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De todo lo dicho quiero que infirais, bobas mías, que es grande la confusion que hay entre los linages, y que solos aquellos parecen grandes y ilustres, que lo muestran en la virtud y en la riqueza y liberalidad de sus dueños. Dije virludes, riquezas y liberalidades, porque el grande que fuere vicioso será vicioso grande, y el rico no liberal será un avaro mendigo: que al poseedor de las riquezas no le hace dichoso el tenerlas, siuo el gastarlas, y no el gastarlas como quiera, sino el saperlas bien gastar. Al caballero pobre no le queda otro camino para mostrar que es caballero, sino el de la virtud, siendo afable, bien críado, cortes, comedido y oficioso; no soberbio, no arrogante, no murmurador, y sobre todo caritativo.
From all that I have said you must clearly see, my good simpletons, that genealogies are involved in endless confusion, and that those only are illustrious and great who are distinguished by their virtue and liberality, as well as their riches: for the great man who is vicious is only a great sinner; and the rich man who wants liberality is but a miserly pauper. The gratification which wealth can bestow is not in mere possession, nor in lavishing it with prodigality, but in the wise application of it. The poor knight can only manifest his rank by his virtues and general conduct. He must be well-bred, courteous, kind and obliging; not proud, not arrogant, no murmurer:—above all, he must be charitable.
–Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha pt. ii, ch. 6 (1615)
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”