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 LI: Which treats of what the Goatherd related to all those who accompanied Don Quixote.


"Three leagues from this valley there is a town, which though but small, is one of the richest in all these parts; and therein dwelt a farmer of so good a character, that though esteem is usually annexed to riches, yet he was more respected for his virtue than for the wealth he possessed. But that which completed his happiness, as he used to say himself, was his having a daughter of such extraordinary beauty, rare discretion, gracefulness, and virtue, that whoever knew and beheld her was in admiration at the surpassing endowments wherewith Heaven and nature had enriched her. When a child, she was pretty, and as she grew up became still more and more beautiful, until at the age of sixteen she was beauty itself. And now the fame of her beauty began to extend itself through all the neighbouring villages: do I say through the neighbouring villages only? It spread itself to the remotest cities, and even made its way into the palaces of kings, and reached the ears of all sorts of people, who came to see her from all parts, as if she had been some relic, or wonder-working image. Her father guarded her, and she guarded herself; for there are no padlocks, bolts, or bars, that secure a maiden better than her own reserve. The wealth of the father, and the beauty of the daughter, induced many, both of the town and strangers, to demand her to wife. But he whose right it was to dispose of so precious a jewel was perplexed, not knowing amidst the great number of importunate suitors on whom to bestow her. Among the many who were thus disposed I was one, and flattered myself with many and great hopes of success as being known to her father, born in the same village, untainted in blood, in the flower of my age, tolerably rich, and of no despicable understanding. With the very same advantages another of our village demanded her also in marriage, which occasioned a suspense and balancing of her father's will, who thought his daughter would be very well matched with either of us; and to get out of this perplexity, he determined to acquaint Leandra with it, for that is the rich maiden's name who has reduced me to this wretched state, considering that since our pretensions were equal, it was best to leave the choice to his beloved daughter; an example worthy the imitation of all parents who would marry their children. I do not say they should give them their choice in things prejudicial; but they should propose to them good ones, and out of them let them choose to their minds. For my part, I know not what was Leandra's liking: I only know, that her father put us both off by pleading the too tender age of his daughter, and with such general expressions as neither laid any obligations upon him, nor disobliged either of us. My rival's name is Anselmo, and mine Eugenio; for it is fit you should know the names of the persons concerned in this tragedy, the catastrophe of which is still depending, though one may easily foresee it will be disastrous.

"About that time there came to our town one Vincent de la Rosa, son of a poor farmer of the same village; which Vincent was come out of Italy and other countries, where he had served in the wars. A captain who happened to march that way with his company had carried him away from our town at twelve years of age, and the young man returned at the end of twelve years more, in the garb of a soldier, set off with a thousand colours, -[287]- and hung with a thousand crystal trinkets and fine steel chains. To-day he put on one finery, to-morrow another; but all slight and counterfeit, of little weight and less value. The country folks, who are naturally malicious, and if they have ever so little leisure, are malice itself, observed and reckoned up all his trappings and gewgaws, and found that he had three suits of apparel of different colours, with hose and garters to them; but he disguised them so many different ways, and with many inventions, that if one had not counted them, you would have sworn he had had about ten different suits, and above twenty plumes of feathers. And let not what I have been saying of his dress be looked upon as impertinent or superfluous; for it makes a considerable part of this story. He used to seat himself on a stone bench, under a great poplar tree in our market-place, and there he would hold us all gaping, and listening to the exploits he would be telling us. There was no country on the whole globe he had not seen, nor battle he had not been in. He had slain more Moors than are in Morocco and Tunis, and fought more duels, as he said, than Gante, Luna, Diego Garcia de Paredes, and a thousand others, and always came off victorious, without having lost a drop of blood. Then again he would be showing us marks of wounds, which, though they were not to be discerned, he would persuade us were so many musket shots received in several actions and fights. In a word, with an unheard-of arrogance, he would Thou his equals and acquaintance, saying, his arm was his father, his deeds his pedigree, and that under the title of soldier he owed the king himself nothing. To these bravadoes was added, his being somewhat of a musician, and scratching a little upon the guitar, which some said he would make speak. But his graces and accomplishments did not end here; for he was also a bit of a poet, and would compose a ballad a league and a half in length, on every childish accident that passed in the village.

"Now this soldier whom I have here described, this Vincent de la Rosa, this hero, this gallant, this musician, this poet, was often seen and admired by Leandra, from a window of her house, which faced the marketplace. She was struck with the tinsel of his gaudy apparel: his ballads enchanted her; and he gave at least twenty copies about of all he composed; the exploits he related of himself reached her ears: lastly (for so it seems the devil has ordained) she fell downright in love with him, before he had entertained the presumption of courting her. And as in affairs of love none are so easily accomplished as those which are favoured by the inclination of the lady, Leandra and Vincent easily came to an agreement, and before any of the multitude of her suitors had the least suspicion of her design, she had already accomplished it: for she left the house of her dear and beloved father (for mother she had none), and absented herself from the town with the soldier, who came off with this attempt more triumphantly than from any of those others he had so arrogantly boasted of. This event amazed the whole town, and all that heard anything of it. I, for my part, was confounded, Anselmo astonished, her father sad, her kindred ashamed, justice alarmed, and the troopers of the Holy Brotherhood in readiness. They beset the highways, and searched the woods, leaving no place unexamined; and, at the end of three days, they found the poor fond Leandra in a cave of a mountain, naked to her shift, and stripped of a large sum of money and several valuable jewels she had carried away from home. They brought her back into the presence of her disconsolate father: they asked her how this misfortune had befallen her; she -[288]- readily confessed that Vincent de la Rosa had deceived her, and upon promise of marriage, had persuaded her to leave her father's house, telling her he would carry her to Naples, the richest and most delicious city of the whole world; that she, through too much credulity and inadvertency, had believed him, and robbing her father, had put all into his hands the night she was first missing; and that he conveyed her to a craggy mountain, and shut her up in that cave in which they had found her. She also related to them- how the soldier plundered her of everything but her honour, and left her there, and fled: a circumstance which made us all wonder afresh; for it was no easy matter to persuade us of the young man's continency: but she affirmed it with so much earnestness, that her father was in some sort comforted, making no great account of the other riches the soldier had taken from his daughter, since he had left her that jewel, which once lost, can never be recovered.

"The very same day that Leandra returned she disappeared again from our eyes, her father sending and shutting her up in a nunnery belonging to a town not far distant, in hopes that time might wear off a good part of the reproach his daughter has brought upon herself. Her tender years were some excuse for her fault, especially with those who had no interest in her being good or bad; but they who are acquainted with her good sense and understanding, could not ascribe her fault to her ignorance, but to her levity, and to the natural propensity of the sex, which is generally unthinking and disorderly. Leandra being shut up, Anselmo's eyes were blinded; at least they saw nothing that could afford them any satisfaction; and mine were in darkness, without light to direct them to any pleasurable object. The absence of Leandra increased our sadness and diminished our patience; we cursed the soldier's finery, and detested her father's want of precaution. At last Anselmo and I agreed to quit the town, and betake ourselves to this valley, where, he feeding a great number of sheep of his own, and I a numerous herd of goats of mine, we pass our lives among these trees, giving vent to our passions, either singing together the praises or reproaches of the fair Leandra, or sighing alone, and each apart communicating our plaints to Heaven. Several others of Leandra's suitors, in imitation of us, are come to these rocky mountains, practising the same employments; and they are so numerous, that this place seems to be converted into the pastoral Arcadia, it is so full of shepherds and folds; nor is there any part of it where the name of the beautiful Leandra is not heard. One utters execrations against her, calling her fond, fickle, and immodest: another condemns her forwardness and levity; some excuse and pardon her; others arraign and condemn her: one celebrates her beauty; another rails at her ill qualities: in short, all blame, and all adore her; and the madness of all rises to that pitch, that some complain of her disdain who never spoke to her, yea some there are who bemoan themselves and feel the raging disease of jealousy, though she never gave any occasion for it; for, as I have said, her guilt was known before her inclination. There is no hollow of a rock, nor brink of a rivulet, nor shade of a tree, that is not occupied by some shepherd who is recounting his misfortunes to the air; the echo, wherever it can be formed, repeats the name of Leandra; the mountains resound with Leandra; the brooks murmur Leandra: in short, Leandra holds us all in suspense and enchanted, hoping without hope, and fearing without knowing what. Among these extravagant madmen, he who shows the least and the most sense, is my rival Anselmo, -[289]- who having so many other causes of complaint, complains only of absence; and to the sound of a rebec, which he touches to admiration, pours forth his complaints in verses, which discover an excellent genius. I follow an easier, and in my opinion, a better way, which is, to inveigh against the levity of women, their inconstancy and double-dealing, their lifeless promises, and broken faith; and, in short, the little discretion they show in placing their affections or making their choice.

"This, gentlemen, was the occasion of the expressions and language I used to this goat, when I came hither; for, being a female I despise her, though she be the best of all my flock. This is the story I promised to tell you: if I have been tedious in the relation, I will endeavour to make you amends by my service; my cottage is hard by, where I have new milk, and very savoury cheese, with variety of fruits of the season, not less agreeable to the sight than to the taste."


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