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   


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 III: Of the pleasant Conversation which passed between Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, and the Bachelor Sampson Carrasco.


Don Quixote remained over and above thoughtful, expecting the coming of the Bachelor Carrasco, from whom he hoped to hear some accounts of himself, printed in a book, as Sancho had told him; and could not persuade himself that such a history could be extant, since the blood of the enemies he had slain was still reeking on his sword-blade; and could people expect his high feats of arms should be already in print? However, at last he concluded that some sage, either friend or enemy, by art magic had sent him to the press; if a friend, to aggrandise and extol them above the most signal achievements of any knight-errant; if an enemy, to annihilate and sink them below the meanest that ever were written of any squire. "Although (he said to himself) the feats of squires never were written. But if it should prove true that such a history was really extant, since it was the history of a knight-errant, it must of necessity be sublime, lofty, illustrious, magnificent, and true." This thought afforded him some comfort; but he lost it again upon considering that the author was a Moor, as was plain from the name of Cid, and that no truth could be expected from the Moors, who were all impostors, liars, and visionaries. He was apprehensive he might treat of his love with some indecency, which might redound to the disparagement and prejudice of the modesty of his Lady Dulcinea del Toboso. He wished he might find a faithful representation of his own constancy, and the decorum he had always inviolably preserved towards her; slighting, for her sake, queens, empresses, and damsels of all degrees, and bridling the violent impulse of natural desire. Tossed and perplexed with these and a thousand other imaginations, Sancho and Carrasco found him; and Don Quixote received the bachelor with much courtesy.

This bachelor, though his name was Sampson, was none of the biggest, but an arch wag, of a wan complexion, but of a very good understanding. He was about twenty-four years of age, round-faced, flat-nosed, and wide- mouthed; all signs of his being of a waggish disposition, and a lover of wit and humour; as he made appear at seeing Don Quixote, before whom he threw himself upon his knees, and said to him: "Signor Don Quixote de la Mancha, let me have the honour of kissing your grandeur's hand; for, by the habit of St Peter, which I wear, though I have yet taken no other degrees towards holy orders but the four first, your worship is one of the most famous knights-errant that have been, or shall be, upon the whole circumference of the earth. A blessing light on Cid Hamet Benengeli, who has left us the history of your mighty deeds! and blessings upon blessings light on that virtuoso who took care to have them translated out of Arabic into our vulgar Castilian, for the universal entertainment of all sorts of people!" Don Quixote made him rise, and said: "It seems, then, it is true that my history is really extant, and that he who composed it was a Moor and a sage." — "So true it is, Sir," said Sampson, "that I verily believe there are, this very day, about twelve thousand books published of that history; witness Portugal, Barcelona, and Valentνa, where they have been printed; and there is a rumour that it is now printing at Antwerp; -[307]- and I foresee that no nation or language will be without a translation of it." Here Don Quixote said, "One of the things, which ought to afford the highest satisfaction to a virtuous and eminent man is to find, while he is living, his good name published and in print, in everybody's mouth and in everybody's hand: I say, his good name; for if it be the contrary, no death can equal it." — "If fame and a good name are to carry it," said the bachelor, "your worship alone bears away the palm from all knights-errant; for the Moor in his language, and the Castilian in his, have taken care to paint to the life that gallant deportment of your worship, that greatness of soul in confronting dangers, that constancy in adversity and patient enduring of mischances, that modesty and continence in love, so very platonic as that between your worship and my lady Donna Dulcinea del Toboso."

Sancho here said, "I never heard my lady Dulcinea called Donna before, but only plain Dulcinea del Toboso; so that here the history is already mistaken." — "That objection is of no importance," answered Carrasco. "No, certainly," replied Don Quixote: "but pray tell me, Signor Bachelor, which of my exploits are most esteemed in this same history?" — "As to that," answered the bachelor, "there are different opinions, as there are different tastes. Some are for the adventure of the windmills, which your worship took for so many Briareuses and giants; others adhere to that of the fulling-hammers; these to the description of the two armies, which afterwards fell out to be two flocks of sheep: another cries up that of the dead body, which was carrying to be interred at Segovia: one says, the setting the galley-slaves at liberty was beyond them all; another, that none can be compared to that of the two Benedictine giants, with the combat of the valorous Biscainer." — "Pray tell me, Signor Bachelor," quoth Sancho, "is there among the rest the adventure of the Yangueses, when our good Rozinante had a longing after the forbidden fruit?" — "The sage," answered Sampson, "has left nothing at the bottom of the inkhorn; he inserts and remarks everything, even to the capers Sancho cut in the blanket." — "I cut no capers in the blanket," answered Sancho; "in the air I own I did, and more than I desired." — "In my opinion," said Don Quixote, "there is no history in the world that has not its ups and downs, especially those which treat of chivalry; for such can never be altogether filled with prosperous events." — "For all that," replied the bachelor, "some, who have read the history, say they should have been better pleased if the authors thereof had forgotten some of those numberless drubbings given to Signor Don Quixote in different encounters." — "Therein," quoth Sancho, "consists the truth of the history." — "They might indeed as well have omitted them," said Don Quixote, "since there is no necessity of recording those actions, which do not change nor alter the truth of the story, and especially if they redound to the discredit of the hero. In good faith, Ζneas was not altogether so pious as Virgil paints him, nor Ulysses so prudent as Homer describes him." — "It is true," replied Sampson;" but it is one thing to write as a poet, and another to write as an historian. The poet may say, or sing, not as things were, but as they ought to have been; but the historian must pen them, not as they ought to have been, but as they really were, without adding to or diminishing anything from the truth." — "Well, if it be so, that Signor Moor is in a vein of telling truth," quoth Sancho, "there is no doubt but, among my master's rib-roastings, mine are to be found also; -[308]- for they never took measure of his worship's shoulders but at the same time they took the dimensions of my whole body; but why should I wonder at that, since, as the self-same master of mine says, the members must partake of the ailments of the head?" — "Sancho, you are a sly wag," answered Don Quixote: "in faith, you want not for a memory, when you have a mind to have one." — "Though I had never so much a mind to forget the drubs I have received," quoth Sancho, "the tokens, that are still fresh on my ribs, would not let me."

"Hold your peace, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "and do not interrupt Signor Bachelor, whom I entreat to go on, and tell me what is further said of me in the aforesaid history." — "And of me too," quoth Sancho; "for I hear that I am one of the principal parsons in it." — "Persons, not parsons, friend Sancho," said Sampson. "What! another corrector of hard words!" quoth Sancho; "if this be the trade, we shall never have done." — "Let me die, Sancho," answered the bachelor, "if you are not the second person of the history: nay, there are some who would rather hear you talk than the finest fellow of them all; though there are also some, who say you were a little too credulous in the matter of the government of that island, promised you by Signor Don Quixote here present." — "There is still sunshine on the wall," said Don Quixote;" and, when Sancho is more advanced in age, with the experience that years give, he will be better qualified to be a governor than he is now." — "Before God, Sir," quoth Sancho, "if I am not fit to govern an island at these years, I shall not know how to govern it at the age of Methuselah. The mischief of it is, that the said island sticks I know not where, and not in my want of a headpiece to govern it." — "Recommend it to God, Sancho," said Don Quixote;" for all will be well, and perhaps better than you think; for a leaf stirs not on the tree without the will of God." — "That is true," replied Sampson;" and, if it pleases God, Sancho will not want a thousand islands to govern, much less one." — "I have seen governors ere now," quoth Sancho, "who, in my opinion, do not come up to the sole of my shoe; and yet they are called your lordship, and are served on plate." — "Those are not governors of islands," replied Sampson, "but of other governments more manageable; for those who govern islands must at least understand grammar." — "Grammercy for that!" quoth Sancho; "it is all Greek to me, for I know nothing of the matter.(130) But let us leave the business of governments in the hands of God, and let Him dispose of me so as I may be most instrumental in His service; I say, Signor Bachelor Sampson Carrasco, I am infinitely pleased that the author of the history has spoken of me in such a manner, that what he says of me is not at all tiresome; for, upon the faith of a trusty squire, had he said anything of me unbecoming an old Christian, as I am, the deaf should have heard it." — "That would be working miracles," answered Sampson. "Miracles, or no miracles," quoth Sancho, "let everyone take heed how they talk or write of people, and not set down at random the first thing that comes into their imagination."

"One of the faults people charge upon that history," said the bachelor, "is, that the author has inserted in it a novel entitled, "The Curious Impertinent "; not that it is bad in itself or ill written, but for having no relation to that place, nor anything to do with the story of his worship Signor Don Quixote." — "I will lay a wager," replied Sancho, "the son of a bitch has made a jumble of fish and flesh together." — "I aver then," said Don Quixote, "that the author of my history could not be a sage, but -[309]- some ignorant pretender, who, at random and without any judgment, has set himself to write it, come of it what would: like Orbaneja, the painter of Ubeda, who, being asked what he painted, answered, 'As it may hit.' Sometimes he would paint a cock after such a guise, and so preposterously designed, that he was forced to write under it in Gothic characters, This is a Cock: and thus it will fare with my history; it will stand in need of a comment to make it intelligible." — "Not at all," answered Sampson;" for it is so plain, that there is no difficulty in it: children thumb it, boys read it, men understand it, and old folks commend it; in short, it is so tossed about, so conned, and so thoroughly known by all sorts of people, that they no sooner espy a lean scrub-horse, than they cry, 'Yonder goes Rozinante!' But none are so much addicted to reading it as your pages. There is not a nobleman's ante-chamber in which you will not find a Don Quixote. If one lays it down, another takes it up; one asks for it, another snatches it; in short, it is the most pleasing and least prejudicial entertainment hitherto published; for there is not so much as the appearance of an immodest word in it, nor a thought that is not entirely Catholic." — "To write otherwise," said Don Quixote, "had not been to write truths, but lies; and historians, who are fond of venting falsehoods, should be burnt, like coiners of false money. For my part, I cannot imagine what moved the author to introduce novels or foreign relations, my own story affording matter enough; but without doubt we may apply the proverb, With hay or with straw,(131) &c.; for verily, had he confined himself to the publishing my thoughts, my sighs, my tears, my good wishes, and my achievements alone, he might have compiled a volume as big or bigger than all the works of Tostatus.(132) In short, Signor Bachelor, what I mean is, that, in order to the compiling histories, or books of any kind whatever, a man had need of a great deal of judgment, and a mature understanding: to talk wittily, and write pleasantly are the talents of a great genius only. The most difficult character in comedy is that of the fool, and he must be no simpleton who plays that part. History is a sacred kind of writing, because truth is essential to it; and where truth is, there God himself is, so far as truth is concerned; notwithstanding which, there are those, who compose books and toss them out into the world like fritters."

"There are few books so bad," said the bachelor, "but there is something good in them." — "There is no doubt of that," replied Don Quixote;" but it often happens, that they, who have deservedly acquired a good share of reputation by their writings, lessen or lose it entirely by committing them to the press." — "The reason of that," said Sampson, "is, that printed works being examined at leisure, the faults thereof are the more easily discovered; and the greater the fame of the author is, the more strict and severe is the scrutiny. Men famous for their parts, great poets, and celebrated historians, are always envied by those who take a pleasure and make it their particular entertainment to censure other men's writings, without ever having published any of their own." — "That is not to be wondered at," said Don Quixote;" for there are many divines who make no figure in the pulpit, and yet are excellent at espying the defects or superfluities of preachers." — "All this is very true, Signor Don Quixote," said Carrasco; "but I wish such critics would be more merciful and less nice, and not dwell so much upon the motes of that bright sun, the work they censure. For, though aliquando bonus dormitat Homerus, they ought to consider how -[310]- much he was awake to give his work as much light and leave as little shade as he could; and perhaps those very parts which some men do not taste, are like moles which sometimes add to the beauty of the face that has them. And therefore I say, that whoever prints a book runs a very great risk, it being of all impossibilities the most impossible to write such a one as shall satisfy and please all kinds of readers." — "That which treats of me," said Don Quixote, "has pleased but a few." — "On the contrary," replied the bachelor, "as stultorum infinitus est numerus, so infinite is the number of those who have been delighted with that history; though some have taxed the author's memory as faulty or treacherous, in forgetting to tell us who the thief was that stole Sancho's Dapple;(133) which is not related, but only inferred from what is there written, that he was stolen; and in a very short time after we find him mounted upon the self-same beast, without hearing how Dapple appeared again. It is also objected, that he has omitted to mention what Sancho did with the hundred crowns he found in the portmanteau upon the Sable Mountain; for he never speaks of them more, and many persons would be glad to learn what he did with them, or how he spent them; for that is one of the most substantial points wanting in the work." Sancho answered: "Master Sampson, I am not now in a condition to tell tales, or to make up accounts; for I have a qualm come over my stomach, and shall be upon the rack till I have removed it with a couple of draughts of stale. I have it at home, and my chuck stays for me. As soon as I have dined, I will come back and satisfy your worship and the whole world, in whatever they are pleased to ask me, both concerning the loss of Dapple, and what became of the hundred crowns." So, without waiting for an answer, or speaking a word more, he went to his own house. Don Quixote pressed and entreated the bachelor to stay and do penance with him. The bachelor accepted of the invitation, and stayed. Two pigeons were added to the usual commons, and the conversation at table fell upon the subject of chivalry. Carrasco carried on the humour; the banquet was ended; they slept out the heat of the day; Sancho came back; and the former discourse was resumed.


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