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Gil Blas by Alain-Rene LeSage






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.


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 




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.



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

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