Read DON QUIXOTE’S LETTER TO DULCINEA DEL TOBOSO. of Wit and Wisdom of Don Quixote , free online book, by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, on ReadCentral.com.

HIGH AND SOVEREIGN LADY: ­He who is stabbed by the point of absence, and pierced by the arrows of love, O sweetest Dulcinea del Toboso, greets thee with wishes for that health which he enjoys not himself.  If thy beauty despise me, if thy worth favor me not, and if thy disdain still pursue me, although inured to suffering, I shall ill support an affliction which is not only severe but lasting.  My good squire Sancho will tell thee, O ungrateful fair and most beloved foe, to what a state I am reduced on thy account.  If it be thy pleasure to relieve me, I am thine; if not, do what seemeth good to thee, ­for by my death I shall at once appease thy cruelty and my own passion.

Until death thine,
THE KNIGHT OF THE SORROWFUL FIGURE.

  One should not talk of halters in the house of the hanged.

LINES DISCOVERED ON THE BARK OF A TREE, ADDRESSED TO DULCINEA DEL TOBOSO.

  Ye lofty trees, with spreading arms,
    The pride and shelter of the plain;
  Ye humble shrubs and flowery charms,
    Which here in springing glory reign! 
  If my complaints may pity move,
  Hear the sad story of my love! 
    While with me here you pass your hours,
  Should you grow faded with my cares,
    I’ll bribe you with refreshing showers;
  You shall be watered with my tears. 
    Distant, though present in idea,
    I mourn my absent Dulcinea
                               Del Toboso.

Love’s truest slave, despairing, chose
This lonely wild, this desert plain,
This silent witness of the woes
Which he, though guiltless, must sustain. 
Unknowing why these pains he bears,
He groans, he raves, and he despairs. 
With lingering fires Love racks my soul: 
In vain I grieve, in vain lament;
Like tortured fiends I weep, I howl,
And burn, yet never can repent. 
Distant, though present in idea,
I mourn my absent Dulcinea
Del Toboso.

While I through Honor’s thorny ways,
In search of distant glory rove,
Malignant fate my toil repays
With endless woes and hopeless love. 
Thus I on barren rocks despair,
And curse my stars, yet bless my fair. 
Love, armed with snakes, has left his dart,
And now does like a fury rave;
And scourge and sting on every part,
And into madness lash his slave. 
Distant, though present in idea,
I mourn my absent Dulcinea
Del Toboso.

When the stars are adverse, what is human power?

Who is there in the world that can boast of having fathomed
and thoroughly penetrated the intricate and ever-changing
nature of a woman?

What causes all my grief and pain? 
Cruel disdain. 
What aggravates my misery? 
Accursed jealousy. 
How has my soul its patience lost? 
By tedious absence crossed. 
Alas! no balsam can be found
To heal the grief of such a wound. 
When absence, jealousy, and scorn
Have left me hopeless and forlorn.

  What in my breast this grief could move? 
    Neglected love. 
  What doth my fond desires withstand? 
    Fate’s cruel hand. 
  And what confirms my misery? 
    Heaven’s fixed decree. 
  Ah me! my boding fears portend,
  This strange disease my life will end: 
  For die I must, when three such foes,
  Heaven, fate, and love, my bliss oppose.

  My peace of mind, what can restore? 
    Death’s welcome hour. 
  What gains love’s joys most readily? 
    Fickle inconstancy. 
  Its pains what medicine can assuage? 
    Wild frenzy’s rage. 
  ’Tis therefore little wisdom, sure,
  For such a grief to seek a cure,
  That knows no better remedy
  Than frenzy, death, inconstancy.

The hour, the season, the solitude, the voice, and the skill of the singer, all conspired to impress the auditors with wonder and delight, and they remained for some time motionless, in expectation of hearing more; but, finding the silence continue, they resolved to see who it was who had sung so agreeably, and were again detained by the same voice regaling their ears with this sonnet: ­

  Friendship, thou hast with nimble flight
  Exulting gained the empyreal height,
  In heaven to dwell, while here below
  Thy semblance reigns in mimic show;
  From thence to earth, at thy behest,
  Descends fair peace, celestial guest! 
  Beneath whose veil of shining hue
  Deceit oft lurks, concealed from view.

  Leave, friendship! leave thy heavenly seat,
  Or strip thy livery off the cheat. 
  If still he wears thy borrowed smiles,
  And still unwary truth beguiles,
  Soon must this dark terrestrial ball
  Into its first confusion fall.

  What is sudden death to a protracted life of anguish?

“O heavens! have I then at last found a place which may afford a secret grave for this wretched body?  Yes, if the silence of this rocky desert deceive me not, here I may die in peace.  Ah, woe is me!  Here at least I may freely pour forth my lamentations to Heaven, and shall be less wretched than among men, from whom I should in vain seek counsel, redress, or consolation.”

  One evil produces another, and misfortunes never come
  singly.

O memory, thou mortal enemy of my repose! wherefore now recall to me the incomparable beauty of that adored enemy of mine!  Were it not better, thou cruel faculty! to represent to my imagination her conduct at that period ­that moved by so flagrant an injury, I may strive if not to avenge it, at least to end this life of pain?

For no grievance can harass or drive the afflicted to such extremity, while life remains, as to make them shut their ears against that counsel which is given with the most humane and benevolent intention.

  Music lulls the disordered thoughts, and elevates the
  dejected spirits.

  All women, let them be never so homely, are pleased to hear
  themselves celebrated for beauty.

  The eyes of love or of idleness are like those of a lynx.

  One mischance invites another, and the end of one misfortune
  is often the beginning of a worse.

  Among friends we ought not to stand upon trifles.

  No man can command the first emotions of his passions.

  Every new fault deserves a new penance.

  Where is the wonder one devil should be like another?

  Gifts are good after Easter.

  A sparrow in the hand is worth more than a bustard on the
  wing.

  He that will not when he may, when he would he shall have
  nay.

  Men may prove and use their friends, and not presume upon
  their friendship in things contrary to the decrees of
  Heaven.

  A man dishonored is worse than dead.

“I have heard it preached,” quoth Sancho, “that God is to be loved with this kind of love, for Himself alone, without our being moved to it by hope of reward or fear of punishment; though, for my part, I am inclined to love and serve Him for what He is able to do for me.”

“The devil take thee for a bumpkin,” said Don Quixote; “thou sayest ever and anon such apt things that one would almost think thee a scholar.”

“And yet, by my faith,” quoth Sancho, “I cannot so much as read.”

  Squires and knight-errants are subject to much hunger and
  ill-luck.

  A man on whom Heaven has bestowed a beautiful wife should be
  as cautious respecting the friends he introduces at home as
  to her female acquaintance abroad.

  If from equal parts we take equal parts, those that remain
  are equal.

To attempt voluntarily that which must be productive of evil rather than good, is madness and folly.  Difficult works are undertaken for the sake of Heaven, or of the world, or both:  the first are such as are performed by the saints while they endeavor to live the life of angels in their human frames; such as are performed for love of the world are encountered by those who navigate the boundless ocean, traverse different countries and various climates to acquire what are called the goods of fortune.  Those who assail hazardous enterprises for the sake of both God and man are brave soldiers, who no sooner perceive in the enemy’s wall a breach made by a single cannon-ball, than, regardless of danger and full of zeal in the defence of their faith, their country, and their king, they rush where death in a thousand shapes awaits them.  These are difficulties commonly attempted, and, though perilous, are glorious and profitable.

  TEARS OF ST. PETER.

  Shame, grief, remorse, in Peter’s breast increase,
    Soon as the blushing morn his crime betrays;
  When most unseen, then most himself he sees,
    And with due horror all his soul surveys. 
  For a great spirit needs no censuring eyes
    To wound his soul, when conscious of a fault;
  But, self-condemn’d, and e’en self-punished, lies,
    And dreads no witness like upbraiding Thought.

Expect not, therefore, by concealment, to banish sorrow; for, even though you weep not openly, tears of blood will flow from your heart.  So wept that simple doctor, who, according to the poet, would venture to make a trial of the cup which the more prudent Rinaldo wisely declined doing; and although this be a poetical fiction, there is a concealed moral in it worthy to be observed and followed.

There is no jewel in the world so valuable as a chaste and virtuous woman.  The honor of women consists in the good opinion of the world; and since that of your wife is eminently good, why would you have it questioned?  Woman, my friend, is an imperfect creature; and, instead of laying stumbling-blocks in her way, we should clear the path before her, that she may readily attain that virtue which is essential in her.  Naturalists inform us that the ermine is a little creature with extremely white fur, and that when the hunters are in pursuit of it, they spread with mire all the passes leading to its haunts, to which they then drive it, knowing that it will submit to be taken rather than defile itself.  The virtuous and modest woman is an ermine, and her character whiter than snow; and in order to preserve it, a very different method must be taken from that which is used with the ermine.

The reputation of a woman may also be compared to a mirror of crystal, shining and bright, but liable to be sullied by every breath that comes near it.  The virtuous woman must be treated like a relic ­adored but not handled; she should be guarded and prized, like a fine flower-garden, the beauty and fragrance of which the owner allows others to enjoy only at a distance, and through iron rails.

  The devil, when he would entrap a cautious person, assumes
  an angel form till he carries his point, when the cloven
  foot appears.

  He who builds on impossibilities should be denied the
  privilege of any other foundation.

  Hope is ever born with love.

  Castles should not be left without governors, nor armies
  without generals.

  The passion of love is to be conquered by flight alone; it
  is vain to contend with a power which, though human,
  requires more than human strength to subdue.

  SONNET.

  In the dead silence of the peaceful night,
    When others’ cares are hushed in soft repose,
    The sad account of my neglected woes
  To conscious Heaven and Chloris I recite. 
  And when the sun, with his returning light,
    Forth from the east his radiant journey goes,
    With accents such as sorrow only knows,
  My griefs to tell is all my poor delight. 
  And when bright Phoebus from his starry throne
    Sends rays direct upon the parched soil,
  Still in the mournful tale I persevere;
    Returning night renews my sorrow’s toil;
  And though from morn to night I weep and moan,
  Nor Heaven nor Chloris my complainings hear.

  Are we to take all that enamored poets sing for truth?

  SONNET.

    Believe me, nymph, I feel th’ impending blow,
    And glory in the near approach of death;
    For when thou see’st my corse devoid of breath,
  My constancy and truth thou sure wilt know,
  Welcome to me Oblivion’s shade obscure! 
    Welcome the loss of fortune, life, and fame! 
    But thy loved features, and thy honored name,
  Deep graven on my heart, shall still endure. 
  And these, as sacred relics, will I keep
    Till that sad moment when to endless night
    My long-tormented soul shall take her flight
  Alas for him who on the darkened deep
    Floats idly, sport of the tempestuous tide,
    No port to shield him, and no star to guide!

  He who gives freely gives twice.

  That which is lightly gained is little valued.

For love sometimes flies and sometimes walks ­runs with one person, and goes leisurely with another:  some he warms, and some he burns; some he wounds, and others he kills:  in one and the same instant he forms and accomplishes his projects.  He often in the morning lays siege to a fortress which in the evening surrenders to him ­for no force is able to resist him.

  Heaven always favors the honest purpose.

  Rank is not essential in a wife.

  True nobility consists in virtue.

  It is no derogation to rank to elevate beauty adorned with
  virtue.

  Time will discover.

“Certainly, gentlemen, if we rightly consider it, those who make knight-errantry their profession often meet with surprising and most stupendous adventures.  For what mortal in the world, at this time entering within this castle, and seeing us sit together as we do, will imagine and believe us to be the same persons which in reality we are?  Who is there that can judge that this lady by my side is the great queen we all know her to be, and that I am that Knight of the Sorrowful Figure so universally made known by fame?  It is, then, no longer to be doubted but that this exercise and profession surpasses all others that have been invented by man, and is so much the more honorable as it is more exposed to dangers.  Let none presume to tell me that the pen is preferable to the sword.  This may be ascertained by regarding the end and object each of them aims at; for that intention is to be most valued which makes the noblest end its object.  The scope and end of learning, I mean human learning (in this place I speak not of divinity, whose aim is to guide souls to Heaven, for no other can equal a design so infinite as that), is to give a perfection to distribute justice, bestowing upon every one his due, and to procure and cause good laws to be observed; an end really generous, great, and worthy of high commendation, but yet not equal to that which knight-errantry tends to, whose object and end is peace, which is the greatest blessing man can wish for in this life.  And, therefore, the first good news that the world received was that which the angels brought in the night ­the beginning of our day ­when they sang in the air, ’Glory to God on high, peace on earth, and to men good-will.’  And the only manner of salutation taught by our great Master to His friends and favorites was, that entering any house they should say, ‘Peace be to this house.’  And at other times He said to them, ’My peace I give to you,’ ‘My peace I leave to you,’ ‘Peace be among you.’  A jewel and legacy worthy of such a donor, a jewel so precious that without it there can be no happiness either in earth or heaven.  This peace is the true end of war; for arms and war are one and the same thing.  Allowing, then, this truth, that the end of war is peace, and that in this it excels the end of learning, let us now weigh the bodily labors the scholar undergoes against those the warrior suffers, and then see which are the greatest.

“These, then, I say, are the sufferings and hardships a scholar endures.  First, poverty (not that they are all poor, but to urge the worst that may be in this case); and having said he endures poverty, methinks nothing more need be urged to express his misery; for he that is poor enjoys no happiness, but labors under this poverty in all its parts, at one time in hunger, at another in cold, another in nakedness, and sometimes in all of them together; yet his poverty is not so great, but still he eats, though it be later than the usual hour, and of the scraps of the rich; neither can the scholar miss of somebody’s stove or fireside to sit by; where, though he be not thoroughly heated, yet he may gather warmth, and at last sleep away the night under a roof.  I will not touch upon other less material circumstances, as the want of linen, and scarcity of shoes, thinness and baldness of their clothes, and their surfeiting when good fortune throws a feast in their way; this is the difficult and uncouth path they tread, often stumbling and falling, yet rising again and pushing on, till they attain the preferment they aim at; whither being arrived, we have seen many of them, who, having been carried by a fortunate gale through all these quick-sands, from a chair govern the world; their hunger being changed into satiety, their cold into comfortable warmth, their nakedness into magnificence of apparel, and the mats they used to lie upon, into stately beds of costly silks and softest linen, a reward due to their virtue.  But yet their sufferings, being compared to those the soldier endures, appear much inferior, as I shall in the next place make out.”

Don Quixote, after a short pause, continued his discourse thus: ­“Since, in speaking of the scholar, we began with his poverty and its several branches, let us see whether the soldier be richer.  We shall find that poverty itself is not more poor:  for he depends on his wretched pay, which comes late, and sometimes never; or upon what he can pillage, at the imminent risk of his life and conscience.  Such often is his nakedness that his slashed buff-doublet serves him both for finery and shirt; and in the midst of winter, on the open plain, he has nothing to warm him but the breath of his mouth, which, issuing from an empty place, must needs be cold.  But let us wait, and see whether night will make amends for these inconveniences:  if his bed be too narrow it is his own fault, for he may measure out as many feet of earth as he pleases, and roll himself thereon at pleasure without fear of rumpling the sheets.  Suppose the moment arrived of taking his degree ­I mean, suppose-the day of battle come:  his doctoral cap may then be of lint, to cover some gun-shot wound, which perhaps has gone through his temples, or deprived him of an arm or leg.

“And even suppose that Heaven in its mercy should preserve him alive and unhurt, he will probably remain as poor as ever; for he must be engaged and victorious in many battles before he can expect high promotion; and such good fortune happens only by a miracle:  for you will allow, gentlemen, that few are the number of those that have reaped the reward of their services, compared with those who have perished in war.  The dead are countless; whereas those who survived to be rewarded may be numbered with three figures.  Not so with scholars, who by their salaries (I will not say their perquisites) are generally handsomely provided for.  Thus the labors of the soldier are greater, although his reward is less.  It may be said in answer to this, that it is easier to reward two thousand scholars than thirty thousand soldiers:  for scholars are rewarded by employments which must of course be given to men of their profession; whereas the soldier can only be rewarded by the property of the master whom, he serves; and this defence serves to strengthen my argument.

“But, waiving this point, let us consider the comparative claims to pre-eminence:  for the partisans of each can bring powerful arguments in support of their own cause.  It is said in favor of letters that without them arms could not subsist; for war must have its laws, and laws come within the province of the learned.  But it may be alleged in reply, that arms are necessary to the maintenance of law; by arms the public roads are protected, cities guarded, states defended, kingdoms preserved, and the seas cleared of corsairs and pirates.  In short, without arms there would be no safety for cities, commonwealths or kingdoms.  Besides, it is just to estimate a pursuit in proportion to the cost of its attainment.  Now it is true that eminence in learning is purchased by time, watching, hunger, nakedness, vertigo, indigestion, and many other inconveniences already mentioned; but a man who rises gradually to be a good soldier endures all these, and far more.  What is the hunger and poverty which menace the man of letters compared with the situation of the soldier, who, besieged in some fortress, and placed as sentinel in some ravelin or cavalier, perceives that the enemy is mining toward the place where he stands, and yet he must on no account stir from his post or shun the imminent danger that threatens him?  All that he can do in such a case is to give notice to his officer of what passes, that he may endeavor to counteract it; in the meantime he must stand his ground, in momentary expectation of being mounted to the clouds without wings, and then dashed headlong to the earth.  And if this be thought but a trifling danger, let us see whether it be equalled or exceeded by the encounter of two galleys, prow to prow, in the midst of the white sea, locked and grappled together, so that there is no more room left for the soldier than the two-foot plank at the break-head; and though he sees as many threatening ministers of death before him as there are pieces of artillery pointed at him from the opposite side, not the length of a lance from his body; though he knows that the first slip of his foot sends him to the bottom of the sea; yet, with an undaunted heart, inspired by honor, he exposes himself as a mark to all their fire, and endeavors by that narrow pass to force his way into the enemy’s vessel!  And, what is most worthy of admiration, no sooner is one fallen, never, to rise again in this world, than another takes his place; and if he also fall into the sea, which lies in wait to devour him, another and another succeeds without intermission!  In all the extremities of war there is no example of courage and intrepidity to exceed this.  Happy those ages which knew not the dreadful fury of artillery! ­those instruments of hell (where, I verily believe, the inventor is now receiving the reward of his diabolical ingenuity), by means of which the cowardly and the base can deprive the bravest soldier of life.  While a gallant spirit animated with heroic ardor is pressing to glory, comes a chance ball, sent by one who perhaps fled in alarm at the flash of his own accursed weapon, and in an instant cuts short the life of him who deserved to live for ages!  When I consider this, I could almost repent having undertaken this profession of knight-errantry in so detestable an age; for though no danger can daunt me, still it gives me some concern to think that powder and lead may suddenly cut short my career of glory.  But Heaven’s will be done!  I have this satisfaction, that I shall acquire the greater fame if I succeed, inasmuch as the perils by which I am beset are greater than those to which the knights-errant of past ages were exposed.”

  The army is a school in which the miser becomes generous,
  and the generous prodigal.

  A covetous soldier is a monster which is rarely seen.

  Liberality may be carried too far in those who have children
  to inherit from them.

  How seldom promises made in slavery are remembered after a
  release from bondage.

  Good fortune seldom comes pure and single, unattended by
  some troublesome or unexpected circumstance.

  Though we love the treason we abhor the traitor.

  What transport in life can equal that which a man feels on
  the restoration of his liberty?

“The church, the court, or the sea;” as if it more fully expressed the following advice, ­He that would make his fortune, ought either to dedicate his time to the church, go to sea as a merchant, or attach himself to the court:  for it is commonly observed, that “the king’s crumb is worth the baron’s batch."

  SONNET UPON THE GOLETA.

  O happy souls, by death at length set free
  From the dark prison of mortality,
  By glorious deeds, whose memory never dies ­
  From earth’s dim spot exalted to the skies! 
  What fury stood in every eye confessed! 
  What generous ardor fired each manly breast,
  While slaughtered heaps distained the sandy shore,
  And the tinged ocean blushed with hostile gore! 
  O’erpowered by numbers, gloriously ye fell: 
  Death only could such matchless courage quell;
  Whilst dying thus ye triumphed o’er your foes ­
  Its fame the world, its glory heaven, bestows!

  SONNET ON THE FORT.

  From ’midst these walls, whose ruins spread around,
  And scattered clods that heap the ensanguined ground,
  Three thousand souls of warriors, dead in fight,
  To better regions took their happy flight. 
  Long with unconquered souls they bravely stood,
  And fearless shed their unavailing blood: 
  Till, to superior force compelled to yield,
  Their lives they quitted in the well-fought field. 
  This fatal soil has ever been the tomb
  Of slaughtered heroes, buried in its womb: 
  Yet braver bodies did it ne’er sustain,
  Nor send more glorious soul the skies to gain.

  I.

  Tossed in a sea of doubts and fears,
    Love’s hapless mariner, I sail,
  Where no inviting port appears,
    To screen me from the stormy gale.

  II.

  At distance viewed, a cheering star
    Conducts me through the swelling tide;
  A brighter luminary, far,
    Than Palinurus o’er descried.

  III.

  My soul, attracted by its blaze,
    Still follows where it points the way,
  And while attentively I gaze,
    Considers not how far I stray.

  IV.

  But female pride, reserved and shy,
    Like clouds that deepen on the day,
  Oft shroud it from my longing eye,
    When most I need the genial ray.

  V.

  O lovely star, so pure and bright! 
    Whose splendor feeds my vital fire,
  The moment thou deny’st thy light,
    Thy lost adorer will expire!

  SONG.

  Unconquered hope, thou bane of fear,
    And last deserter of the brave,
  Thou soothing ease of mortal care,
    Thou traveller beyond the grave;
  Thou soul of patience, airy food,
  Bold warrant of a distant good,
    Reviving cordial, kind decoy;
  Though fortune frowns and friends depart,
    Though Silvia flies me, flattering joy,
  Nor thou, nor love, shall leave my doting heart.

  No slave, to lazy ease resigned,
    E’er triumphed over noble foes;
  The monarch fortune most is kind
    To him who bravely dares oppose. 
  They say, Love rates his blessing high,
  But who would prize an easy joy? 
    My scornful fair then I’ll pursue,
  Though the coy beauty still denies;
    I grovel now on earth, ’tis true,
  But, raised by her, the humble slave may rise.

  Might overcomes.

  Him to whom God giveth may St. Peter bless.

Diligence is the mother of success, and in many important causes experience hath shown that the assiduity of the solicitor hath brought a very doubtful suit to a very fortunate issue; but the truth of this maxim is nowhere more evinced than in war, where activity and despatch anticipate the designs of the enemy, and obtain the victory before he has time to put himself in a posture of defence.

  The common adage that delays are dangerous acts as spurs
  upon the resolution.

  There are more tricks in the town than are dreamt of.

  Virtue is always more persecuted by the wicked than beloved
  by the righteous.

Virtue is so powerful that of herself she will, in spite of all the necromancy possessed by the first inventor, Zoroaster, come off conqueror in every severe trial, and shine refulgent in the world, as the sun shines in the heavens.

Fables should not be composed to outrage the understanding; but by making the wonderful appear possible, and creating in the mind a pleasing interest, they may both surprise and entertain; which cannot be effected where no regard is paid to probability.  I have never yet found a regular, well-connected fable in any of our books of chivalry ­they are all inconsistent and monstrous; the style is generally bad; and they abound with incredible exploits, lascivious amours, absurd sentiment, and miraculous adventures; in short, they should be banished every Christian country.

  Just are virtue’s fears where envy domineers.

  Bounty will not stay where niggards bear the sway.

  Fortune turns faster than a mill-wheel, and those who were
  yesterday at top, may find themselves at bottom to-day.

  Every one is the son of his own works.

  The mind receives pleasure from the beauty and consistency
  of what is presented to the imagination, not from that which
  is incongruous and unnatural.

Fiction is always the better the nearer it resembles truth, and agreeable in proportion to the probability it bears and the doubtful credit which it inspires.  Wherefore, all such fables ought to be suited to the understanding of those who read them, and written so as that, by softening impossibilities, smoothing what is rough, and keeping the mind in suspense, they may surprise, agreeably perplex, and entertain, creating equal admiration and delight; and these never can be excited by authors who forsake probability and imitation, in which the perfection of writing consists.

  Epics may be written in prose as well as verse.

To assert that there never was an Amadis in the world, nor any other of the knights-adventurers of whom so many records remain, is to say that the sun does not enlighten, the frost produce cold, nor the earth yield sustenance.

  The approbation of the judicious few should far outweigh
  the censure of the ignorant.

  An author had better be applauded by the few that are wise,
  than laughed at by the many that are foolish.

Our modern plays, not only those which are formed upon fiction, but likewise such as are founded on the truth of history, are all, or the greatest part, universally known to be monstrous productions, without either head or tail, and yet received with pleasure by the multitude, who approve and esteem them as excellent performances, though they are far from deserving that title; and if the authors who compose, and the actors who represent them, affirm that this and no other method is to be practised, because the multitude must be pleased; that those which bear the marks of contrivance, and produce a fable digested according to the rules of art, serve only for entertainment to four or five people of taste, who discern the beauties of the plan, which utterly escape the rest of the audience; and that it is better for them to gain a comfortable livelihood by the many, than starve upon reputation with the few; at this rate, said I, if I should finish my book, after having scorched every hair in my whiskers in poring over it, to preserve those rules and precepts already mentioned, I might fare at last like the sagacious botcher, who sewed for nothing and found his customers in thread.

It is not a sufficient excuse to say that the object in permitting theatrical exhibitions being chiefly to provide innocent recreation for the people, it is unnecessary to limit and restrain the dramatic author within strict rules of composition; for I affirm that the same object is, beyond all comparison, more effectually attained by legitimate works.  The spectator of a good drama is amused, admonished, and improved by what is diverting, affecting, and moral in the representation; he is cautioned against deceit, corrected by example, incensed against vice, stimulated to the love of virtue.

Comedy, according to Tully, ought to be the mirror of life, the exemplar of manners, and picture of truth; whereas those that are represented in this age are mirrors of absurdity, exemplars of folly, and pictures of lewdness; for sure, nothing can be more absurd in a dramatic performance, than to see the person, who, in the first scene of the first act, was produced a child in swaddling-clothes, appear a full-grown man with a beard in the second; or to represent an old man active and valiant, a young soldier cowardly, a footman eloquent, a page a counsellor, a king a porter, and a princess a scullion.  Then what shall we say concerning their management of the time and place in which the actions have, or may be supposed to have happened?  I have seen a comedy, the first act of which was laid in Europe, the second in Asia, and the third was finished in Africa; nay, had there been a fourth, the scene would have shifted to America, so that the fable would have travelled through all the four divisions of the globe.  If imitation be the chief aim of comedy, how can any ordinary understanding be satisfied with seeing an action that passed in the time of King Pepin and Charlemagne, ascribed to the Emperor Heraclius, who, being the principal personage, is represented, like Godfrey of Boulogne, carrying the cross into Jerusalem, and making himself master of the holy sepulchre, an infinite number of years having passed between the one and the other?  Or, when a comedy is founded upon fiction, to see scraps of real history introduced, and facts misrepresented both with regard to persons and times, not with any ingenuity of contrivance, but with the most manifest and inexcusable errors and stupidity; and what is worst of all, there is a set of ignorant pretenders who call this the perfection of writing, and that every attempt to succeed by a contrary method is no other than a wild-goose chase.

  The bow cannot remain always bent; and relaxation, both of
  body and mind, is indispensable to all.

Can you deny what is in everybody’s mouth, when a person is in the dumps?  It is always then said, “I know not what such a one ails ­he neither eats, nor drinks, nor sleeps, nor answers to the purpose, like other men ­surely he is enchanted.”  Wherefore, it is clear that such, and such only, are enchanted who neither eat, nor drink, nor sleep, and not they who eat and drink when they can get it, and answer properly to all that is asked them.

The poor man is unable to exercise the virtue of liberality; and the gratitude which consists only in inclination is a dead thing, even as faith without works is dead.  I shall, therefore, rejoice when fortune presents me with an opportunity of exalting myself, that I may show my heart in conferring benefits on my friends, especially on poor Sancho Panza here, my squire, who is one of the best men in the world; and I would fain bestow on him an earldom, as I have long since promised; although I am somewhat in doubt of his ability in the government of his estate.

Sancho, overhearing his master’s last words, said:  “Take you the trouble, Signor Don Quixote, to procure me that same earldom, which your worship has so often promised, and I have been so long waiting for, and you shall see that I shall not want ability to govern it.  But even if I should, there are people, I have heard say, who farm these lordships; and paying the owners so much a year, take upon themselves the government of the whole, while his lordship lolls at his ease, enjoying his estate, without concerning himself any further about it.  Just so will I do, and give myself no more trouble than needs mast, but enjoy myself like any duke, and let the world rub.”

“This, brother Sancho,” said the canon, “may be done, as far as regards the management of your revenue; but the administration of justice must be attended to by the lord himself, and requires capacity, judgment, and, above all, an upright intention, without which nothing prospers; for Heaven assists the good intent of the simple, and disappoints the evil designs of the cunning.”

“I do not understand these philosophies,” answered Sancho; “all that I know is, that I wish I may as surely have the earldom as I should know how to govern it; for I have as large a soul as another, and as large a body as the best of them; and I should be as much king of my own dominion as any other king; would do what I pleased; and, doing what I pleased, I should have my will; and having my will, I should be contented; and, being content, there is no more to be desired; and when there is no more to desire, there is an end of it.”

“These are no bad philosophies, as you say, Sancho,” quoth the canon; “nevertheless, there is a great deal more to be said upon the subject of earldoms.”

“That may be,” observed Don Quixote; “but I am guided by the numerous examples offered on this subject by knights of my own profession; who, in compensation for the loyal and signal services they had received from their squires, conferred upon them extraordinary favors, making them absolute lords of cities and islands:  indeed, there was one whose services were so great that he had the presumption to accept of a kingdom.  But why should I say more, when before me is the bright example of the great Amadis de Gaul, who made his squire knight of the Firm Island?  Surely I may, therefore, without scruple of conscience, make an earl of Sancho Panza, who is one of the best squires that ever served knight-errant.”

The mountains breed learned men, and the cottages of shepherds contain philosophers.

Upon the news of Don Quixote’s arrival, Sancho Panza’s wife repaired thither, and on meeting him, her first inquiry was whether the ass had come home well.

Sancho told her that he was in a better condition than his master.

“The Lord be praised,” replied she, “for so great a mercy to me!  But tell me, husband, what good have you got by your squireship?  Have you brought a petticoat home for me, and shoes for your children?”

“I have brought you nothing of that sort, dear wife,” quoth Sancho; “but I have got other things of greater consequence.”

“I am very glad of that,” answered the wife, “pray show me your things of greater consequence, friend; for I would fain see them, to gladden my heart, which has been so sad, all the long time you have been away.”

“You shall see them at home, wife,” quoth Sancho, “and be satisfied at present; for if it please God that we make another sally in quest of adventures, you will soon see me an earl or governor of an island, and no common one either, but one of the best that is to be had.”

“Grant Heaven it may be so, husband,” quoth the wife, “for we have need enough of it.  But pray tell me what you mean by islands; for I do not understand you.”

“Honey is not for the mouth of an ass,” answered Sancho:  “in good time, wife, you shall see, yea, and admire to hear yourself styled ladyship by all your vassals.”

“What do you mean, Sancho, by ladyship, islands, and vassals?” answered Teresa Panza; for that was Sancho’s wife’s name, though they were not of kin, but because it is the custom in La Mancha for the wife to take the husband’s name.

“Be not in so much haste, Teresa, to know all this,” said Sancho; “let it suffice that I tell you the truth, and sew up your mouth.  But for the present know that there is nothing in the world so pleasant to an honest man, as to be squire to a knight-errant, and seeker of adventures.  It is true indeed, most of them are not so much to a man’s mind as he could wish; for ninety-nine of a hundred one meets with fall out cross and unlucky.  This I know by experience; for I have sometimes come off tossed in a blanket, and sometimes well cudgelled.  Yet, for all that, it is a fine thing to be in expectation of accidents, traversing mountains, searching woods, marching over rocks, visiting castles, lodging in inns, all at discretion, and the devil a farthing to pay.”

Fame has preserved in the memoirs of La Mancha, that Don Quixote, the third time he sallied from home, went to Saragossa, where he was present at a famous tournament in that city, and that there befell him things worthy of his valor and good understanding.  Nor would the chronicler have learned any thing concerning his death had he not fortunately become acquainted with an aged physician, who had in his custody a leaden box, found, as he said, under the ruins of an ancient hermitage then rebuilding:  in which box was found a manuscript of parchment written in Gothic characters, but in Castilian verse, containing many of his exploits, and giving an account of the beauty of Dulcinea del Toboso, the figure of Rozinante, the fidelity of Sancho Panza, and the burial of Don Quixote himself, with several epitaphs and eulogies on his life and manners.  All that could be read, and perfectly made out, were those inserted here by the faithful author of this strange and never-before-seen history; which author desires no other reward from those who shall read it, in recompense of the vast pains it has cost him to inquire into and search all the archives of La Mancha to bring it to light, but that they would afford him the same credit that ingenious people give to books of knight-errantry, which are so well received in the world; and herewith he will reckon himself well paid, and will rest satisfied; and will moreover be encouraged to seek and find out others, if not as true, at least of as much invention and entertainment.  The first words, written in the parchment which was found in the leaden box, were these: ­

THE ACADEMICIANS OF ARGAMASILLA,
A TOWN OF LA MANCHA,
ON THE LIFE AND DEATH OF THE VALOROUS
DON QUIXOTE DE LA MANCHA,
HOC SCRIPSERUNT.

Monicongo, Academician of Argamasilla, on the Sepulture of
                     Don Quixote.

EPITAPH.

La Mancha’s thunderbolt of war,
The sharpest wit and loftiest muse,
The arm which from Gaeta far
To Catai did its force diffuse;
He who, through love and valor’s fire,
Outstripped great Amadis’s fame
Bid warlike Galaor retire,
And silenced Belianis’ name: 
He who, with helmet, sword, and shield,
On Rozinante, steed well known,
Adventures fought in many a field,
Lies underneath this frozen stone.

Paniaguado, Academician of Argamasilla, in praise of Dulcinea
                       Del Toboso.

SONNET.

She whom you see the plump and lusty dame,
With high erected chest and vigorous mien,
Was erst th’ enamored knight Don Quixote’s flame,
The fair Dulcinea, of Toboso, queen.

For her, armed cap-a-pie with sword and shield,
He trod the sable mountain o’er and o’er;
For her he traversed Montiel’s well-known field,
And in her service toils unnumbered bore. 
Hard fate! that death should crop so fine a flower! 
And love o’er such a knight exert his tyrant power!

Caprichoso, a most ingenious Academician of Argamasilla, in
          praise of Don Quixote’s Horse Rozinante.

  SONNET.

    On the aspiring adamantine trunk
  Of a huge tree, whose root, with slaughter drunk
  Sends forth a scent of war, La Mancha’s knight,
  Frantic with valor, and returned from fight,
  His bloody standard trembling in the air,
  Hangs up his glittering armor beaming far,
  With that fine-tempered steel whose edge o’erthrows,
  Hacks, hews, confounds, and routs opposing foes. 
  Unheard-of prowess! and unheard-of verse! 
  But art new strains invents, new glories to rehearse.

    If Amadis to Grecia gives renown,
  Much more her chief does fierce Bellona crown. 
  Prizing La Mancha more than Gaul or Greece,
  As Quixote triumphs over Amadis. 
  Oblivion ne’er shall shroud his glorious name,
  Whose very horse stands up to challenge fame! 
  Illustrious Rozinante, wondrous steed! 
  Not with more generous pride or mettled speed,
  His rider erst Rinaldo’s Bayard bore,
  Or his mad lord, Orlando’s Brilladore.

Burlador, the little Academician of Argamasilla, on Sancho Panza.

  SONNET.

  See Sancho Panza, view him well,
  And let this verse his praises tell. 
  His body was but small, ’tis true,
  Yet had a soul as large as two. 
  No guile he knew, like some before him
  But simple as his mother bore him. 
  This gentle squire on gentle ass
  Went gentle Rozinante’s pace,
  Following his lord from place to place. 
  To be an earl he did aspire,
  And reason good for such desire;
  But worth in these ungrateful times,
  To envied honor seldom climbs. 
  Vain mortals! give your wishes o’er,
  And trust the flatterer Hope no more,
  Whose promises, whate’er they seem,
  End in a shadow or a dream.

Cachidiablo, Academician of Argamasilla, on the Sepulture of
                      Don Quixote.

EPITAPH.

Here lies an evil-errant knight,
Well bruised in many a fray,
Whose courser, Rozinante hight,
Long bore him many a way.

Close by his loving master’s side
Lies booby Sancho Panza,
A trusty squire of courage tried,
And true as ever man saw.

Tiquitoc, Academician of Argamasilla, on the sepulture of Dulcinea
                            del Toboso.

Dulcinea, fat and fleshy, lies
Beneath this frozen stone;
But, since to frightful death a prize,
Reduced to skin and bone.

Of goodly parentage she came,
And had the lady in her;
She was the great Don Quixote’s flame,
But only death could win her.

These were all the verses that could be read:  the rest, the characters being worm-eaten, were consigned to one of the Academicians, to find out their meaning by conjectures.  We are informed he has done it, after many lucubrations and much pains, and that he designs to publish them, giving us hopes of Don Quixote’s third sally.

 “Forsi altro cantara con miglior plectro.”

The noble mind may be clouded by adversity, but cannot be wholly concealed; for true merit shines by a light of its own, and, glimmering through the rents and crannies of indigence, is perceived, respected, and honored by the generous and the great.