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 XLIX: Of the ingenious Conference between Sancho Panza and his Master Don Quixote.


"Ha," quoth Sancho, "now I have caught you; this is what I longed to know with all my heart and soul. Come on, Sir; can you deny what is commonly said everywhere, when a person is in the dumps; I know not what such or such a one ails; he neither eats, nor drinks, nor sleeps, nor answers to the purpose, when he is asked a question; he looks as if he were enchanted. From whence it is concluded, that they who do not eat, nor drink, nor sleep, nor perform the natural actions I speak of, such only are enchanted, and not they who have such calls as your worship has, and who eat and drink when they can get it, and answer to all that is asked them." "You say 'right, Sancho," answered Don Quixote, "but I have already told you that there are sundry sorts of enchantments, and it may have so fallen out that, in process of time, they may have been changed from one to another, and that now it may be the fashion for those who are enchanted to do as I do, though formerly they did not; so that there is no arguing, nor drawing consequences, against the custom of the times. I know, and am verily persuaded, that I am enchanted; and that is sufficient -[278]- for the discharge of my conscience, which would be heavily burdened if I thought I was not enchanted, and should suffer myself to lie in this cage like a coward, defrauding the necessitous and oppressed of that succour I might have afforded them, when, perhaps, at this very moment, they may be in extreme want of my aid and protection." "But for all that," replied Sancho, "I say, for your greater and more abundant satisfaction, your worship would do well to endeavour to get out of this prison; which I will undertake to facilitate with all my might, and to effect it too; and then you may once more mount your trusty Rozinante, who seems as if he were enchanted too, so melancholy and dejected is he. And, when this is done, we may again try our fortune in search of adventures; and should it not succeed well, we shall have time enough to return to the cage, in which I promise, on the faith of a trusty and loyal squire, to shut myself up with your worship, if perchance you prove so unhappy, or I so simple, as to fail in the performance of what I say." "I am content to do what you advise, brother Sancho," replied Don Quixote, "and when you see a proper opportunity for working my deliverance, I will be ruled by you in everything; but Sancho, depend upon it, you will find how mistaken you are in your notion of my disgrace."

With these discourses the knight-errant and the evil-errant squire amused themselves, until they came where the priest, the canon, and the barber, who were already alighted, waited for them. The waggoner presently unyoked the oxen, and turned them loose in that green and delicious place, whose freshness invited to the enjoyment of it not only persons as much enchanted as Don Quixote, but as considerate and discreet as his squire, who besought the priest to permit his master to come out of the cage for a while, otherwise that prison would not be quite so clean as the decorum of such a knight as his master required. The priest understood him, and said that he would, with all his heart, consent to what he desired, were it not that he feared lest his master, finding himself at liberty, should play one of his old pranks, and be gone where nobody should set eyes on him more. "I will be security for his not running away," replied Sancho. "And I also," said the canon, "especially if he will pass his word as a knight, that he will not leave us without our consent." "I do pass it," answered Don Quixote, who was listening to all they said, "and the rather, because whoever is enchanted as I am, is not at liberty to dispose of himself as he pleases; for he who has enchanted him can make him unable to stir in three centuries, and if he should attempt an escape, will fetch him back on the wing." And, since this was the case, they might, he said, safely let him loose, especially it being so much for the advantage of them all; for should they not loose him, he protested, if they did not get farther off, he must needs offend their noses. The canon took him by the hand though he was still manacled, and, upon his faith and word, they uncaged him; at which he was infinitely and above measure rejoiced to see himself out of the cage. And the first thing he did was to stretch his whole body and limbs: then he went where Rozinante stood; and, giving him a couple of slaps on the buttocks with the palm of his hand, he said: "I have still hope in God, and in his blessed Mother, O flower and mirror of steeds, that we two shall soon see ourselves in that state our hearts desire, thou with thy lord on thy back, and I mounted on thee, exercising the function for which Heaven sent me into the world." And so saying, Don Quixote, with his squire Sancho, retired to some little -[279]- distance, from whence he came back more lightsome, and more desirous to put in execution what his squire had projected. The canon gazed earnestly at him, and stood in admiration at his strange and unaccountable madness, perceiving, that in all his discourse and answers he discovered a very good understanding, and only lost his stirrups, as has been already said, when the conversation happened to turn upon the subject of chivalry. And so, after they were all sat down on the green grass, in expectation of the sumpter-mule, the canon, being moved with compassion, said to him: "Is it possible, worthy Sir, that the crude and idle study of books of chivalry should have had that influence upon you, as to turn your brain in such manner as to make you believe you are now enchanted, with other things of the same stamp, which are as far from being true as falsehood itself is from truth? How is it possible any human understanding can persuade itself there ever was in the world that infinity of Amadis's, that rabble of famous knights, so many emperors of Trapisonda, so many Felixmartes of Hyrcania, so many palfreys, so many damsels-errant, so many serpents, so many dragons, so many giants, so many unheard-of adventures, so many kinds of enchantments, so many battles, so many furious encounters, so much bravery of attire, so many princesses in love, so many squires become earls, so many witty dwarfs, so many billets-doux, so many courtships, so many valiant women, and lastly, so many and such absurd accidents, as your books of knight-errantry contain? For my own part, when I read them, without reflecting that they are all falsehood and folly, they give me some pleasure; but, when I consider what they are, I throw the very best of them against the wall, and should into the fire, had I one near me, as well deserving such a punishment for being false and inveigling, and out of the road of common sense, as broachers of new sects and new ways of life, and as giving occasion to the ignorant vulgar to believe and look upon as truths the multitude of absurdities they contain. Nay, they have the presumption to dare to disturb the understandings of ingenious and well-born gentlemen, as is but too notorious in the effect they have had upon your worship, having reduced you to such a pass that you are forced to be shut up in a cage, and carried on a waggon from place to place, like some lion or tiger, to be shown for money. Ah, Signor Don Quixote, have pity on yourself, and return into the bosom of discretion, and learn to make use of those great abilities Heaven has been pleased to bestow upon you by employing that happy talent you are blessed with in some other kind of reading, which may redound to the benefit of your conscience and to the increase of your honour. But if a strong natural impulse must still lead you to books of exploits and chivalries, read, in the Holy Scripture, the Book of Judges, where you will meet with wonderful truths and achievements, no less true than heroic. Portugal had a Viriatus, Rome a Caesar, Carthage an Hannibal, Greece an Alexander, Castile a Count Fernando Gonzales, Valencia a Cid, Andalusia a Gonzalo Fernandez, Estremadura a Diego Garcia de Paredes, Xerez a Garci Perez de Vargas, Toledo a Garcilasso, and Seville a Don Manuel de Leon, the reading of whose valorous exploits may entertain, instruct, delight, and raise admiration in the most elevated genius. This, indeed, would be a study worthy of your good understanding, my dear friend, whereby you will become learned in history, enamoured of virtue, instructed in goodness, bettered in manners, valiant without rashness, and cautious without cowardice; and all this will redound -[280]- to the glory of God, to your own profit, and the fame of La Mancha, from whence, as I understand, you derive your birth and origin."

Don Quixote listened with great attention to the canon's discourse; and when he found he had done, after having stared at him a pretty while he said: "I find, Sir, the whole of what you have been saying tends to persuade me there never were any knights-errant in the world, and that all the books of chivalry are false, lying, mischievous, and unprofitable to the commonwealth; and that I have done ill in reading, worse in believing, and worst of all in imitating them, by taking upon me the rigorous profession of knight-errantry, which they teach; and you deny that ever there were any Amadis's, either of Gaul or of Greece, or any other knights, such as those books are full of." "It is all precisely as you say," replied the canon. To which Don Quixote answered: "You also were pleased to add that those books had done me much prejudice, having turned my brain, and reduced me to the being carried about in a cage; and that it would be better for me to amend and change my course of study, by reading other books more true, more pleasant, and more instructive." "True, "answered the canon. "Why then," said Don Quixote, "In my opinion you are the madman and the enchanted person, since you have set yourself to utter so many blasphemies against a thing so universally received in the world, and held for such truth, that he who should deny it, as you do, deserves the same punishment you are pleased to say you bestow on those books when you read them, and they vex you. For to endeavour to make people believe that there never was an Amadis in the world, nor any other of the knights-adventurers of which histories are full, would be to endeavour to persuade them that the sun does not enlighten, the frost give cold, nor the earth yield sustenance. What genius can there be in the world able to persuade another that the affair of the Infanta Floripes and Guy of Burgundy was not true; and that of Fierabras at the bridge of Mantible, which fell out in the time of Charlemagne; which I vow to God is as true as that it is now daylight? And if these be lies, so must it also be that there ever was an Hector, or an Achilles, or a Trojan war, or the twelve peers of France, or King Arthur of England, who is still wandering about transformed into a raven, and is every minute expected in his kingdom. And will any one presume to say that the history of Guarino Mezquino, and that of the lawsuit of Saint Grial, are lies(113) or that the amours of Sir Tristram and the Queen Iseo, and those of Ginebra and Lancelot, are also apocryphal; whereas there are persons who almost remember to have seen the Duenna Quintannona, who was the best skinker of wine that ever Great Britain could boast of. And this is so certain, that I remember my grandmother by my father's side, when she saw any duenna reverently coifed, would say to me: 'Look, grandson, that old woman is very like the Duenna Quintannona." From whence I infer, that she must either have known her, or at least have seen some portrait of her. Then, who can deny the truth of the history of Peter of Provence and the fair Magalona, since, to this very day, is to be seen, in the king's armoury, the peg wherewith he steered the wooden horse upon which he rode through the air; which peg is somewhat bigger than the pole of a coach; and close by the peg stands Babieca's saddle. And in Roncesvalles is to be seen Orlando's horn, as big as a great beam. From all which I conclude, that there were the twelve peers, the Peters, the Cids, and such other knights as those the world calls adventurers. If not, let them also tell me -[281]- that the valiant Portuguese, John de Merlo, was no knight-errant; he who went to Burgundy, and in the city of Ras fought the famous lord of Charni, Monseigneur(114) Pierre, and afterwards in the city of Basil, with Monseigneur Enrique of Remestan, coming off from both engagements conqueror, and loaded with honourable fame: besides the adventures and challenges accomplished in Burgundy, of the valiant Spaniards Pedro Barba, and Gutierre Quixada, from whom I am lineally descended, who vanquished the sons of the Count Saint Paul. Let them deny, likewise, that Don Fernando de Guevara travelled into Germany in quest of adventures, where he fought with Messire(115) George, a knight of the Duke of Austria's court. Let them say that the jousts of Suero de Quinnones of the Pass(116) were all mockery; with the enterprises of Monseigneur Louis de Falses against Don Gonzalo de Guzman, a Castilian knight; with many more exploits performed by Christian knights of these and of foreign kingdoms; all so authentic and true, that I say again, whoever denies them must be void of all sense and reason."

The canon stood in admiration to hear the medley Don Quixote made of truths and lies, and to see how skilled he was in all matters any way relating to knight-errantry; and therefore answered him: "I cannot deny, Signor Don Quixote, but there is some truth in what you say, especially in relation to the Spanish knights-errant; and I am also ready to allow that there were the twelve peers of France; but I can never believe they did all those things ascribed to them by Archbishop Turpin; for the truth is, they were knights chosen by the kings of France, and called peers, as being all equal in quality and prowess; at least if they were not, it was fit they should be so; and in this respect they were not unlike our religious military orders of Saint Jago or Calatrava, which pre-suppose that the professors are, or ought to be, cavaliers of worth, valour, and family; and as now we say, a knight of St John, or of Alcantara, in those times they said a knight of the twelve peers, those of that military order being twelve in number and all equal. That there was a Cid is beyond all doubt, as likewise a Bernardo del Carpio; but that they performed the exploits told of them I believe there is great reason to suspect. As to Peter of Provence's peg, and its standing close by Babieca's saddle in the king's armoury, I confess my sin in being so ignorant, or short-sighted, that though I have seen the saddle I never could discover the peg, which is somewhat strange, considering how big you say it is." "Yet, without all question, there it is," replied Don Quixote, "since they say it is kept in a leathern case, that it may not take rust." "It may be so," answered the canon; "but, by the holy orders I have received, I do not remember to have seen it. But supposing I should grant you it is there, I do not therefore think myself bound to believe the stories of so many Amadis's, nor those of such a rabble rout of knights as we hear of; nor is it reasonable, that a gentleman so honourable, of such excellent parts, and endued with so good an understanding as yourself, should be persuaded that such strange follies as are written in the absurd books of chivalry are true."


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