Some advice from Don Quixote

Don Quixote book spine

I’ve mentioned before about my annual to-do list, it runs from April to April and contains things I’d like to accomplish that year. It comprises, unsurprisingly, five sections each containing, more unsurprisingly, five items to-do. One of these sections is books I’d like to read and this past year Don Quixote was one of those. If you haven’t read it I strongly recommend you do. This isn’t going to be a review of any kind, a quick search should find you all you need to know and make your mind up as whether to read it or not.

What I did want to share is some advice that Don Quixote gives to his squire. One of the attributes of the book is how modern it is in style, often cited as one of the founding novels of modern Western literature. The excerpt I’m going to share stands as great proof to this.

As you can guess from the above I prefer to start my new year and any ‘resolutions’ associated with it in April. It’s much easier – January is often so dark and cold that people tend to hibernate and motivation has scampered off somewhere quiet under a blanket with some hot chocolate. The coming of spring for me feels a much more relevant time to embark on something new. So I will take this advice, as I urge you to also, and start planning my next list.


Keep thy clothes tight about thee; for a slovenly looseness is an argument of a careless mind; unless such a negligence, like that of Julius Caesar, be affected for some cunning design.

Prudently examine what thy income may amount to in a year: and if sufficient to afford thy servants’ liveries, let them be decent and lasting, rather than gaudy and for show; and for the overplus of thy good husbandry, bestow it on the poor. That is, if thou canst keep six footmen, have but three; and let what would maintain three more, be laid out in charitable uses. By that means thou wilt have attendants in Heaven as well as on earth, which our vain-glorious great ones, who are strangers to this practice, are not like to have.

Lest thy breath betray thy peasantry, defile it not with onions and garlic.

Walk with gravity, and speak with deliberation, and yet not as if thou didst hearken to thy own words; for all affectation is a fault.

Eat little at dinner, and less at supper; for the stomach is the storehouse, whence health is to be imparted to the whole body.

Drink moderately; for drunkenness neither keeps a secret, nor observes a promise.

Be careful not to chew on both sides, that is, fill not thy mouth too full, and take heed not to eruct before company.


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