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 XVIII: Of what befell Don Quixote in the Castle or House of the Knight of the Green Riding-coat; with other extravagant Matters.


Don Quixote found that Don Diego's house was spacious, after the country fashion, having the arras of the family carved in rough stone over the great gates; the buttery in the courtyard, the cellar under the porch, and several earthen wine-jars placed round it; which, being of the ware of Toboso, renewed the memory of his enchanted and metamorphosed Dulcinea; and, without considering what he said, or before whom, he sighed, and cried —

" Oh! pledges sweet, though now most painful found!
  When Heaven pleases they with joy abound.

O ye Tobosian jars, that have brought back to my remembrance the sweet pledge of my greatest bitterness!" This was overheard by the poetical scholar, Don Diego's son, who, with his mother, was come out to receive him; and both mother and son were in admiration at the strange figure of Don Quixote, who, alighting from Rozinante, very courteously desired leave to kiss the lady's hands; and Don Diego said, "Receive, Madam, with your accustomed civility, Signor Don Quixote de la Mancha here present, a knight-errant, and the most valiant and most ingenious person in the world." The lady, whose name was Donna Christiana, received him with tokens of much affection and civility, and Don Quixote returned them in discreet and courteous expressions. The same kind of compliments passed between him and the student, whom by his talk Don Quixote took for a witty and acute person.

Here the author sets down all the particulars of Don Diego's house, describing all the furniture usually contained in the mansion of a gentleman, that was both a farmer and rich. But the translators of the history thought fit to pass over in silence these and similar minute matters, as not suiting with the principal scope of the history, in which truth has more force than cold and insipid digressions.

Don Quixote was led into a hall: Sancho unarmed him; he remained in his wide Walloon breeches, and in a chamois doublet, all besmeared with the rust of his armour; his band was of the college-cut, without starch and without lace; his buskins were date-coloured, and his shoes waxed. He girt on his trusty sword, which hung at a belt made of a sea-wolfs skin; for it is thought he had been many years troubled with a weakness in his loins. Over these he had a long cloak of good gray cloth. But, first of all, with five or six kettles of water (for there is some difference as to the number), he washed his head and face; and still the water continued of a whey-colour, thanks to Sancho's gluttony and the purchase of the nasty curds, that had made his master so white and clean. With the aforesaid accoutrements, and with a genteel air and deportment, Don Quixote walked into another hall, where the student was waiting to entertain him till the cloth was laid; for the Lady Donna Christiana would show, upon the arrival of so noble a guest, that she knew how to regale those who came to her house.

While Don Quixote was unarming, Don Lorenzo (for that was the name of Don Diego's son) had leisure to say to his father, "Pray, Sir, who is this gentleman you have brought us home? For his name, his figure, -[369]- and your telling us he is a knight-errant, keep my mother and me in great suspense." — "I know not how to answer you, son," replied Don Diego: "I can only tell you, that I have seen him act the part of the maddest man in the world, and then talk so ingeniously, that his words contradict and undo all his actions. Talk you to him, and feel the pulse of his understanding; and, since you have discernment enough, judge of his discretion or distraction as you shall find; though, to say the truth, I rather take him to be mad than otherwise."

Hereupon Don Lorenzo went to entertain Don Quixote, as has been said; and, among other discourse, which passed between them, Don Quixote said to Don Lorenzo, "Signor Don Diego de Miranda, your father, Sir, has given me some account of your rare abilities and refined judgment, and particularly that you are a great poet." — "A poet, perhaps, I may be," replied Don Lorenzo; "but a great one not even in thought. True it is, I am somewhat fond of poetry, and of reading the good poets; but in no wise so as to merit the title my father is pleased to bestow upon me." — "I do not dislike this modesty," answered Don Quixote; "for poets are usually very arrogant, each thinking himself the greatest in the world." — "There is no rule without an exception," answered Don Lorenzo, "and such an one there may be, who is really so, and does not think it." — "Very few," answered Don Quixote; "but please to tell me, Sir, what verses are those you have now in hand, which, your father says, make you so uneasy and thoughtful: for if it be some gloss, I know somewhat of the knack of glossing, and should be glad to see it; and if they are designed for a poetical prize, endeavour to obtain the second; for the first is always carried by favour, or by the great quality of the person: the second is bestowed according to merit; so that the third becomes the second, and he first, in this account, is but the third, according to the liberty commonly taken in your universities. But, for all that, the name of first makes a great figure." — "Hitherto," said Don Lorenzo to himself, "I do not judge thee to be mad: let us proceed;" so he said to him: "Your worship, I presume, has frequented the schools: what sciences have you studied?" — "That of knight-errantry," answered Don Quixote, "which is as good as your poetry, yea, and two little fingers' breadth beyond it." — "I know not what science that is," replied Don Lorenzo, "and hitherto it has not come to my knowledge." — "It is a science," replied Don Quixote, "which includes in it all or most of the other sciences of the world. For he who professes it must be a lawyer, and know the laws of distributive and commutative justice, in order to give everyone what is his own, and that which is proper for him. He must be a divine, to be able to give a reason for the Christian faith he professes, clearly and distinctly, whenever it is required of him. He must be a physician, and especially a botanist, to know, in the midst of wildernesses and deserts, the herbs and simples which have the virtue of curing wounds; for your knight-errant must not at every turn be running to look for somebody to heal him. He must be an astronomer, to know by the stars what it is o'clock, and what part or climate of the world he is in. He must know the mathematics, because at every foot he will stand in need of them; and, setting aside that, he must be adorned with all the cardinal and theological virtues: I descend to some other minute particulars. I say then, he must know how to swim, like him people call Fish Nicholas, or Nicholao.(154) He must know how to shoe a horse, and to keep the saddle and bridle in repair; and, to return -[370]- to what was said above, he must preserve his faith to God and his mistress inviolate. He must be chaste in his thoughts, modest in his words, liberal in good works, valiant in exploits, patient in toils, charitable to the needy, and lastly, a maintainer of the truth, though it should cost him his life to defend it. Of all these great and small parts a good knight-errant is composed. Consider then, Signor Don Lorenzo, whether it be a slovenly dirty science which the knight, who professes it, learns and studies, and whether it may not be equalled to the stateliest of all those that are taught in your colleges and schools." — "If this be so," replied Don Lorenzo, "I maintain that this science is preferable to all others." — "How! if it be so?" answered Don Quixote. "What I mean, Sir," said Don Lorenzo, "is, that I question, whether there ever have been, or now are in being, any knights-errant, and adorned with so many virtues." — "I have often said," answered Don Quixote, "what I now repeat, that the greater part of the world are of opinion there never were any knights-errant; and, because I am of opinion, that, if Heaven does not in some miraculous manner convince them of the truth, that there have been and are such now, whatever pains are taken will be all in vain, as I have often found by experience, I will not now lose time in bringing you out of an error so prevalent with many. What I intend is, to beg of Heaven to undeceive you, and let you see how useful and necessary knights-errant were in times past, and how beneficial they would be in the present, were they again in fashion; but now, through the sins of the people, sloth, idleness, gluttony, and luxury triumph." — "Our guest has broken loose," said Don Lorenzo to himself; "but still he is a whimsical kind of a madman, and I should be a weak fool if I did not believe so."

Here their discourse ended; for they were called to supper. Don Diego asked his son what he had copied out fair of the genius of his guest. He answered: "The ablest doctors and best penmen in the world will never be able to extricate him out of the rough-draught of his madness. His distraction is a medley full of lucid intervals." To supper they went, and the repast was such as Don Diego had told them upon the road he used to give to those he invited, neat, plentiful, and savoury. But that which pleased Don Quixote above all, was the marvellous silence throughout the whole house, as if it had been a convent of Carthusians.

The cloth being taken away, grace said, and their hands washed, Don Quixote earnestly entreated Don Lorenzo to repeat the verses designed for the prize. To which he answered: "That I may not be like those poets who, when desired, refuse to repeat their verses, and, when not asked, spew them out, I will read my gloss, for which I expect no prize, having done it only to exercise my fancy." — "A friend of mine, a very ingenious person," answered Don Quixote, "was of opinion, that nobody should give themselves the trouble of glossing on verses; and the reason, he said, was because the gloss could never come up to the text, and very often the gloss mistakes the intention and design of the author. Besides, the rules of glossing are too strict, suffering no interrogations, nor said he's nor shall I says, nor making nouns of verbs, nor changing the sense, with other ties and restrictions which cramp the glossers, as your worship must needs know." — "Truly, Signor Don Quixote," said Don Lorenzo, "I have a great desire to catch your worship tripping in some false Latin, and cannot; for you slip through my fingers like an eel." — "I do not understand," answered Don Quixote, "what you mean by my slipping through -[371]- your fingers." — "I will let you know another time," replied Don Lorenzo: "at present give attention to the text and gloss, which are as follows: —


' Could I the joyous moments past
      Recall, and say, what was now is,
  Or to succeeding moments haste,
    And now enjoy the future bliss.


  As all things fleet and die away,
      And day at length is lost in night,
  My blessings would no longer stay,
      But took their everlasting flight.
  Dear Fortune! hear thy suppliant's pray'r;
      Thy cup of sorrow cease to pour!
  Happy were I beyond compare
      Would'st thou my past delights restore.

  When mem'ry points to former joys,
      (Full oft my thoughts those joys recall!)
  Each soft sensation it destroys
      Excites anew grief's bitterest gall,
      And down my cheek big sorrows fall.
  Yet ask I not fame's loud applause,
  Nor wish to shine in glory's cause,
      Nor seek I wealth's unnumber'd store.
  Shield me from love's avenging laws,
      I'll sigh for promis'd joys no more.

  What mortal madness fires my mind?
      Who shall the flight of time control?
  Who can direct th' unstable wind?
      And who restrain the thunder's roll,
  Or foaming tides in fetters bind? —
      Time drives unerring to the goal,
  Unsway'd by hope, unaw'd by fear. —
      Why dream a desp'rate chance to find?
  To grasp for distant joys, my soul,
      And bring the future moments near?

  With thorns my lonely path is strew'd,
      I seek relief, but seek in vain!
  Now wish I past delights renew'd,
      Now covet future bliss to gain:
      Alas! no hope will soothe my pain,
  While gloomy fears obscure the way,
  While clos'd in night joy's cheerful ray!
      What hand shall dry up mis'ry's tear?
  That I may hail th' auspicious day,
      When present pains shall disappear.' "

When Don Lorenzo had made an end of reading his gloss, Don Quixote stood up, and holding Don Lorenzo fast by the right hand, cried out, in a voice so loud that it was next to a squall: "By the highest Heavens! noble youth, you are the best poet in the universe, and deserve to wear the laurel, not of Cyprus, nor of Gaλta, as a certain poet said, whom God forgive! but of the Universities of Athens, were they now in being, and of those that now subsist, of Paris, Bologna, and Salamanca. Heaven grant that the judges who shall deprive you of the first prize may -[372]- be transfixed by the arrows of Apollo, and that the Muses may never cross the threshold of their doors! Be pleased, Sir, to repeat some other of your verses in the greater kinds of poetry; for I would thoroughly feel the pulse of your admirable genius." Is it not excellent, that Don Lorenzo should be delighted to hear himself praised by Don Quixote, whom he deemed a madman? O force of flattery, how far dost thou extend, and how wide are the bounds of thy pleasing jurisdiction! This truth was verified in Don Lorenzo, who complied with the request and desire of Don Quixote, repeating this sonnet on the fable or story of Pyramus and Thisbe.


" She, who the heart of Pyramus enchain'd,
      No longer dreads the wall's opposing pow'r. —
      The op'ning form'd, love hastes in joyful hour
  To see sweet intercourse of looks obtain'd.
  There silence reigns, because no whispers dare
      Pierce through the narrow pass — yet love supplies
      Their kindred souls with eloquence of eyes.
  Tis thus enraptur'd hearts their thoughts declare!
  Ah! fleeting hope! Improvident desire
      Gives to despair anticipated joys.
      Too eager haste the wish'd embrace destroys! —
  One filial sword allays their mortal fire,
  One tomb contains their consecrated dust;
  To undivided fame their gentle spirits trust."

"Now God be thanked," said Don Quixote, having heard Don Lorenzo's sonnet, "that, among the infinite number of poets now in being I have met with one so absolute in all respects, as the artifice of your worship's sonnet shows you to be."

Four days was Don Quixote nobly regaled in Don Diego's house; at the end of which he begged leave to be gone, telling him he thanked him for the favour and kind entertainment he had received in his family; but, because it did not look well for knights-errant to give themselves up to idleness and indulgence too long, he would go, in compliance with the duty of his function, in quest of adventures, wherewith he was informed those parts abounded; designing to employ the time thereabouts till the day of the jousts at Saragossa, at which he resolved to be present; but, in the first place, he intended to visit the cave of Montesinos, of which people related so many and such wonderful things all over that country; at the same time inquiring into the source and true springs of the seven lakes, commonly called the Lakes of Ruydera. Don Diego and his son applauded his honourable resolution, desiring him to furnish himself with whatever he pleased of theirs; for he was heartily welcome to it, his worthy person and his noble profession obliging them to make him this offer.

At length the day of his departure came, as joyous to Don Quixote as sad and unhappy for Sancho Panza, who liked the plenty of Don Diego's house wondrous well, and was loath to return to the hunger of the forests and wildernesses, and to the penury of his ill-provided wallets. However, he filled and stuffed them with what he thought most necessary; and Don Quixote, at taking leave of Don Lorenzo, said, "I know not whether I have told you before, and if I have, I tell you again, that whenever you shall have a mind to shorten your way and pains to arrive at the inaccessible summit of the temple of Fame, you have no more to do, but leave on one -[373]- side the path of poetry, which is somewhat narrow, and follow that of knight-errantry, which is still narrower, but sufficient to make you an emperor before you can say, Give me those straws." With these expressions Don Quixote did, as it were, finish and shut up the process of his madness, and especially with what he added, saying, "God knows how willingly I would take Signor Don Lorenzo with me, to teach him how to spare the humble and to trample under foot the haughty virtues annexed to the function I profess; but, since his youth does not require it, nor his laudable exercises permit it, I content myself with putting your worship in the way of becoming a famous poet; and that is, by following the opinion and judgment of other men rather than your own; for no fathers or mothers think their own children ugly; and this self-deceit is yet stronger with respect to the offspring of the mind." The father and son wondered afresh at the intermixed discourses of Don Quixote, sometimes wise and sometimes wild, and the obstinacy with which he was bent upon the search of his unfortunate adventures, the sole end and aim of all his wishes. Offers of service and civilities were repeated, and, with the good leave of the lady of the castle, they departed, Don Quixote upon Rozinante, and Sancho upon Dapple.


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