Read DESTRUCTION OF DON QUIXOTE’S LIBRARY. of Wit and Wisdom of Don Quixote , free online book, by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, on ReadCentral.com.

Long and heavy was the sleep of Don Quixote:  meanwhile the priest having asked the niece for the key of the chamber containing the books, those authors of the mischief, which she delivered with a very good will, they entered, attended by the housekeeper, and found above a hundred large volumes well bound, besides a great number of smaller size.  No sooner did the housekeeper see them than she ran out of the room in great haste, and immediately returned with a pot of holy water and a bunch of hyssop, saying:  “Signor Licentiate, take this and sprinkle the room, lest some enchanter of the many that these books abound with should enchant us, as a punishment for our intention to banish them out of the world.”

The priest smiled at the housekeeper’s simplicity, and ordered the barber to reach him the books one by one, that they might see what they treated of, as they might perhaps find some that deserved not to be chastised by fire.

“No,” said the niece, “there is no reason why any of them should be spared, for they have all been mischief-makers:  so let them all be thrown out of the window into the courtyard; and having made a pile of them, set fire to it; or else make a bonfire of them in the back yard, where the smoke will offend nobody.”

The housekeeper said the same, so eagerly did they both thirst for the death of those innocents.  But the priest would not consent to it without first reading the titles at least.

The first that Master Nicholas put into his hands was “Amadis de Gaul,” in four parts; and the priest said:  “There seems to be some mystery in this, for I have heard say that this was the first book of chivalry printed in Spain, and that all the rest had their foundation and rise from it; I think, therefore, as head of so pernicious a sect, we ought to condemn him to the fire without mercy.”

“Not so,” said the barber; “for I have heard also that it is the best of all the books of this kind:  therefore, as being unequalled in its way, it ought to be spared.”

“You are right,” said the priest, “and for that reason its life is granted for the present.  Let us see that other next to him.”

“It is,” said the barber, “the ‘Adventures of Esplandian,’ the legitimate son of ‘Amadis de Gaul.’”

“Verily,” said the priest, “the goodness of the father shall avail the son nothing; take him, Mistress Housekeeper; open that casement, and throw him into the yard, and let him make a beginning to the pile for the intended bonfire.”

The housekeeper did so with much satisfaction, and good Esplandian was sent flying into the yard, there to wait with patience for the fire with which he was threatened.

“Proceed,” said the priest.

“The next,” said the barber, “is ‘Amadis of Greece;’ yea, and all these on this side, I believe, are of the lineage of Amadis.”

“Then into the yard with them all!” quoth the priest; “for rather than not burn Queen Pintiquiniestra, and the shepherd Darinel with his eclogues, and the devilish perplexities of the author, I would burn the father who begot me, were I to meet him in the shape of a knight-errant.”

“Of the same opinion am I,” said the barber.

“And I too,” added the niece.

“Well, then,” said the housekeeper, “away with them all into the yard.”  They handed them to her; and, as they were numerous, to save herself the trouble of the stairs, she threw them all out of the window.

“What tun of an author is that?” said the priest.

“This,” answered the barber, “is ‘Don Olivante de Laura.’”

“The author of that book,” said the priest, “was the same who composed the ‘Garden of Flowers;’ and in good truth I know not which of the two books is the truest, or rather, the least lying:  I can only say that this goes to the yard for its arrogance and absurdity.”

“This that follows is ‘Florismarte of Hyrcania,’” said the barber.

“What! is Signor Florismarte there?” replied the priest; “now, by my faith, he shall soon make his appearance in the yard, notwithstanding his strange birth and chimerical adventures; for the harshness and dryness of his style will admit of no excuse.  To the yard with him, and this other, Mistress Housekeeper.

“With all my heart, dear sir,” answered she, and with much joy executed what she was commanded.

“Here is the ‘Knight Platir,’” said the barber.

“That,” said the priest, “is an ancient book, and I find nothing in him deserving pardon:  without more words, let him be sent after the rest;” which was accordingly done.  They opened another book, and found it entitled the “Knight of the Cross.”  “So religious a title,” quoth the priest, “might, one would think, atone for the ignorance of the author; but it is a common saying ‘the devil lurks behind the cross:’  so to the fire with him.”

The barber, taking down another book, said, “This is ’The Mirror of Chivalry.’”

“Oh!  I know his worship very well,” quoth the priest.  “I am only for condemning this to perpetual banishment because it contains some things of the famous Mateo Boyardo.

“If I find him here uttering any other language than his own, I will show no respect; but if he speaks in his own tongue, I will put him upon my head.”

“I have him in Italian,” said the barber, “but I do not understand him.”

“Neither is it any great matter, whether you understand him or not,” answered the priest; “and we would willingly have excused the good captain from bringing him into Spain and making him a Castilian; for he has deprived him of a great deal of his native value; which, indeed, is the misfortune of all those who undertake the translation of poetry into other languages; for, with all their care and skill, they can never bring them on a level with the original production.  This book, neighbor, is estimable upon two accounts; the one, that it is very good of itself; and the other, because there is a tradition that it was written by an ingenious king of Portugal.  All the adventures of the castle of Miraguarda are excellent, and contrived with much art; the dialogue courtly and clear; and all the characters preserved with great judgment and propriety.  Therefore, Master Nicholas, saving your better judgment, let this and ‘Amadis de Gaul’ be exempted from the fire, and let all the rest perish without any further inquiry.”

“Not so, friend,” replied the barber; “for this which I have here is the renowned ‘Don Bellianis.’”

The priest replied:  “This, and the second, third, and fourth parts, want a little rhubarb to purge away their excess of bile; besides, we must remove all that relates to the castle of Fame, and other absurdities of greater consequence; for which let sentence of transportation be passed upon them, and, according as they show signs of amendment, they shall be treated with mercy or justice.  In the mean time, neighbor, give them room in your house; but let them not be read.”

“With all my heart,” quoth the barber; and without tiring himself any farther in turning over books of chivalry, bid the housekeeper take all the great ones and throw them into the yard.  This was not spoken to the stupid or deaf, but to one who had a greater mind to be burning them than weaving the finest and largest web; and therefore, laying hold of seven or eight at once, she tossed them out at the window.

But, in taking so many together, one fell at the barber’s feet, who had a mind to see what it was, and found it to be the history of the renowned knight Tirante the White.  “Heaven save me!” quoth the priest, with a loud voice, “is Tirante the White there?  Give him to me, neighbor; for in him I shall have a treasure of delight, and a mine of entertainment.  Here we have Don Kyrie-Eleison of Montalvan, a valorous knight, and his brother Thomas of Montalvan, with the knight Fonseca, and the combat which the valiant Tirante fought with the bull-dog, and the witticisms of the damsel Plazerdemivida; also the amours and artifices of the widow Reposada; and madam the Empress in love with her squire Hypolito.  Verily, neighbor, in its way it is the best book in the world:  here the knights eat and sleep, and die in their beds, and make their wills before their deaths; with several things which are not to be found in any other books of this kind.  Notwithstanding this I tell you, the author deserved, for writing so many foolish things seriously, to be sent to the galleys for the whole of his life:  carry it home, and read it, and you will find all I say of him to be true.”

“I will do so,” answered the barber:  “but what shall we do with these small volumes that remain?”

“Those,” said the priest, “are, probably, not books of chivalry, but of poetry.”  Then opening one he found it was the ‘Diana’ of George de Montemayor, and, concluding that all the others were of the same kind, he said, “These do not deserve to be burnt like the rest; for they cannot do the mischief that those of chivalry have done; they are works of genius and fancy, and do injury to none.”

“O sir,” said the niece, “pray order them to be burnt with the rest; for should my uncle be cured of this distemper of chivalry, he may possibly, by reading such books, take it into his head to turn shepherd, and wander through the woods and fields, singing and playing on a pipe; and what would be still worse, turn poet, which, they say, is an incurable and contagious disease.”

“The damsel says true,” quoth the priest, “and it will not be amiss to remove this stumbling-block out of our friend’s way.  And, since we begin with the ‘Diana’ of Montemayor, my opinion is that it should not be burnt, but that all that part should be expunged which treats of the sage Felicia, and of the enchanted fountain, and also most of the longer poems; leaving him, in God’s name, the prose and also the honor of being the first in that kind of writing.”

“The next that appears,” said the barber, “is the Diana, called the second, by Salmantino; and another, of the same name, whose author is Gil Polo.”

“The Salmantinian,” answered the priest, “may accompany and increase the number of the condemned ­to the yard with him:  but let that of Gil Polo be preserved, as if it were written by Apollo himself.  Proceed, friend, and let us despatch; for it grows late.”

“This,” said the barber, opening another, “is the ’Ten Books of the Fortune of Love,’ composed by Antonio de lo Frasso, a Sardinian poet.”

“By the holy orders I have received!” said the priest, “since Apollo was Apollo, the muses muses, and the poets poets, so humorous and so whimsical a book as this was never written; it is the best, and most extraordinary of the kind that ever appeared in the world; and he who has not read it may be assured that he has never read anything of taste:  give it me here, neighbor, for I am better pleased at finding it than if I had been presented with a cassock of Florence satin.”  He laid it aside, with great satisfaction, and the barber proceeded, saying: ­

“These which follow are the ‘Shepherd of Iberia,’ the ’Nymphs of Enares,’ and the ‘Cure of Jealousy.’”

“Then you have only to deliver them up to the secular arm of the housekeeper,” said the priest, “and ask me not why, for in that case we should never have done.”

“The next is the ‘Shepherd of Filida.’”

“He is no shepherd,” said the priest, “but an ingenious courtier; let him be preserved, and laid up as a precious jewel.”

“This bulky volume here,” said the barber, “is entitled the ’Treasure of Divers Poems.’”

“Had they been fewer,” replied the priest, “they would have been more esteemed:  it is necessary that this book should be weeded and cleared of some low things interspersed amongst its sublimities:  let it be preserved, both because the author is my friend, and out of respect to other more heroic and exalted productions of his pen.”

“This,” pursued the barber, “is ‘El Cancionero’ of Lopez Maldonado.”

“The author of that book,” replied the priest, “is also a great friend of mine:  his verses, when sung by himself, excite much admiration; indeed such is the sweetness of his voice in singing them, that they are perfectly enchanting.  He is a little too prolix in his eclogues; but there can never be too much of what is really good:  let it be preserved with the select.  But what book is that next to it?”

“The ‘Galatea’ of Miguel de Cervantes,” said the barber.

“That Cervantes has been an intimate friend of mine these many years, and I know that he is more versed in misfortunes than in poetry.  There is a good vein of invention in his book, which proposes something, though nothing is concluded.  We must wait for the second part, which he has promised:  perhaps, on his amendment, he may obtain that entire pardon which is now denied him; in the mean time, neighbor, keep him a recluse in your chamber.”

“With all my heart,” answered the barber.  “Now, here come three together:  the ‘Araucana’ of Don Alonzo de Ercilla, the ‘Austriada’ of Juan Rufo, a magistrate of Cordova, and the ‘Monserrato’ of Christoval de Virves, a poet of Valencia.”

“These three books,” said the priest, “are the best that are written in heroic verse in the Castilian tongue, and may stand in competition with the most renowned works of Italy.  Let them be preserved as the best productions of the Spanish Muse.”

The priest grew tired of looking over so many books, and therefore, without examination, proposed that all the rest should be burnt; but the barber, having already opened one called the “Tears of Angelica,” “I should have shed tears myself,” said the priest, on hearing the name, “had I ordered that book to be burnt; for its author was one of the most celebrated poets, not only of Spain, but of the whole world:  his translations from Ovid are admirable.”

The same night the housekeeper set fire to and burnt all the books that were in the yard and in the house.  Some must have perished that deserved to be treasured up in perpetual archives, but their destiny or the indolence of the scrutineer forbade it; and in them was fulfilled the saying, that ­

  “The just sometimes suffer for the unjust.”

In the mean time Don Quixote tampered with a laborer, a neighbor of his, and an honest man (if such an epithet can be given to one that is poor), but shallow brained; in short, he said so much, used so many arguments, and made so many promises, that the poor fellow resolved to sally out with him and serve him in the capacity of a squire.  Among other things, Don Quixote told him that he ought to be very glad to accompany him, for such an adventure might some time or the other occur, that by one stroke an island might be won, where he might leave him governor.  With this and other promises, Sancho Panza (for that was the laborer’s name) left his wife and children and engaged himself as squire to his neighbor.

Sancho Panza proceeded upon his ass, like a patriarch, with his wallet and leathern bottle, and with a vehement desire to find himself governor of the island, which his master had promised him.  Don Quixote happened to take the same route as on his first expedition, over the plain of Montiel, which he passed with less inconvenience than before, for it was early in the morning, and the rays of the sun, darting on them horizontally, did not annoy them.  Sancho Panza now said to his master:  “I beseech your worship, good sir knight-errant, not to forget your promise concerning that same island; for I shall know how to govern it, be it ever so large.”

To which Don Quixote answered:  “Thou must know, friend Sancho Panza, that it was a custom much in use among the knights-errant of old to make their squires governors of the islands or kingdoms they conquered, and I am determined that so laudable a custom, shall not be lost through my neglect; on the contrary, I resolve to outdo them in it:  for they sometimes, and perhaps most times, waited till their squires were grown old; and when they were worn out in their service, and had endured many bad days and worse nights, they conferred on them some title, such as count, or at least marquis, of some valley or province of more or less account; but if you live, and I live, before six days have passed I may probably win such a kingdom as may have others depending on it, just fit for thee to be crowned king of one of them.  And do not think this any extraordinary matter, for things fall out to knights by such unforeseen and unexpected ways, that I may easily give thee more than I promise.”

“So then,” answered Sancho Panza, “if I were a king by some of those miracles your worship mentions, Joan Gutierrez, my duck, would come to be a queen, and my children infantas!”

“Who doubts it?” answered Don Quixote.

“I doubt it,” replied Sancho Panza, “for I am verily persuaded that, if God were to rain down kingdoms upon the earth, none of them would sit well upon the head of Mary Gutierrez; for you must know, sir, she is not worth two farthings for a queen.  The title of countess would sit better upon her, with the help of Heaven and good friends.”

“Recommend her to God, Sancho,” answered Don Quixote, “and he will do what is best for her, but do thou have a care not to debase thy mind so low as to content thyself with being less than a viceroy.”

“Heaven grant us good success, and that we may speedily get this island which costs me so dear.  No matter then how soon I die.”

“I have already told thee, Sancho, to give thyself no concern upon that account; for, if an island cannot be had, there is the kingdom of Denmark or that of Sobradisa, which will fit thee like a ring to the finger.  Besides, as they are upon terra firma, thou shouldst prefer them.  But let us leave this to its own time, and see if thou hast anything for us to eat in thy wallet.  We will then go in quest of some castle, where we may lodge this night and make the balsam that I told thee of, for I declare that my ear pains me exceedingly.”

“I have here an onion and a piece of cheese, and I know not how many crusts of bread,” said Sancho, “but they are not eatables fit for so valiant a knight as your worship.”

“How little dost thou understand of this matter!” answered Don Quixote.  “I tell thee, Sancho, that it is honorable in knights-errant not to eat once in a month; and, if they do taste food, it must be what first offers:  and this thou wouldst have known hadst thou read as many histories as I have done; for, though I have perused many, I never yet found in them any account of knights-errant taking food, unless it were by chance and at certain sumptuous banquets prepared expressly for them.  The rest of their days they lived, as it were, upon smelling.  And though it is to be presumed they could not subsist without eating and satisfying all other wants, ­as, in fact, they were men, ­yet, since they passed most part of their lives in wandering through forests and deserts, and without a cook, their usual diet must have consisted of rustic viands, such as those which thou hast now offered me.  Therefore, friend Sancho, let not that trouble thee which gives me pleasure, nor endeavor to make a new world, or to throw knight-errantry off its hinges.”

“Pardon me, sir,” said Sancho; “for, as I can neither read nor write, as I told you before, I am entirely unacquainted with the rules of the knightly profession; but henceforward I will furnish my wallet with all sorts of dried fruits for your worship, who are a knight; and for myself, who am none, I will supply it with poultry and other things of more substance.”

  There cannot be too much of a good thing.

  What is lost to-day may be won to-morrow.

  A saint may sometimes suffer for a sinner.

  Many go out for wool and return shorn.

  Matters of war are most subject to continual change.

  Every man that is aggrieved is allowed to defend himself by
  all laws human and divine.

  Truth is the mother of history, the rival of time, the
  depository of great actions, witness of the past, example
  and adviser of the present, and oracle of future ages.

  Love, like knight-errantry, puts all things on a level.

  He that humbleth himself God will exalt.

After Don Quixote had satisfied his hunger, he took up a handful of acorns, and, looking on them attentively, gave utterance to expressions like these: ­

“Happy times and happy ages were those which the ancients termed the Golden Age!  Not because gold, so prized in this our Iron age, was to be obtained, in that fortunate period, without toil; but because they who then lived were ignorant of those two words, Mine and Thine.  In that blessed age all things were in common; to provide their ordinary sustenance no other labor was necessary than to raise their hands and take it from the sturdy oaks, which stood liberally inviting them to taste their sweet and relishing fruit.  The limpid fountains and running streams offered them, in magnificent abundance, their delicious and transparent waters.  In the clefts of rocks, and in hollow trees, the industrious and provident bees formed their commonwealths, offering to every hand, without interest, the fertile produce of their most delicious toil.  The stately cork-trees, impelled by their own courtesy alone, divested themselves of their light and expanded bark, with which men began to cover their houses, supported by rough poles, only as a defence against the inclemency of the heavens.  All then was peace, all amity, all concord.  The heavy colter of the crooked plough had not yet dared to force open and search into the tender bowels of our first mother, who, unconstrained, offered from every part of her fertile and spacious bosom whatever might feed, sustain, and delight those, her children, by whom she was then possessed.”