Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.

The History of Don Quixote, Volume 1, Part 03 online

. (page 1 of 2)
Online LibraryMiguel de Cervantes SaavedraThe History of Don Quixote, Volume 1, Part 03 → online text (page 1 of 2)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Produced by David Widger


by Miguel de Cervantes

Translated by John Ormsby

Volume I.

Part 3.



He was still sleeping; so the curate asked the niece for the keys of the
room where the books, the authors of all the mischief, were, and right
willingly she gave them. They all went in, the housekeeper with them, and
found more than a hundred volumes of big books very well bound, and some
other small ones. The moment the housekeeper saw them she turned about
and ran out of the room, and came back immediately with a saucer of holy
water and a sprinkler, saying, "Here, your worship, senor licentiate,
sprinkle this room; don't leave any magician of the many there are in
these books to bewitch us in revenge for our design of banishing them
from the world."

The simplicity of the housekeeper made the licentiate laugh, and he
directed the barber to give him the books one by one to see what they
were about, as there might be some to be found among them that did not
deserve the penalty of fire.

"No," said the niece, "there is no reason for showing mercy to any of
them; they have every one of them done mischief; better fling them out of
the window into the court and make a pile of them and set fire to them;
or else carry them into the yard, and there a bonfire can be made without
the smoke giving any annoyance." The housekeeper said the same, so eager
were they both for the slaughter of those innocents, but the curate would
not agree to it without first reading at any rate the titles.

The first that Master Nicholas put into his hand was "The four books of
Amadis of Gaul." "This seems a mysterious thing," said the curate, "for,
as I have heard say, this was the first book of chivalry printed in
Spain, and from this all the others derive their birth and origin; so it
seems to me that we ought inexorably to condemn it to the flames as the
founder of so vile a sect."

"Nay, sir," said the barber, "I too, have heard say that this is the best
of all the books of this kind that have been written, and so, as
something singular in its line, it ought to be pardoned."

"True," said the curate; "and for that reason let its life be spared for
the present. Let us see that other which is next to it."

"It is," said the barber, "the 'Sergas de Esplandian,' the lawful son of
Amadis of Gaul."

"Then verily," said the curate, "the merit of the father must not be put
down to the account of the son. Take it, mistress housekeeper; open the
window and fling it into the yard and lay the foundation of the pile for
the bonfire we are to make."

The housekeeper obeyed with great satisfaction, and the worthy
"Esplandian" went flying into the yard to await with all patience the
fire that was in store for him.

"Proceed," said the curate.

"This that comes next," said the barber, "is 'Amadis of Greece,' and,
indeed, I believe all those on this side are of the same Amadis lineage."

"Then to the yard with the whole of them," said the curate; "for to have
the burning of Queen Pintiquiniestra, and the shepherd Darinel and his
eclogues, and the bedevilled and involved discourses of his author, I
would burn with them the father who begot me if he were going about in
the guise of a knight-errant."

"I am of the same mind," said the barber.

"And so am I," added the niece.

"In that case," said the housekeeper, "here, into the yard with them!"

They were handed to her, and as there were many of them, she spared
herself the staircase, and flung them down out of the window.

"Who is that tub there?" said the curate.

"This," said the barber, "is 'Don Olivante de Laura.'"

"The author of that book," said the curate, "was the same that wrote 'The
Garden of Flowers,' and truly there is no deciding which of the two books
is the more truthful, or, to put it better, the less lying; all I can say
is, send this one into the yard for a swaggering fool."

"This that follows is 'Florismarte of Hircania,'" said the barber.

"Senor Florismarte here?" said the curate; "then by my faith he must take
up his quarters in the yard, in spite of his marvellous birth and
visionary adventures, for the stiffness and dryness of his style deserve
nothing else; into the yard with him and the other, mistress

"With all my heart, senor," said she, and executed the order with great

"This," said the barber, "is The Knight Platir.'"

"An old book that," said the curate, "but I find no reason for clemency
in it; send it after the others without appeal;" which was done.

Another book was opened, and they saw it was entitled, "The Knight of the

"For the sake of the holy name this book has," said the curate, "its
ignorance might be excused; but then, they say, 'behind the cross there's
the devil; to the fire with it."

Taking down another book, the barber said, "This is 'The Mirror of

"I know his worship," said the curate; "that is where Senor Reinaldos of
Montalvan figures with his friends and comrades, greater thieves than
Cacus, and the Twelve Peers of France with the veracious historian
Turpin; however, I am not for condemning them to more than perpetual
banishment, because, at any rate, they have some share in the invention
of the famous Matteo Boiardo, whence too the Christian poet Ludovico
Ariosto wove his web, to whom, if I find him here, and speaking any
language but his own, I shall show no respect whatever; but if he speaks
his own tongue I will put him upon my head."

"Well, I have him in Italian," said the barber, "but I do not understand

"Nor would it be well that you should understand him," said the curate,
"and on that score we might have excused the Captain if he had not
brought him into Spain and turned him into Castilian. He robbed him of a
great deal of his natural force, and so do all those who try to turn
books written in verse into another language, for, with all the pains
they take and all the cleverness they show, they never can reach the
level of the originals as they were first produced. In short, I say that
this book, and all that may be found treating of those French affairs,
should be thrown into or deposited in some dry well, until after more
consideration it is settled what is to be done with them; excepting
always one 'Bernardo del Carpio' that is going about, and another called
'Roncesvalles;' for these, if they come into my hands, shall pass at once
into those of the housekeeper, and from hers into the fire without any

To all this the barber gave his assent, and looked upon it as right and
proper, being persuaded that the curate was so staunch to the Faith and
loyal to the Truth that he would not for the world say anything opposed
to them. Opening another book he saw it was "Palmerin de Oliva," and
beside it was another called "Palmerin of England," seeing which the
licentiate said, "Let the Olive be made firewood of at once and burned
until no ashes even are left; and let that Palm of England be kept and
preserved as a thing that stands alone, and let such another case be made
for it as that which Alexander found among the spoils of Darius and set
aside for the safe keeping of the works of 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 have been written by a wise and witty
king of Portugal. All the adventures at the Castle of Miraguarda are
excellent and of admirable contrivance, and the language is polished and
clear, studying and observing the style befitting the speaker with
propriety and judgment. So then, provided it seems good to you, Master
Nicholas, I say let this and 'Amadis of Gaul' be remitted the penalty of
fire, and as for all the rest, let them perish without further question
or query."

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

"Well," said the curate, "that and the second, third, and fourth parts
all stand in need of a little rhubarb to purge their excess of bile, and
they must be cleared of all that stuff about the Castle of Fame and other
greater affectations, to which end let them be allowed the over-seas
term, and, according as they mend, so shall mercy 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 himself with
reading more books of chivalry, he told the housekeeper to take all the
big ones and throw them into the yard. It was not said to one dull or
deaf, but to one who enjoyed burning them more than weaving the broadest
and finest web that could be; and seizing about eight at a time, she
flung them out of the window.

In carrying so many together she let one fall at the feet of the barber,
who took it up, curious to know whose it was, and found it said, "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 treasury of
enjoyment and a mine of recreation. Here is Don Kyrieleison of Montalvan,
a valiant knight, and his brother Thomas of Montalvan, and the knight
Fonseca, with the battle the bold Tirante fought with the mastiff, and
the witticisms of the damsel Placerdemivida, and the loves and wiles of
the widow Reposada, and the empress in love with the squire Hipolito - in
truth, gossip, by right of its style it is the best book in the world.
Here knights eat and sleep, and die in their beds, and make their wills
before dying, and a great deal more of which there is nothing in all the
other books. Nevertheless, I say he who wrote it, for deliberately
composing such fooleries, deserves to be sent to the galleys for life.
Take it home with you and read 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 these little
books that are left?"

"These must be, not chivalry, but poetry," said the curate; and opening
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, "do not deserve to
be burned like the others, for they neither do nor can do the mischief
the books of chivalry have done, being books of entertainment that can
hurt no one."

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

"The damsel is right," said the curate, "and it will be well to put this
stumbling-block and temptation out of our friend's way. To begin, then,
with the 'Diana' of Montemayor. I am of opinion it should not be burned,
but that it should be cleared of all that about the sage Felicia and the
magic water, and of almost all the longer pieces of verse: let it keep,
and welcome, its prose and the honour of being the first of books of the

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

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

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

"By the orders I have received," said the curate, "since Apollo has been
Apollo, and the Muses have been Muses, and poets have been poets, 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 this species that have as yet
appeared, and he who has not read it may be sure he has never read what
is delightful. Give it here, gossip, for I make more account of having
found it than if they had given me a cassock 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 of Henares,' and
'The Enlightenment of Jealousy.'"

"Then all we have to do," said the curate, "is to hand them over to the
secular arm of the housekeeper, and ask me not why, or we shall never
have done."

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

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

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

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

"This," continued the barber, "is the 'Cancionero' of Lopez de

"The author of that book, too," said the curate, "is a great friend of
mine, and his verses from his own mouth are the admiration of all who
hear them, for such is the sweetness of his voice that he enchants when
he chants them: it gives rather too much of its eclogues, but what is
good was never yet plentiful: let it be kept with 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 in verses. His book
has some good invention in it, it presents us with something but brings
nothing to a conclusion: we must wait for the Second Part it promises:
perhaps with amendment it may succeed in winning the full measure of
grace that is now denied it; and in the mean 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, the
Valencian poet."

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

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

"I should have shed tears myself," said the curate when he heard the
title, "had I ordered that book to be burned, for its author was one of
the famous poets of the world, not to say of Spain, and was very happy 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 your strong arms,
for they of the Court are gaining the mastery in the tourney!" Called
away by this noise and outcry, they proceeded no farther with the
scrutiny of the remaining books, and so it is thought that "The Carolea,"
"The Lion of Spain," and "The Deeds of the Emperor," written by Don Luis
de Avila, went to the fire unseen and unheard; for no doubt they were
among those that remained, and perhaps if the curate had seen them they
would not have undergone so severe a sentence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of the remedies which the curate and the barber immediately applied
to their friend's disorder was to wall up and plaster the room where the
books were, so that when he got up he should not find them (possibly the
cause being removed the effect might cease), and they might say that a
magician had carried them off, room and all; and this was done with all
despatch. Two days later Don Quixote got up, and the first thing he did
was to go and look at his books, and not finding the room where he had
left it, he wandered from side to side looking for it. He came to the
place where the door used to be, and tried it with his hands, and turned
and twisted his eyes in every direction without saying a word; but after
a good while he asked his housekeeper whereabouts was the room that held
his books.

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

"It was not the devil," said the niece, "but a magician who came on a
cloud one night after the day your worship left this, and dismounting
from a serpent that he rode he entered the room, and what 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 we went to see what he had
done we saw neither book nor room: but we remember very well, the
housekeeper and I, that on leaving, the old villain said in a loud voice
that, for a private grudge he owed the owner of the books and the room,
he had done mischief in that house that would be discovered by-and-by: he
said too that his name was the Sage Munaton."

"He must have said Friston," said Don Quixote.

"I don't know whether he called himself Friston or Friton," said the
housekeeper, "I only know that his name ended with 'ton.'"

"So it does," said Don Quixote, "and he is a sage magician, a great enemy
of mine, who has a spite against me because he knows by his arts and lore
that in process of time I am to engage in single combat with a knight
whom he befriends and that I am to conquer, and he will be unable to
prevent it; and for this reason he endeavours to do me all the ill turns
that he can; but I promise him it will be hard for him to oppose or avoid
what is decreed by Heaven."

"Who doubts that?" said the niece; "but, uncle, who mixes you up in these
quarrels? Would it not be better to remain at peace in your own house
instead of roaming the world looking for better bread than ever came of
wheat, never reflecting that many go for wool and come back shorn?"

"Oh, niece of mine," replied Don Quixote, "how much astray art thou in
thy reckoning: ere they shear me I shall have plucked away and stripped
off the beards of all who dare to touch only the tip of a hair of mine."

The two were unwilling to make any further answer, as they saw that his
anger was kindling.

In short, then, he remained at home fifteen days very quietly without
showing any signs of a desire to take up with his former delusions, and
during this time he held lively discussions with his two gossips, the
curate and the barber, on the point he maintained, that knights-errant
were what the world stood most in need of, and that in him was to be
accomplished the revival of knight-errantry. The curate sometimes
contradicted him, sometimes agreed with him, for if he had not observed
this precaution he would have been unable to bring him to reason.

Meanwhile Don Quixote worked upon a farm labourer, a neighbour of his, an
honest man (if indeed that title can be given to him who is poor), but
with very little wit in his pate. In a word, he so talked him over, and
with such persuasions and promises, that the poor clown made up his mind
to sally forth with him and serve him as esquire. Don Quixote, among
other things, told him he ought to be ready to go with him gladly,
because any moment an adventure might occur that might win an island in
the twinkling of an eye and leave him governor of it. On these and the
like promises Sancho Panza (for so the labourer was called) left wife and
children, and engaged himself as esquire to his neighbour.

Don Quixote next set about getting some money; and selling one thing and
pawning another, and making a bad bargain in every case, he got together
a fair sum. He provided himself with a buckler, which he begged as a loan
from a friend, and, restoring his battered helmet as best he could, he
warned his squire Sancho of the day and hour he meant to set out, that he
might provide himself with what he thought most needful. Above all, he
charged him to take alforjas with him. The other said he would, and that
he meant to take also a very good ass he had, as he was not much given to
going on foot. About the ass, Don Quixote hesitated a little, trying
whether he could call to mind any knight-errant taking with him an
esquire mounted on ass-back, but no instance occurred to his memory. For
all that, however, he determined to take him, intending to furnish him
with a more honourable mount when a chance of it presented itself, by
appropriating the horse of the first discourteous knight he encountered.
Himself he provided with shirts and such other things as he could,
according to the advice the host had given him; all which being done,
without taking leave, Sancho Panza of his wife and children, or Don
Quixote of his housekeeper and niece, they sallied forth unseen by
anybody from the village one night, and made such good way in the course
of it that by daylight they held themselves safe from discovery, even
should search be made for them.

Sancho rode on his ass like a patriarch, with his alforjas and bota, and
longing to see himself soon governor of the island his master had
promised him. Don Quixote decided upon taking the same route and road he
had taken on his first journey, that over the Campo de Montiel, which he
travelled with less discomfort than on the last occasion, for, as it was
early morning and the rays of the sun fell on them obliquely, the heat
did not distress them.

And now said Sancho Panza to his master, "Your worship will take care,
Senor Knight-errant, not to forget about the island you have promised me,
for be it ever so big I'll be equal to governing it."

To which Don Quixote replied, "Thou must know, friend Sancho Panza, that
it was a practice very much in vogue with the knights-errant of old to
make their squires governors of the islands or kingdoms they won, and I
am determined that there shall be no failure on my part in so liberal a
custom; on the contrary, I mean to improve upon it, for they sometimes,
and perhaps most frequently, waited until their squires were old, and


Online LibraryMiguel de Cervantes SaavedraThe History of Don Quixote, Volume 1, Part 03 → online text (page 1 of 2)