Page:Don Quixote (Cervantes, Ormsby) Volume 2.djvu/45

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23
CHAPTER III.

of great geniuses. The cleverest character in comedy is the clown, for he who would make people take him for a fool, must not be one. History is in a measure a sacred thing, for it should be true, and where the truth is, there God is, so far as truth is concerned; but notwithstanding this, there are some who write and fling books broadcast on the world as if they were fritters."

"There is no book so bad but it has something good in it," [1] said the bachelor.

"No doubt of that," replied Don Quixote; "but it often happens that those who have acquired and attained a well-desired reputation by their writings, lose it entirely, or damage it in some degree, when they give them to the press."

"The reason of that," said Samson. "is, that as printed works are examined leisurely, their faults are easily seen; and the greater the fame of the writer, the more closely are they scrutinized. Men famous for their genius, great poets, illustrious historians, are always, or most commonly, envied by those who take a particular delight and pleasure in criticising the writings of others, without having produced any of their own."

"That is no wonder," said Don Quixote; "for there are many divines who are no good for the pulpit, but excellent in detecting the defects or excesses of those who preach."

"All that is true, Señor Don Quixote," said Carrasco; "but I wish such fault-finders were more lenient and less exacting, and did not pay so much attention to the spots on the bright sun of the work they grumble at; for if aliquando bonus dormitat Homerus, they should remember how long he remained awake to shed the light of his work with as little shade as possible; and perhaps it may be that what they find fault with may be moles, that sometimes heighten the beauty of the face that bears them; and so I say very great is the risk to which he who prints a book exposes himself, for of all impossibilities the greatest is to write one that will satisfy and please all readers."

"That which treats of me must have pleased few," said Don Quixote.

"Quite the contrary," said the bachelor; "for as stultorum infinitus est numerus, innumerable are those who have relished the said history; but some have brought a charge aganist the author's memory, inasmuch as he forgot to say who the thief

  1. Prov. 128.