Don Quixote By Miguel de Cervantes Part 1: Chapter LII

But the author of this history, though he has devoted research and industry to the discovery of the deeds achieved by Don Quixote in his third sally, has been unable to obtain any information respecting them, at any rate derived from authentic documents; tradition has merely preserved in the memory of La Mancha the fact that Don Quixote, the third time he sallied forth from his home, betook himself to Saragossa, where he was present at some famous jousts which came off in that city, and that he had adventures there worthy of his valour and high intelligence. Of his end and death he could learn no particulars, nor would he have ascertained it or known of it, if good fortune had not produced an old physician for him who had in his possession a leaden box, which, according to his account, had been discovered among the crumbling foundations of an ancient hermitage that was being rebuilt; in which box were found certain parchment manuscripts in Gothic character, but in Castilian verse, containing many of his achievements, and setting forth the beauty of Dulcinea, the form of Rocinante, the fidelity of Sancho Panza, and the burial of Don Quixote himself, together with sundry epitaphs and eulogies on his life and character; but all that could be read and deciphered were those which the trustworthy author of this new and unparalleled history here presents. And the said author asks of those that shall read it nothing in return for the vast toil which it has cost him in examining and searching the Manchegan archives in order to bring it to light, save that they give him the same credit that people of sense give to the books of chivalry that pervade the world and are so popular; for with this he will consider himself amply paid and fully satisfied, and will be encouraged to seek out and produce other histories, if not as truthful, at least equal in invention and not less entertaining. The first words written on the parchment found in the leaden box were these:

THE ACADEMICIANS OF
ARGAMASILLA, A VILLAGE OF
LA MANCHA,
ON THE LIFE AND DEATH
OF DON QUIXOTE OF LA MANCHA,
HOC SCRIPSERUNT
MONICONGO, ACADEMICIAN OF ARGAMASILLA,


ON THE TOMB OF DON QUIXOTE
EPITAPH

The scatterbrain that gave La Mancha more
Rich spoils than Jason's; who a point so keen
Had to his wit, and happier far had been
If his wit's weathercock a blunter bore;
The arm renowned far as Gaeta's shore,
Cathay, and all the lands that lie between;
The muse discreet and terrible in mien
As ever wrote on brass in days of yore;
He who surpassed the Amadises all,
And who as naught the Galaors accounted,
Supported by his love and gallantry:
Who made the Belianises sing small,
And sought renown on Rocinante mounted;
Here, underneath this cold stone, doth he lie.

PANIAGUADO,
ACADEMICIAN OF ARGAMASILLA,
IN LAUDEM DULCINEAE DEL TOBOSO

SONNET

She, whose full features may be here descried,
High-bosomed, with a bearing of disdain,
Is Dulcinea, she for whom in vain
The great Don Quixote of La Mancha sighed.
For her, Toboso's queen, from side to side
He traversed the grim sierra, the champaign
Of Aranjuez, and Montiel's famous plain:
On Rocinante oft a weary ride.
Malignant planets, cruel destiny,
Pursued them both, the fair Manchegan dame,
And the unconquered star of chivalry.
Nor youth nor beauty saved her from the claim
Of death; he paid love's bitter penalty,
And left the marble to preserve his name.

CAPRICHOSO, A MOST ACUTE ACADEMICIAN
OF ARGAMASILLA, IN PRAISE OF ROCINANTE,
STEED OF DON QUIXOTE OF LA MANCHA

SONNET

On that proud throne of diamantine sheen,
Which the blood-reeking feet of Mars degrade,
The mad Manchegan's banner now hath been
By him in all its bravery displayed.
There hath he hung his arms and trenchant blade
Wherewith, achieving deeds till now unseen,
He slays, lays low, cleaves, hews; but art hath made
A novel style for our new paladin.
If Amadis be the proud boast of Gaul,
If by his progeny the fame of Greece
Through all the regions of the earth be spread,
Great Quixote crowned in grim Bellona's hall
To-day exalts La Mancha over these,
And above Greece or Gaul she holds her head.
Nor ends his glory here, for his good steed
Doth Brillador and Bayard far exceed;
As mettled steeds compared with Rocinante,
The reputation they have won is scanty.

BURLADOR, ACADEMICIAN OF ARGAMASILLA,
ON SANCHO PANZA

SONNET

The worthy Sancho Panza here you see;
A great soul once was in that body small,
Nor was there squire upon this earthly ball
So plain and simple, or of guile so free.
Within an ace of being Count was he,
And would have been but for the spite and gall
Of this vile age, mean and illiberal,
That cannot even let a donkey be.
For mounted on an ass (excuse the word),
By Rocinante's side this gentle squire
Was wont his wandering master to attend.
Delusive hopes that lure the common herd
With promises of ease, the heart's desire,
In shadows, dreams, and smoke ye always end.


CACHIDIABLO,
ACADEMICIAN OF ARGAMASILLA,
ON THE TOMB OF DON QUIXOTE
EPITAPH

The knight lies here below,
Ill-errant and bruised sore,
Whom Rocinante bore
In his wanderings to and fro.
By the side of the knight is laid
Stolid man Sancho too,
Than whom a squire more true
Was not in the esquire trade.

TIQUITOC,
ACADEMICIAN OF ARGAMASILLA,
ON THE TOMB OF DULCINEA DEL TOBOSO

EPITAPH
Here Dulcinea lies.
Plump was she and robust:
Now she is ashes and dust:
The end of all flesh that dies.
A lady of high degree,
With the port of a lofty dame,
And the great Don Quixote's flame,
And the pride of her village was she.

These were all the verses that could be deciphered; the rest, the writing being worm-eaten, were handed over to one of the Academicians to make out their meaning conjecturally. We have been informed that at the cost of many sleepless nights and much toil he has succeeded, and that he means to publish them in hopes of Don Quixote's third sally.

"Forse altro cantera con miglior plectro."

END OF PART I.

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