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The History of Don Quixote, Vol. I., Part 1. by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

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edition to attach the famous engravings of Gustave Dore to the Ormsby
translation instead of the Jarvis/Motteaux. The detail of many of the
Dore engravings can be fully appreciated only by utilizing the "Enlarge"
button to expand them to their original dimensions. Ormsby in his
Preface has criticized the fanciful nature of Dore's illustrations;
others feel that these woodcuts and steel engravings well match the
Quixote's dreams. D.W.


Part I.























































It was with considerable reluctance that I abandoned in favour of the
present undertaking what had long been a favourite project: that of a new
edition of Shelton's "Don Quixote," which has now become a somewhat
scarce book. There are some--and I confess myself to be one--for whom
Shelton's racy old version, with all its defects, has a charm that no
modern translation, however skilful or correct, could possess. Shelton
had the inestimable advantage of belonging to the same generation as
Cervantes; "Don Quixote" had to him a vitality that only a contemporary
could feel; it cost him no dramatic effort to see things as Cervantes saw
them; there is no anachronism in his language; he put the Spanish of
Cervantes into the English of Shakespeare. Shakespeare himself most
likely knew the book; he may have carried it home with him in his
saddle-bags to Stratford on one of his last journeys, and under the
mulberry tree at New Place joined hands with a kindred genius in its

But it was soon made plain to me that to hope for even a moderate
popularity for Shelton was vain. His fine old crusted English would, no
doubt, be relished by a minority, but it would be only by a minority. His
warmest admirers must admit that he is not a satisfactory representative
of Cervantes. His translation of the First Part was very hastily made and
was never revised by him. It has all the freshness and vigour, but also a
full measure of the faults, of a hasty production. It is often very
literal--barbarously literal frequently--but just as often very loose. He
had evidently a good colloquial knowledge of Spanish, but apparently not
much more. It never seems to occur to him that the same translation of a
word will not suit in every case.

It is often said that we have no satisfactory translation of "Don
Quixote." To those who are familiar with the original, it savours of
truism or platitude to say so, for in truth there can be no thoroughly
satisfactory translation of "Don Quixote" into English or any other
language. It is not that the Spanish idioms are so utterly unmanageable,
or that the untranslatable words, numerous enough no doubt, are so
superabundant, but rather that the sententious terseness to which the
humour of the book owes its flavour is peculiar to Spanish, and can at
best be only distantly imitated in any other tongue.

The history of our English translations of "Don Quixote" is instructive.
Shelton's, the first in any language, was made, apparently, about 1608,
but not published till 1612. This of course was only the First Part. It
has been asserted that the Second, published in 1620, is not the work of
Shelton, but there is nothing to support the assertion save the fact that
it has less spirit, less of what we generally understand by "go," about
it than the first, which would be only natural if the first were the work
of a young man writing currente calamo, and the second that of a
middle-aged man writing for a bookseller. On the other hand, it is closer
and more literal, the style is the same, the very same translations, or
mistranslations, occur in it, and it is extremely unlikely that a new
translator would, by suppressing his name, have allowed Shelton to carry
off the credit.

In 1687 John Phillips, Milton's nephew, produced a "Don Quixote" "made
English," he says, "according to the humour of our modern language." His
"Quixote" is not so much a translation as a travesty, and a travesty that
for coarseness, vulgarity, and buffoonery is almost unexampled even in
the literature of that day.

Ned Ward's "Life and Notable Adventures of Don Quixote, merrily
translated into Hudibrastic Verse" (1700), can scarcely be reckoned a
translation, but it serves to show the light in which "Don Quixote" was
regarded at the time.

A further illustration may be found in the version published in 1712 by
Peter Motteux, who had then recently combined tea-dealing with
literature. It is described as "translated from the original by several
hands," but if so all Spanish flavour has entirely evaporated under the
manipulation of the several hands. The flavour that it has, on the other
hand, is distinctly Franco-cockney. Anyone who compares it carefully with
the original will have little doubt that it is a concoction from Shelton
and the French of Filleau de Saint Martin, eked out by borrowings from
Phillips, whose mode of treatment it adopts. It is, to be sure, more
decent and decorous, but it treats "Don Quixote" in the same fashion as a
comic book that cannot be made too comic.

To attempt to improve the humour of "Don Quixote" by an infusion of
cockney flippancy and facetiousness, as Motteux's operators did, is not
merely an impertinence like larding a sirloin of prize beef, but an
absolute falsification of the spirit of the book, and it is a proof of
the uncritical way in which "Don Quixote" is generally read that this
worse than worthless translation--worthless as failing to represent,
worse than worthless as misrepresenting--should have been favoured as it
has been.

It had the effect, however, of bringing out a translation undertaken and
executed in a very different spirit, that of Charles Jervas, the portrait
painter, and friend of Pope, Swift, Arbuthnot, and Gay. Jervas has been
allowed little credit for his work, indeed it may be said none, for it is
known to the world in general as Jarvis's. It was not published until
after his death, and the printers gave the name according to the current
pronunciation of the day. It has been the most freely used and the most
freely abused of all the translations. It has seen far more editions than
any other, it is admitted on all hands to be by far the most faithful,
and yet nobody seems to have a good word to say for it or for its author.
Jervas no doubt prejudiced readers against himself in his preface, where
among many true words about Shelton, Stevens, and Motteux, he rashly and
unjustly charges Shelton with having translated not from the Spanish, but
from the Italian version of Franciosini, which did not appear until ten
years after Shelton's first volume. A suspicion of incompetence, too,
seems to have attached to him because he was by profession a painter and
a mediocre one (though he has given us the best portrait we have of
Swift), and this may have been strengthened by Pope's remark that he
"translated 'Don Quixote' without understanding Spanish." He has been
also charged with borrowing from Shelton, whom he disparaged. It is true
that in a few difficult or obscure passages he has followed Shelton, and
gone astray with him; but for one case of this sort, there are fifty
where he is right and Shelton wrong. As for Pope's dictum, anyone who
examines Jervas's version carefully, side by side with the original, will
see that he was a sound Spanish scholar, incomparably a better one than
Shelton, except perhaps in mere colloquial Spanish. He was, in fact, an
honest, faithful, and painstaking translator, and he has left a version
which, whatever its shortcomings may be, is singularly free from errors
and mistranslations.

The charge against it is that it is stiff, dry--"wooden" in a word,-and
no one can deny that there is a foundation for it. But it may be pleaded
for Jervas that a good deal of this rigidity is due to his abhorrence of
the light, flippant, jocose style of his predecessors. He was one of the
few, very few, translators that have shown any apprehension of the
unsmiling gravity which is the essence of Quixotic humour; it seemed to
him a crime to bring Cervantes forward smirking and grinning at his own
good things, and to this may be attributed in a great measure the ascetic
abstinence from everything savouring of liveliness which is the
characteristic of his translation. In most modern editions, it should be
observed, his style has been smoothed and smartened, but without any
reference to the original Spanish, so that if he has been made to read
more agreeably he has also been robbed of his chief merit of fidelity.

Smollett's version, published in 1755, may be almost counted as one of
these. At any rate it is plain that in its construction Jervas's
translation was very freely drawn upon, and very little or probably no
heed given to the original Spanish.

The later translations may be dismissed in a few words. George Kelly's,
which appeared in 1769, "printed for the Translator," was an impudent
imposture, being nothing more than Motteux's version with a few of the
words, here and there, artfully transposed; Charles Wilmot's (1774) was
only an abridgment like Florian's, but not so skilfully executed; and the
version published by Miss Smirke in 1818, to accompany her brother's
plates, was merely a patchwork production made out of former
translations. On the latest, Mr. A. J. Duffield's, it would be in every
sense of the word impertinent in me to offer an opinion here. I had not
even seen it when the present undertaking was proposed to me, and since
then I may say vidi tantum, having for obvious reasons resisted the
temptation which Mr. Duffield's reputation and comely volumes hold out to
every lover of Cervantes.

From the foregoing history of our translations of "Don Quixote," it will
be seen that there are a good many people who, provided they get the mere
narrative with its full complement of facts, incidents, and adventures
served up to them in a form that amuses them, care very little whether
that form is the one in which Cervantes originally shaped his ideas. On
the other hand, it is clear that there are many who desire to have not
merely the story he tells, but the story as he tells it, so far at least
as differences of idiom and circumstances permit, and who will give a
preference to the conscientious translator, even though he may have
acquitted himself somewhat awkwardly.

But after all there is no real antagonism between the two classes; there
is no reason why what pleases the one should not please the other, or why
a translator who makes it his aim to treat "Don Quixote" with the respect
due to a great classic, should not be as acceptable even to the careless
reader as the one who treats it as a famous old jest-book. It is not a
question of caviare to the general, or, if it is, the fault rests with
him who makes so. The method by which Cervantes won the ear of the
Spanish people ought, mutatis mutandis, to be equally effective with the
great majority of English readers. At any rate, even if there are readers
to whom it is a matter of indifference, fidelity to the method is as much
a part of the translator's duty as fidelity to the matter. If he can
please all parties, so much the better; but his first duty is to those
who look to him for as faithful a representation of his author as it is
in his power to give them, faithful to the letter so long as fidelity is
practicable, faithful to the spirit so far as he can make it.

My purpose here is not to dogmatise on the rules of translation, but to
indicate those I have followed, or at least tried to the best of my
ability to follow, in the present instance. One which, it seems to me,
cannot be too rigidly followed in translating "Don Quixote," is to avoid
everything that savours of affectation. The book itself is, indeed, in
one sense a protest against it, and no man abhorred it more than
Cervantes. For this reason, I think, any temptation to use antiquated or
obsolete language should be resisted. It is after all an affectation, and
one for which there is no warrant or excuse. Spanish has probably
undergone less change since the seventeenth century than any language in
Europe, and by far the greater and certainly the best part of "Don
Quixote" differs but little in language from the colloquial Spanish of
the present day. Except in the tales and Don Quixote's speeches, the
translator who uses the simplest and plainest everyday language will
almost always be the one who approaches nearest to the original.

Seeing that the story of "Don Quixote" and all its characters and
incidents have now been for more than two centuries and a half familiar
as household words in English mouths, it seems to me that the old
familiar names and phrases should not be changed without good reason. Of
course a translator who holds that "Don Quixote" should receive the
treatment a great classic deserves, will feel himself bound by the
injunction laid upon the Morisco in Chap. IX not to omit or add anything.


Four generations had laughed over "Don Quixote" before it occurred to
anyone to ask, who and what manner of man was this Miguel de Cervantes
Saavedra whose name is on the title-page; and it was too late for a
satisfactory answer to the question when it was proposed to add a life of
the author to the London edition published at Lord Carteret's instance in
1738. All traces of the personality of Cervantes had by that time
disappeared. Any floating traditions that may once have existed,
transmitted from men who had known him, had long since died out, and of
other record there was none; for the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
were incurious as to "the men of the time," a reproach against which the
nineteenth has, at any rate, secured itself, if it has produced no
Shakespeare or Cervantes. All that Mayans y Siscar, to whom the task was
entrusted, or any of those who followed him, Rios, Pellicer, or
Navarrete, could do was to eke out the few allusions Cervantes makes to
himself in his various prefaces with such pieces of documentary evidence
bearing upon his life as they could find.

This, however, has been done by the last-named biographer to such good
purpose that he has superseded all predecessors. Thoroughness is the
chief characteristic of Navarrete's work. Besides sifting, testing, and
methodising with rare patience and judgment what had been previously
brought to light, he left, as the saying is, no stone unturned under
which anything to illustrate his subject might possibly be found.
Navarrete has done all that industry and acumen could do, and it is no
fault of his if he has not given us what we want. What Hallam says of
Shakespeare may be applied to the almost parallel case of Cervantes: "It
is not the register of his baptism, or the draft of his will, or the
orthography of his name that we seek; no letter of his writing, no record
of his conversation, no character of him drawn ... by a contemporary has
been produced."

It is only natural, therefore, that the biographers of Cervantes, forced
to make brick without straw, should have recourse largely to conjecture,
and that conjecture should in some instances come by degrees to take the
place of established fact. All that I propose to do here is to separate
what is matter of fact from what is matter of conjecture, and leave it to
the reader's judgment to decide whether the data justify the inference or

The men whose names by common consent stand in the front rank of Spanish
literature, Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Quevedo, Calderon, Garcilaso de la
Vega, the Mendozas, Gongora, were all men of ancient families, and,
curiously, all, except the last, of families that traced their origin to
the same mountain district in the North of Spain. The family of Cervantes
is commonly said to have been of Galician origin, and unquestionably it
was in possession of lands in Galicia at a very early date; but I think
the balance of the evidence tends to show that the "solar," the original
site of the family, was at Cervatos in the north-west corner of Old
Castile, close to the junction of Castile, Leon, and the Asturias. As it
happens, there is a complete history of the Cervantes family from the
tenth century down to the seventeenth extant under the title of
"Illustrious Ancestry, Glorious Deeds, and Noble Posterity of the Famous
Nuno Alfonso, Alcaide of Toledo," written in 1648 by the industrious
genealogist Rodrigo Mendez Silva, who availed himself of a manuscript
genealogy by Juan de Mena, the poet laureate and historiographer of John

The origin of the name Cervantes is curious. Nuno Alfonso was almost as
distinguished in the struggle against the Moors in the reign of Alfonso
VII as the Cid had been half a century before in that of Alfonso VI, and
was rewarded by divers grants of land in the neighbourhood of Toledo. On
one of his acquisitions, about two leagues from the city, he built
himself a castle which he called Cervatos, because "he was lord of the
solar of Cervatos in the Montana," as the mountain region extending from
the Basque Provinces to Leon was always called. At his death in battle in
1143, the castle passed by his will to his son Alfonso Munio, who, as
territorial or local surnames were then coming into vogue in place of the
simple patronymic, took the additional name of Cervatos. His eldest son
Pedro succeeded him in the possession of the castle, and followed his
example in adopting the name, an assumption at which the younger son,
Gonzalo, seems to have taken umbrage.

Everyone who has paid even a flying visit to Toledo will remember the
ruined castle that crowns the hill above the spot where the bridge of
Alcantara spans the gorge of the Tagus, and with its broken outline and
crumbling walls makes such an admirable pendant to the square solid
Alcazar towering over the city roofs on the opposite side. It was built,
or as some say restored, by Alfonso VI shortly after his occupation of
Toledo in 1085, and called by him San Servando after a Spanish martyr, a
name subsequently modified into San Servan (in which form it appears in
the "Poem of the Cid"), San Servantes, and San Cervantes: with regard to
which last the "Handbook for Spain" warns its readers against the
supposition that it has anything to do with the author of "Don Quixote."
Ford, as all know who have taken him for a companion and counsellor on
the roads of Spain, is seldom wrong in matters of literature or history.
In this instance, however, he is in error. It has everything to do with
the author of "Don Quixote," for it is in fact these old walls that have
given to Spain the name she is proudest of to-day. Gonzalo, above
mentioned, it may be readily conceived, did not relish the appropriation
by his brother of a name to which he himself had an equal right, for
though nominally taken from the castle, it was in reality derived from
the ancient territorial possession of the family, and as a set-off, and
to distinguish himself (diferenciarse) from his brother, he took as a
surname the name of the castle on the bank of the Tagus, in the building
of which, according to a family tradition, his great-grandfather had a

Both brothers founded families. The Cervantes branch had more tenacity;
it sent offshoots in various directions, Andalusia, Estremadura, Galicia,
and Portugal, and produced a goodly line of men distinguished in the
service of Church and State. Gonzalo himself, and apparently a son of
his, followed Ferdinand III in the great campaign of 1236-48 that gave
Cordova and Seville to Christian Spain and penned up the Moors in the
kingdom of Granada, and his descendants intermarried with some of the
noblest families of the Peninsula and numbered among them soldiers,
magistrates, and Church dignitaries, including at least two

Of the line that settled in Andalusia, Deigo de Cervantes, Commander of
the Order of Santiago, married Juana Avellaneda, daughter of Juan Arias
de Saavedra, and had several sons, of whom one was Gonzalo Gomez,
Corregidor of Jerez and ancestor of the Mexican and Columbian branches of
the family; and another, Juan, whose son Rodrigo married Dona Leonor de
Cortinas, and by her had four children, Rodrigo, Andrea, Luisa, and
Miguel, our author.

The pedigree of Cervantes is not without its bearing on "Don Quixote." A
man who could look back upon an ancestry of genuine knights-errant
extending from well-nigh the time of Pelayo to the siege of Granada was
likely to have a strong feeling on the subject of the sham chivalry of
the romances. It gives a point, too, to what he says in more than one
place about families that have once been great and have tapered away
until they have come to nothing, like a pyramid. It was the case of his

He was born at Alcala de Henares and baptised in the church of Santa
Maria Mayor on the 9th of October, 1547. Of his boyhood and youth we know
nothing, unless it be from the glimpse he gives us in the preface to his
"Comedies" of himself as a boy looking on with delight while Lope de
Rueda and his company set up their rude plank stage in the plaza and
acted the rustic farces which he himself afterwards took as the model of
his interludes. This first glimpse, however, is a significant one, for it
shows the early development of that love of the drama which exercised
such an influence on his life and seems to have grown stronger as he grew
older, and of which this very preface, written only a few months before
his death, is such a striking proof. He gives us to understand, too, that
he was a great reader in his youth; but of this no assurance was needed,
for the First Part of "Don Quixote" alone proves a vast amount of
miscellaneous reading, romances of chivalry, ballads, popular poetry,
chronicles, for which he had no time or opportunity except in the first
twenty years of his life; and his misquotations and mistakes in matters
of detail are always, it may be noticed, those of a man recalling the
reading of his boyhood.

Other things besides the drama were in their infancy when Cervantes was a
boy. The period of his boyhood was in every way a transition period for
Spain. The old chivalrous Spain had passed away. The new Spain was the
mightiest power the world had seen since the Roman Empire and it had not
yet been called upon to pay the price of its greatness. By the policy of
Ferdinand and Ximenez the sovereign had been made absolute, and the
Church and Inquisition adroitly adjusted to keep him so. The nobles, who
had always resisted absolutism as strenuously as they had fought the
Moors, had been divested of all political power, a like fate had befallen
the cities, the free constitutions of Castile and Aragon had been swept
away, and the only function that remained to the Cortes was that of
granting money at the King's dictation.

The transition extended to literature. Men who, like Garcilaso de la Vega
and Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, followed the Italian wars, had brought back
from Italy the products of the post-Renaissance literature, which took
root and flourished and even threatened to extinguish the native growths.
Damon and Thyrsis, Phyllis and Chloe had been fairly naturalised in
Spain, together with all the devices of pastoral poetry for investing
with an air of novelty the idea of a dispairing shepherd and inflexible
shepherdess. As a set-off against this, the old historical and
traditional ballads, and the true pastorals, the songs and ballads of
peasant life, were being collected assiduously and printed in the
cancioneros that succeeded one another with increasing rapidity. But the
most notable consequence, perhaps, of the spread of printing was the
flood of romances of chivalry that had continued to pour from the press
ever since Garci Ordonez de Montalvo had resuscitated "Amadis of Gaul" at
the beginning of the century.

For a youth fond of reading, solid or light, there could have been no
better spot in Spain than Alcala de Henares in the middle of the
sixteenth century. It was then a busy, populous university town,
something more than the enterprising rival of Salamanca, and altogether a
very different place from the melancholy, silent, deserted Alcala the
traveller sees now as he goes from Madrid to Saragossa. Theology and
medicine may have been the strong points of the university, but the town
itself seems to have inclined rather to the humanities and light
literature, and as a producer of books Alcala was already beginning to
compete with the older presses of Toledo, Burgos, Salamanca and Seville.

A pendant to the picture Cervantes has given us of his first playgoings
might, no doubt, have been often seen in the streets of Alcala at that
time; a bright, eager, tawny-haired boy peering into a book-shop where
the latest volumes lay open to tempt the public, wondering, it may be,
what that little book with the woodcut of the blind beggar and his boy,
that called itself "Vida de Lazarillo de Tormes, segunda impresion,"
could be about; or with eyes brimming over with merriment gazing at one
of those preposterous portraits of a knight-errant in outrageous panoply
and plumes with which the publishers of chivalry romances loved to
embellish the title-pages of their folios. If the boy was the father of
the man, the sense of the incongruous that was strong at fifty was lively
at ten, and some such reflections as these may have been the true genesis
of "Don Quixote."

For his more solid education, we are told, he went to Salamanca. But why
Rodrigo de Cervantes, who was very poor, should have sent his son to a
university a hundred and fifty miles away when he had one at his own
door, would be a puzzle, if we had any reason for supposing that he did
so. The only evidence is a vague statement by Professor Tomas Gonzalez,
that he once saw an old entry of the matriculation of a Miguel de
Cervantes. This does not appear to have been ever seen again; but even if
it had, and if the date corresponded, it would prove nothing, as there
were at least two other Miguels born about the middle of the century; one
of them, moreover, a Cervantes Saavedra, a cousin, no doubt, who was a
source of great embarrassment to the biographers.

That he was a student neither at Salamanca nor at Alcala is best proved
by his own works. No man drew more largely upon experience than he did,
and he has nowhere left a single reminiscence of student life-for the
"Tia Fingida," if it be his, is not one--nothing, not even "a college
joke," to show that he remembered days that most men remember best. All
that we know positively about his education is that Juan Lopez de Hoyos,
a professor of humanities and belles-lettres of some eminence, calls him
his "dear and beloved pupil." This was in a little collection of verses
by different hands on the death of Isabel de Valois, second queen of
Philip II, published by the professor in 1569, to which Cervantes
contributed four pieces, including an elegy, and an epitaph in the form
of a sonnet. It is only by a rare chance that a "Lycidas" finds its way
into a volume of this sort, and Cervantes was no Milton. His verses are
no worse than such things usually are; so much, at least, may be said for

By the time the book appeared he had left Spain, and, as fate ordered it,
for twelve years, the most eventful ones of his life. Giulio, afterwards
Cardinal, Acquaviva had been sent at the end of 1568 to Philip II by the
Pope on a mission, partly of condolence, partly political, and on his
return to Rome, which was somewhat brusquely expedited by the King, he
took Cervantes with him as his camarero (chamberlain), the office he
himself held in the Pope's household. The post would no doubt have led to
advancement at the Papal Court had Cervantes retained it, but in the
summer of 1570 he resigned it and enlisted as a private soldier in
Captain Diego Urbina's company, belonging to Don Miguel de Moncada's
regiment, but at that time forming a part of the command of Marc Antony
Colonna. What impelled him to this step we know not, whether it was
distaste for the career before him, or purely military enthusiasm. It may
well have been the latter, for it was a stirring time; the events,
however, which led to the alliance between Spain, Venice, and the Pope,
against the common enemy, the Porte, and to the victory of the combined
fleets at Lepanto, belong rather to the history of Europe than to the
life of Cervantes. He was one of those that sailed from Messina, in
September 1571, under the command of Don John of Austria; but on the
morning of the 7th of October, when the Turkish fleet was sighted, he was
lying below ill with fever. At the news that the enemy was in sight he
rose, and, in spite of the remonstrances of his comrades and superiors,
insisted on taking his post, saying he preferred death in the service of
God and the King to health. His galley, the Marquesa, was in the thick of
the fight, and before it was over he had received three gunshot wounds,
two in the breast and one in the left hand or arm. On the morning after
the battle, according to Navarrete, he had an interview with the
commander-in-chief, Don John, who was making a personal inspection of the
wounded, one result of which was an addition of three crowns to his pay,
and another, apparently, the friendship of his general.

How severely Cervantes was wounded may be inferred from the fact, that
with youth, a vigorous frame, and as cheerful and buoyant a temperament
as ever invalid had, he was seven months in hospital at Messina before he
was discharged. He came out with his left hand permanently disabled; he
had lost the use of it, as Mercury told him in the "Viaje del Parnaso"
for the greater glory of the right. This, however, did not absolutely
unfit him for service, and in April 1572 he joined Manuel Ponce de Leon's
company of Lope de Figueroa's regiment, in which, it seems probable, his
brother Rodrigo was serving, and shared in the operations of the next
three years, including the capture of the Goletta and Tunis. Taking
advantage of the lull which followed the recapture of these places by the
Turks, he obtained leave to return to Spain, and sailed from Naples in
September 1575 on board the Sun galley, in company with his brother
Rodrigo, Pedro Carrillo de Quesada, late Governor of the Goletta, and
some others, and furnished with letters from Don John of Austria and the
Duke of Sesa, the Viceroy of Sicily, recommending him to the King for the
command of a company, on account of his services; a dono infelice as
events proved. On the 26th they fell in with a squadron of Algerine
galleys, and after a stout resistance were overpowered and carried into

By means of a ransomed fellow-captive the brothers contrived to inform
their family of their condition, and the poor people at Alcala at once
strove to raise the ransom money, the father disposing of all he
possessed, and the two sisters giving up their marriage portions. But
Dali Mami had found on Cervantes the letters addressed to the King by Don
John and the Duke of Sesa, and, concluding that his prize must be a
person of great consequence, when the money came he refused it scornfully
as being altogether insufficient. The owner of Rodrigo, however, was more
easily satisfied; ransom was accepted in his case, and it was arranged
between the brothers that he should return to Spain and procure a vessel
in which he was to come back to Algiers and take off Miguel and as many
of their comrades as possible. This was not the first attempt to escape
that Cervantes had made. Soon after the commencement of his captivity he
induced several of his companions to join him in trying to reach Oran,
then a Spanish post, on foot; but after the first day's journey, the Moor
who had agreed to act as their guide deserted them, and they had no
choice but to return. The second attempt was more disastrous. In a garden
outside the city on the sea-shore, he constructed, with the help of the
gardener, a Spaniard, a hiding-place, to which he brought, one by one,
fourteen of his fellow-captives, keeping them there in secrecy for
several months, and supplying them with food through a renegade known as
El Dorador, "the Gilder." How he, a captive himself, contrived to do all
this, is one of the mysteries of the story. Wild as the project may
appear, it was very nearly successful. The vessel procured by Rodrigo
made its appearance off the coast, and under cover of night was
proceeding to take off the refugees, when the crew were alarmed by a
passing fishing boat, and beat a hasty retreat. On renewing the attempt
shortly afterwards, they, or a portion of them at least, were taken
prisoners, and just as the poor fellows in the garden were exulting in
the thought that in a few moments more freedom would be within their
grasp, they found themselves surrounded by Turkish troops, horse and
foot. The Dorador had revealed the whole scheme to the Dey Hassan.

When Cervantes saw what had befallen them, he charged his companions to
lay all the blame upon him, and as they were being bound he declared
aloud that the whole plot was of his contriving, and that nobody else had
any share in it. Brought before the Dey, he said the same. He was
threatened with impalement and with torture; and as cutting off ears and
noses were playful freaks with the Algerines, it may be conceived what
their tortures were like; but nothing could make him swerve from his
original statement that he and he alone was responsible. The upshot was
that the unhappy gardener was hanged by his master, and the prisoners
taken possession of by the Dey, who, however, afterwards restored most of
them to their masters, but kept Cervantes, paying Dali Mami 500 crowns
for him. He felt, no doubt, that a man of such resource, energy, and
daring, was too dangerous a piece of property to be left in private
hands; and he had him heavily ironed and lodged in his own prison. If he
thought that by these means he could break the spirit or shake the
resolution of his prisoner, he was soon undeceived, for Cervantes
contrived before long to despatch a letter to the Governor of Oran,
entreating him to send him some one that could be trusted, to enable him
and three other gentlemen, fellow-captives of his, to make their escape;
intending evidently to renew his first attempt with a more trustworthy
guide. Unfortunately the Moor who carried the letter was stopped just
outside Oran, and the letter being found upon him, he was sent back to
Algiers, where by the order of the Dey he was promptly impaled as a
warning to others, while Cervantes was condemned to receive two thousand
blows of the stick, a number which most likely would have deprived the
world of "Don Quixote," had not some persons, who they were we know not,
interceded on his behalf.

After this he seems to have been kept in still closer confinement than
before, for nearly two years passed before he made another attempt. This
time his plan was to purchase, by the aid of a Spanish renegade and two
Valencian merchants resident in Algiers, an armed vessel in which he and
about sixty of the leading captives were to make their escape; but just
as they were about to put it into execution one Doctor Juan Blanco de
Paz, an ecclesiastic and a compatriot, informed the Dey of the plot.
Cervantes by force of character, by his self-devotion, by his untiring
energy and his exertions to lighten the lot of his companions in misery,
had endeared himself to all, and become the leading spirit in the captive
colony, and, incredible as it may seem, jealousy of his influence and the
esteem in which he was held, moved this man to compass his destruction by
a cruel death. The merchants finding that the Dey knew all, and fearing
that Cervantes under torture might make disclosures that would imperil
their own lives, tried to persuade him to slip away on board a vessel
that was on the point of sailing for Spain; but he told them they had
nothing to fear, for no tortures would make him compromise anybody, and
he went at once and gave himself up to the Dey.

As before, the Dey tried to force him to name his accomplices. Everything
was made ready for his immediate execution; the halter was put round his
neck and his hands tied behind him, but all that could be got from him
was that he himself, with the help of four gentlemen who had since left
Algiers, had arranged the whole, and that the sixty who were to accompany
him were not to know anything of it until the last moment. Finding he
could make nothing of him, the Dey sent him back to prison more heavily
ironed than before.

The poverty-stricken Cervantes family had been all this time trying once
more to raise the ransom money, and at last a sum of three hundred ducats
was got together and entrusted to the Redemptorist Father Juan Gil, who
was about to sail for Algiers. The Dey, however, demanded more than
double the sum offered, and as his term of office had expired and he was
about to sail for Constantinople, taking all his slaves with him, the
case of Cervantes was critical. He was already on board heavily ironed,
when the Dey at length agreed to reduce his demand by one-half, and
Father Gil by borrowing was able to make up the amount, and on September
19, 1580, after a captivity of five years all but a week, Cervantes was
at last set free. Before long he discovered that Blanco de Paz, who
claimed to be an officer of the Inquisition, was now concocting on false
evidence a charge of misconduct to be brought against him on his return
to Spain. To checkmate him Cervantes drew up a series of twenty-five
questions, covering the whole period of his captivity, upon which he
requested Father Gil to take the depositions of credible witnesses before
a notary. Eleven witnesses taken from among the principal captives in
Algiers deposed to all the facts above stated and to a great deal more
besides. There is something touching in the admiration, love, and
gratitude we see struggling to find expression in the formal language of
the notary, as they testify one after another to the good deeds of
Cervantes, how he comforted and helped the weak-hearted, how he kept up
their drooping courage, how he shared his poor purse with this deponent,
and how "in him this deponent found father and mother."

On his return to Spain he found his old regiment about to march for
Portugal to support Philip's claim to the crown, and utterly penniless
now, had no choice but to rejoin it. He was in the expeditions to the
Azores in 1582 and the following year, and on the conclusion of the war
returned to Spain in the autumn of 1583, bringing with him the manuscript
of his pastoral romance, the "Galatea," and probably also, to judge by
internal evidence, that of the first portion of "Persiles and
Sigismunda." He also brought back with him, his biographers assert, an
infant daughter, the offspring of an amour, as some of them with great
circumstantiality inform us, with a Lisbon lady of noble birth, whose
name, however, as well as that of the street she lived in, they omit to
mention. The sole foundation for all this is that in 1605 there certainly
was living in the family of Cervantes a Dona Isabel de Saavedra, who is
described in an official document as his natural daughter, and then
twenty years of age.

With his crippled left hand promotion in the army was hopeless, now that
Don John was dead and he had no one to press his claims and services, and
for a man drawing on to forty life in the ranks was a dismal prospect; he
had already a certain reputation as a poet; he made up his mind,
therefore, to cast his lot with literature, and for a first venture
committed his "Galatea" to the press. It was published, as Salva y Mallen
shows conclusively, at Alcala, his own birth-place, in 1585 and no doubt
helped to make his name more widely known, but certainly did not do him
much good in any other way.

While it was going through the press, he married Dona Catalina de
Palacios Salazar y Vozmediano, a lady of Esquivias near Madrid, and
apparently a friend of the family, who brought him a fortune which may
possibly have served to keep the wolf from the door, but if so, that was
all. The drama had by this time outgrown market-place stages and
strolling companies, and with his old love for it he naturally turned to
it for a congenial employment. In about three years he wrote twenty or
thirty plays, which he tells us were performed without any throwing of
cucumbers or other missiles, and ran their course without any hisses,
outcries, or disturbance. In other words, his plays were not bad enough
to be hissed off the stage, but not good enough to hold their own upon
it. Only two of them have been preserved, but as they happen to be two of
the seven or eight he mentions with complacency, we may assume they are
favourable specimens, and no one who reads the "Numancia" and the "Trato
de Argel" will feel any surprise that they failed as acting dramas.
Whatever merits they may have, whatever occasional they may show, they
are, as regards construction, incurably clumsy. How completely they
failed is manifest from the fact that with all his sanguine temperament
and indomitable perseverance he was unable to maintain the struggle to
gain a livelihood as a dramatist for more than three years; nor was the
rising popularity of Lope the cause, as is often said, notwithstanding
his own words to the contrary. When Lope began to write for the stage is
uncertain, but it was certainly after Cervantes went to Seville.

Among the "Nuevos Documentos" printed by Senor Asensio y Toledo is one
dated 1592, and curiously characteristic of Cervantes. It is an agreement
with one Rodrigo Osorio, a manager, who was to accept six comedies at
fifty ducats (about 6l.) apiece, not to be paid in any case unless it
appeared on representation that the said comedy was one of the best that
had ever been represented in Spain. The test does not seem to have been
ever applied; perhaps it was sufficiently apparent to Rodrigo Osorio that
the comedies were not among the best that had ever been represented.
Among the correspondence of Cervantes there might have been found, no
doubt, more than one letter like that we see in the "Rake's Progress,"
"Sir, I have read your play, and it will not doo."

He was more successful in a literary contest at Saragossa in 1595 in
honour of the canonisation of St. Jacinto, when his composition won the
first prize, three silver spoons. The year before this he had been
appointed a collector of revenues for the kingdom of Granada. In order to
remit the money he had collected more conveniently to the treasury, he
entrusted it to a merchant, who failed and absconded; and as the
bankrupt's assets were insufficient to cover the whole, he was sent to
prison at Seville in September 1597. The balance against him, however,
was a small one, about 26l., and on giving security for it he was
released at the end of the year.

It was as he journeyed from town to town collecting the king's taxes,
that he noted down those bits of inn and wayside life and character that
abound in the pages of "Don Quixote:" the Benedictine monks with
spectacles and sunshades, mounted on their tall mules; the strollers in
costume bound for the next village; the barber with his basin on his
head, on his way to bleed a patient; the recruit with his breeches in his
bundle, tramping along the road singing; the reapers gathered in the
venta gateway listening to "Felixmarte of Hircania" read out to them; and
those little Hogarthian touches that he so well knew how to bring in, the
ox-tail hanging up with the landlord's comb stuck in it, the wine-skins
at the bed-head, and those notable examples of hostelry art, Helen going
off in high spirits on Paris's arm, and Dido on the tower dropping tears
as big as walnuts. Nay, it may well be that on those journeys into remote
regions he came across now and then a specimen of the pauper gentleman,
with his lean hack and his greyhound and his books of chivalry, dreaming
away his life in happy ignorance that the world had changed since his
great-grandfather's old helmet was new. But it was in Seville that he
found out his true vocation, though he himself would not by any means
have admitted it to be so. It was there, in Triana, that he was first
tempted to try his hand at drawing from life, and first brought his
humour into play in the exquisite little sketch of "Rinconete y
Cortadillo," the germ, in more ways than one, of "Don Quixote."

Where and when that was written, we cannot tell. After his imprisonment
all trace of Cervantes in his official capacity disappears, from which it
may be inferred that he was not reinstated. That he was still in Seville
in November 1598 appears from a satirical sonnet of his on the elaborate
catafalque erected to testify the grief of the city at the death of
Philip II, but from this up to 1603 we have no clue to his movements. The
words in the preface to the First Part of "Don Quixote" are generally
held to be conclusive that he conceived the idea of the book, and wrote
the beginning of it at least, in a prison, and that he may have done so
is extremely likely.

There is a tradition that Cervantes read some portions of his work to a
select audience at the Duke of Bejar's, which may have helped to make the
book known; but the obvious conclusion is that the First Part of "Don
Quixote" lay on his hands some time before he could find a publisher bold
enough to undertake a venture of so novel a character; and so little
faith in it had Francisco Robles of Madrid, to whom at last he sold it,
that he did not care to incur the expense of securing the copyright for
Aragon or Portugal, contenting himself with that for Castile. The
printing was finished in December, and the book came out with the new
year, 1605. It is often said that "Don Quixote" was at first received
coldly. The facts show just the contrary. No sooner was it in the hands
of the public than preparations were made to issue pirated editions at
Lisbon and Valencia, and to bring out a second edition with the
additional copyrights for Aragon and Portugal, which he secured in

No doubt it was received with something more than coldness by certain
sections of the community. Men of wit, taste, and discrimination among
the aristocracy gave it a hearty welcome, but the aristocracy in general
were not likely to relish a book that turned their favourite reading into
ridicule and laughed at so many of their favourite ideas. The dramatists
who gathered round Lope as their leader regarded Cervantes as their
common enemy, and it is plain that he was equally obnoxious to the other
clique, the culto poets who had Gongora for their chief. Navarrete, who
knew nothing of the letter above mentioned, tries hard to show that the
relations between Cervantes and Lope were of a very friendly sort, as
indeed they were until "Don Quixote" was written. Cervantes, indeed, to
the last generously and manfully declared his admiration of Lope's
powers, his unfailing invention, and his marvellous fertility; but in the
preface of the First Part of "Don Quixote" and in the verses of "Urganda
the Unknown," and one or two other places, there are, if we read between
the lines, sly hits at Lope's vanities and affectations that argue no
personal good-will; and Lope openly sneers at "Don Quixote" and
Cervantes, and fourteen years after his death gives him only a few lines
of cold commonplace in the "Laurel de Apolo," that seem all the colder
for the eulogies of a host of nonentities whose names are found nowhere

In 1601 Valladolid was made the seat of the Court, and at the beginning
of 1603 Cervantes had been summoned thither in connection with the
balance due by him to the Treasury, which was still outstanding. He
remained at Valladolid, apparently supporting himself by agencies and
scrivener's work of some sort; probably drafting petitions and drawing up
statements of claims to be presented to the Council, and the like. So, at
least, we gather from the depositions taken on the occasion of the death
of a gentleman, the victim of a street brawl, who had been carried into
the house in which he lived. In these he himself is described as a man
who wrote and transacted business, and it appears that his household then
consisted of his wife, the natural daughter Isabel de Saavedra already
mentioned, his sister Andrea, now a widow, her daughter Constanza, a
mysterious Magdalena de Sotomayor calling herself his sister, for whom
his biographers cannot account, and a servant-maid.

Meanwhile "Don Quixote" had been growing in favour, and its author's name
was now known beyond the Pyrenees. In 1607 an edition was printed at
Brussels. Robles, the Madrid publisher, found it necessary to meet the
demand by a third edition, the seventh in all, in 1608. The popularity of
the book in Italy was such that a Milan bookseller was led to bring out
an edition in 1610; and another was called for in Brussels in 1611. It
might naturally have been expected that, with such proofs before him that
he had hit the taste of the public, Cervantes would have at once set
about redeeming his rather vague promise of a second volume.

But, to all appearance, nothing was farther from his thoughts. He had
still by him one or two short tales of the same vintage as those he had
inserted in "Don Quixote" and instead of continuing the adventures of Don
Quixote, he set to work to write more of these "Novelas Exemplares" as he
afterwards called them, with a view to making a book of them.

The novels were published in the summer of 1613, with a dedication to the
Conde de Lemos, the Maecenas of the day, and with one of those chatty
confidential prefaces Cervantes was so fond of. In this, eight years and
a half after the First Part of "Don Quixote" had appeared, we get the
first hint of a forthcoming Second Part. "You shall see shortly," he
says, "the further exploits of Don Quixote and humours of Sancho Panza."
His idea of "shortly" was a somewhat elastic one, for, as we know by the
date to Sancho's letter, he had barely one-half of the book completed
that time twelvemonth.

But more than poems, or pastorals, or novels, it was his dramatic
ambition that engrossed his thoughts. The same indomitable spirit that
kept him from despair in the bagnios of Algiers, and prompted him to
attempt the escape of himself and his comrades again and again, made him
persevere in spite of failure and discouragement in his efforts to win
the ear of the public as a dramatist. The temperament of Cervantes was
essentially sanguine. The portrait he draws in the preface to the novels,
with the aquiline features, chestnut hair, smooth untroubled forehead,
and bright cheerful eyes, is the very portrait of a sanguine man. Nothing
that the managers might say could persuade him that the merits of his
plays would not be recognised at last if they were only given a fair
chance. The old soldier of the Spanish Salamis was bent on being the
Aeschylus of Spain. He was to found a great national drama, based on the
true principles of art, that was to be the envy of all nations; he was to
drive from the stage the silly, childish plays, the "mirrors of nonsense
and models of folly" that were in vogue through the cupidity of the
managers and shortsightedness of the authors; he was to correct and
educate the public taste until it was ripe for tragedies on the model of
the Greek drama--like the "Numancia" for instance--and comedies that
would not only amuse but improve and instruct. All this he was to do,
could he once get a hearing: there was the initial difficulty.

He shows plainly enough, too, that "Don Quixote" and the demolition of
the chivalry romances was not the work that lay next his heart. He was,
indeed, as he says himself in his preface, more a stepfather than a
father to "Don Quixote." Never was great work so neglected by its author.
That it was written carelessly, hastily, and by fits and starts, was not
always his fault, but it seems clear he never read what he sent to the
press. He knew how the printers had blundered, but he never took the
trouble to correct them when the third edition was in progress, as a man
who really cared for the child of his brain would have done. He appears
to have regarded the book as little more than a mere libro de
entretenimiento, an amusing book, a thing, as he says in the "Viaje," "to
divert the melancholy moody heart at any time or season." No doubt he had
an affection for his hero, and was very proud of Sancho Panza. It would
have been strange indeed if he had not been proud of the most humorous
creation in all fiction. He was proud, too, of the popularity and success
of the book, and beyond measure delightful is the naivete with which he
shows his pride in a dozen passages in the Second Part. But it was not
the success he coveted. In all probability he would have given all the
success of "Don Quixote," nay, would have seen every copy of "Don
Quixote" burned in the Plaza Mayor, for one such success as Lope de Vega
was enjoying on an average once a week.

And so he went on, dawdling over "Don Quixote," adding a chapter now and
again, and putting it aside to turn to "Persiles and Sigismunda"--which,
as we know, was to be the most entertaining book in the language, and the
rival of "Theagenes and Chariclea"--or finishing off one of his darling
comedies; and if Robles asked when "Don Quixote" would be ready, the
answer no doubt was: En breve-shortly, there was time enough for that. At
sixty-eight he was as full of life and hope and plans for the future as a
boy of eighteen.

Nemesis was coming, however. He had got as far as Chapter LIX, which at
his leisurely pace he could hardly have reached before October or
November 1614, when there was put into his hand a small octave lately
printed at Tarragona, and calling itself "Second Volume of the Ingenious
Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha: by the Licentiate Alonso Fernandez de
Avellaneda of Tordesillas." The last half of Chapter LIX and most of the
following chapters of the Second Part give us some idea of the effect
produced upon him, and his irritation was not likely to be lessened by
the reflection that he had no one to blame but himself. Had Avellaneda,
in fact, been content with merely bringing out a continuation to "Don
Quixote," Cervantes would have had no reasonable grievance. His own
intentions were expressed in the very vaguest language at the end of the
book; nay, in his last words, "forse altro cantera con miglior plettro,"
he seems actually to invite some one else to continue the work, and he
made no sign until eight years and a half had gone by; by which time
Avellaneda's volume was no doubt written.

In fact Cervantes had no case, or a very bad one, as far as the mere
continuation was concerned. But Avellaneda chose to write a preface to
it, full of such coarse personal abuse as only an ill-conditioned man
could pour out. He taunts Cervantes with being old, with having lost his
hand, with having been in prison, with being poor, with being friendless,
accuses him of envy of Lope's success, of petulance and querulousness,
and so on; and it was in this that the sting lay. Avellaneda's reason for
this personal attack is obvious enough. Whoever he may have been, it is
clear that he was one of the dramatists of Lope's school, for he has the
impudence to charge Cervantes with attacking him as well as Lope in his
criticism on the drama. His identification has exercised the best critics
and baffled all the ingenuity and research that has been brought to bear
on it. Navarrete and Ticknor both incline to the belief that Cervantes
knew who he was; but I must say I think the anger he shows suggests an
invisible assailant; it is like the irritation of a man stung by a
mosquito in the dark. Cervantes from certain solecisms of language
pronounces him to be an Aragonese, and Pellicer, an Aragonese himself,
supports this view and believes him, moreover, to have been an
ecclesiastic, a Dominican probably.

Any merit Avellaneda has is reflected from Cervantes, and he is too dull
to reflect much. "Dull and dirty" will always be, I imagine, the verdict
of the vast majority of unprejudiced readers. He is, at best, a poor
plagiarist; all he can do is to follow slavishly the lead given him by
Cervantes; his only humour lies in making Don Quixote take inns for
castles and fancy himself some legendary or historical personage, and
Sancho mistake words, invert proverbs, and display his gluttony; all
through he shows a proclivity to coarseness and dirt, and he has
contrived to introduce two tales filthier than anything by the sixteenth
century novellieri and without their sprightliness.

But whatever Avellaneda and his book may be, we must not forget the debt
we owe them. But for them, there can be no doubt, "Don Quixote" would
have come to us a mere torso instead of a complete work. Even if
Cervantes had finished the volume he had in hand, most assuredly he would
have left off with a promise of a Third Part, giving the further
adventures of Don Quixote and humours of Sancho Panza as shepherds. It is
plain that he had at one time an intention of dealing with the pastoral
romances as he had dealt with the books of chivalry, and but for
Avellaneda he would have tried to carry it out. But it is more likely
that, with his plans, and projects, and hopefulness, the volume would
have remained unfinished till his death, and that we should have never
made the acquaintance of the Duke and Duchess, or gone with Sancho to

From the moment the book came into his hands he seems to have been
haunted by the fear that there might be more Avellanedas in the field,
and putting everything else aside, he set himself to finish off his task
and protect Don Quixote in the only way he could, by killing him. The
conclusion is no doubt a hasty and in some places clumsy piece of work
and the frequent repetition of the scolding administered to Avellaneda
becomes in the end rather wearisome; but it is, at any rate, a conclusion
and for that we must thank Avellaneda.

The new volume was ready for the press in February, but was not printed
till the very end of 1615, and during the interval Cervantes put together
the comedies and interludes he had written within the last few years,
and, as he adds plaintively, found no demand for among the managers, and
published them with a preface, worth the book it introduces tenfold, in
which he gives an account of the early Spanish stage, and of his own
attempts as a dramatist. It is needless to say they were put forward by
Cervantes in all good faith and full confidence in their merits. The
reader, however, was not to suppose they were his last word or final
effort in the drama, for he had in hand a comedy called "Engano a los
ojos," about which, if he mistook not, there would be no question.

Of this dramatic masterpiece the world has no opportunity of judging; his
health had been failing for some time, and he died, apparently of dropsy,
on the 23rd of April, 1616, the day on which England lost Shakespeare,
nominally at least, for the English calendar had not yet been reformed.
He died as he had lived, accepting his lot bravely and cheerfully.

Was it an unhappy life, that of Cervantes? His biographers all tell us
that it was; but I must say I doubt it. It was a hard life, a life of
poverty, of incessant struggle, of toil ill paid, of disappointment, but
Cervantes carried within himself the antidote to all these evils. His was
not one of those light natures that rise above adversity merely by virtue
of their own buoyancy; it was in the fortitude of a high spirit that he
was proof against it. It is impossible to conceive Cervantes giving way
to despondency or prostrated by dejection. As for poverty, it was with
him a thing to be laughed over, and the only sigh he ever allows to
escape him is when he says, "Happy he to whom Heaven has given a piece of
bread for which he is not bound to give thanks to any but Heaven itself."
Add to all this his vital energy and mental activity, his restless
invention and his sanguine temperament, and there will be reason enough
to doubt whether his could have been a very unhappy life. He who could
take Cervantes' distresses together with his apparatus for enduring them
would not make so bad a bargain, perhaps, as far as happiness in life is

Of his burial-place nothing is known except that he was buried, in
accordance with his will, in the neighbouring convent of Trinitarian
nuns, of which it is supposed his daughter, Isabel de Saavedra, was an
inmate, and that a few years afterwards the nuns removed to another
convent, carrying their dead with them. But whether the remains of
Cervantes were included in the removal or not no one knows, and the clue
to their resting-place is now lost beyond all hope. This furnishes
perhaps the least defensible of the items in the charge of neglect
brought against his contemporaries. In some of the others there is a good
deal of exaggeration. To listen to most of his biographers one would
suppose that all Spain was in league not only against the man but against
his memory, or at least that it was insensible to his merits, and left
him to live in misery and die of want. To talk of his hard life and
unworthy employments in Andalusia is absurd. What had he done to
distinguish him from thousands of other struggling men earning a
precarious livelihood? True, he was a gallant soldier, who had been
wounded and had undergone captivity and suffering in his country's cause,
but there were hundreds of others in the same case. He had written a
mediocre specimen of an insipid class of romance, and some plays which
manifestly did not comply with the primary condition of pleasing: were
the playgoers to patronise plays that did not amuse them, because the
author was to produce "Don Quixote" twenty years afterwards?

The scramble for copies which, as we have seen, followed immediately on
the appearance of the book, does not look like general insensibility to
its merits. No doubt it was received coldly by some, but if a man writes
a book in ridicule of periwigs he must make his account with being coldly
received by the periwig wearers and hated by the whole tribe of
wigmakers. If Cervantes had the chivalry-romance readers, the
sentimentalists, the dramatists, and the poets of the period all against
him, it was because "Don Quixote" was what it was; and if the general
public did not come forward to make him comfortable for the rest of his
days, it is no more to be charged with neglect and ingratitude than the
English-speaking public that did not pay off Scott's liabilities. It did
the best it could; it read his book and liked it and bought it, and
encouraged the bookseller to pay him well for others.

It has been also made a reproach to Spain that she has erected no
monument to the man she is proudest of; no monument, that is to say, of
him; for the bronze statue in the little garden of the Plaza de las
Cortes, a fair work of art no doubt, and unexceptionable had it been set
up to the local poet in the market-place of some provincial town, is not
worthy of Cervantes or of Madrid. But what need has Cervantes of "such
weak witness of his name;" or what could a monument do in his case except
testify to the self-glorification of those who had put it up? Si
monumentum quoeris, circumspice. The nearest bookseller's shop will show
what bathos there would be in a monument to the author of "Don Quixote."

Nine editions of the First Part of "Don Quixote" had already appeared
before Cervantes died, thirty thousand copies in all, according to his
own estimate, and a tenth was printed at Barcelona the year after his
death. So large a number naturally supplied the demand for some time, but
by 1634 it appears to have been exhausted; and from that time down to the
present day the stream of editions has continued to flow rapidly and
regularly. The translations show still more clearly in what request the
book has been from the very outset. In seven years from the completion of
the work it had been translated into the four leading languages of
Europe. Except the Bible, in fact, no book has been so widely diffused as
"Don Quixote." The "Imitatio Christi" may have been translated into as
many different languages, and perhaps "Robinson Crusoe" and the "Vicar of
Wakefield" into nearly as many, but in multiplicity of translations and
editions "Don Quixote" leaves them all far behind.

Still more remarkable is the character of this wide diffusion. "Don
Quixote" has been thoroughly naturalised among people whose ideas about
knight-errantry, if they had any at all, were of the vaguest, who had
never seen or heard of a book of chivalry, who could not possibly feel
the humour of the burlesque or sympathise with the author's purpose.
Another curious fact is that this, the most cosmopolitan book in the
world, is one of the most intensely national. "Manon Lescaut" is not more
thoroughly French, "Tom Jones" not more English, "Rob Roy" not more
Scotch, than "Don Quixote" is Spanish, in character, in ideas, in
sentiment, in local colour, in everything. What, then, is the secret of
this unparalleled popularity, increasing year by year for well-nigh three
centuries? One explanation, no doubt, is that of all the books in the
world, "Don Quixote" is the most catholic. There is something in it for
every sort of reader, young or old, sage or simple, high or low. As
Cervantes himself says with a touch of pride, "It is thumbed and read and
got by heart by people of all sorts; the children turn its leaves, the
young people read it, the grown men understand it, the old folk praise

But it would be idle to deny that the ingredient which, more than its
humour, or its wisdom, or the fertility of invention or knowledge of
human nature it displays, has insured its success with the multitude, is
the vein of farce that runs through it. It was the attack upon the sheep,
the battle with the wine-skins, Mambrino's helmet, the balsam of
Fierabras, Don Quixote knocked over by the sails of the windmill, Sancho
tossed in the blanket, the mishaps and misadventures of master and man,
that were originally the great attraction, and perhaps are so still to
some extent with the majority of readers. It is plain that "Don Quixote"
was generally regarded at first, and indeed in Spain for a long time, as
little more than a queer droll book, full of laughable incidents and
absurd situations, very amusing, but not entitled to much consideration
or care. All the editions printed in Spain from 1637 to 1771, when the
famous printer Ibarra took it up, were mere trade editions, badly and
carelessly printed on vile paper and got up in the style of chap-books
intended only for popular use, with, in most instances, uncouth
illustrations and clap-trap additions by the publisher.

To England belongs the credit of having been the first country to
recognise the right of "Don Quixote" to better treatment than this. The
London edition of 1738, commonly called Lord Carteret's from having been
suggested by him, was not a mere edition de luxe. It produced "Don
Quixote" in becoming form as regards paper and type, and embellished with
plates which, if not particularly happy as illustrations, were at least
well intentioned and well executed, but it also aimed at correctness of
text, a matter to which nobody except the editors of the Valencia and
Brussels editions had given even a passing thought; and for a first
attempt it was fairly successful, for though some of its emendations are
inadmissible, a good many of them have been adopted by all subsequent

The zeal of publishers, editors, and annotators brought about a
remarkable change of sentiment with regard to "Don Quixote." A vast
number of its admirers began to grow ashamed of laughing over it. It
became almost a crime to treat it as a humorous book. The humour was not
entirely denied, but, according to the new view, it was rated as an
altogether secondary quality, a mere accessory, nothing more than the
stalking-horse under the presentation of which Cervantes shot his
philosophy or his satire, or whatever it was he meant to shoot; for on
this point opinions varied. All were agreed, however, that the object he
aimed at was not the books of chivalry. He said emphatically in the
preface to the First Part and in the last sentence of the Second, that he
had no other object in view than to discredit these books, and this, to
advanced criticism, made it clear that his object must have been
something else.

One theory was that the book was a kind of allegory, setting forth the
eternal struggle between the ideal and the real, between the spirit of
poetry and the spirit of prose; and perhaps German philosophy never
evolved a more ungainly or unlikely camel out of the depths of its inner
consciousness. Something of the antagonism, no doubt, is to be found in
"Don Quixote," because it is to be found everywhere in life, and
Cervantes drew from life. It is difficult to imagine a community in which
the never-ceasing game of cross-purposes between Sancho Panza and Don
Quixote would not be recognized as true to nature. In the stone age,
among the lake dwellers, among the cave men, there were Don Quixotes and
Sancho Panzas; there must have been the troglodyte who never could see
the facts before his eyes, and the troglodyte who could see nothing else.
But to suppose Cervantes deliberately setting himself to expound any such
idea in two stout quarto volumes is to suppose something not only very
unlike the age in which he lived, but altogether unlike Cervantes
himself, who would have been the first to laugh at an attempt of the sort
made by anyone else.

The extraordinary influence of the romances of chivalry in his day is
quite enough to account for the genesis of the book. Some idea of the
prodigious development of this branch of literature in the sixteenth
century may be obtained from the scrutiny of Chapter VII, if the reader
bears in mind that only a portion of the romances belonging to by far the
largest group are enumerated. As to its effect upon the nation, there is
abundant evidence. From the time when the Amadises and Palmerins began to
grow popular down to the very end of the century, there is a steady
stream of invective, from men whose character and position lend weight to
their words, against the romances of chivalry and the infatuation of
their readers. Ridicule was the only besom to sweep away that dust.

That this was the task Cervantes set himself, and that he had ample
provocation to urge him to it, will be sufficiently clear to those who
look into the evidence; as it will be also that it was not chivalry
itself that he attacked and swept away. Of all the absurdities that,
thanks to poetry, will be repeated to the end of time, there is no
greater one than saying that "Cervantes smiled Spain's chivalry away." In
the first place there was no chivalry for him to smile away. Spain's
chivalry had been dead for more than a century. Its work was done when
Granada fell, and as chivalry was essentially republican in its nature,
it could not live under the rule that Ferdinand substituted for the free
institutions of mediaeval Spain. What he did smile away was not chivalry
but a degrading mockery of it.

The true nature of the "right arm" and the "bright array," before which,
according to the poet, "the world gave ground," and which Cervantes'
single laugh demolished, may be gathered from the words of one of his own
countrymen, Don Felix Pacheco, as reported by Captain George Carleton, in
his "Military Memoirs from 1672 to 1713." "Before the appearance in the
world of that labour of Cervantes," he said, "it was next to an
impossibility for a man to walk the streets with any delight or without
danger. There were seen so many cavaliers prancing and curvetting before
the windows of their mistresses, that a stranger would have imagined the
whole nation to have been nothing less than a race of knight-errants. But
after the world became a little acquainted with that notable history, the
man that was seen in that once celebrated drapery was pointed at as a Don
Quixote, and found himself the jest of high and low. And I verily believe
that to this, and this only, we owe that dampness and poverty of spirit
which has run through all our councils for a century past, so little
agreeable to those nobler actions of our famous ancestors."

To call "Don Quixote" a sad book, preaching a pessimist view of life,
argues a total misconception of its drift. It would be so if its moral
were that, in this world, true enthusiasm naturally leads to ridicule and
discomfiture. But it preaches nothing of the sort; its moral, so far as
it can be said to have one, is that the spurious enthusiasm that is born
of vanity and self-conceit, that is made an end in itself, not a means to
an end, that acts on mere impulse, regardless of circumstances and
consequences, is mischievous to its owner, and a very considerable
nuisance to the community at large. To those who cannot distinguish
between the one kind and the other, no doubt "Don Quixote" is a sad book;
no doubt to some minds it is very sad that a man who had just uttered so
beautiful a sentiment as that "it is a hard case to make slaves of those
whom God and Nature made free," should be ungratefully pelted by the
scoundrels his crazy philanthropy had let loose on society; but to others
of a more judicial cast it will be a matter of regret that reckless
self-sufficient enthusiasm is not oftener requited in some such way for
all the mischief it does in the world.

A very slight examination of the structure of "Don Quixote" will suffice
to show that Cervantes had no deep design or elaborate plan in his mind
when he began the book. When he wrote those lines in which "with a few
strokes of a great master he sets before us the pauper gentleman," he had
no idea of the goal to which his imagination was leading him. There can
be little doubt that all he contemplated was a short tale to range with
those he had already written, a tale setting forth the ludicrous results
that might be expected to follow the attempt of a crazy gentleman to act
the part of a knight-errant in modern life.

It is plain, for one thing, that Sancho Panza did not enter into the
original scheme, for had Cervantes thought of him he certainly would not
have omitted him in his hero's outfit, which he obviously meant to be
complete. Him we owe to the landlord's chance remark in Chapter III that
knights seldom travelled without squires. To try to think of a Don
Quixote without Sancho Panza is like trying to think of a one-bladed pair
of scissors.

The story was written at first, like the others, without any division and
without the intervention of Cide Hamete Benengeli; and it seems not
unlikely that Cervantes had some intention of bringing Dulcinea, or
Aldonza Lorenzo, on the scene in person. It was probably the ransacking
of the Don's library and the discussion on the books of chivalry that
first suggested it to him that his idea was capable of development. What,
if instead of a mere string of farcical misadventures, he were to make
his tale a burlesque of one of these books, caricaturing their style,
incidents, and spirit?

In pursuance of this change of plan, he hastily and somewhat clumsily
divided what he had written into chapters on the model of "Amadis,"
invented the fable of a mysterious Arabic manuscript, and set up Cide
Hamete Benengeli in imitation of the almost invariable practice of the
chivalry-romance authors, who were fond of tracing their books to some
recondite source. In working out the new ideas, he soon found the value
of Sancho Panza. Indeed, the keynote, not only to Sancho's part, but to
the whole book, is struck in the first words Sancho utters when he
announces his intention of taking his ass with him. "About the ass," we
are told, "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." We can see the whole scene at a
glance, the stolid unconsciousness of Sancho and the perplexity of his
master, upon whose perception the incongruity has just forced itself.
This is Sancho's mission throughout the book; he is an unconscious
Mephistopheles, always unwittingly making mockery of his master's
aspirations, always exposing the fallacy of his ideas by some
unintentional ad absurdum, always bringing him back to the world of fact
and commonplace by force of sheer stolidity.

By the time Cervantes had got his volume of novels off his hands, and
summoned up resolution enough to set about the Second Part in earnest,
the case was very much altered. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza had not
merely found favour, but had already become, what they have never since
ceased to be, veritable entities to the popular imagination. There was no
occasion for him now to interpolate extraneous matter; nay, his readers
told him plainly that what they wanted of him was more Don Quixote and
more Sancho Panza, and not novels, tales, or digressions. To himself,
too, his creations had become realities, and he had become proud of them,
especially of Sancho. He began the Second Part, therefore, under very
different conditions, and the difference makes itself manifest at once.
Even in translation the style will be seen to be far easier, more
flowing, more natural, and more like that of a man sure of himself and of
his audience. Don Quixote and Sancho undergo a change also. In the First
Part, Don Quixote has no character or individuality whatever. He is
nothing more than a crazy representative of the sentiments of the
chivalry romances. In all that he says and does he is simply repeating
the lesson he has learned from his books; and therefore, it is absurd to
speak of him in the gushing strain of the sentimental critics when they
dilate upon his nobleness, disinterestedness, dauntless courage, and so
forth. It was the business of a knight-errant to right wrongs, redress
injuries, and succour the distressed, and this, as a matter of course, he
makes his business when he takes up the part; a knight-errant was bound
to be intrepid, and so he feels bound to cast fear aside. Of all Byron's
melodious nonsense about Don Quixote, the most nonsensical statement is
that "'t is his virtue makes him mad!" The exact opposite is the truth;
it is his madness makes him virtuous.

In the Second Part, Cervantes repeatedly reminds the reader, as if it was
a point upon which he was anxious there should be no mistake, that his
hero's madness is strictly confined to delusions on the subject of
chivalry, and that on every other subject he is discreto, one, in fact,
whose faculty of discernment is in perfect order. The advantage of this
is that he is enabled to make use of Don Quixote as a mouthpiece for his
own reflections, and so, without seeming to digress, allow himself the
relief of digression when he requires it, as freely as in a commonplace

It is true the amount of individuality bestowed upon Don Quixote is not
very great. There are some natural touches of character about him, such
as his mixture of irascibility and placability, and his curious affection
for Sancho together with his impatience of the squire's loquacity and
impertinence; but in the main, apart from his craze, he is little more
than a thoughtful, cultured gentleman, with instinctive good taste and a
great deal of shrewdness and originality of mind.

As to Sancho, it is plain, from the concluding words of the preface to
the First Part, that he was a favourite with his creator even before he
had been taken into favour by the public. An inferior genius, taking him
in hand a second time, would very likely have tried to improve him by
making him more comical, clever, amiable, or virtuous. But Cervantes was
too true an artist to spoil his work in this way. Sancho, when he
reappears, is the old Sancho with the old familiar features; but with a
difference; they have been brought out more distinctly, but at the same
time with a careful avoidance of anything like caricature; the outline
has been filled in where filling in was necessary, and, vivified by a few
touches of a master's hand, Sancho stands before us as he might in a
character portrait by Velazquez. He is a much more important and
prominent figure in the Second Part than in the First; indeed, it is his
matchless mendacity about Dulcinea that to a great extent supplies the
action of the story.

His development in this respect is as remarkable as in any other. In the
First Part he displays a great natural gift of lying. His lies are not of
the highly imaginative sort that liars in fiction commonly indulge in;
like Falstaff's, they resemble the father that begets them; they are
simple, homely, plump lies; plain working lies, in short. But in the
service of such a master as Don Quixote he develops rapidly, as we see
when he comes to palm off the three country wenches as Dulcinea and her
ladies in waiting. It is worth noticing how, flushed by his success in
this instance, he is tempted afterwards to try a flight beyond his powers
in his account of the journey on Clavileno.

In the Second Part it is the spirit rather than the incidents of the
chivalry romances that is the subject of the burlesque. Enchantments of
the sort travestied in those of Dulcinea and the Trifaldi and the cave of
Montesinos play a leading part in the later and inferior romances, and
another distinguishing feature is caricatured in Don Quixote's blind
adoration of Dulcinea. In the romances of chivalry love is either a mere
animalism or a fantastic idolatry. Only a coarse-minded man would care to
make merry with the former, but to one of Cervantes' humour the latter
was naturally an attractive subject for ridicule. Like everything else in
these romances, it is a gross exaggeration of the real sentiment of
chivalry, but its peculiar extravagance is probably due to the influence
of those masters of hyperbole, the Provencal poets. When a troubadour
professed his readiness to obey his lady in all things, he made it
incumbent upon the next comer, if he wished to avoid the imputation of
tameness and commonplace, to declare himself the slave of her will, which
the next was compelled to cap by some still stronger declaration; and so
expressions of devotion went on rising one above the other like biddings
at an auction, and a conventional language of gallantry and theory of
love came into being that in time permeated the literature of Southern
Europe, and bore fruit, in one direction in the transcendental worship of
Beatrice and Laura, and in another in the grotesque idolatry which found
exponents in writers like Feliciano de Silva. This is what Cervantes
deals with in Don Quixote's passion for Dulcinea, and in no instance has
he carried out the burlesque more happily. By keeping Dulcinea in the
background, and making her a vague shadowy being of whose very existence
we are left in doubt, he invests Don Quixote's worship of her virtues and
charms with an additional extravagance, and gives still more point to the
caricature of the sentiment and language of the romances.

One of the great merits of "Don Quixote," and one of the qualities that
have secured its acceptance by all classes of readers and made it the
most cosmopolitan of books, is its simplicity. There are, of course,
points obvious enough to a Spanish seventeenth century audience which do
not immediately strike a reader now-a-days, and Cervantes often takes it
for granted that an allusion will be generally understood which is only
intelligible to a few. For example, on many of his readers in Spain, and
most of his readers out of it, the significance of his choice of a
country for his hero is completely lost. It would be going too far to say
that no one can thoroughly comprehend "Don Quixote" without having seen
La Mancha, but undoubtedly even a glimpse of La Mancha will give an
insight into the meaning of Cervantes such as no commentator can give. Of
all the regions of Spain it is the last that would suggest the idea of
romance. Of all the dull central plateau of the Peninsula it is the
dullest tract. There is something impressive about the grim solitudes of
Estremadura; and if the plains of Leon and Old Castile are bald and
dreary, they are studded with old cities renowned in history and rich in
relics of the past. But there is no redeeming feature in the Manchegan
landscape; it has all the sameness of the desert without its dignity; the
few towns and villages that break its monotony are mean and commonplace,
there is nothing venerable about them, they have not even the
picturesqueness of poverty; indeed, Don Quixote's own village,
Argamasilla, has a sort of oppressive respectability in the prim
regularity of its streets and houses; everything is ignoble; the very
windmills are the ugliest and shabbiest of the windmill kind.

To anyone who knew the country well, the mere style and title of "Don
Quixote of La Mancha" gave the key to the author's meaning at once. La
Mancha as the knight's country and scene of his chivalries is of a piece
with the pasteboard helmet, the farm-labourer on ass-back for a squire,
knighthood conferred by a rascally ventero, convicts taken for victims of
oppression, and the rest of the incongruities between Don Quixote's world
and the world he lived in, between things as he saw them and things as
they were.

It is strange that this element of incongruity, underlying the whole
humour and purpose of the book, should have been so little heeded by the
majority of those who have undertaken to interpret "Don Quixote." It has
been completely overlooked, for example, by the illustrators. To be sure,
the great majority of the artists who illustrated "Don Quixote" knew
nothing whatever of Spain. To them a venta conveyed no idea but the
abstract one of a roadside inn, and they could not therefore do full
justice to the humour of Don Quixote's misconception in taking it for a
castle, or perceive the remoteness of all its realities from his ideal.
But even when better informed they seem to have no apprehension of the
full force of the discrepancy. Take, for instance, Gustave Dore's drawing
of Don Quixote watching his armour in the inn-yard. Whether or not the
Venta de Quesada on the Seville road is, as tradition maintains, the inn
described in "Don Quixote," beyond all question it was just such an
inn-yard as the one behind it that Cervantes had in his mind's eye, and
it was on just such a rude stone trough as that beside the primitive
draw-well in the corner that he meant Don Quixote to deposit his armour.
Gustave Dore makes it an elaborate fountain such as no arriero ever
watered his mules at in the corral of any venta in Spain, and thereby
entirely misses the point aimed at by Cervantes. It is the mean, prosaic,
commonplace character of all the surroundings and circumstances that
gives a significance to Don Quixote's vigil and the ceremony that

Cervantes' humour is for the most part of that broader and simpler sort,
the strength of which lies in the perception of the incongruous. It is
the incongruity of Sancho in all his ways, words, and works, with the
ideas and aims of his master, quite as much as the wonderful vitality and
truth to nature of the character, that makes him the most humorous
creation in the whole range of fiction. That unsmiling gravity of which
Cervantes was the first great master, "Cervantes' serious air," which
sits naturally on Swift alone, perhaps, of later humourists, is essential
to this kind of humour, and here again Cervantes has suffered at the
hands of his interpreters. Nothing, unless indeed the coarse buffoonery
of Phillips, could be more out of place in an attempt to represent
Cervantes, than a flippant, would-be facetious style, like that of
Motteux's version for example, or the sprightly, jaunty air, French
translators sometimes adopt. It is the grave matter-of-factness of the
narrative, and the apparent unconsciousness of the author that he is
saying anything ludicrous, anything but the merest commonplace, that give
its peculiar flavour to the humour of Cervantes. His, in fact, is the
exact opposite of the humour of Sterne and the self-conscious humourists.
Even when Uncle Toby is at his best, you are always aware of "the man
Sterne" behind him, watching you over his shoulder to see what effect he
is producing. Cervantes always leaves you alone with Don Quixote and
Sancho. He and Swift and the great humourists always keep themselves out
of sight, or, more properly speaking, never think about themselves at
all, unlike our latter-day school of humourists, who seem to have revived
the old horse-collar method, and try to raise a laugh by some grotesque
assumption of ignorance, imbecility, or bad taste.

It is true that to do full justice to Spanish humour in any other
language is well-nigh an impossibility. There is a natural gravity and a
sonorous stateliness about Spanish, be it ever so colloquial, that make
an absurdity doubly absurd, and give plausibility to the most
preposterous statement. This is what makes Sancho Panza's drollery the
despair of the conscientious translator. Sancho's curt comments can never
fall flat, but they lose half their flavour when transferred from their
native Castilian into any other medium. But if foreigners have failed to
do justice to the humour of Cervantes, they are no worse than his own
countrymen. Indeed, were it not for the Spanish peasant's relish of "Don
Quixote," one might be tempted to think that the great humourist was not
looked upon as a humourist at all in his own country.

The craze of Don Quixote seems, in some instances, to have communicated
itself to his critics, making them see things that are not in the book
and run full tilt at phantoms that have no existence save in their own
imaginations. Like a good many critics now-a-days, they forget that
screams are not criticism, and that it is only vulgar tastes that are
influenced by strings of superlatives, three-piled hyperboles, and
pompous epithets. But what strikes one as particularly strange is that
while they deal in extravagant eulogies, and ascribe all manner of
imaginary ideas and qualities to Cervantes, they show no perception of
the quality that ninety-nine out of a hundred of his readers would rate
highest in him, and hold to be the one that raises him above all rivalry.

To speak of "Don Quixote" as if it were merely a humorous book would be a
manifest misdescription. Cervantes at times makes it a kind of
commonplace book for occasional essays and criticisms, or for the
observations and reflections and gathered wisdom of a long and stirring
life. It is a mine of shrewd observation on mankind and human nature.
Among modern novels there may be, here and there, more elaborate studies
of character, but there is no book richer in individualised character.
What Coleridge said of Shakespeare in minimis is true of Cervantes; he
never, even for the most temporary purpose, puts forward a lay figure.
There is life and individuality in all his characters, however little
they may have to do, or however short a time they may be before the
reader. Samson Carrasco, the curate, Teresa Panza, Altisidora, even the
two students met on the road to the cave of Montesinos, all live and move
and have their being; and it is characteristic of the broad humanity of
Cervantes that there is not a hateful one among them all. Even poor
Maritornes, with her deplorable morals, has a kind heart of her own and
"some faint and distant resemblance to a Christian about her;" and as for
Sancho, though on dissection we fail to find a lovable trait in him,
unless it be a sort of dog-like affection for his master, who is there
that in his heart does not love him?

But it is, after all, the humour of "Don Quixote" that distinguishes it
from all other books of the romance kind. It is this that makes it, as
one of the most judicial-minded of modern critics calls it, "the best
novel in the world beyond all comparison." It is its varied humour,
ranging from broad farce to comedy as subtle as Shakespeare's or
Moliere's that has naturalised it in every country where there are
readers, and made it a classic in every language that has a literature.



To the book of Don Quixote of la Mancha

If to be welcomed by the good,
O Book! thou make thy steady aim,
No empty chatterer will dare
To question or dispute thy claim.
But if perchance thou hast a mind
To win of idiots approbation,
Lost labour will be thy reward,
Though they'll pretend appreciation.

They say a goodly shade he finds
Who shelters 'neath a goodly tree;
And such a one thy kindly star
In Bejar bath provided thee:
A royal tree whose spreading boughs
A show of princely fruit display;
A tree that bears a noble Duke,
The Alexander of his day.

Of a Manchegan gentleman
Thy purpose is to tell the story,
Relating how he lost his wits
O'er idle tales of love and glory,
Of "ladies, arms, and cavaliers:"
A new Orlando Furioso-
Innamorato, rather--who
Won Dulcinea del Toboso.

Put no vain emblems on thy shield;
All figures--that is bragging play.
A modest dedication make,
And give no scoffer room to say,
"What! Alvaro de Luna here?
Or is it Hannibal again?
Or does King Francis at Madrid
Once more of destiny complain?"

Since Heaven it hath not pleased on thee
Deep erudition to bestow,
Or black Latino's gift of tongues,
No Latin let thy pages show.
Ape not philosophy or wit,
Lest one who cannot comprehend,
Make a wry face at thee and ask,
"Why offer flowers to me, my friend?"

Be not a meddler; no affair
Of thine the life thy neighbours lead:
Be prudent; oft the random jest
Recoils upon the jester's head.
Thy constant labour let it be
To earn thyself an honest name,
For fooleries preserved in print
Are perpetuity of shame.

A further counsel bear in mind:
If that thy roof be made of glass,
It shows small wit to pick up stones
To pelt the people as they pass.
Win the attention of the wise,
And give the thinker food for thought;
Whoso indites frivolities,
Will but by simpletons be sought.

To Don Quixote of la Mancha


Thou that didst imitate that life of mine
When I in lonely sadness on the great
Rock Pena Pobre sat disconsolate,
In self-imposed penance there to pine;
Thou, whose sole beverage was the bitter brine
Of thine own tears, and who withouten plate
Of silver, copper, tin, in lowly state
Off the bare earth and on earth's fruits didst dine;
Live thou, of thine eternal glory sure.
So long as on the round of the fourth sphere
The bright Apollo shall his coursers steer,
In thy renown thou shalt remain secure,
Thy country's name in story shall endure,
And thy sage author stand without a peer.

To Don Quixote of la Mancha


In slashing, hewing, cleaving, word and deed,
I was the foremost knight of chivalry,
Stout, bold, expert, as e'er the world did see;
Thousands from the oppressor's wrong I freed;
Great were my feats, eternal fame their meed;
In love I proved my truth and loyalty;
The hugest giant was a dwarf for me;
Ever to knighthood's laws gave I good heed.
My mastery the Fickle Goddess owned,
And even Chance, submitting to control,
Grasped by the forelock, yielded to my will.
Yet--though above yon horned moon enthroned
My fortune seems to sit--great Quixote, still
Envy of thy achievements fills my soul.

To Dulcinea del Toboso


Oh, fairest Dulcinea, could it be!
It were a pleasant fancy to suppose so--
Could Miraflores change to El Toboso,
And London's town to that which shelters thee!
Oh, could mine but acquire that livery
Of countless charms thy mind and body show so!
Or him, now famous grown--thou mad'st him grow so--
Thy knight, in some dread combat could I see!
Oh, could I be released from Amadis
By exercise of such coy chastity
As led thee gentle Quixote to dismiss!
Then would my heavy sorrow turn to joy;
None would I envy, all would envy me,
And happiness be mine without alloy.

To Sancho Panza, squire of Don Quixote


All hail, illustrious man! Fortune, when she
Bound thee apprentice to the esquire trade,
Her care and tenderness of thee displayed,
Shaping thy course from misadventure free.
No longer now doth proud knight-errantry
Regard with scorn the sickle and the spade;
Of towering arrogance less count is made
Than of plain esquire-like simplicity.
I envy thee thy Dapple, and thy name,
And those alforjas thou wast wont to stuff
With comforts that thy providence proclaim.
Excellent Sancho! hail to thee again!
To thee alone the Ovid of our Spain
Does homage with the rustic kiss and cuff.


On Sancho Panza and Rocinante


I am the esquire Sancho Pan--
Who served Don Quixote of La Man--;
But from his service I retreat-,
Resolved to pass my life discreet-;
For Villadiego, called the Si--,
Maintained that only in reti--
Was found the secret of well-be--,
According to the "Celesti--:"
A book divine, except for sin--
By speech too plain, in my opin--


I am that Rocinante fa--,
Great-grandson of great Babie--,
Who, all for being lean and bon--,
Had one Don Quixote for an own--;
But if I matched him well in weak--,
I never took short commons meek--,
But kept myself in corn by steal--,
A trick I learned from Lazaril--,
When with a piece of straw so neat--
The blind man of his wine he cheat--.

To Don Quixote of La Mancha


If thou art not a Peer, peer thou hast none;
Among a thousand Peers thou art a peer;
Nor is there room for one when thou art near,
Unvanquished victor, great unconquered one!
Orlando, by Angelica undone,
Am I; o'er distant seas condemned to steer,
And to Fame's altars as an offering bear
Valour respected by Oblivion.
I cannot be thy rival, for thy fame
And prowess rise above all rivalry,
Albeit both bereft of wits we go.
But, though the Scythian or the Moor to tame
Was not thy lot, still thou dost rival me:
Love binds us in a fellowship of woe.


To Don Quixote of La Mancha

My sword was not to be compared with thine
Phoebus of Spain, marvel of courtesy,
Nor with thy famous arm this hand of mine
That smote from east to west as lightnings fly.
I scorned all empire, and that monarchy
The rosy east held out did I resign
For one glance of Claridiana's eye,
The bright Aurora for whose love I pine.
A miracle of constancy my love;
And banished by her ruthless cruelty,
This arm had might the rage of Hell to tame.
But, Gothic Quixote, happier thou dost prove,
For thou dost live in Dulcinea's name,
And famous, honoured, wise, she lives in thee.

To Don Quixote of La Mancha


Your fantasies, Sir Quixote, it is true,
That crazy brain of yours have quite upset,
But aught of base or mean hath never yet
Been charged by any in reproach to you.
Your deeds are open proof in all men's view;
For you went forth injustice to abate,
And for your pains sore drubbings did you get
From many a rascally and ruffian crew.
If the fair Dulcinea, your heart's queen,
Be unrelenting in her cruelty,
If still your woe be powerless to move her,
In such hard case your comfort let it be
That Sancho was a sorry go-between:
A booby he, hard-hearted she, and you no lover.

Between Babieca and Rocinante


B. "How comes it, Rocinante, you're so lean?"
R. "I'm underfed, with overwork I'm worn."
B. "But what becomes of all the hay and corn?"
R. "My master gives me none; he's much too mean."
B. "Come, come, you show ill-breeding, sir, I ween;
'T is like an ass your master thus to scorn."
R. He is an ass, will die an ass, an ass was born;
Why, he's in love; what's what's plainer to be seen?"
B. "To be in love is folly?"--R. "No great sense."
B. "You're metaphysical."--R. "From want of food."
B. "Rail at the squire, then."--R. "Why, what's the good?
I might indeed complain of him, I grant ye,
But, squire or master, where's the difference?
They're both as sorry hacks as Rocinante."


Idle reader: thou mayest believe me without any oath that I would this
book, as it is the child of my brain, were the fairest, gayest, and
cleverest that could be imagined. But I could not counteract Nature's law
that everything shall beget its like; and what, then, could this sterile,
illtilled wit of mine beget but the story of a dry, shrivelled, whimsical
offspring, full of thoughts of all sorts and such as never came into any
other imagination--just what might be begotten in a prison, where every
misery is lodged and every doleful sound makes its dwelling?
Tranquillity, a cheerful retreat, pleasant fields, bright skies,
murmuring brooks, peace of mind, these are the things that go far to make
even the most barren muses fertile, and bring into the world births that
fill it with wonder and delight. Sometimes when a father has an ugly,
loutish son, the love he bears him so blindfolds his eyes that he does
not see his defects, or, rather, takes them for gifts and charms of mind
and body, and talks of them to his friends as wit and grace. I,
however--for though I pass for the father, I am but the stepfather to
"Don Quixote"--have no desire to go with the current of custom, or to
implore thee, dearest reader, almost with tears in my eyes, as others do,
to pardon or excuse the defects thou wilt perceive in this child of mine.
Thou art neither its kinsman nor its friend, thy soul is thine own and
thy will as free as any man's, whate'er he be, thou art in thine own
house and master of it as much as the king of his taxes and thou knowest
the common saying, "Under my cloak I kill the king;" all which exempts
and frees thee from every consideration and obligation, and thou canst
say what thou wilt of the story without fear of being abused for any ill
or rewarded for any good thou mayest say of it.

My wish would be simply to present it to thee plain and unadorned,
without any embellishment of preface or uncountable muster of customary
sonnets, epigrams, and eulogies, such as are commonly put at the
beginning of books. For I can tell thee, though composing it cost me some
labour, I found none greater than the making of this Preface thou art now
reading. Many times did I take up my pen to write it, and many did I lay
it down again, not knowing what to write. One of these times, as I was
pondering with the paper before me, a pen in my ear, my elbow on the
desk, and my cheek in my hand, thinking of what I should say, there came
in unexpectedly a certain lively, clever friend of mine, who, seeing me
so deep in thought, asked the reason; to which I, making no mystery of
it, answered that I was thinking of the Preface I had to make for the
story of "Don Quixote," which so troubled me that I had a mind not to
make any at all, nor even publish the achievements of so noble a knight.

"For, how could you expect me not to feel uneasy about what that ancient
lawgiver they call the Public will say when it sees me, after slumbering
so many years in the silence of oblivion, coming out now with all my
years upon my back, and with a book as dry as a rush, devoid of
invention, meagre in style, poor in thoughts, wholly wanting in learning
and wisdom, without quotations in the margin or annotations at the end,
after the fashion of other books I see, which, though all fables and
profanity, are so full of maxims from Aristotle, and Plato, and the whole
herd of philosophers, that they fill the readers with amazement and
convince them that the authors are men of learning, erudition, and
eloquence. And then, when they quote the Holy Scriptures!--anyone would
say they are St. Thomases or other doctors of the Church, observing as
they do a decorum so ingenious that in one sentence they describe a
distracted lover and in the next deliver a devout little sermon that it
is a pleasure and a treat to hear and read. Of all this there will be
nothing in my book, for I have nothing to quote in the margin or to note
at the end, and still less do I know what authors I follow in it, to
place them at the beginning, as all do, under the letters A, B, C,
beginning with Aristotle and ending with Xenophon, or Zoilus, or Zeuxis,
though one was a slanderer and the other a painter. Also my book must do
without sonnets at the beginning, at least sonnets whose authors are
dukes, marquises, counts, bishops, ladies, or famous poets. Though if I
were to ask two or three obliging friends, I know they would give me
them, and such as the productions of those that have the highest
reputation in our Spain could not equal.

"In short, my friend," I continued, "I am determined that Senor Don
Quixote shall remain buried in the archives of his own La Mancha until
Heaven provide some one to garnish him with all those things he stands in
need of; because I find myself, through my shallowness and want of
learning, unequal to supplying them, and because I am by nature shy and
careless about hunting for authors to say what I myself can say without
them. Hence the cogitation and abstraction you found me in, and reason
enough, what you have heard from me."

Hearing this, my friend, giving himself a slap on the forehead and
breaking into a hearty laugh, exclaimed, "Before God, Brother, now am I
disabused of an error in which I have been living all this long time I
have known you, all through which I have taken you to be shrewd and
sensible in all you do; but now I see you are as far from that as the
heaven is from the earth. It is possible that things of so little moment
and so easy to set right can occupy and perplex a ripe wit like yours,
fit to break through and crush far greater obstacles? By my faith, this
comes, not of any want of ability, but of too much indolence and too
little knowledge of life. Do you want to know if I am telling the truth?
Well, then, attend to me, and you will see how, in the opening and
shutting of an eye, I sweep away all your difficulties, and supply all
those deficiencies which you say check and discourage you from bringing
before the world the story of your famous Don Quixote, the light and
mirror of all knight-errantry."

"Say on," said I, listening to his talk; "how do you propose to make up
for my diffidence, and reduce to order this chaos of perplexity I am in?"

To which he made answer, "Your first difficulty about the sonnets,
epigrams, or complimentary verses which you want for the beginning, and
which ought to be by persons of importance and rank, can be removed if
you yourself take a little trouble to make them; you can afterwards
baptise them, and put any name you like to them, fathering them on
Prester John of the Indies or the Emperor of Trebizond, who, to my
knowledge, were said to have been famous poets: and even if they were
not, and any pedants or bachelors should attack you and question the
fact, never care two maravedis for that, for even if they prove a lie
against you they cannot cut off the hand you wrote it with.

"As to references in the margin to the books and authors from whom you
take the aphorisms and sayings you put into your story, it is only
contriving to fit in nicely any sentences or scraps of Latin you may
happen to have by heart, or at any rate that will not give you much
trouble to look up; so as, when you speak of freedom and captivity, to

_Non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro;_

and then refer in the margin to Horace, or whoever said it; or, if you
allude to the power of death, to come in with--

_Pallida mors Aequo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas,
Regumque turres._

"If it be friendship and the love God bids us bear to our enemy, go at
once to the Holy Scriptures, which you can do with a very small amount of
research, and quote no less than the words of God himself: Ego autem dico
vobis: diligite inimicos vestros. If you speak of evil thoughts, turn to
the Gospel: De corde exeunt cogitationes malae. If of the fickleness of
friends, there is Cato, who will give you his distich:

_Donec eris felix multos numerabis amicos,
Tempora si fuerint nubila, solus eris._

"With these and such like bits of Latin they will take you for a
grammarian at all events, and that now-a-days is no small honour and

"With regard to adding annotations at the end of the book, you may safely
do it in this way. If you mention any giant in your book contrive that it
shall be the giant Goliath, and with this alone, which will cost you
almost nothing, you have a grand note, for you can put--The giant Golias
or Goliath was a Philistine whom the shepherd David slew by a mighty
stone-cast in the Terebinth valley, as is related in the Book of
Kings--in the chapter where you find it written.

"Next, to prove yourself a man of erudition in polite literature and
cosmography, manage that the river Tagus shall be named in your story,
and there you are at once with another famous annotation, setting
forth--The river Tagus was so called after a King of Spain: it has its
source in such and such a place and falls into the ocean, kissing the
walls of the famous city of Lisbon, and it is a common belief that it has
golden sands, etc. If you should have anything to do with robbers, I will
give you the story of Cacus, for I have it by heart; if with loose women,
there is the Bishop of Mondonedo, who will give you the loan of Lamia,
Laida, and Flora, any reference to whom will bring you great credit; if
with hard-hearted ones, Ovid will furnish you with Medea; if with witches
or enchantresses, Homer has Calypso, and Virgil Circe; if with valiant
captains, Julius Caesar himself will lend you himself in his own
'Commentaries,' and Plutarch will give you a thousand Alexanders. If you
should deal with love, with two ounces you may know of Tuscan you can go
to Leon the Hebrew, who will supply you to your heart's content; or if
you should not care to go to foreign countries you have at home Fonseca's
'Of the Love of God,' in which is condensed all that you or the most
imaginative mind can want on the subject. In short, all you have to do is
to manage to quote these names, or refer to these stories I have
mentioned, and leave it to me to insert the annotations and quotations,
and I swear by all that's good to fill your margins and use up four
sheets at the end of the book.

"Now let us come to those references to authors which other books have,
and you want for yours. The remedy for this is very simple: You have only
to look out for some book that quotes them all, from A to Z as you say
yourself, and then insert the very same alphabet in your book, and though
the imposition may be plain to see, because you have so little need to
borrow from them, that is no matter; there will probably be some simple
enough to believe that you have made use of them all in this plain,
artless story of yours. At any rate, if it answers no other purpose, this
long catalogue of authors will serve to give a surprising look of
authority to your book. Besides, no one will trouble himself to verify
whether you have followed them or whether you have not, being no way
concerned in it; especially as, if I mistake not, this book of yours has
no need of any one of those things you say it wants, for it is, from
beginning to end, an attack upon the books of chivalry, of which
Aristotle never dreamt, nor St. Basil said a word, nor Cicero had any
knowledge; nor do the niceties of truth nor the observations of astrology
come within the range of its fanciful vagaries; nor have geometrical
measurements or refutations of the arguments used in rhetoric anything to
do with it; nor does it mean to preach to anybody, mixing up things human
and divine, a sort of motley in which no Christian understanding should
dress itself. It has only to avail itself of truth to nature in its
composition, and the more perfect the imitation the better the work will
be. And as this piece of yours aims at nothing more than to destroy the
authority and influence which books of chivalry have in the world and
with the public, there is no need for you to go a-begging for aphorisms
from philosophers, precepts from Holy Scripture, fables from poets,
speeches from orators, or miracles from saints; but merely to take care
that your style and diction run musically, pleasantly, and plainly, with
clear, proper, and well-placed words, setting forth your purpose to the
best of your power, and putting your ideas intelligibly, without
confusion or obscurity. Strive, too, that in reading your story the
melancholy may be moved to laughter, and the merry made merrier still;
that the simple shall not be wearied, that the judicious shall admire the
invention, that the grave shall not despise it, nor the wise fail to
praise it. Finally, keep your aim fixed on the destruction of that
ill-founded edifice of the books of chivalry, hated by some and praised
by many more; for if you succeed in this you will have achieved no small

In profound silence I listened to what my friend said, and his
observations made such an impression on me that, without attempting to
question them, I admitted their soundness, and out of them I determined
to make this Preface; wherein, gentle reader, thou wilt perceive my
friend's good sense, my good fortune in finding such an adviser in such a
time of need, and what thou hast gained in receiving, without addition or
alteration, the story of the famous Don Quixote of La Mancha, who is held
by all the inhabitants of the district of the Campo de Montiel to have
been the chastest lover and the bravest knight that has for many years
been seen in that neighbourhood. I have no desire to magnify the service
I render thee in making thee acquainted with so renowned and honoured a
knight, but I do desire thy thanks for the acquaintance thou wilt make
with the famous Sancho Panza, his squire, in whom, to my thinking, I have
given thee condensed all the squirely drolleries that are scattered
through the swarm of the vain books of chivalry. And so--may God give
thee health, and not forget me. Vale.



In belief of the good reception and honours that Your Excellency bestows
on all sort of books, as prince so inclined to favor good arts, chiefly
those who by their nobleness do not submit to the service and bribery of
the vulgar, I have determined bringing to light The Ingenious Gentleman
Don Quixote of la Mancha, in shelter of Your Excellency's glamorous name,
to whom, with the obeisance I owe to such grandeur, I pray to receive it
agreeably under his protection, so that in this shadow, though deprived
of that precious ornament of elegance and erudition that clothe the works
composed in the houses of those who know, it dares appear with assurance
in the judgment of some who, trespassing the bounds of their own
ignorance, use to condemn with more rigour and less justice the writings
of others. It is my earnest hope that Your Excellency's good counsel in
regard to my honourable purpose, will not disdain the littleness of so
humble a service.

Miguel de Cervantes



In a village of La Mancha, the name of which I have no desire to call to
mind, there lived not long since one of those gentlemen that keep a lance
in the lance-rack, an old buckler, a lean hack, and a greyhound for
coursing. An olla of rather more beef than mutton, a salad on most
nights, scraps on Saturdays, lentils on Fridays, and a pigeon or so extra
on Sundays, made away with three-quarters of his income. The rest of it
went in a doublet of fine cloth and velvet breeches and shoes to match
for holidays, while on week-days he made a brave figure in his best
homespun. He had in his house a housekeeper past forty, a niece under
twenty, and a lad for the field and market-place, who used to saddle the
hack as well as handle the bill-hook. The age of this gentleman of ours
was bordering on fifty; he was of a hardy habit, spare, gaunt-featured, a
very early riser and a great sportsman. They will have it his surname was
Quixada or Quesada (for here there is some difference of opinion among
the authors who write on the subject), although from reasonable
conjectures it seems plain that he was called Quexana. This, however, is
of but little importance to our tale; it will be enough not to stray a
hair's breadth from the truth in the telling of it.

You must know, then, that the above-named gentleman whenever he was at
leisure (which was mostly all the year round) gave himself up to reading
books of chivalry with such ardour and avidity that he almost entirely
neglected the pursuit of his field-sports, and even the management of his
property; and to such a pitch did his eagerness and infatuation go that
he sold many an acre of tillageland to buy books of chivalry to read, and
brought home as many of them as he could get. But of all there were none
he liked so well as those of the famous Feliciano de Silva's composition,
for their lucidity of style and complicated conceits were as pearls in
his sight, particularly when in his reading he came upon courtships and
cartels, where he often found passages like "the reason of the unreason
with which my reason is afflicted so weakens my reason that with reason I
murmur at your beauty;" or again, "the high heavens, that of your
divinity divinely fortify you with the stars, render you deserving of the
desert your greatness deserves." Over conceits of this sort the poor
gentleman lost his wits, and used to lie awake striving to understand
them and worm the meaning out of them; what Aristotle himself could not
have made out or extracted had he come to life again for that special
purpose. He was not at all easy about the wounds which Don Belianis gave
and took, because it seemed to him that, great as were the surgeons who
had cured him, he must have had his face and body covered all over with
seams and scars. He commended, however, the author's way of ending his
book with the promise of that interminable adventure, and many a time was
he tempted to take up his pen and finish it properly as is there
proposed, which no doubt he would have done, and made a successful piece
of work of it too, had not greater and more absorbing thoughts prevented

Many an argument did he have with the curate of his village (a learned
man, and a graduate of Siguenza) as to which had been the better knight,
Palmerin of England or Amadis of Gaul. Master Nicholas, the village
barber, however, used to say that neither of them came up to the Knight
of Phoebus, and that if there was any that could compare with him it was
Don Galaor, the brother of Amadis of Gaul, because he had a spirit that
was equal to every occasion, and was no finikin knight, nor lachrymose
like his brother, while in the matter of valour he was not a whit behind
him. In short, he became so absorbed in his books that he spent his
nights from sunset to sunrise, and his days from dawn to dark, poring
over them; and what with little sleep and much reading his brains got so
dry that he lost his wits. His fancy grew full of what he used to read
about in his books, enchantments, quarrels, battles, challenges, wounds,
wooings, loves, agonies, and all sorts of impossible nonsense; and it so
possessed his mind that the whole fabric of invention and fancy he read
of was true, that to him no history in the world had more reality in it.
He used to say the Cid Ruy Diaz was a very good knight, but that he was
not to be compared with the Knight of the Burning Sword who with one
back-stroke cut in half two fierce and monstrous giants. He thought more
of Bernardo del Carpio because at Roncesvalles he slew Roland in spite of
enchantments, availing himself of the artifice of Hercules when he
strangled Antaeus the son of Terra in his arms. He approved highly of the
giant Morgante, because, although of the giant breed which is always
arrogant and ill-conditioned, he alone was affable and well-bred. But
above all he admired Reinaldos of Montalban, especially when he saw him
sallying forth from his castle and robbing everyone he met, and when
beyond the seas he stole that image of Mahomet which, as his history
says, was entirely of gold. To have a bout of kicking at that traitor of
a Ganelon he would have given his housekeeper, and his niece into the

In short, his wits being quite gone, he hit upon the strangest notion
that ever madman in this world hit upon, and that was that he fancied it
was right and requisite, as well for the support of his own honour as for
the service of his country, that he should make a knight-errant of
himself, roaming the world over in full armour and on horseback in quest
of adventures, and putting in practice himself all that he had read of as
being the usual practices of knights-errant; righting every kind of
wrong, and exposing himself to peril and danger from which, in the issue,
he was to reap eternal renown and fame. Already the poor man saw himself
crowned by the might of his arm Emperor of Trebizond at least; and so,
led away by the intense enjoyment he found in these pleasant fancies, he
set himself forthwith to put his scheme into execution.

The first thing he did was to clean up some armour that had belonged to
his great-grandfather, and had been for ages lying forgotten in a corner
eaten with rust and covered with mildew. He scoured and polished it as
best he could, but he perceived one great defect in it, that it had no
closed helmet, nothing but a simple morion. This deficiency, however, his
ingenuity supplied, for he contrived a kind of half-helmet of pasteboard
which, fitted on to the morion, looked like a whole one. It is true that,
in order to see if it was strong and fit to stand a cut, he drew his
sword and gave it a couple of slashes, the first of which undid in an
instant what had taken him a week to do. The ease with which he had
knocked it to pieces disconcerted him somewhat, and to guard against that
danger he set to work again, fixing bars of iron on the inside until he
was satisfied with its strength; and then, not caring to try any more
experiments with it, he passed it and adopted it as a helmet of the most
perfect construction.

He next proceeded to inspect his hack, which, with more quartos than a
real and more blemishes than the steed of Gonela, that "tantum pellis et
ossa fuit," surpassed in his eyes the Bucephalus of Alexander or the
Babieca of the Cid. Four days were spent in thinking what name to give
him, because (as he said to himself) it was not right that a horse
belonging to a knight so famous, and one with such merits of his own,
should be without some distinctive name, and he strove to adapt it so as
to indicate what he had been before belonging to a knight-errant, and
what he then was; for it was only reasonable that, his master taking a
new character, he should take a new name, and that it should be a
distinguished and full-sounding one, befitting the new order and calling
he was about to follow. And so, after having composed, struck out,
rejected, added to, unmade, and remade a multitude of names out of his
memory and fancy, he decided upon calling him Rocinante, a name, to his
thinking, lofty, sonorous, and significant of his condition as a hack
before he became what he now was, the first and foremost of all the hacks
in the world.

Having got a name for his horse so much to his taste, he was anxious to
get one for himself, and he was eight days more pondering over this
point, till at last he made up his mind to call himself "Don Quixote,"
whence, as has been already said, the authors of this veracious history
have inferred that his name must have been beyond a doubt Quixada, and
not Quesada as others would have it. Recollecting, however, that the
valiant Amadis was not content to call himself curtly Amadis and nothing
more, but added the name of his kingdom and country to make it famous,
and called himself Amadis of Gaul, he, like a good knight, resolved to
add on the name of his, and to style himself Don Quixote of La Mancha,
whereby, he considered, he described accurately his origin and country,
and did honour to it in taking his surname from it.

So then, his armour being furbished, his morion turned into a helmet, his
hack christened, and he himself confirmed, he came to the conclusion that
nothing more was needed now but to look out for a lady to be in love
with; for a knight-errant without love was like a tree without leaves or
fruit, or a body without a soul. As he said to himself, "If, for my sins,
or by my good fortune, I come across some giant hereabouts, a common
occurrence with knights-errant, and overthrow him in one onslaught, or
cleave him asunder to the waist, or, in short, vanquish and subdue him,
will it not be well to have some one I may send him to as a present, that
he may come in and fall on his knees before my sweet lady, and in a
humble, submissive voice say, 'I am the giant Caraculiambro, lord of the
island of Malindrania, vanquished in single combat by the never
sufficiently extolled knight Don Quixote of La Mancha, who has commanded
me to present myself before your Grace, that your Highness dispose of me
at your pleasure'?" Oh, how our good gentleman enjoyed the delivery of
this speech, especially when he had thought of some one to call his Lady!
There was, so the story goes, in a village near his own a very
good-looking farm-girl with whom he had been at one time in love, though,
so far as is known, she never knew it nor gave a thought to the matter.
Her name was Aldonza Lorenzo, and upon her he thought fit to confer the
title of Lady of his Thoughts; and after some search for a name which
should not be out of harmony with her own, and should suggest and
indicate that of a princess and great lady, he decided upon calling her
Dulcinea del Toboso--she being of El Toboso--a name, to his mind,
musical, uncommon, and significant, like all those he had already
bestowed upon himself and the things belonging to him.



These preliminaries settled, he did not care to put off any longer the
execution of his design, urged on to it by the thought of all the world
was losing by his delay, seeing what wrongs he intended to right,
grievances to redress, injustices to repair, abuses to remove, and duties
to discharge. So, without giving notice of his intention to anyone, and
without anybody seeing him, one morning before the dawning of the day
(which was one of the hottest of the month of July) he donned his suit of
armour, mounted Rocinante with his patched-up helmet on, braced his
buckler, took his lance, and by the back door of the yard sallied forth
upon the plain in the highest contentment and satisfaction at seeing with
what ease he had made a beginning with his grand purpose. But scarcely
did he find himself upon the open plain, when a terrible thought struck
him, one all but enough to make him abandon the enterprise at the very
outset. It occurred to him that he had not been dubbed a knight, and that
according to the law of chivalry he neither could nor ought to bear arms
against any knight; and that even if he had been, still he ought, as a
novice knight, to wear white armour, without a device upon the shield
until by his prowess he had earned one. These reflections made him waver
in his purpose, but his craze being stronger than any reasoning, he made
up his mind to have himself dubbed a knight by the first one he came
across, following the example of others in the same case, as he had read
in the books that brought him to this pass. As for white armour, he
resolved, on the first opportunity, to scour his until it was whiter than
an ermine; and so comforting himself he pursued his way, taking that
which his horse chose, for in this he believed lay the essence of

Thus setting out, our new-fledged adventurer paced along, talking to
himself and saying, "Who knows but that in time to come, when the
veracious history of my famous deeds is made known, the sage who writes
it, when he has to set forth my first sally in the early morning, will do
it after this fashion? 'Scarce had the rubicund Apollo spread o'er the
face of the broad spacious earth the golden threads of his bright hair,
scarce had the little birds of painted plumage attuned their notes to
hail with dulcet and mellifluous harmony the coming of the rosy Dawn,
that, deserting the soft couch of her jealous spouse, was appearing to
mortals at the gates and balconies of the Manchegan horizon, when the
renowned knight Don Quixote of La Mancha, quitting the lazy down, mounted
his celebrated steed Rocinante and began to traverse the ancient and
famous Campo de Montiel;'" which in fact he was actually traversing.
"Happy the age, happy the time," he continued, "in which shall be made
known my deeds of fame, worthy to be moulded in brass, carved in marble,
limned in pictures, for a memorial for ever. And thou, O sage magician,
whoever thou art, to whom it shall fall to be the chronicler of this
wondrous history, forget not, I entreat thee, my good Rocinante, the
constant companion of my ways and wanderings." Presently he broke out
again, as if he were love-stricken in earnest, "O Princess Dulcinea, lady
of this captive heart, a grievous wrong hast thou done me to drive me
forth with scorn, and with inexorable obduracy banish me from the
presence of thy beauty. O lady, deign to hold in remembrance this heart,
thy vassal, that thus in anguish pines for love of thee."

So he went on stringing together these and other absurdities, all in the
style of those his books had taught him, imitating their language as well
as he could; and all the while he rode so slowly and the sun mounted so
rapidly and with such fervour that it was enough to melt his brains if he
had any. Nearly all day he travelled without anything remarkable
happening to him, at which he was in despair, for he was anxious to
encounter some one at once upon whom to try the might of his strong arm.

Writers there are who say the first adventure he met with was that of
Puerto Lapice; others say it was that of the windmills; but what I have
ascertained on this point, and what I have found written in the annals of
La Mancha, is that he was on the road all day, and towards nightfall his
hack and he found themselves dead tired and hungry, when, looking all
around to see if he could discover any castle or shepherd's shanty where
he might refresh himself and relieve his sore wants, he perceived not far
out of his road an inn, which was as welcome as a star guiding him to the
portals, if not the palaces, of his redemption; and quickening his pace
he reached it just as night was setting in. At the door were standing two
young women, girls of the district as they call them, on their way to
Seville with some carriers who had chanced to halt that night at the inn;
and as, happen what might to our adventurer, everything he saw or imaged
seemed to him to be and to happen after the fashion of what he read of,
the moment he saw the inn he pictured it to himself as a castle with its
four turrets and pinnacles of shining silver, not forgetting the
drawbridge and moat and all the belongings usually ascribed to castles of
the sort. To this inn, which to him seemed a castle, he advanced, and at
a short distance from it he checked Rocinante, hoping that some dwarf
would show himself upon the battlements, and by sound of trumpet give
notice that a knight was approaching the castle. But seeing that they
were slow about it, and that Rocinante was in a hurry to reach the
stable, he made for the inn door, and perceived the two gay damsels who
were standing there, and who seemed to him to be two fair maidens or
lovely ladies taking their ease at the castle gate.

At this moment it so happened that a swineherd who was going through the
stubbles collecting a drove of pigs (for, without any apology, that is
what they are called) gave a blast of his horn to bring them together,
and forthwith it seemed to Don Quixote to be what he was expecting, the
signal of some dwarf announcing his arrival; and so with prodigious
satisfaction he rode up to the inn and to the ladies, who, seeing a man
of this sort approaching in full armour and with lance and buckler, were
turning in dismay into the inn, when Don Quixote, guessing their fear by
their flight, raising his pasteboard visor, disclosed his dry dusty
visage, and with courteous bearing and gentle voice addressed them, "Your
ladyships need not fly or fear any rudeness, for that it belongs not to
the order of knighthood which I profess to offer to anyone, much less to
highborn maidens as your appearance proclaims you to be." The girls were
looking at him and straining their eyes to make out the features which
the clumsy visor obscured, but when they heard themselves called maidens,
a thing so much out of their line, they could not restrain their
laughter, which made Don Quixote wax indignant, and say, "Modesty becomes
the fair, and moreover laughter that has little cause is great silliness;
this, however, I say not to pain or anger you, for my desire is none
other than to serve you."

The incomprehensible language and the unpromising looks of our cavalier
only increased the ladies' laughter, and that increased his irritation,
and matters might have gone farther if at that moment the landlord had
not come out, who, being a very fat man, was a very peaceful one. He,
seeing this grotesque figure clad in armour that did not match any more
than his saddle, bridle, lance, buckler, or corselet, was not at all
indisposed to join the damsels in their manifestations of amusement; but,
in truth, standing in awe of such a complicated armament, he thought it
best to speak him fairly, so he said, "Senor Caballero, if your worship
wants lodging, bating the bed (for there is not one in the inn) there is
plenty of everything else here." Don Quixote, observing the respectful
bearing of the Alcaide of the fortress (for so innkeeper and inn seemed
in his eyes), made answer, "Sir Castellan, for me anything will suffice,

'My armour is my only wear,
My only rest the fray.'"

The host fancied he called him Castellan because he took him for a
"worthy of Castile," though he was in fact an Andalusian, and one from
the strand of San Lucar, as crafty a thief as Cacus and as full of tricks
as a student or a page. "In that case," said he,

"'Your bed is on the flinty rock,
Your sleep to watch alway;'

and if so, you may dismount and safely reckon upon any quantity of
sleeplessness under this roof for a twelvemonth, not to say for a single
night." So saying, he advanced to hold the stirrup for Don Quixote, who
got down with great difficulty and exertion (for he had not broken his
fast all day), and then charged the host to take great care of his horse,
as he was the best bit of flesh that ever ate bread in this world. The
landlord eyed him over but did not find him as good as Don Quixote said,
nor even half as good; and putting him up in the stable, he returned to
see what might be wanted by his guest, whom the damsels, who had by this
time made their peace with him, were now relieving of his armour. They
had taken off his breastplate and backpiece, but they neither knew nor
saw how to open his gorget or remove his make-shift helmet, for he had
fastened it with green ribbons, which, as there was no untying the knots,
required to be cut. This, however, he would not by any means consent to,
so he remained all the evening with his helmet on, the drollest and
oddest figure that can be imagined; and while they were removing his
armour, taking the baggages who were about it for ladies of high degree
belonging to the castle, he said to them with great sprightliness:

"Oh, never, surely, was there knight
So served by hand of dame,
As served was he, Don Quixote hight,
When from his town he came;
With maidens waiting on himself,
Princesses on his hack--

or Rocinante, for that, ladies mine, is my horse's name, and Don Quixote
of La Mancha is my own; for though I had no intention of declaring myself
until my achievements in your service and honour had made me known, the
necessity of adapting that old ballad of Lancelot to the present occasion
has given you the knowledge of my name altogether prematurely. A time,
however, will come for your ladyships to command and me to obey, and then
the might of my arm will show my desire to serve you."

The girls, who were not used to hearing rhetoric of this sort, had
nothing to say in reply; they only asked him if he wanted anything to
eat. "I would gladly eat a bit of something," said Don Quixote, "for I
feel it would come very seasonably." The day happened to be a Friday, and
in the whole inn there was nothing but some pieces of the fish they call
in Castile "abadejo," in Andalusia "bacallao," and in some places
"curadillo," and in others "troutlet;" so they asked him if he thought he
could eat troutlet, for there was no other fish to give him. "If there be
troutlets enough," said Don Quixote, "they will be the same thing as a
trout; for it is all one to me whether I am given eight reals in small
change or a piece of eight; moreover, it may be that these troutlets are
like veal, which is better than beef, or kid, which is better than goat.
But whatever it be let it come quickly, for the burden and pressure of
arms cannot be borne without support to the inside." They laid a table
for him at the door of the inn for the sake of the air, and the host
brought him a portion of ill-soaked and worse cooked stockfish, and a
piece of bread as black and mouldy as his own armour; but a laughable
sight it was to see him eating, for having his helmet on and the beaver
up, he could not with his own hands put anything into his mouth unless
some one else placed it there, and this service one of the ladies
rendered him. But to give him anything to drink was impossible, or would
have been so had not the landlord bored a reed, and putting one end in
his mouth poured the wine into him through the other; all which he bore
with patience rather than sever the ribbons of his helmet.

While this was going on there came up to the inn a sowgelder, who, as he
approached, sounded his reed pipe four or five times, and thereby
completely convinced Don Quixote that he was in some famous castle, and
that they were regaling him with music, and that the stockfish was trout,
the bread the whitest, the wenches ladies, and the landlord the castellan
of the castle; and consequently he held that his enterprise and sally had
been to some purpose. But still it distressed him to think he had not
been dubbed a knight, for it was plain to him he could not lawfully
engage in any adventure without receiving the order of knighthood.



Harassed by this reflection, he made haste with his scanty pothouse
supper, and having finished it called the landlord, and shutting himself
into the stable with him, fell on his knees before him, saying, "From
this spot I rise not, valiant knight, until your courtesy grants me the
boon I seek, one that will redound to your praise and the benefit of the
human race." The landlord, seeing his guest at his feet and hearing a
speech of this kind, stood staring at him in bewilderment, not knowing
what to do or say, and entreating him to rise, but all to no purpose
until he had agreed to grant the boon demanded of him. "I looked for no
less, my lord, from your High Magnificence," replied Don Quixote, "and I
have to tell you that the boon I have asked and your liberality has
granted is that you shall dub me knight to-morrow morning, and that
to-night I shall watch my arms in the chapel of this your castle; thus
tomorrow, as I have said, will be accomplished what I so much desire,
enabling me lawfully to roam through all the four quarters of the world
seeking adventures on behalf of those in distress, as is the duty of
chivalry and of knights-errant like myself, whose ambition is directed to
such deeds."

The landlord, who, as has been mentioned, was something of a wag, and had
already some suspicion of his guest's want of wits, was quite convinced
of it on hearing talk of this kind from him, and to make sport for the
night he determined to fall in with his humour. So he told him he was
quite right in pursuing the object he had in view, and that such a motive
was natural and becoming in cavaliers as distinguished as he seemed and
his gallant bearing showed him to be; and that he himself in his younger
days had followed the same honourable calling, roaming in quest of
adventures in various parts of the world, among others the Curing-grounds
of Malaga, the Isles of Riaran, the Precinct of Seville, the Little
Market of Segovia, the Olivera of Valencia, the Rondilla of Granada, the
Strand of San Lucar, the Colt of Cordova, the Taverns of Toledo, and
divers other quarters, where he had proved the nimbleness of his feet and
the lightness of his fingers, doing many wrongs, cheating many widows,
ruining maids and swindling minors, and, in short, bringing himself under
the notice of almost every tribunal and court of justice in Spain; until
at last he had retired to this castle of his, where he was living upon
his property and upon that of others; and where he received all
knights-errant of whatever rank or condition they might be, all for the
great love he bore them and that they might share their substance with
him in return for his benevolence. He told him, moreover, that in this
castle of his there was no chapel in which he could watch his armour, as
it had been pulled down in order to be rebuilt, but that in a case of
necessity it might, he knew, be watched anywhere, and he might watch it
that night in a courtyard of the castle, and in the morning, God willing,
the requisite ceremonies might be performed so as to have him dubbed a
knight, and so thoroughly dubbed that nobody could be more so. He asked
if he had any money with him, to which Don Quixote replied that he had
not a farthing, as in the histories of knights-errant he had never read
of any of them carrying any. On this point the landlord told him he was
mistaken; for, though not recorded in the histories, because in the
author's opinion there was no need to mention anything so obvious and
necessary as money and clean shirts, it was not to be supposed therefore
that they did not carry them, and he might regard it as certain and
established that all knights-errant (about whom there were so many full
and unimpeachable books) carried well-furnished purses in case of
emergency, and likewise carried shirts and a little box of ointment to
cure the wounds they received. For in those plains and deserts where they
engaged in combat and came out wounded, it was not always that there was
some one to cure them, unless indeed they had for a friend some sage
magician to succour them at once by fetching through the air upon a cloud
some damsel or dwarf with a vial of water of such virtue that by tasting
one drop of it they were cured of their hurts and wounds in an instant
and left as sound as if they had not received any damage whatever. But in
case this should not occur, the knights of old took care to see that
their squires were provided with money and other requisites, such as lint
and ointments for healing purposes; and when it happened that knights had
no squires (which was rarely and seldom the case) they themselves carried
everything in cunning saddle-bags that were hardly seen on the horse's
croup, as if it were something else of more importance, because, unless
for some such reason, carrying saddle-bags was not very favourably
regarded among knights-errant. He therefore advised him (and, as his
godson so soon to be, he might even command him) never from that time
forth to travel without money and the usual requirements, and he would
find the advantage of them when he least expected it.

Don Quixote promised to follow his advice scrupulously, and it was
arranged forthwith that he should watch his armour in a large yard at one
side of the inn; so, collecting it all together, Don Quixote placed it on
a trough that stood by the side of a well, and bracing his buckler on his
arm he grasped his lance and began with a stately air to march up and
down in front of the trough, and as he began his march night began to

The landlord told all the people who were in the inn about the craze of
his guest, the watching of the armour, and the dubbing ceremony he
contemplated. Full of wonder at so strange a form of madness, they
flocked to see it from a distance, and observed with what composure he
sometimes paced up and down, or sometimes, leaning on his lance, gazed on
his armour without taking his eyes off it for ever so long; and as the
night closed in with a light from the moon so brilliant that it might vie
with his that lent it, everything the novice knight did was plainly seen
by all.

Meanwhile one of the carriers who were in the inn thought fit to water
his team, and it was necessary to remove Don Quixote's armour as it lay
on the trough; but he seeing the other approach hailed him in a loud
voice, "O thou, whoever thou art, rash knight that comest to lay hands on
the armour of the most valorous errant that ever girt on sword, have a
care what thou dost; touch it not unless thou wouldst lay down thy life
as the penalty of thy rashness." The carrier gave no heed to these words
(and he would have done better to heed them if he had been heedful of his
health), but seizing it by the straps flung the armour some distance from
him. Seeing this, Don Quixote raised his eyes to heaven, and fixing his
thoughts, apparently, upon his lady Dulcinea, exclaimed, "Aid me, lady
mine, in this the first encounter that presents itself to this breast
which thou holdest in subjection; let not thy favour and protection fail
me in this first jeopardy;" and, with these words and others to the same
purpose, dropping his buckler he lifted his lance with both hands and
with it smote such a blow on the carrier's head that he stretched him on
the ground, so stunned that had he followed it up with a second there
would have been no need of a surgeon to cure him. This done, he picked up
his armour and returned to his beat with the same serenity as before.

Shortly after this, another, not knowing what had happened (for the
carrier still lay senseless), came with the same object of giving water
to his mules, and was proceeding to remove the armour in order to clear
the trough, when Don Quixote, without uttering a word or imploring aid
from anyone, once more dropped his buckler and once more lifted his
lance, and without actually breaking the second carrier's head into
pieces, made more than three of it, for he laid it open in four. At the
noise all the people of the inn ran to the spot, and among them the
landlord. Seeing this, Don Quixote braced his buckler on his arm, and
with his hand on his sword exclaimed, "O Lady of Beauty, strength and
support of my faint heart, it is time for thee to turn the eyes of thy
greatness on this thy captive knight on the brink of so mighty an
adventure." By this he felt himself so inspired that he would not have
flinched if all the carriers in the world had assailed him. The comrades
of the wounded perceiving the plight they were in began from a distance
to shower stones on Don Quixote, who screened himself as best he could
with his buckler, not daring to quit the trough and leave his armour
unprotected. The landlord shouted to them to leave him alone, for he had
already told them that he was mad, and as a madman he would not be
accountable even if he killed them all. Still louder shouted Don Quixote,
calling them knaves and traitors, and the lord of the castle, who allowed
knights-errant to be treated in this fashion, a villain and a low-born
knight whom, had he received the order of knighthood, he would call to
account for his treachery. "But of you," he cried, "base and vile rabble,
I make no account; fling, strike, come on, do all ye can against me, ye
shall see what the reward of your folly and insolence will be." This he
uttered with so much spirit and boldness that he filled his assailants
with a terrible fear, and as much for this reason as at the persuasion of
the landlord they left off stoning him, and he allowed them to carry off
the wounded, and with the same calmness and composure as before resumed
the watch over his armour.

But these freaks of his guest were not much to the liking of the
landlord, so he determined to cut matters short and confer upon him at
once the unlucky order of knighthood before any further misadventure
could occur; so, going up to him, he apologised for the rudeness which,
without his knowledge, had been offered to him by these low people, who,
however, had been well punished for their audacity. As he had already
told him, he said, there was no chapel in the castle, nor was it needed
for what remained to be done, for, as he understood the ceremonial of the
order, the whole point of being dubbed a knight lay in the accolade and
in the slap on the shoulder, and that could be administered in the middle
of a field; and that he had now done all that was needful as to watching
the armour, for all requirements were satisfied by a watch of two hours
only, while he had been more than four about it. Don Quixote believed it
all, and told him he stood there ready to obey him, and to make an end of
it with as much despatch as possible; for, if he were again attacked, and
felt himself to be dubbed knight, he would not, he thought, leave a soul
alive in the castle, except such as out of respect he might spare at his

Thus warned and menaced, the castellan forthwith brought out a book in
which he used to enter the straw and barley he served out to the
carriers, and, with a lad carrying a candle-end, and the two damsels
already mentioned, he returned to where Don Quixote stood, and bade him
kneel down. Then, reading from his account-book as if he were repeating
some devout prayer, in the middle of his delivery he raised his hand and
gave him a sturdy blow on the neck, and then, with his own sword, a smart
slap on the shoulder, all the while muttering between his teeth as if he
was saying his prayers. Having done this, he directed one of the ladies
to gird on his sword, which she did with great self-possession and
gravity, and not a little was required to prevent a burst of laughter at
each stage of the ceremony; but what they had already seen of the novice
knight's prowess kept their laughter within bounds. On girding him with
the sword the worthy lady said to him, "May God make your worship a very
fortunate knight, and grant you success in battle." Don Quixote asked her
name in order that he might from that time forward know to whom he was
beholden for the favour he had received, as he meant to confer upon her
some portion of the honour he acquired by the might of his arm. She
answered with great humility that she was called La Tolosa, and that she
was the daughter of a cobbler of Toledo who lived in the stalls of
Sanchobienaya, and that wherever she might be she would serve and esteem
him as her lord. Don Quixote said in reply that she would do him a favour
if thenceforward she assumed the "Don" and called herself Dona Tolosa.
She promised she would, and then the other buckled on his spur, and with
her followed almost the same conversation as with the lady of the sword.
He asked her name, and she said it was La Molinera, and that she was the
daughter of a respectable miller of Antequera; and of her likewise Don
Quixote requested that she would adopt the "Don" and call herself Dona
Molinera, making offers to her further services and favours.

Having thus, with hot haste and speed, brought to a conclusion these
never-till-now-seen ceremonies, Don Quixote was on thorns until he saw
himself on horseback sallying forth in quest of adventures; and saddling
Rocinante at once he mounted, and embracing his host, as he returned
thanks for his kindness in knighting him, he addressed him in language so
extraordinary that it is impossible to convey an idea of it or report it.
The landlord, to get him out of the inn, replied with no less rhetoric
though with shorter words, and without calling upon him to pay the
reckoning let him go with a Godspeed.

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