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 Second Part

CHAPTER XVII: Wherein is set forth the last and highest point at which the unheard-of Courage of Don Quixote ever did or could arrive; with the happy Conclusion of the Adventure of the Lions.


The history relates, that when Don Quixote called out to Sancho to bring him his helmet, he was buying some curds of the shepherds; and, being hurried by the violent haste his master was in, he knew not what to do with them, nor how to bestow them; and that he might not lose them, now they were paid for, he bethought him of clapping them into his master's helmet; and, with this excellent shift, back he came to learn the commands of his lord, who said to him: "Friend, give me the helmet; for either I know little of adventures, or that which I descry yonder is one that does and will oblige me to have recourse to arms." He in the green riding-coat, hearing this, cast his eyes every way as far as he could, and discovered nothing but a car coming towards them, with two or three small flags, by which he conjectured that the said car was bringing some of the king's money; and so he told Don Quixote: but he believed him not, always thinking and imagining that everything that befell him must be an adventure, and adventures upon adventures; and thus he replied to the gentleman: "Preparation is half the battle, and nothing is lost by being upon one's guard. I know by experience, that I have enemies both visible and invisible, and I know not when, nor from what quarter, nor at what time, nor in what shape they will encounter me;" and turning about, he demanded his helmet of Sancho, who, not having time to take out the curds, was forced to give it him as it was. Don Quixote took it, and, without minding what was in it, clapped it hastily upon his head; and as the curds were squeezed and pressed, the whey began to run down the face and beard of Don Quixote; at which he was so startled, that he said to Sancho, "What can this mean, Sancho? methinks my skull is softening, or my brains melting, or I sweat from head to foot; and if I do really sweat, in truth it is not through fear, though I verily believe I am like to have a terrible adventure of this. If you have anything to wipe with, give it me; for the copious sweat quite blinds my eyes." Sancho said nothing, and gave him a cloth, and with it thanks to God, that his master had not found out the truth. Don Quixote wiped himself, and took off his helmet to see what it was that so over-cooled his head; and seeing some white lumps in it, he put them to his nose, and smelling to them said, "By the life of my Lady Dulcinea del Toboso, they are curds you have clapped in here, vile traitor and inconsiderate squire!" To which Sancho answered, with great phlegm and dissimulation, "If they are curds, give me them to eat; but the devil eat them for me; for it must be he that put them there. What! I offer to foul your worship's helmet! In faith, Sir, by what God gives me to understand, I too have my enchanters, who persecute me, as a creature and member of your worship, and I warrant have put that filthiness there, to stir your patience to wrath against me, and provoke you to bang my sides as you used to do. But truly this bout they have missed their aim; for I trust to the candid judgment of my master, who will consider that I have neither curds nor cream, nor anything like it; and that if I had I should sooner have put them into my stomach than into your honour's helmet." "It may be so," replied Don Quixote. All this the gentleman saw, and saw with admiration, especially when Don Quixote, after having wiped his -[363]- head, face, beard, and helmet, clapping it on, and fixing himself firm in his stirrups, then trying the easy drawing of his sword, and grasping his lance, said, "Now come what will; for here I am, prepared to encounter Satan himself in person."

By this time the car with the flags was come up, and nobody with it but the carter upon one of the mules, and a man sitting upon the fore-part. Don Quixote planted himself just before them, and said, "Whither go ye, brethren? What car is this? What have you in it, and what banners are those?" To which the carter answered, "The car is mine, and in it are two fierce lions, which the General of Oran is sending to court, as a present to his majesty; the flags belong to our liege the king, to show that what is in the car is his." "And are the lions large?" demanded Don Quixote. "So large," replied the man upon the fore-part of the car, "that larger never came from Africa into Spain: I am their keeper, and have had charge of several, but never of any so large as these: they are a male and a female; the male is in the first cage, and the female in that behind; at present they are hungry, not having eaten to-day, and therefore, Sir, get out of the way; for we must make haste to the place where we are to feed them." At which Don Quixote, smiling a little, said, "To me your lion-whelps! your lion-whelps to me! and at this time of the day! By the living God, those who sent them hither shall see whether I am a man to be scared by lions! Alight, honest friend; and, since you are their keeper, open the cages, and turn out those beasts; for in the midst of this field will I make them know who Don Quixote de la Mancha is, in spite of the enchanters that sent them to me." "Very well," said the gentleman to himself, "our good knight has given us a specimen of what he is; doubtless the curds have softened his skull and ripened his brains." Then Sancho came to him, and said, "For God's sake, Sir, order it so, that my master Don Quixote may not encounter these lions; for if he does they will tear us all to pieces." "What then, is your master really so mad," answered the gentleman, "that you fear and believe he will attack such fierce animals?" "He is not mad," answered Sancho, "but daring." "I will make him desist," replied the gentleman; and going to Don Quixote, who was hastening the keeper to open the cages, he said, "Sir, knights-errant should undertake adventures which promise good success, and not such as are quite desperate; for the valour which borders too near upon the confines of rashness has in it more of madness than fortitude: besides, these lions do not come to assail your worship, nor do they so much as dream of any such thing; they are going to be presented to his majesty; and it is not proper to detain them or hinder their journey." "Sweet Sir," answered Don Quixote, "go hence, and mind your decoy-partridge and your stout ferret, and leave everyone to his own business. This is mine, and I will know whether these gentlemen lions come against me or no." And turning to the keeper, he said, "I vow to God, Don Rascal, if you do not instantly open the cages, with this lance I will pin you to the car." The carter, seeing the resolution of this armed apparition, said, "Good Sir, for charity's sake, be pleased to let me take off my mules, and get with them out of danger, before the lions are let loose; for should my cattle be killed, I am undone for all the days of my life, having no other livelihood but this car and these mules." "O man of little faith!" answered Don Quixote, "alight and unyoke, and do what you will; for you shall quickly see you have laboured in vain, and might have saved yourself this trouble." -[364]-

The carter alighted, and unyoked in great haste; and the keeper said aloud, "Bear witness, all here present, that against my will, and by compulsion, I open the cages and let loose the lions; and that I enter my protest against this gentleman, that all the harm and mischief these beasts do shall stand and be placed to his account, with my salary and perquisites over and above; pray, gentlemen, shift for yourselves before I open; for, as to myself, I am sure they will do me no hurt." Again the gentleman pressed Don Quixote to desist from doing so mad a thing, it being to tempt God, to undertake so extravagant an action. Don Quixote replied, that he knew what he did. The gentleman rejoined, bidding him consider well of it, for he was certain he deceived himself. "Nay, Sir," replied Don Quixote, "if you do not care to be a spectator of what you think will prove a tragedy, spur your mottled gray, and save yourself." Sancho, hearing this, besought him with tears in his eyes to desist from that enterprise, in comparison whereof that of the windmills, and that fearful one of the fulling-mill-hammers, in short, all the exploits he had performed in the whole course of his life, were mere tarts and cheesecakes. "Consider, Sir," quoth Sancho, "that here is no enchantment, nor anything like it; for I have seen through the grates and chinks of the cage the claw of a true lion; and I guess by it, that the lion to whom such a claw belongs is bigger than a mountain." "However it be," answered Don Quixote, "fear will make it appear to you bigger than half the world. Retire, Sancho, and leave me; and if I die here, you know our old agreement: repair to Dulcinea; I say no more." To these he added other expressions, with which he cut off all hope of his desisting from his extravagant design. He in green would fain have opposed him, but found himself unequally matched in weapons and armour, and did not think it prudent to engage with a madman; for such, by this time, he took Don Quixote to be in all points; who hastening the keeper, and reiterating his menaces, the gentleman took occasion to clap spurs to his mare, Sancho to Dapple, and the carter to his mules, all endeavouring to get as far from the car as they could, before the lions were let loose. Sancho lamented the death of his master, verily believing it would now overtake him in the paws of the lions; he cursed his hard fortune, and the unlucky hour when it came into his head to serve him again; but for all his tears and lamentations, he ceased not punching his Dapple to get far enough from the car. The keeper, seeing that the fugitives were got a good way off, repeated his arguments and entreaties to Don Quixote, who answered, that he heard him, and that he should trouble himself with no more arguments nor entreaties, for all would signify nothing, and that he must make haste.

Whilst the keeper delayed opening the first grate, Don Quixote considered with himself whether it would be best to fight on foot or on horseback: at last he determined to fight on foot, lest Rozinante should be terrified at sight of the lions. Upon this he leaped from his horse, flung aside his lance, braced on his shield, and drew his sword; and marching slowly, with marvellous intrepidity and an undaunted heart, he planted himself before the car, devoutly commending himself, first to God, and then to his mistress Dulcinea.

Here it is to be noted, that the author of this faithful history, coming to this passage, falls into exclamations, and cries out: "O strenuous, and beyond all expression courageous, Don Quixote de la Mancha! thou mirror, in which all the valiant ones of the world may behold themselves, -[365]- thou second and new Don Manuel de Leon, who was the glory and honour of the Spanish knights! with what words shall I relate this tremendous exploit? By what argument shall I render it credible to succeeding ages? Or what praises, though above all hyperboles hyperbolical, do not fit and become thee? Thou alone, on foot, intrepid and magnanimous, with a single sword, and that none of the sharpest, with a shield, not of the brightest and most shining steel, standest waiting for and expecting two of the fiercest lions that the forests of Africa ever bred. Let thy own deeds praise thee, valorous Manchegan! for here I must leave off for want of words by which to enhance them." Here the author ends his exclamation, and resumes the thread of the history, saying:

The keeper, seeing Don Quixote fixed in his posture, and that he could not avoid letting loose the male lion, on pain of falling under the displeasure of the angry and daring knight, set wide open the door of the first cage, where lay the lion, which appeared to be of an extraordinary bigness and of a hideous and frightful aspect. The first thing he did was to turn himself round in the cage, reach out a paw, and stretch himself at full length. Then he gaped and yawned very leisurely; then licked the dust off his eyes and washed his face with some half a yard of tongue. This done, he thrust his head out of the cage, and stared round on all sides with eyes of fire-coals; a sight and aspect enough to have struck terror into temerity itself. Don Quixote only observed him with attention, wishing he would leap from the car, and grapple with him, that he might tear him in pieces; to such a piece of extravagance had his unheard-of madness transported him. But the generous lion, more civil than arrogant, taking no notice of his vapouring and bravadoes, after having stared about him, as has been said, turned his back, and showed his posteriors to Don Quixote, and, with great phlegm and calmness, laid himself down again in the cage; which Don Quixote perceiving, he ordered the keeper to give him some blows, and provoke him to come forth. "That I will not do," answered the keeper; "for, should I provoke him, I myself shall be the first he will tear in pieces. Be satisfied, Signor Cavalier, with what is done, which is all that can be said in point of courage, and do not tempt fortune a second time. The lion has the door open, and it is in his choice to come forth or not; and since he has not yet come out, he will not come out all this day. The greatness of your worship's courage is already sufficiently shown; no brave combatant, as I take it, is obliged to more than to challenge his foe, and expect him in the field; and, if the antagonist does not meet him, the infamy lies at his door, and the expectant gains the crown of conquest." "That is true," answered Don Quixote: "shut the door, friend; and give me a certificate, in the best form you can, of what you have seen me do here. It is fit it should be known, how you opened to the lion; I waited for him; he came not out; I waited for him again; again he came not out; and again he laid him down. I am bound to no more; enchantments avaunt, and God help right and truth and true chivalry; and so shut the door, while I make a signal to the fugitive and absent, that they may have an account of this exploit from your mouth."

The keeper did so, and Don Quixote, clapping on the point of his lance the linen cloth wherewith he had wiped the torrent of the curds from off his face, began to call out to the rest, who still fled, turning about their heads at every step, all in a troop, and the gentleman at the head of them. But Sancho, chancing to espy the signal of the white cloth, said, "May I -[366]- be hanged if my master has not vanquished the wild beasts, since he calls to us." They all halted, and knew that it was Don Quixote who made the sign; and, abating some part of their fear, they drew nearer by degrees, till they came where they could distinctly hear the words of Don Quixote, who was calling to them. In short, they came back to the car, and then Don Quixote said to the carter, "Put-to your mules again, brother, and continue your journey; and, Sancho, give two gold crowns to him and the keeper, to make them amends for my having detained them." "That I will with all my heart," answered Sancho; "but what is become of the lions? Are they dead or alive?" Then the keeper, very minutely, and with proper pauses, related the success of the conflict, exaggerating, the best he could, or knew how, the valour of Don Quixote, at sight of whom the abashed lion would not or durst not stir out of the cage, though he had held open the door a good while; and upon his representing to the knight, that it was tempting God to provoke the lion, and to make him come out by force, as he would have had him done whether he would or no, and wholly against his will, he had suffered the cage door to be shut. "What think you of this, Sancho?" said Don Quixote. "Can any enchantments prevail against true courage? With ease may the enchanters deprive me of good fortune; but of courage and resolution they never can." Sancho gave the gold crowns; the carter put-to; the keeper kissed Don Quixote's hands for the favour received, and promised him to relate this valorous exploit to the king himself, when he came to court. "If, perchance, his majesty," said Don Quixote, "should inquire who performed it, tell him, the Knight of the Lions; for from henceforward I resolve that the title I have hitherto borne of the Knight of the Sorrowful Figure shall be changed, trucked, and altered to this; and herein I follow the ancient practice of knights-errant, who changed their names when they had a mind or whenever it served their turn."

The car went on its way, and Don Quixote, Sancho, and he in the green surtout pursued their journey. In all this time Don Diego de Miranda had not spoken a word, being all attention to observe and remark the actions and words of Don Quixote, taking him to be a sensible madman, and a madman bordering upon good sense. The first part of his history had not yet come to his knowledge; for, had he read that, his wonder at Don Quixote's words and actions would have ceased, as knowing the nature of his madness; but, as he yet knew nothing of it, he sometimes thought him in his senses, and sometimes out of them; because what he spoke was coherent, elegant, and well said, and what he did was extravagant, rash, and foolish; for, said he to himself, what greater madness can there be, than to clap on a helmet full of curds, and persuade one's self that enchanters have melted one's skull; and what greater rashness and extravagance than to resolve to fight with lions?

Don Quixote diverted these imaginations, and this soliloquy, by saying, "Doubtless Signor Don Diego de Miranda, in your opinion I must needs pass for an extravagant madman; and no wonder it should be so; for my actions indicate no less. But, for all that, I would have you know that I am not so mad nor so shallow as I may have appeared to be. A fine appearance makes the gallant cavalier, in shining armour, prancing over the lists at some joyful tournament, in sight of the ladies. A fine appearance makes the knight, when, in the midst of a large square, before the eyes of his prince, he transfixes a furious bull. And a fine appearance -[367]- make those knights, who, in military exercises, or the like, entertain, enliven, and, if we may so say, do honour to their prince's court. But, above all these, a much finer appearance makes the knight-errant, who, through deserts and solitudes, through crossways, through woods, and over mountains, goes in quest of perilous adventures, with design to bring them to a happy and fortunate conclusion only to obtain a glorious and immortal fame. A knight-errant, I say, makes a finer appearance in the act of succouring some widow in a desert place, than a knight-courtier in addressing some damsel in a city. All cavaliers have their proper and peculiar exercises. Let the courtier wait upon the ladies; adorn his prince's court with rich liveries; entertain the poorer cavaliers at his splendid table; order jousts; manage tournaments; and show himself great, liberal, and magnificent, and above all a good Christian; and in this manner will he precisely comply with the obligations of his duty. But let the knight-errant search the remotest corners of the world; enter the most intricate labyrinths; at every step assail impossibilities; in the wild uncultivated deserts brave the burning rays of the summer sun, and the keen inclemency of the winter's frost; let not lions daunt him, spectres affright him, or dragons terrify him; for in seeking these, encountering those, and conquering them all, consists his principal and true employment. It being then my lot to be one of the number of knights-errant, I cannot decline undertaking whatever I imagine to come within the verge of my profession; and therefore encountering the lions, as I just now did, belonged to me directly, though I knew it to be a most extravagant rashness. I very well know that fortitude is a virtue, placed between the two vicious extremes of cowardice and rashness; but it is better the valiant should rise to the high pitch of temerity, than sink to the low point of cowardice; for, as it is easier for the prodigal to become liberal, than for the covetous, so it is much easier for the rash to hit upon being truly valiant, than for the coward to rise to true valour; and as to undertaking adventures, believe me, Signor Don Diego, it is better to lose the game by a card too much than one too little; for it sounds better in the ears of those that hear it, such a knight is rash and daring, than such a knight is timorous and cowardly."

"I say, Signor Don Quixote," answered Don Diego, "that all you have said and done is levelled by the line of right reason; and I think, if the laws and ordinances of knight-errantry should be lost, they might be found in your worship's breast, as in their proper depository and register. But let us make haste, for it grows late; and let us get to my village and house, where you may repose and refresh yourself after your late toil, which, if not of the body, has been a labour of the mind, which often affects the body too." "I accept of the offer as a great favour and kindness, Signor Don Diego," answered Don Quixote; and spurring on a little more than they had hitherto done, it was about two in the afternoon when they arrived at the village and the house of Don Diego, whom Don Quixote called the Knight of the Green Riding-coat.


Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis

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