Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 81)

"To write in any other way," said Don Quixote, "would not be towrite truth, but falsehood, and historians who have recourse tofalsehood ought to be burned, like those who coin false money; and Iknow not what could have led the author to have recourse to novels andirrelevant stories, when he had so much to write about in mine; nodoubt he must have gone by the proverb 'with straw or with hay,&c.,' for by merely setting forth my thoughts, my sighs, my tears,my lofty purposes, my enterprises, he might have made a volume aslarge, or larger than all the works of El Tostado would make up. Infact, the conclusion I arrive at, senor bachelor, is, that to writehistories, or books of any kind, there is need of great judgment and aripe understanding. To give expression to humour, and write in astrain of graceful pleasantry, is the gift of great geniuses. Thecleverest character in comedy is the clown, for he who would makepeople take him for a fool, must not be one. History is in a measure asacred thing, for it should be true, and where the truth is, there Godis; but notwithstanding this, there are some who write and fling booksbroadcast on the world as if they were fritters."

"There is no book so bad but it has something good in it," saidthe bachelor.

"No doubt of that," replied Don Quixote; "but it often happensthat those who have acquired and attained a well-deserved reputationby their writings, lose it entirely, or damage it in some degree, whenthey give them to the press."

"The reason of that," said Samson, "is, that as printed works areexamined leisurely, their faults are easily seen; and the greaterthe fame of the writer, the more closely are they scrutinised. Menfamous for their genius, great poets, illustrious historians, arealways, or most commonly, envied by those who take a particulardelight and pleasure in criticising the writings of others, withouthaving produced any of their own."

"That is no wonder," said Don Quixote; "for there are many divineswho are no good for the pulpit, but excellent in detecting the defectsor excesses of those who preach."

"All that is true, Senor Don Quixote," said Carrasco; "but I wishsuch fault-finders were more lenient and less exacting, and did notpay so much attention to the spots on the bright sun of the workthey grumble at; for if aliquando bonus dormitat Homerus, theyshould remember how long he remained awake to shed the light of hiswork with as little shade as possible; and perhaps it may be that whatthey find fault with may be moles, that sometimes heighten thebeauty of the face that bears them; and so I say very great is therisk to which he who prints a book exposes himself, for of allimpossibilities the greatest is to write one that will satisfy andplease all readers."

"That which treats of me must have pleased few," said Don Quixote.

"Quite the contrary," said the bachelor; "for, as stultoruminfinitum est numerus, innumerable are those who have relished thesaid history; but some have brought a charge against the author'smemory, inasmuch as he forgot to say who the thief was who stoleSancho's Dapple; for it is not stated there, but only to be inferredfrom what is set down, that he was stolen, and a little farther onwe see Sancho mounted on the same ass, without any reappearance of it.They say, too, that he forgot to state what Sancho did with thosehundred crowns that he found in the valise in the Sierra Morena, as henever alludes to them again, and there are many who would be glad toknow what he did with them, or what he spent them on, for it is one ofthe serious omissions of the work."

"Senor Samson, I am not in a humour now for going into accounts orexplanations," said Sancho; "for there's a sinking of the stomach comeover me, and unless I doctor it with a couple of sups of the old stuffit will put me on the thorn of Santa Lucia. I have it at home, andmy old woman is waiting for me; after dinner I'll come back, andwill answer you and all the world every question you may choose toask, as well about the loss of the ass as about the spending of thehundred crowns;" and without another word or waiting for a reply hemade off home.

Don Quixote begged and entreated the bachelor to stay and do penancewith him. The bachelor accepted the invitation and remained, acouple of young pigeons were added to the ordinary fare, at dinnerthey talked chivalry, Carrasco fell in with his host's humour, thebanquet came to an end, they took their afternoon sleep, Sanchoreturned, and their conversation was resumed.



Sancho came back to Don Quixote's house, and returning to the latesubject of conversation, he said, "As to what Senor Samson said,that he would like to know by whom, or how, or when my ass was stolen,I say in reply that the same night we went into the Sierra Morena,flying from the Holy Brotherhood after that unlucky adventure of thegalley slaves, and the other of the corpse that was going toSegovia, my master and I ensconced ourselves in a thicket, andthere, my master leaning on his lance, and I seated on my Dapple,battered and weary with the late frays we fell asleep as if it hadbeen on four feather mattresses; and I in particular slept so sound,that, whoever he was, he was able to come and prop me up on fourstakes, which he put under the four corners of the pack-saddle in sucha way that he left me mounted on it, and took away Dapple from underme without my feeling it."

"That is an easy matter," said Don Quixote, "and it is no newoccurrence, for the same thing happened to Sacripante at the siegeof Albracca; the famous thief, Brunello, by the same contrivance, tookhis horse from between his legs."

"Day came," continued Sancho, "and the moment I stirred the stakesgave way and I fell to the ground with a mighty come down; I lookedabout for the ass, but could not see him; the tears rushed to myeyes and I raised such a lamentation that, if the author of ourhistory has not put it in, he may depend upon it he has left out agood thing. Some days after, I know not how many, travelling withher ladyship the Princess Micomicona, I saw my ass, and mounted uponhim, in the dress of a gipsy, was that Gines de Pasamonte, the greatrogue and rascal that my master and I freed from the chain."

"That is not where the mistake is," replied Samson; "it is, thatbefore the ass has turned up, the author speaks of Sancho as beingmounted on it."

"I don't know what to say to that," said Sancho, "unless that thehistorian made a mistake, or perhaps it might be a blunder of theprinter's."

"No doubt that's it," said Samson; "but what became of the hundredcrowns? Did they vanish?"

To which Sancho answered, "I spent them for my own good, and mywife's, and my children's, and it is they that have made my wifebear so patiently all my wanderings on highways and byways, in theservice of my master, Don Quixote; for if after all this time I hadcome back to the house without a rap and without the ass, it wouldhave been a poor look-out for me; and if anyone wants to know anythingmore about me, here I am, ready to answer the king himself inperson; and it is no affair of anyone's whether I took or did nottake, whether I spent or did not spend; for the whacks that were givenme in these journeys were to be paid for in money, even if they werevalued at no more than four maravedis apiece, another hundred crownswould not pay me for half of them. Let each look to himself and nottry to make out white black, and black white; for each of us is as Godmade him, aye, and often worse."

"I will take care," said Carrasco, "to impress upon the author ofthe history that, if he prints it again, he must not forget whatworthy Sancho has said, for it will raise it a good span higher."

"Is there anything else to correct in the history, senorbachelor?" asked Don Quixote.

"No doubt there is," replied he; "but not anything that will be ofthe same importance as those I have mentioned."

"Does the author promise a second part at all?" said Don Quixote.

"He does promise one," replied Samson; "but he says he has not foundit, nor does he know who has got it; and we cannot say whether it willappear or not; and so, on that head, as some say that no second parthas ever been good, and others that enough has been already writtenabout Don Quixote, it is thought there will be no second part;though some, who are jovial rather than saturnine, say, 'Let us havemore Quixotades, let Don Quixote charge and Sancho chatter, and nomatter what it may turn out, we shall be satisfied with that.'"

"And what does the author mean to do?" said Don Quixote.

"What?" replied Samson; "why, as soon as he has found the historywhich he is now searching for with extraordinary diligence, he will atonce give it to the press, moved more by the profit that may accrue tohim from doing so than by any thought of praise."

Whereat Sancho observed, "The author looks for money and profit,does he? It will he a wonder if he succeeds, for it will be onlyhurry, hurry, with him, like the tailor on Easter Eve; and worksdone in a hurry are never finished as perfectly as they ought to be.Let master Moor, or whatever he is, pay attention to what he is doing,and I and my master will give him as much grouting ready to hishand, in the way of adventures and accidents of all sorts, as wouldmake up not only one second part, but a hundred. The good man fancies,no doubt, that we are fast asleep in the straw here, but let himhold up our feet to be shod and he will see which foot it is we golame on. All I say is, that if my master would take my advice, wewould be now afield, redressing outrages and righting wrongs, as isthe use and custom of good knights-errant."

Sancho had hardly uttered these words when the neighing of Rocinantefell upon their ears, which neighing Don Quixote accepted as a happyomen, and he resolved to make another sally in three or four days fromthat time. Announcing his intention to the bachelor, he asked hisadvice as to the quarter in which he ought to commence his expedition,and the bachelor replied that in his opinion he ought to go to thekingdom of Aragon, and the city of Saragossa, where there were to becertain solemn joustings at the festival of St. George, at which hemight win renown above all the knights of Aragon, which would bewinning it above all the knights of the world. He commended his verypraiseworthy and gallant resolution, but admonished him to proceedwith greater caution in encountering dangers, because his life did notbelong to him, but to all those who had need of him to protect and aidthem in their misfortunes.

"There's where it is, what I abominate, Senor Samson," said Sanchohere; "my master will attack a hundred armed men as a greedy boy wouldhalf a dozen melons. Body of the world, senor bachelor! there is atime to attack and a time to retreat, and it is not to be always'Santiago, and close Spain!' Moreover, I have heard it said (and Ithink by my master himself, if I remember rightly) that the mean ofvalour lies between the extremes of cowardice and rashness; and ifthat be so, I don't want him to fly without having good reason, orto attack when the odds make it better not. But, above all things, Iwarn my master that if he is to take me with him it must be on thecondition that he is to do all the fighting, and that I am not to becalled upon to do anything except what concerns keeping him cleanand comfortable; in this I will dance attendance on him readily; butto expect me to draw sword, even against rascally churls of thehatchet and hood, is idle. I don't set up to be a fighting man,Senor Samson, but only the best and most loyal squire that ever servedknight-errant; and if my master Don Quixote, in consideration of mymany faithful services, is pleased to give me some island of themany his worship says one may stumble on in these parts, I will takeit as a great favour; and if he does not give it to me, I was bornlike everyone else, and a man must not live in dependence on anyoneexcept God; and what is more, my bread will taste as well, and perhapseven better, without a government than if I were a governor; and howdo I know but that in these governments the devil may have preparedsome trip for me, to make me lose my footing and fall and knock mygrinders out? Sancho I was born and Sancho I mean to die. But forall that, if heaven were to make me a fair offer of an island orsomething else of the kind, without much trouble and without muchrisk, I am not such a fool as to refuse it; for they say, too, 'whenthey offer thee a heifer, run with a halter; and 'when good luck comesto thee, take it in.'"

"Brother Sancho," said Carrasco, "you have spoken like aprofessor; but, for all that, put your trust in God and in Senor DonQuixote, for he will give you a kingdom, not to say an island."

"It is all the same, be it more or be it less," replied Sancho;"though I can tell Senor Carrasco that my master would not throw thekingdom he might give me into a sack all in holes; for I have feltmy own pulse and I find myself sound enough to rule kingdoms andgovern islands; and I have before now told my master as much."

"Take care, Sancho," said Samson; "honours change manners, andperhaps when you find yourself a governor you won't know the motherthat bore you."

"That may hold good of those that are born in the ditches," saidSancho, "not of those who have the fat of an old Christian fourfingers deep on their souls, as I have. Nay, only look at mydisposition, is that likely to show ingratitude to anyone?"

"God grant it," said Don Quixote; "we shall see when thegovernment comes; and I seem to see it already."

He then begged the bachelor, if he were a poet, to do him the favourof composing some verses for him conveying the farewell he meant totake of his lady Dulcinea del Toboso, and to see that a letter ofher name was placed at the beginning of each line, so that, at the endof the verses, "Dulcinea del Toboso" might be read by putting togetherthe first letters. The bachelor replied that although he was not oneof the famous poets of Spain, who were, they said, only three and ahalf, he would not fail to compose the required verses; though hesaw a great difficulty in the task, as the letters which made up thename were seventeen; so, if he made four ballad stanzas of fourlines each, there would be a letter over, and if he made them of five,what they called decimas or redondillas, there were three lettersshort; nevertheless he would try to drop a letter as well as he could,so that the name "Dulcinea del Toboso" might be got into four balladstanzas.

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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