Don Quixote By Miguel de Cervantes Part 2: Chapter XXVII-XXXIV

With this permission Don Quixote went on to say, "I, sirs, am a knight-errant whose calling is that of arms, and whose profession is to protect those who require protection, and give help to such as stand in need of it. Some days ago I became acquainted with your misfortune and the cause which impels you to take up arms again and again to revenge yourselves upon your enemies; and having many times thought over your business in my mind, I find that, according to the laws of combat, you are mistaken in holding yourselves insulted; for a private individual cannot insult an entire community; unless it be by defying it collectively as a traitor, because he cannot tell who in particular is guilty of the treason for which he defies it. Of this we have an example in Don Diego Ordonez de Lara, who defied the whole town of Zamora, because he did not know that Vellido Dolfos alone had committed the treachery of slaying his king; and therefore he defied them all, and the vengeance and the reply concerned all; though, to be sure, Senor Don Diego went rather too far, indeed very much beyond the limits of a defiance; for he had no occasion to defy the dead, or the waters, or the fishes, or those yet unborn, and all the rest of it as set forth; but let that pass, for when anger breaks out there's no father, governor, or bridle to check the tongue. The case being, then, that no one person can insult a kingdom, province, city, state, or entire community, it is clear there is no reason for going out to avenge the defiance of such an insult, inasmuch as it is not one. A fine thing it would be if the people of the clock town were to be at loggerheads every moment with everyone who called them by that name, — or the Cazoleros, Berengeneros, Ballenatos, Jaboneros, or the bearers of all the other names and titles that are always in the mouth of the boys and common people! It would be a nice business indeed if all these illustrious cities were to take huff and revenge themselves and go about perpetually making trombones of their swords in every petty quarrel! No, no; God forbid! There are four things for which sensible men and well-ordered States ought to take up arms, draw their swords, and risk their persons, lives, and properties. The first is to defend the Catholic faith; the second, to defend one's life, which is in accordance with natural and divine law; the third, in defence of one's honour, family, and property; the fourth, in the service of one's king in a just war; and if to these we choose to add a fifth (which may be included in the second), in defence of one's country. To these five, as it were capital causes, there may be added some others that may be just and reasonable, and make it a duty to take up arms; but to take them up for trifles and things to laugh at and he amused by rather than offended, looks as though he who did so was altogether wanting in common sense. Moreover, to take an unjust revenge (and there cannot be any just one) is directly opposed to the sacred law that we acknowledge, wherein we are commanded to do good to our enemies and to love them that hate us; a command which, though it seems somewhat difficult to obey, is only so to those who have in them less of God than of the world, and more of the flesh than of the spirit; for Jesus Christ, God and true man, who never lied, and could not and cannot lie, said, as our law-giver, that his yoke was easy and his burden light; he would not, therefore, have laid any command upon us that it was impossible to obey. Thus, sirs, you are bound to keep quiet by human and divine law."

"The devil take me," said Sancho to himself at this, "but this master of mine is a tologian; or, if not, faith, he's as like one as one egg is like another."

Don Quixote stopped to take breath, and, observing that silence was still preserved, had a mind to continue his discourse, and would have done so had not Sancho interposed with his smartness; for he, seeing his master pause, took the lead, saying, "My lord Don Quixote of La Mancha, who once was called the Knight of the Rueful Countenance, but now is called the Knight of the Lions, is a gentleman of great discretion who knows Latin and his mother tongue like a bachelor, and in everything that he deals with or advises proceeds like a good soldier, and has all the laws and ordinances of what they call combat at his fingers' ends; so you have nothing to do but to let yourselves be guided by what he says, and on my head be it if it is wrong. Besides which, you have been told that it is folly to take offence at merely hearing a bray. I remember when I was a boy I brayed as often as I had a fancy, without anyone hindering me, and so elegantly and naturally that when I brayed all the asses in the town would bray; but I was none the less for that the son of my parents who were greatly respected; and though I was envied because of the gift by more than one of the high and mighty ones of the town, I did not care two farthings for it; and that you may see I am telling the truth, wait a bit and listen, for this art, like swimming, once learnt is never forgotten;" and then, taking hold of his nose, he began to bray so vigorously that all the valleys around rang again.

One of those, however, that stood near him, fancying he was mocking them, lifted up a long staff he had in his hand and smote him such a blow with it that Sancho dropped helpless to the ground. Don Quixote, seeing him so roughly handled, attacked the man who had struck him lance in hand, but so many thrust themselves between them that he could not avenge him. Far from it, finding a shower of stones rained upon him, and crossbows and muskets unnumbered levelled at him, he wheeled Rocinante round and, as fast as his best gallop could take him, fled from the midst of them, commending himself to God with all his heart to deliver him out of this peril, in dread every step of some ball coming in at his back and coming out at his breast, and every minute drawing his breath to see whether it had gone from him. The members of the band, however, were satisfied with seeing him take to flight, and did not fire on him. They put up Sancho, scarcely restored to his senses, on his ass, and let him go after his master; not that he was sufficiently in his wits to guide the beast, but Dapple followed the footsteps of Rocinante, from whom he could not remain a moment separated. Don Quixote having got some way off looked back, and seeing Sancho coming, waited for him, as he perceived that no one followed him. The men of the troop stood their ground till night, and as the enemy did not come out to battle, they returned to their town exulting; and had they been aware of the ancient custom of the Greeks, they would have erected a trophy on the spot.

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After the misadventure with the windmills, Don Quixote