Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis

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-[XXIII]-

The Life and Exploits
of the Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha

By Miguel de Cervantes, Translated by Charles Jarvis, Esq.

The Second Part
 

The
Author's Preface to the Second Part (*)

 

Verily, reader, gentle or simple whatever thou art, with what impatience must thou now be waiting for this Preface! doubtless prepared to find it full of resentment, railing, and invective against the author of the second Don Quixote him I mean who, the world says, was begotten in Tordesillas and born in Tarragona. But in truth, it is not my intention to give thee that satisfaction; for, though injuries are apt to awaken choler in the humblest; breast, yet in mine this rule must admit of on exception. Perhaps thou wouldst have me call him ass, madman, and coxcomb; but no: be his own folly his punishment.

There is one thing, however, which I cannot pass over in silence. I am guilty, it seems, of being old; and it is also proved upon me that I have lost my hand! as if I had the power to arrest the progress of time; and that this maim was the effect of some tavern brawl, and not received on the noblest occasion (1) that past or present times have witnessed, or the future can ever hope to see! If my wounds be disregarded by those who simply look on them, they will be honoured by those who know how they were gained; for a soldier makes a nobler figure dead, in the field of battle, than alive, flying from his enemy; and so firmly fixed am I in this opinion that, could the impossibility be overcome, and I had the power to choose, I would rather be again present in that stupendous action than whole and sound, without sharing in its glory. The scars on the front of a brave soldier are stars that direct others to the haven of honour, and create in them a noble emulation. Let it be remembered, too, that books -[XXIV]- are not composed by the hand, but by the understanding, which is ripened by experience and length of years.

I have also heard that this author calls me envious: and, moreover, in consideration of my ignorance, kindly describes to me what envy is! In truth, the only envy of which I am conscious is a noble, virtuous, and holy emulation, which would never dispose me to inveigh against an ecclesiastic; especially, against one who holds a dignified rank in the Inquisition; and if he has been influenced by his zeal for the person (2) to whom he seems to allude, he is utterly mistaken in my sentiments; for I revere that gentleman's genius, and admire his works, and his virtuous activity. Nevertheless, I cannot refuse my acknowledgment to this worthy author, for his commendation of my novels, which, he says, are good, although more satirical than moral; but how they happen to be good, yet deficient in morality, it would be difficult to show.

Methinks, reader, thou wilt confess that I proceed with much forbearance and modesty, from a feeling that we should not add to the sufferings of the afflicted; and that this gentleman's case must be lamentable, is evident from his not daring to appear in open day: concealing his name and his country, as if some treason, or other crime, were upon his conscience. But shouldst thou by chance full into his company, tell him, from me, that I do not think myself aggrieved; for I well know what the temptations of the devil are, and that one of the greatest is the persuading a man that he can write a book by which he will surely gain both wealth and fame; and, to illustrate the truth of this, pray tell him, in thy pleasant way, the following story:

"A madman once, in Seville, was seized with as whimsical a conceit as ever entered into a madman's brain. He provided himself with a hollow cane, pointed at one end, and whenever he met with a dog in the street or elsewhere, he laid hold of him, set his foot on one of his hinder legs, and seizing the other in his hand, dexterously applied the pointed end of the cane to the dog's posteriors, and blew him up as round as a ball; then giving his inflated body a slap or two with the palm of his hand, he let him go, saying to the by-standers, who were always numerous, 'Well, gentlemen, I suppose you think it an easy matter to blow up a dog ?' And you, sir, perhaps, may think it an easy matter to write a book."

If this story should not happen to hit his fancy, pray, kind reader, tell him this other, which is likewise of a madman and a dog:

"In the city of Cordova lived another maniac, whose custom was to walk about the streets with a large stone upon his head, of no inconsiderable weight; and wherever he met with any careless cur, he edged slily towards him, and when quite close, let the stone fall plump upon his body; whereupon the dog, in great wrath, limped away, barking and howling, for more than three streets' length, without once looking behind him. Now it happened, that among other dogs, he met with one that belonged to a cap-maker, who valued him mightily; down went the stone, and hit him exactly on the head; the poor animal cried out; his master, seeing the act, was enraged, and, catching up his measuring-yard, fell upon the madman, and left him with scarcely a whole bone in his skin: at every blow venting his fury in reproaches, saying, 'Dog! rogue! rascal! What! maltreat my dog! a spaniel! Did you not see, barbarian! that my dog was a spaniel?' and after repeating the word 'spaniel ' very often, he dismissed the culprit, beaten to a jelly. The madman took his correction in silence, and walked off; nor did he show himself again in the market-place till more than a month afterwards, when he returned to his former amusement, with a still greater stone upon his head. It was observed, however, that on coming up to a dog, he first carefully surveyed it from head to tail, and, not daring to let the stone fall, he said, ''Ware spaniel! this won't do.' In short, whatever dog he met with terrier, mastiff, or hound they were all spaniels; and so great was his dread of -[XXV]- committing another mistake that he never ventured to let fall his slab again." Thus warned, perhaps, our historian may think it necessary, before he again lets fall the ponderous weight of his wit, to look and examine where it is likely to drop.

Tell him also, that as to his threatening, by his counterfeit wares, to deprive me of my expected gain, I value it not a rush, and will only answer him from the famous interlude of Parendenga "Long live my lord and master, and Christ be with us all! Long live the great Count de Lemos! whose well-known liberality supports me under all the strokes of adverse fortune; and all honour and praise to the eminent bounty of his grace the archbishop of Toledo, Bernardo de Sandoval! and let them write against me as many books as there are letters in the rhymes Mingo Rebulgo. These two nobles, unsought by adulation on my part, but merely of their own goodness, have taken upon them to patronize and favour me; wherefore I esteem myself happier and richer than if fortune, by her ordinary means, had placed me on her highest pinnacle. Such honour the meritorious, not the vicious, may aspire to, although oppressed by poverty. The noble mind may be clouded by adversity, but cannot be wholly concealed: for true merit shines by a light of its own, and, glimmering through the rents and crannies of indigence, is perceived, respected, and honoured by the generous and the great.

More than this, reader, thou needst not say to him; nor will I say more to thee, except merely observing, for thy information, that this Second Part of Don Quixote, here offered to thee, is cut by the same hand, and out of the same piece, as the First Part; and that herein I present thee with Don Quixote whole and entire: having placed him in his grave at full length, and fairly dead, that no one may presume to expose him to new adventures, since he has achieved enough already. It is sufficient that his ingenious follies have been recorded by a writer of credit, who has resolved to take up the subject no more: for we may be surfeited by too much of what is good, and scarcity gives a relish to what is only indifferent.

I had forgotten to tell thee that thou mayest soon expect the Persiles, which I have nearly complete, and also the second part of the Galatea.

 

Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis

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