WHICH TREATS OF THE CHARACTER AND PURSUITS OF THE FAMOUS GENTLEMANDON QUIXOTE OF LA MANCHA
IN a village of La Mancha, the name of which I have no desire tocall to mind, there lived not long since one of those gentlemen thatkeep a lance in the lance-rack, an old buckler, a lean hack, and agreyhound for coursing. An olla of rather more beef than mutton, asalad on most nights, scraps on Saturdays, lentils on Fridays, and apigeon or so extra on Sundays, made away with three-quarters of hisincome. The rest of it went in a doublet of fine cloth and velvetbreeches and shoes to match for holidays, while on week-days he made abrave figure in his best homespun. He had in his house a housekeeperpast forty, a niece under twenty, and a lad for the field andmarket-place, who used to saddle the hack as well as handle thebill-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 anda great sportsman. They will have it his surname was Quixada orQuesada （for here there is some difference of opinion among theauthors who write on the subject）， although from reasonableconjectures it seems plain that he was called Quexana. This,however, is of but little importance to our tale; it will be enoughnot to stray a hair's breadth from the truth in the telling of it.
You must know, then, that the above-named gentleman whenever hewas at leisure （which was mostly all the year round） gave himself upto reading books of chivalry with such ardour and avidity that healmost entirely neglected the pursuit of his field-sports, and eventhe management of his property; and to such a pitch did hiseagerness and infatuation go that he sold many an acre oftillageland to buy books of chivalry to read, and brought home as manyof them as he could get. But of all there were none he liked so wellas those of the famous Feliciano de Silva's composition, for theirlucidity of style and complicated conceits were as pearls in hissight, particularly when in his reading he came upon courtships andcartels, where he often found passages like "the reason of theunreason with which my reason is afflicted so weakens my reason thatwith reason I murmur at your beauty;" or again, "the high heavens,that of your divinity divinely fortify you with the stars, renderyou deserving of the desert your greatness deserves." Over conceits ofthis sort the poor gentleman lost his wits, and used to lie awakestriving to understand them and worm the meaning out of them; whatAristotle himself could not have made out or extracted had he cometo life again for that special purpose. He was not at all easy aboutthe wounds which Don Belianis gave and took, because it seemed tohim that, great as were the surgeons who had cured him, he must havehad his face and body covered all over with seams and scars. Hecommended, however, the author's way of ending his book with thepromise of that interminable adventure, and many a time was he temptedto 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 workof it too, had not greater and more absorbing thoughts prevented him.
Many an argument did he have with the curate of his village （alearned man, and a graduate of Siguenza） as to which had been thebetter knight, Palmerin of England or Amadis of Gaul. Master Nicholas,the village barber, however, used to say that neither of them cameup to the Knight of Phoebus, and that if there was any that couldcompare 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 nofinikin knight, nor lachrymose like his brother, while in the matterof valour he was not a whit behind him. In short, he became soabsorbed 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 littlesleep 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 hismind 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 tosay the Cid Ruy Diaz was a very good knight, but that he was not to becompared with the Knight of the Burning Sword who with one back-strokecut in half two fierce and monstrous giants. He thought more ofBernardo del Carpio because at Roncesvalles he slew Roland in spite ofenchantments, availing himself of the artifice of Hercules when hestrangled Antaeus the son of Terra in his arms. He approved highlyof the giant Morgante, because, although of the giant breed which isalways arrogant and ill-conditioned, he alone was affable andwell-bred. But above all he admired Reinaldos of Montalban, especiallywhen he saw him sallying forth from his castle and robbing everyone hemet, and when beyond the seas he stole that image of Mahomet which, ashis history says, was entirely of gold. To have a bout of kicking atthat traitor of a Ganelon he would have given his housekeeper, and hisniece into the bargain.
In short, his wits being quite gone, he hit upon the strangestnotion that ever madman in this world hit upon, and that was that hefancied it was right and requisite, as well for the support of his ownhonour as for the service of his country, that he should make aknight-errant of himself, roaming the world over in full armour and onhorseback in quest of adventures, and putting in practice himselfall that he had read of as being the usual practices ofknights-errant; righting every kind of wrong, and exposing himselfto peril and danger from which, in the issue, he was to reap eternalrenown and fame. Already the poor man saw himself crowned by the mightof his arm Emperor of Trebizond at least; and so, led away by theintense enjoyment he found in these pleasant fancies, he set himselfforthwith to put his scheme into execution.
The first thing he did was to clean up some armour that had belongedto his great-grandfather, and had been for ages lying forgotten in acorner eaten with rust and covered with mildew. He scoured andpolished it as best he could, but he perceived one great defect in it,that it had no closed helmet, nothing but a simple morion. Thisdeficiency, however, his ingenuity supplied, for he contrived a kindof half-helmet of pasteboard which, fitted on to the morion, lookedlike a whole one. It is true that, in order to see if it was strongand fit to stand a cut, he drew his sword and gave it a couple ofslashes, the first of which undid in an instant what had taken him aweek to do. The ease with which he had knocked it to piecesdisconcerted him somewhat, and to guard against that danger he setto work again, fixing bars of iron on the inside until he wassatisfied with its strength; and then, not caring to try any moreexperiments with it, he passed it and adopted it as a helmet of themost perfect construction.
He next proceeded to inspect his hack, which, with more quartos thana real and more blemishes than the steed of Gonela, that "tantumpellis et ossa fuit," surpassed in his eyes the Bucephalus ofAlexander or the Babieca of the Cid. Four days were spent inthinking what name to give him, because （as he said to himself） it wasnot right that a horse belonging to a knight so famous, and one withsuch merits of his own, should be without some distinctive name, andhe strove to adapt it so as to indicate what he had been beforebelonging to a knight-errant, and what he then was; for it was onlyreasonable that, his master taking a new character, he should take anew 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, andremade a multitude of names out of his memory and fancy, he decidedupon calling him Rocinante, a name, to his thinking, lofty,sonorous, and significant of his condition as a hack before hebecame what he now was, the first and foremost of all the hacks in theworld.
Having got a name for his horse so much to his taste, he was anxiousto get one for himself, and he was eight days more pondering over thispoint, till at last he made up his mind to call himself "Don Quixote,"whence, as has been already said, the authors of this veracioushistory have inferred that his name must have been beyond a doubtQuixada, and not Quesada as others would have it. Recollecting,however, that the valiant Amadis was not content to call himselfcurtly Amadis and nothing more, but added the name of his kingdomand 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 tostyle himself Don Quixote of La Mancha, whereby, he considered, hedescribed accurately his origin and country, and did honour to it intaking his surname from it.
So then, his armour being furbished, his morion turned into ahelmet, his hack christened, and he himself confirmed, he came tothe conclusion that nothing more was needed now but to look out fora lady to be in love with; for a knight-errant without love was like atree without leaves or fruit, or a body without a soul. As he saidto himself, "If, for my sins, or by my good fortune, I come acrosssome giant hereabouts, a common occurrence with knights-errant, andoverthrow him in one onslaught, or cleave him asunder to the waist,or, in short, vanquish and subdue him, will it not be well to havesome one I may send him to as a present, that he may come in andfall on his knees before my sweet lady, and in a humble, submissivevoice say, 'I am the giant Caraculiambro, lord of the island ofMalindrania, vanquished in single combat by the never sufficientlyextolled knight Don Quixote of La Mancha, who has commanded me topresent myself before your Grace, that your Highness dispose of meat your pleasure'?" Oh, how our good gentleman enjoyed the delivery ofthis speech, especially when he had thought of some one to call hisLady! There was, so the story goes, in a village near his own a verygood-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 tothe matter. Her name was Aldonza Lorenzo, and upon her he thoughtfit to confer the title of Lady of his Thoughts; and after some searchfor a name which should not be out of harmony with her own, and shouldsuggest and indicate that of a princess and great lady, he decidedupon calling her Dulcinea del Toboso -she being of El Toboso- aname, to his mind, musical, uncommon, and significant, like allthose he had already bestowed upon himself and the things belonging tohim.