Cervantes
Posted by Admin on April 18 2013 08:13:44

Cervantes

 

 

CervantesThe world has accepted Cervantes de Saavedra as the literary representative of Spain, and Don Quixote as his representative work. Such national distinction is yielded to no other writer of ancient or modern times. Spain herself, whatever pride she may show in other authors, has acquiesced in the general verdict, and by virtue of his merits claims a high rank in literature.

 

Miguel Cervantes De Saavedra was born in I547 at Alcala, in New Castile, of ancient but poor family. In Is69 he went to Italy in the train of Cardinal Acquaviva. Having volunteered in the army of Mark Antony Colonna, he served all board the fleet commanded by Don John of Austria at the famous battle of Lepanto, in 1571, where he had the misfortune to lose his left hand, but obtained a share of the booty. For four years more he continued to be a soldier, serving under several leaders, till he was captured by an Algerine corsair. His sufferings and adventures during his five years of slavery in Algiers are described in an episode in Don Quixote. He was treated with mildness, but made three attempts to escape. A large price was paid for his ransom, which, together with subsequent expensive living, entirely exhausted his store. He had already established a poetical reputation in his country before he published, in 1584, his Galatea, dedicated to Ascanio Colonna. This was a pastoral romance, mixing prose and verse, in which he represented, under feigned names, himself and the lady whom he immediately married. He settled in Madrid and composed various pieces for the Spanish theater, which he assisted in raising from a state of barbarism. Yet his writings failed to bring him fortune. He was reduced to great distress, became an agent for naval stores, and finally was imprisoned for debt in Argamasilla, in the cellar of a house which has become a shrine, for in this forlorn situation he meditated the work which has conferred immortal honor on his name. In 1603 he was free again and moved to Valladolid, chosen by Philip III. as his capital. The first part of Don Quixote was printed at Madrid in 1605. The critics of the day were puzzled by it, but the people soon perceived its merits and its success was prodigious. It was read by all ages and ranks its fame spread into foreign countries, and editions and translations of it were multiplied. Its first notable effect was in correcting the public taste, and putting a stop to the fabrication of the high-flown romances of chivalry, which had formed the favorite reading of the people. But neither the court nor the people freed themselves from the disgrace of suffering their greatest genius to sink under the depression of poverty.

 

In 1613 Cervantes published the Exemplary Novels, a collection of twelve stories, some of which are the only minor works of his that are at all worthy the author of Dolt Quixote. These tales resemble others introduced into the adventures of Don Quixote, and display bis inventive and descriptive talents in serious story, as the other had done in burlesque. The aged novelist now underwent the mortification of seeing bis Don Quixote supplemented by Avellaneda, an Arragonian writer of mean genius, who not only debased the original, but loaded the author with much personal abuse, calling him" a miserable old cripple." Cervantes, however, reclaimed his right by publishing, in 1615, a true Second Part, which sufficiently proved that the author of the first was alone capable of all adequate continuation. This addition was received with avidity by all who had been interested in the genuine Don Quixote. His Journey to Parnassus was all ironical satire upon the Spanish poetry of his time, and upon the bad taste of patrons. This was more likely to increase the number of bis enemies than to acquire him new favor. He was obliged to sell eight plays and as many interludes to a bookseller for want of means to print them on his own account. The indifferent term he was upon with actors prevented him bringing them on the stage; and the rising reputation of Lope de Vega had eclipsed that of Cervantes as a dramatic writer. His last work, Persiles and Sigismunda, was a romance which he left unpublished. In his preface that humor which had illuminated Don Quijote still flashes out, and dispels the gloom of poverty and sickness. In the affectionate dedication to his best patron, the Count de Lemos, he mentions that he had already received extreme unction; but he did not expire until four days later, on April 23, I616.

 

Cervantes, though he chose to make the fictions of chivalry the object of his ridicule, had much of the romantic in his own composition; and in matters of heroism and love was a true Spaniard, while he discarded the follies of enchantment and supernatural agency. Yet it is unjust to say that "Cervantes laughed Spain's chivalry away." The change in the Spanish character from aggressive bravery to indolent pride is due to the new movement of the world in which Spain, for other reasons, took no part. Don Quixote, the terminal monument of its chivalry, has not only become a classic throughout the world, but has, in a manner, obscured the fame of all the other literature of its country. It has enriched every modern language with words and phrases to express new ideas, and has been ranked among the capital productions of human invention. All intelligent readers are familiar with the fantastic hero, the grave and generous knight, whose excessive reading of romances had bewildered his judgment, and with his faithful, matter·of.fact attendant, Sancho Panza, whose homely, hard sense well sets off his master's lofty ideals.

 

DON QUIXOTE'S FIRST BATTLE.

 

The knight and his squire went on conferring together, when Don Quixote perceived, in the road on which they were traveling, a great and thick cloud of dust coming towards them; upon which he turned to Sancho, and said, "This is the day,O Sancho, that shall manifest the good that fortune has in store for me. This is the day, I say, on which shall be proved, as at all times, the valor of my arms, and on which I shall perform exploits that will be recorded and written in the book of fame, there to remain to all succeediug ages. Seest thou that cloud of dust, Sancho? It is raised by a prodigious army of divers nations, who are ou the march this way." "If so, there must be two armies," said Sancho; "for here, on this side, arises just such another cloud of dust." Don Quixote turned, and, seeing that it really was so, he rejoiced exceedingly, taking it for granted there were two armies coming to engage in the midst of that spacious plain; for at all hours and moments his imagination was full of the battles, enchantments, adventures, extravagances, combats and challenges detailed in his favorite books, and in every thought, word, and action he reverted to them. Now, the cloud of dust he saw was raised by two great flocks of sheep going the same road from different parts, and as the dust concealed them until they came near, and Don Quixote affirmed so positively that they were armies, Sancho began to believe it, and said, "Sir, what then must we do?" "What," replied Don Quixote, "but favor and assist the weaker side? Thou must know, Sancho, that the army which marches towards us in front is led and commanded by the great Emperor Alifanfaron, lord of the great island of Taproballa; this other, which marches behind us, is that of his enemy, the King of the Garamantes, Pentapolin of the Naked Arm-for he always enters into battle with his right arm bare" "But why do these two princes bear one another so much in will?" demanded Sancho. "They hate one another," answered Don Quixote, because this Alifanfaron is a furious pagan, in love with the daughter of Pentapolin, who is most beautiful, and also a Christian j but her father will not give her in marriage to the pagan king unless he will first renounce the religion of his false prophet Mahomet, and turn Christian." "By my beard," said Sancho, "Pentapolin is in the right and I am resolved to assist him to the utmost of my power." II Therein wilt thou do thy duty, Sancho," said Don Quixote; "but listen with attention whilst I give thee an account of the principal knights in the two approaching armies; and, that thou mayest observe them the better, let us retire to that rising ground, whence both armies may be distinctly seen."

 

Seeing, however, in his imagination what did Dot exist he began, with a loud voice, to say, "The knight thou seest yonder with the gilded armor, who bears on h is shield a lion crowned, couchant at a damsels feet, is the valorous Laurealco, Lord of the Silver Bridge. The other, with the armor flowered with gold, who bears three crowns argent, in a field azure, is the formidable Micocolembo, Grand Duke of Quiraeia. The third, with gigantic limbs, who marches on his right, is the undaunted Brandabarbaran of Boliche, Lord of the three Arabias. He is armed with a serpent's skin, and bears, instead of a shield, a gate, which fame says is one of those belonging to · the temple which Samson pulled down when, with his death he avenged himself upon his enemies."

 

In this manner he went on naming sundry knights of each squadron, as his fancy dictated, and giving to each their arms, colors, devices and mottoes, extempore; and, without pausing, he continued thus : That squadron in the front is formed and composed of people of different nations. Here stand those who drink the sweet waters of the famous Xanthus; the mountaineers who tread the Massylian field s ; those who sift the pure and fine gold-dust of Arabia Felix; those who dwell along the famous and refreshing bank of the clear Thermodon ; those who drain, by divers and sun dry ways, the golden veins of Pactolus; the Numidians, unfaithful in their promises; the Persians, famous for bows and arrows; the Parthians and Medes, who fight flying; the Arabians, perpetually changing their habitations; the Scythiaus, as cruel as fair; the broad-lipped Ethiopians; and an infinity of other nations, whose countenances I see and know, although I cannot recollect their names."

 

How many provinces did he name! how many nations did he enumerate, giving to each, with wonderful readiness, its peculiar attributes! Sancho Panza stood confounded at his discourse, without speaking a word; and now and then he turned his head about, to see whether he could discover the knights and giants his master named. But seeing none, he said, I Sir, not a mun, or giant, or knight of all you have named, can I see anywhere." "How sayest thou, Sancho?" answered Don Quixote; "hearest thou not the neighing of the steeds, the sound of the trumpets, and the rattling of the drums?" I hear nothing," answered Sancho, but the bleating of sheep and lambs:" and so it was; for now the two flocks were come very near them. "Thy fears, Sancho, said Don Quixote, "prevent thee from hearing or seeing aright; for one effect of fear is to disturb the senses, and make things !lot to appear what they really arc; and if thou art so much afraid, retire and leave me alone; for with my single arm I shall insure victory to that side which I favor with my assistance." Then, clapping spurs to Rosinante, and setting his lance in rest, he darted down the hillock like lightning.

 

Sancho cried out to him, "Hold, Signor Don Quixote, come back! they are only lambs and sheep you are going to encounter; pray come back; what madness is this! there is neither giant, nor knight, nor horses, nor arms, nor shields quartered or entire, nor true azures, nor devices; what are you doing, sir?" Notwithstanding all this, Don Quixote turned not again, but still went an, crying aloud, "Ho, knights, you that follow and fight under the banner of the valiant Emperor Pentapolin of the Naked Arm, follow me all, and you shall see with how much ease I revenge him on his enemy Alifanfaron of Taprobana." With these words he rushed into the midst of the squadron of sheep, as courageously and intrepidly as if in good earnest he was engaging his mortal enemies. The shepherds and berdsmen who came with the flock called out to him to desist; but, seeing it was to no purpose, they unbuckled their slings and began to salute his ears with a shower of stones. Don Quixote cared not for the stones, but, galloping about on all sides, cried out, ., Where art thou, proud Alifanfaron? Present thyself before me; I am a single knight, desirous to prove thy valor hand to hand, and to punish thee with the loss of life for the wrong thou dost to the valiant Pentapolin Garamanta.!

 

At that instant a large stone struck l1im with such violence that he believed himself either slain or sorely wounded; and, remembering some balsam which he had, he pulled out the cruse, and, applying it to his mouth, began to swallow some of the liquor ; but before he could take what he thought sufficient another hit him on the hand, and dashed the cruse to pieces carrying off three or four of his teeth by the way, and grievously bruising two of his fingers. Such was the first blow, and such the second, that the poor knight fell from his horse to the ground. The shepherds ran to him, and verily believed they had killed him whereupon in all haste they collected their Bock, took up their dead which were about seven, and marched off without further inquiry.

 

All this while Sancho stood upon the hillock, beholding his master's actions, tearing his beard, and cursing the unfortunate hour and moment that ever he knew him. But seeing him fallen to the ground, and the shepherds gone off, he descended from the hillock, and, running to him, found him in a very in plight, though not quite bereaved of sense, and said to him, "Did I not beg you, Signor Don Quixote, to come back, for those you went to attack were a flock of sheep, and not an army of men?" "How easily," replied Don Quixote, "can that thief of an enchanter, my enemy, transform things or make them invisible! However, do one thing", Sancho, for my sake, to undeceive thyself, and see the truth of what I tell thee: mount thy ass, and follow them fair and softly, and thou wilt find that when they are got a little farther off they will return to their first form, and, ceasing to be sheep, will become men, proper and tall, as I described them at first But do not go now, for I want thy assistance: come hither to me, and see how many of my teeth are deficient for it seems to me that I have not one left in my head."

 

He now raised himself up, and, placing his left hand upon his mouth, to prevent the remainder of his teeth from falling out, with the other he laid hand on Rosinante's bridle, who had not stirred from his master's side, such was his fidelity, and went towards his squire, who stood leaning with his breast upon the ass, and his cheek reclining upon his hand, in the posture of a man overwhelmed with thought. Don Quixote, seeing him thus, and to all appearances so melancholy, said to him, "Know, Sancho, that one man is no more than another, only in as much as he does more than another. So do not afflict thyself for the mischances that befall me, since thou hast no share in them." "How? no share in them! " answered Sancho; II peradventure he they tossed in a blanket yesterday was not my father's son, and the wallets I have lost to--day, with all my movables, belong to somebody else?" .' What! are the wallets lost? " quoth Don Quixote. " Yes, they are," answered Sancho. "Then we have nothing to eat to-day? replied Don Quixote. "It would be so," answered Sancho, "if these fields did not produce those herbs which your worship says you know, and with which unlucky knights-errant like your worship are used to supply such wants. "Nevertheless," said Don Quixote, "at this time I would rather have a slice of bread and a couple of salt pilchards than all the herbs described by Dioscorides, though commented upon by Dr. Laguna himself. But, good Sancho, get upon thy ass and follow me; for God, who provides for all, without desert us, since He neglects neither the birds of the air, the beasts of the earth, nor the fish of the waters more especially being engaged, as we are, in His service." "Your worship," said Sancho, would make a better preacher than a knight-errant." " Sancho," said Don Quixote, "the knowledge of knights-errant must be universal; there have been knights-errant in times past who would make sermons or harangues on the king's highway as successfully as if they had taken their degrees in the University of Paris whence it may be inferred that the lance never blunted the pen, nor the pen the lance." "Well, be it as your worship says," answered Sancho; "but let us begone hence, and endeavor to get a lodging tonight ; and pray God it be where there are neither blankets nor blanket-heavers, hobgoblins nor enchanted moors." -M. DE CERVANTES-SAAVEDRA, translated by JARVIS.

 

Cervantes