OUR RENOWNED HERO. Down in a village of La Mancha,* the name of which-I have no desire to recollect, there lived, not long ago, one of those gentlemen who usually keep a lance upon a rack, an old buckler, a lean horse, and a coursing grayhound. Soup, composed of somewhat more mutton than beef, the fragments served up cold on most nights, lentils on Fridays, collops and eggs on Saturdays, and a pigeon by way of addition on Sundays, consumed three-fourths of his income; the remainder of it supplied him with a cloak of fine cloth, velvet breeches, with slippers of the same for holidays, and a suit of the best homespun, in which he adorned himself on week-days.
His family consisted of a house-keeper above forty, a niece not quite twenty, and a lad who served him both in the field and at home, who could saddle the horse or handle the pruninghook. The age of our gentleman bordered upon fifty years: he was of a strong constitution, spare-bodied, of a meagre visage, a very early riser, and a lover of the chase. Some pretend to say that his surname was Quixada,t or Quesada, for on this point his historians differ; though, from very probable conjectures, we may conclude that his name was Quixana. This is, however, of little importance to our history; let it suffice that, in relating it, we do not swerve a jot from the truth.
|Title: ADVENTURES OF DON QUIZOTE DE LA MANCHA. Author: Charles Jarvis. Published: 1880. Original from: Harvard University. Digitized: Nov 8, 2007. Illustrator: Paul Gustave Doré, January 6, 1832 – January 23, 1883. A French artist, engraver, illustrator and sculptor. Doré worked primarily with wood engraving and steel engraving.|
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Be it known, then, that the afore-mentioned gentleman, in his leisure moments, which composed the greater part of the year, gave himself up with so much ardor to the perusal of books of chivalry, that he almost wholly neglected the exercise of the chase, and even the regulation of his domestic affairs; indeed, so extravagant was his zeal in this pursuit, that he sold many acres of arable land to purchase books of knighterrantry, collecting as many as he could possibly obtain.
Among them all', none pleased him so much as those written by the famous Feliciano de Silva, whose brilliant prose and intricate style were, in his opinion, infinitely precious; especially those amorous speeches and challenges in which they so abound; such as: "The reason of the unreasonable treatment of my reason so enfeebles my reason, that with reason I complain of your beauty." And again: "The high heavens that, with your divinity, divinely fortify you with the stars, rendering you meritorious of the merit merited by your greatness." These and similar rhapsodies distracted the poor gentleman, for he labored to comprehend and unravel their meaning, which was more than Aristotle himself could do, were he to rise from the dead expressly for that purpose.
He was not quite satisfied as to the wounds which Don Belianis gave and received; for he could not help thinking that, however skilful the surgeons were who healed them, his face and whole body must have been covered with seams and scars. Nevertheless, he commended his author for concluding his book with the promise of that interminable adventure; and he often felt an inclination to seize the pen himself and conclude it, literally as it is there promised: this he would doubtless have done, and not without success, had he not been diverted from it by meditations of greater moment, on which his mind was incessantly employed.