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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, that 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, most gracefully brought in, he not only drew multitudes after him, but bore the bell in all conversations of the ladies.
“ He was one of those polite preachers who never cite the holy fathers, nor even the sacred evangelists, by their proper names, thinking that this is vulgar. St. Matthew he called, the Historian Angel; St. John, the Eagle of Patmos," &c.
“ But, to fail putting the two first fingers of his right hand, with a foppish air, between his neck and the collar of his habit, as if to ease his respiration; to fail making a couple of affected tosses of the head, whilst he was proposing his subject, and at finishing the proposing it to give two or three little jumps, as it were, or risings upon his toes, and puffing out both his cheeks, in consequence of a deepfetched breath, by way of clearing the passage, and looking disdain on little folks below; to break forth in a certain guttural noise between a sneeze and a neigh; to be most nicely trimmed and spruced up whenever he had to preach, fattening his circle of hair and raising the foretop; and directly after making, or not making, his private short ejaculation as soon as he entered the pulpit, to draw airily out of his left sleeve a yard-wide silk handkerchief of a vivid colour, and shake it at full length; to blow loudly the trumpet of his nose, though nothing should come from it but wind, and return the handkerchief to his sleeve with regular harmonious pauses; to cast around him a haughty glance, heightened with a little frown, and make a beginning with, Before all things blessed, praised, glorified be the holy sacrament, &c.' and conclude with, “In the primitive instantaneous being of his natural animation.'— No! The reverend father Predicador Mayor would not have omitted a tittle of all these things, though St. Paul himself had strenuously maintained that they were all, to say the least of them, so many evidences of his not having a grain of gravity, a drop of devotion, a crumb of conscience, a morsel of marrow, or a pinch of penetration.Yes; persuade him to it if you could! When he saw as plain as the nose in your face, that with this preliminary apparatus alone he drew large concourses, gained loud applauses, won hearts for himself, and that there was not a circle, visit, or party, in which the last sermon he had preached did not become the topic.”
Under the guidance of Friar Blas, our friar improves in a way that may easily be divined. His accomplishments, however, drawing down upon him the ridicule of his fellow friars, the superior of the convent is induced to trouble Friar Blas with a discourse on the impropriety of the example (and precept) which he has afforded to the unhappy Gerund. This advice is very good, but prodigiously long; and as we are afraid that our readers may not listen to it with the same patience as Friar Blas, we must venture to withhold it. The friar, we are told, “ listened with the most solemn attention, and without betraying the least token of impatience ;” and when the lecture was over, he said that it might all be very good, and so forth,—and that, in fact, it was very good, and so forth,- but it did not answer his purpose. And so saying, he went away without more ceremony, leaving the superior in a state of moderate astonishment. But time passes; and Gerund is fated to preach his first sermon,
a refectory sermon," which he obtains through the influence of his friend Friar Blas We are afraid of perplexing our readers with any account of the sermon itself, which is flowery, mystical, and incomprehensible to our simple understanding; but Friar Gerund's preparatory labours must not be entirely passed over.
“ It is not to be told what he read, what he contemplated, what he ran through in those eight days, nor the innumerable ideas which crouded upon that unquiet and turbulent imagination, all striving which should be most extravagant and perplexed. But nothing did he read, see, or understand, but what came like a pearl to his subject, either as a simile, comparison, or text. He noted, renoted, blotted out, and added, till at length, after three foul copies, he produced a sermon as fair as a flower. He went over it, studied it, acted it, and rehearsed the preaching a thousand times in his cell upon all the lumber there was in it, upon the chair, upon the stool, upon the table, upon the bench, and upon the bed. But, two days before the function, when the man whose business it is to waken the brethren and bring them a light, came into his cell, he found Friar Gerund in his shirt upon the tarima or raised part of the floor, powerfully preaching in his sleep, not knowing what he was about.
“ As these things had got wind in the convent, great was the expectation and desire of the whole community to hear him. At length arrived the dawn of the great, the important day, when, before all things, our Friar Gerund was so shaved, and combed, and smugged, and spruced, that it was a delight to behold his face. He that day hanselled a new habit, which he had desired his mother to send him for. the purpose, begging earnestly that she would be sure to iron the folds well, that they might lie smooth and handsome, that he might cut the more respectable figure, as this gives a mighty grace to the garment; and moreover, he desired she would not fail to let him have two good yard-wide handkerchiefs, one white and the other coloured, as they were both very necessary pieces of furniture for the entrance. The good Catanla sent every thing with a thousand loves, and with but one condition, which was, that, as she could not hear him, ho should send in return a copy of the sermon, that it might be read by the parson of the parish, and his godfather the licentiate Quixano.
“ The hour being come, and the bell rung for dinner, there was not absent that day from the refectory, not even the lowest lay-brother of the community, because, in reality, they all loved Friar Gerund, as well for his good genius as his liberal disposition, and likewise because their curiosity was whetted by seeing in him such a rage for the pulpit, in which they all understood rightly enough that there was more innocence than malice, or desire of leading an idle life. He mounted the pulpit then with a graceful air, and presented himself with such a confident and unembarrassed countenance, that the very Predicador Mayor
himself almost began to envy him. He threw a pair of disdainful glances, with affected majesty, on all sides the refectory, and observing the indispensable prolegomena of shaking successively in the air his pair of handkerchiefs, white and red, and sounding the trumpet in Sion, he began."
Of the sermon, it may be sufficient to say, that it calls down the reprehension of the superior, who gives our friend a lecture upon his folly. This he receives in a way
that becomes the friend and pupil of Friar Blas. It rivets him, in short, in his old ways. The admonition of the more sensible father is wasted on the impudent and impenetrable stupidity of Gerund, and the maxims of Friar Blas prevail. The hero goes on his own way to immortality.
We have now little worth notice in the next two hundred pages-nothing that can be admitted as extract--sermons, discussions, criticisms, disputes between friars, (all very interesting in Spain, perhaps, but mightily tedious here,) fill up the space. There is scarcely any thing which relieves this vein, except one single invitation to supper,--to which, as it is but short, we will invite the reader.
“ Friar Blas was about to reply, when Gregory came in with the supper, saying to them, with an air of rustic pleasantry, “Our fathers, onia tiempus habunt, tiempus dispuntandi $ tiempus cenandi: the blessed St. Fillbelly be with your paternities now, and leave your cumlocutories; for the eggs are growing hard, the roast meat is a spoiling, and by the clock of my belly is it full nine at night.' Brother Gregory is in the right of it,' said the Father Master; and they sat down to table. The supper was not splendid, but yet decent: a couple of sallads, a boiled and raw one, new-laid eggs, half a turkey roasted, some hashed hare, and cheese and olives for desert; and Friar Gerund diverted them much while it lasted. As his pedantic preceptor, the Domine Zaneas-largas, had his memory stored with heaps of Latin verses, sentences, and aphorisms, for every thing, and every thought, and every word, and which he bolted out at every turn, whether or no they were at all to the purpose, provided there was to be found amongst his cento any similarity in sound to any thing in the present subject, and by this means had acquired amongst the ignorant the credit of a monster of erudition, and a well of knollitch as he was called in that country, his diligent disciple Friar Gerund endeavoured to copy this impertinence, as well as all the other ridiculous extravagancies of the blessed domine."
But the merit of this book consists principally in the sketches, or portraits, which are introduced. Some of them we have already given. We shall extract one or two more, and then leave Friar Gerund to take his chance with the public. We must remark here, however, that our friar's "history"
is not a complete history. It is only
It is only a fragment; and what we have consists simply of the progress of Gerund from one error to another—from folly to folly-and is intended to show how absurd even a preacher may be, who sets his heart upon the trial. Yet, we must take notice of one great event in the hero's life, namely, his preaching in his native village, for the first time, before his father, and mother, and relatives, &c. &c. It is altogether a grand doing, and the excellent Friar Blas does our hero the honour of attending upon him. If the reader wishes to know how these ceremonials are managed in Spain, he may read as follows:
Already were Friar Blas and Friar Gerund at the door of the house, awaiting their accompaniment, for it seemed indispensable to the predicador, in friendship and in brotherhood, to attend upon Friar Gerund, and he not only gave him the right hand all that day, but humbly waited upon him till he left him in the pulpit, and would even have sat upon the stairs of it if he had not been prevented by Antony Zotes, who obliged him to take a seat upon the bench of the fraternity, between himself and the past majordomo.
" And now issued from the house our Friar Gerund, handsome as the morning, cheerful as light, resplendent as the sun. He had smugged himself up, it is evident, with the utmost prolixity. The barber had been strictly charged to exert the last efforts of his skill, since it was to be worth to him no less than a double real of silver; and in truth he had touched him with a master-hand, rendering him so bright, that he seemed to have been burnished. Above all, in his circle of hair, he had displayed the nicest art; the plain within appeared no other than an oval piece of fine Genoa paper, polished by the smoothing tooth, its border like a glossy black silk fringe, cut with the most exquisite exactness, without so much as a single hair starting forth to discompose the line; the fore-top elevated about two fingers and an half with marvellous proportion in front of the circumference of jet, and from its hinder extremity to the neck, the whole field of the occiput was wittingly less closely shaved than the ivory summit, that blackening a little, it might serve as a foil to set off the more laboured parts. He had that day hanseled a new habit, which his good mother had prepared him, and a sister of his, now a marriageable girl, had taken such indefatigable pains, and used so much skill in the doubling, folding, plaiting, pressing, &c. that both that and his scapulary made a most enchanting appearance, and such as even almost dazzled the sight.”
After the sermon, there is, as a matter of course, a feast. In the course of this feast a guest arrives, and this is the author's account of him.
“ Our new guest was called Don Carlos; and as, on one hand, he was by no means dull of apprehension, and, on the other, had been so long at Madrid frequenting toilets, keeping stools warm, guarding