike, to rouse the passions of the spectator.
Figure to yourselves a multitudinous army, assembled for the
purpose of laying siege to Troy; take into account the eager
haste of the officers and common men to carry their enterprise
into execution, that they may return with their best legs
foremost into Greece, where they have left everything most dear
to them, their household gods, their wives and their children:
all this while a mischievous wind from the wrong quarter keeps
them port-bound at Aulis, and, as it were, drives a nail into the
very head of the expedition; so that till better weather, it was
impossible to go and lay siege to Priam's town. Wind and weather
therefore make up the interest of this tragedy. My good wishes
are with the Greeks: my whole faculties are wrapped up in the
success of their design; the sailing of their fleet is with me
the only hinge of the fable, and I look at the danger of
Iphigenia with somewhat of a self-interested complacency, because
by her death the winding up of the story into a brisk and
favourable gale was likely to be accelerated,

As soon as Villйgas had finished his criticism, the laugh burst
out more than ever, at his expense. Nunez was sly enough to side
with him, that a fairer scope and broader mark might be presented
to the shafts of malicious wit which were let fly from all the
quarters in the shipman's card, at this poster of the sea and
land. But the bachelor, eyeing them all with sublime indifference
and supreme contempt, gave them to understand how low in the list
of the ignorant and vulgar they ranked in his estimation. Every
moment did I expect to see these vapouring spirits kindle into a
blaze, and wage war against the hairy honours of each other's
brainless skulls: but the joke was not carried to that length;
they confined their hostilities to opprobrious epithets, and took
their leave when they had eaten and drunk as much as they could
get.

After their departure, I asked Fabricio why he had separated
himself from his treasurer, and whether they had quarrelled.
Quarrelled! answered he: Heaven defend me from such a misfortune!
I am on better terms than ever with Signor Don Bertrand, who gave
his consent to my living apart from him: here therefore I receive
my friends, and take my pleasure with them unmolested. You know
very well that I am not of a temper to lay up treasures for those
who are to come after me; and as it happens luckily, I am now in
circumstances to give my little classical entertainments every
day. I am delighted at it, my dear Nunez, replied I, and once
more wish you joy on the success of your last tragedy: the great
Lope, by his eight hundred dramatic pieces, never made a quarter
of the money which you have got by the damnation of your "Count
de Saldagna."





 

 

 







BOOK THE TWELFTH.



CH I. -- Gil Blas sent to Toledo by the minister. The purpose of
his journey and its success.

For nearly a month his excellency had been saying to me every
day: Santillane, the time is approaching, when I shall call your
choicest powers of address into action; but the time that was
coming never came. It is a long lane, however, where there is no
turning; and his excellency at length spoke to me nearly as
follows: They say that there is, in the company of comedians at
Toledo, a young actress of much note for her personal and
professional fascinations; it is affirmed that she dances and
sings like all the muses and graces put together, and that the
whole theatre rings with applause at her performance: to these
perfections is added matchless and irresistible beauty. Such a
star should only shine within the circle of a court. The king has
a taste for the stage, for music, and for dancing: nor must he be
debarred from the pleasure of seeing and hearing such a prodigy.
I have determined on sending you to Toledo, that you may judge
for yourself whether she really is so extraordinary an actress:
on your feeling of her merit my measures shall be taken; for I
have unlimited confidence in your discernment.

I undertook to bring his lordship a good account of this
business, and made my arrangements for setting out with one
servant, but not in the minister's livery, by way of conducting
matters more warily; and that precaution relished well with his
excellency. On my arrival at Toledo, I had scarcely alighted at
the inn, when the landlord, taking me for some country gentleman,
said: Please your honour, you are probably come to be present at
the august ceremony of an Auto da Fй to-morrow. I answered in the
affirmative, the more completely to mislead him, and keep my own
counsel. You will see, replied he, one of the prettiest
processions you ever saw in your life: there are said to be more
than a hundred prisoners, and ten of them are to be roasted.

In good truth, next morning, before sun-rise, I heard all the
bells in the town peal merrily; and the design of their bob-
majors was to acquaint the people that the pastime was about to
begin. Curious to see what sort of a recreation it was, I dressed
in a hurry, and posted to the scene of action. All about that
quarter, and along the streets where the procession was to pass,
were scaffolds, on one of which I purchased a standing. The
Dominicans walked first, preceded by the banner of the
Inquisition. These Christian fathers were immediately followed by
the hapless victims of the holy office, selected for this day's
burnt-offering. These devoted wretches walked one by one with
their head and feet bare, each of them with a taper in his hand,
and a fiery, not baptismal godfather by his side. Some had large
yellow scapularies, worked with crosses of St Andrew, in red;
others wore sugar-loaf caps of paper, illustrated with flames,
and diabolical figures of all sorts by way of emblem.

As I looked narrowly at these objects of religious gaze, with a
compassion in my heart which might have been construed criminal,
had it run over from my eyes, I fancied that the reverend Father
Hilary and his companion brother Ambrose were among those who
figured in the sugar-loaf caps. They passed too near for me to be
deceived. What do I see? thought I inwardly: heaven, wearied out
with the wicked lives of these two scoundrels, has given them up
to the justice of the Inquisition! My whole frame trembled at the
thought, and my spirits were scarcely equal to support me from
fainting. My connection with these knaves, the adventure at
Xelva, all our pranks in partnership rushed upon my memory, and I
did not know how sufficiently to thank God for having preserved
me from St Andrew's crosses and the painted devils on the paper
caps.

When the ceremony was over, I returned to the inn, with my heart
sickening at the dreadful sight; but painful impressions soon
wear away, and I thought only of my commission and its due
accomplishment. I waited with impatience for play-time, as the
moment and scene of my commencing operations. On the opening of
the doors I repaired to the theatre, and took my seat next to a
knight of Alcantara. We soon got into chat. Sir, said I, the
players here have been represented to me in very favourable
terms: may I give credit to general report? The company is not
contemptible, replied the knight: they have some first-rate
performers; among the rest, the peerless Lucretia, an actress of
fourteen, who will astonish you: and she plays one of her best
parts to-night.

On the drawing up of the curtain, two actresses came on, with
every advantage of dress and stage effect: but neither of them
could possibly be the object of my search. At length Lucretia
made her appearance at the back scene, and walked forwards amidst
a thunder of applause. Ah! this is she, indeed! thought I! and a
delicate specimen of loveliness, as I am a sinner! In her very
first speech she proved herself a child of nature, with energy
and conception far above her years; and the approbation of a
provincial audience was confirmed by my metropolitan judgment.
The knight was happy to find I liked her, and assured me that if
I had heard her sing, my ears might have rejoiced to the sorrow
of my heart. Her dancing, too, he represented as not less
formidable to the free will of lordly man. I inquired what youth,
blessed as the immortal gods, had the exquisite happiness of
bringing himself to beggary for so sweet a girl. She is under no
avowed protection, said he; and scandal has not coupled her name
with private licence; but Lucretia must take care of herself, for
she is under the wing of her aunt Estella; and there is not an
actress in the company so warmly fledged for hatching the tender
passions into life.

At the name of Estella, I inquired with some eagerness who she
was. One of our best performers, said my informant. She does not
play to-night, to our great loss, for her cast is that of
abigails, and she humours them to perfection. A little too broad,
perhaps, but that is a fault on the right side. From the features
of the description, there could be no doubt but this must be
Laura; that lady so notorious in these memoirs, whom I left at
Grenada.

To make assurance doubly sure, I went behind the scenes after the
play. There she was, in the green-room, flirting with some men of
fashion, who probably endured the aunt for the sake of the niece.
I came up to pay my devotions; but whim, or perhaps revenge for
my cutting and running from Grenada, determined her to put on the
stranger, and receive my compliments with so discouraging a
coldness, as to throw me into some little confusion. Instead of
laughing it off, I was fool enough to be angry, and withdrew in a
choleric determination to return next day. Laura shall smart for
this! said I; her niece shall not appear at court; I will tell
the minister that she dances like a she bear, has formed her
bravura between the scream of a pea-hen and the cackle of a
goose, acts like a puppet, and comprehends like an idiot.

Such was my scheme of revenge, but it proved abortive. Just as I
was going out of town, a footboy brought me the following note:
"Forget and forgive, and follow the bearer." I obeyed, and found
Laura at her dressing-table in very elegant apartments near the
theatre.

She rose to welcome me, saying: Signor Gil Blas, you have every
reason to be offended at your reception behind the scenes, which
was out of character between such old friends, but I really was
most abominably disconcerted. Just as you came up, one of our
gentlemen had brought me some scandalous stories about my niece,
whose honour has always been dearer to me than my own. On coming
to myself, I immediately sent my servant to find you out, with
the intention of making you amends to-day. You have done so
already, my dear Laura, said I, let us therefore talk over old
times. You may remember that I left you in a very ticklish
predicament, when conscience and the fear of punishment drove me
so precipitately from Grenada. How did you get off with your
Portuguese lover? Easily enough, answered Laura: do not you know
that in those cases men are mere fools, and acquit us women
without even calling for our defence?

I faced the Marquis of Marialva out, that you were my very
brother, and drew upon my impudence for the support of my credit.
Do you not see, said I to my Portuguese dupe, that this is all
the contrivance of jealousy and rage? My rival, Narcissa,
infuriated at my possession of a heart which she had vainly
attempted to gain, has bribed the candle-snuffer to assert that
he has seen me as Arsenia's waiting-woman at Madrid. It is an
abominable falsehood; the widow of Don Antonio Coello has always
been too high in her notions, to be the hanger-on of a theatrical
mistress. Besides, what completely disproves the whole
allegation, is my brother's precipitate retreat: if he were here,
it would be a subject of evidence; but Narcissa must have devised
some stratagem to get him out of the way.

These reasons, continued Laura, were not the most convincing in
the world, but they did very well for the marquis; and that good,
easy nobleman continued his confidence till his return to
Portugal. This happened soon after your departure; and Zapata's
wife had the pleasure of seeing me lose what she could not win.
After this, I stayed some years longer at Grenada, till the
company was broken up in consequence of some squabbles, which
will take place in mimic as well as in real life: some went to
Seville, others to Cordova; and I came to Toledo, where I have
been for these ten years with my niece Lucretia, whose
performance you must have seen last night

This was too much to be taken gravely. Laura inquired why I
laughed. Can that be a question? said I. You have neither brother
nor sister, one or other of which is a necessary ingredient in an
aunt. Besides, when I calculate in my mind the lapse of time
since our last separation, and compare that period with the age
of your niece, it is more than possible that your relationship
may be in a nearer degree of kin.

I understand you, replied Don Antonio's widow, with something
like a moral tinge of red in her cheek; you are an accurate
chronologist! There is no garbling facts in defiance of your
memory. Well, then! Lucretia is my daughter by the Marquis of
Marialva: it was extremely wrong, but I cannot conceal it from
you. The confession must indeed be a shock to your modesty, said
I, after telling me yourself what pranks you played with the
hospital steward at Zamora. I must tell you moreover that
Lucretia is an article of so superior a quality as to render you
a public benefactor by having thrown her into the market. It were
to be wished that the stolen embraces of all your fraternity
might be blessed with fruitfulness, if they could secure to
themselves a patent for breeding after your sample.

Should any sarcastic reader, comparing this passage with some
circumstances related while I was the marquis's secretary,
suspect me of being entitled to dispute the honours of paternity
with that nobleman, I blush to say, that my claims are entirely
out of the question.

I laid open my principal adventures to Laura in my turn, as well
as the present state of my affairs. She listened with interest,
and said: Friend Santillane, you seem to play a principal part on
the stage of the world, and I congratulate you most heartily.
Should Lucretia be engaged at Madrid, I flatter myself she will
find a powerful protector in Signor de Santillane. Doubt it not,
answered I: your daughter may have her engagement whenever you
please; I can promise you that, without presuming too much on my
interest. I take you at your word, replied Laura, and would set
out to-morrow, were I not under articles to this company. An
order from court will cut the knot of any articles, rejoined I;
and that I take upon myself: you shall have it within a week. It
is an act of chivalry to rescue Lucretia from Toledo: such a
pretty little actress belongs to the royal court, as parcel of
the manor.

Lucretia came into the room just as I was talking of her. The
goddess Hebe herself never looked better in her best days: it was
nature in the bud, exhaling the sweets of her earliest bloom, but
promising a more luxuriant waste of treasure. She was just up;
and her natural beauty, without the aid of art, communicated the
most rapturous sensations. Come, niece; said her mother, thank
the gentleman for all his kindness to us: he is an old friend of
mine, who ranks high at court, and undertakes to get us both an
engagement at the theatre royal. The little girl seemed to be
much pleased, and made me a low curtsey, saying with an
enchanting smile: I most humbly thank you for your obliging
intention; but, by taking me from a partial audience, are you
certain that I shall not be looked down upon by that of Madrid? I
may but lose by the exchange. I remember hearing my aunt say,
that she has seen players most favourably received in one town,
and hissed off the stage in another; this absolutely frightens
me; beware therefore of exposing me to the derision of the court,
and yourself to its reproaches. Lovely Lucretia, answered I, we
have neither of us anything to fear; I am rather apprehensive
lest, by the havoc you will make among hearts, you should excite
rivalships and kindle discord among the courtiers. My niece's
fears, said Laura, are better founded than yours; but I hope they
will both prove vain: however feeble may be Lucretia's charms of
person, her talents as an actress are at least above mediocrity.

We continued the conversation for some time: and I could gather,
from Lucretia's share in it, that she was a girl of superior
talents. On taking leave, I assured them that they should
immediately receive a summons to Madrid.


CH. II. -- Santillane makes his report to the minister, who
commissions him to send for Lucretia. The first appearance of
that actress before the court.

ON my return, I found my lord duke impatient to be informed of my
success. Have you seen her? said he: is she worth transplanting?
My lord, answered I, fame, which generally runs beyond all
discretion in its report of beauty, has erred on the side of
parsimony in its estimate of the matchless young Lucretia; she is
all that youthful poets fancy when they feign, for personal
attractions, and all that veteran managers seek when they sign
articles, in scenic qualifications.

Is it possible? exclaimed the minister with a satisfaction which
involuntarily peeped out at his eyes, and made me think he had
some selfish hankerings after the article of my marketing at
Toledo; is it possible? and is she really so charming a creature?
When you see her, replied I, you will own that any verbal picture
of her perfections must be altogether inadequate to their due
description. His excellency then requiring a minute account of my
journey, I gave him all the particulars, not excepting Laura's
story, and Lucretia's parentage. His lordship was delighted at
the latter circumstance, and enjoined me, with a cordial
compliment on my skill in such delicate negotiations, to finish
as auspiciously as I had begun my undertaking.

I went to look for Carnero, and told him that it was his
excellency's pleasure he should make out an order for the
admission of Estella and Lucretia, actresses from the Toledo
theatre, into his majesty's company. Say you so, Signor de
Santillane? answered Carnero with a sarcastic leer; you shall not
be kept long in suspense, since you take so marked an interest in
the fortunes of these two ladies. He expedited the order in my
presence, and within a week the mother and daughter sent me
notice of their arrival. I immediately hastened to their lodging
near the theatre, and after an interchange of thanks on their
part, and assurances of continued support on mine, left them with
my best wishes for a bnlliant career of success.

Their names were announced in the bills as two new actresses,
engaged by the special mandate of the court. They made their
first appearance in a play, which they had been accustomed to
perform in at Toledo with loud and unanimous applause.

Novelty is the very life and soul of theatrical entertainments.
The house was uncommonly crowded, and I of course was among the
audience. I was rather frightened before the curtain drew up.
Prejudiced as I was in favour of the candidates, my alarm was in
proportion to my interest. But when once they were fairly on the
boards, the din of welcome quieted all my apprehensions. Estella
was considered as a first-rate actress in comic parts, and
Lucretia as a female Roscius in heroines and love-sick damsels.
But the love which she feigned herself, she really kindled in the
hearts of the spectators. Some admired the beauty of her eyes,
others were touched with the plaintive sweetness of her voice,
and all, bowing to the triumph of youth, vivacity, and elegance,
went away in raptures with her person.

My lord duke, who took an uncommon interest in this theatrical
event, was at the play that evening. I saw him leave his box at
the end of the piece, with evident approbation of our new
performers. Curious to know whether they equalled his
expectations, I followed him home, and into his closet, saying:
Well, my lord, is your excellency well pleased with little
Marialva? My excellency, answered he with a sly smile, must be
very difficult to be pleased, not to confirm the public voice:
yes, indeed, my good friend, I am enraptured with your Lucretia,
and firmly believe that the king will not see her without
emotion.


CH. III. -- Lucretia's popularity; her appearance before the
king; his passion, and its consequences.

GREAT was the noise about the court on this double acquisition to
the theatre; it became the topic of conversation next day at the
king's levee. The young Lucretia was most in the mouths of the
nobility, who described her so feelingly, that his majesty could
not but imbibe the impression, though he was too politic to
express his interest either in words or by looks.

To make amends for that restraint, he questioned the minister as
soon as he was alone with him, who stated the success of a young
actress from Toledo on the evening before. Her name, added he, is
Lucretia; and it is really a pity that ladies of her profession
should ever have been christened by any less chaste appellative.
She is an acquaintance of Santillane, who spoke so highly of her,
that I thought it right to engage her for your majesty's company.
The king smiled at the mention of my name, recollecting, perhaps,
through what channel he became acquainted with Catalina, and
foreboding a like assistance on the present occasion. Count, said
he to the minister, I mean to see this Lucretia act to-morrow,
and will thank you to let her know it.

I was of course sent with this intelligence to the two actresses.
Great news! said I to Laura, whom I saw first: you will have the
sovereign of the Spanish monarchy among your audience to-morrow,
as the minister has desired me to inform you. I cannot doubt but
you will both of you do your best to prove yourselves worthy of a
royal command; but I would advise you to choose a piece with
music and dancing, that all Lucretia's accomplishments may be
displayed at one view. We will take your counsel, answered Laura,
and it shall not be our faults if his majesty is disappointed.
That can scarcely happen, said I, seeing Lucretia come into the
room in an undress, which shewed her person to more advantage
than all the wardrobe of the theatre: he will be the more
delighted with your lovely niece, because dancing and music are
his principal pleasures: he may even be tempted to throw her the
handkerchief. I do not at all wish, replied Laura, that he should
be that way inclined; all-powerful monarch as he is, he might not
find the accomplishment of his desires so easy. Lucretia, though
brought up behind the scenes, is not without virtuous principles;
whatever pleasure she may take in applause and professional
reputation, she had much rather preserve the character of a good
girl, than establish that of a great actress.

Aunt, said little Marialva, joining in the conversation, why
conjure up monsters only to lay them again? I shall never be at a
loss to repel the king's advances, because his taste is too
refined to stoop so low. But, charming Lucretia, said I, if such
a thing should happen, would you be cruel enough to let him
languish like a common lover? Why not? answered she. Setting
virtue aside, my vanity would he more flattered by my own
resistance than by the tribute of his affection. I was not a
little surprised to hear a pupil of Laura's school talk so
properly, and to find that with so free an education she imbibed
such unusual principles of morality.

The king, impatient to see Lucretia, went to the play next
evening. The piece was got up with music and dancing, to shew our
young actress off to the best advantage. My eyes were fixed on
his majesty; but he completely eluded my penetration by an
obstinate gravity. On the following day, the minister said:
Santillane, I have just been with the king, who has been talking
about Lucretia, with so much animation, that I doubt not but he
is smitten: and, as I told him that you had sent for her from
Toledo, he expressed a wish to confer with you in private on the
subject: orders are given for your admittance; run, and bring me
back an account of what passes.

I flew to the palace, and found the king alone. He was walking up
and down, in much apparent perplexity. He put several questions
to me about Lucretia, made me relate her history, and then asked
whether the little jade had not been tampering with chastity
already. I boldly assured him to the contrary, though such
pledges were somewhat hazardous in general; but mine was taken,
and gave the prince much pleasure. If so, replied he, I select
you for my agent with Lucretia; let her become acquainted with
her triumph from your lips. He then put a box of jewels into my
hand, worth fifty thousand crowns, with a message begging her
acceptance of them, and promising more substantial proofs of his
affection.

Before I went on my errand, I reported progress to my lord duke.
That minister, I thought, would be more vexed than rejoiced at
it; supposing that he had his own views of gallantry towards
Lucretia, and would learn with regret the rivalship of his
master; but I was mistaken. Far from appearing chagrined, his joy
was so excessive, that it would ooze out at his tongue, in words
which were not quite lost on the hearer. "Indeed, friend Philip!
then I have you in my clutches: while your pleasures lead you,
your business must be left to me!" This side speech explained to
me the plot; an amorous prince, and a long-headed minister! My
orders were to execute my commission as speedily as possible,
with the assurance that the first lord in the land would be proud
to stand in my shoes. Besides, there was no pimp of rank, as in
the former case, to seize the profit and leave the infamy with
me; the honour and emolument were now exclusively my own.

Thus did his excellency relish the ingredients of pandarism to my
palate; and I tasted them with the greediness, but not without
the qualms of an epicure; for since my imprisonment I had become
regenerate, and did not take pride in dirty work, because my
employer washed his hands in perfumed water. But though
conscience was awake, interest was not asleep. I was no longer a
villain for the fun of it; but my compliance would confirm my
footing with the minister, and him it was my duty, at all events,
to please.

My first appeal was to Laura in private. I opened the negotiation
delicately, and presented my credentials in the form of the
jewel-box. The lady was thrown off her guard by the display.
Signor Gil Blas, cried she, you are one of my oldest friends, and
I must not play the hypocrite: strait-laced morals are
inconsistent with the discipline of my sect. Nothing can be more
delightful to me than a conquest, which throws such a game into
our hands. But, between ourselves, I am afraid Lucretia is not so
enlightened as we are; though a daughter of Thalia, she has taken
the better-behaved goddesses for her school-mistresses, and given
a rebuff to two young noblemen of amiable manners and large
fortunes. They were not kings, you will say, and truly we may
hope that Lucretia's virtue will be too undisciplined to stand a
royal siege; but you must remember the event is hazardous, and I
shall not interpose my authority to compel her. If, far from
thinking herself honoured by the fleeting passion of the king,
she should revolt from his advances with disdain, let not our
illustrious sovereign be offended at her reserve. But do you come
back hither to-morrow, and carry back either the jewels, or a
return of affection.

I had no doubt but Laura would tutor Lucretia in the school of
time-serving morality, and depended much on her instruction. It
was therefore no small surprise to find that Laura worked as much
against wind and tide to launch her daughter into the trade-wind
of evil, as other maternal pilots to set the sails of theirs in
the contrary monsoon of good; and what is still more
unaccountable, Lucretia, after tasting of royal delights, was so
completely surfeited with the banquet as to throw herself at once
into the arms of the church, where she professed, fell sick, and
died of grief. Laura, disconsolate for the loss of her daughter,
and the part she herself had acted in the tragedy, retired into a
convent of female penitents, and did penance for the unhallowed
pleasures of her former life. The king was affected by his sudden
loss, but soon found comfort in some other pursuit. The premier
talked little on the subject, but thought so much the more, as
the reader will easily believe.


CH. IV. -- Santillane in a new office.

MY feelings were all alive to Lucretia's ill fate, and my own
infamy in having contributed to it. The royal wants of the lover
were no excuse for my taking the post of cheapener, and I
determined to resign the staff of office in that department,
entreating the minister to employ me in some other. He was
charmed with my nice sense of honour, and promised to comply with
my scruples, laying open his inmost heart in the following
speech.

Some years before I was in office, chance threw me across a lady
of such shape and beauty as induced me to trace her home. I
learned that she was a Genoese, by name Donna Margarita Spinola,
supporting herself at Madrid on the income arising from her
beauty. It was reported that Don Francisco de Valйasar, an
officer about the court, a rich man, an old man, and a married
man, laid out his money very freely on this hazardous
speculation. These rumours ought to have deterred me; but they
only whetted my desires to share with Valйasar. To gain my end, I
had recourse to a female broker of tenderness, who adjusted the
terms of a private interview with the Genoese; and the price
current being settled, the traffic was frequently repeated; it
was an open market for my rival and me, or possibly for many
other bidders.

Let that be as it may, a choice boy was in the fulness of time
produced to the club, and the mother complimented every member
individually in private with the credit: but we were each of us
too modest to acknowledge a bantling which had so probable a
claim upon a better father; so that the Genoese was compelled to
maintain him on the profits of her profession: this she did for
eighteen years, and dying at the end of that period, has left her
son without a farthing, and what is worse, without an idea or an
accomplishment.

Such, continued his lordship, is the confidence I meant to repose
in you, and I shall now lay open the great design I have formed,
to draw this unfortunate child from his obscurity, reverse the
colour of his fate, raise him to the highest honours, and
acknowledge him as my son.

At so extravagant a project it was impossible not to be open-
mouthed. What, sir, exclaimed I, can your excellency have adopted
so strange a resolution! Excuse my freedom; but my zeal cannot
restrain itself. You will be of my mind, replied he with
eagerness, when I shall have explained to you my motives. I have
no mind that my estates should descend in the collateral line.
You will tell me, that I am not so old as to despair of having
children by Madame d'Olivarez. But every one is best judge of his
own condition: know therefore that there is not a receipt in the
whole extent of chemistry which I have not tried, but without
effect, to appear once again in the character of a father.
Wherefore, since fortune, stepping in to cover the defects of
nature, presents me with a child whose parent after all I may
actually be, he is mine by adoption; that is a settled point.

When I found the minister determined, I no longer argued against
his resolution, as knowing him to be a man who would rather do a
foolish act of his own, than adopt a wise suggestion of another.
It only remains now, added he, to educate Don Henry Philip de
Guzman; for by that name I intend him to be known in the world,
till the time arrives when he may aspire to higher dignities.
You, my dear Santillane, I have chosen to superintend his
conduct: I have full confidence in your talents and friendship,
to regulate his household, direct his studies, and make him an
accomplished gentleman. I would willingly have declined the
office, as never having exercised the craft of a pedagogue, which
required much more genius and solidity than mine; but he shut my
mouth by saying it was his absolute determination that I should
be tutor to this adopted son, whom he designed for the first
offices of the monarchy. As a bribe for my compliance, his
lordship increased my little income with a pension of a thousand
crowns on the commandery of Mambra.


CH. V. -- The son of the Genoese is acknowledged by a legal
instrument, and named Don Henry Philip de Guzman. Santillane
establishes his household, and arranges the course of his
studies.

THE act of adoption was soon legalized with the king's consent
and good pleasure. Don Henry Philip de Guzman, as this descendant
from a committee of fathers was named, became acknowledged
successor to the earldom of Olivarez and the duchy of San Lucar.
The minister, to give the act all possible publicity,
communicated it through Carnero to the ambassadors and grandees
of Spain, who were somewhat startled. The jokers of Madrid were
not insensible to the ridicule, and the satirical poets made
their harvest of so fine a subject for their pen.

I asked my lord duke where my pupil was. Here in town, answered
he, with an aunt from whom I shall remove him as soon as you have
got a house ready. This I did immediately, and furnished it
magnificently. When my establishment was complete in servants and
officers, his excellency sent for this equivocal production, this
spurious offset from the renowned stock of the Guzmans. The lad
was tall and personable. Don Henry, said his lordship, pointing
to me, this gentleman is to be your tutor and introduce you into
the world; he has my entire confidence, and an unlimited
authority over you. After much good advice, and many compliments
to me, the minister retired, and I took Don Henry home.

As soon as we got thither, I introduced him to his household, and
explained the nature of each individual's employment. He did not
seem at all disconcerted at the change of circumstances, but
received the obeisances of his dependants as if he had been a
lord by nature, and not by chance. He was not without mother-wit,
but ignorant in a deplorable degree; he could scarcely read and
write. I gave him masters for the Latin grammar, geography,
history, and fencing. A dancing-master of course was not
forgotten; but in an affair of the first consequence, selection
was difficult, for there were more eminent professors of that art
in Madrid than of all the languages and sciences put together.

While I was pondering on this difficulty, a man gaudily dressed
came into the court-yard and inquired for me. I went down,
supposing him to be at least a knight of some military or
privileged order. Signor de Santillane, said he, with a profusion
of bows which anticipated his line in life, I am come to offer
you my services as Don Henry's governor. My name is Martin
Ligero, and I have, thank heaven, some reputation in the world. I
have no occasion to canvass for scholars; that is all very well
for petty dancing-masters! My custom is to wait till I am sent
for; but being a sort of appendage to the house of Guzman, and
having taught its various branches for a long period, I thought
it a point of respect to wait on you first. I perceive, answered
I, that you are just the man we want What are your terms? Four
double pistoles a month, answered he, and I give but two lessons
a week. Four doubloons a month! cried I, that is an exorbitant
price. Exorbitant! rejoined he with astonishment; why, it is not
more than eight times as much as you would give to a mathematical
master or a Greek professor.

There was no resisting so ludicrous a comparison of merit; I
laughed out right, and asked Signor Ligero whether he really
thought his talents worth more than those of the first
proficients in learning and science. Most assuredly, said he; at
least, if you measure our pretensions by their respective
utility. What sort of machines may those be which are fashioned
under their hands? Jointless puppets, unlicked cubs, open-mouthed
and impenetrable shell-fish; but our lessons supple and render
pliant the intractable stiffness of their component parts, and
bring them insensibly into shape: in short, we communicate to
them a graceful motion, a polite address, the carriage of good
company, and the outward marks of elevated rank.

I could not but give way to such cogent arguments in favour of
the dancing-master's occupation, and engaged him about Dun
Henry's person without haggling as to terms, since those
specified were only at the rate established by the leading
professors of the art.


CH. VI. -- Scipio's return from New Spain. Gil Blas places him
about Don Henry's person. That young nobleman's course of study.
His career of honour, and his father's matrimonial speculation on
his behalf. A patent of nobility conferred on Gil Blas against
his will.

I HAD not yet half arranged Don Henry's household, when Scipio
returned from Mexico. He brought with him three thousand ducats
in cash, and merchandise to double the amount. I wish you joy,
said I; the foundation of your fortune is laid; and if you prefer
a snug berth at Madrid to the risk of going back, you have only
to tell me so. There is no question about that, said the son of
Coselina: a genteel situation at home is far preferable to a
second voyage.

After relating the birth and adventures of the little adopted
Guzman, and my own appointment as tutor, I offered him the
situation of upper servant to this babe of chance: Scipio, who
could have devised nothing better for himself, readily accepted
the office, and within the small space of three or four days got
the length of his new master's foot.

I had taken it for granted that that the verb-grinders and
concord-manufacturers to whom I had given the plant of this
Genoese bastard would lose stock and block, under the idea that
he was of an intractable and profitless age; but my forebodings
were completely reversed. He not only comprehended, but easily
retained the lessons of his masters, and they were very well
satisfied with him. I was in an enormous hurry to greet the ears
of my lord duke with this intelligence, and he received, it with
abundant joy. Santillane, exclaimed he with delight, you give me
new life by the assurance of Don Henry's capacity and
application: it runs in the blood of the Guzmans; and I am the
more confirmed in his being unquestionably my own, because I am
just as fond of him as if Madame d' Olivarez herself had lain in
of the brat in due form under this very roof. The voice of
nature, you perceive, will make itself heard. I thought it
unnecessary to give his lordship any opinion on that subject; but
with a delicate deference to his credulity, left him to enjoy his
fancied paternity in peace, whether well or ill founded.

Though all the Guzmans held this clod of newly turned up nobility
in utter scorn, they were politic enough to smooth over the
corrugations of their contempt; nay, some of them even affected
to languish for his good opinion: the ambassadors and principal
nobility then at Madrid waited on him, with all the ceremony
appertaining to the rank of a legitimate son. The minister,
intoxicated with the fumes of incense offered to his idol, began
to build a temple worthy of the worship. The cross of Alcantara
was the foundation, with a commandery of ten thousand crowns. The
next step was to a high office in the royal household, and the
completion of the whole was matrimony. Wishing to connect him
with a family of the first rank, he picked out Donna Johanna de
Velasco, daughter to the Duke of Castile, and had influence
enough to accomplish the alliance, though against the will of the
duke and of all his kindred.

Some days before the nuptial ceremony, his lordship put some
papers into my hand, saying: Here, Gil Blas, is a patent of
nobility which I have procured as the reward of your services. My
lord, answered I, in much astonishment, your excellency knows
very well that I am the son of an usher and a duenna: it would be
caricaturing the peerage to confer it on me; and besides, of all
the boons in his majesty's power to bestow, it is that which I
deserve and desire the least. Your birth, replied the minister,
is a slight objection. You have been employed on affairs of state
under the Duke of Lerma's administration and under mine: besides,
added he with a smile, have you not rendered some things to
Caesar, which Caesar is bound, on the honour of a prince, to
render back in another shape? To deal candidly, Santillane, you
will make just as good a lord as the best of them; nay, more than
that, your high office about my son is incompatible with plebeian
rank, and therefore have I procured you to be created. Since your
excellency will have it so, replied I, there is no more to be
said. So, saying no more, I put my new-blown honours in my
pocket, and walked off.

Now can I make any Joan a lady! said I to myself when I had got
into the street: but it was not the handy-work of my parents that
made me a gentle man. I may add a foot of honour to my name
whenever I please; and if any of my acquaintance should snuff or
snigger when they call me Don, I may suck my teeth, lean upon my
elbow, and draw out my credentials of heraldry. But let us see
what they contain; and how the corporeal particles, which have
accrued during my artificial contact with the court, are
distinguished by genealogical metaphysics from the native clay of
my original extraction. The instrument ran thus in substance:
That the king in acknowledgment of my zeal in more than one
instance for his service and the good of the state, had been
graciously pleased to confer this mark of distinction on me. I
may safely say that the recollection of the act for which I was
promoted effectually kept down my pride. Neither did the
bashfulness of low birth ever forsake me; so that nobility to me
was like a hair shirt to a penitent: I determined therefore to
lock up the evidences of my shame in a private drawer, instead of
blazoning them to dazzle the eyes of the foolish and corrupt.


CH. VII. -- An accidental meeting between Gil Blas and Fabricio.
Their last conversation together, and a word to the wise from
Nunez.

THE poet of the Asturias, as the reader, if he thought of him,
may have remarked, was very negligent in his intercourse with me.
It was not to be expected, that my employments would leave me
time to go and look after him. I had not seen him since the
critical discussion touching the Iphigenia of Euripides, when
chance threw me across him, as he came out of a printing-house. I
accosted him, saying: So! so! Master Nunez, you have got among
the printers: this looks as if we were threatened with some new
production.

You may indeed prepare yourselves for such an event, answered he:
I have a pamphlet just ready for publication which is likely to
make some noise in the literary world. There can be no question
about its merit, replied I: but I cannot conceive why you waste
your time in writing pamphlets: it should seem as if such squibs
and rockets were scarcely worth the powder expended in their
manufacture. It is very true, rejoined Fabricio: and I am well
aware that none but the most vulgar gazers are caught by such
holiday fire-works: however, this single one has escaped me, and
I must own that it is a child of necessity. Hunger, as you know,
will bring the wolf out of the forest.

What! exclaimed I, is it the author of the "Count of Saldagna"
who holds this language? A man with an annuity of two thousand
crowns? Gently, my friend, interrupted Nunez: I am no longer a
pensioned poet. The affairs of the treasurer Don Bertrand are all
at sixes and sevens: he has been at the gaming table, and played
with the public money: an extent has issued, and my rent-charge
is gone post-haste to the devil. That is a sad affair, said I:
but may not matters come round again in that quarter? No chance
of it, answered he: Signor Gomez Del Ribero, in plight as
destitute as that of his poor bard, is sunk for ever; nor can he,
as they say, by any possible contrivance be set afloat again.

In that case, my good friend, replied I, we must look out for
some post which may make you amends for the loss of your annuity.
I will ease your con science on that score, said he: though you
should offer me the wealth of the Indies as a salary in one of
your offices, I would reject the boon: clerkships are no object
to a partner in the firm of the Muses; a literary berth, or
absolute starvation for your humble servant! If you must have it
plump, I was born to live and die a poet, and the man whose
destiny is hanging, will never be drowned.

But do not suppose, continued he, that we are altogether forlorn
and destitute: besides that we accommodate the requisites of
independence to our finances, we do not look far beyond our noses
in calculating the avenge of our fortunes. It is insinuated that
we often dine with the most abstemious orders of the religious;
but our sanctity in this particular is too credulously imputed.
There is not one of my brother wits, without excepting the
calculators of almanacs, who has not a plate laid for him at some
substantial table: for my own part, I have the run of two good
houses. To the master of one I have dedicated a romance; and he
is the first commissioner of taxes who was ever associated with
the Muses: the other is a rich tradesman in Madrid, whose lust is
to get wits about him; he is not nice in his choice, and this
town furnishes abundance to those who value wit more by quantity
than quality.

Then I no longer feel for you, said I to the poet of the
Asturias, since you are satisfied in your condition. But be that
as it may, I assure you once more, that you have a friend in Gil
Blas, however you may slight him: if you want my purse, come and
take it: it will not fail you at a pinch; and you must not stand
between me and my sincere friendship.

By that burst of sentiment, exclaimed Nunez, I know and thank my
friend Santillane: in return, let me give you a salutary caution.
While my lord duke is in his meridian, and you are all in all
with him, reap, bind, and gather is your harvest: when the sun
sets, the gleaners are sent home. I asked Fabricio whether his
suspicions were surely founded; and he returned me this answer.
My information comes from an old knight of Calatrava, who pokes
his nose into secrets of all sorts; his authority passes current
at Madrid, much as that of the Pythian newsmongers did through
Greece; and thus his oracle was pronounced in my hearing: My lord
duke has a host of enemies in battle-array against him; he
reckons too securely upon his influence with the king; for his
majesty, as the report goes, begins to take in hostile
representations with patience. I thanked Nunez for his friendly
warning, but without much faith in his prediction: my master's
authority seemed rooted in the court, like the tempest-scoffing
firmness of an oak in the native soil of the forest.

Cu. VIII. -- Gil Blas finds that Fabricio's hint was not without
foundation. The king's journey to Saragossa.
 

THE poet of the Asturias was no bad politician. There was a court
plot against the duke, with the queen at the bottom; but their
plans were too deeply laid to bubble at the surface. During the
space of a whole year, my simplicity was insensible to the
brewing of the tempest.

The revolt of the Catalans, with France at their back, and the
ill success of the war for their suppression, excited the murmurs
of the people, and whetted their tongues against government. A
council was held in the royal presence, and the Marquis de Grana,
the emperor's ambassador, was specially requested to assist. The
subject in debate was whether the king should remain in Castile,
or go and take the command of his troops in Arragon. The minister
spoke first, and gave it as his opinion that his majesty should
not quit the seat of government All the members supported his
arguments, with the exception of the Marquis de Grana, whose
whole heart was with the house of Austria, and the sentiments of
his soul on the tip of his tongue, after the homely honesty of
his nation. He argued so forcibly against the minister, that the
king embraced his opinion from conviction, though contrary to the
vote of council, and fixed the day when he would set out for the
army.

This was the first time that ever the sovereign had differed from
his favourite, and the latter considered it as an inexpiable
affront. Just as the minister was withdrawing to his closet,
there to bite upon the bridle, he espied me, called me in; and
told me with much discomposure what had passed in debate: Yes,
Santillane, observed he, the king, who for the last twenty years
has spoken only through my mouth, and seen with my eyes, is now
to be wheedled over by Grana; and that on the score of zeal for
the house of Austria, as if that German had a more Austrian soul
in his body than myself.

Hence it is easy to perceive, continued the minister, that there
is a strong party against me, with the queen at the head. Heaven
forbid it, said I. Has not the queen for upwards of twelve years
been accustomed to your paramount authority, and have you not
taught the king the knack of not consulting her? The desire of
making a campaign may for once have enlisted his majesty on the
side of the Marquis de Grana. Say rather that the king, argued my
lord duke, will be surrounded by his principal officers when in
camp; and then the disaffected will find their opportunity for
poisoning him against my administration. But they overreach
themselves; for I shall completely insulate the prince from all
their approaches; and so he did, in a manner which, for example,
deserves not to be passed over.

The day of the king's departure being arrived, the monarch,
leaving the queen regent, proceeded for Saragossa by way of
Aranjuez; a delightful residence, where he whiled away three
weeks. Cuenзa was the next stage, where the minister detained him
still longer by a succession of amusements. A hunting party was
contrived at Molina in Arragon, and hence there was no choice of
road but to Saragossa. The army was near at hand, and the king
was preparing to review it: but his keeper sickened him of the
project, by making him believe that he would be taken by the
French, who were in force in the neighbourhood; so that he was
cowed by a groundless apprehension, and consented to be a
prisoner in his own court. The minister, from an affectionate
regard to his safety, secluded him from all approach: so that the
principal nobility, who had equipped themselves at enormous
charges to be about his person, could not even procure an
occasional audience. Philip, weary of bad lodgings and worse
recreation at Saragossa, and perhaps feeling himself scarcely his
own master, soon returned to Madrid. Thus ended the royal
campaign, and the care of maintaining the honour of the Spanish
colours was left to the Marquis de los Velez, commander-in-chief.


CH. IX. -- The revolution of Portugal, and disgrace of the prime
minister.

A FEW days after the king's return, an alarming report prevailed
at Madrid, that the Portuguese, considering the Catalan revolt as
an opportunity offered them by fortune for throwing off the
Spanish yoke, had taken arms, and chosen the Duke of Braganza for
their king, with a full determination of supporting him on the
throne. In this they conceived that they did not reckon without
their host; because Spain was then embroiled in Germany, Italy,
Flanders, and Catalonia. They could not in fact have hit upon a
crisis more favourable for their deliverance from so galling a
yoke.

It was a strange circumstance, that while both court and city
were struck with consternation at the news, my lord duke
attempted to joke with the king, and make the Duke of Braganza
his butt; Philip, however, far from falling in with this ill-
timed pleasantry, assumed a serious air, of ill omen to the
minister, who felt his seat to totter under him. The queen was
now his declared enemy, and openly accused him of having caused
the revolt of Portugal by his misconduct. The nobility in
general, and especially those who had been at Saragossa, when
they saw a cloud gathering about the minister, joined the queen's
party: but the decisive blow was the return of the duchess
dowager of Mantua from her government of Portugal to Madrid; for
she proved clearly to the king's conviction that the counsels of
his own cabinet produced the revolution. *[see note at end of
chapter]

His majesty, deeply impressed with what he had heard, was now
completely recovered from every symptom of partiality towards his
favourite. The minister, finding that his enemies were in
possession of the royal ear, wrote for permission to resign his
employments, and retire from court, since all the political
mischances of the time were ascribed to his personal delinquency.
He expected a letter like this to produce a wonderful effect,
reckoning as be did upon the prince's private friendship, which
could scarcely brook a separation: but his majesty's answer
undeceived him, by laconically complying with his ostensible wish
to withdraw.

Such a sentence of banishment in the king's own hand-writing came
like a thunder-storm in harvest; but though destruction to his
long-cherished hopes, he affected the serene look of constancy,
and asked me what I would do in his circumstances. I would drive
before the wind, said I; renounce the ungrateful court, and pass
the remainder of my days in peace on my own estate. You counsel
wisely, replied my master, and I shall set out for Loeches, there
to finish my career, after one more interview with his majesty:
for I could wish just to convince him that I have done what man
can do to support the heavy load of state upon my shoulders, and
that it was not within the compass of possibility to prevent the
unfortunate events which are imputed to me as a crime. It were
equally reasonable to charge the pilot with the wrecking fury of
the storm, and make him answerable for the uncontrolled power of
the elements. Thus did the minister inwardly flatter himself that
he could set things to rights again, and once more fix firm the
seat which was shaking under him; but he could not procure an
audience, and was even commanded to resign his key of private
admission into his majesty's closet.

This last requisition convinced him that there was no hope; and
he now made up his mind in earnest for retirement. He looked over
his papers, and had the prudence to burn a good number, he then
selected a small household for his retreat, and publicly
announced his departure for the next day. Apprehending insult
from the mob, if the time and manner of his setting out were
public, he escaped early in the morning through the kitchens out
at the back door, got in to a shabby, hired carriage, with his
confessor and me, and reached in safety the road leading to
Loeches, a village on his own estate, where his countess had
founded a magnificent convent of Dominican nuns.

*Note:
At length his sovereign frowns -- the train of state
Mark the keen glance, and watch the sign to hate.
"Johnson's Imitation of Juvenal's Tenth Satire."


CH. X. -- A difficult, but successful, weaning from the world.
The minister's employments in his retreat.

MADAME D'OLIVAREZ stayed behind her husband some few days, with
the intention of trying what her tears and entreaties might do
towards his recall; but in vain did she prostrate herself before
their majesties: the king paid not the least attention to her
pleadings and remonstrances, though artfully adapted for effect;
and the queen, who hated her mortally, took a savage pleasure in
her tears. The minister's lady, however, was not easily
discouraged: she stooped so low as to solicit their good offices
from the ladies of the bed-chamber; but the fruit of all this
meanness was only the sad conviction that it excited more
contempt than pity. Heart-broken at having degraded herself by
supplications so humiliating, and yet so unavailing, she departed
to her husband, and mourned with him the loss of a situation,
which under a reign like that of Philip the Fourth, was little
short of sovereign power.

The accounts her ladyship brought from Madrid were wormwood to
the duke. Your enemies, said she, sobbing, with the Duke of
Medina Coeli at their head, are loud in the king's praises for
your removal; and the people triumph in your disgrace with an
insolent joy, as if the cloud of adversity were to be dispelled
by the breath which dissolved your administration. Madam, said my
master, follow my example; suppress your discontent: we must
drive before the storm, when we cannot weather it. I did think,
indeed, that my favour would only be eclipsed with the lamp of
life: a common illusion of ministers and favourites, who forget
that they breathe but at the good pleasure of their sovereign.
Was not the Duke of Lerma as much mistaken as myself, though
fondly relying on his purple, as a pledge for the lasting tenure
of his authority?

Thus did my lord duke preach patience to the partner of his
cares, while his own bosom heaved under the direst pressure of
anxiety. The frequent dispatches from Don Henry, who was staying
about the court to pick up information, kept him continually on
the fret. Scipio was the messenger; for he was still about the
person of that young nobleman, though I had relinquished my post
on his marriage. Sometimes we heard of changes in the inferior
departments of office, solely for the purpose of wreaking
vengeance on his creatures, and filling up the vacancies with his
enemies. Then Don Lewis de Haro was represented as advancing in
favour, and likely to be made prime minister. But the most
mortifying circumstance of all was the change in the viceroyalty
of Naples, which was taken from his friend, the Duke de Medina de
Las Torres, and bestowed on the High Admiral of Castile, who was
his bitterest enemy. For this there was no other motive but the
pleasure of giving pain to a fallen favourite.

For the first three months, his lordship gave himself up in his
solitude a prey to disappointment and regret: but his confessor,
a holy and pious Dominican, supporting his religious zeal with
manly eloquence, succeeded in pouring the balm of consolation
into his soul. By continually representing to him, with apostolic
energy, that his eternal salvation was now the only object worth
his care, he weaned him gradually from the uses of this world.
His excellency was no longer panting for news from Madrid, but
learning a new and important lesson, how to die. Madame
d'Olivarez too, making a virtue of necessity, sought refuge for
herself in the maternal guardianship of her convent, where
Providence had reared up, for her edification in faith and good
works, a sisterhood of holy maidens, whose spiritual discourses
fed her soul, as if with manna in the wilderness. My master's
peace within his own bosom advanced, as he withdrew more backward
from sublunary things. The employment of his day was thus laid
out: almost the whole morning was devoted to religious duties,
till dinner-time; and after dinner, for about two hours, he
played at different games with me and some of his confidential
domestics: be then generally retired alone into his closet till
sunset, when he walked round his garden, or rode out into the
neighbourhood either with his confessor or me.

One day when I was alone with him, and was particularly struck
with his apparent self-complacency, I took the liberty of
congratulating his lordship on his complete reconciliation to
retirement. Use, however late acquired, is second nature,
answered he: for though I have all my life been accustomed to the
bustle of business, I assure you that I become every day more and
more attached to this calm and peaceful mode of life.


CH. XI. -- A change in his lordship for the worse. The
marvellous cause, and melancholy consequences, of his dejection.

HIS excellency sometimes amused himself with gardening, by way of
variety. One day as I was watching his progress, he said
jokingly: You see, Santillane, a fallen minister can turn
gardener at last. Nature will prevail, my lord, answered I. You
plant and water something useful at Loeches, while Dionysius of
Syracuse whipped school-boys at Corinth. My master was not
displeased either with the comparison or the compliment

We were all delighted at the castle to see our protector, rising
above the cloud of adversity, take pleasure in so novel a mode of
life: but we soon perceived an alarming change. He became gloomy,
thoughtful, and melancholy. Our parties at play were all given
up, and no efforts could succeed to divert his mind. From dinner-
time till evening he never left his closet. We thought the dreams
of vanished greatness had returned to break his rest; and in this
opinion the reverend Dominican gave the rein to his eloquence;
but it could not outstrip the course of that hypochondriac
malady, which triumphed over all opposition.

It seemed to me there was some deeper cause, which it behoved a
sincere friend to fathom. Taking advantage of our being alone
together, My lord, said I, in a tone of mingled respect and
affection, whence is it that you are no longer so cheerful as
heretofore? Has your philosophy lost ground? or has the world
recovered its allurements? Surely you would not plunge again into
that gulf, where your virtue must inevitably be shipwrecked! No,
heaven be praised! replied the minister: my part at court has
long faded from my memory, and its trappings from my eyes.
Indeed! why then, resumed I, since you have strength enough to
banish false regrets, are you so weak as to indulge a melancholy
which alarms us all? What is the matter with you, my dear master?
continued I, falling at his knees: some secret sorrow preys upon
you: can you hide it from Santillane, whose zeal, discretion, and
fidelity you have so often experienced? Why am I so unhappy as to
have lost your confidence?

You still possess it, said his lordship: but I must own, it is
reluctantly that I shall reveal the subject of my distress: yet
the importunities of such a friend are irresistible. To no one
else could I impart so singular a confidence. Yes, I am the prey
of a morbid melancholy which eats inwardly into my vitals: a
spectre haunts me every moment, arrayed in the most terrific form
of preternatural horror. In vain have I argued with myself that
it is a vision of the brain, an unreal mockery: its continual
presentments blast my sight, and unseat my reason. Though my
understanding teaches me, that in looking on this spectre I stare
at vacancy, my spirits are too weak to derive comfort from the
conviction. Thus much have you extorted from me: now judge
whether the cause of my melancholy is fit to be divulged.

With equal grief and astonishment did I listen to the strange
confession, which implied a total derangement of the nervous
system. This, my lord, said I, must proceed from injudicious
abstinence. So I thought at first, answered he; and to try the
experiment, I have been eating more than usual for some days
past; but it is all to no purpose, the phantom takes his stand as
usual. It will vanish, said I, if your excellency will only
divert your mind by your accustomed relaxations with your
household. Company and gentle occupation are the best remedies
for these affections of the spirits.

In a short time after this conversation, his lordship became
seriously indisposed, and sent for two notaries from Madrid, to
make his will. Three capital physicians followed in their track,
who had the reputation of curing their patients now and then. As
soon as it was noised about the castle that these last
undertakers were arrived, the case was given up for lost; weeping
and gnashing of teeth took place universally, and the family
mourning was ordered. They brought with them their usual
understrappers, an apothecary and a surgeon*. The notaries were
suffered to earn their fee first, after which death's notaries
prepared to take a bond of the patient. They practised in the
school of Sangrado, and from their very first consultation,
ordered bleeding so frequently and freely, that in six days they
brought his lordship to the point of death, and on the seventh
delivered him from the terror of his sprite.

After the minister's decease, a lively and sincere sorrow reigned
in the castle of Loeches. The whole household wept bitterly. Far
from deriving consolation from the certainty of being remembered
in his will, there was not a dependent who would not willingly
have saved his life by the sacrifice of the legacy. As for me,
whom he most delighted in, attached to him as I was from
disinterested friendship, my grief was more acute than that of
the rest. I question whether Antonia cost me more tears.

*Translator's Note:
. . . . Behind him sneaks
Another mortal, not unlike himself,
Of jargon full, with terms obscure o'ercharged,
Apothecary call'd, whose foetid hands
With power mechanic, and with charms arcane,
Apollo, god of medicine, has endued. -- BRAMSTON.



CH. XII. -- The proceedings at the Castle of Loeches after his
lordship's death, and the course which Santillane adopted.

THE minister, according to his last injunctions, was buried
without pomp and without procession in the convent, with a dirge
of our lamentations. After the funeral, Madame d' Olivarez called
us together to hear the will read, with which the household had
good reason to be satisfied. Every one had a legacy proportioned
to his claim, and none less than two thousand crowns: mine was
the largest, amounting to ten thousand pistoles, as a mark of his
singular regard. The hospitals were not forgotten, and provision
was made for an annual commemoration in several convents.

Madame d'Olivarez sent all the household to Madrid to receive
their legacies from Don Raymond Caporis, who had orders to pay
them; but I could not be of the party, in consequence of a
violent fever from distress of mind, which confined me to the
castle for more than a week. During that time, the reverend
Dominican paid me all possible attention. He had conceived a
friendship for me, which was not confined to my worldly
interests, and was anxious to know how I meant to dispose of
myself on my recovery. I answered that I had not yet made up my
mind upon the subject: there were moments when my feelings
strongly prompted towards a religious vow. Precious moments!
exclaimed the Dominican, you will do well to profit by them. I
advise you as a friend to retire to our convent at Madrid, for
example; there to become a pious benefactor by the free gift of
your whole fortune, and to die in the livery of Saint Dominic.
Many very questionable Christians have made amends for a life of
sin by so holy an end.

In the actual disposition of my mind, this advice was not
unpalatable; and I promised to reflect upon it. But on consulting
Scipio, who came to see me immediately after the monk, he treated
the very notion as the phantom of a distempered brain. For shame!
said he; does not your estate at Lirias offer a more eligible
seclusion? If you were delighted with it formerly, the charm will
be increased tenfold, now that the lapse of years has moderated
your sense of pleasure, and softened down your taste to the
simple beauties of nature.

It was no difficult matter to operate a change in my
inclinations. My friend, said I, you carry it decidedly against
the advocate of Saint Dominic. We will go back to Lirias as soon
as I am well enough to travel. This happened shortly; for as the
fever subsided, I soon felt myself sufficiently strong to put my
design in execution. We went first to Madrid. The sight of that
city gave me far other sensations than heretofore. As I knew that
almost its whole population held in horror the memory of a
minister, of whom I cherished the most affectionate remembrance,
I could not feel at my ease within its precincts. My stay was
therefore limited to five or six days, while Scipio was making
the necessary arrangements for our rustication. In the meantime I
waited on Caporis, and received my legacy in ready money. I
likewise made my arrangements with the receivers for the regular
remittance of my pensions, and settled all my affairs in due
order.

The evening before our departure, I asked the son of Coselina
whether he had received his farewell from Don Henry. Yes,
answered he, we took leave of each other this morning with mutual
civility; he went so far as to express his regret that I should
quit him; but however well satisfied he might be with me, I am by
no means so with him. Mutual content is like a river, which must
have its banks on either side. Besides, Don Henry makes but a
pitiful figure at court now; he has fallen into utter contempt;
people point at him with their finger in the streets, and call
him a Genoese bastard. Judge, then, for yourself, whether it is
consistent with my character to keep up the connection.

We left Madrid one morning at sunrise, and went for Cuenзa. The
following was the order of our equipment; we two in a chaise and
pair, three mules, laden with baggage and money, led by two
grooms and two stout footmen, well armed, in the rear; the grooms
wore sabres, and the postilion had a pair of pistols in his
holsters. As we were seven men in all, and six of us determined
fellows, I took the road gaily, without trembling for my legacy.
In the villages through which we passed our mules chimed their
bells merrily, and the peasants ran to their doors to see us
pass, supposing it to be at least the parade of some nobleman
going to take possession of some viceroyalty.


CH. XIII. -- The return of Gil Blas to his seat. His joy at
finding his god-daughter Seraphina marriageable; and his own
second venture in the lottery of love.

WE were a fortnight on our journey to Lirias, having no occasion
to make rapid stages. The sight of my own domain brought
melancholy thoughts into my mind, with the image of my lost
Antonia; but better topics of reflection came to my aid, with a
full purpose to look at things on the brighter side, and the
lapse of two-and-twenty years, which had gradually impaired the
force of tender regret.

As soon as I entered the castle, Beatrice and her daughter
greeted me most cordially, while the family scene was interesting
in the extreme. When their mutual transports were over, I looked
earnestly at my god-daughter, saying: Can this be the Seraphina
whom I left in her cradle? how tall and pretty! we must make a
good match for her. What! my dear god-father, cried my little
girl with an enchanting blush, you have but just seen me, and do
you want to get rid of me at once! No, my lovely child, replied
I, we hope not to lose you by marriage, but to find a husband for
you in the neighbourhood.

There is one ready to your hands, said Beatrice. Seraphina made a
conquest one day at mass. Her suitor has declared his passion,
and asked my consent. I told him that his acceptance depended on
her father and her god-father; and here you are to determine for
yourselves.

What is the character of this village lordling? said Scipio. Is
he not, like his fellows, the little tyrant of the soil, and
insolent to those who have no pedigree to boast? The furthest
from it in the world, answered Beatrice; the young man is gentle
in his temper and polished in his manners; handsome withal, and
somewhat under thirty. You paint him in flattering colours, said
I to Beatrice; what is his name? Don Juan de Jutella, replied
Scipio's wife: it is not long since be came to his inheritance:
he lives on his own estate, about a mile off, with a younger
sister, of whom he takes care. I once knew something of his
family, observed I; it is one of the best in Valencia. I care
less for lineage, cried Scipio, than for the qualities of the
heart and mind; this Don Juan will exactly suit us, if he is a
good sort of man. He is belied else, said Seraphina, with a
blushing interest in our conversation; the inhabitants of Lirias,
who know him well, say all the good of him you can conceive. I
smiled at this; and her father, not less quick-sighted, saw
plainly that her heart had a share in the testimony of her
tongue.

The gentleman soon heard of our arrival, and paid his respects to
us within two days. His address was pleasing and manly, so as to
prepossess us in his favour. He affected merely to welcome us
home as a neighbour. Our reception was such as not to discourage
the repetition of his visit; but not a word of Seraphina! When he
was gone, Beatrice asked us how we liked him. We could have no
objection to make, and gave it as our opinion that Seraphina
could not dispose of herself better.

The next day, Scipio and I returned the visit. We took a guide,
and luckily; for otherwise it might have puzzled us to find the
place. It was not till our actual arrival that it was visible;
for the mansion was situated at the foot of a mountain, in the
middle of a wood, whose lofty trees hid it from our view. There
was an antique and ruinous appearance about it, which spoke more
for the descent than the wealth of its proprietor. On our
entrance, however, the elegance of the interior arrangement made
amends for the dilapidated grandeur of the outer walls.

Don Juan received us in a handsome room, where he introduced his
sister Dorothea, a lady between nineteen and twenty years of age.
She was a good deal tricked out, as if she had primed and loaded
herself for conquest, in expectation of our visit. Thus
presenting all her charms in full force, she did by me much as
Antonia had done before; but I managed my raptures so discreetly,
that even Scipio had no suspicion. Our conversation turned, as on
the preceding day, on the mutual pleasure of good neighbourhood.
Still he did not open on the subject of Seraphina, nor did we
attempt to draw him out. During our interview, I often cast a
side glance at Dorothea, though with all the reserve of delicate
apprehension; whenever our eyes met, the citadel of my heart was
ready to surrender. To describe the object of my love justly, as
well as feelingly, her beauty was not of the most perfect kind:
her skin was of a dazzling whiteness, and her lips united the
colour with the fragrance of the rose; but her features were not
so regular and well-proportioned as might have been wished: yet,
altogether, she won my heart.

In short, I left the mansion of Jutella a different man from what
I was on entering it: so that, returning to Lirias with my whole
soul absorbed in Dorothea, I saw and spoke only of her. How is
this, master! said Scipio with a look of astonishment: you seem
to be very much taken with Don Juan's sister! Can you be in love
with her? Yes, my friend, answered I: to my shame be it spoken.
Since the death of Antonia, how many lovely females have passed
in review before me with indifference: and must my passions be
irresistibly kindled at this time of life? Indeed, sir, replied
the son of Coselina, you may bless your stars, instead of
squabbling with yourself: you are not so old as to make your
sacrifice at the shrine of love a by-word; and time has not yet
ploughed such furrows on your brow, as to render hopeless the
desire of pleasing. When you see Don Juan next, ask him boldly
for his sister: he cannot refuse her to you; and besides, if his
views in her settlement are ambitious, how can he do better? You
have a patent of nobility in your pocket, and upon that your
posterity may ride easy; after five generations, when pedigree
herself shall be lost in the confusion of her materials, it may
exercise the diligence of learned inquiry, to trace the family of
the Santillanes to the beginning of its archives, and consecrate
the fame of its founder by the indistinctness of his story.


CH. XIV. -- A double marriage, and the conclusion of the history.

By this discourse, Scipio encouraged me to declare myself,
without considering bow he exposed me to the danger of a refusal.
My own resolution was taken with fear and trembling. Though I
carried my years well, and might have sunk at least ten, it did
not seem unlikely that a young beauty might turn up her nose at
the disparity. I determined, however, to bolt the question the
first time I saw her brother, who was not without his
trepidations on the subject of my god-daughter.

He returned my call the next morning, just as I had done
dressing. Signor de Santillane, said he, I wish to speak with you
on some serious business. I took him into my closet, where
entering on the subject at once, I imagine, continued he, that
you are not unacquainted with the purpose of my visit: I love
Seraphina; you are all in all with her father; I must request you
therefore to intercede and procure for me the accomplishment of
my heart's desire: then shall I have to thank you for the prime
bliss of my existence. Signor Don Juan, answered I, as you come
to the point at once, you can have no objection to my following
your example: My good offices are fully at your service, and I
shall hope for yours with your sister in return.

Don Juan was agreeably surprised. Can it be possible, exclaimed
he, that Dorothea should have made a conquest of your heart since
yesterday? It is even so, said I, and it would make me the
happiest of men, if the proposal should meet with your joint
approbation. You may rely on that, replied he; though with some
pretensions to family pride, yours is not an alliance to be
despised. You flatter me highly, rejoined I; that you are not
mealy-mouthed about receiving a commoner into your pedigree, is a
mark of good sense; but even if nobility had been a necessary
ingredient in your sister's requisites for a husband, we should
not have quarrelled on that account. I have worked out twenty
years in the trammels of office; and the king, as a reward of my
long labours, has granted me a patent of nobility. This high-
minded gentleman read my credentials over with extreme
satisfaction, and returning them, told me that Dorothea was mine.
And Seraphina yours, exclaimed I.

Thus were the two marriages agreed on between us. The consent of
the intended brides was all that remained; for we neither of us
presumed to control the inclinations of our wards. My friend
therefore carried home my proposal to his sister, and I called
Scipio, Beatrice, and my god-daughter together, for the purpose
of laying open a similar project. Beatrice voted loudly for
immediate acceptance, and Seraphina silently. The father did not
say much against it; but boggled a little at the fortune he must
give to a gentleman whose seat required such immediate and
extensive repairs. I stopped Scipio's mouth by telling him that
was my concern, and that I should contribute four thousand
pistoles to the architect's estimate.

In the evening, Don Juan came again. Your business is going
swimmingly, said I; pray heaven mine may promise as fairly.
Better it cannot, answered he; my influence was quite unnecessary
to prevail with Dorothea; your person had made its impression,
and your manners pleased her. You were afraid she might not like
you; while she, with more reason, having nothing to offer you but
her heart and hand . . . . What would she offer more? interrupted
I, out of my wits with joy. Since the lovely Dorothea can think
of me without repugnance, I ask no more: my fortune is ample, and
the possession of her is the only dowry I should value.

Don Juan and myself, highly delighted at having brought our views
to bear so soon, were for hastening our nuptials, and cutting off
all superfluous ceremonies. I closeted the gentleman with
Seraphina's parents; the settlemeuts were soon agreed on, and he
took his leave, promising to return next day with Dorothea. My
eager desire of appearing agreeable in that lady's eyes,
occasioned me to spend three hours at least in adjusting my
dress, and communicating the air of a lover to my person; but I
could not do it so much to my mind as in my younger days. The
preparations for courtship are a pleasure to a young man, but a
serious business and hazardous speculation to one who is
beginning to be oldish. And yet it turned out better than my
hopes or deserts; for Don Juan's sister received me so
graciously, as to put me in good humour with myself. I was
charmed with the turn of her mind; and foreboded that with
discreet management and much deference, I might really get her to
like me as well as anybody else. Full of this sweet hope I sent
for the lawyers to draw up the two contracts, and for the
clergyman of Paterna, to bring us better acquainted with our
mistresses.

Thus did I light the torch of Hymen for the second time, and it
did not burn blue with the brimstone of repentance. Dorothea,
like a virtuous wife, made a pleasure of her duty; in gratitude
for the pains I took to anticipate all her wishes, she soon loved
me as well as if I had been younger. Don Juan and my god-daughter
were most enthusiastic in their mutual ardour; and what was most
unprecedented of all, the two sisters-in-law loved one another
sincerely. Don Juan was a man in whom all good qualities met: my
esteem for him increased daily, and he did not repay it with
ingratitude. In short, we were a happy and united family: we
could scarcely bear the interval of separation between evening
and morning. Our time was divided between Lirias and Jutella: his
excellency's pistoles made the old battlements to raise their
heads again, and the castle to resume its lordly port.

For these three years, reader, I have led a life of unmixed bliss
in this beloved society. To perfect my satisfaction, heaven has
deigned to send me two smiling babes, whose education will be the
amusement of my declining years; and if ever husband might
venture to hazard so bold an hypothesis, I devoutly believe
myself their father.

THE END

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

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