Don Quixote By Miguel de Cervantes Part 2: Chapter VII-VIII

"All that your worship has said so far," said Sancho, "I have understood quite well; but still I would be glad if your worship would dissolve a doubt for me, which has just this minute come into my mind."

"Solve, thou meanest, Sancho," said Don Quixote; "say on, in God's name, and I will answer as well as I can."

"Tell me, senor," Sancho went on to say, "those Julys or Augusts, and all those venturous knights that you say are now dead — where are they now?"

"The heathens," replied Don Quixote, "are, no doubt, in hell; the Christians, if they were good Christians, are either in purgatory or in heaven."

"Very good," said Sancho; "but now I want to know — the tombs where the bodies of those great lords are, have they silver lamps before them, or are the walls of their chapels ornamented with crutches, winding-sheets, tresses of hair, legs and eyes in wax? Or what are they ornamented with?"

To which Don Quixote made answer: "The tombs of the heathens were generally sumptuous temples; the ashes of Julius Caesar's body were placed on the top of a stone pyramid of vast size, which they now call in Rome Saint Peter's needle. The emperor Hadrian had for a tomb a castle as large as a good-sized village, which they called the Moles Adriani, and is now the castle of St. Angelo in Rome. The queen Artemisia buried her husband Mausolus in a tomb which was reckoned one of the seven wonders of the world; but none of these tombs, or of the many others of the heathens, were ornamented with winding-sheets or any of those other offerings and tokens that show that they who are buried there are saints."

"That's the point I'm coming to," said Sancho; "and now tell me, which is the greater work, to bring a dead man to life or to kill a giant?"

"The answer is easy," replied Don Quixote; "it is a greater work to bring to life a dead man."

"Now I have got you," said Sancho; "in that case the fame of them who bring the dead to life, who give sight to the blind, cure cripples, restore health to the sick, and before whose tombs there are lamps burning, and whose chapels are filled with devout folk on their knees adoring their relics be a better fame in this life and in the other than that which all the heathen emperors and knights-errant that have ever been in the world have left or may leave behind them?"

"That I grant, too," said Don Quixote.

"Then this fame, these favours, these privileges, or whatever you call it," said Sancho, "belong to the bodies and relics of the saints who, with the approbation and permission of our holy mother Church, have lamps, tapers, winding-sheets, crutches, pictures, eyes and legs, by means of which they increase devotion and add to their own Christian reputation. Kings carry the bodies or relics of saints on their shoulders, and kiss bits of their bones, and enrich and adorn their oratories and favourite altars with them."

"What wouldst thou have me infer from all thou hast said, Sancho?" asked Don Quixote.

"My meaning is," said Sancho, "let us set about becoming saints, and we shall obtain more quickly the fair fame we are striving after; for you know, senor, yesterday or the day before yesterday (for it is so lately one may say so) they canonised and beatified two little barefoot friars, and it is now reckoned the greatest good luck to kiss or touch the iron chains with which they girt and tortured their bodies, and they are held in greater veneration, so it is said, than the sword of Roland in the armoury of our lord the King, whom God preserve. So that, senor, it is better to be an humble little friar of no matter what order, than a valiant knight-errant; with God a couple of dozen of penance lashings are of more avail than two thousand lance-thrusts, be they given to giants, or monsters, or dragons."

"All that is true," returned Don Quixote, "but we cannot all be friars, and many are the ways by which God takes his own to heaven; chivalry is a religion, there are sainted knights in glory."

"Yes," said Sancho, "but I have heard say that there are more friars in heaven than knights-errant."

"That," said Don Quixote, "is because those in religious orders are more numerous than knights."

"The errants are many," said Sancho.

"Many," replied Don Quixote, "but few they who deserve the name of knights."

With these, and other discussions of the same sort, they passed that night and the following day, without anything worth mention happening to them, whereat Don Quixote was not a little dejected; but at length the next day, at daybreak, they descried the great city of El Toboso, at the sight of which Don Quixote's spirits rose and Sancho's fell, for he did not know Dulcinea's house, nor in all his life had he ever seen her, any more than his master; so that they were both uneasy, the one to see her, the other at not having seen her, and Sancho was at a loss to know what he was to do when his master sent him to El Toboso. In the end, Don Quixote made up his mind to enter the city at nightfall, and they waited until the time came among some oak trees that were near El Toboso; and when the moment they had agreed upon arrived, they made their entrance into the city, where something happened them that may fairly be called something.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

After the misadventure with the windmills, Don Quixote




Quiz