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The History of Don Quixote de la Mancha

It happened to be the Diana of Montemayor


he bid the housekeeper take

all the great volumes, 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: so that laying hold of no less than eight volumes at once, she presently made them leap towards the place of execution. "But what shall we do with all these smaller books that are left?" said the barber. "Certainly," replied the curate, "these cannot be books of knight-errantry, they are too small; you will find they are only poets." And so opening one, it happened to be the Diana of Montemayor; which made him say, (believing all the rest to be of that stamp) "These do not deserve to be punished like the others, for they neither have done, nor can do, that mischief which those stories of chivalry have done, being generally ingenious books, that can do nobody any prejudice." "Oh! good sir," cried the niece, "burn them with the rest, I beseech you; for should my uncle get cured of his knight-errant frenzy, and betake himself to the reading of these books, we should have him turn shepherd, and so wander through the woods and fields; nay, and what would be worse yet, turn poet, which they say is a catching and incurable disease." "The gentlewoman is in the right," said the curate; "and it will not be amiss to remove that stumbling-block out of our friend's way; and since we began with the Diana of Montemayor, I am of opinion we ought not to burn it, but only take out that part of it which treats
of the magician Felicia and the enchanted water, as also all the longer poems; and let the work escape with its prose, and the honour of being the first of that kind." "Here," quoth the barber, "I've a book called the Ten Books of the Fortunes of Love, by Anthony de Lofraco, a Sardinian poet." "Now we have got a prize," cried the curate, "I do not think since Apollo was Apollo, the muses muses, and the poets poets, there ever was a more humorous, more whimsical book! Of all the works of the kind commend me to this, for in its way 'tis certainly the best and most singular that ever was published; and he that never read it may safely think he never in his life read any thing that was pleasant." With that he laid it aside with extraordinary satisfaction; and the barber went on: "The next," said he, "is the Shepherd of Filida." "He's no shepherd," returned the curate, "but a very discreet courtier; keep him as a precious jewel." "Here's a bigger," cried the barber, "called the Treasure of divers Poems." "Had there been less of it," said the curate, "it would have been more esteemed. 'Tis fit the book should be pruned and cleared of some inferior things that encumber and deform it: keep it, however, because the author is my friend, and for the sake of his other more heroic and lofty productions. What's the next book?" "The Galatea of Miguel de Cervantes," replied the barber. "That Cervantes has been my intimate acquaintance these many years," cried the curate; "and I know he has been more conversant with misfortunes than with poetry. His book, indeed, has I don't know what, that looks like a good design; he aims at something, but concludes nothing: therefore we must stay for the second part, which he has promised us; perhaps he may make us amends, and obtain a full pardon, which is denied him for the present; till that time keep him close prisoner at your house." "I will," quoth the barber: "but see, I have here three more for you, the Araucana of Don Alonso de Ercilla; the Austirada of Juan Ruffo, a magistrate of Cordova; and the Monserrato of Christopher de Virves, a Valentian poet." "These," cried the curate, "are the best heroic poems we have in Spanish, and may vie with the most celebrated of Italy: reserve them as the most valuable performances which Spain has to boast of in poetry."

At last the curate grew so tired with prying into so many volumes, that he ordered all the rest to be burnt at a venture. But the barber shewed him one which he had opened by chance ere the dreadful sentence was past. "Truly," said the curate, who saw by the title it was the Tears of Angelica, "I should have wept myself, had I caused such a book to share the condemnation of the rest; for the author was not only one of the best poets in Spain, but in the whole world, and translated some of Ovid's fables with extraordinary success."


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