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The History of Don Quixote de la Mancha

Follow the narrow track of knight errantry


Quixote gave this reverend person a hearing with great patience. But at last, seeing him silent, without minding his respect to the duke and duchess, up he started with indignation and fury in his looks, and said----But his answer deserves a chapter by itself.


_Don Quixote's answer to his reprover; with other grave and merry accidents._

Don Quixote having thus suddenly got up, with his whole frame agitated with indignation, cast an angry look on his indiscreet censor, and thus spake: "This place, the presence of these noble persons, and the respect I have always had for your function, check my just resentment, and tie up my hands from taking the satisfaction of a gentleman. For these reasons, and since every one knows that you gown-men, as well as women, use no other weapons but your tongues, I will fairly engage you upon equal terms, and combat you at your own weapon. I should rather have expected sober admonitions from a man of your cloth, than infamous reproaches. Charitable and wholesome correction ought to be managed at another rate, and with more moderation. The least that can be said of this reproof, which you have given me here so bitterly and in public, is, that it has exceeded the bounds of Christian correction, and a gentle one had been much more becoming. Is it fit that without any insight into the offence which

you reprove, you should, without any more ado, call the offender fool, sot, and addlepate? Pray, sir, what foolish action have you seen me do, that should provoke you to give me such ill language, and bid me so magisterially go home to look after my wife and children, before you know whether I have any? Don't you think those deserve as severe a censure who screw themselves into other men's houses, and pretend to rule the master? A fine world it is truly, when a poor pedant, who has seen no more of it than lies within twenty or thirty leagues about him, shall take upon him to prescribe laws to knight-errantry, and judge of those who profess it! You, forsooth, esteem it an idle undertaking, and time lost, to wander through the world, though scorning its pleasures and sharing the hardships and toils of it, by which the virtuous aspire to the high seat of immortality. If persons of honour, knights, lords, gentlemen, or men of any birth, should take me for a fool or a coxcomb, I should think it an irreparable affront. But for mere scholars, that never trode the path of chivalry, to think me mad, I despise and laugh at it. I am a knight, and a knight will I die, if so it please Omnipotence. Some choose the high road of haughty ambition; others the low ways of base servile flattery; a third sort take the crooked path of deceitful hypocrisy; and a few, very few, that of true religion. I, for my own part, follow the narrow track of knight-errantry; and for the exercise of it I despise riches, but not honour. I have redressed grievances, and righted the injured, chastised the insolent, vanquished giants, and trod elves and hobgoblins under my feet. I am in love, but no more than the profession of knight-errantry obliges me to be. My intentions are all directed to virtuous ends, and to do no man wrong, but good to all the world. And now let your graces judge, most excellent duke and duchess, whether a person who makes it his only study to practise all this deserves to be upbraided for a fool."

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