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The History of Don Quixote, Volume 2, Part 29

Produced by David Widger

DON QUIXOTE

Volume II.

Part 29.

by Miguel de Cervantes

Translated by John Ormsby

CHAPTER XXXII.

OF THE REPLY DON QUIXOTE GAVE HIS CENSURER, WITH OTHER INCIDENTS, GRAVE AND DROLL

Don Quixote, then, having risen to his feet, trembling from head to foot like a man dosed with mercury, said in a hurried, agitated voice, "The place I am in, the presence in which I stand, and the respect I have and always have had for the profession to which your worship belongs, hold and bind the hands of my just indignation; and as well for these reasons as because I know, as everyone knows, that a gownsman's weapon is the same as a woman's, the tongue, I will with mine engage in equal combat with your worship, from whom one might have expected good advice instead of foul abuse. Pious, well-meant reproof requires a different demeanour and arguments of another sort; at any rate, to have reproved me in public, and so roughly, exceeds the bounds of proper reproof, for that comes better with gentleness than with rudeness; and it is not seemly to call the sinner roundly blockhead and booby, without knowing anything of the sin that is reproved. Come, tell me, for which of the stupidities you have observed in me do you condemn and abuse me, and bid me go home and look after my house and wife and children, without knowing whether I have any? Is nothing more needed than to get a footing, by hook or by crook, in other people's houses to rule over the masters (and that, perhaps, after having been brought up in all the straitness of some seminary, and without having ever seen more of the world than may lie within twenty or thirty leagues round), to fit one to lay down the law rashly for chivalry, and pass judgment on knights-errant? Is it, haply, an idle occupation, or is the time ill-spent that is spent in roaming the world in quest, not of its enjoyments, but of those arduous toils whereby the good mount upwards to the abodes of everlasting life? If gentlemen, great lords, nobles, men of high birth, were to rate me as a fool I should take it as an irreparable insult; but I care not a farthing if clerks who have never entered upon or trod the paths of chivalry should think me foolish. Knight I am, and knight I will die, if such be the pleasure of the Most High. Some take the broad road of overweening ambition; others that of mean and servile flattery; others that of deceitful hypocrisy, and some that of true religion; but I, led by my star, follow the narrow path of knight-errantry, and in pursuit of that calling I despise wealth, but not honour. I have redressed injuries, righted wrongs, punished insolences, vanquished giants, and crushed monsters; I am in love, for no other reason than that it is incumbent on knights-errant to be so; but though I am, I am no carnal-minded lover, but one of the chaste, platonic sort. My intentions are always directed to worthy ends, to do good to all and evil to none; and if he who means this, does this, and makes this his practice deserves to be called a fool, it is for your highnesses to say, O most excellent duke and duchess."


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