— dealing with Don Quijote's unusual speech about arms
Then Don Quijote went on, as follows:
"Just as we began our consideration of student life in terms of poverty, and the various aspects thereof, let us now see if the soldier's life is any richer. And what we will find is that there is no one whose poverty is deeper or more profound than his, for he is dependent on his wretched salary, which he receives either late or not at all, and sometimes must forage and steal for, at high risk both to his life and his conscience. And sometimes Fate leaves him so naked that a tattered jacket serves simultaneously as shirt and dress uniform, and in the middle of winter he's in open country, having to fight off all the rigors of the weather, armed only with the breath out of his mouth — and as I can tell you from experience, coming as it does from an empty place, that breath can't help but emerge cold, though this may seem against the laws of nature. He's looking forward to nightfall, when the bed that's awaiting him will renew and refresh him against all these miseries, and — unless he's guilty of some mistake — he doesn't have to worry about that bed being too narrow, because he can measure out the ground as far as he wants to, in any direction, and roll around as much as he likes, without fear of ruining the sheets. So then there comes, in spite of all this, the day and the hour when he's awarded his degree, the time for battle, and maybe he gets an academic hat of bandages, because he's taken a bullet right in the head, or maybe his arm's been crippled, or his leg. And when that doesn't happen, when merciful Heaven protects him and keeps him alive and healthy, perhaps he'll still be just as poor as he was before, and he'll have to go through battle after battle, one after another, and be the victor in all of them, before things get any better; but we don't see many such miracles. For tell me, gentlemen, if you've thought about it: how many fewer men have profited by war than have died in it? Unquestionably, you can only answer that there is absolutely no comparison, for the dead are utterly uncountable and those who have profited, and are still alive, will never total even as much as a thousand. And it's exactly the opposite with men of learning, for what they earn — without counting what they're given — will always be enough to keep them alive: the soldier must work harder, but he receives much less. You can answer, of course, that it's easier to reward two thousand learned men than thirty thousand soldiers, because they can be given offices which simply have to be awarded to those of their professions, while soldiers can only be rewarded out of the wealth and property of the lord they serve. Yet this impossibility only further strengthens my argument. But even setting this to the side, as a labyrinth through which it is hard to make one's way, let us come back to the superiority of arms as opposed to learning, a subject long in dispute and debated this way and that from each side of the question, and among other arguments that have been put forward, learning insists that, without its help, arms cannot endure, since warfare too has its laws, which must be obeyed, and laws fall under their jurisdiction. To this, arms replies that,
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Publication information: Book title: The History of That Ingenious Gentleman, Don Quijote de la Mancha. Contributors: Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra - Author, Burton Raffel - Translator. Publisher: W. W. Norton. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1995. Page number: 254.
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