Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis
The Life and Exploits
of the Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha
By Miguel de Cervantes, Translated by Charles Jarvis, Esq.
The First Part
CHAPTER VI: Of the pleasant and grand Scrutiny made by the
Priest and the Barber
Whilst Don Quixote still slept on, the priest asked the niece for the keys of the chamber where the books were, those authors of the mischief, and she delivered them with a very good will. They all went in, and the housekeeper with them. They found above a hundred volumes in folio, very well bound, besides a great many small ones. And no sooner did the housekeeper see them than she ran out of the room in great haste, and immediately returned with a pot of holy water and a bunch of hyssop, and said: "Signor Licentiate, take this and sprinkle the room, lest some enchanter of the many these books abound with enchant us in revenge for what we intend to do in banishing them out of the world." The priest smiled at the housekeeper's simplicity, and ordered the barber to reach him the books one by one, that they might see what they treated of; for perhaps they might find some that might not deserve to be chastised by fire. "No," said the niece, "there is no reason why any of them should be spared, for they have all been mischief-makers. It will be best to fling them out of the window into the court-yard, and make a pile of them and set fire to it, or else carry them into the back-yard, and there make a bonfire of them, and the smoke will offend nobody." The housekeeper said the same, so eagerly did they both thirst for the death of those innocents. But the priest would not agree to that without first reading the titles at least.
The first that master Nicholas put into his hands was Amadis de Gaul, in four parts; and the priest said, "There seems to be some mystery in this, for as I have heard say, this was the first book of chivalry printed in Spain, and all the rest have had their foundation and rise from it; and therefore I think, as head of so pernicious a sect, we ought to condemn him to the fire without mercy." — "Not so, Sir," said the barber; "for I have heard also that it is the best of all the books of this kind: and therefore, as being singular in his art, he ought to be spared." — "It is true," said the priest, "and for that reason his life is granted him for the present. Let us see the other which stands next him." — "It is," said the barber, "the Adventures of Esplandian, the legitimate son of Amadis de Gaul." — "Verily," said the priest, "the goodness of the father shall avail the son nothing; take him, mistress Housekeeper, open yon casement, and throw him into the yard, and let him give a beginning to the pile for the intended bonfire." The housekeeper did so with much satisfaction, and honest Esplandian was sent flying into the yard, there to wait with patience for the fire with which he was threatened. "Proceed," said the priest. "The next," said the barber, "is Amadis of Greece; yea, and all these on this side, I believe, are of the lineage of Amadis." — "Then into the yard with them all, "quoth the priest; "for rather than not burn Queen Pintiquiniestra, (22) and the shepherd Darinel, (23) with his eclogues, and the devilish intricate discourses of its author, I would burn the father who begot me did I meet him in the garb of a knight-errant." — "Of the same opinion am I," said the barber. — "And I too," added the niece. "Since it is so," said -- the housekeeper, "away with them all into the yard." They handed them to her, and there being great numbers of them, to save herself the trouble of the stairs, she threw them all, the shortest way, out of the window.
"What tun of an author is that?" said the priest. "This is," answered the barber, "Don Olivante de Laura." — "The author of that book," said the priest, "was the same who composed the Garden of Flowers; and in good truth I know not which of the two books is the truest, or rather the least lying. I can only say that this goes to the yard for his arrogance and absurdity." — "This that follows is Florismarte of Hyrcania," said the barber. — "What! is Signor Florismarte there?" replied the priest. "Now, in good faith, he shall soon make his appearance in the yard, notwithstanding his strange birth and chimerical adventures; for the harshness and dryness of his style will admit of no excuse. To the yard with him and this other, mistress Housekeeper." — "With all my heart, dear Sir," answered she; and with much joy executed what she was commanded. "This is the Knight Platir," said the barber. "That," said the priest, "is an ancient book, and I find nothing in him deserving pardon: let him keep the rest company without more words." And it was accordingly done. They opened another book, and found it entitled the Knight of the Cross. "So religious a title," quoth the priest, "might, one would think, atone for the ignorance of the author; but it is a common saying, The devil lurks behind the cross: so to the fire with him." The barber, taking down another book, said, "This is the Mirror of Chivalry." — "Oh! I know his worship very well," quoth the priest. "Here comes Signor Reynaldos de Montalvan, with his friends and companions, greater thieves than Cacus; and the twelve peers, with the faithful historiographer Turpin. However, I am only for condemning them to perpetual banishment because they contain some things of the famous Mateo Boyardo's (24) invention; from whom, also, the Christian poet Ludovico Ariosto spun his web: but if I find even him here, and speaking any other language than his own, I will show him no respect; but, if he speaks in his own tongue, I will put him upon my head." — "I have him in Italian," said the barber, "but I do not understand him." — " Neither is it any great matter whether you understand him or not," answered the priest: "and we would willingly have excused the good captain from bringing him into Spain, and making him a Castilian; for he has deprived him of a great deal of his native value: and this is the misfortune of all those who undertake to translate books of verse into other languages; for, with all their care and skill, they can never raise them to the pitch they were at in their first production. I pronounce, in short, that this and all other books that shall be found treating of French matters be thrown aside, and deposited in some dry vault until we can determine, with more deliberation, what is to be done with them; excepting Bernardo del Carpio, and another called Roncesvalles, who, if they fall into my hands, shall pass into the housekeeper's, and thence into the fire, without any remission." The barber confirmed the sentence, and held it for good, and a matter well determined, knowing that the priest was so good a Christian and so much a friend to truth, that he would not utter a falsehood for all the world.
And so opening another book he saw it was Palmerin de Oliva, and next it another, called Palmerin of England; which the licentiate espying, said, "Let this Oliva be torn to pieces and burnt, that not so much as the -- ashes may remain; but let Palmerin of England be preserved and kept as a singular piece; and let such another case be made for it as that which Alexander found among the spoils of Darius, and appropriated to preserve the works of the poet Homer. This book, brother, is considerable upon two accounts: the one, that it is very good in itself; and the other, because there is a tradition that it was written by an ingenious King of Portugal. All the adventures of the castle of Miraguarda are most excellent and artificial, the dialogue courtly and clear, and the decorum preserved in all the characters with great judgment and propriety. Therefore, master Nicholas, saving your better judgment, let this and Amadis de Gaul be exempted from the fire, and let all the rest perish without any farther inquiry." — "Not so, brother," replied the barber; "for this, that I have here, is the renowned Don Belianis." The priest replied, "This, with the second, third, and fourth parts, wants a little rhubarb to purge away its excessive choler. Besides, we must remove all that relates to the castle of Fame, and other impertinences of greater consequence; wherefore, let them have the benefit of transportation, and as they show signs of amendment, they shall be treated with mercy or justice. In the meantime, neighbour, give them room in your house; but let nobody read them. — "With all my heart," quoth the barber; and, without tiring himself any farther in turning over books of chivalry, he bid the housekeeper take all the great ones and throw them into the yard. This was not spoken to one stupid or deaf, but to one who had a greater mind to be burning them than weaving the finest and largest web; and therefore, laying hold of seven or eight at once, she tossed them out at the window.
By her taking so many together there fell one at the barber's feet, who had a mind to see what it was, and found it to be The History of the renowned knight, Tirante the White. "God save me!" quoth the priest, with a loud voice, "is Tirante the White there? Give me him here, neighbour; for I make account I have found in him a treasure of delight, and a mine of entertainment. Here we have Don Kyrieleison, of Mon- talvan, a valorous knight, and his brother Thomas of Montalvan, and the knight Fonseca, and the combat which the valiant Detriante fought with Alano, and the smart conceits of the damsel Placerdemivida, with the amours and artifices of the widow Reposada, and the empress in love with her squire Hypolito. Verily, neighbour, in its way, it is the best book in the world: here the knights eat and sleep, and die in their beds, and make their wills before their deaths; with several things, which are wanting in all other books of this kind. Notwithstanding all this I tell you, the author deserved, for writing so many foolish things seriously, to be sent to the galleys for all the days of his life: carry it home and read it, and you will find all I say of him to be true." — "I will do so," answered the barber; "but what shall we do with these little books that remain?" — "These," said the priest, "are, probably, not books of chivalry, but of poetry;" and opening one, he found it was Diana of George of Montemayor, and said, believing all the rest to be of the same kind, "These do not deserve to be burnt like the rest; for they cannot do the mischief that those of chivalry have done: they are works of genius and fancy, and do nobody any hurt." — " Oh, Sir," said the niece, "pray order these to be burnt with the rest; for should my uncle be cured of this distemper of chivalry, he may possibly, by reading these books, take it into his head to turn shepherd, and wander through the woods and fields, singing and playing -- on a pipe; and what would be still worse, to turn poet, which, they say, is an incurable and contagious disease." — "The damsel says true," quoth the priest, "and it will not be amiss to remove this stumbling-block and occasion out of our friend's way. And since we begin with Diana of Montemayor, I am of opinion not to burn it, but to take away all that treats of the sage Felicia, and of the enchanted fountain, and almost all the longer poems, and leave him the prose in God's name, and the honour of being the first in that kind of writing." — "This that follows," said the barber, "is Diana, called the second, by Salmantino; and another of the same name, whose author is Gil Polo." — "The Salmantinian," answered the priest, "may accompany and increase the number of the condemned; to the yard with him: but let that of Gil Polo be preserved as if it were written by Apollo himself. Proceed, neighbour, and let us despatch, for it grows late."
"This," said the barber, opening another, "is the Ten Books of the Fortune of Love, composed by Antonio de Lofraso, a Sardinian poet." — "By the holy orders I have received," said the priest, "since Apollo was Apollo, the muses muses, and the poets poets, so humorous and so whimsical a book as this was never written; it is the best and most singular of the kind that ever appeared in the world, and he who has not read it, may reckon that he never read anything of taste: give it me here, brother; for I value the finding it more than if I had been presented with a cassock of Florence satin." He laid it aside with exceeding pleasure, and the barber proceeded, saying, "These that follow are the Shepherd of Iberia, the Nymphs of Enares, and the Cures of Jealousy." — "There is no more to be done," said the priest, "but to deliver them up to the secular arm (25) of the housekeeper; and ask me not why, for then we should never have done." — "This, that comes next, is the Shepherd of Filida." — "He is no shepherd," said the priest, "but an ingenious courtier; let him be preserved, and laid up as a precious jewel." — "This bulky volume here," said the barber, "is entitled The Treasure of divers Poems." — "Had they been fewer," replied the priest, "they would have been more esteemed. It is necessary this book should be weeded and cleared of all the low things interspersed among its sublimities: let it be preserved, both as the author is my friend, and out of regard to other more heroic and exalted pieces of his writing." — "This," pursued the barber, "is a book of Songs by Lopez Maldonado." — "The author of this book also," replied the priest, "is a great friend of mine. His verses, sung by himself, raise admiration in the hearers; and such is the sweetness of his voice in singing them, that they perfectly enchant. He is a little too prolix in his eclogues, but there can never be too much of what is really good: let it be kept with the select."
"But what book is that next to it?" — "The Galatea of Michael de Cervantes," said the barber.
"That Cervantes has been a great friend of mine these many years, and I know that he is better acquainted with
misfortunes than with poetry. His book has somewhat of good invention in it; he proposes something, but concludes
nothing: we must wait for the second part which he promises: perhaps on his amendment he may obtain that entire
pardon which is now denied him; in the meantime, neighbour, keep him a recluse in your chamber." — "With all my
heart," answered the barber, "and here come three together: the Araucana of Don Alonso de Ercilla, the Austriada of
John Rufo, a magistrate of Cordova, and the Monserrato of Christoval de Virues, a poet of Valencia." — "These three
-- books," said the priest, "are the best that are
written in heroic verse in the Castilian tongue, and may stand in competition with the most famous of Italy; let
them be preserved as the best performances in poetry Spain can boast of." The priest grew tired of looking over so
many books, and so, inside and contents unknown, he would have all the rest burnt. But the barber had already opened
one called the Tears of Angelica. "I should have shed tears myself," said the priest, hearing the name, "had I
ordered that book to be burnt; for its author was one of the most famous poets, not of Spain only, but of the whole
world, and translated some fables of Ovid with great success."
Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis