Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 13)

"I know his worship," said the curate; "that is where SenorReinaldos of Montalvan figures with his friends and comrades,greater thieves than Cacus, and the Twelve Peers of France with theveracious historian Turpin; however, I am not for condemning them tomore than perpetual banishment, because, at any rate, they have someshare in the invention of the famous Matteo Boiardo, whence too theChristian poet Ludovico Ariosto wove his web, to whom, if I find himhere, and speaking any language but his own, I shall show no respectwhatever; but if he speaks his own tongue I will put him upon myhead."

"Well, I have him in Italian," said the barber, "but I do notunderstand him."

"Nor would it be well that you should understand him," said thecurate, "and on that score we might have excused the Captain if he hadnot brought him into Spain and turned him into Castilian. He robbedhim of a great deal of his natural force, and so do all those whotry to turn books written in verse into another language, for, withall the pains they take and all the cleverness they show, they nevercan reach the level of the originals as they were first produced. Inshort, I say that this book, and all that may be found treating ofthose French affairs, should be thrown into or deposited in some drywell, until after more consideration it is settled what is to bedone with them; excepting always one 'Bernardo del Carpio' that isgoing about, and another called 'Roncesvalles;' for these, if theycome into my hands, shall pass at once into those of thehousekeeper, and from hers into the fire without any reprieve."

To all this the barber gave his assent, and looked upon it asright and proper, being persuaded that the curate was so staunch tothe Faith and loyal to the Truth that he would not for the world sayanything opposed to them. Opening another book he saw it was "Palmerinde Oliva," and beside it was another called "Palmerin of England,"seeing which the licentiate said, "Let the Olive be made firewood ofat once and burned until no ashes even are left; and let that Palmof England be kept and preserved as a thing that stands alone, and letsuch another case be made for it as that which Alexander found amongthe spoils of Darius and set aside for the safe keeping of the worksof the poet Homer. This book, gossip, is of authority for two reasons,first because it is very good, and secondly because it is said to havebeen written by a wise and witty king of Portugal. All theadventures at the Castle of Miraguarda are excellent and ofadmirable contrivance, and the language is polished and clear,studying and observing the style befitting the speaker withpropriety and judgment. So then, provided it seems good to you, MasterNicholas, I say let this and 'Amadis of Gaul' be remitted thepenalty of fire, and as for all the rest, let them perish withoutfurther question or query."

"Nay, gossip," said the barber, "for this that I have here is thefamous 'Don Belianis.'"

"Well," said the curate, "that and the second, third, and fourthparts all stand in need of a little rhubarb to purge their excess ofbile, and they must be cleared of all that stuff about the Castle ofFame and other greater affectations, to which end let them beallowed the over-seas term, and, according as they mend, so shallmercy or justice be meted out to them; and in the mean time, gossip,do you keep them in your house and let no one read them."

"With all my heart," said the barber; and not caring to tire himselfwith reading more books of chivalry, he told the housekeeper to takeall the big ones and throw them into the yard. It was not said toone dull or deaf, but to one who enjoyed burning them more thanweaving the broadest and finest web that could be; and seizing abouteight at a time, she flung them out of the window.

In carrying so many together she let one fall at the feet of thebarber, who took it up, curious to know whose it was, and found itsaid, "History of the Famous Knight, Tirante el Blanco."

"God bless me!" said the curate with a shout, "'Tirante el Blanco'here! Hand it over, gossip, for in it I reckon I have found a treasuryof enjoyment and a mine of recreation. Here is Don Kyrieleison ofMontalvan, a valiant knight, and his brother Thomas of Montalvan,and the knight Fonseca, with the battle the bold Tirante fought withthe mastiff, and the witticisms of the damsel Placerdemivida, andthe loves and wiles of the widow Reposada, and the empress in lovewith the squire Hipolito- in truth, gossip, by right of its style itis the best book in the world. Here knights eat and sleep, and diein their beds, and make their wills before dying, and a great dealmore of which there is nothing in all the other books. Nevertheless, Isay he who wrote it, for deliberately composing such fooleries,deserves to be sent to the galleys for life. Take it home with you andread it, and you will see that what I have said is true."

"As you will," said the barber; "but what are we to do with theselittle books that are left?"

"These must be, not chivalry, but poetry," said the curate; andopening one he saw it was the "Diana" of Jorge de Montemayor, and,supposing all the others to be of the same sort, "these," he said, "donot deserve to be burned like the others, for they neither do norcan do the mischief the books of chivalry have done, being books ofentertainment that can hurt no one."

"Ah, senor!" said the niece, "your worship had better order these tobe burned as well as the others; for it would be no wonder if, afterbeing cured of his chivalry disorder, my uncle, by reading these, tooka fancy to turn shepherd and range the woods and fields singing andpiping; or, what would be still worse, to turn poet, which they say isan incurable and infectious malady."

"The damsel is right," said the curate, "and it will be well toput this stumbling-block and temptation out of our friend's way. Tobegin, then, with the 'Diana' of Montemayor. I am of opinion it shouldnot be burned, but that it should be cleared of all that about thesage Felicia and the magic water, and of almost all the longerpieces of verse: let it keep, and welcome, its prose and the honour ofbeing the first of books of the kind."

"This that comes next," said the barber, "is the 'Diana,' entitledthe 'Second Part, by the Salamancan,' and this other has the sametitle, and its author is Gil Polo."

"As for that of the Salamancan," replied the curate, "let it go toswell the number of the condemned in the yard, and let Gil Polo's bepreserved as if it came from Apollo himself: but get on, gossip, andmake haste, for it is growing late."

"This book," said the barber, opening another, "is the ten booksof the 'Fortune of Love,' written by Antonio de Lofraso, a Sardinianpoet."

"By the orders I have received," said the curate, "since Apollohas been Apollo, and the Muses have been Muses, and poets have beenpoets, so droll and absurd a book as this has never been written,and in its way it is the best and the most singular of all of thisspecies that have as yet appeared, and he who has not read it may besure he has never read what is delightful. Give it here, gossip, for Imake more account of having found it than if they had given me acassock of Florence stuff."

He put it aside with extreme satisfaction, and the barber went on,"These that come next are 'The Shepherd of Iberia,' 'Nymphs ofHenares,' and 'The Enlightenment of Jealousy.'"

"Then all we have to do," said the curate, "is to hand them overto the secular arm of the housekeeper, and ask me not why, or we shallnever have done."

"This next is the 'Pastor de Filida.'"

"No Pastor that," said the curate, "but a highly polishedcourtier; let it be preserved as a precious jewel."

"This large one here," said the barber, "is called 'The Treasuryof various Poems.'"

"If there were not so many of them," said the curate, "they would bemore relished: this book must be weeded and cleansed of certainvulgarities which it has with its excellences; let it be preservedbecause the author is a friend of mine, and out of respect for othermore heroic and loftier works that he has written."

"This," continued the barber, "is the 'Cancionero' of Lopez deMaldonado."

"The author of that book, too," said the curate, "is a greatfriend of mine, and his verses from his own mouth are the admirationof all who hear them, for such is the sweetness of his voice that heenchants when he chants them: it gives rather too much of itseclogues, but what is good was never yet plentiful: let it be keptwith those that have been set apart. But what book is that next it?"

"The 'Galatea' of Miguel de Cervantes," said the barber.

"That Cervantes has been for many years a great friend of mine,and to my knowledge he has had more experience in reverses than inverses. His book has some good invention in it, it presents us withsomething but brings nothing to a conclusion: we must wait for theSecond Part it promises: perhaps with amendment it may succeed inwinning the full measure of grace that is now denied it; and in themean time do you, senor gossip, keep it shut up in your own quarters."

"Very good," said the barber; "and here come three together, the'Araucana' of Don Alonso de Ercilla, the 'Austriada' of Juan Rufo,Justice of Cordova, and the 'Montserrate' of Christobal de Virues, theValencian poet."

"These three books," said the curate, "are the best that have beenwritten in Castilian in heroic verse, and they may compare with themost famous of Italy; let them be preserved as the richest treasuresof poetry that Spain possesses."

The curate was tired and would not look into any more books, andso he decided that, "contents uncertified," all the rest should beburned; but just then the barber held open one, called "The Tears ofAngelica."

"I should have shed tears myself," said the curate when he heard thetitle, "had I ordered that book to be burned, for its author was oneof the famous poets of the world, not to say of Spain, and was veryhappy in the translation of some of Ovid's fables."



At this instant Don Quixote began shouting out, "Here, here,valiant knights! here is need for you to put forth the might of yourstrong arms, for they of the Court are gaining the mastery in thetourney!" Called away by this noise and outcry, they proceeded nofarther with the scrutiny of the remaining books, and so it is thoughtthat "The Carolea," "The Lion of Spain," and "The Deeds of theEmperor," written by Don Luis de Avila, went to the fire unseen andunheard; for no doubt they were among those that remained, and perhapsif the curate had seen them they would not have undergone so severea sentence.

When they reached Don Quixote he was already out of bed, and wasstill shouting and raving, and slashing and cutting all round, as wideawake as if he had never slept.

They closed with him and by force got him back to bed, and when hehad become a little calm, addressing the curate, he said to him, "Of atruth, Senor Archbishop Turpin, it is a great disgrace for us who callourselves the Twelve Peers, so carelessly to allow the knights ofthe Court to gain the victory in this tourney, we the adventurershaving carried off the honour on the three former days."

"Hush, gossip," said the curate; "please God, the luck may turn, andwhat is lost to-day may be won to-morrow; for the present let yourworship have a care of your health, for it seems to me that you areover-fatigued, if not badly wounded."

"Wounded no," said Don Quixote, "but bruised and battered nodoubt, for that bastard Don Roland has cudgelled me with the trunkof an oak tree, and all for envy, because he sees that I alone rivalhim in his achievements. But I should not call myself Reinaldos ofMontalvan did he not pay me for it in spite of all his enchantments assoon as I rise from this bed. For the present let them bring mesomething to eat, for that, I feel, is what will be more to mypurpose, and leave it to me to avenge myself."

They did as he wished; they gave him something to eat, and once morehe fell asleep, leaving them marvelling at his madness.

That night the housekeeper burned to ashes all the books that werein the yard and in the whole house; and some must have been consumedthat deserved preservation in everlasting archives, but their fate andthe laziness of the examiner did not permit it, and so in them wasverified the proverb that the innocent suffer for the guilty.

One of the remedies which the curate and the barber immediatelyapplied to their friend's disorder was to wall up and plaster the roomwhere the books were, so that when he got up he should not find them(possibly the cause being removed the effect might cease), and theymight say that a magician had carried them off, room and all; and thiswas done with all despatch. Two days later Don Quixote got up, and thefirst thing he did was to go and look at his books, and not findingthe room where he had left it, he wandered from side to side lookingfor it. He came to the place where the door used to be, and tried itwith his hands, and turned and twisted his eyes in every directionwithout saying a word; but after a good while he asked his housekeeperwhereabouts was the room that held his books.

The housekeeper, who had been already well instructed in what shewas to answer, said, "What room or what nothing is it that yourworship is looking for? There are neither room nor books in this housenow, for the devil himself has carried all away."

"It was not the devil," said the niece, "but a magician who cameon a cloud one night after the day your worship left this, anddismounting from a serpent that he rode he entered the room, andwhat he did there I know not, but after a little while he made off,flying through the roof, and left the house full of smoke; and when wewent to see what he had done we saw neither book nor room: but weremember very well, the housekeeper and I, that on leaving, the oldvillain said in a loud voice that, for a private grudge he owed theowner of the books and the room, he had done mischief in that housethat would be discovered by-and-by: he said too that his name wasthe Sage Munaton."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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