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imitates, disinterested, honourable, generous, the most faithful and respectful of lovers, the best of masters, the most accomplished and well educated of gentlemen, all his enterprizes end in discomforture to himself, and in mischief to others.” M. Sismondi descants on the perfections of the Knight of La Mancha with a gravity which is not quite easy for his readers to preserve.
It might be answered by a phlegmatic observer, that a mere enthusiasm for doing good, if excited by vanity, and not accompanied by common sense, will seldom be very serviceable to ourselves or to others; that men who, in their heroism and care for the oppressed, would throw open the cages of lions, and set galley-slaves at liberty, not forgetting to break the limbs of harmless persons whom they mistake for wrong-doers, are a class of whom Don Quixote is the real type; and that, the world being much the worse for such heroes, it might not be immoral, notwithstanding their benevolent enthusiasm, to put them out of countenance by a little ridicule. This, however, is not, as I conceive, the primary aim of Cervantes; nor do I think that the exhibition of one great truth, as the predominant, but concealed, moral of a long work, is in the spirit of his age. He possessed a very thoughtful mind and a profound knowledge of humanity; yet the generalization which the hypothesis of Bouterwek and Sismondi requires for the leading conceptions of Don Quixote, besides its being a little inconsistent with the valorous and romantic character of its author, belongs to a more advanced period of philosophy than his own. It will, at all events, I presume, be admitted that we cannot reason about Don Quixote except from the book, and I think it may be shown in a few words that these ingenious writers have been chiefly misled by some want of consistency which circumstances produced in the author's delineation of his hero.
In the first chapter of this romance, Cervantes, with a few strokes of a great master, sets before us the pauper gentleman, an early riser and keen sportsman, who “when he was idle, which was most part of the year,” gave himself up to reading books of chivalry till he lost his wits. The events that follow are in every one's recollection ; his lunacy consists, no doubt, only in one idea; but this is so absorbing that it perverts the evidence of his senses, and predominates in all his language. It is to be observed, therefore, in relation to the nobleness of soul ascribed to Don Quixote, that every sentiment he utters is borrowed with a punctilious rigour from the romances of his library; he resorts to them on every occasion for precedents; if he is intrepidly brave, it is because his madness and vanity have made him be. lieve himself unconquerable ; if he bestows kingdoms, it is because Amadis would have done the same; if he is honourable, courteous, a redresser of wrongs, it is in pursuance of these prototypes, from whom, except that he seems rather more scrupulous in chastity, it is his only boast not to diverge. Those who talk of the exalted character of Don Quixote seem really to forget that, on these subjects, he has no character at all : he is the echo of romance; and to praise him is merely to say, that the tone of chivalry, which these productions studied to keep up, and, in the hands of inferior artists, foolishly exaggerated, was full of moral dignity, and has, in a subdued degree of force, modelled the character of a man of honour in the present day. But throughout the first two volumes of Don Quixote, though in a few unimportant passages he talks rationally, I cannot find more than two in which he displays any other knowledge or strength of mind than the original delineation of the character would lead us to expect.
The case is much altered in the last two volumes. Cervantes had acquired an immense popularity, and perceived the opportunity, of which he had already availed himself, that this romance gave for displaying his own mind. He had become attached to a hero who had made him illustrious, and suffered himself to lose sight of the clear outline he had once traced for Quixote's personality. Hence we find in all this second part, that, although the lunacy as to knights-errant remains unabated, he is, on all other subjects, not only rational in the low sense of the word, but clear, acute, profound, sarcastic, cool. headed. His philosophy is elevated, but not enthusiastic; his imagination is poetical, but it is restrained by strong sense. There are, in fact, two Don Quixotes; one, whom Cervantes first designed to draw, the foolish gentleman of La Mancha, whose foolishness had made him frantic; the other a highly gifted, accomplished model of the best chivalry, trained in all the court, the camp, or the college could impart, but scathed in one portion of his mind by an inexplicable visitation of monomania. One is inclined to ask why this Don Quixote, who is Cervantes, should have been more likely to lose his intellects by reading romances than Cervantes himself. As a matter of bodily disease, such an event is doubtless possible; but nothing can be con
ceived more improper for fiction, nothing more incapable of affording a moral lesson than the insanity which arises wholly from disease. Insanity is, in no point of view, a theme for ridicule; and this is an inherent fault of the romance (for those who have imagined that Cervantes has not rendered Quixote ridiculous have a strange notion of the word); but the thoughtlessness of mankind, rather than their insensibility, for they do not connect madness with misery, furnishes some apology for the first two volumes. In proportion as we perceive below the veil of mental delusion a noble intellect, we feel a painful sympathy with its humiliation ; the character becomes more complicated and interesting, but has less truth and naturalness; an objection which might also be made, comparatively speaking, to the incidents in the latter volumes, wherein I do not find the admirable probability that reigns through the former. . . But this contrast of wisdom and virtue with insanity in the same subject, would have been repulsive in the primary delineation, as I think any one may judge by supposing Cervantes had, in the first chapter, drawn such a picture of Quixote as Bouterwek and Sismondi have drawn for him.
I must, therefore, venture to think as, I believe, the world has generally thought for two centuries, that Cervantes had no more profound aim than he proposes to the reader. If the fashion of reading bad romances of chivalry perverted the taste of his contemporaries, and rendered their language ridiculous, it was natural that a zealous lover of good literature should expose this folly to the world by exaggerating its effects on a fictitious personage. It has been said by some modern writer, though I cannot remember by whom, that there was a prose side in the mind of Cervantes. There was indeed a side of calm strong sense, which some take for unpoetical. He thought the tone of those romances extravagant. It might naturally occur how absurd any one must appear who should attempt to realize in actual life the adventures of Amadis. Already a novelist, he perceived the opportunities this idea suggested. It was a necessary consequence that the hero must be represented as literally insane, since his conduct would have been extravagant beyond the probability of fiction on any other hypothesis ; and from this happy conception germinated in a very prolific mind the whole history of Don Quixote. Its simplicity is perfect; no limit could be found save the author's discretion, or sense that he had drawn sufficiently on his imagination; but the death of Quixote, which Cervantes has been said to have determined upon, lest some one else should a second time presume to continue the story, is in fact the only possible termination that could be given, after he had elevated the character to that pitch of mental dignity which we find in the last two volumes. · Few books of moral philosophy display as deep an insight into the mechanism of the mind as Don Quixote. And when we look also at the fertility of invention, the general probability of events, and the great simplicity of the story, wherein no artifices are practised to create suspense, or complicate the action, we shall think Cervantes fully deserving of the glory that attends this monument of his genius. It is not merely that he is superior to all his predecessors and contemporaries. This, though it might account for the European fame of his romance, would be an inadequate testimony to its desert. Cervantes stands on an eminence below which we must place the best of his successors. We have only to compare him with Le Sage or Fielding, to judge of his vast superiority. To Scott indeed he must yield in the variety of his power ; but, in the line of comic romance, we should hardly think Scott his equal.
65.—The Sermon of the Plough.
LATIMER. [Hugh LATIMER, one of the great Martyrs of the Reformation, was born about 1472. In one of his sermons, he says " My father was a yeoman, and had no lands of his own, only he had a farm of three or four pound by year at the uttermost..... He kept me to school, or else I had not been able to have preached before the King's Ma. jesty now.” At the time when he thus preached, he was Bishop of Worcester. Of the boldness of his preaching during the reign of Edward VI. his Sermons furnish ample evidence; and from one of the most remarkable we select the following striking passages. Upon the accession of Queen Mary, the resolute old man became one of the victims of persecution; and he was led to the stake at Oxford, with Ridley as his companion in death, on the 16th of October, 1555.]
" All things which are written, are written for our erudition and knowledge. All things that are written in God's book, in the Bible book, in the book of the holy scripture, are written to be our doctrine." I told you in my first sermon, honourable audience, that I proposed to
declare unto you two things. The one, what seed should be sown in God's field, in God's plough-land. And the other, who should be the sowers.
That is to say, what doctrine is to be taught in Christ's church and congregation, and what men should be the teachers and preachers of it. The first part I have told you in the three sermons past, in which I have essayed to set forth my plough, to prove what I could do. And now I shall tell you who be the ploughers; for God's word is a seed to be sown in God's field, that is, the faithful congregation, and the preacher is the sower. And it is in the gospel; “He that soweth, the husbandman, the ploughman, went forth to sow his seed.” So that a preacher is resembled to a ploughman, as it is in another place; “No man that putteth his hand to the plough, and looketh back, is apt for the kingdom of God.”—Luke ix. That is to say, let no preacher be negligent in doing his office.
For preaching of the gospel is one of God's plough-works, and the preacher is one of God's ploughmen. Ye may not be offended with my similitude in that I compare preaching to the labour and work of ploughing, and the preacher to a ploughman. Ye may not be offended with this my similitude, for I have been slandered of some persons for such things. But as preachers must be wary and circumspect, that they give not any just occasion to be slandered and ill spoken of by the hearers, so must not the auditors be offended without cause. For heaven is in the gospel likened to a mustard seed: it is compared also to a piece of leaven; and as Christ saith, that at the last day he will come like a thief; and what dishonour is this to God? Or what derogation is this to heaven? Ye may not then, I say, be offended with my similitude, for because I liken preaching to a ploughman's labour, and a prelate to a ploughman. But now you will ask me whom I call a prelate ? A prelate is that man, whatever he be, that hath a flock to be taught of him ; whosoever hath any spiritual charge in the faithful congregation, and whosoever he be that hath cure of souls. And
for their labour of all seasons of the year; for there is no time of the year in which the ploughman hath not some special work to do. As in my country, in Leicestershire, the ploughman hath a time to set forth, and to assay his plough, and other times for other necessary works to be done. And then they also may be likened together for