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 XVI: Of what befell Don Quixote with a discreet Gentleman of La Mancha.


Don Quixote pursued his journey with the pleasure, satisfaction, and self- conceit already mentioned, imagining, upon account of his late victory, that he was the most valiant knight-errant the world could boast of in that age. He looked upon all the adventures, which should befall him from that time forward, as already finished and brought to a happy conclusion; he valued not any enchantments or enchanters; he no longer remembered the innumerable bastings he had received during the progress of his chivalries, the stoning that had demolished half his grinders, the ingratitude of the galley-slaves, nor the boldness and shower of pack-staves of the Yanguesian carriers. In short, he said to himself, that, could he but hit upon the art or method of disenchanting his Lady Dulcinea, he should not envy the greatest good fortune that the most successful knight-errant of past ages ever did or could attain to.

He was wholly taken up with these thoughts, when Sancho said to him, "Is it not strange, Sir, that I still have before my eyes the monstrous and unmeasurable nose of my gossip Tom Cecial?" "And do you really believe, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "that the Knight of the Looking-Glasses was the Bachelor Sampson Carrasco, and his squire Tom Cecial your gossip?" "I know not what to say to that," answered Sancho; "I only know, that the marks he gave me of my house, wife, and children, could be given me by nobody else but himself; and his face, when the nose was off, was Tom Cecial's own, as I have seen it very often in our village, next door to my house; and the tone of the voice was also the very same." "Come on," replied Don Quixote; "let us reason a little upon this business. How can anyone imagine that the Bachelor Sampson Carrasco should come like a knight-errant, armed at all points to fight with me? Was I ever his enemy? Have I ever given him occasion to bear me a grudge? Am I his rival? Or does he make profession of arms, as envying the fame I have acquired by them?" "What then shall we say, Sir," answered Sancho, "to that knight's being so very like Sampson -[357]- Carrasco, be he who he would, and his squire so like Tom Cecial my gossip? And, if it be enchantment, as your worship says, were there no other two in the world they could be made to resemble?" "The whole is artifice," answered Don Quixote, "and a trick of the wicked magicians who persecute me; who, foreseeing that I was to come off vanquisher in the conflict, contrived that the vanquished knight should have the face of my friend the bachelor, that the kindness I have for him might interpose between the edge of my sword and the rigour of my arm, and moderate the just indignation of my breast, and by these means he might escape with his life, who, by cunning devices and false appearances, sought to take away mine. For proof whereof, you already know, O Sancho, by infallible experience, how easy a thing it is for enchanters to change one face into another, making the fair foul, and the foul fair; since, not two days ago, you beheld with your own eyes the beauty and bravery of the peerless Dulcinea in their highest perfection, and at the same time I saw her under the plainness and deformity of a rude country wench, with cataracts on her eyes, and a bad smell in her mouth; and if the perverse enchanter durst make so wicked a transformation, no wonder if he has done the like as to Sampson Carrasco and your neighbour, in order to snatch the glory of the victory out of my hands. Nevertheless I comfort myself; for, in short, be it under what shape soever, I have got the better of my enemy." "God knows the truth," answered Sancho; who, well knowing that the transformation of Dulcinea was all his own plot and device, was not satisfied with his master's chimerical notions, but would make no reply, lest he should let fall some word that might discover his cheat.

While they were thus discoursing, there overtook them a man upon a very fine mottled grey mare, clad in a surtout of fine green cloth, faced with murrey-coloured velvet, and a hunter's cap of the same; the mare's furniture was all of the field, and ginet-fashion, murrey-coloured and green. He had a Moorish scimitar hanging at a shoulder-belt of green and gold; and his buskins wrought like the belt. His spurs were not gilt, but varnished with green, so neat and polished, that they suited his clothes better than if they had been of pure gold. When the traveller came up to them, he saluted them courteously, and, spurring his mare, and keeping a little off, was passing on. But Don Quixote called to him: "Courteous Sir, if you are going our way, and are not in haste, I should take it for a favour we might join company." "Truly, Sir," answered he with the mare, "I had not kept off, but for fear your horse should prove unruly in the company of my mare." "Sir," answered Sancho, "if that be all, you may safely hold in your mare; for ours is the soberest and best-conditioned horse in the world; he never did a naughty thing in his life, upon these occasions, but once, and then my master and I paid for it sevenfold. I say again, your worship may stop if you please; for were she served up betwixt two dishes, he would not, I assure you, so much as look her in the face." The traveller checked his mare, wondering at the air and countenance of Don Quixote, who rode without his helmet, which Sancho carried, like a cloak-bag, at the pommel of his ass's pannel. And if the gentleman in green gazed much at Don Quixote, Don Quixote stared no less at him, taking him to be some person of consequence. He seemed to be about fifty years of age; had but few gray hairs; his visage aquiline; his aspect between merry and serious: in a word, his mien and appearance spoke him to be a man of worth. What he in green thought of Don -[358]- Quixote was, that he had never seen such a figure of a man before; he admired the length of his horse, the tallness of his stature, the meagreness of his aspect, his armour, and his deportment; the whole such an odd figure, as had not been seen in that country for many years past.

Don Quixote took good notice how the traveller surveyed him, and, reading his desire in his surprise, and being the pink of courtesy, and fond of pleasing everybody, before the traveller could ask him any question, he prevented him, saying, "This figure of mine, which your worship sees, being so new, and so much out of the way of what is generally in fashion, I do not wonder if you are surprised at; but you will cease to be so, when I tell you, as I do, that I am one of those knights whom people call Seekers of adventures. I left my country, mortgaged my estate, quitted my ease and pleasures, and threw myself into the arms of fortune, to carry me whither she pleased. I had a mind to revive the long-deceased chivalry; and, for some time past, stumbling here and tumbling there, falling headlong in one place, and getting up again in another, I have accomplished a great part of my design, succouring widows, protecting damsels, aiding married women and orphans; the natural and proper office of knights-errant. And thus, by many valorous and Christian exploits, I have merited the honour of being in print, in all or most of the nations in the world. Thirty thousand copies are already published of my history, and it is in the way of coming to thirty thousand thousands more, if Heaven prevent it not. Finally, to sum up all in few words, or in one only, know, I am Don Quixote de la Mancha, otherwise called the Knight of the Sorrowful Figure; and though self-praises depreciate, I am sometimes forced to publish my own commendations; but this is to be understood, when nobody else is present to do it for me. So that, worthy Sir, neither this horse, this lance, this shield, nor this squire, nor all this armour together, nor the wanness of my visage, nor my meagre lankness ought from henceforward to be matter of wonder to you, now that you know who I am, and the profession I follow."

Here Don Quixote was silent, and he in green was so long before he returned any answer, that it looked as if he could not hit upon a reply; but, after some pause, he said, "Sir Knight, you judged right of my desire by my surprise; but you have not removed the wonder raised in me at seeing you; for, supposing, as you say, that my knowing who you are might have removed it, yet it has not done so; on the contrary, now that I know it, I am in greater admiration and surprise than before. What! is it possible, that there are knights-errant now in the world, and that there are histories printed of real chivalries? I never could have thought there was anybody now upon earth who relieved widows, succoured damsels, aided married women, or protected orphans, nor should yet have believed it, had I not seen it in your worship with my own eyes. Blessed be Heaven for this history, which your worship says is in print, of your exalted and true achievements; it must have cast into oblivion the numberless fables of fictitious knights-errant, with which the world was filled, so much to the detriment of good morals, and the prejudice and discredit of good histories." "There is a great deal to be said," answered Don Quixote, "upon this subject, whether the histories of knights-errant are fictitious or not." "Why, is there anyone," answered he in green, "that has the least suspicion that those histories are not false?" "I have," said Don Quixote: "but no more of that; for, if we travel any time together, I hope in God to -[359]- convince you, Sir, that you have done amiss in suffering yourself to be carried away by the current of those who take it for granted they are not true." From these last words of Don Quixote the traveller began to suspect he must be some madman, and waited for a farther confirmation of his suspicion; but, before they fell into any other discourse, Don Quixote desired him to tell him who he was, since he had given him some account of his own condition and life.

To which he in the green riding-coat answered, "I, Sir Knight of the Sorrowful Figure, am a gentleman, native of a village, where, God willing, we shall dine to-day. I am more than indifferently rich, and my name is Don Diego de Miranda. I spend my time with my wife, my children, and my friends; my diversions are hunting and fishing; but I keep neither hawks nor greyhounds, only some decoy partridges, and a stout ferret. I have about six dozen of books, some Spanish, some Latin, some of history, and some of devotion; those of chivalry have not yet come over my threshold. I am more inclined to the reading of profane authors than religious, provided they are upon subjects of innocent amusement, the language agreeable, and the invention new and surprising, though indeed there are very few of this sort in Spain. Sometimes I eat with my neighbours and friends, and sometimes I invite them; my table is neat and clean, and tolerably furnished. I neither censure others myself, nor allow others to do it before me. I inquire not into other men's lives, nor am I sharp-sighted to pry into their actions. I hear mass every day: I share my substance with the poor, making no parade with my good works, nor harbouring in my breast hypocrisy and vain-glory, those enemies which so slily get possession of the best guarded hearts. I endeavour to make peace between those that are at variance. I devote myself particularly to our Blessed Lady, and always trust in the infinite mercy of God our Lord."

Sancho was very attentive to the relation of the gentleman's life and conversation; all which appeared to him to be good and holy; and, thinking that one of such a character must needs work miracles, he flung himself off his Dapple, and running hastily laid hold of his right stirrup; and, with a devout heart, and almost weeping eyes, he kissed his feet more than once. Which the gentleman perceiving, said, "What mean you, brother? What kisses are these?" "Pray let me kiss on," answered Sancho; "for your worship is the first saint on horseback I ever saw in all the days of my life." "I am no saint," answered the gentleman, "but a great sinner: you, brother, must needs be very good, as your simplicity demonstrates." Sancho went off, and got again upon his pannel, having forced a smile from the profound gravity of his master, and caused fresh admiration in Don Diego.

Don Quixote then asked him how many children he had, telling him that one of the things, wherein the ancient philosophers, who wanted the true knowledge of God, placed the supreme happiness, was, in the gifts of nature and fortune, in having many friends and many good children. "I, Signor Don Quixote," answered the gentlemen, "have one son; and, if I had him not, perhaps I should think myself happier than I am, not because he is bad, but because he is not so good as I would have him. He is eighteen years old; six he has been at Salamanca, learning the Latin and Greek languages, and, when I was desirous he should study other sciences, I found him so over head and ears in poetry, if that may be called a science, that there was no prevailing with him to look into the law, which was what I would have had him studied; nor into divinity, the queen of all sciences. -[360]- I was desirous he should be the crown and honour of his family, since we live in an age in which our kings highly reward useful and virtuous literature; for letters without virtue are pearls in a dunghill. He passes whole days in examining whether Homer expressed himself well in such a verse of the 'Iliad '; whether Martial, in such an epigram, be obscene or not; whether such a verse in Virgil is to be understood this or that way. In a word, all his conversation is with the books of the aforesaid poets, and with those of Horace, Persius, Juvenal, and Tibullus. As to the modern Spanish authors, he makes no great account of them; though, notwithstanding the antipathy he seems to have to Spanish poetry, his thoughts are at this very time entirely taken up with making a gloss upon four verses sent him from Salamanca, which, I think, were designed for a scholastic prize."

To all which Don Quixote answered, "Children, Sir, are pieces of the bowels of their parents, and, whether good or bad, must be loved and cherished as parts of ourselves. It is the duty of parents to train them up from their infancy in the paths of virtue and good manners, and in good principles, and Christian discipline, that, when they are grown up, they may be the staff of their parents' age, and an honour to their posterity. As to forcing them to this or that science, I do not hold it to be right, though I think there is no harm in advising them; and when there is no need of studying merely for bread, the student being so happy as to have it by inheritance, I should be for indulging him in the pursuit of that science to which his genius is most inclined. And though that of poetry be less profitable than delightful, it is not one of those that are wont to disgrace the possessor. Poetry, good Sir, I take to be like a tender virgin, very young, and extremely beautiful, whom divers other virgins, namely, all the other sciences, make it their business to enrich, polish, and adorn; and to her it belongs to make use of them all, and on her part to give a lustre to them all. But this same virgin is not to be rudely handled, nor dragged through the streets, nor exposed in the turnings of the market-place, nor posted on the corners or gates of palaces. She is formed of an alchymy of such virtue, that he who knows how to manage her will convert her into the purest gold of inestimable price. He who possesses her should keep a strict hand over her, not suffering her to make excursions in obscene satires or lifeless sonnets. She must in no wise be venal; though she need not reject the profits arising from heroic poems, mournful tragedies, or pleasant and artful comedies. She must not bo meddled with by buffoons, or by the ignorant vulgar, incapable of knowing or esteeming the treasures locked up in her. And think not, Sir, that I give the appellation of vulgar to the common people alone; all the ignorant, though they be lords or princes, ought, and must be taken into the number. He, therefore, who, with the aforesaid qualifications, addicts himself to the study and practice of poetry, will become famous, and his name be honoured in all the polite nations of the world. And as to what you say, Sir, that your son does not much esteem the Spanish poetry, I am of opinion that he is not very right in that; and the reason is this: the great Homer did not write in Latin, because he was a Greek; nor Virgil in Greek, because he was a Roman. In short, all the ancient poets wrote in the language they sucked in with their mother's milk, and did not hunt after foreign tongues to express the sublimity of their conceptions. And this being so, it is fit this custom should take place in all -[361]- nations; and the German poet should not be disregarded for writing in his own tongue, nor the Castilian, nor even the Biscainer, for writing in his. But your son, I should imagine, does not dislike the Spanish poetry, but the poets who are merely Spanish, without any knowledge of other languages or sciences, which might adorn, enliven, and assist their natural genius; though even in this there may be a mistake; for it is a true opinion, that the poet is born one; the meaning of which is, that a natural poet comes forth a poet from his mother's womb, and, with this talent given him by Heaven, and without farther study or art, composes things, which verify the saying, Est deus in nobis, etc. Not but that a natural poet, who improves himself by art, will be a much better poet, and have the advantage of him who has no other title to it but the knowledge of that art alone; and the reason is, because art cannot exceed nature, but only perfect it; so that art mixed with nature, and nature with art, form a complete poet. To conclude my discourse, good Sir, let your son follow the direction of the stars: for, being so good a scholar, as he must needs be, and having already happily mounted the first round of the ladder of the sciences, that of the languages, with the help of these, he will by himself ascend to the top of human learning, which is no less an honour and an ornament to a gentleman, than a mitre to a bishop, or the long robe to the learned in the law. If your son writes satires injurious to the reputation of others, chide him, and tear his performances; but, if he pens discourses in the manner of Horace, reprehending vice in general, as that poet so elegantly does, commend him, because it is lawful for a poet to write against envy, and to brand the envious in his verses; and so of other vices; but not to single out particular characters. There are poets, who, for the pleasure of saying one smart thing, will run the hazard of being banished to the isles of Pontus.(153) If the poet be chaste in his manners, he will be so in his verses; the pen is the tongue of the mind; such as its conceptions are, such will its productions be. And when kings and princes see the wonderful science of poetry employed on prudent, virtuous, and grave subjects, they honour, esteem, and enrich the poets, and even crown them with the leaves of that tree, which the thunderbolt hurts not; signifying, as it were, that nobody ought to offend those who wear such crowns, and whose temples are so adorned."

The gentleman in green admired much Don Quixote's discourse, insomuch that he began to waver in his opinion as to his being a madman. But in the midst of the conversation, Sancho, it not being much to his taste, was gone out of the road to beg a little milk of some shepherds, who were hard by milking some ewes. And now the gentleman, highly satisfied with Don Quixote's ingenuity and good sense, was renewing the discourse, when on a sudden Don Quixote, lifting up his eyes, perceived a car, with royal banners, coming the same road they were going, and, believing it to be some new adventure, he called aloud to Sancho to come and give him his helmet. Sancho hearing himself called, left the shepherds, and, in all haste, pricking his Dapple, came where his master was, whom there befell a most dreadful and stupendous adventure.


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