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after telling out the six hundred marks, (which Don Martin took without weighing) they offered the Cid a present of a fine red skin ; and upon Don Martin's suggesting that he thought his own services in the business merited a pair of hose, they consulted a minute with each other, in order to do every thing judiciously; and then gave him money enough to buy, not only the hose, but a rich doublet and good cloak into the bargain.*
The regular sharping rogues however, that abound in Spanish books of adventure, have one species of romance about them, of a very peculiar nature. It may be called, we fear, as far as Spain is concerned, 'a
aos romance of real life.”. We allude to the absolute want and hunger, which is so often the original of their sin. A vein of this craving nature runs throughout, most of the Spanish novels. In other countries, theft is generally represented as the result of an abuse of plenty, or some other kind of profligacy; or absolute ruin. But it seems to be an understood thing, that to be poor in Spain is to be in want of the commonest necessaries of life. If a poor man here and there happens not to be in so destitute a state as the rest, he thinks himself bound to maintain the popular character for an appetite; and manifests the most prodigious sense of punctuality and anticipation in all matters relating to meals. Who ever thinks of
and does not think of ten minutes before luncheon ? Don Quixote on the other hand counts it ungenteel and undignified to be hungry. The cheat, who flatters Gil Blas, reckons himself entitled to be insultingly triumphant, merely because he has got a dinner out of him.
Of all these ingenious children of necessity, whose roguery has been sharpened by perpetual want, no wit was surely ever kept at so subtle and fierce an edge, as that of the never-to-be-decently-treated Lazarillo de Tormes. If we had not been at a sort of monastic school, and known the beatitude of dry bread and a draught of spring-water, his history would seem to inform us, for the first time, what true hunger was. His cunning so truly keeps pace with it, that he seems recompensed for the wants of his stomach by the abundant energies of his head. One half of his imagination is made
up of dry bread and scraps, and the other of meditating how to get at them. Every thought of his mind, and every feeling of his affection, coalesces, and tends to one point, with a ventripetal force. It was said of a contriving lady, that she took her very tea by stratagem. Lazarillo is not so lucky. It is enough for him, if by a train of the most ingenious contrivances, he can lay successful siege to a crust. To rout some broken victuals; to circumvent an onion or ordinary, is the utmost aim of his ambition. An ox-foot is his beau 14* See Mr, Southey's excellent compilation entitled the Chronicle of the Cid. Book 3, 'sec. 21. If Mr. Southey but we must recollect we are not at our politics. The version at the end of the book, attributed to Mr. Hookham Frere, of a passage out of the Poema del Cid, is the most native and terse bit of translation we ever met with. It rides along, like the Cid himself on horseback, with an infinite mixture of ardour and self-possession ; bending, when it chuses, with grace; or bearing down every thing with mastery.
r so extra
ideal. He has as intense and circuitous a sense of a piece of cheese, as a mouse at a trap. He swallows surreptitious crums with as much Zest, as a young servant girl does a plate of preserves. But to his story.:) He first serves a blind beggar, with whom he lives miserably, except when her commits thefts which subject him to miserable beatings.". He next lives with a priest, and finds his condition worse. His third era of esuriency takes place in the house of a Spanish gentleman; and here he is worse off than ever. The reader wonders, as he himself did, how he can possibly ascend to this climax of starvation. To overreach a blind beggar, might be thought easy. Ii The 'reader will judge by a. 'specimen or two. The old fellow used to keep his mug of liquor between his legs, that Lazarillo might not touch it without his knowledge. He did however, and the beggar discovering it, took to 'holding the mug in future by the handle. Lazarillo then contrives to suck some of the liquor off with a reed; till the beggar defeats this contrivance by keeping one hand upon the vessel's mouth. His antagonist, upon this, makes a hole near the bottom of the mug, filling it up with wax, and so tapping the can with as much gentleness as possible, whenever his thirst makes him hold. This stratagem threw the blind man into despair. He“ used to swear and domineer,” and wish hoth the pot and it's contents at the devil. The following account of the result is a specimen of the English translation of the work, which is done with great tact and spirit, we know not by whom. But it is worthy of De Foe. Lazarillo is supposed to tell his adventures himself. " You won't accuse me any more, I hope,” cried I, “ of drinking your wine,* after all the fine precautions you have taken to prevent it." To that he said not a word ; but feeling all about the pot, he at last unluckily discovered the hole, which dissembling at that time, he let me alone till next day at dinner. Not dreaming, my reader must know, of the old man's malicious stratagem, but getting in between his legs, according to my wonted custom, and receiving into my mouth the distilling dew, and pleasing myself with the success of my own ingenuity, my eyes upward, but half shut, the furious tyrant, taking up the sweet, but hard pot, with both his hands flung it down again with all his force upon my face; with the violence of which blow, imagining the house had fallen upon my head, I lay sprawling without any sentiment or judgment; my forehead, nose and mouth, gushing out of blood, and the latter full of broken teeth, and broken pieces of the can.
From that time forward, I ever abominated the monstrous old churl, and in spite of all his flattering stories, could easily observe, how my punishment tickled the old rogue's fancy. He washed my sores with wine; and with a smile, “What say’st thou,” quoth he, “ Lazarillo"; the thing that hurt thee, now restores thee to health. Courage, my boy." But all his raillery could not make me change my mind.”. Bax buy
At another time, a count nan giving them a cluster of grapes, the old man, says Lazarillo, “ would needs take that opportunity to
* The reader is to understand a common southern wine, more like a washy cyder than any thing else,
shew me a little kindness, after he had been chiding and beating me the whole day before.' So setting ourselves down by a hedge,
Come hither, Lazarillo," quoth he, “ and let us enjoy ourselves a little, and eat these raisins together ; which that we may share like brothers, do you take but one at a time, and be sure not to cheat me, and I promise you for my part, I shall take no more.” That I - readily agreed to, and so we began our banquet ; but at the very second time he took a couple, believing, I suppose, that I would do the same. And finding he had shewed me the way, I made no scruple all the while to take two, three, or four at a time; sometimes more and sometimes less, as conveniently I could. When we had done, the old man shook his head, and holding the stalk in his hand, “Thou hast cheated me, Lazarillo," quoth he, “ for I could take my oath, that thou hast taken three at a time.”
6. Who I! I beg your pardon," quoth I, “my conscience is as dear to me as another." “Pass that jest upon another," answered the old fox; “you saw me take two at a time without complaining of it, and therefore you took three.” At that I could hardly forbear laughing; and at the same time admired the justness of his reasoning” Lazarillo at length quitted the service of the old hard-hearted miser, and revenged himself
upon him at the same time, in a very summary manner. They were returning home one day on account of bad weather, when they had to cross a kennel which the rain had swelled to a little torrent. The Eggar was about to jump over it as well as he could, when Lazarillo persuaded him to go a little lower down the stream, because there was a better crossing ; that is, there was a stone pillar on the other side, : against which he knew the blind old fellow would nearly dash his brains out. “He was mightily pleased with my advice. “ Thou art in the right on it, good boy," quoth he, « and I love thee with all my heart, Lazarillo. Lead me to the place thou speakest of; the water is very dangerous in winter, and especially to have one's feet wet.” And again : :-"Be sure to set me in the right place, Lazarillo," quoth he; "and then do thou go over first.' I obeyed his orders, and set him exactly before the pillar, and so leaping over, posted myself behind it, looking upon him as a man would do upon a mad buli. “ Now your jump," quoth I, “and you may get over to rights, without ever touching the water.” I had scarce done speaking, when the old man, like a ram that's fighting, ran three steps backwards, to take his start with the greater vigour, and $o his head came with a vengeance against the stone-pillar, which made him fall back into the kennel half dead.”, Lazarillo stops a moment to triumph over him with insulting language; and then, says he, “resigning my blind, bruised, wet, old, cross, cunning master to the care of the mob that was gathered about him, I made the best of my heels, without ever looking about, till I had got the town-gate upon my back; and thence, marching on a merry pace, I arrived before night at Torrigo.".
At the house of the priest, poor Lazarillo gets worse off than before, and is obliged to resort to the most extraordinary shifts to arrive at a morsel of bread. At one time, he gets a key of a tinker,
and opening the old trunk in which the miser kept his bread, (a sight, he says, like the opening of heaven) he takes small pieces out of three or four, in imitation of a mouse; which so convinces the old hunks that the mice.and rats have been at them, that he is more liberal of the bread than usual. He lets him have in particular “ the parings about the parts where he thought the mice had been.” Another of his contrivances is to palm off his pickings upon a serpent, with which animal a neighbour told the priest that his house had been once haunted. Lazarillo, who had been used when he lived with the beggar to husband pieces of money in his mouth, (substituting some lesser coin in the blind man's hand, when people gave him any thing) now employs the same hiding-place for his key; but whistling through it unfortunately, one night, as he lay breathing hard in his sleep, the priest concludes he has now caught the serpent, and going to Lazarillo's bed with a broomstick, gives him at a venture such a tremendous blow on the head, as half murders him. The key is then discovered, and the poor fellow turned out of doors.
He is now hired by a lofty-looking hidalgo; and follows him home, eating a thousand good things by anticipation. They pass through the markets however to no purpose. The squire first goes to church too, and spends an unconscionable time at mass. At length they arrive at a dreary, ominous looking house, and ascend into a decent apartment, where the squire after shaking his cloak, and blowing off the dust from a stone seat, lays it neatly down, and so makes a cushion of it to sit upon. There is no other furniture in the room, nor even in the neighbouring rooms, except a bed “composed of the anatomy of an old hamper." The truth is, the squire is as poor as Lazarillo, only too proud to own it; and so he starves both himself and his servant at home, and then issues gallantly forth of a morning, with his Toledo by his side, and a countenance of stately satisfaction; returning home every day about noon with “a starched body, reaching out his neck like a greyhound." Lazarillo-had not been a day in the house, before he found out how matters went. He was beginning, in his despair of a dinner, to eat some scraps of bread which had been given him in the morning, when the squire observing him, asked what he was about. " Come hither, boy,” said he, « what's that thou art eating?”:“ I went,” says Lazarillo, “and shewed him three pieces of bread, of which taking away the best, « upon my faith,” quoth he, “this bread seems to be very good.” stale and hard, Sir,” said I, “ to be good.” “I swear 'tis very good,” said the squire: “Who gave it thee? Were their hands clean that gave
it thee?” “ I took it without asking any questions, Sir;" answered I, “ and you see I eat it as freely."
Pray God it
be so,” answered the miserable squire; and so putting the bread to his mouth, he eat it with no less appetite than I did mine; adding at every mouthful, “ Gadzooks, this bread is excellent.”
Lazarillo in short here finds the bare table so completely turned upon him, that he is forced to become provider for his master as well as himself; which he does by fairly going out every day and begging, the poor squire winking at the indignity, though not without a hint
« Tis too
at keeping the connexion secret. The following extract shall be our climax, which it may well be, the hunger having thus ascended into the ribs of Spanish aristocracy. Lazarillo, one lucky day, has an ox-foot and some tripe given him by a butcher-woman. On coming home with his treasure, he finds the hidalgo impatiently walking up and down, and fears he shall have a scolding for staying so long but the squire merely asks where he has been, and receives the account with an irrepressible air of delight.
“ I sate down,
Lazarillo, “ upon the end of the stone seat, and began to eat that he might fancy I was feasting; and observed without seeming to take notice, that his eye was fixed upon my skirt, which was all the plate and table that I had.
“ May God pity me as I had compassion on that poor squire ; daily experience made me sensible of his trouble. I did not know whether -I should invite him, for since he had told me he had dined, I thought he would make a point of honour to refuse to eat; but in short, being very desirous to supply his necessity, as I had done the day before, and which I was then much better in a condition to do, having already sufficiently stuffed my own guts: it was not long before an opportunity fairly offered itself; for he taking occasion to come near me in his walks,“ Lazarillo," quoth he, (as soon as he observed me begin to eat) “ I never saw any body eat so handsomely as thee; a body can scarce see thee fall to work without desiring to bear thee company: let their stomachs be never so full, or their mouth be never so much out of taste.” Faith, thought I to myself, with such an empty belly as yours, my own mouth would water at a great deal less.
“But finding he was come where I wished him. “ Sir," said I,
good stuff makes a good workman. :) This is admirable bread, and here's an ox-foot so nicely drest and so well seasoned, that any body would delight to taste of it.”.
“How! cried the squire, interrupting me, "an ox foot?" "Yes, Sir,” said I, “ an ox-foot.' “ Ah! then,” quoth he, “ thou hast in my opinion the delicatest bit in Spain ; there being neither partridge, pheasant, nor any other thing that I like nearly so well as that.”.
“ Will you please to try, Sir,” said I, (putting the ox-foot in his hand, with two good morsels of bread) “. when you have tasted it, you will be convinced that it is a treat for a king, 'tis so well dressed and seasoned.
“Upon that, sitting down by my side, he began to eat, or rather to devour what I had given him, so that the bones could hardly escape.
• Oh! the 'excellent bit,” did he cry, 66. that this would be with a little garlick.” Ha! thought I to myself, how hastily thou eatest it without sauce. Gad,” said the squire, “ I have eaten this as heartily as if I had not tasted a bit of victuals to day;" which I did very readily believe.
“He then called for the pitcher with the water, which was as full as I had brought it home; so you may guess whether he had eat any. When his squireship had drank, he civilly'invited me to do the like; and thus ended our feast.”.
We hope the reader is as much amused with this prolongation of