Don Quixote - Part II (Author's Preface, page 1 of 3)


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God bless me, gentle (or it may be plebeian) reader, how eagerly must
thou be looking forward to this preface, expecting to find there
retaliation, scolding, and abuse against the author of the second Don
Quixote--I mean him who was, they say, begotten at Tordesillas and born
at Tarragona! Well then, the truth is, I am not going to give thee that
satisfaction; for, though injuries stir up anger in humbler breasts, in
mine the rule must admit of an exception. Thou wouldst have me call him
ass, fool, and malapert, but I have no such intention; let his offence be
his punishment, with his bread let him eat it, and there's an end of it.
What I cannot help taking amiss is that he charges me with being old and
one-handed, as if it had been in my power to keep time from passing over
me, or as if the loss of my hand had been brought about in some tavern,
and not on the grandest occasion the past or present has seen, or the
future can hope to see. If my wounds have no beauty to the beholder's
eye, they are, at least, honourable in the estimation of those who know
where they were received; for the soldier shows to greater advantage dead
in battle than alive in flight; and so strongly is this my feeling, that
if now it were proposed to perform an impossibility for me, I would
rather have had my share in that mighty action, than be free from my
wounds this minute without having been present at it. Those the soldier
shows on his face and breast are stars that direct others to the heaven
of honour and ambition of merited praise; and moreover it is to be
observed that it is not with grey hairs that one writes, but with the
understanding, and that commonly improves with years. I take it amiss,
too, that he calls me envious, and explains to me, as if I were ignorant,
what envy is; for really and truly, of the two kinds there are, I only
know that which is holy, noble, and high-minded; and if that be so, as it
is, I am not likely to attack a priest, above all if, in addition, he
holds the rank of familiar of the Holy Office. And if he said what he did
on account of him on whose behalf it seems he spoke, he is entirely
mistaken; for I worship the genius of that person, and admire his works
and his unceasing and strenuous industry. After all, I am grateful to
this gentleman, the author, for saying that my novels are more satirical
than exemplary, but that they are good; for they could not be that unless
there was a little of everything in them.

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