Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 77)

While this conversation passed between Sancho Panza and his wife,Don Quixote's housekeeper and niece took him in and undressed himand laid him in his old bed. He eyed them askance, and could notmake out where he was. The curate charged his niece to be very carefulto make her uncle comfortable and to keep a watch over him lest heshould make his escape from them again, telling her what they had beenobliged to do to bring him home. On this the pair once more liftedup their voices and renewed their maledictions upon the books ofchivalry, and implored heaven to plunge the authors of such lies andnonsense into the midst of the bottomless pit. They were, in short,kept in anxiety and dread lest their uncle and master should give themthe slip the moment he found himself somewhat better, and as theyfeared so it fell out.

But the author of this history, though he has devoted research andindustry to the discovery of the deeds achieved by Don Quixote inhis third sally, has been unable to obtain any informationrespecting them, at any rate derived from authentic documents;tradition has merely preserved in the memory of La Mancha the factthat Don Quixote, the third time he sallied forth from his home,betook himself to Saragossa, where he was present at some famousjousts which came off in that city, and that he had adventures thereworthy of his valour and high intelligence. Of his end and death hecould learn no particulars, nor would he have ascertained it orknown of it, if good fortune had not produced an old physician for himwho had in his possession a leaden box, which, according to hisaccount, had been discovered among the crumbling foundations of anancient hermitage that was being rebuilt; in which box were foundcertain parchment manuscripts in Gothic character, but in Castilianverse, containing many of his achievements, and setting forth thebeauty of Dulcinea, the form of Rocinante, the fidelity of SanchoPanza, and the burial of Don Quixote himself, together with sundryepitaphs and eulogies on his life and character; but all that could beread and deciphered were those which the trustworthy author of thisnew and unparalleled history here presents. And the said author asksof those that shall read it nothing in return for the vast toilwhich it has cost him in examining and searching the Mancheganarchives in order to bring it to light, save that they give him thesame credit that people of sense give to the books of chivalry thatpervade the world and are so popular; for with this he will considerhimself amply paid and fully satisfied, and will be encouraged to seekout and produce other histories, if not as truthful, at least equal ininvention and not less entertaining. The first words written on theparchment found in the leaden box were these:




The scatterbrain that gave La Mancha moreRich spoils than Jason's; who a point so keenHad to his wit, and happier far had beenIf his wit's weathercock a blunter bore;The arm renowned far as Gaeta's shore,Cathay, and all the lands that lie between;The muse discreet and terrible in mienAs ever wrote on brass in days of yore;He who surpassed the Amadises all,And who as naught the Galaors accounted,Supported by his love and gallantry:Who made the Belianises sing small,And sought renown on Rocinante mounted;Here, underneath this cold stone, doth he lie.



She, whose full features may be here descried,High-bosomed, with a bearing of disdain,Is Dulcinea, she for whom in vainThe great Don Quixote of La Mancha sighed.For her, Toboso's queen, from side to sideHe traversed the grim sierra, the champaignOf Aranjuez, and Montiel's famous plain:On Rocinante oft a weary ride.Malignant planets, cruel destiny,Pursued them both, the fair Manchegan dame,And the unconquered star of chivalry.Nor youth nor beauty saved her from the claimOf death; he paid love's bitter penalty,And left the marble to preserve his name.



On that proud throne of diamantine sheen,Which the blood-reeking feet of Mars degrade,The mad Manchegan's banner now hath beenBy him in all its bravery displayed.There hath he hung his arms and trenchant bladeWherewith, achieving deeds till now unseen,He slays, lays low, cleaves, hews; but art hath madeA novel style for our new paladin.If Amadis be the proud boast of Gaul,If by his progeny the fame of GreeceThrough all the regions of the earth be spread,Great Quixote crowned in grim Bellona's hallTo-day exalts La Mancha over these,And above Greece or Gaul she holds her head.Nor ends his glory here, for his good steedDoth Brillador and Bayard far exceed;As mettled steeds compared with Rocinante,The reputation they have won is scanty.



The worthy Sancho Panza here you see;A great soul once was in that body small,Nor was there squire upon this earthly ballSo plain and simple, or of guile so free.Within an ace of being Count was he,And would have been but for the spite and gallOf this vile age, mean and illiberal,That cannot even let a donkey be.For mounted on an ass (excuse the word),By Rocinante's side this gentle squireWas wont his wandering master to attend.Delusive hopes that lure the common herdWith promises of ease, the heart's desire,In shadows, dreams, and smoke ye always end.


The knight lies here below,Ill-errant and bruised sore,Whom Rocinante boreIn his wanderings to and fro.By the side of the knight is laidStolid man Sancho too,Than whom a squire more trueWas not in the esquire trade.


EPITAPHHere Dulcinea lies.Plump was she and robust:Now she is ashes and dust:The end of all flesh that dies.A lady of high degree,With the port of a lofty dame,And the great Don Quixote's flame,And the pride of her village was she.

These were all the verses that could be deciphered; the rest, thewriting being worm-eaten, were handed over to one of theAcademicians to make out their meaning conjecturally. We have beeninformed that at the cost of many sleepless nights and much toil hehas succeeded, and that he means to publish them in hopes of DonQuixote's third sally.

"Forse altro cantera con miglior plectro."



These days past, when sending Your Excellency my plays, that hadappeared in print before being shown on the stage, I said, if Iremember well, that Don Quixote was putting on his spurs to go andrender homage to Your Excellency. Now I say that "with his spurs, heis on his way." Should he reach destination methinks I shall haverendered some service to Your Excellency, as from many parts I amurged to send him off, so as to dispel the loathing and disgust causedby another Don Quixote who, under the name of Second Part, has runmasquerading through the whole world. And he who has shown thegreatest longing for him has been the great Emperor of China, whowrote me a letter in Chinese a month ago and sent it by a specialcourier. He asked me, or to be truthful, he begged me to send himDon Quixote, for he intended to found a college where the Spanishtongue would be taught, and it was his wish that the book to be readshould be the History of Don Quixote. He also added that I should goand be the rector of this college. I asked the bearer if His Majestyhad afforded a sum in aid of my travel expenses. He answered, "No, noteven in thought."

"Then, brother," I replied, "you can return to your China, posthaste or at whatever haste you are bound to go, as I am not fit for solong a travel and, besides being ill, I am very much without money,while Emperor for Emperor and Monarch for Monarch, I have at Naplesthe great Count of Lemos, who, without so many petty titles ofcolleges and rectorships, sustains me, protects me and does me morefavour than I can wish for."

Thus I gave him his leave and I beg mine from you, offering YourExcellency the "Trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda," a book I shallfinish within four months, Deo volente, and which will be either theworst or the best that has been composed in our language, I mean ofthose intended for entertainment; at which I repent of having calledit the worst, for, in the opinion of friends, it is bound to attainthe summit of possible quality. May Your Excellency return in suchhealth that is wished you; Persiles will be ready to kiss your handand I your feet, being as I am, Your Excellency's most humble servant.

From Madrid, this last day of October of the year one thousand sixhundred and fifteen.

At the service of Your Excellency:



Gof bless me, gentle (or it may be plebeian) reader, how eagerlymust thou be looking forward to this preface, expecting to findthere retaliation, scolding, and abuse against the author of thesecond Don Quixote- I mean him who was, they say, begotten atTordesillas and born at Tarragona! Well then, the truth is, I am notgoing to give thee that satisfaction; for, though injuries stir upanger in humbler breasts, in mine the rule must admit of an exception.Thou wouldst have me call him ass, fool, and malapert, but I have nosuch intention; let his offence be his punishment, with his breadlet him eat it, and there's an end of it. What I cannot help takingamiss is that he charges me with being old and one-handed, as if ithad been in my power to keep time from passing over me, or as if theloss of my hand had been brought about in some tavern, and not onthe grandest occasion the past or present has seen, or the futurecan hope to see. If my wounds have no beauty to the beholder's eye,they are, at least, honourable in the estimation of those who knowwhere they were received; for the soldier shows to greater advantagedead in battle than alive in flight; and so strongly is this myfeeling, that if now it were proposed to perform an impossibilityfor me, I would rather have had my share in that mighty action, thanbe free from my wounds this minute without having been present atit. Those the soldier shows on his face and breast are stars thatdirect others to the heaven of honour and ambition of meritedpraise; and moreover it is to be observed that it is not with greyhairs that one writes, but with the understanding, and that commonlyimproves with years. I take it amiss, too, that he calls me envious,and explains to me, as if I were ignorant, what envy is; for reallyand truly, of the two kinds there are, I only know that which is holy,noble, and high-minded; and if that be so, as it is, I am not likelyto attack a priest, above all if, in addition, he holds the rank offamiliar of the Holy Office. And if he said what he did on accountof him on whose behalf it seems he spoke, he is entirely mistaken; forI worship the genius of that person, and admire his works and hisunceasing and strenuous industry. After all, I am grateful to thisgentleman, the author, for saying that my novels are more satiricalthan exemplary, but that they are good; for they could not be thatunless there was a little of everything in them.

I suspect thou wilt say that I am taking a very humble line, andkeeping myself too much within the bounds of my moderation, from afeeling that additional suffering should not be inflicted upon asufferer, and that what this gentleman has to endure must doubtless bevery great, as he does not dare to come out into the open field andbroad daylight, but hides his name and disguises his country as ifhe had been guilty of some lese majesty. If perchance thou shouldstcome to know him, tell him from me that I do not hold myselfaggrieved; for I know well what the temptations of the devil are,and that one of the greatest is putting it into a man's head that hecan write and print a book by which he will get as much fame as money,and as much money as fame; and to prove it I will beg of you, inyour own sprightly, pleasant way, to tell him this story.

There was a madman in Seville who took to one of the drollestabsurdities and vagaries that ever madman in the world gave way to. Itwas this: he made a tube of reed sharp at one end, and catching adog in the street, or wherever it might be, he with his foot heldone of its legs fast, and with his hand lifted up the other, and asbest he could fixed the tube where, by blowing, he made the dog asround as a ball; then holding it in this position, he gave it a coupleof slaps on the belly, and let it go, saying to the bystanders (andthere were always plenty of them): "Do your worships think, now,that it is an easy thing to blow up a dog?"- Does your worship thinknow, that it is an easy thing to write a book?

And if this story does not suit him, you may, dear reader, tellhim this one, which is likewise of a madman and a dog.

In Cordova there was another madman, whose way it was to carry apiece of marble slab or a stone, not of the lightest, on his head, andwhen he came upon any unwary dog he used to draw close to him andlet the weight fall right on top of him; on which the dog in a rage,barking and howling, would run three streets without stopping. It sohappened, however, that one of the dogs he discharged his load uponwas a cap-maker's dog, of which his master was very fond. The stonecame down hitting it on the head, the dog raised a yell at the blow,the master saw the affair and was wroth, and snatching up ameasuring-yard rushed out at the madman and did not leave a sound bonein his body, and at every stroke he gave him he said, "You dog, youthief! my lurcher! Don't you see, you brute, that my dog is alurcher?" and so, repeating the word "lurcher" again and again, hesent the madman away beaten to a jelly. The madman took the lessonto heart, and vanished, and for more than a month never once showedhimself in public; but after that he came out again with his old trickand a heavier load than ever. He came up to where there was a dog, andexamining it very carefully without venturing to let the stone fall,he said: "This is a lurcher; ware!" In short, all the dogs he cameacross, be they mastiffs or terriers, he said were lurchers; and hedischarged no more stones. Maybe it will be the same with thishistorian; that he will not venture another time to discharge theweight of his wit in books, which, being bad, are harder thanstones. Tell him, too, that I do not care a farthing for the threat heholds out to me of depriving me of my profit by means of his book;for, to borrow from the famous interlude of "The Perendenga," I say inanswer to him, "Long life to my lord the Veintiquatro, and Christ bewith us all." Long life to the great Conde de Lemos, whose Christiancharity and well-known generosity support me against all the strokesof my curst fortune; and long life to the supreme benevolence of HisEminence of Toledo, Don Bernardo de Sandoval y Rojas; and whatmatter if there be no printing-presses in the world, or if theyprint more books against me than there are letters in the verses ofMingo Revulgo! These two princes, unsought by any adulation orflattery of mine, of their own goodness alone, have taken it upon themto show me kindness and protect me, and in this I consider myselfhappier and richer than if Fortune had raised me to her greatestheight in the ordinary way. The poor man may retain honour, but notthe vicious; poverty may cast a cloud over nobility, but cannot hideit altogether; and as virtue of itself sheds a certain light, eventhough it be through the straits and chinks of penury, it wins theesteem of lofty and noble spirits, and in consequence theirprotection. Thou needst say no more to him, nor will I say anythingmore to thee, save to tell thee to bear in mind that this SecondPart of "Don Quixote" which I offer thee is cut by the samecraftsman and from the same cloth as the First, and that in it Ipresent thee Don Quixote continued, and at length dead and buried,so that no one may dare to bring forward any further evidenceagainst him, for that already produced is sufficient; and sufficeit, too, that some reputable person should have given an account ofall these shrewd lunacies of his without going into the matteragain; for abundance, even of good things, prevents them from beingvalued; and scarcity, even in the case of what is bad, confers acertain value. I was forgetting to tell thee that thou mayest expectthe "Persiles," which I am now finishing, and also the Second Partof "Galatea."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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