Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis

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The Life and Exploits
of the Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha

By Miguel de Cervantes, Translated by Charles Jarvis, Esq.

The First Part

CHAPTER XIV: Wherein are rehearsed the despairing Verses of the Deceased Shepherd, with other unexpected Events.


            Chrysostom's Song.

Since, cruel maid, you force me to proclaim
From clime to clime the triumphs of your scorn,
Let Hell itself inspire my tortur'd breast
With mournful numbers, and untune my voice;
Whilst the sad pieces of my broken heart
Mix with the doleful accents of my tongue,
At once to tell my griefs and thy exploits.
Hear then, and listen with attentive ear,
Not to harmonious sounds, but echoing groans,
Fetch'd from the bottom of my lab'ring breast,
To ease, in spite of thee, my raging smart.


The lion's roar, the howl of midnight wolves,
The scaly serpent's hiss, the raven s croak,
The burst of fighting winds that vex the main,
The widow'd owl and turtle's plaintive moan,
With all the din of hell's infernal crew,
From my griev'd soul forth issue in one sound,
Leaving my senses all confus'd and lost.
For, ah! no common language can express
The cruel pains that torture my sad heart.


Yet let not echo bear the mournful sounds
To where old Tagus rolls his yellow sands,
Or Betis, crown'd with olives, pours his flood.
But here, midst rocks and precipices deep,
Or to obscure and silent vales remov'd,
On shores by human footsteps never trod,
Where the gay sun ne'er lifts his radiant orb,
Or with th' invenom'd race of savage beasts
That range the howling wilderness for food,
Will I proclaim the story of my woes;
Poor privilege of grief! whilst echoes hoarse
Catch the sad tale, and spread it round the world.   -[52]-


Disdain gives death; suspicions, true or false,
O'erturn the impatient mind; with surer stroke
Fell jealousy destroys; the pangs of absence
No lover can support; nor firmest hope
Can dissipate the dread of cold neglect:
Yet I, strange fate! though jealous, though disdain'd,
Absent and sure of cold neglect, still live.
And midst the various torments I endure,
No ray of hope e'er darted on my soul:
Nor would I hope; rather in deep despair
Will I sit down, and brooding o'er my griefs,
Vow everlasting absence from her sight.


Can hope and fear at once the soul possess,
Or hope subsist with surer cause of fear?
Shall I, to shut out frightful jealousy,
Close my sad eyes, when ev'ry pang I feel
Presents the hideous phantom to my view?
What wretch so credulous, but must embrace
Distrust with open arms, when he beholds
Disdain avow'd, suspicions realiz'd,
And truth itself converted to a lie?
0 cruel tyrant of the realm of love,
Fierce jealousy, arm with a sword this hand,
Or thou, disdain, a twisted cord bestow.


Let me not blame my fate, but dying think
The man most blest who loves, the soul most free
That love has most enthrall'd: still to my thoughts
Let fancy paint the tyrant of my heart
Beauteous in mind as face, and in myself
Still let me find the source of her disdain;
Content to suffer, since imperial love
By lover's woes maintains his sovereign state,
With this persuasion, and the fatal noose,
1 hasten to the doom her scorn demands,
And dying offer up my breathless corse,
Uncrown'd with garlands, to the whistling winds.


O thou, whose unrelenting rigour's force
First drove me to despair, and now to death,
When the sad tale of my untimely fall
Shall reach thy ear, though it deserve a sigh,
Veil not the heav'n of those bright eyes in grief,
Nor drop one pitying tear, to tell the world,
At length my death has triumph'd o'er thy scorn;
But dress thy face in smiles, and celebrate,
With laughter and each circumstance of joy,
The festival of my disastrous end.
Ah! need I bid thee smile? too well I know
My death's thy utmost glory and thy pride.


Come, all ye phantoms of the dark abyss;
Bring, Tantalus, thy unextinguish'd thirst,
And, Sisyphus, thy still-returning stone;
Come, Tityus, with the vulture at thy heart,
And thou, Ixion, bring thy giddy wheel;
Nor let the toiling sisters stay behind                       -[53]-
Pour your united griefs into this breast,
And in low murmurs sing sad obsequies
(If a despairing wretch such rights may claim)
O'er my cold limbs, deny'd a winding-sheet.
And let the triple porter of the shades,
The sister furies, and chimeras dire,
With notes of woe the mournful chorus join.
Such funeral pomp alone befits the wretch
By beauty sent untimely to the grave.


And thou, my song, sad child of my despair,
Complain no more; but since my wretched fate
Improves her happier lot, who gave thee birth,
Be all thy sorrows buried in my tomb.

Chrysostom's song was very much approved by those who heard it: but he who read it said it did not seem to agree with the account he had heard of the reserve and goodness of Marcela; for Chrysostom complains in it of jealousies, suspicions, and absence, all in prejudice of the credit and good name of Marcela. To which Ambrosio answered, as one well acquainted with the most hidden thoughts of his friend: "To satisfy you, Signor, as to this doubt, you must know, that when this unhappy person wrote this song he was absent from Marcela, from whom he had voluntarily banished himself, to try whether absence would have its ordinary effect upon him. And as an absent lover is disturbed by everything, and seized by every fear, so was Chrysostom perplexed with imaginary jealousies and suspicious apprehensions, as much as if they had been real. And thus the truth, which fame proclaims of Marcela's goodness, remains unimpeached; and, excepting that she is cruel, somewhat arrogant and disdainful, envy itself neither ought nor can lay any defect to her charge." "It is true," answered Vivaldo; and going to read another paper of those he had saved from the fire, he was interrupted by a wonderful vision, for such it seemed to be, which on a sudden presented itself to their sight: for on the top of a rock under which they were digging the grave, appeared the shepherdess Marcela, so handsome that her beauty surpassed the very fame of it. Those who had never seen her until that time beheld her with silence and admiration; and they who had been used to the sight of her were no less surprised than those who had never seen her before. But Ambrosio had scarcely espied her, when, with signs of indignation, he said to her, "Comest thou, O fierce basilisk of these mountains, (41) to see whether the wounds of this unhappy youth whom thy cruelty has deprived-of life will bleed afresh at thy appearance? Or comest thou to triumph in the cruel exploits of thy inhuman disposition, or to behold from that eminence, like another pitiless Nero, the flames of burning Rome; or insolently to trample on this unhappy corpse, as did the impious daughter on that of her father Tarquin? Tell us quickly what you come for, or what it is you would have: for since I know that Chrysostom while living never disobeyed you so much as in thought, I will take care that all those who called themselves his friends shall obey you, though he be dead."

"I come not, O Ambrosio, for any of those purposes you have mentioned," answered Marcela; "but to vindicate myself, and to let the -[54]- world know how unreasonable those are who blame me for their own sufferings, or for the death of Chrysostom: and therefore I beg of all here present that they would hear me with attention; for I need not spend much time nor use many words to convince persons of sense of the truth. Heaven, as you say, made me handsome, and to such a degree, that my beauty influences you to love me whether you will or no. And in return for the love you bear me, you pretend and insist that I am bound to love you. I know by the natural sense God has given me, that whatever is beautiful is amiable; but I do not comprehend that merely for being loved the person that is loved for being handsome is obliged to return love for love. Besides, it may chance that the lover of the beautiful person may be ugly; and what is ugly deserving to be loathed, it would sound oddly to say, I love you for being handsome; you must love me though I am ugly. But supposing the beauty on both sides to be equal, it does not therefore follow that the inclinations should be so too: for all beauty does not inspire love; and there is a kind of it which only pleases the sight but does not captivate the affections. If all beauties were to enamour and captivate, the wills of men would be eternally confounded and perplexed without knowing where to fix: for the beautiful objects being infinite, the desires must be infinite too. And as I have heard say, true love cannot be divided, and must be voluntary and unforced. This being so, as I believe it is, why would you have me subject my will by force, being no otherwise obliged to it than only because you say you love me? For pray tell me, if, as heaven has made me handsome, it had made me ugly, would it have been just that I should have complained of you because you did not love me? Besides, you must consider that my beauty is not my own choice; but such as it is, heaven bestowed it on me freely without my asking or desiring it. And as the viper does not deserve blame for her sting though she kills with it, because it is given her by nature, as little do I deserve reprehension for being handsome. Beauty in a modest woman is like fire at a distance, or like a sharp sword: the one does not burn, nor the other wound those that come not too near them. Honour and virtue are ornaments of the soul, without which the body, though it be really beautiful, ought not to be thought so. Now if modesty be one of the virtues which most adorns and beautifies both body and mind, why should she who is loved for being beautiful part with it to gratify the desires of him who, merely for his own pleasure, uses his utmost endeavours to destroy it? I was born free, and that I might live free I chose the solitude of these fields: the trees on these mountains are my companions; the transparent waters of these brooks my looking-glass; to the trees and the waters I communicate my thoughts and my beauty. I am fire at a distance, and a sword afar off Those whom the sight of me has enamoured, my words have undeceived. And if desires are kept alive by hopes, as I gave none to Chrysostom nor to any one else, all hope being at an end, sure it may well be said that his own obstinacy rather than my cruelty killed him. If it be objected to me that his intentions were honourable, and that therefore I ought to have complied with them; I answer, that when in this very place where they are now digging his grave, he discovered to me the goodness of his intention, I told him that mine was to live in perpetual solitude, and that the earth alone should enjoy the fruit of my reservedness and the spoils of my beauty: and if he, notwithstanding all this plain-dealing, would obstinately persevere against -[55]- hope and sail against the wind, what wonder if he drowned himself in the midst of the gulf of his own indiscretion? If I had held him in suspense, I had been false: if I had complied with him, I had acted contrary to my better intention and resolution. He persisted, though undeceived; he despaired, without being hated. Consider now whether it be reasonable to lay the blame of his sufferings unto me. Let him who is deceived complain; let him to whom I have broken my promise, despair; let him whom I shall encourage, presume; and let him pride himself, whom I shall admit; but let not him call me cruel or murderess, whom I neither promise, deceive, encourage nor admit. Heaven has not yet ordained that I should love by destiny; and from loving by choice I desire to be excused. Let every one of those who solicit me make their own particular use of this declaration; and be it understood from henceforth, that if anyone dies for me, he does not die through jealousy or disdain; for she who loves nobody should make nobody jealous; and plain dealing ought not to pass for disdain. Let him who calls me a savage and a basilisk, shun me as a mischievous and evil thing; let him who calls me ungrateful, not serve me; him who thinks me shy, not know me; who cruel, not follow me: for this savage, this basilisk, this ungrateful, this cruel, this shy thing, will in no wise either seek, serve, know, or follow them. If Chrysostom's impatience and precipitate desires killed him, why should he blame my modest procedure and reserve? If I preserve my purity unspotted among these trees, why should he desire me to lose it among men? You all know that I have riches enough of my- own, and do not covet other people's. My condition is free, and I have no mind to subject myself: I neither love nor hate anybody; I neither deceive this man nor lay snares for that; I neither toy with one, nor divert myself with another. The modest conversation of the shepherdesses of these villages, and the care of my goats, are my entertainment. My desires are bounded within these mountains, and if they venture out hence, it is to contemplate the beauties of heaven, those steps by which the soul advances to its original dwelling." And in saying this, without staying for an answer, she turned her back, and entered into the most inacessible part of the neighbouring mountain, leaving all those present in admiration as well of her sense as of her beauty.

Some of those who had been wounded by the powerful darts of her bright eyes, discovered an inclination to follow her, without profiting by so express a declaration as they had heard her make; which Don Quixote perceiving, and thinking this a proper occasion to employ his chivalry in the relief of distressed damsels, he laid his hand on the hilt of his sword, and with a loud and intelligible voice, said: "Let no person, of what state or condition soever he be, presume to follow the beautiful Marcela, on pain of incurring my furious indignation. She has demonstrated by clear and sufficient reasons the little or no fault she ought to be charged with on account of Chrysostom's death, and how far she is from countenancing the desires of any of her lovers; for which reason, instead of being followed and persecuted, she ought to be honoured and esteemed by all good men in the world, for being the only woman in it whose intentions are so virtuous." Now, whether it were through Don Quixote's menaces, or because Ambrosio desired them to finish that last office to his friend, none of the shepherds stirred from thence, until the grave being made and Chrysostom's papers burnt, they laid his body in it, not without many tears of the bystanders. They closed the sepulchre with a large fragment of a -[56]- rock, until a tombstone could be finished, which Ambrosio said he intended to have made, with an epitaph after this manner: 

"Here lies a gentle shepherd swain,
Through cold neglect untimely slain.
By rigour's cruel hand he died,
A victim to the scorn and pride
Of a coy, beautiful ingrate,
Whose eyes enlarge love's tyrant state."

Then they strewed abundance of flowers and boughs on the grave, and condoling with his friend Ambrosio took leave and departed. Vivaldo and his companion did the same; and Don Quixote bid adieu to his hosts and the travellers, who entreated him to accompany them to Seville, that being a place the most likely to furnish him with adventures, since in every street and at every turning more were to be met with there than in any other place whatever. Don Quixote thanked them for the notice they gave him, and the disposition they showed to do him a courtesy, and said, that for the present he could not, and ought not to go to Seville, until he had cleared all those mountains of robbers and assassins, of which it was reported they were full. The travellers seeing his good intention, would not importune him farther; but taking leave again, left him, and pursued their journey, in which they wanted not a subject for discourse, as well of the story of Marcela and Chrysostom as of the madness of Don Quixote, who resolved to go in quest of the shepherdess Marcela, and offer her all that was in his power for her service. But it fell not out as he intended, as is related in the progress of this true history.

Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis

Gavilan Spanish Questions or comments Bibliographic Record Index page Previous page Top Next page