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 XLV: In which the Dispute concerning Mambrino's Helmet and the Pannel is decided; with other Adventures, that really and truly happened.


"Pray, gentlemen," cried the barber, "what is your opinion of what these gentlefolks affirm? for they persist in it, that this is no basin but a helmet," "And whoever shall affirm the contrary," said Don Quixote, "I will make him know, if he be a knight, that he lies, and if a squire, that he lies and lies again, a thousand times." Our barber, who was present all the while, and well acquainted with Don Quixote's humour, had a mind to work up his madness and carry on the jest, to make the company laugh; and so addressing himself to the other barber, he said: "Signor Barber, or whoever you are, know that I also am of your profession, and have had my certificate of examination above these twenty years, and am very well acquainted with all the instruments of barber-surgery, without missing one. I have likewise been a soldier in my youthful days, and therefore know what is a helmet, and what a morion, or steel-cap, and what a casque with its beaver, as well as other matters relating to soldiery;' I mean to all kinds of arms commonly used by soldiers. And I say, with submission always to better judgments, that this piece here before us, which this honest gentleman holds in his hands, not only is not a barber's basin, but is as far from being so, as white is from black, and truth from falsehood. I say also, that though it be an helmet, it is not a complete one." "No, certainly," said Don Quixote;" for the beaver that should make half of it is wanting." "It is so," added the priest, who perceived his friend the barber's design; and Cardenio, Don Fernando, and his companions, confirmed the same; and even the judge, had not his thoughts been so taken up about the business of Don Louis, would have helped on the jest; but the concern he was in so employed his thoughts, that he attended but little or not at all to these pleasantries.

"Lord have mercy upon me!" exclaimed the bantered barber, "how is it possible so many honest gentlemen should maintain that this is not a basin, but an helmet! a thing enough to astonish a whole university, though never so wise. Well, if this basin be an helmet, then this pannel must needs be a horse's furniture, as this gentleman has said." "To me it seems indeed to be a pannel," answered Don Quixote: "but I have already -[258]- told you, I will not intermeddle with the dispute, whether it be an ass's pannel, or a horse's furniture." "All that remains," said the priest, "is, for Signor Don Quixote to declare his opinion; for, in matters of chivalry, all these gentlemen and myself yield him the preference." "By the living God, gentlemen," said Don Quixote, "so many and such unaccountable things have befallen me twice that I have lodged in this castle, that I dare not venture to vouch positively for anything that may be asked me about it; for I am of opinion, that everything passes in it by way of enchantment. The first time, I was very much harassed by an enchanted Moor that was in it, and Sancho fared little better among some of his followers; and tonight I hung almost two hours by this arm, without being able to guess how I came to fall into that mischance. And, therefore, for me to meddle now in so confused a business, and to be giving my opinion, would be to spend my judgment rashly. As to the question, whether this be a basin or an helmet, I have already answered; but as to declaring whether this be a pannel or a caparison, I dare not pronounce a definitive sentence, but remit it, gentlemen, to your discretion; who, perhaps, not being dubbed knights as I am, the enchantments of this place may have no power over you, and you may have your understandings free, and so may judge of the things of this castle as they really and truly are, and not as they appear to me." "There is no doubt," answered Don Fernando, "but that Signor Don Quixote has said very right, that the decision of this case belongs to us; and, that we may proceed in it upon better and more solid grounds, I will take the votes of these gentlemen in secret, and then give you a clear and full account of the result."

To those acquainted with Don Quixote, all this was matter of most excellent sport; but to those who knew not his humour, it seemed to be the greatest absurdity in the world, especially to Don Louis's Tour servants, and to Don Louis himself, as much as the rest, besides three other passengers who were, by chance, just then arrived at the inn, and seemed to be troopers of the Holy Brotherhood, as in reality they proved to be. As for the barber, he was quite at his wits' end, to see his basin converted into Mambrino's helmet before his eyes, and made no doubt but his pannel would be turned into a rich caparison for a horse. Everybody laughed to see Don Fernando walking the round, and taking the opinion of each person at his ear, that he might secretly declare, whether that precious piece, about which there had been such a bustle, was a pannel or a caparison; and, after he had taken the votes of those who knew Don Quixote, he said aloud: "The truth is, honest friend, I am quite weary of collecting so many votes; for I ask nobody that does not tell me, it is ridiculous to say this is an ass's pannel, and not a horse's caparison, and even that of a well-bred horse; so that you must have patience; for, in spite of you and your ass too, this is a caparison and no pannel, and the proofs you have alleged on your part are very trivial and invalid." "Let me never enjoy a place in Heaven," cried the bantered barber, "if your worships are not all mistaken; and so may my soul appear before God, as this appears to me a pannel, and not a caparison; but, so go the laws I say no more; and verily I am not drunk, for I am fasting from everything but sin."

The barber's simplicities caused no less laughter than the follies of Don Quixote, who, at this juncture, said: "There is now no more to be done but for everyone to take what is his own; and to whom God has given it, may St Peter give his blessing." One of Don Louis's four servants said: -[259]- If this be not a premeditated joke, I cannot persuade myself that men of so good understanding as all here are, or seem to be, should venture to say, and affirm, that this is not a basin, nor that a pannel; but, seeing they do actually say and affirm it, I suspect there must be some mystery in obstinately maintaining a thing so contrary to truth and experience; for, by (and out he rapped a round oath) all the men in the world shall never persuade me, that this is not a barber's basin, and that a jack-ass's pannel." "May it not be a she-ass's?" cried the priest. "That is all one," said the servant, "for the question is only whether it be, or be not, a pannel, as your worships say." One of the officers of the Holy Brotherhood, who came in, and had overheard the dispute, full of choler and indignation, said: "It is as much a pannel as my father is my father; and whoever says, or shall say, to the contrary, must be drunk." "You lie like a pitiful scoundrel," answered Don Quixote; and lifting up his lance, which he never had let go out of his hand, he went to give him such a blow over the head that, had not the officer slipped aside, he had been laid flat on the spot. The lance was broke to splinters on the ground; and the other officers seeing their comrade abused, cried out, "Help, help the Holy Brotherhood." The innkeeper, who was one of the troop, ran in that instant for his wand and his sword, and prepared himself to stand by his comrades. Don Louis's servants got about him, lest he should escape during the hurly-burly. The barber, perceiving the house turned topsy-turvy, laid hold again of his pannel, and Sancho did the same. Don Quixote drew his sword, and fell upon the troopers. Don Louis called out to his servants to leave him, and assist Don Quixote, Cardenio, and Don Fernando, who all took part with Don Quixote. The priest cried out, the hostess shrieked, her daughter roared, Maritornes wept, Dorothea was confounded, Lucinda stood amazed, and Donna Clara fainted away. The barber cuffed Sancho, and Sancho pummelled the barber. Don Louis gave one of his servants, who laid hold of him by the arm lest he should escape, such a dash on the chops, that he bathed his mouth in blood. The judge interposed in his defence. Don Fernando got one of the troopers down, and kicked him to his heart's content. The innkeeper reinforced his voice, demanding aid for the Holy Brotherhood. Thus the whole inn was nothing but weeping, cries, shrieks, confusion, fears, frights, mischances, cuffs, cudgellings, kicks, and effusion of blood. And in the midst of this chaos, this mass and labyrinth of things, it came into Don Quixote's fancy that he was plunged over head and ears in the discord of King Agramante's camp; (105) and therefore he said, with a voice which made the inn shake: "Hold all of you; all put up your swords; be pacified all; and hearken to me, if you would all continue alive." At which tremendous voice they all desisted, and he went on saying: "Did I not tell you, sirs, that this castle was enchanted, and that some legion of devils must certainly inhabit it? In confirmation of which, I would have you see with your own eyes, how the discord of Agramante's camp is passed over and transferred hither among us; behold, how there they fight for the sword, here for the horse, yonder for the eagle, here again for the helmet; and we all fight, and no one understands another. Come therefore, my lord judge, and you, master priest, and let one of you stand for King Agramante, the other for King Sobrino,(106) and make peace among us; for, by the eternal God, it is a thousand pities so many gentlemen of quality as are here of us, should kill one another for such trivial matters." The troopers, who did not -[260]- understand Don Quixote's language, and found themselves roughly handled by Don Fernando, Cardenio, and their companions, would not be pacified; but the barber submitted; for both his beard and his pannel were demolished in the scuffle. Sancho, as became a dutiful servant, obeyed the least voice of his master. Don Louis's four servants were also quiet, seeing how little they got by being otherwise. The innkeeper alone was refractory, and insisted that the insolences of that madman ought to be chastised, who at every foot turned the inn upside down. At last the bustle ceased for that time; the pannel was to remain a caparison, the basin a helmet, and the inn a castle, in Don Quixote's imagination, until the day of judgment.

Now all being pacified, and all made friends, by the persuasion of the judge and the priest, Don Louis's servants began again to press him to go with them that moment; and while they were debating and settling the point, the judge consulted Don Fernando, Cardenio, and the priest, what he should do in this emergency, telling them all that Don Louis had said. At last it was agreed that Don Fernando should tell Don Louis's servants who he was, and that it was his desire Don Louis should go alone with him to Andalusia, where he should be treated by the marquis his brother according to his quality and worth; for he well knew his intention and resolution not to return, just at that time, into his father's presence, though they should tear him to pieces. Now Don Fernando's quality, and Don Louis's resolution, being known to the four servants, they determined among themselves that three of them should return to give his father an account of what had passed, and the other should stay to wait upon Don Louis, and not leave him until the rest should come back for him, or until they knew what his father would order. Thus this mass of contentions was appeased by the authority of Agramante and the prudence of King Sobrino. But the enemy of peace and concord, finding himself illuded and disappointed, and how thin a crop he had gathered from that large field of confusion, resolved to try his hand once more, by contriving fresh frays and disturbances.

Now the case was this: the troopers, upon notice of the quality of those that had attacked them, had desisted and retreated from the fray, as thinking that, let matters go how they would, they were likely to come off by the worst. But one of them, namely, he who had been kicked and mauled by Don Fernando, bethought himself that, among some warrants he had about him for apprehending certain delinquents, he had one against Don Quixote, whom the Holy Brotherhood had ordered to be taken into custody for setting at liberty the galley-slaves, as Sancho had very justly feared. Having this in his head, he had a mind to be satisfied whether the person of Don Quixote answered to the description; and, pulling a parchment out of his bosom, he presently found what he looked for; and setting himself to read it leisurely, for he was no great clerk, at every word he read he fixed his eyes on Don Quixote, and then went on, comparing the marks in his warrant with the lines of Don Quixote's physiognomy, and found that, without all doubt, he must be the person therein described; and as soon as he had satisfied himself, rolling up the parchment, and holding the warrant in his left hand, with his right he laid so fast hold on Don Quixote by the collar, that he did not suffer him to draw breath, crying out aloud: "Help the Holy Brotherhood! and, that everybody may see I require it in earnest, read this warrant, wherein it is expressly commanded to apprehend this highway robber." The priest took the warrant, and found it all -[261]- true that the trooper had said, the marks agreeing exactly with Don Quixote; who, finding himself so roughly handled by this scoundrel, his choler being mounted to the utmost pitch, and all his joints trembling with rage, caught the trooper by the throat, as well as he could, with both hands, and had he not been rescued by his comrades, he had lost his life before Don Quixote had loosed his hold. The innkeeper, who was bound to aid and assist his brethren in office, ran immediately to his assistance. The hostess, seeing her husband again engaged in battle, raised her voice anew. Her daughter and Maritornes joined in the same tune, praying aid from Heaven and from the standers-by. Sancho, seeing what passed, said: "As God shall save me, my master says true concerning the enchantments of this castle, for it is impossible to live an hour in quiet in it." At length Don Fernando parted the officer and Don Quixote, and, to both their contents, unlocked their hands from the doublet-collar of the one, and from the windpipe of the other. Nevertheless the troopers did not desist from demanding their prisoner, and to have him bound and delivered up to them; for so the king's service and that of the Holy Brotherhood required, in whose name they again demanded help and assistance in apprehending that common robber, padder, and highwayman. Don Quixote smiled to hear these expressions, and with great calmness said: "Come hither, base and ill-born crew; call ye it robbing on the highway to loose the chains of the captived, to set the imprisoned free, to succour the miserable, to raise the fallen and depressed, and to relieve the needy and distressed? Ah, scoundrel race! undeserving, by the meanness and baseness of your understandings, that Heaven should reveal to you the worth inherent in knight-errantry, or make you sensible of your own sin and ignorance in not reverencing the very shadow, and much more the presence, of any knight-errant whatever! Come hither, ye rogues in a troop, and not troopers, highwaymen with the license of the Holy Brotherhood, tell me who was the blockhead that signed the warrant for apprehending such a knight-errant as I am? Who was he that knew not that knights-errant are exempt from all judicial authority, that their sword is their law, their bravery their privileges, and their will their edicts? Who was the madman, I say again, that is ignorant that no patent of gentility contains so many privileges and exemptions as are acquired by the knight-errant the day he is dubbed and gives himself up to the rigorous exercise of chivalry? What knight-errant ever paid custom, poll-tax, subsidy, quit-rent, porterage, or ferry-boat? What tailor ever brought in a bill for making his clothes? What governor, that lodged him in his castle, ever made him pay a reckoning? What king did not seat him at his table? What damsel was not in love with him, and did not yield herself up to his whole pleasure and will? And lastly, what knight-errant has there ever been, is, or shall be in the world, who has not courage singly to bestow four hundred bastinadoes on four hundred troopers of the Holy Brotherhood, that shall dare to present themselves before him?"


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