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“No sooner wak'd I, but twice twenty knells,
Should bid the world g od night, ere it were noon.” The poet, however, is far from repining, and, like a true enthusiast, glories in his resolution. He thus expresses his satisfaction at remaining to record the suffering of the city, and thanks the Almighty for his preservation in the midst of danger.
“Oh! God, how great a blessing, then, didst thou
Thus far had we advanced in this review, when we cast a glance on the heap of blotted papers which had already accumulated before us. The ghost of allour good resolutions about short articles, variety, &c. &c. struck us with horror. “A plague upon the plague,” we exclaimed. It used to be reckoned a rapid disorder, but us (we hope not our readers also) it keeps in lingering torments—we fear we shall be thought to have it periodically, and that, like the tertian ague, the Plague will recur in every third number. Not so. In the next number, or the next but
" the Plague” shall positively die. But it would be unpardonable to rake up the ashes of the excellent M. Bertram, for a hasty gaze at the end of an article, and the glorious bishop of Marseilles, Henry de Belzune, must be treated ceremoniously and with reverence. If, too, we should drop the curtain over this great tragedy at this moment, we should eternally close a book, which ought to be looked into again before its leaves for ever lose the light. We are certain that the Britain's Remembrancer never will be opened again ; when we came to the FINIS, we suggested to the little fat volume, that it should now take leave of mortal readers; for there was something within us (whether sleep, or fatigue, or what not) which instinctively revealed, that this book would be a sealed book for all
Art. II.—The History of the famous Preacher Friar Gerund de
Campazas, otherwise Gerund Zoies. Translated from the Spanish, 2 vols. T. Davies. London, 1772.
We partly meditate the surprising our readers with certain indiscretions-witty, humorous, or jocose, -" pleasant, but wrong :”-Should we do this, however, and aberrate from the serious track of Reviewers, it must be at another season,perhaps in the warm July weather, when our fancy is heated and the air is clear, and we can both see our way through the humours of the multitude, and handle them with becoming spirit. It is not in these cold days of March, when the sharp winds are abroad, blowing even the critics (the sturdiest of the wit tribe) home to their chimney corners, that we shall undertake the task. But, let the mild May open her blossoms, and June tinge the roses, and July bring forth the red peeping strawberries—and then, with the golden air about us, and the bright blue roof to look at, we may try what we can do. Then, indeed, we may luxuriate in witty indolence, and tell our readers gaily all we know of the gay and gallant spirits that have gone before us. We assure them, that there is a fine host, a dazzling array; and it will be hard indeed if we cannot catch a little of the lustre which will envelope us. There is the Senor Miguel de Cervantes; the historian of Gil Blas (“ Blas of Santillane,” the reader recollects him); the renowned Philibert de Grammont; and the wittiest of historians, the Count Antony Hamilton: there is the famous author (and true father, we understand) of Mr. Thomas Jones, “ a foundling ;"
to say nothing of Dr. Tobias Smollett, and M. Pigault Le Brun, and others, equally though differently delightful. A wit in France is an ordinary production of the soil, indigenous : a wit in England, keen, bitter, caustic, is not extraordinary. In Italy, which is extraordinary, they are not remarkable for wit; and Holland is out of the latitude. But in Spain !--that is what strikes us,-in Spain, where it should seem that nothing by right should be, save gravity and green olives, wit sprouts up like a mushroom,-and in truth, it is an exemplary birth, a fine antithesis to the common solemnity of the Spanish character.
Don Quixote is not the only instance of a Spaniard forgetting what is due to gravity, and making his readers laugh. One smiles with Guzman d'Alfarache, the Spanish rogue; and one laughs at the Fray Gerundio, the Spanish friar. And who is the Spanish friar ?--Is it possible that the reader does not know ?-that he does not know the Friar of Campazas, which is in the province of Campos, which is in Old Castile?-Does he not know the son of Antony Zotes and Catanla his wife? But we see how it is; we must inform him.
Friar Gerund (de Campazas), then, otherwise El Fray Gerundio, otherwise Gerund Zotes, (for, like all people of a wide renown, from kings to pickpockets, our hero had a choice of names at his service) was, in truth, a somewhat remarkable person. Not that he was like Picus de Mirandula, or Crichton, or Zerah Colburn, who have put to shame all people knowing only half a dozen languages, or requiring pen or pencil to make up their minds to certain intricacies of decimals and fractions. On the contrary, our hero did not puzzle himself much on those any other points, however he might perplex his hearers.
Being a friar by profession, he was necessarily somewhat of a parson in practice. Yet even there he was not a parson of the order of Jeremy Taylor, or Lowth, or Porteus; but of that wider range which boasts of Thwackum (was not Thwackum a parson ?) of Trulliber, and others, as its disciples; true proprietors of tythes, men who know the points of a pig, and who can preach and flog to perfection. Every man, however, has his weakness. Parson Adams (good Parson Adams !) was fond of ale, Trulliber of pork, Wildgoose of preaching, and Friar Gerund loved them all. Nothing came amiss to him, unless, indeed, it might be good advice. That, as the reader knows, or may know, has an unsavoury flavour, which, however wholesome to the stomach, invariably affronts the palate. Accordingly our friar rejected it, and arrived at notoriety without its help.
The history (for after all there is a history) of Friar Gerund,
is written by the father Joseph Francis Isla, and is an odd work enough for a Jesuit. It was written, if we may believe the advertisement, “ with the laudable view to correct the abuses of the Spanish pulpit, by turning the bad preachers into ridicule :” and, in truth, this is very elaborately attempted, and sometimes even well performed. The book, we are told, met with great approbation in Spain, and the “ Inquisition itself” encouraged the publication. Things must have come to a sad pass, indeed, when those serious people lent their smiles to such a performance. They were not much in the habit of cherishing satire of any sort, and jokes against their own body were occasionally requited by an auto da Fé. This volume, to be sure, was by a privileged person, and the excuse towards him, therefore, would be naturally easier than towards another. For our own parts, we have little doubt but that the Spanish clergy required a “history” of this sort. We do not profess to be intimate with the productions of the Spanish pulpit; but we can conceive, from what we have heard even in England, that some improvement might be desirable in the art of preaching: We are told that bad grammar and idle doctrine are sputtered out (on the continent, of course,) by fellows who relieve the tedium of shoemaking and other mute occupations, by giving free liberty to their lungs on Sunday. We are told that they even denounce damnation, and partition off heaven, and dispose of places (high and low) with a decision which must stagger any one but a true believer.” If these things are done in France, or Germany, or elsewhere, they may also be done in Spain. There were other stables to be cleansed, in old times, besides those of Augeas.
The book, then, is a satire upon the Spanish preachers. If it were nothing else, however, we might leave it for the edification of the Castilians : but it has other claims upon our regard. It is true, indeed, that there is more than sufficient space devoted to the discussion of the different styles of preaching. In fact, that is the besetting sin of the book. It is too professional, if we may so call it. Our good father Isla should have considered this, when he undertook to set his brethren aright. People have little or no sympathy with the peculiarities of preachers or lawyers. In order to create a general interest, there must be some of the ordinary traits of our race-some good, rich absurdity, which belongs to the common stock of human nature. These are certainly not forgotten; but they are nevertheless too sparingly scattered over the Jesuii's work.
Friar Gerund was the son of Antony Zotes (the Zotes are à collateral branch of the “Wrongheads,”) and of Catanla Rebollo, his wife. This Antony was a sort of gentleman
farmer, and dwelt in Campazas, a place of which we are told, " Ptolemy has made no mention; owing to its having been founded twelve hundred years after the death of that illustrious geographer:" and Campazas itself is (or was) a city of Old Castile, remarkable not only for the birth of Gerund, but also for a most redoubted grammarian, “ Taranilla himself, that famous domine, whose tempestuous and incomprehensible Latin stunned all the region of Campos.” Of Catan'a, the mother of our hero, the author gives us no particular account, but leaves her to expatiate in bad English (Spanish) throughout the two thick octavos in which he has recorded the feats of her illustrious offspring. Of Antony Zotes, the father, however, we have the following sketch:
Antony Zotes was a farmer, as we have said, in tolerable circumstances; a man for old ewe-mutton, hung-meat, and household bread, on ordinary days, with a leek or onion for desert; beef and sausages on feast-days; a rasher usually for breakfast and supper, though for the latter now and then a slice of meat with some oil and vinegar; the meagre stuff made from water passed through the squeezed grapes was his usual beverage; except when he had in his house any of the reverend brotherhood, especially if he was of consideration in his order, for then he would set upon the table wine of Villamanan, or of the Desert; a bountiful disposition in appearance, but at the bottom, rather than not, suspicious, envious, interested, and haggling; in short, a true legitimate bonus vir de campis. His stature middling, but well set and stout; his head large and round, a narrow forehead, small eyes, unequal, and somewhat subtle; short locks after the custom of the Desert, and not Howing and consistorial like those of the tax-gatherers of Salamanca; broad-shouldered, fleshy, fresh-coloured, and wrinkled. Such the inward and outward man of the uncle Antony Zotes."
It was to be expected that such a person would originate an extraordinary child; and accordingly his wife, Catanla, notwithstanding “ those evil reports that run round the town,” brought forth “ at the legal period, a babe as fair as a flower.” This babe is Friar Gerund, and he does honour to his simile. At first he was no friar, as may be apprehended; but he soon showed himself an admirer of preaching and sugar-plums, and thus blended with the maturer passion of Wildgoose, some of the precocious feats of the great Pantagruel. There was, in the first instance, some hesitation about his name, as is generally the case where it is of no sort of consequence; but this difficulty was at last surmounted, and the name of Gerund was inflicted on our hero. It was not long before he gave great signs” that he would, one day, be " a great litterato and stupendous preacher.” It is on record, that