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The History of Don Quixote de la Mancha

How honourable and how excellent a lady Queen Madasima was


faith, Sancho," answered Don Quixote, "if thou didst but know, as I do, how honourable and how excellent a lady Queen Madasima was, I am certain thou wouldst acknowledge that I had a great deal of patience in forbearing to dash to pieces that mouth out of which such blasphemies issued; and to prove that Cardenio knew not what he spoke, thou mayest remember that when he said it he was not in his senses." "That is what I say," quoth Sancho; "and therefore no account should have been made of his words; for if good fortune had not befriended your worship, and directed the flint-stone at your breast instead of your head, we had been in a fine condition for standing up in defence of that dear lady; and Cardenio would have come off unpunished, being insane." "Against the sane and insane," answered Don Quixote, "it is the duty of a knight-errant to defend the honour of women, particularly that of a queen of such exalted worth as Queen Madasima, for whom I have a particular affection, on account of her excellent qualities; for, besides being extremely beautiful, she was very prudent, and very patient in her afflictions, which were numerous. But prythee, Sancho, peace; and henceforward attend to our matters, and forbear any interference with what doth not concern thee. Be convinced, that whatever I have done, do, or shall do, is highly reasonable, and exactly conformable to the rules of chivalry, which I am better acquainted with than all the knights who ever professed it in the world."
"Sir," replied Sancho, "is it a good rule of chivalry for us to go wandering through these mountains, without either path or road, in quest of a madman who, perhaps, when he is found, will be inclined to finish what he began,--not his story, but the breaking of your worship's head and my ribs?"

"Peace, Sancho, I repeat," said Don Quixote; "for know that it is not only the desire of finding the madman that brings me to these parts, but an intention to perform in them an exploit whereby I shall acquire perpetual fame and renown over the face of the whole earth; and it shall be such an one as shall set the seal to make an accomplished knight-errant." "And is this exploit a very dangerous one?" quoth Sancho. "No," answered the knight; "although the die may chance to run unfortunately for us, yet the whole will depend upon thy diligence." "Upon my diligence!" exclaimed Sancho. "Yes," said Don Quixote; "for if thy return be speedy from the place whither I intend to send thee, my pain will soon be over, and my glory forthwith commence; and that thou mayest no longer be in suspense with regard to the tendency of my words, I inform thee, Sancho, that the famous Amadis de Gaul was one of the most perfect of knights-errant--I should not say one, for he was the sole, the principal, the unique--in short, the prince of all his contemporaries. A fig for Don Belianis, and all those who say that he equalled Amadis in any thing; for I swear they are mistaken. I say, moreover, that if a painter would be famous in his art he must endeavour to copy after the originals of the most excellent masters. The same rule is also applicable to all the other arts and sciences which adorn the commonwealth; thus, whoever aspires to a reputation for prudence and patience must imitate Ulysses, in whose person and toils Homer draws a lively picture of those qualities; so also Virgil, in the character of AEneas, delineates filial piety, courage, and martial skill, being representations not of what they really were, but of what they ought to be, in order to serve as models of virtue to succeeding generations. Thus was Amadis the polar, the morning-star, and the sun of all valiant and enamoured knights, and whom all we, who militate under the banners of love and chivalry, ought to follow. This being the case, friend Sancho, that knight-errant who best imitates him will be most certain of arriving at pre-eminence in chivalry. And an occasion upon which this knight particularly displayed his prudence, worth, courage, patience, constancy, and love, was his retiring, when disdained by the Lady Oriana, to do penance on the poor rock, changing his name to that of Beltenebros; a name most certainly significant and proper for the life he had voluntarily chosen. Now it is easier for me to imitate him in this than in cleaving giants, beheading serpents, slaying dragons, routing armies, shattering fleets, and dissolving enchantments; and since this place is so well adapted for the purpose, I ought not to neglect the opportunity which is now so commodiously offered to me."

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