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I returned to the inn with Corcuelo, who, by the way, began to recount the carrier's history. He told me every circumstance of his character in town; and, in short, was going to stupefy me again with his intolerable loquacity, when a man of pretty good appearance prevented that misfortune, by accosting him with great civility. I left them together, and went on, without suspecting that I had the least concern in their conversation.
When I arrived at the inn, I called for supper, and, it being a meagre day, was glad to put up with eggs.
When the omelet I had bespoken was ready, I sat down to table by myself, but had not swallowed the first morsel when the landlord came in, followed by the man who had stopped him in the street.
This cavalier, who wore a long sword, and seemed to be about thirty years of age, advanced towards me with an eager air, saying, " Mr. Student, I am informed that you are that Signor Gil Blas of Santillane, who is the flambeau of philosophy and ornament of Oviedo. Is it possible that you are that mirror of learning, that sublime genius, whose reputation is so great in this country? You know not,” continued he, addressing himself to the innkeeper and his wife, "you know not what you possess.
You have a treasure in your house. Behold in this young gentleman the eighth wonder of the world !” Then, turning to me, and throwing his arms about my neck, “Forgive,” cried he, “my transports ; I cannot contain the joy your presence creates.”
I could not answer for some time, because he locked me so close in his arms, that I was almost suffocated for want of breath; and it was not till I had disengaged my head from his embrace, that I replied, “Signor Cavalier, I did not think my name was known at Pennaflor.” * How! known !" replied he in his former strain: "we keep a register of all the
Loquacity, talkativeness, the habit or practice of talking continually or excessively: ity, 102. — Cavalier, a gay, sprightly, military man. Flambeau, a light or luminary made of thick wicks covered with wax, and used in the streets at night, at illuminations, and in processions; a luminary or torch.
celebrated names within twenty leagues of us. You, in particular, are looked upon as a prodigy; and I don't at all doubt that Spain will one day be as proud of you as Greece was of the seven sages.” These words were followed by a fresh hug, which I was forced to endure, though at the risk of strangulation.
With the little experience I had, I ought not to have been the dupe of his professions and hyperbolical compliments; I ought to have known, by his extravagant flattery, that he was one of those parasites who abound in every town, and who, when a stranger arrives, introduce themselves to him, in order to fill themselves at his expense. But my youth and vanity made me judge quite 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 heart," 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 own 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, and therefore ordered a second, which they dressed with such despatch, that it was served up just as we — or rather he had made an end of the first. He proceeded on this with the same vigor, 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 I, he could not over-estimate.
Hyperbolical, exaggerating or diminishing beyond the fact, exceeding the truth : hyper, 31 ; ical, 91. - Parasite, literally, one who dines with others; in modern usage, a trencher friend, one that frequents the tables of the rich and earns his welcome by flattery; a hanger on, a fawning flatterer.
In the mean time, 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 humor, that, seeing our second omelet half devoured, I asked the landlord if he had any fish in the house. Signor 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 Signor 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, as he only anticipated me, and, feeling 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 eyes sparkle with joy, and he renewed that complaisance — I mean for the fish
which ne 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 enough, he thought proper to conclude the farce by rising from table and accosting me in these words: “Signor Gil Blas, I am too well satisfied with your good cheer, to leave you without offering you an important advice, which you seem to have great occasion for. Henceforth beware of flattery, and be upon your guard against every body you do not know. You may meet with other people inclined to divert themselves with your credulity, and perhaps to push things still farther ; but don't be duped again, nor believe yourself, however strongly they may affirm it, the eighth wonder of the world.”
98. The Isles of Greece.
The isles of Greece, the isles of Greece!
Where burning Sappho loved and sung,
Where Delos rose, and Phæbus sprung!
The Scian and the Teian muse,
The hero's harp, the lover's lute,
Their place of birth alone is mute
The mountains look on Marathon
And Marathon looks on the sea; And musing there an hour alone,
I dreamed that Greece might still be free; For, standing on the Persian's grave, I could not deem myself a slave.
A king sat on the rocky brow
Which looks o'er sea-born Salamis ;
And men in nations ;- all were his !
And where are they? and where art thou,
My, country? On thy voiceless shore T'he heroic lay is tuneless now
'The heroic bosom beats no more! And must thy lyre, so long divine, Degenerate into hands like mine ?
Tis some hing in the dearth of fame,
Though linked among a fettered race, To feel at least a patriot's shame,
Even as I sing, suffuse my face; For what is left the poet here? For Greeks a blush for Greece a tear.
Must we but weep o'er days more blest ?
Must we but blush? - Our fathers bled. Earth, render back from out thy breast
A remnant of our Spartan dead ! ()f the three hundred grant but three, To make a new Thermopylæ !
What, silent still ! and silent all ?
Ah, no; the voices of the dead Sound like a distant torrent's fall, And answer,
“Let one living head, But one, arise we come, we come!" Tis but the living who are dumb.
In vain - in vain : strike other chords;
Fill high the cup with Samian wine!
And shed the blood of Scio's vine!
The tyrant of the Chersonese
Was freedom's best and bravest friend;