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 Bottom Next page   

-[296]-

The Life and Exploits
of the Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha

By Miguel de Cervantes, Translated by Charles Jarvis, Esq.

The Second Part
 

CHAPTER I: Of what passed between the Priest, the Barber, and Don Quixote, concerning his Indisposition. (*)

 

Cid Hamet Benengeli relates, in this history, and third sally of Don Quixote, that the priest and the barber were almost a whole month without seeing him, lest they should renew and bring back to his mind the remembrance of things past. Yet they did not therefore forbear visiting his niece and his housekeeper, charging them to take care and make much of him, and to give him comforting things to eat, such as are proper for the heart and brain, from whence, in all appearance, his disorder proceeded. They said, they did so, and would continue so to do with all possible care and goodwill; for they perceived that their master was ever and anon discovering signs of being in his right mind; at which the priest and the barber were greatly pleased, thinking they had hit upon the right course in bringing him home enchanted upon the ox-waggon, as is related in the last chapter of this no less great than exact history. They resolved therefore to visit him, and make trial of his amendment; though they reckoned it almost impossible he should be cured; and agreed between them not to touch in the least upon the subject of knight-errantry, for fear of again opening a wound that was yet so tender.

In short, they made him a visit, and found him sitting on his bed, clad in a waistcoat of green baize, with a red Toledo bonnet on his head, and so lean and shrivelled, that he seemed as if he was reduced to a mere mummy. They were received by him with much kindness: they inquired after his health; and he gave them an account of it and of himself with much judgment, and in very elegant expressions. In the course of their conversation they fell upon matters of state and forms of government, correcting this abuse and condemning that, reforming one custom and -[297]- banishing another; each of the three setting up himself for a new legislator, a modern Lycurgus or Solon; and in such manner did they new-model the commonwealth, that one would have thought they had clapped it into a forge, and taken it out quite altered from what it was before. Don Quixote delivered himself with so much good sense on all the subjects they touched upon, that the two examiners undoubtedly believed he was entirely well and in his perfect senses. The niece and the housekeeper were present at the conversation; and, seeing their master give such proofs of a sound mind, thought they could never sufficiently thank Heaven. But the priest, changing his former purpose of not touching upon matters of chivalry, was now resolved to make a thorough experiment, whether Don Quixote was perfectly recovered or not; and so, from one thing to another, he came at length to tell him some news lately brought from court; and, among other things, said, it was given out for certain, that the Turk was coming down with a powerful fleet, and that it was not known what his design was, nor where so great a storm would burst; that all Christendom was alarmed at it, as it used to be almost every year; and that the king had already provided for the security of the coasts of Naples and Sicily, and of the island of Malta. To this Don Quixote replied: "His majesty has done like a most prudent warrior, in providing in time for the defence of his dominions, that the enemy may not surprise him; but, if my counsel might be taken, I would advise him to make use of a precaution, which his majesty is at present very far from thinking of." Scarcely had the priest heard this, when he said within himself: "God defend thee, poor Don Quixote! for methinks thou art falling headlong from the top of thy madness down to the profound abyss of thy folly." But the barber, who had already made the same reflection as the priest had done, asked Don Quixote what precaution it was, that he thought so proper to be taken; for, perhaps, it was such as might be put into the list of the many impertinent admonitions usually given to princes. "Mine, Goodman Shaver," answered Don Quixote, "shall not be impertinent, but to the purpose." "I meant no harm," replied the barber; "but only that experience has shown that all or most of the pieces of advice people give his majesty are either impracticable or absurd, or to the prejudice of the king or kingdom." "True," answered Don Quixote; "but mine is neither impracticable nor absurd, but the most easy, the most just, the most feasible and expeditious that can enter into the imagination of any projector." "Signor Don Quixote," added the priest, "you keep us too long in suspense." "I have no mind," replied Don Quixote, "it should be told here now, and to-morrow by daybreak get to the ears of the lords of the privy-council, and so somebody else should run away with the thanks and the reward of my labour." "I give you my word," said the barber, "both here and before God, that I will not reveal what your worship shall say, either to king or rook,(124) nor to any man upon earth; an oath which I learned from the romance of the priest, in the preface whereof he tells the king of the thief that robbed him of the hundred pistoles and his ambling mule." "I know not the history," said Don Quixote; "but I presume the oath is a good one, because I am persuaded Master Barber is an honest man." "Though he were not," said the priest, "I will make it good, and engage for him that, as to this business, he will talk no more of it than a dumb man, under what penalty you shall think fit." "And who will be bound for your reverence, Master Priest?" said Don Quixote. "My profession," -[298]- answered the priest, "which obliges me to keep a secret." "Body of me then," said Don Quixote, "is there anything more to be done, but that his majesty cause proclamation to be made, that all the knights-errant, who are now wandering about Spain, do on a certain day repair to court? for, should there come but half-a-dozen, there may happen to be among them one who may be able alone to destroy the whole power of the Turk. Pray, gentlemen, be attentive, and go along with me. Is it a new thing for a knight-errant singly to defeat an army of two hundred thousand men, as if they had all but one throat, or were made of sugar paste? Pray tell me, how many histories are full of these wonders! How unlucky is it for me, I will not say for anyone else, that the famous Don Belianis, or some one of the numerous race of Amadis de Gaul, is not now in being! For, were any of them alive at this day, and were to confront the Turk, in good faith, I would not farm his winnings. But God will provide for his people, and send somebody or other, if not as strong as the former knights-errant, at least not inferior to them in courage: God knows my meaning; I say no more." "Alas!" cried the niece at this instant, "may I perish, if my uncle has not a mind to turn knight-errant again!" Upon which Don Quixote said, "A knight-errant I will live and die; and let the Turk come, down or up, when he pleases, and as powerful as he can; I say again, God knows my meaning." Here the barber said: "I beg leave, gentlemen, to tell a short story of what happened once in Seville; for it comes in so pat to the present purpose, that I must needs tell it." Don Quixote and the priest gave him leave, and the rest lent him their attention; and he began thus:

"A certain man was put by his relations into the madhouse of Seville, for having lost his wits. He had taken his degrees in the canon-law in the University of Ossuna; and, had he taken them in that of Salamanca, most people think he would nevertheless have been mad. This graduate, after some years' confinement, took it into his head that he was in his right senses and perfect understanding; and with this conceit he wrote to the archbishop, beseeching him, with great earnestness, and seeming good reasons, that he would be pleased to send and deliver him from that miserable confinement in which he lived; since, through the mercy of God, he had recovered his lost senses; adding, that his relations, that they might enjoy part of his estate, kept him still there, and, in spite of truth, would have him be mad till his dying day. The archbishop, prevailed upon by his many letters, all penned with sense and judgment, ordered one of his chaplains to inform himself from the rector of the madhouse, whether what the licentiate had written to him was true, and also to talk with the madman, and, if it appeared that he was in his senses, to take him out and set him at liberty. The chaplain did so, and the rector assured him the man was still mad; for, though he sometimes talked like a man of excellent sense, he would in the end break out into such distracted flights, as more than counterbalanced his former rational discourse; as he might experience by conversing with him. The chaplain resolved to make the trial, and accordingly talked above an hour with the madman, who, in all that time, never returned a disjointed or extravagant answer: on the contrary, he spoke with such sobriety, and so much to the purpose, that the chaplain was forced to believe he was in his right mind. Among other things, he said, that the rector misrepresented him, for the sake of the presents his relations sent him, that he might say he was still mad, and had only some -[299]- lucid intervals; for his great estate was the greatest enemy he had in his misfortune, since, to enjoy that, his enemies had recourse to fraud, and pretended to doubt of the mercy of God toward him, in restoring him from the condition of a brute to that of a man. In short, he talked in such a manner, that he made the rector to be suspected, his relations thought covetous and unnatural, and himself so discreet, that the chaplain determined to carry him away with him, that the archbishop himself might see, and lay his finger upon the truth of this business. The good chaplain, possessed with this opinion, desired the rector to order the clothes to be given him which he wore when he was brought in. The rector again desired him to take care what he did, since, without all doubt, the licentiate was still mad. But the precautions and remonstrances of the rector availed nothing towards hindering the chaplain from carrying him away. The rector, seeing it was by order of the archbishop, obeyed. They put the licentiate on his clothes, which were fresh and decent. And now, finding himself stripped of his madman's weeds, and habited like a rational creature, he begged of the chaplain, that he would, for charity's sake, permit him to take leave of the madmen his companions. The chaplain said he would bear him company, and take a view of the lunatics confined in that house. So upstairs they went, and with them some other persons, who happened to be present. And the licentiate, approaching a kind of cage, in which lay one that was outrageously mad, though at that time he was still and quiet, said to him, 'Have you any service, dear brother, to command me? I am returning to my own house; God having been pleased, of his infinite goodness and mercy, without any desert of mine, to restore me to my senses. I am now sound and well; for with God nothing is impossible. Put great trust and confidence in him; for, since he has restored me to my former state, he will also restore you if you trust in him. I will take care to send you some refreshing victuals; and be sure to eat of them; for I must needs tell you, I find, having experienced it myself, that all our distractions proceed from our stomachs being empty, and our brains filled with wind. Take heart, take heart; for despondency under misfortunes impairs our health, and hastens our death.' All this discourse of the licentiate's was overheard by another madman, who was in an opposite cell; and raising himself up from an old mat, whereon he had thrown himself stark naked, he demanded aloud, who it was that was going away recovered and in his senses?' It is I, brother,' answered the licentiate, 1 that am going; for I need stay no longer here, and am infinitely thankful to Heaven for having bestowed so great a blessing upon me.' 'Take heed, licentiate, what you say, let not the devil delude you,' replied the madman;  stir not a foot, but keep where you are, and you will spare yourself the trouble of being brought back.' 'I know,' replied the licentiate, 'that I am perfectly well, and shall have no more occasion to visit the station- churches.'(125) 'You well!' said the madman;' we shall soon see that. Farewell! but I swear by Jupiter, whose majesty I represent upon earth, that, for this offence alone, which Seville is now committing, in carrying you out of this house, and judging you to be in your senses, I am determined to inflict such a signal punishment on this city, that the memory thereof shall endure for ever and ever, amen. Know you not, little crazed licentiate, that I can do it, since, as I say, I am thundering Jupiter, who hold in my hands the flaming bolts, with which I can, as formerly, threaten and destroy the world? But in one thing only will I chastise this ignorant -[300]- people; and that is, there shall no rain fall on this town, or in all its district, for three whole years, reckoning from the day and hour in which this threatening is denounced. You at liberty! you recovered and in your senses! and I a madman! I distempered and in bonds! I will no more rain than I will hang myself.' All the bystanders were very attentive to the madman's discourse; but our licentiate, turning himself to our chaplain, and holding him by both hands, said to him: 'Be in no pain, good Sir, nor make any account of what this madman has said; for, if he is Jupiter and will not rain, I, who am Neptune, the father and god of the waters, will rain as often as I please, and whenever there shall be occasion.' To which the chaplain answered: 'However, Signor Neptune, it will not be convenient at present to provoke Signor Jupiter; therefore pray stay where you are; for, some other time, when we have a better opportunity and more leisure, we will come for you.' The rector and the bystanders laughed; which put the chaplain half out of countenance. They disrobed the licentiate, who remained where he was; and there is an end of the story."

"This, then, Master Barber," said Don Quixote, "is the story, which comes in here so pat, that you could not forbear telling it? Ah! Signor Cut-beard, Signor Cut- beard! he must be blind indeed, who cannot see through a sieve. Is it possible you should be ignorant, that comparisons made between understanding and understanding, valour and valour, beauty and beauty, and family and family, are always odious and ill taken? I, Master Barber, am not Neptune, god of the waters; nor do I set myself up for a wise man, being really not so: all I aim at is, to convince the world of its error in not reviving those happy times, in which the order of knight-errantry flourished. But this our degenerate age deserves not to enjoy so great a blessing as that which former ages could boast, when knights-errant took upon themselves the defence of kingdoms, the protection of orphans, the relief of damsels, the chastisement of the haughty, and the reward of the humble. Most of the knights now in fashion make a rustling rather in damasks, brocades, and other rich stuffs, than in coats of mail. You have now no knight that will lie in the open field, exposed to the rigour of the heavens, in complete armour from head to foot; no one now, that, without stirring his feet out of his stirrups, and leaning upon his lance, takes a short nap, like the knights-errant of old times; no one now, that, issuing out of this forest, ascends that mountain, and from thence traverses a barren and desert shore of the sea, which is most commonly stormy and tempestuous; where, finding on the beach a small skiff, without oars, sail, mast, or any kind of tackle, he boldly throws himself into it, exposing himself to the implacable billows of the profound sea, which now mount him up to the skies, and then cast him down to the abyss; and he, opposing his courage to the irresistible hurricane, when he least dreams of it, finds himself above three thousand leagues from the place where he embarked; and, leaping on the unknown and remote shore, encounters accidents worthy to be written, not on parchment, but brass. But now, sloth triumphs over diligence, idleness over labour, vice over virtue, arrogance over bravery, and the theory over the practice of arms, which only lived and flourished in those golden ages, and in those knights-errant. For, pray tell me, who was more civil and more valiant than the famous Amadis de Gaul? Who more discreet than Palmerin of England? Who more affable and obliging than Tirante the White? Who more gallant than Lisuarte -[301]- of Greece? Who gave or received more cuts and slashes than Don Belianis? Who was more intrepid than Perion of Gaul? Who more enterprising that Felixmarte of Hyrcania? Who more sincere than Esplandian? Who more daring than Don Cirongilio of Thrace? Who more brave than Rodamonte? Who more prudent than King Sobrino? Who more intrepid than Reynaldo? Who more invincible than Orlando? and who more courteous than Rogero, from whom, according to Turpin's Cosmography, are descended the present dukes of Ferrara? All these, and others that I could name, Master Priest, were knights-errant, and the light and glory of chivalry. Now these, or such as these, are the men I would advise his majesty to employ; by which means he would be sure to be well served, and would save a vast expense, and the Turk might go tear his beard for very madness; and so I will stay at home, since the chaplain does not fetch me out; and if Jupiter, as the barber has said, will not rain, here am I, who will rain, whenever I think proper. I say all this, to let Goodman Basin see that I understand him."

"In truth, Signor Don Quixote," said the barber, "I meant no harm in what I said; so help me God, as my intention was good, therefore your worship ought not to take it ill." "Whether I ought to take it ill or no," said Don Quixote, "is best known to myself." "Well," said the priest, "I have hardly spoken a word yet, and I would willingly get rid of a scruple, which gnaws and disturbs my conscience, occasioned by what Signor Don Quixote has just now said." "You have leave, Master Priest, for greater matters," answered Don Quixote, "and so you may out with your scruple; for there is no pleasure in going with a scrupulous conscience." "With this license, then," answered the priest, "my scruple, I say, is, that I can by no means persuade myself that the multitude of knights-errant your worship has mentioned were really and truly persons of flesh and blood in this world; on the contrary, I imagine, that it is all fiction, fable, and a lie, and dreams told by men awake, or, to speak more properly, half asleep." "This is another error," answered Don Quixote, "into which many have fallen, who do not believe there were ever any such knights in the world; and I have frequently, in company with divers persons, and upon sundry occasions, endeavoured to confute this common mistake. Sometimes I have failed in my design, and sometimes succeeded, supporting it on the shoulders of a truth, which is so certain, that I can almost say these eyes of mine have seen Amadis de Gaul, who was tall of stature, of a fair complexion, with a well-set beard, though black; his aspect between mild and stern; a man of few words, not easily provoked, and soon pacified. And in like manner as I have described Amadis, I fancy I could paint and delineate all the knights-errant that are found in all the histories in the world. For apprehending, as I do, that they were such as their histories represent them, one may, by the exploits they performed and their dispositions, gave a good philosophical guess at their features, their complexions, and their statures." "Pray, good Signor Don Quixote," said the barber, "how big, think you, might the giant Morgante be?" "As to the business of giants," answered Don Quixote, "it is a controverted point, whether there really have been such in the world or not; but the Holy Scripture, which cannot deviate a tittle from the truth, shows us there have been such, giving us the history of that huge Philistine Goliath, who was seven cubits and a half high, which is a prodigious stature. Besides, in the island of Sicily there have been found thigh-bones -[302]- and shoulder-bones so large, that their size demonstrates that those to whom they belonged were giants, and as big as large steeples, as geometry evinces beyond all doubt. But for all that, I cannot say with certainty how big Morgante was, though I fancy he could not be extremely tall; and I am inclined to this opinion by finding in the story, in which his achievements are particularly mentioned, that he often slept under a roof; and, since he found a house large enough to hold him, it is plain, he was not himself of an unmeasurable bigness." "That is true," replied the priest; who, being delighted to hear him talk so wildly and extravagantly, asked him what he thought of the faces of Reynaldo of Montalvan, Orlando, and the rest of the twelve peers of France, since they were all knights-errant. "Of Reynaldo," answered Don Quixote, "I dare boldly affirm, he was broad-faced, of a ruddy complexion, large rolling eyes, punctilious, choleric to an extreme, and a friend to rogues and profligate fellows. Of Roldan, or Rotulando, or Orlando, for histories give him all these names, I am of opinion, and assert, that he was of a middling stature, broad-shouldered, bandy-legged, brown-complexioned, carroty-bearded, hairy-bodied, of a threatening aspect, sparing of speech, yet very civil and well-bred." "If Orlando," replied the priest, "was no finer a gentlemen than you have described him, no wonder that Madam Angelica the Fair disdained and forsook him for the gaiety, sprightliness, and good-humour of the downy-chinned little Moor, with whom she had an affair; and she acted discreetly in preferring the softness of Medoro to the roughness of Orlando." "That Angelica, Master Priest," replied Don Quixote, "was a light, gossiping, wanton hussy, and left the world as full of her impertinences as of the fame of her beauty. She undervalued a thousand gentlemen, a thousand valiant and wise men, and took up with a paltry beardless page, with no other estate or reputation than what the affection he preserved for his friend could give him. Even the great extoller of her beauty, the famous Ariosto, either not daring or not caring to celebrate what befell this lady after her pitiful intrigue, the subject not being over-modest, left her with these verses:

'How he became Cathaya's noble king
 In loftier strains another bard may sing.'

And, without doubt, this was a kind of prophecy; for poets are also called Vates, that is to say, diviners.(126) And this truth is plainly seen; for, since that time, a famous Andalusian poet has bewailed and sung her tears; and another famous and singular Castilian poet,(127) has celebrated her beauty."

"Pray tell me, Signor Don Quixote," cried the barber at this instant, "has no poet written a satire upon this Lady Angelica, among so many who have sung her praises?" "I verily believe," answered Don Quixote, "that, if Sacripante or Orlando had been poets, they would long ago have paid her off; for it is peculiar and natural to poets, disdained or rejected by their false mistresses, or such as were feigned in effect by those, who chose them to be the sovereign ladies of their thoughts, to revenge themselves by satires and lampoons a vengeance certainly unworthy a generous spirit. But hitherto I have not met with any defamatory verses against the Lady Angelica, though she turned the world upside down." "Strange indeed!" said the priest. But now they heard the housekeeper and niece, who had already quitted the conversation, and were bawling aloud in the courtyard; and they all ran towards the noise.

 

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