The Exemplary Novels of Cervantes/Dedication
TO DON PEDRO FERNANDEZ DE CASTRO, COUNT OF LEMOS, ANDRADE, AND VILLALBA, &c.
Those who dedicate their works to some prince commonly fall into two errors. The first is, that in their dedicatory epistle, which ought to be brief and succinct, they dilate very complacently, whether moved by truth or flattery, on the deeds not only of their fathers and forefathers, but also of all their relations, friends, and benefactors. The second is, that they tell their patron they place their works under his protection and safeguard, in order that malicious and captious tongues may not presume to cavil and carp at them. For myself, shunning these two faults, I here pass over in silence the grandeur and titles of your excellency's ancient and royal house, and your infinite virtues both natural and acquired, leaving it to some new Phidias and Lysippus to engrave and sculpture them in marble and bronze, that they may rival time in duration. Neither do I supplicate your Excellency to take this book under your protection, for I know, that if it is not a good one, though I should put it under the wings of Astolfo's hippogrif, or beneath the club of Hercules, the Zoili, the cynics, the Aretinos, and the bores, will not abstain from abusing it, out of respect for anyone. I only beg your Excellency to observe that I present to you, without more words, thirteen tales, which, had they not been wrought in the laboratory of my own brains, might presume to stand beside the best. Such as they are, there they go, leaving me here rejoiced at the thought of manifesting, in some degree, the desire I feel to serve your Excellency as my true lord and benefactor. Our Lord preserve, &c.
Your Excellency's servant,
MIGUEL DE CERVANTES SAAVEDRA.
MADRID, 13th of July, 1613.
- There are but twelve of them. Possibly when Cervantes wrote this dedication he intended to include "El Curioso Impertinente," which occurs in chapters xxxiii.-xxxv. of the first part of "Don Quixote."