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the stranger, "to speak even of the reverend and illustrious Bernardin, but as a man among men. For my part, I am, as it were, a creeping thing among them ; and yet I am honest. If I have any virtue, it is that. I crawl right onward in my path, looking neither to the right nor to the left ; and yet I have my temptations. Reverend father, I have found this purse. I will not deny that, being often in want of the common necessaries of life, and having been obliged last night, in particular, to sit down faint at the city gates, for want of my ordinary crust and onion, which I had given to one (God help him !) still worse off than myself, I did cast some looks—I did, I say, just open the purse, and cast a wistful eye at one of those shining pieces, that lay one over the other inside, with something like a wish that I could procure myself a meal with it, unknown to the lawful proprietor. But my conscience, thank Heaven, prevailed. I have to make two requests to you, reverend father. First, that you will absolve me for this my offence; and second, that you will be pleased to mention in one of your discourses, that a poor sinner from Milan, on his road to hear them, has found a purse, and would willingly restore it to the right owner. I would fain give double the contents of it to find him out; but then, what can I do? All the wealth I have consists in my honesty. Be pleased, most illustrious father, to mention this in your discourse, as modestly as becomes my nothingness; and to add especially, that the purse was found on the road from Milan, lying, miraculously as it were, upon a sunny bank, open to the view of all, under an olive-tree, not far from a little fountain, the pleasant noise of which, peradventure, had invited the owner to sleep." The good father, at hearing this detail, smiled at the anxious sincerity of the poor pilgrim, and, giving him the required absolution, promised to do his utmost to bring forth the proprietor. In his next sermon, he accordingly dwelt with such eloquence on the opportunities thrown in the way of the rich who lose purses to behave nobly, that his congregation several times half rose from their seats out of enthusiasm, and longed
for some convenient loss of property, that might enable them to show their disinterestedness. At the conclusion of it, however, a man stepped forward, and said, that anxious as he was to do justice to the finder of the purse, which he knew to be his the moment he saw it (only he was loth to interrupt the reverend father), he had claims upon him at home, in the person of his wife and thirteen children,-fourteen, perhaps, he might now say,—which, to his great sorrow, prevented him from giving the finder more than a quarter of a piece ; this however he offered him with the less scruple, since he saw the seraphic disposition of the reverend preacher and his congregation, who, he had no doubt, would make ample amends for this involuntary deficiency on the part of a poor family man, the whole portion of whose wife and children might be said to be wrapt up in that purse. His sleep under the olive-tree had been his last for these six nights (here the other man said, with a tremulous joy of acknowledgment, that it was indeed just six nights since he had found il); and Heaven only knew when he should have had another, if his children's bread, so to speak, had not been found again. With these words, the sharper (for such, of course, he was) presented the quarter of a piece to his companion, who made all but a prostration for it; and hastened with the purse out of the church. The other man's circumstances were then inquired into, and as he was found to have almost as many children as the purse-owner, and no possessions at all, as he said, but his honesty,—all his children being equally poor and pious,-a considerable subscription was raised for him ; so large, indeed, that on the appearance of a new claimant next day, the pockets of the good people were found empty. This was no other than the Genoese merchant, who having turned back on his road, when he missed his purse, did not stop till he came to Sienna, and heard the news of the day before. Imagine the feelings of the deceived people. Saint Bernardin was convinced that the two cheats were devils in disguise. The resident canon had thought pretty nearly as much all along,
but had held his tongue, and now hoped it would be a lesson to people not to listen to everybody who could talk, especially to the neglect of St Antonio's monastery. As to the people themselves, they thought variously. Most of them were mortified at having been cheated ; and some swore they never would be cheated again, let appearances be what they might. Others thought that this was a resolution somewhat equivocal, and more convenient than happy. For our parts, we think the last were right, and this reminds us of a true English story, more good than striking, which we heard a short while ago from a friend. He knew a man of rugged manners, but good heart (not that the two things, as a lover of parenthesis will say, are at all bound to go together), who had a wife somewhat given to debating with hackney-coachmen, and disputing acts of settlement respecting half-miles, and quarter-miles, and abominable additional sixpences. The good housewife was lingering at the door, and exclaiming against one of these monstrous charioteers, whose hoarse low voice was heard at intervals, full of lying protestations and bad weather, when the husband called out from a back-room, “Never mind there, never mind! Let her be cheated ; let her be cheated."
This is a digression; but it is as well to introduce it, in order to take away a certain bitterness out of the mouth of the other's moral.
We now come to a very unromantic set of rogues—the Spanish ones. In a poetical sense at least, they are unromantic ; though doubtless the mountains of Spain have seen as picturesque vagabonds in their time as any. There are the robbers in “ Gil Blas," who have at least a very respectable cavern, and loads of polite superfluities. Who can forget the lofty-named Captain
Rolando, with his sturdy height and his whiskers, showing with a lifted torch his treasure to the timid stripling, Gil Blas? The most illustrious theft in Spanish story is one recorded of no less a person than the fine old national hero, the Cid. As the sufferers were Jews, it might be thought that his conscience would not have hurt him in those days; but“ My Cid" was a kind of early soldier in behalf of sentiment, and, though he went to work roughly, he meant nobly and kindly. “God knows," said he, on the present occasion, “I do this thing more of necessity than of wilfulness ; but by God's help I shall redeem all.” The case was this. The Cid, who was too good a subject to please his master the king, had quarrelled with him, or rather had been banished ; and nobody was to give him house.room or food. A number of friends, however, followed him ; and, by the help of his nephew Martin Antolinez, he proposed to raise some money. Martin accordingly negotiated the business with a couple of rich Jews, who, for a deposit of two chests full of spoil, which they were not to open for a year, on account of political circumstances, agreed to advance six hundred marks. “Well, then," said Martin Antolinez, “ye see that the night is advancing; the Cid is in haste; give us the marks." 66 This is not the way of business," said they ; we must take first, and then give." Martin accordingly goes with them to the Cid, who in the meantime has filled a couple of heavy chests with sand. The Cid smiled as they kissed his hand, and said, “Ye see I am going out of the land because of the king's displeasure ; but I shall leave something with ye.” The Jews made a suitable answer, and were then desired to take the chests ; but, though strong men, they could not raise them from the ground. This put them in such spirits that, 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 everything 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 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 Sancho, 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-bedecently-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
See Mr Southey's excellent compilation entitled, “The Chronicle of the Cid,” Book III. sec. 21. The version at the end of the book, attributed to Mr Hookhain 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 chooses, with grace, or bearing down everything with mastery.