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fessions and hyperbolical compliments. I ought to have known, by his extravagant flattery, that he was one of those parasites which abound in every town, and who, when a stranger arrives, introduce themselves to him, in order to fill their bellies at his expense. But my youth and vanity made me judge otherwise. My admirer appeared to me so much of a gentleman, that I invited him to take a share of my supper. “Ah, with all my soul,” cried he; 'I am too much obliged to my kind stars for having thrown me in the way of the illustrious Gil Blas, not to enjoy my good fortune as long as I can! I have no great appetite," pursued he, “but I will sit down to bear you company, and eat a mouthful purely out of complaisance.”
So saying, my panegyrist took his place right over against me; and a cover being laid for him, attacked the omelet as voraciously as if he had fasted three whole days. By his complaisant beginning I foresaw that our dish would not last long; ard therefore ordered a second; which they dressed with such dispatch, that it was served just as we or rather he—had made an end of the first. He proceeded on this with the same vigour; and found means, without losing one stroke of his teeth, to overwhelm me with praises during the whole repast, which made me very well pleased with my sweet self. He drank in proportion to his eating; sometimes to my health, sometimes to that of my
father and mother, whose happiness in having such a son as me he could not enough admire. All the while he plied me with wine, and insisted upon my doing him justice, while I toasted health for health; a circumstance which, together with his intoxicating flattery, put me into such good humour, that seeing our second omelet half devoured, I asked the landlord if he had no fish in the house. Signior Corcuelo, who in all likelihood had a fellow-feeling with the
parasite, replied, “I have a delicate trout; but those who eat it must pay for the sauce;—'tis a bit too dainty for your palate, I doubt.” “What do you call too dainty ?" said the sycophant, raising his voice; “ you're a wiseacre, indeed! Know, that there is nothing in this house too good for Signior Gil Blas de Santillane, who deserves to be entertained like a prince."
I was pleased at his laying hold of the landlord's last words, in which he prevented me; who finding myself offended, said with an air of disdain, " Produce this trout of yours, Gaffer Corcuelo, and give yourself no trouble about the consequence." This was what the innkeeper wanted. He got it ready, and served it up in a trice. At sight of this new dish, I could perceive the parasite's eye sparkle with joy; and he renewed that complaisance - I mean for the fish — which he had already shown for the eggs. At last, however, he was obliged to give out, for fear of accident, being crammed to the very throat. Having, therefore, eaten and drank his bellyfull, he thought proper to conclude the farce, by rising from table, and accosting me in these words :—“Signior Gil Blas, I am too well satisfied with your good cheer, to leave you without offering an important advice, which you seem to have great occasion for. Henceforth beware of praise, and be upon your guard against everybody you do not know. You may meet with other people inclined to divert themselves with your credulity, and perhaps to push things still further; but don't be duped again, nor believe yourself (though they should swear it) the eighth wonder of the world.” So say, ing, he laughed in my face, and stalked away.
I was as much affected by this bite as I have since been by misfortunes of far greater consequence. I could not forgive myself for having been so grossly imposed upon ; or
rather, I was shocked to find my pride so humbled. “How! (said I to myself) has the traitor, then, made a jest of me? His design in accosting my landlord in the street was only to pump him; or perhaps they understand one another. Ah! simple Gil Blas! Go hang thyself for shame, for having given such rascals an opportunity of turning thee into ridicule! I suppose they'll trump up a fine story of this affair, which will reach Oviedo, and doubtless do thee a great deal of honour, and make thy parents repent their having thrown away so much good counsel on
Instead of exhorting me not to wrong anybody, they ought to have cautioned me against the knavery of the world."
Chagrined with these mortifying reflections, and inilamed with resentment, I locked myself in my chamber and went to bed, where, however, I did not sleep; for before I could close my eyes, the carrier came to let me know he was ready to set out, and only waited for me. I got up instantly; and while I put on my clothes, Corcuelo brought me a bill, in which, I assure you, the trout was not forgotten; and I was not only obliged to gratify his exorbitance, but I had also the mortification to perceive, while I counted the money, that the sarcastic knave remembered my adventure. After having paid sauce for a supper which I had so ill digested, I went to the muleteer with my bags, wishing the parasite, the innkeeper, and his inn, at the deyil.
Ludupiru in the Haunted Chamber.
FROM THE MYSTERIES OF UDOLPHO.
Mrs. RADCLIFFE, a beautiful little woman of delicate constitution and sequestered habits, as fond, as her own heroines, of lonely sea-shores, picturesque mountains, and poetical meditations, perfected that discovery of the capabilities of an old house or castle for exciting a romantic interest, which lay ready to be made in the mind of every child and poet, but which (if Gray did not put it into his head) first suggested itself to the feudal dilletanteism of Horace Walpole. Horace had more genius in him than his contemporaries gave him credit for; but the reputation which his wit obtained him, the material philosophy of the day, and the pursuit of fashionable amusement, did it no good. He lost sight of the line to be drawn between the imposing and the incredible; and though there is real merit in the Castle of Otranto, and even grandeur of imagination, yet the conversion of dreams into gross daylight palpabilities, which nothing short of iron-founders could create-swords that take a hundred men to lift them, and supernatural yet substantial helmets, big as houses and actually serving for prisons -turns the sublime into the ridiculous, and has completely spoilt an otherwise interesting narrative. Mrs. Radcliffe, frightened perhaps by Walpole’s failure (for this great mistress of Fear was too often a servant of it), went to another extreme; and except in what she quoted from other story-tellers, resolved all her supernatural effects into commonplace causes. Those effects, however, while they lasted, and every thing else capable of frightening people out of their wits--old haunted houses and corridors, mysterious music, faces behind curtains, cowled and guilty monks, inquisitors, nuns, places to commit murders in, and the murders themselves—she understood to perfection. To dress these in appropriate circumstances, she possessed also the eye of a painter as
well as the feeling of a poetess. She conceived to a nicety the effect of a storm on a landscape, the playing of a meteor on the point of a spear, and the sudden appearance of some old castle to which travellers have been long coming, and which they have reasons to fear living in. It has been objected to her that she is too much of a melodramatic writer, and that her characters are inferior to her circumstances; the background (as Hazlitt says) of more importance than the figures. This in a great measure is true; but she has painted characters also, chiefly weak ones, as in the querulous duped aunt in Udolpho, and the victim of error, St. Pierre, in the Romance of the Forest. It must be considered, however, that her effects, however produced, are successful, and greatly successful ; and that Nature herself deals in precisely such effects, leaving men to be operated upon by them passively, and not to play the chief parts in the process by means of their characters. Mrs. Radcliffe brings on the scene Fear and Terror themselves, the grandeurs of the known world, and the awes of the unknown; and if human beings become puppets in her hands, it is as people in storm and earthquake are puppets in the hands of Nature.
The following passage, from the Mysteries of Udolpho, is one of the most favourite in her writings. Mr. Hazlitt thinks the Provençal tale in it "the greatest treat which Mrs. Radcliffe's pen has provided for the lovers of the marvellous and terrible.” Sir Walter Scott says, “The best and most admired specimen of her art is the mysterious disappearance of Ludovico, after having undertaken to watch for a night in a haunted apartment; and the mind of the reader is finely wound up for some strange catastrophe, by the admirable ghost-story which he is represented as perusing to amuse his solitude, as the scene closes upon him. Neither can it be denied, that the explanation afforded of this mysterious accident is as probable as romance requires, and in itself completely satisfactory."
What that explanation is, the reader will find at the close of the extract.
THE count gave orders for the north apartments to be
opened and prepared for the reception of Ludovico; but Dorothee, remembering what she had lately witnessed there, feared to obey; and not one of the other servants daring to venture thither, the rooms remained shut up till the time