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 L: Of the ingenious Contest between Don Quixote and the Canon, with other Accidents.


"A good jest, indeed!" answered Don Quixote, "that books printed with the license of kings, and the approbation of the examiners, read with general pleasure, and applauded by great and small, poor and rich, learned and ignorant, gentry and commonality, in short, by all sorts of people, of what state or condition soever they be, should be all lies, and especially carrying such an appearance of truth! For do they not tell us the father, the mother, the country, the kindred, the age, the place, with a particular detail of every action performed daily by such a knight or knights? Good Sir, be silent, and do not utter such blasphemies; and believe me, I advise you to act in this affair like a discreet person: do but peruse them, and you will find what pleasure attends this kind of reading. For pray tell me, can there be a greater satisfaction than to see, placed as it were before our eyes, a vast lake of boiling pitch, and in it a prodigious number of serpents, snakes, crocodiles, and divers other kinds of fierce and dreadful creatures, swimming up and down; and from the midst of the lake to hear a most dreadful voice, saying: 'O Knight, whoever thou art, that standest beholding this tremendous lake, if thou art desirous to enjoy the happiness that lies concealed beneath these sable waters, show the valour of thy undaunted breast, and plunge thyself headlong into the midst of this black and burning liquor; for, if thou dost not, thou wilt be unworthy to see the mighty wonders enclosed therein, and contained in the seven castles of the seven enchanted nymphs, who dwell beneath this horrid blackness.' And scarcely has the knight heard the fearful voice, when, without further consideration, or reflecting upon the danger to which he exposes himself, and even without putting off his cumbersome and weighty armour, recommending himself to God and his mistress, he plunges into the middle of the boiling pool; and, when he neither heeds nor considers what may become of him, he finds himself in the midst of flowery fields, with which those of Elysium can in no wise compare. There the sky seems more transparent, and the sun shines with a fresher brightness. Beyond it appears a pleasing forest, so green and shady that its verdure rejoices the sight, whilst the ears are entertained with the sweet and artless notes of an infinite number of little painted birds, hopping to and fro among the intricate branches. Here he discovers a warbling brook, whose cool waters, resembling liquid crystal, run murmuring over the fine sands and snowy pebbles, out-glittering sifted gold and purest pearl. There he espies an artificial fountain of variegated jasper and polished marble. Here he beholds another of rustic work, in which the minute shells of the mussel, with the white and yellow wreathed houses of the snail, placed in orderly confusion, interspersed with pieces of glittering crystal and pellucid emeralds, compose a work of such variety, that art imitating nature seems here to surpass her. Then, on a sudden, he descries a strong castle, or stately palace, whose walls are of massy gold, the battlements of diamonds, and the gates of hyacinths: in short, the structure is so admirable, that though the materials of which it is framed are no less than diamonds, carbuncles, rubies, pearls, gold, and emeralds, yet the workmanship is still more precious. And, after having seen all this, can anything be more charming than to behold, sallying forth at the -[283]- castle gate, a goodly troop of damsels, whose bravery and gorgeous attire, should I pretend to describe, as the histories do at large, I should never have done; and then she who appears to be the chief of them all, presently takes by the hand the daring knight who threw himself into the burning lake, and, without speaking a word, carries him into the rich palace, or castle, and stripping him as naked as his mother bore him, bathes him in milk-warm water, and then anoints him all over with odoriferous essences, and puts on him a shirt of the finest lawn, all sweet-scented and perfumed. Then comes another damsel, and throws over his shoulders a mantle, reckoned worth, at the very least, a city or more. What a sight is it then, when, after this, he is carried to another hall, to behold the tables spread in such order, that he is struck with suspense and wonder! Then to see him wash his hands in water distilled from amber and sweet-scented flowers! To see him seated in a chair of ivory! To behold the damsels waiting upon him in marvellous silence! Then to see such variety of delicious viands, so savourily dressed that the appetite is at a loss to direct the hand! To hear soft music while he is eating, without knowing who it is that sings, or from whence the sounds proceed! And when dinner is ended, and the cloth taken away, the knight lolling in his chair, and perhaps picking his teeth, according to custom, enters unexpectedly at the hall door a damsel much more beautiful than any of the former, and seating herself by the knight's side, begins to give him an account what castle that is, and how she is enchanted in it, with sundry other matters, which surprise the knight, and raise the admiration of those who read his history. I will enlarge no further upon this; for from hence you may conclude that whatever part one reads, of whatever history of knights-errant, must needs cause delight and wonder in the reader. Believe me, then, Sir, and as I have already hinted, read these books, and you will find that they will banish all your melancholy, and meliorate your disposition, if it happens to be a bad one. This I can say for myself, that since I have been a knight-errant, I am become valiant, civil, liberal, well-bred, generous, courteous, daring, affable, patient, a sufferer of toils, imprisonments, and enchantments; and though it be so little a while since I saw myself locked up in a cage like a madman, yet I expect, by the valour of my arm, Heaven favouring, and fortune not opposing, in a few days to see myself king of some kingdom, in which I may display the gratitude and liberality enclosed in this breast of mine; for, upon my faith, Sir, the poor man is disabled from practising the virtue of liberality, though he possess it in never so eminent a degree; and the gratitude which consists only in inclination is a dead thing, even as faith without works is dead. For which reason I should be glad that fortune would offer me speedily some opportunity of becoming an emperor, that I may show my heart by doing good to my friends, especially to poor Sancho Panza here, my squire, who is the honestest man in the world; and I would fain bestow on him an earldom, as I have long since promised him, but that I fear he will not have ability sufficient to govern his estate."

Sancho overheard his master's last words, to whom he said: "Take you the pains, Signor Don Quixote, to procure me this same earldom, so often promised by you, and so long expected by me; for I assure you I shall not want for ability sufficient to govern it. But supposing I had not, I have heard say, there are people in the world who take lordships to farm, paying the owners so much a year, and taking upon themselves the whole management thereof, whilst the lord himself, with outstretched legs, lies along at -[284]- his ease, enjoying the rent they give him, without concerning himself any further about it. Just so will I do, and give myself no more trouble than needs must, but immediately surrender all up, and live upon my rents like any duke, and let the world rub." "This, brother Sancho," replied the canon, "is to be understood only as to the enjoyment of the revenue; but as to the administration of justice, the lord himself must look to that; and for this ability, sound judgment, and especially an upright intention, are required; for if these be wanting in the beginnings, the means and ends will always be erroneous; and therefore God usually prospers the good intentions of the simple, and disappoints the evil designs of the cunning." "I do not understand these philosophies," answered Sancho; "I only know, I wish I may as speedily have the earldom, as I should know how to govern it; for I have as large a soul as another, and as large a body as the best of them; and I should be as much king of my own dominion as any one is of his; and being so, I would do what I pleased! and doing what I pleased, I should have my will; and having my will, I should be contented; and when one is contented, there is no more to be desired; and when there is no more to be desired, there's an end of it; and let the estate come, and God be with ye; and let us see it, as one blind man said to another." "These are no bad philosophies, as you say, Sancho," added the canon; "nevertheless, there is a great deal more to be said upon the subject of earldoms." To which Don Quixote replied: "I know not what more may be said; only I govern myself by the example of the great Amadis de Gaul, who made his squire Knight of the Firm Island; and therefore I may, without scruple of conscience, make an earl of Sancho Panza, who is one of the best squires that ever knight-errant had." The canon was amazed at Don Quixote's methodical and orderly madness, the manner of his describing the adventure of the knight of the lake, the impression made upon him by those premeditated lies he had read in his books; and lastly, he admired the simplicity of Sancho, who so vehemently desired to obtain the earldom his master had promised him.

By this time the canon's servants, who went to the inn for the sumpter- mule, were come back; and spreading a carpet on the green grass, they sat down under the shade of some trees, and dined there, that the waggoner might not lose the conveniency of that fresh pasture, as we have said before. And while they were eating, they heard on a sudden a loud noise, and the sound of a little bell in a thicket of briers and thorns that was hard by; and at the same instant, they saw a very beautiful she-goat, speckled with black, white, and grey, run out of the thicket. After her came a goatherd, calling to her aloud, in his wonted language, to stop and come back to the fold. The fugitive goat, trembling and affrighted, betook herself to the company, as it were for their protection, and there she stopped. The goatherd came up, and taking her by the horns, as if she were capable of discourse and reasoning, he said to her: "Ah, wanton spotted fool! what caprice hath made thee halt thus of late days? What wolves wait for thee, child? Wilt thou tell me, pretty one, what this means? But what else can it mean, but that thou art a female, and therefore canst not be quiet? A curse on thy humours, and on all theirs whom thou resemblest so much! Turn back, my love, turn back; for though, perhaps, you will not be so contented, at least, you will be more safe in your own fold, and among your own companions; and if you, who are to look after and guide them, go yourself so much astray, what must become of them?" The -[285]- goatherd's words delighted all the hearers extremely, especially the canon, who said to him: "I entreat you, brother, be not in such a hurry to force back this goat so soon to her fold; for since, as you say, she is a female, she will follow her own natural instinct, though you take never so much pains to hinder her. Come, take this morsel, and then drink; whereby you will temper your choler, and in the meanwhile the goat will rest herself." And in saying this, he gave him the hinder quarter of a cold rabbit on the point of a fork. The goatherd took it, and thanked him; then drank, and sat down quietly, and said: "I would not have you, gentlemen, take me for a foolish fellow, for having talked sense to this animal; for in truth, the words I spoke to her are not without a mystery. I am a country fellow, it is true, yet not so much a rustic but I know the difference between conversing with men and beasts." "I verily believe you," said the priest; "for I have found by experience that the mountains breed learned men, and the cottages of shepherds contain philosophers." "At least, Sir," replied the goatherd, "they afford men who have some knowledge from experience; and to convince you of this truth, though I seem to invite myself without being asked, if it be not tiresome to you, and if you please, gentlemen, to lend me your attention, I will tell you a true story, which will confirm what I and this same gentleman (pointing to the priest), have said."

To this Don Quixote answered: "As this business has somewhat of the face of an adventure, I, for my part, will listen to you, brother, with all my heart, and so will all these gentlemen, being discreet and ingenious persons, and such as love to hear curious novelties, that surprise, gladden, and entertain the senses, as I do not doubt but your story will do. Begin then, friend, for we will all hearken." "I draw my stake," quoth Sancho, "and hie me with this pasty to yonder brook, when I intend to stuff myself for three days; for I have heard my master Don Quixote say, that the squire of a knight-errant must eat, when he has it, until he can eat no longer, because it often happens that they get into some wood so intricate, that there is no hitting the way out in six days; and then, if a man has not his belly well lined, or his wallet well provided, there he may remain, and often does remain, until he is turned into mummy." "You are in the right, Sancho," said Don Quixote: "go whither you will, and eat what you can, for I am already sated, and want only to give my mind its repast, which I am going to do by listening to this honest man's story." "We all do the same," added the canon, and then desired the goatherd to begin the tale he had promised. The goatherd gave the goat, which he held by the horns, two slaps on the back with the palm of his hand, saying: "Lie down by me, speckled fool; for we have time and to spare for returning to our fold." The goat seemed to understand him; for as soon as her master was seated, she laid herself close by him very quietly, and looking up in his face, seemed to signify she was attentive to what the goatherd was going to relate, who began his story in this manner.


Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis

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