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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 Jesuit'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 Catanla, 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 flowing and consistorial like those of the tax-gatherers of Salamanca; broad-shouldered, fleshy, fresh-coloured, and wrinkled. Şuch was 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
« Even before he knew how to read or write, he knew how to preach: for as so many friars, especially those of the begging and messenger kind, the Sabatine preachers, and those who, in time of lent and advent, went about preaching at the neighbouring market-towns, called at his father's house, and as these, sometimes asked by my uncle Antony, and his good woman my aunt Catanla, and at other times (which more frequently happened) without waiting to be asked at all, brought out their papers upon the table, and read their contents, just as if they had been in the pulpit, in an audible and preaching voice, our youngster took great pleasure in hearing and afterwards in imitating them, imprinting most readily on his memory their greatest absurdities; insomuch that these absurdities only seemed retainable by him; and that, if by miracle any good thing dropped from them, he had not a faculty to take it.
“ Upon a certain occasion, there came to the house, in the time of the harvest-quest, a smart little father, with a bit of toupée on his frontispiece, strait-necked, red-bearded, his habit clean, and the folds handsome and regular, a neat shoe, buckskin breeches, and a great singer of historical songs to the guitar, from whose knee Gerry would never stir, because he gave him sugar-plums."
On this little person, the historian says, Nature had lavished her gifts so equally, that it was difficult to decide whether he was most of a coxcomb or a blockhead. For our own parts—though we readily admit his claim to both titleswe think that his dress must determine the difference in favour of the former. This friar preached of course; and as, we suppose, was the custom in Spain, interlarded his sermons with scraps of Latin, and quotations, and authorities, to the prodigious delight of his admirers. We cannot afford an extract (which might be tedious); but the effect of his “ discourse” is summed up very energetically.
“ Antony Zotes was astonished; my aunt Catanla drivelled with delight; the parson of the parish, who had been ordained by letters dimissory from a vacant see, and understood the prayers he rehearsed every day as well as any nun would do, looked at him with amazement, and swore by the four holy evangelists, that though he had heard the most famous Sabatine preachers of all the country round about preach at Campazas in the holy week, yet that none of them could touch the heel of his shoe.”
In such sunshine, Gerund, it will be conjectured, thrived. He was as yet but imperfect in his speech ; but, inspired by the example, (and the sugar-plums) he mimics the little father to admiration. His father and mother are “ swallowed up in rapture”—the parson (of the parish) gives him “ a farthing to buy nuts”-his mother “ a piece of cake which she had brought from a pilgrimage”-and, in short, it ends with his being sent, without loss of time, to a school at Villaornate, where there was a very “ famous master.” The account of this pedagogue, and of his proficiency in orthography, leaves us nothing to wish, except that it had been shorter. But our good friend, Father Isla, is fond of particulars, and it is too late to argue with him. However, this “ master" takes Gerry in hand, who by this time is an intrepid dunce. He begins with a regularity so admirable, that we must take leave to record it. Nothing can surpass the master's question, except the scholar's reply. “ Tell me, son, how many letters are there ?” said he. “I do not know, sir,” answered Gerry readily, “ for I have not counted them.”- From this master, our hero is afterwards sent to another, a famous Latinist, at Villa-garcia, who reminds us so strongly of our friend the Baron of Bradwardine, in speech at least, that we must introduce him to our readers. His person differed materially from that of the proprietor of Tully Veolan, as will be seen ; but his oratory is precisely like that of the disciple of the Duke of Berwick.
“ As soon, then, as St. Luke's day arrived, Antony himself went with his son to present and recommend him to the domine. And for a domine they found a tall, upright, dry, old man, with bushy eye-brows luxuriating on each other's territory, hollow eyes, a long and Roman nose, a black beard, a sonorous, grave, deliberate, and imposing voice, a furious snuff-taker, and perpetually inclosed to his heels in an oldfashioned grey cloth cloak, with a cap of marked leather (something between such an one as ties under the chin and a scull-cap,) which in its primitive institution had been black, but was now of the same colour with the cloak. His conversation was inlaid work of Latin upon Spanish, quoting, at every turn, sayings, sentences, hemistics, and whole verses of the ancient and modern Lạtin poets, orators, historians, and grammarians, in support of any nonsensical position. Antony Zotes told him that this boy was his son, and that, as a father ought, he was desirous of giving him the best education in his power. « Optime enimvero,” interrupted the domine directly, “ that is the first obligation of parents, maxime when God hath given them sufficient ability; Plutarch says, Nil antiquius,” &c. .
This domine Gerund leaves in his turn, not however before he had imbibed certain notions of books, and listened to opinions which are detailed at such an impertinent length as must put any reader (except a critic) out of all patience. In this school, Gerund was “ so exact in every thing," that he was flogged but 420 times, “which, by à faithful calculation, scarcely amounts to three times a-week.” He, however, relieves the dull uniformity of study by little pleasant amusements, of which certain torments played upon his schoolfellows, and the smashing of crockery ware, are the principal. But we must now remove our readers from school, and tell them shortly
that Gerund, being destined for a friar, enters his noviciate, and, in due time, is entitled to a shaven head and a hood. How he commences his functions, the following extract will show :
“Now have we our Friar Gerund fairly in the field, like a bull in the lists, a novice good and true as the best of them, without suffering himself to be outdone either in the punctual performance of the exercises of the community, as he was very attentive to his duty, or in the tricks which the lay-brother had described to him, when he could execute them undetected, for he was clever, cunning, and of wonderful dexterity of hand and lightness of foot. Yet, as he lost no opportunity of whipping a loaf or a commons into his sleeve, and transfused the contents of a Jesus, or wine-cup, into his stomach in a trice, whenever he helped the butler to put in order the refectory, or hall of refreshment, where the community took their meals, it came to be suspected that he was not altogether so innocent as he looked, and both the butler and the clerk laid a complaint before the master of the novices, thạt when Friar Gerund assisted in the refectory or at mass, the wine unaccountably vanished, and that in turning their heads they found empty one or two Jesuses, which they swore by God and the holy cross they particularly remembered to have filled; and that, though they had never caught him in the fact, yet that the thread leads to the ball, as we say, that they could guess by a little what a great deal meant; and that, before God and in their consciences, they believed it could be no other owl which sucked the oil of these lamps.”
Our hero now becomes acquainted with Friar Blas,-a thriving, flourishing, imposing, well-fed coxcomb, who occupies almost as much of the remainder of the history as Gerund himself. This important person is introduced to us in the following manner :
“ It happened, that, for his sins, our Friar Gerund was favoured with the notice, and afterwards with the intimacy of a Predicador Mayor of the convent, a coxcomb of about the same standing with the lecturer, but of very different ideas, taste, and character. This father Predicador Mayor was in the flower of his age, just turned of threeand-thirty; tall, robust, and corpulent, his limbs well set and well proportioned, with somewhat of a prominent belly, strait neck, and erect gait; with his bit of foretop to his circle of hair, which was studiously and exactly rounded; his habit always clean, and the folds long and regular, a neat shoe, and, above all, his silken scull-cap adorned with much and beautiful needle-work, an airy tassel raising itself in the centre, all the happy labour of certain blessed nuns, who were dying for their father Predicador Mayor. In short, he was a most gallant spark; and, adding to all this a clear and sonorous voice, something of a lisp, a particular grace in telling a story, a known talent at mimickry, easy and free action, a particular and taking manner, a roaring style, and boldness of thought, without ever forgetting to well sprinkle his sermons with tales, jests, proverbs, and fire-side phrases,