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We have now finished our extracts, though, when all is so excellent, it is a difficult matter to make a selection. We think our readers will now be enabled to judge with what propriety the name of Quarles has been hitherto associated with dulness and imbecility. His admirers have no need to palliate any of his defects by the goodness of intention. If he were not a great poet, he was something much better than an ordinary one. He was a man of strong native ability, quick intuition, great sagacity, and by no means devoid of wit. Had he chosen to give his
parts and study to general literature, few seem better calculated to have succeeded. But his object was to be useful, extensively and substantially useful. He rejected the triumphs which literary pre-eminence presented, to " walk humbly with God,” to paraphrase the Scriptures for the pious, and to expound to the devout their sayings, their promises, and their consolations. He renounced the posthumous rewards of fame, and contented himself with the applauses of his own conscience; with the lives of saints and martyrs before him, he loved to follow in their footsteps, and looked not forward except to a joyful eternity. And shall such prostration of intellect be without its merit and reward? Shall a character, so truly excellent, be depreciated by the scoffs of idle wit, or the attacks of empty satire? It is to be hoped not, at least for the credit of human nature; and, therefore, when the name of Quarles is mentioned, let it never be mentioned without praise.
Maurice, Printer, l'enchurch-street.
VOL. V. PART II.
Art. I.-Primera, y segunda parte de Guzman de Alfarache, por
Matheo Aleman, Criado del Rey nuestro Senor, natural, y vezino de Sevilla. Madrid, 1723. 4to.
The Rogue; or, The Life of Guzman de Alfarache. Written in
Spanish by Matheo Åleman, servant to his Catholic Majestie, and borne in Sevill. London, printed for Edward Blount, 1623.
This is not a book of bustle and activity, of trick upon trick, cozenage upon cozenagema series of nimble leger-demain and Spanish petty larcenies, like some works of a similar description : the real action of the piece occupies but a very small portion of the six hundred closely printed pages, of which the volume consists. The greater part of it is filled with observations of men and manners, with lively declamation, long argumentations, and high moralities. Small, however, as is the proportion which the narrative bears to the ethical
part of it, we shall not attempt to follow Guzman de Alfarache step by step through his adventures. A mere piece of roguery told in the abstract, without the proper picaresque ornaments, its manifold sinuosities and dexterities, has no interest for the reader; it may recommend the executor of it to the administration of a cat-o-nine-tails, or to an
honourable post in the gallies : but there is no music in it without the proper accompaniments. It is earth without verdure, bread without salt, body without spirit. It requires the embellishment of courage or ingenuity, to make it pass current in the world. We look for a nimble wit as well as nimble fingers, for a ready tongue as well as a quick hand, for apt contrivance and bold execution as well as for impenetrable impudence and an unabashed forehead. were to give an abstract of Guzman's adventures, we should inflict upon our readers a less measure of what we have ourselves undergone in struggling through this prodigious folio. We never felt at once, so acutely and so long, the evil of a great book.–We made many vigorous sallies, but our excursions uniformly terminated in weariness. . We took breath divers times, and tried many expedients to cheat ourselves into the happy credulity, that it was a most amusing work. That there was some wit dispersed throughout it, was obvious that it displayed great knowledge of mankind, and discrimination of different orders of men, we could not deny—that there were some entertaining incidents and agreeable episodes, we most joyfully acknowledged—and that there were some tit bits of morality, and most quaint, ingenious, and clever pieces of writing, we crossed ourselves and were thankful. We thought it ought to be a lively book, and a pleasant one.--We reflected upon the five-and-twenty editions it went through in Spain ; upon its being translated into so many different languages; in short, upon all conceivable things, but in vain—we could not get rid of the impression, that it was a very dull book with very good things in it. This impression may, in some measure, have been caused by disappointment at meeting with theses instead of tricks, and rules instead of rogueries, and at those things which ought to be accidents, having been made the subjects; the adventures of the hero, instead of the moralization, constituting in fact the digression.
This being the case, we shall briefly give our readers to understand, that the genealogy of Guzman de Alfarache was wrapped in some obscurity, it never having been correctly ascertained who was entitled to the paternal character. The probability, however, leaned in favour of a Genoese merchant, who at the time of our adventurer's birth was resident in Seville. Of his mother, indeed, there was no doubt, and, one way or other, Guzman made out certain pretensions to gentility of descent; but not being ourselves learned in the heraldry of Spain, we shall not now stop to examine his claims. Suffice it to say, that his nurture was tender and his breeding gentle. On the death of his reputed father, Guzman, being still quite a boy, incited by a desire to see distant parts, launches his own boat,
and embarks on the ocean of the world to seek his fortunes. Some calm seas he meets with, and many tempests. He commences life as a stable boy, turns beggar and porter, thief and man of fashion; enlists as a soldier, goes into Italy, becomes valet to a Cardinal, and pander to a French ambassador. He next returns to Spain, sets up as a merchant, marries, cheats his creditors, and becomes bankrupt; determines to take holy orders, and enters himself as a student at the University of Alcala. Here he fags hard, until he at length withdraws his eyes from divinity to spell love in the fair face of an innkeeper's daughter, whom he marries. He gives up the idea of turning churchman; figures away at a great rate so long as his resources last; revisits his mother; is deserted by his wife; robs an old woman who had taken him into her service; is tried, and condemned to the gallies for life ; obtains his liberation for revealing a conspiracy of the slaves, and afterwards writes an account of his. adventures.
Guzman is not one of your every-day rogues, a common picker and stealer. There is as much difference between one of those vulgar knaves and our Guzmanillo, as there is between an ordinary highwayman and the gallant Du Val, that prince of all rogues without the realm of fiction, that abstracter of
gentlemen's purses and filcher of ladies' hearts. An anecdote, related of Du Val, will shew the difference between the two last, and may perhaps amuse our readers. This hero having arrested the carriage of a certain knight and his lady, who he knew were travelling with four hundred pounds in their possession, the lady, to show that she felt no apprehension, began to play a tune on her flageolet. Du Val very decorously waited until she had finished, and then, being himself an excellent musician, “say his memoirs," he took a flageolet which hung by his side, and played a tune in return, and afterwards stepped up to the carriage and invited the lady to dance a coranto with him. So reasonable a request could not be refused ; she descended, performed the dance, Du Val singing the tune; and was handed back by her partner to the carriage. He then reminded the knight that he had forgot to pay the music, whereupon the courteous knight presented him with a hundred pounds, which our hero politely accepted, telling him he would let him off the other three hundred which he had with him. But to return to our Spanish adventurer. He is a deep, recondite, Machiavellian rogue, who lays most profound and politic schemes to achieve a purse, or circumvent a trinket. He has as many plans and manæuvres, marches and countermarches, about his petty exploits, as a skilful general in conquering a country, and his relation of them is proportionably extended. Then he has so many reflections, soliloquies, and arguments, during their pro