**Of the interview the curate and the barber had with Don Quixote about hi_alady**
Cide Hamete Benengeli, in the Second Part of this history, and third sally o_on Quixote, says that the curate and the barber remained nearly a mont_ithout seeing him, lest they should recall or bring back to his recollectio_hat had taken place. They did not, however, omit to visit his niece an_ousekeeper, and charge them to be careful to treat him with attention, an_ive him comforting things to eat, and such as were good for the heart and th_rain, whence, it was plain to see, all his misfortune proceeded. The niec_nd housekeeper replied that they did so, and meant to do so with all possibl_are and assiduity, for they could perceive that their master was now and the_eginning to show signs of being in his right mind. This gave grea_atisfaction to the curate and the barber, for they concluded they had take_he right course in carrying him off enchanted on the ox-cart, as has bee_escribed in the First Part of this great as well as accurate history, in th_ast chapter thereof. So they resolved to pay him a visit and test th_mprovement in his condition, although they thought it almost impossible tha_here could be any; and they agreed not to touch upon any point connected wit_night-errantry so as not to run the risk of reopening wounds which were stil_o tender.
They came to see him consequently, and found him sitting up in bed in a gree_aize waistcoat and a red Toledo cap, and so withered and dried up that h_ooked as if he had been turned into a mummy. They were very cordiall_eceived by him; they asked him after his health, and he talked to them abou_imself very naturally and in very well-chosen language. In the course o_heir conversation they fell to discussing what they call State-craft an_ystems of government, correcting this abuse and condemning that, reformin_ne practice and abolishing another, each of the three setting up for a ne_egislator, a modern Lycurgus, or a brand-new Solon; and so completely di_hey remodel the State, that they seemed to have thrust it into a furnace an_aken out something quite different from what they had put in; and on all th_ubjects they dealt with, Don Quixote spoke with such good sense that the pai_f examiners were fully convinced that he was quite recovered and in his ful_enses.
The niece and housekeeper were present at the conversation and could not fin_ords enough to express their thanks to God at seeing their master so clear i_is mind; the curate, however, changing his original plan, which was to avoi_ouching upon matters of chivalry, resolved to test Don Quixote's recover_horoughly, and see whether it were genuine or not; and so, from one subjec_o another, he came at last to talk of the news that had come from th_apital, and, among other things, he said it was considered certain that th_urk was coming down with a powerful fleet, and that no one knew what hi_urpose was, or when the great storm would burst; and that all Christendom wa_n apprehension of this, which almost every year calls us to arms, and tha_is Majesty had made provision for the security of the coasts of Naples an_icily and the island of Malta.
To this Don Quixote replied, "His Majesty has acted like a prudent warrior i_roviding for the safety of his realms in time, so that the enemy may not fin_im unprepared; but if my advice were taken I would recommend him to adopt _easure which at present, no doubt, his Majesty is very far from thinking of."
The moment the curate heard this he said to himself, "God keep thee in hi_and, poor Don Quixote, for it seems to me thou art precipitating thyself fro_he height of thy madness into the profound abyss of thy simplicity."
But the barber, who had the same suspicion as the curate, asked Don Quixot_hat would be his advice as to the measures that he said ought to be adopted; for perhaps it might prove to be one that would have to be added to the lis_f the many impertinent suggestions that people were in the habit of offerin_o princes.
"Mine, master shaver," said Don Quixote, "will not be impertinent, but, on th_ontrary, pertinent."
"I don't mean that," said the barber, "but that experience has shown that al_r most of the expedients which are proposed to his Majesty are eithe_mpossible, or absurd, or injurious to the King and to the kingdom."
"Mine, however," replied Don Quixote, "is neither impossible nor absurd, bu_he easiest, the most reasonable, the readiest and most expeditious that coul_uggest itself to any projector's mind."
"You take a long time to tell it, Senor Don Quixote," said the curate.
"I don't choose to tell it here, now," said Don Quixote, "and have it reac_he ears of the lords of the council to-morrow morning, and some other carr_ff the thanks and rewards of my trouble."
"For my part," said the barber, "I give my word here and before God that _ill not repeat what your worship says, to King, Rook or earthly man—an oath _earned from the ballad of the curate, who, in the prelude, told the king o_he thief who had robbed him of the hundred gold crowns and his pacing mule."
"I am not versed in stories," said Don Quixote; "but I know the oath is a goo_ne, because I know the barber to be an honest fellow."
"Even if he were not," said the curate, "I will go bail and answer for hi_hat in this matter he will be as silent as a dummy, under pain of paying an_enalty that may be pronounced."
"And who will be security for you, senor curate?" said Don Quixote.
"My profession," replied the curate, "which is to keep secrets."
"Ods body!" said Don Quixote at this, "what more has his Majesty to do but t_ommand, by public proclamation, all the knights-errant that are scattere_ver Spain to assemble on a fixed day in the capital, for even if no more tha_alf a dozen come, there may be one among them who alone will suffice t_estroy the entire might of the Turk. Give me your attention and follow me. I_t, pray, any new thing for a single knight-errant to demolish an army of tw_undred thousand men, as if they all had but one throat or were made of suga_aste? Nay, tell me, how many histories are there filled with these marvels?
If only (in an evil hour for me: I don't speak for anyone else) the famous Do_elianis were alive now, or any one of the innumerable progeny of Amadis o_aul! If any these were alive today, and were to come face to face with th_urk, by my faith, I would not give much for the Turk's chance. But God wil_ave regard for his people, and will provide some one, who, if not so valian_s the knights-errant of yore, at least will not be inferior to them i_pirit; but God knows what I mean, and I say no more."
"Alas!" exclaimed the niece at this, "may I die if my master does not want t_urn knight-errant again;" to which Don Quixote replied, "A knight-errant _hall die, and let the Turk come down or go up when he likes, and in as stron_orce as he can, once more I say, God knows what I mean." But here the barbe_aid, "I ask your worships to give me leave to tell a short story of somethin_hat happened in Seville, which comes so pat to the purpose just now that _hould like greatly to tell it." Don Quixote gave him leave, and the res_repared to listen, and he began thus:
"In the madhouse at Seville there was a man whom his relations had place_here as being out of his mind. He was a graduate of Osuna in canon law; bu_ven if he had been of Salamanca, it was the opinion of most people that h_ould have been mad all the same. This graduate, after some years o_onfinement, took it into his head that he was sane and in his full senses, and under this impression wrote to the Archbishop, entreating him earnestly, and in very correct language, to have him released from the misery in which h_as living; for by God's mercy he had now recovered his lost reason, thoug_is relations, in order to enjoy his property, kept him there, and, in spit_f the truth, would make him out to be mad until his dying day. Th_rchbishop, moved by repeated sensible, well-written letters, directed one o_is chaplains to make inquiry of the madhouse as to the truth of th_icentiate's statements, and to have an interview with the madman himself, and, if it should appear that he was in his senses, to take him out an_estore him to liberty. The chaplain did so, and the governor assured him tha_he man was still mad, and that though he often spoke like a highl_ntelligent person, he would in the end break out into nonsense that i_uantity and quality counterbalanced all the sensible things he had sai_efore, as might be easily tested by talking to him. The chaplain resolved t_ry the experiment, and obtaining access to the madman conversed with him fo_n hour or more, during the whole of which time he never uttered a word tha_as incoherent or absurd, but, on the contrary, spoke so rationally that th_haplain was compelled to believe him to be sane. Among other things, he sai_he governor was against him, not to lose the presents his relations made hi_or reporting him still mad but with lucid intervals; and that the worst fo_e had in his misfortune was his large property; for in order to enjoy it hi_nemies disparaged and threw doubts upon the mercy our Lord had shown him i_urning him from a brute beast into a man. In short, he spoke in such a wa_hat he cast suspicion on the governor, and made his relations appear covetou_nd heartless, and himself so rational that the chaplain determined to tak_im away with him that the Archbishop might see him, and ascertain for himsel_he truth of the matter. Yielding to this conviction, the worthy chaplai_egged the governor to have the clothes in which the licentiate had entere_he house given to him. The governor again bade him beware of what he wa_oing, as the licentiate was beyond a doubt still mad; but all his caution_nd warnings were unavailing to dissuade the chaplain from taking him away.
The governor, seeing that it was the order of the Archbishop, obeyed, and the_ressed the licentiate in his own clothes, which were new and decent. He, a_oon as he saw himself clothed like one in his senses, and divested of th_ppearance of a madman, entreated the chaplain to permit him in charity to g_nd take leave of his comrades the madmen. The chaplain said he would go wit_im to see what madmen there were in the house; so they went upstairs, an_ith them some of those who were present. Approaching a cage in which ther_as a furious madman, though just at that moment calm and quiet, th_icentiate said to him, 'Brother, think if you have any commands for me, for _m going home, as God has been pleased, in his infinite goodness and mercy, without any merit of mine, to restore me my reason. I am now cured and in m_enses, for with God's power nothing is impossible. Have strong hope and trus_n him, for as he has restored me to my original condition, so likewise h_ill restore you if you trust in him. I will take care to send you some goo_hings to eat; and be sure you eat them; for I would have you know I a_onvinced, as one who has gone through it, that all this madness of ours come_f having the stomach empty and the brains full of wind. Take courage! tak_ourage! for despondency in misfortune breaks down health and brings o_eath.'
"To all these words of the licentiate another madman in a cage opposite tha_f the furious one was listening; and raising himself up from an old mat o_hich he lay stark naked, he asked in a loud voice who it was that was goin_way cured and in his senses. The licentiate answered, 'It is I, brother, wh_m going; I have now no need to remain here any longer, for which I retur_nfinite thanks to Heaven that has had so great mercy upon me.'
"'Mind what you are saying, licentiate; don't let the devil deceive you,'
replied the madman. 'Keep quiet, stay where you are, and you will sav_ourself the trouble of coming back.'
"'I know I am cured,' returned the licentiate, 'and that I shall not have t_o stations again.'
"'You cured!' said the madman; 'well, we shall see; God be with you; but _wear to you by Jupiter, whose majesty I represent on earth, that for thi_rime alone, which Seville is committing to-day in releasing you from thi_ouse, and treating you as if you were in your senses, I shall have to inflic_uch a punishment on it as will be remembered for ages and ages, amen. Dos_hou not know, thou miserable little licentiate, that I can do it, being, as _ay, Jupiter the Thunderer, who hold in my hands the fiery bolts with which _m able and am wont to threaten and lay waste the world? But in one way onl_ill I punish this ignorant town, and that is by not raining upon it, nor o_ny part of its district or territory, for three whole years, to be reckone_rom the day and moment when this threat is pronounced. Thou free, thou cured, thou in thy senses! and I mad, I disordered, I bound! I will as soon think o_ending rain as of hanging myself.
"Those present stood listening to the words and exclamations of the madman; but our licentiate, turning to the chaplain and seizing him by the hands, sai_o him, 'Be not uneasy, senor; attach no importance to what this madman ha_aid; for if he is Jupiter and will not send rain, I, who am Neptune, th_ather and god of the waters, will rain as often as it pleases me and may b_eedful.'
"The governor and the bystanders laughed, and at their laughter the chaplai_as half ashamed, and he replied, 'For all that, Senor Neptune, it will not d_o vex Senor Jupiter; remain where you are, and some other day, when there i_ better opportunity and more time, we will come back for you.' So the_tripped the licentiate, and he was left where he was; and that's the end o_he story."
"So that's the story, master barber," said Don Quixote, "which came in so pa_o the purpose that you could not help telling it? Master shaver, maste_haver! how blind is he who cannot see through a sieve. Is it possible tha_ou do not know that comparisons of wit with wit, valour with valour, beaut_ith beauty, birth with birth, are always odious and unwelcome? I, maste_arber, am not Neptune, the god of the waters, nor do I try to make anyon_ake me for an astute man, for I am not one. My only endeavour is to convinc_he world of the mistake it makes in not reviving in itself the happy tim_hen the order of knight-errantry was in the field. But our depraved age doe_ot deserve to enjoy such a blessing as those ages enjoyed when knights-erran_ook upon their shoulders the defence of kingdoms, the protection of damsels, the succour of orphans and minors, the chastisement of the proud, and th_ecompense of the humble. With the knights of these days, for the most part, it is the damask, brocade, and rich stuffs they wear, that rustle as they go, not the chain mail of their armour; no knight now-a-days sleeps in the ope_ield exposed to the inclemency of heaven, and in full panoply from head t_oot; no one now takes a nap, as they call it, without drawing his feet out o_he stirrups, and leaning upon his lance, as the knights-errant used to do; n_ne now, issuing from the wood, penetrates yonder mountains, and then tread_he barren, lonely shore of the sea—mostly a tempestuous and stormy one—an_inding on the beach a little bark without oars, sail, mast, or tackling o_ny kind, in the intrepidity of his heart flings himself into it and commit_imself to the wrathful billows of the deep sea, that one moment lift him u_o heaven and the next plunge him into the depths; and opposing his breast t_he irresistible gale, finds himself, when he least expects it, three thousan_eagues and more away from the place where he embarked; and leaping ashore i_ remote and unknown land has adventures that deserve to be written, not o_archment, but on brass. But now sloth triumphs over energy, indolence ove_xertion, vice over virtue, arrogance over courage, and theory over practic_n arms, which flourished and shone only in the golden ages and in knights- errant. For tell me, who was more virtuous and more valiant than the famou_madis of Gaul? Who more discreet than Palmerin of England? Who more graciou_nd easy than Tirante el Blanco? Who more courtly than Lisuarte of Greece? Wh_ore slashed or slashing than Don Belianis? Who more intrepid than Perion o_aul? Who more ready to face danger than Felixmarte of Hircania? Who mor_incere than Esplandian? Who more impetuous than Don Cirongilio of Thrace? Wh_ore bold than Rodamonte? Who more prudent than King Sobrino? Who more darin_han Reinaldos? Who more invincible than Roland? and who more gallant an_ourteous than Ruggiero, from whom the dukes of Ferrara of the present day ar_escended, according to Turpin in his 'Cosmography.' All these knights, an_any more that I could name, senor curate, were knights-errant, the light an_lory of chivalry. These, or such as these, I would have to carry out my plan, and in that case his Majesty would find himself well served and would sav_reat expense, and the Turk would be left tearing his beard. And so I wil_tay where I am, as the chaplain does not take me away; and if Jupiter, as th_arber has told us, will not send rain, here am I, and I will rain when _lease. I say this that Master Basin may know that I understand him."
"Indeed, Senor Don Quixote," said the barber, "I did not mean it in that way, and, so help me God, my intention was good, and your worship ought not to b_exed."
"As to whether I ought to be vexed or not," returned Don Quixote, "I myself a_he best judge."
Hereupon the curate observed, "I have hardly said a word as yet; and I woul_ladly be relieved of a doubt, arising from what Don Quixote has said, tha_orries and works my conscience."
"The senor curate has leave for more than that," returned Don Quixote, "so h_ay declare his doubt, for it is not pleasant to have a doubt on one'_onscience."
"Well then, with that permission," said the curate, "I say my doubt is that, all I can do, I cannot persuade myself that the whole pack of knights-erran_ou, Senor Don Quixote, have mentioned, were really and truly persons of fles_nd blood, that ever lived in the world; on the contrary, I suspect it to b_ll fiction, fable, and falsehood, and dreams told by men awakened from sleep, or rather still half asleep."
"That is another mistake," replied Don Quixote, "into which many have falle_ho do not believe that there ever were such knights in the world, and I hav_ften, with divers people and on divers occasions, tried to expose this almos_niversal error to the light of truth. Sometimes I have not been successful i_y purpose, sometimes I have, supporting it upon the shoulders of the truth; which truth is so clear that I can almost say I have with my own eyes see_madis of Gaul, who was a man of lofty stature, fair complexion, with _andsome though black beard, of a countenance between gentle and stern i_xpression, sparing of words, slow to anger, and quick to put it away fro_im; and as I have depicted Amadis, so I could, I think, portray and describ_ll the knights-errant that are in all the histories in the world; for by th_erception I have that they were what their histories describe, and by th_eeds they did and the dispositions they displayed, it is possible, with th_id of sound philosophy, to deduce their features, complexion, and stature."
"How big, in your worship's opinion, may the giant Morgante have been, Seno_on Quixote?" asked the barber.
"With regard to giants," replied Don Quixote, "opinions differ as to whethe_here ever were any or not in the world; but the Holy Scripture, which canno_rr by a jot from the truth, shows us that there were, when it gives us th_istory of that big Philistine, Goliath, who was seven cubits and a half i_eight, which is a huge size. Likewise, in the island of Sicily, there hav_een found leg-bones and arm-bones so large that their size makes it plai_hat their owners were giants, and as tall as great towers; geometry puts thi_act beyond a doubt. But, for all that, I cannot speak with certainty as t_he size of Morgante, though I suspect he cannot have been very tall; and I a_nclined to be of this opinion because I find in the history in which hi_eeds are particularly mentioned, that he frequently slept under a roof and a_e found houses to contain him, it is clear that his bulk could not have bee_nything excessive."
"That is true," said the curate, and yielding to the enjoyment of hearing suc_onsense, he asked him what was his notion of the features of Reinaldos o_ontalban, and Don Roland and the rest of the Twelve Peers of France, for the_ere all knights-errant.
"As for Reinaldos," replied Don Quixote, "I venture to say that he was broad- faced, of ruddy complexion, with roguish and somewhat prominent eyes, excessively punctilious and touchy, and given to the society of thieves an_capegraces. With regard to Roland, or Rotolando, or Orlando (for th_istories call him by all these names), I am of opinion, and hold, that he wa_f middle height, broad-shouldered, rather bow-legged, swarthy-complexioned, red-bearded, with a hairy body and a severe expression of countenance, a ma_f few words, but very polite and well-bred."
"If Roland was not a more graceful person than your worship has described,"
said the curate, "it is no wonder that the fair Lady Angelica rejected him an_eft him for the gaiety, liveliness, and grace of that budding-bearded littl_oor to whom she surrendered herself; and she showed her sense in falling i_ove with the gentle softness of Medoro rather than the roughness of Roland."
"That Angelica, senor curate," returned Don Quixote, "was a giddy damsel, flighty and somewhat wanton, and she left the world as full of her vagaries a_f the fame of her beauty. She treated with scorn a thousand gentlemen, men o_alour and wisdom, and took up with a smooth-faced sprig of a page, withou_ortune or fame, except such reputation for gratitude as the affection he bor_is friend got for him. The great poet who sang her beauty, the famou_riosto, not caring to sing her adventures after her contemptible surrender (which probably were not over and above creditable), dropped her where h_ays:
How she received the sceptre of Cathay, Some bard of defter quill may sin_ome day;
and this was no doubt a kind of prophecy, for poets are also called vates, that is to say diviners; and its truth was made plain; for since then a famou_ndalusian poet has lamented and sung her tears, and another famous and rar_oet, a Castilian, has sung her beauty."
"Tell me, Senor Don Quixote," said the barber here, "among all those wh_raised her, has there been no poet to write a satire on this Lady Angelica?"
"I can well believe," replied Don Quixote, "that if Sacripante or Roland ha_een poets they would have given the damsel a trimming; for it is naturall_he way with poets who have been scorned and rejected by their ladies, whethe_ictitious or not, in short by those whom they select as the ladies of thei_houghts, to avenge themselves in satires and libels—a vengeance, to be sure, unworthy of generous hearts; but up to the present I have not heard of an_efamatory verse against the Lady Angelica, who turned the world upside down."
"Strange," said the curate; but at this moment they heard the housekeeper an_he niece, who had previously withdrawn from the conversation, exclaimin_loud in the courtyard, and at the noise they all ran out.