Isla, Joseph Francis De L'

, was a Spanish Jesuit who on the suppression of his order, went to Italy, and settled at Bologna, where he died in 1783. He is known chiefly as the author of “The History of the famous preacher friar Gerund de Campazas; otherwise Gerund Zotes.” This work was written with a view to correct the abuses of the Spanish pulpit, by turning bad preachers into ridicule. The first volume of the original Spanish was published at Madrid, in 1758, under the assumed name of Francisco Lobon de Salazar, minister of the parish of St. Peter in Villagarcia. It was not only highly applauded by many of the learned in Spain, to whom it had been communicated in manuscript; but even the inquisitors encouraged the publication, and bore testimony in writing to its laudable design, believing that it would in a great measure produce a reformation. One of the revisers for the inquisition says, “It is one of those lucky expedients which indignation and hard necessity suggest, when the best means have proved ineffectual, and we are not to find fault if the dose of caustic and corrosive salts be somewhat too strong, as cancers are not to be cured with rose water.” Notwithstanding this approbation of the inquisition, some orders, particularly the Dominican and Mendicant, represented to the king that such a piece of merciless criticism would too much diminish the respect due to the clergy, and would render all religious orders ridiculous in the eyes of the common people, &c. These arguments, repeatedly urged by the friars, and supported by several of the bishops, obliged the council of Castile to take the book into their serious consideration, which produced a suppression of it. The author had a second volume ready; but, finding it impossible to print it in Spain, presented the copy to Mr. Baretti, by whose means both volumes were printed in English in 1771, with the omission of some tedious and irrelevant parts. In Spain this work was so highly approved, that the author was hailed as a second Cervantes, whom he certainly endeavours to copy; but it would be too liberal to allow him the merit of successful rivalship. Friar Gerund, however, is | certainly a work of great humour, and must have appeared to much advantage in Spain, where the subjects of the satirQ are more common and obvious than in this country. Here it cannot be supposed to yield more than mere amusement, unless where it presents us with the customs of the common and middle ranks of Spain, and those are said to be faithfully depicted. 1


Dict. Hist. Preface to the Translation.