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 XXXIX: Wherein the Captive relates his Life and Adventures.


"In a certain town in the mountains of Leon my lineage had its beginning; to which nature was more kind and liberal than fortune: though amidst the penury of those parts my father passed for a rich man, and really would have been such had he had the art of saving, as he had of squandering his estate. This disposition of his to prodigality and profusion proceeded from his having been a soldier in his younger days; for the army is a school in which the niggardly become generous, and the generous prodigal; and if there are some soldiers misers, they are a kind of monsters but very rarely seen. My father exceeded the bounds of liberality, and bordered near upon being prodigal; a thing very inconvenient to married men who have children to inherit their name and quality. My father had three sons, all men, and of age to choose their way of life; and seeing, as he himself said, that he could not bridle his natural propensity, he resolved to deprive himself of the means that made him a prodigal and a spendthrift, and this was to rid himself of his riches, without which Alexander himself could not be generous. Accordingly, one day, calling us all three into a room by ourselves, he spoke to us in this, or a similar manner:

"'My sons, to tell you that I love you, it is sufficient that I say you are my children; and to make you think that I do not love you, it is sufficient that I am not master enough of myself to forbear dissipating your inheritance. But, that from henceforth you may see that I love you like a father, and have no mind to ruin you like a step-father, I design to do a thing by you, which I have had in my thoughts this good while, and weighed with mature deliberation. You are all now of an age to choose for yourselves a settlement in the world, or at least to pitch upon some way of life which may be for your honour and profit when you are grown up. Now, what I have resolved upon is, to divide what I possess into four parts; three I will give to you, share and share alike, without making any difference; and the fourth I will reserve to subsist upon for the remaining days of my life. But when each has the share that belongs to him in his own power, I would have him follow one of these ways I shall propose. We have a proverb here in Spain, in my opinion a very true one, as most proverbs are, being short sentences drawn from long and wise experience; and it is this: The church, the sea, or the court; as if one should say more plainly: Whoever would thrive and be rich, let him either get into the church, or go to sea and exercise the art of merchandising, or serve the king in his court; for it is a saying, that the king's bit is better than the Lord's bounty. I say this, because it is my will that one of you follow letters, another merchandise, and the third serve the king in his wars; for -[218]- it is difficult to get admission into his household; and though the wars do not procure a man much wealth, they usually procure him much esteem and reputation. Within eight days I will give each of you your share in money, without wronging you of a farthing, as you will see in effect. Tell me now, whether you will follow my opinion and advice in what I have proposed;' and then he desired me, being the eldest, to answer. After I had requested him not to part with what he had, but to spend whatever he pleased, we being young enough to shift for ourselves; I concluded with assuring him I would do as he desired, and take to the army, there to serve God and the king. My second brother complied likewise, and chose to go to the Indies, turning his portion into merchandise. The youngest, and I believe the wisest, said, he would take to the church, and finish his studies at Salamanca.

"As soon as we had agreed and chosen our several professions, my father embraced us all; and, with the despatch he had promised, put his design in execution, giving to each his share, which as I remember was three thousand ducats; for an uncle of ours bought the whole estate, and paid for it in ready money, that it might not be alienated from the main branch of the family. In one and the self-same day we all took leave of our good father; and it then seeming to me inhuman to leave my father so old, and with so little to subsist on, I prevailed upon him to take back two thousand ducats out of my three, the remainder being sufficient to equip me with what was necessary for a soldier. My two brothers, incited by my example, returned him each a thousand ducats; so that my father now had four thousand in ready money, and three thousand more, which was the value of the land that fell to his share, and which he would not sell. To be short, we took our leaves of him, and of our aforesaid uncle, not without much concern and tears on all sides, they charging us to acquaint them with our success, whether prosperous or adverse, as often as we had opportunity. We promised so to do; and they having embraced us, and given us their blessings, one of us took the road to Salamanca, the other to Seville, and I to Alicant, where I heard of a Genoese ship that loaded wool there for Genoa. It is now two-and-twenty years since I first left my father's house; and in all that time, though I have written several letters, I have had no news, either of him or of my brothers. As to what has befallen me in the course of that time, I will briefly relate it.

"I embarked at Alicant, and had a good passage to Genoa; from thence I went to Milan, where I furnished myself with arms, and some military finery; and from thence determined to go into the service in Piedmont; and being upon the road to Alexandria de la Paglia, I was informed that the great Duke d'Alva was passing into Flanders with an army. Upon this I changed my mind, went with him, and served under him in all his engagements. I was present at the death of the Counts d'Egmont and Horn. I got an ensign's commission in the company of a famous captain of Guadalajara, called Diego de Urbina. And soon after my arrival in Flanders, news came of the league concluded between Pope Pius V. of happy memory, and Spain, against the common enemy, the Turk; who, about the same time, had taken with his fleet the famous island of Cyprus, which was before subject to the Venetians; a sad and unfortunate loss! It was known for certain, that the most serene Don John of Austria, natural brother of our good King Philip, was appointed generalissimo of this -[219]- league, and great preparations for war were everywhere talked of. All which incited a vehement desire in me to be present in the battle that was expected; and though I had reason to believe, and had some promises, and almost assurances, that on the first occasion that offered, I should be promoted to the rank of a captain, I resolved to quit all and go, as I did, into Italy. And my good fortune would have it, that Don John of Austria was just then come to Genoa, and was going to Naples to join the Venetian fleet, as he afterwards did at Messina. In short, I was present at that glorious action, being already made a captain of foot, to which honourable post I was advanced, rather by my good fortune, than by my deserts. But that day, which was so fortunate to Christendom, for all nations were then undeceived of their error, in believing that the Turks were invincible by sea; on that day, I say, on which the Ottoman pride and haughtiness were broken; among so many happy persons as were there, for surely the Christians who died there, had better fortune than the survivors and conquerors, I alone remained unfortunate, since instead of what I might have expected, had it been in the times of the Romans, some naval crown, I found myself the night following that famous day with chains on my feet, and manacles on my hands. Which happened thus:

"Uchali, king of Algiers, a bold and successful corsair, having boarded and taken the captain-galley of Malta, three knights only being left alive in her, and those desperately wounded; the captain-galley of John Andrea d'Oria came up to her relief, on board of which I was with my company; and doing my duty upon this occasion, I leaped into the enemy's galley, which, getting off suddenly from ours, my soldiers could not follow me; and so I was left alone among my enemies, whom I could not resist, as they were so many: in short, I was carried off prisoner, and sorely wounded. And as you must have heard, gentlemen, that Uchali escaped with his whole squadron, by that means I remained a captive in his power, being the only sad person when so many were joyful; and a slave when so many were freed; for fifteen thousand Christians, who were at the oar in the Turkish galleys, that day recovered their long-wished-for liberty. They carried me to Constantinople, where the Grand Signor Selim made my master general of the sea, for having done his duty in the fight, and having brought off, as a proof of his valour, the flag of the order of Malta. The year following, which was seventy-two, I was at Navarino, rowing in the captain-galley of the Three Lanterns; and there I saw and observed the opportunity that was then lost of taking the whole Turkish navy in port. For all the Levantines and Janizaries on board took it for granted they should be attacked in the very harbour, and had their baggage and their passamaques, or shoes, in readiness for running away immediately by land without staying for an engagement; such terror had our navy struck into them. But Heaven ordered it otherwise, not through any fault or neglect of the general who commanded our men, but for the sins of Christendom, and because God permits and ordains that there should always be some scourges to chastise us. In short, Uchali got into Modon, an island near Navarina, and putting his men on shore, he fortified the entrance of the port and lay still until the season of the year forced Don John to return home. In this campaign, the galley called the Prize, whose captain was a son of the famous corsair Barbarosso, was taken by the captain-galley of Naples, called the She-wolf, commanded by that thunderbolt of war, that father of the soldiers, that fortunate and invincible captain, Don Alvaro de -[220]- Basan, Marquis of Santa Cruz. And I cannot forbear relating what happened at the taking of the Prize.

"The son of Barbarossa was so cruel, and treated his slaves so ill, that as soon as they who were at the oar saw that the She-wolf was ready to board and take them, they all at once let fall their oars, and laying hold on their captain, who stood near the poop (98) calling out to them to row hard, and passing him along from bank to bank, and from the poop to the prow they gave him such blows, that he had passed but little beyond the mast, before his soul was passed to hell; such was the cruelty with which he treated them, and the hatred they bore to him.

"We returned to Constantinople, and the year following, which was seventy-three, it was known there, that Don John had taken Tunis and that kingdom from the Turks, and put Muley Hamet in possession thereof, cutting off the hopes that Muley Hamida had of reigning again there, who was one of the cruelest, and yet bravest Moors that ever was in the world. The Grand Turk felt this loss very sensibly, and putting in practice that sagacity which is inherent in the Ottoman family, he clapped up a peace with the Venetians, who desired it more than he; and the year following, being that of seventy-four, he attacked the fortress of Goleta, and the fort, which Don John had left half finished near Tunis. During all these transactions, I was still at the oar without any hope of redemption: at least I did not expect to be ransomed; for I was determined not to write an account of my misfortune to my father. In short, the Goleta was lost, and the fort also; before which places the Turks had seventy-five thousand men in pay, besides above four hundred thousand Moors and Arabs from all parts of Africa; and this vast multitude was furnished with such quantities of ammunition, and such large warlike stores, together with so many pioneers, that each man bringing only a handful of earth, they might therewith have covered both the Goleta and the fort. The Goleta, until then thought impregnable, was first taken, not through default of the besieged, who did all that men could do, but because experience had now shown how easily trenches might be raised in that desert sand; for though the water used to be within two spans of the surface, the Turks now met with none within two yards; and so by the help of a great number of sacks of sand, they raised their works so high as to overlook and command the fortifications; and levelling from a cavalier, they put it out of the power of the besieged to make any defence. It was the general opinion that our troops ought not to have shut themselves up in the Goleta, but have met the enemy in the open field, at the place of debarkment; but they who talk thus speak at random, and like men little experienced in affairs of this kind. For if there were scarcely seven thousand soldiers in the Goleta and in the fort, how could so small a number, though ever so resolute, both take the field and garrison the forts against such a multitude as that of the enemy? And how can a place be maintained which is not relieved, and especially when besieged by an army that is both numerous and obstinate, and in their own country too? But many were of opinion, and I was of the number, that Heaven did a particular grace and favour to Spain, in suffering the destruction of that forge and refuge of all iniquity, that devourer, that sponge, and that moth of infinite sums of money idly spent there, to no other purpose than to preserve the memory of its having been a conquest of the invincible emperor Charles the Fifth. The fort also was taken at last; but the Turks were forced to purchase it inch by inch; for the soldiers who defended it -[221]- fought with such bravery and resolution, that they killed above twenty-five thousand of the enemy in two-and-twenty general assaults. And of three hundred that were left alive, not one was taken prisoner unwounded; an evident proof of their courage and bravery, and of the vigorous defence they had made. A little fort also, or tower, in the middle of the lake, commanded by Don John Zanoguera, a cavalier of Valencia, and a famous soldier, surrendered upon terms. They took prisoner Don Pedro Portocarrero, general of Goleta, who did all that was possible for the defence of his fortress, and took the loss of it so much to heart, that he died for grief on the way to Constantinople, whither they were carrying him prisoner. They took also the commander of the fort, called Gabrio Cerbellon, a Milanese gentleman, a great engineer, and a most valiant soldier. Several persons of distinction lost their lives in these two garrisons, among whom was Pagan d'Oria, knight of Malta, a gentleman of great generosity, as appeared by his exceeding liberality to his brother, the famous John Andrea d'Oria; and what made his death the more lamented was, his dying by the hands of some African Arabs, who, upon seeing that the fort was lost, offered to convey him, disguised as a Moor, to Tabarca, a small haven or settlement which the Genoese have on that coast for the coral-fishing. These Arabs cut off his head, and carried it to the general of the Turkish fleet, who made good upon them our Castilian proverb, that Though we love the treason, we hate the traitor: for it is said the general ordered those who brought him the present to be instantly hanged, because they had not brought him alive. Among the Christians who were taken in the fort, was one Don Pedro d'Aguilar, a native of some town in Andalusia, who had been an ensign in the garrison, a good soldier, and a man of excellent parts; in particular, he had a happy talent in poetry. I mention this, because his fortune brought him to be slave to the same patron with me, and we served in the same galley, and at the same oar; and before we parted from that port, this cavalier made two sonnets by way of epitaphs, one upon Goleta, and the other upon the fort. And indeed I have a mind to repeat them; for I have them by heart, and I believe they will rather be entertaining than disagreeable to you."

At the instant the captive named Don Pedro d'Aguilar, Don Fernando looked at his companions, and all three smiled; and when he mentioned the sonnets, one of them said: "Pray, Sir, before you go any further, be so good as to tell me what became of that Don Pedro d'Aguilar you talk of?" "All I know," answered the captive, "is, that after he had been two years at Constantinople, he escaped in the habit of an Arnaut, (99) with a Greek spy, and I cannot tell whether he recovered his liberty; though I believe he did, for about a year after I saw the Greek in Constantinople, but had not an opportunity of asking him the success of that journey." "He returned to Spain," said the gentleman;" for that Don Pedro is my brother, and is now in our town, in health, and rich, is married, and has three children." "Thanks be to God," said the captive, "for the blessings bestowed on him; for, in my opinion, there is not on earth a satisfaction equal to that of recovering one's liberty." "Besides," replied the gentleman, "I have by heart the sonnets my brother made." "Then pray, Sir, repeat them," said the captive, "for you will be able to do it better than I can." "With all my heart," answered the gentleman;" that upon Goleta was thus:


Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis

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