Don Quixote
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

This page:

Don Quixote of the Mancha


Don Quixote

index pages:

The First Part of the Delightful History of the Most Ingenious Knight Don Quixote of the Mancha

translated by Thomas Shelton (1611)

The First Part

Chapter I: Wherein is Rehearsed the Calling and Exercise of the Renowned Gentleman, Don Quixote of the Mancha


In resolution, he plunged himself so deeply in his reading of these books, as he spent many times in the lecture of them whole days and nights; and in the end, through his little sleep and much reading, he dried up his brains in such sort as he lost wholly his judgment. His fantasy was filled with those things that he read, of enchantments, quarrels, battles, challenges, wounds, wooings, loves, tempests, and other impossible follies. And these toys did so firmly possess his imagination with an infallible opinion that all that machina of dreamed inventions which he read was true, as he accounted no history in the world to be so certain and sincere as they were.

Finally, his wit being wholly extinguished, he fell into one of the strangest conceits that ever madman stumbled on in this world; to wit, it seemed unto him very requisite and behooveful, as well for the augmentation of his honour as also for the benefit of the commonwealth, that he himself should become a knight-errant, and go throughout the world, with his horse and armour, to seek adventures, and practise in person all that he had read was used by knights of yore; revenging of all kinds of injuries, and offering himself to occasions and dangers, which, being once happily achieved, might gain him eternal renown.

Chapter VI: Of the Pleasant and Curious Search Made by the Curate and the Barber of Don Quixote’s Library

[...] ‘Hold, master licentiate, and sprinkle this chamber all about, lest there should lurk in it some one enchanter of the many which these books contain, and cry quittance with us for the penalties we mean to inflict on these books, by banishing them out of this world.’ The simplicity of the good old woman caused the licentiate to laugh: who commanded the barber to fetch him down the books from their shelves, one by one, that he might peruse their arguments; for it might happen some to be found which in no sort deserved to be chastised with fire. ‘No,’ replied the niece, ‘no; you ought not to pardon any of them, seeing they have all been offenders: it is better you throw them all into the base-court, and there make a pile of them, and then set them a-fire; if not, they may be carried into the yard, and there make a bonfire of them, and the smoke will offend nobody.’


Books (general)

[...] ‘I have him at home in the Italian, but cannot understand him.’ ‘Neither were it good you should understand him,’ replied the curate; ‘and here we would willingly have excused the good captain that translated it into Spanish, from that labour, or bringing it into Spain, if it had pleased himself; for he hath deprived it of much natural worth in the translation: a fault incident to all those that presume to translate verses out of one language into another; for, though they employ all their industry and wit therein, they can never arrive to the height of that primitive conceit which they bring with them in their first birth.’



‘I say unto you, gossip, that this book is, for the style, one of the best in the world: in it knights do eat, and drink, and sleep, and die in their beds naturally, and make their testaments before their death; with many other things which all other books of this subject do want; yet, notwithstanding, if I might be judge, the author thereof deserved, because he purposely penned and wrote so many follies, to be sent to the galleys for all the days of his life.’



‘Oh, good sir,’ quoth Don Quixote his niece, ‘your reverence shall likewise do well to have them also burnt, lest that mine uncle, after he be cured of his knightly disease, may fall, by reading of these, in a humour of becoming a shepherd, and so wander through the woods and fields, singing of roundelays, and playing on a crowd; and what is more dangerous than to become a poet? which is, as some say, an incurable and infectious disease.’
The Second Book

Chapter I: Wherein is Related the Events of the Fearful Battle Which the Gallant Biscaine Fought with Don Quixote

[...] when he might and ought to have advanced his pen in our knight’s praises, he doth, as it were of purpose, pass them over in silence; which was very ill done, seeing that historiographers ought and should be very precise, true, and unpassionate; and that neither profit nor fear, rancour nor affection, should make them to tread awry from the truth, whose mother is history, the emulatress of time, the treasury of actions, the witness of things past, the advertiser of things to come. In this history I know a man may find all that he can desire in the most pleasing manner; and if they want anything to be desired, I am of opinion that it is through the fault of that ungracious knave that translated it, rather than through any defect in the subject.

Chapter II: Of That Which after Befel Don Quixote When He Had Left the Ladies

‘Didst thou ever read in histories of any other that hath, or ever had, more courage in assailing, more breath in persevering, more dexterity in offending, or more art in overthrowing, than I?’ ‘The truth is,’ quoth Sancho, ‘that I have never read any history; for I can neither read nor write: but that which I dare wager is, that I never in my life served a bolder master than you are; and I pray God that we pay not for this boldness there where I have said.’
‘What vial, and what balsam, is that?’ said Sancho Panza. ‘It is,’ answered Don Quixote, ‘a balsam whereof I have the recipe in memory, which one possessing he needs not fear death, nor ought he to think that he may be killed by any wound; and therefore, after I have made it, and given it unto thee, thou hast nothing else to do, but when thou shalt see that in any battle I be cloven in twain (as many times it happens), thou shalt take fair and softly that part of my body that is fallen to the ground, and put it up again, with great subtlety, on the part that rests in the saddle, before the blood congeal, having evermore great care that thou place it just and equally; then presently after thou shalt give me two draughts of that balsam of which I have spoken, and thou shalt see me straight become sounder than an apple.’

Chapter III: Of That Which Passed Between Don Quixote and Certain Goatherds

Don Quixote sat down, and Sancho stood to serve the cup, which was made of horn. His master, seeing him afoot, said, ‘Sancho, to the end thou mayst perceive the good included in wandering knighthood, and also in what possibility they are which exercised themselves in any ministry thereof, to arrive briefly to honour and reputation in the world, my will is, that thou dost sit here by my side, and in company with this good people, and that thou beest one and the very selfsame thing with me, who am thy master and natural lord; that thou eat in my dish and drink in the same cup wherein I drink; for the same may be said of chivalry that is of love, to wit, that it makes all things equal.’ ‘I yield you great thanks,’ quoth Sancho, ‘yet dare I avouch unto you, that so I had therewithal to eat well, I could eat it as well, or better, standing and alone, than if I sat by an emperor. And besides, if I must say the truth, methinks that which I eat in a corner, without ceremonies, curiosity, or respect of any, though it were but bread and an onion, smacks a great deal better than turkey-cocks at other tables, where I must chew my meat leisurely, drink but little, wipe my hands often, must not neese nor cough though I have a desire, or be like to choke, nor do other things that solitude and liberty bring with them.’



Chapter V: Wherein is Finished the History of the Shepherdess Marcela, with Other Accidents

‘That cannot be,’ answered Don Quixote; ‘I say it cannot be that there’s any knight-errant without a lady; for it is as proper and essential to such to be enamoured as to heaven to have stars: and I dare warrant that no history hath yet been seen wherein is found a knight-errant without love; for, by the very reason that he were found without them, he would be convinced to be no legitimate knight, but a bastard; and that he entered into the fortress of chivalry, not by the gate, but by leaping over the staccado like a robber and a thief.’

Chapter VI: Wherein Are Rehearsed the Despairing Verses of the Dead Shepherd With Other Unexpected Accidents

‘Heaven, as you say, hath made me beautiful, and that so much that my feature moves you to love almost whether you will or no; and for the affection you show unto me, you say, ay, and you affirm, that I ought to love you again. I know, by the natural instinct that Jove hath bestowed on me, that each fair thing is amiable; but I cannot conceive why, for the reason of being beloved, the party that is so beloved for her beauty should be bound to love her lover, although he be foul; and, seeing that foul things are worthy of hate, it is a bad argument to say, I love thee, because fair; and therefore thou must affect me, although uncomely. But set the case that the beauties occur equal on both sides, it follows not, therefore, that their desires should run one way; for all beauties do not enamour, for some do only delight the sight, and subject not the will; for if all beauties did enamour and subject together, men’s wills would ever run confused and straying, without being able to make any election; for the beautiful subjects being infinite, the desires must also perforce be infinite.’




‘And even as the viper deserves no blame for the poison she carries, although therewithal she kill, seeing it was bestowed on her by nature, so do I as little merit to be reprehended because beautiful; for beauty in an honest woman is like fire afar off, or a sharp-edged sword; for neither that burns nor this cuts any but such as come near them. Honour and virtue are the ornaments of the soul, without which the fairest body is not to be esteemed such; and if that honesty be one of the virtues that adorneth and beautifieth most the body and soul, why should she that is beloved, because fair, adventure the loss thereof, to answer his intention which only for his pleasure’s sake labours that she may lose it, with all his force and industry?’



The Third Book

Chapter III: Wherein are Rehearsed the Innumerable Misfortunes Which Don Quixote and His Good Squire Sancho Suffered in the Inn, Which He, to His Harm, Thought to Be a Castle

‘Why,’ qoth Sancho again, ‘I swear that I will conceal it until after your worship’s days; and I pray God that I may discover it to-morrow.’ ‘Have I wrought thee such harm, Sancho,’ replied the knight, ‘as thou wouldst desire to see me end so soon?’ ‘It is not for that, sir,’ quoth Sancho; ‘but because I cannot abide to keep things long, lest they should rot in my custody.’




Chapter XI: Which Treats of the Strange Adventures That Happened to the Knight of the Mancha in Sierra Morena; and of the Penance He Did There, in Imitation of Beltenebros

‘I believe,’ replied Sancho, ‘that the knights which performed the like penances were moved by some reasons to do the like austerities and follies; but, good sir, what occasion hath been offered unto you to become mad? What lady hath disdained you? Or what arguments have you found that the Lady Dulcinea of Toboso hath ever dallied with Moor or Christian?’ ‘There is the point,’ answered our knight, ‘and therein consists the perfection of mine affairs; for that a knight-errant do run mad upon any just occasion deserves neither praise nor thanks; the wit is in waxing mad without cause, whereby my mistress may understand, that if dry I could do this, what would I have done being watered? How much more, seeing I have a just motive, through the prolix absence that I have made from my ever supremest Lady Dulcinea of Toboso?’




‘Is it possible that, in all the time thou hast gone with me, thou couldst not perceive that all the adventures of knights-errant do appear chimeras, follies, and desperate things, being quite contrary? Not that they are indeed such; but rather, by reason that we are still haunted by a crew of enchanters, which change and transform our acts, making them seem what they please, according as they like to favour or annoy us; and so this, which seems to thee a barber’s basin, is in my conceit Mambrino his helmet, and to another will appear in some other shape.’



[...] Dulcinea can neither write nor read, nor hath she seen any letter, no, not so much as a character of my writing all the days of her life; for my love and hers have been ever Platonical, never extending themselves further than to an honest regard and view the one of the other, and even this same so rarely, as I dare boldly swear, that in these dozen years which I love her more dearly than the light of these mine eyes, which the earth shall one day devour, I have not seen her four times, and perhaps of those same four times she hath scarce perceived once that I beheld her—such is the care and closeness wherewithal her parents, Lorenzo Corcuelo and her mother Aldonza Nogales, have brought her up.’ ‘Ta, ta,’ quoth Sancho, ‘that the Lady Dulcinea of Toboso is Lorenzo Corcuelo his daughter, called by another name Aldonza Lorenzo?’ ‘The same is she,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘and it is she that merits to be empress of the vast universe.’ ‘I know her very well,’ replied Sancho, ‘and I dare say that she can throw an iron bar as well as any the strongest lad in our parish. I vow, by the giver, that ’tis a wench of the mark, tall and stout, and so sturdy withal, that she will bring her chin out of the mire, in despite of any knight-errant, or that shall err, that shall honour her as his lady.’

Chapter XII: Wherein Are Prosecuted the Pranks Played by Don Quixote in His Amorous Humours in the Mountains of Sierra Morena

[...] ‘On my soul, master licentiate, I give to the devil anything that I can remember of that letter, although the beginning was this: “High and unsavoury lady.” ’ ‘I warrant you,’ quoth the barber, ‘he said not but “superhuman” or “sovereign lady.” ’
‘That which I mean to do for my part is, I will pray unto our Lord to conduct him to that place wherein he may serve Him best, and give me greatest rewards.’ ‘Thou speakest like a discreet man,’ quoth the curate, ‘and thou shalt do therein the duty of a good Christian.’
The Fourth Book

Chapter III: Of Many Pleasant Discourses Passed Between Don Quixote and Those of His Company, After He Had Abandoned the Rigorous Place of His Penance

[...] I told him beforehand, and advised him that he should see well what he did, and that it was a sin to deliver them, because they were all sent to the galleys for very great villanies they had played.’

‘You bottlehead,’ replied Don Quixote, hearing him speak, ‘it concerneth not knights-errant to examine whether the afflicted, the enchained, and oppressed, which they encounter by the way, be carried in that fashion, or are plunged in that distress, through their own default or disgrace, but only are obliged to assist them as needy and oppressed, setting their eyes upon their pains, and not on their crimes.’



Chapter V: Treating of That Which Befel All Don Quixote His Train in the Inn

‘Is it not a good sport that you labour to persuade me, that all that which these good books say are but ravings and fables, they being printed by grace and favour of the Lords of the Privy Council; as if they were folk that would permit so many lies to be printed at once, and so many battles and enchantments, as are able to make a man run out of his wits.’

Chapter XI: Treating of the Curious Discourse Made by Don Quixote Upon the Exercises of Arms and Letters

‘Those blessed ages were fortunate which wanted the dreadful fury of the devilish and murdering pieces of ordnance, to whose inventor I am verily persuaded that they render in hell an eternal guerdon for his diabolical invention, by which he hath given power to an infamous, base, vile, and dastardly arm to bereave the most valorous knight of life; and that, without knowing how or from whence, in the midst of the stomach and courage that inflames and animates valorous minds, there arrives a wandering bullet (shot off, perhaps, by him that was afraid, and fled at the very blaze of the powder, as he discharged the accursed engine), and cuts off and finisheth in a moment the thoughts and life of him who merited to enjoy it many ages.

‘And whilst I consider this, I am about to say that it grieves me to have ever undertaken the exercise of a knight-errant in this our detestable age; for although no danger can affright me, yet notwithstanding I live in jealousy to think how powder and lead might deprive me of the power to make myself famous and renowned by the strength of mine arm and the edge of my sword throughout the face of the earth. But let Heaven dispose as it pleaseth; for so much the more shall I be esteemed, if I can compass my pretensions, by how much the dangers were greater to which I opposed myself, than those achieved in foregoing times by knights-adventurous.’



Chapter XII: Wherein the Captive Recounteth His Life, and Other Accidents

And this his liberal disposition proceeded from his being a soldier in his youthful years; for war is the school wherein the miser is made frank, and the frank man prodigal. And if among soldiers we find some wretches and niggards, they are accounted monsters which are seldom seen.



text checked (see note) Jan 2005

top of page

Background graphic copyright © 2004 by Hal Keen