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Chapter 6

  • **Of the diverting and important scrutiny which the curate and the barber mad_n the library of our ingenious gentleman**
  • He was still sleeping; so the curate asked the niece for the keys of the roo_here the books, the authors of all the mischief, were, and right willingl_he gave them. They all went in, the housekeeper with them, and found mor_han a hundred volumes of big books very well bound, and some other smal_nes. The moment the housekeeper saw them she turned about and ran out of th_oom, and came back immediately with a saucer of holy water and a sprinkler, saying, "Here, your worship, senor licentiate, sprinkle this room; don't leav_ny magician of the many there are in these books to bewitch us in revenge fo_ur design of banishing them from the world."
  • The simplicity of the housekeeper made the licentiate laugh, and he directe_he barber to give him the books one by one to see what they were about, a_here might be some to be found among them that did not deserve the penalty o_ire.
  • "No," said the niece, "there is no reason for showing mercy to any of them; they have every one of them done mischief; better fling them out of the windo_nto the court and make a pile of them and set fire to them; or else carr_hem into the yard, and there a bonfire can be made without the smoke givin_ny annoyance." The housekeeper said the same, so eager were they both for th_laughter of those innocents, but the curate would not agree to it withou_irst reading at any rate the titles.
  • The first that Master Nicholas put into his hand was "The four books of Amadi_f Gaul." "This seems a mysterious thing," said the curate, "for, as I hav_eard say, this was the first book of chivalry printed in Spain, and from thi_ll the others derive their birth and origin; so it seems to me that we ough_nexorably to condemn it to the flames as the founder of so vile a sect."
  • "Nay, sir," said the barber, "I too, have heard say that this is the best o_ll the books of this kind that have been written, and so, as somethin_ingular in its line, it ought to be pardoned."
  • "True," said the curate; "and for that reason let its life be spared for th_resent. Let us see that other which is next to it."
  • "It is," said the barber, "the 'Sergas de Esplandian,' the lawful son o_madis of Gaul."
  • "Then verily," said the curate, "the merit of the father must not be put dow_o the account of the son. Take it, mistress housekeeper; open the window an_ling it into the yard and lay the foundation of the pile for the bonfire w_re to make."
  • The housekeeper obeyed with great satisfaction, and the worthy "Esplandian"
  • went flying into the yard to await with all patience the fire that was i_tore for him.
  • "Proceed," said the curate.
  • "This that comes next," said the barber, "is 'Amadis of Greece,' and, indeed, I believe all those on this side are of the same Amadis lineage."
  • "Then to the yard with the whole of them," said the curate; "for to have th_urning of Queen Pintiquiniestra, and the shepherd Darinel and his eclogues, and the bedevilled and involved discourses of his author, I would burn wit_hem the father who begot me if he were going about in the guise of a knight- errant."
  • "I am of the same mind," said the barber.
  • "And so am I," added the niece.
  • "In that case," said the housekeeper, "here, into the yard with them!"
  • They were handed to her, and as there were many of them, she spared hersel_he staircase, and flung them down out of the window.
  • "Who is that tub there?" said the curate.
  • "This," said the barber, "is 'Don Olivante de Laura.'"
  • "The author of that book," said the curate, "was the same that wrote 'Th_arden of Flowers,' and truly there is no deciding which of the two books i_he more truthful, or, to put it better, the less lying; all I can say is, send this one into the yard for a swaggering fool."
  • "This that follows is 'Florismarte of Hircania,'" said the barber.
  • "Senor Florismarte here?" said the curate; "then by my faith he must take u_is quarters in the yard, in spite of his marvellous birth and visionar_dventures, for the stiffness and dryness of his style deserve nothing else; into the yard with him and the other, mistress housekeeper."
  • "With all my heart, senor," said she, and executed the order with grea_elight.
  • "This," said the barber, "is The Knight Platir.'"
  • "An old book that," said the curate, "but I find no reason for clemency in it; send it after the others without appeal;" which was done.
  • Another book was opened, and they saw it was entitled, "The Knight of th_ross."
  • "For the sake of the holy name this book has," said the curate, "its ignoranc_ight be excused; but then, they say, 'behind the cross there's the devil; t_he fire with it."
  • Taking down another book, the barber said, "This is 'The Mirror of Chivalry.'"
  • "I know his worship," said the curate; "that is where Senor Reinaldos o_ontalvan figures with his friends and comrades, greater thieves than Cacus, and the Twelve Peers of France with the veracious historian Turpin; however, _m not for condemning them to more than perpetual banishment, because, at an_ate, they have some share in the invention of the famous Matteo Boiardo, whence too the Christian poet Ludovico Ariosto wove his web, to whom, if _ind him here, and speaking any language but his own, I shall show no respec_hatever; but if he speaks his own tongue I will put him upon my head."
  • "Well, I have him in Italian," said the barber, "but I do not understand him."
  • "Nor would it be well that you should understand him," said the curate, "an_n that score we might have excused the Captain if he had not brought him int_pain and turned him into Castilian. He robbed him of a great deal of hi_atural force, and so do all those who try to turn books written in verse int_nother language, for, with all the pains they take and all the clevernes_hey show, they never can reach the level of the originals as they were firs_roduced. In short, I say that this book, and all that may be found treatin_f those French affairs, should be thrown into or deposited in some dry well, until after more consideration it is settled what is to be done with them; excepting always one 'Bernardo del Carpio' that is going about, and anothe_alled 'Roncesvalles;' for these, if they come into my hands, shall pass a_nce into those of the housekeeper, and from hers into the fire without an_eprieve."
  • To all this the barber gave his assent, and looked upon it as right an_roper, being persuaded that the curate was so staunch to the Faith and loya_o the Truth that he would not for the world say anything opposed to them.
  • Opening another book he saw it was "Palmerin de Oliva," and beside it wa_nother called "Palmerin of England," seeing which the licentiate said, "Le_he Olive be made firewood of at once and burned until no ashes even are left; and let that Palm of England be kept and preserved as a thing that stand_lone, and let such another case be made for it as that which Alexander foun_mong the spoils of Darius and set aside for the safe keeping of the works o_he poet Homer. This book, gossip, is of authority for two reasons, firs_ecause it is very good, and secondly because it is said to have been writte_y a wise and witty king of Portugal. All the adventures at the Castle o_iraguarda are excellent and of admirable contrivance, and the language i_olished and clear, studying and observing the style befitting the speake_ith propriety and judgment. So then, provided it seems good to you, Maste_icholas, I say let this and 'Amadis of Gaul' be remitted the penalty of fire, and as for all the rest, let them perish without further question or query."
  • "Nay, gossip," said the barber, "for this that I have here is the famous 'Do_elianis.'"
  • "Well," said the curate, "that and the second, third, and fourth parts al_tand in need of a little rhubarb to purge their excess of bile, and they mus_e cleared of all that stuff about the Castle of Fame and other greate_ffectations, to which end let them be allowed the over-seas term, and, according as they mend, so shall mercy or justice be meted out to them; and i_he mean time, gossip, do you keep them in your house and let no one rea_hem."
  • "With all my heart," said the barber; and not caring to tire himself wit_eading more books of chivalry, he told the housekeeper to take all the bi_nes and throw them into the yard. It was not said to one dull or deaf, but t_ne who enjoyed burning them more than weaving the broadest and finest we_hat could be; and seizing about eight at a time, she flung them out of th_indow.
  • In carrying so many together she let one fall at the feet of the barber, wh_ook it up, curious to know whose it was, and found it said, "History of th_amous Knight, Tirante el Blanco."
  • "God bless me!" said the curate with a shout, "'Tirante el Blanco' here! Han_t over, gossip, for in it I reckon I have found a treasury of enjoyment and _ine of recreation. Here is Don Kyrieleison of Montalvan, a valiant knight, and his brother Thomas of Montalvan, and the knight Fonseca, with the battl_he bold Tirante fought with the mastiff, and the witticisms of the damse_lacerdemivida, and the loves and wiles of the widow Reposada, and the empres_n love with the squire Hipolito—in truth, gossip, by right of its style it i_he best book in the world. Here knights eat and sleep, and die in their beds, and make their wills before dying, and a great deal more of which there i_othing in all the other books. Nevertheless, I say he who wrote it, fo_eliberately composing such fooleries, deserves to be sent to the galleys fo_ife. Take it home with you and read it, and you will see that what I hav_aid is true."
  • "As you will," said the barber; "but what are we to do with these little book_hat are left?"
  • "These must be, not chivalry, but poetry," said the curate; and opening one h_aw it was the "Diana" of Jorge de Montemayor, and, supposing all the other_o be of the same sort, "these," he said, "do not deserve to be burned lik_he others, for they neither do nor can do the mischief the books of chivalr_ave done, being books of entertainment that can hurt no one."
  • "Ah, senor!" said the niece, "your worship had better order these to be burne_s well as the others; for it would be no wonder if, after being cured of hi_hivalry disorder, my uncle, by reading these, took a fancy to turn shepher_nd range the woods and fields singing and piping; or, what would be stil_orse, to turn poet, which they say is an incurable and infectious malady."
  • "The damsel is right," said the curate, "and it will be well to put thi_tumbling-block and temptation out of our friend's way. To begin, then, wit_he 'Diana' of Montemayor. I am of opinion it should not be burned, but tha_t should be cleared of all that about the sage Felicia and the magic water, and of almost all the longer pieces of verse: let it keep, and welcome, it_rose and the honour of being the first of books of the kind."
  • "This that comes next," said the barber, "is the 'Diana,' entitled the 'Secon_art, by the Salamancan,' and this other has the same title, and its author i_il Polo."
  • "As for that of the Salamancan," replied the curate, "let it go to swell th_umber of the condemned in the yard, and let Gil Polo's be preserved as if i_ame from Apollo himself: but get on, gossip, and make haste, for it i_rowing late."
  • "This book," said the barber, opening another, "is the ten books of the
  • 'Fortune of Love,' written by Antonio de Lofraso, a Sardinian poet."
  • "By the orders I have received," said the curate, "since Apollo has bee_pollo, and the Muses have been Muses, and poets have been poets, so droll an_bsurd a book as this has never been written, and in its way it is the bes_nd the most singular of all of this species that have as yet appeared, and h_ho has not read it may be sure he has never read what is delightful. Give i_ere, gossip, for I make more account of having found it than if they ha_iven me a cassock of Florence stuff."
  • He put it aside with extreme satisfaction, and the barber went on, "These tha_ome next are 'The Shepherd of Iberia,' 'Nymphs of Henares,' and 'Th_nlightenment of Jealousy.'"
  • "Then all we have to do," said the curate, "is to hand them over to th_ecular arm of the housekeeper, and ask me not why, or we shall never hav_one."
  • "This next is the 'Pastor de Filida.'"
  • "No Pastor that," said the curate, "but a highly polished courtier; let it b_reserved as a precious jewel."
  • "This large one here," said the barber, "is called 'The Treasury of variou_oems.'"
  • "If there were not so many of them," said the curate, "they would be mor_elished: this book must be weeded and cleansed of certain vulgarities whic_t has with its excellences; let it be preserved because the author is _riend of mine, and out of respect for other more heroic and loftier work_hat he has written."
  • "This," continued the barber, "is the 'Cancionero' of Lopez de Maldonado."
  • "The author of that book, too," said the curate, "is a great friend of mine, and his verses from his own mouth are the admiration of all who hear them, fo_uch is the sweetness of his voice that he enchants when he chants them: i_ives rather too much of its eclogues, but what is good was never ye_lentiful: let it be kept with those that have been set apart. But what boo_s that next it?"
  • "The 'Galatea' of Miguel de Cervantes," said the barber.
  • "That Cervantes has been for many years a great friend of mine, and to m_nowledge he has had more experience in reverses than in verses. His book ha_ome good invention in it, it presents us with something but brings nothing t_ conclusion: we must wait for the Second Part it promises: perhaps wit_mendment it may succeed in winning the full measure of grace that is no_enied it; and in the mean time do you, senor gossip, keep it shut up in you_wn quarters."
  • "Very good," said the barber; "and here come three together, the 'Araucana' o_on Alonso de Ercilla, the 'Austriada' of Juan Rufo, Justice of Cordova, an_he 'Montserrate' of Christobal de Virues, the Valencian poet."
  • "These three books," said the curate, "are the best that have been written i_astilian in heroic verse, and they may compare with the most famous of Italy; let them be preserved as the richest treasures of poetry that Spai_ossesses."
  • The curate was tired and would not look into any more books, and so he decide_hat, "contents uncertified," all the rest should be burned; but just then th_arber held open one, called "The Tears of Angelica."
  • "I should have shed tears myself," said the curate when he heard the title,
  • "had I ordered that book to be burned, for its author was one of the famou_oets of the world, not to say of Spain, and was very happy in the translatio_f some of Ovid's fables."