THE ADVENTURES OF GIL BLAS OF SANTILLANE
BY ALAIN-RENE LESAGE
TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH BY TOBIAS SMOLLETT
BIBLIOGRAPHIC NOTE AND ACKNOWLEGDEMENTS
The text of this version is taken from
The Adventures of Gil Blas by A.R. LeSage. Translated from the
French by Tobias Smollett with an introduction by William Morton
Fullerton. George Routledge & Sons. 1913
We wish to acknowledge the courtesy and helpfulness of Ms. Sally
Sweet of ITPS in clearing copyright for this publication.
THE AUTHOR'S DECLARATION.
THERE are some people in the world so mischievous as not to read
a work without applying the vicious or ridiculous characters it
may happen to contain to eminent or popular individuals. I
protest publicly against the pretended discovery of any such
likenesses. My purpose was to represent human life historically
as it exists: God forbid I should holdmyself out as a portrait-painter.
Let not the reader then take to himself public property; for if he
does, he may chance to throw an unlucky light on his own character:
as Phaedrus expresses it, Stulte nudabit animi conscientiam.
Certain physicians of Castille, as well as of France, are
sometimes a little too fond of trying the bleeding and lowering
system on their patients. Vices, their patrons, and their dupes,
are of every day's occurrence, To be sure, I have not always
adopted Spanish manners with scrupulous exactness; and in the
instance of the players at Madrid, those who know their
disorderly modes of living may reproach me with softening down
their coarser traits: but this I have been induced to do from a
sense of delicacy, and in conformity with the manners of my own
GIL BLAS TO THE READER.
READER! hark you, my friend! Do not begin the story of my life
till I have told you a short tale.
Two students travelled together from Penafiel to Salamanca.
Finding themselves tired and thirsty, they stopped by the side of
a spring on the road. While they were resting there, after having
quenched their thirst, by chance they espied on a stone near
them, even with the ground, part of an inscription, in some
degree effaced by time, and by the tread of flocks in the habit
of watering at that spring. Having washed the stone, they were
able to trace these words in the dialect of Castille; Aqui esta
encerrada el alma del licenciado Pedro Garcias. "Here lies
interred the soul of the licentiate Peter Garcias."
Hey-day! roars out the younger, a lively, heedless fellow, who
could not get on with his deciphering for laughter: This is a
good joke indeed: "Here lies interred the soul." . . . . A soul
interred! . . . . I should like to know the whimsical author of
this ludicrous epitaph. With this sneer he got up to go away. His
companion, who had more sense, said within himself: Underneath
this stone lies some mystery; I will stay, and see the end of it.
Accordingly, he let his comrade depart, and without loss of time
began digging round about the stone with his knife till he got it
up. Under it he found a purse of leather, containing an hundred
ducats with a card on which was written these words in Latin:
"Whoever thou art who hast wit enough to discover the meaning of
the inscription, I appoint thee my heir, in the hope thou wilt
make a better use of my fortune than I have done!" The student,
out of his wits at the discovery, replaced the stone in its
former position, and set out again on the Salamanca road with the
soul of the licentiate in his pocket.
Now, my good friend and reader, no matter who you are, you must
be like one or the other of these two students. If you cast your
eye over my adventures without fixing it on the moral concealed
under them, you will derive very little benefit from the perusal:
but if you read with attention you will find that mixture of the
useful with the agreeable, so successfully prescribed by Horace.
INTRODUCTION by WM. MORTON FULLERTON.
WALTER SCOTT, who craved the beatitude -- the word is his own --
that would attend the perusal of another book as entrancing as
Gil Blas, was on the side of the untutored public which knows
nothing of technical classifications or of M. Brunetière's theory
of the "evolution des genres." Lesage's great book, though
scarcely answering to the exact technical definition of a
picaresque novel -- the biography of a picaro or rogue --
belongs, nevertheless, by its external form, to the picaresque
type of fiction; and Scott would certainly have admitted that its