Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis

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-[373]-

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 XIX: Wherein is related the Adventure of the enamoured Shepherd, with other truly pleasant Accidents.

 

Don Quixote was got but a little way from Don Diego's village, when he overtook two persons like ecclesiastics or scholars, and two country fellows, all four mounted upon asses. One of the scholars carried behind him, wrapped up in green buckram like a portmanteau, a small bundle of linen, and two pair of thread-stockings; the other carried nothing but a pair of new black fencing-foils, with their buttons. The countrymen carried other things, which showed that they came from some great town, where they had bought them, and were carrying them home to their own village. Both the scholars and countrymen fell into the same astonishment that all others did at the first sight of Don Quixote, and eagerly desired to know what man this was, so different in appearance from other men. Don Quixote saluted them, and, after learning that the road they were going was the same he was taking, he offered to bear them company, desiring them to slacken their pace, for their asses outwent his horse; and, to prevail upon them, he briefly told them who he was, and his employment and profession that of a knight-errant going in quest of adventures through all parts of the world. He told them his proper name was Don Quixote de la Mancha, and his appellative the Knight of the Lions; All this to the countrymen was talking Greek or gibberish; but not to the scholars, who soon discovered the soft part of Don Quixote's skull; nevertheless they looked upon him with admiration and respect, and one of them said, "If your worship, Sir Knight, be not determined to one particular road, a thing not usual with seekers of adventures, come along with us, and you will see one of the greatest and richest weddings that to this day has ever been celebrated in La Mancha, or in many leagues round about." Don Quixote -[374]- asked him if it was that of some prince, that he extolled it so much?" No," answered the scholar, "but of a farmer and a farmer's daughter; he the wealthiest of all this country, and she the most beautiful that ever eyes beheld. The preparation is extraordinary and new; for the wedding is to be celebrated in a meadow near the village where the bride lives, whom they call, by way of pre-eminence, Quiteria the Fair, and the bridegroom Camacho the Rich; she of the age of eighteen, and he of two-and-twenty, both equally matched; though some nice folks, who have all the pedigrees in the world in their heads, pretend that the family of Quiteria has the advantage of Camacho's; but now that is little regarded; for riches are able to solder up abundance of flaws. In short, this same Camacho is generous, and has taken into his head to make a kind of arbour to cover the whole meadow overhead, in such manner that the sun itself will be put to some difficulty to visit the green grass with which the ground is covered. He will also have morice-dances, both with swords and little bells; for there are some people in his village who jingle and clatter them extremely well. I will say nothing of the shoe-dancers and caperers,(155) so great is the number that are invited. But nothing of all that I have repeated, or omitted, is like to make this wedding so remarkable, as what I believe the slighted Basilius will do upon this occasion.

"This Basilius is a neighbouring swain, of the same village with Quiteria: his house is next to that of Quiteria's parents, with nothing but a wall between them; from whence Cupid took occasion to revive in the world the long-forgotten loves of Pyramus and Thisbe; for Basilius was in love with Quiteria from his childhood, and she answered his wishes with a thousand modest favours, insomuch that the loves of the two children, Basilius and Quiteria, became the common talk of the village. When they were grown up, the father of Quiteria resolved to forbid Basilius the usual access to his family; and, to save himself from apprehensions and suspicions, he purposed to marry his daughter to the rich Camacho, not choosing to match her with Basilius, who is not endowed with so many gifts of fortune as of nature; for, if the truth is to be told without envy, he is the most active youth we know; a great pitcher of the bar; an extreme good wrestler, and a great player at cricket; runs like a buck, leaps like a wild goat, and plays at ninepins as if he did it by witchcraft; sings like a lark, and touches a guitar, that he makes it speak; and, above all, he handles the small sword like the most accomplished fencer." — "For this excellence alone," said Don Quixote immediately, "this youth deserves to marry not only the fair Quiteria, but Queen Ginebra herself, were she now alive, in spite of Sir Lancelot, and all opposers." — "To my wife with that," quoth Sancho Panza, who had been hitherto silent and listening, "who will have everybody marry their equal, according to the proverb, Every sheep to its like. What I would have is, that this honest Basilius, for I begin to take a liking to him, shall marry this same Lady Quiteria; and Heaven send them good luck, and God's blessings (he meant the reverse) on those who would hinder people that love each other from marrying." — "If all who love each other were to be married," said Don Quixote, "it would deprive parents of the privilege and authority of finding proper matches for their children. If the choice of husbands were left to the inclination of daughters, some there are who would choose their father's servant, and others some pretty fellow they see pass along the streets, in their opinion genteel and well-made, though he were a beaten bully; for love and affection easily blind the eyes -[375]- of the understanding, so absolutely necessary for choosing our state of life; and that of matrimony is greatly exposed to the danger of a mistake, and there is need of great caution, and the particular favour of Heaven, to make it hit right. A person who has a mind to take a long journey, if he be wise, before he sets forward will look out for some safe and agreeable companion. And should not he do the like who undertakes a journey for life, especially if his fellow-traveller is to be his companion at bed and board, and everywhere else, as the wife is with the husband? The wife is not a commodity which, when once bought, you can exchange, or swap, or return; but is an inseparable accessory, which lasts as long as life itself. She is a noose, which when once thrown about the neck, turns to a Gordian knot, and cannot be unloosed till cut asunder by the scythe of death. I could say much more upon this subject, were I not prevented by the desire I have to know whether Signor the Licentiate has anything more to say concerning the history of Basilius." To which the scholar, bachelor, or licentiate, as Don Quixote called him, answered: "Of the whole I have no more to say, but that, from the moment Basilius heard of Quiteria's being to be married to Camacho the Rich, he has never been seen to smile, nor speak coherently, and is always pensive and sad, and talking to himself; certain and clear indications of his being distracted. He eats and sleeps but little; and what he does eat is fruit; and when he sleeps, if he does sleep, it is in the fields, upon the hard ground, like a brute beast. From time to time he throws his eyes up to Heaven; now fixes them on the ground, with such stupefaction, that he seems to be nothing but a statue clothed, whose drapery is put in motion by the air. In short, he gives such indications of an impassioned heart, that we all take it for granted, that to-morrow Quiteria's pronouncing the fatal Yes will be the sentence of his death."

"Heaven will order it better," quoth Sancho;" for God, that gives the wound, sends the cure: nobody knows what is to come; there are a great many hours between this and to-morrow; and in one hour, yea, in one moment, down falls the house; I have seen it rain, and the sun shine, both at the same time: such a one goes to bed sound at night, and is not able to stir next morning; and tell me, can anybody brag of having driven a nail in Fortune's wheel? No, certainly; and between the Yes and the No of a woman I would not venture to thrust the point of a pin; for there would not be room enough for it. Grant me but that Quiteria loves Basilius with all her heart, and I will give him a bag full of good fortune; for love, as I have heard say, looks through spectacles which make copper appear to be gold, poverty riches, and specks in the eyes pearls." — "A curse light on you, Sancho, what would you be at?" said Don Quixote. "When you begin stringing of proverbs and tales, none but Judas, who I wish had you, can wait for you. Tell me, animal, what know you of nails and wheels, or of anything else?" — "Oh!" replied Sancho, "If I am not understood, no wonder that what I say passes for nonsense; but no matter for that; I understand myself; neither have I said many foolish things; only your worship is always cricketising my words and actions." — "Criticising, I suppose, you would say," said Don Quixote, "and not cricketising, thou misapplier of good language, whom God confound." — "Pray, Sir, be not so sharp upon me," answered Sancho;" for you know I was not bred at court, nor have studied in Salamanca, to know whether I add to, or take a letter from my words. As God shall save me, it is unreasonable to expect that -[376]- the Sayagόes(156) should speak like the Toledans; nay, there are Toledans who are not over-nice in the business of speaking politely." — "It is true," replied the licentiate;" for how should they speak so well who are bred in the tan-yards and Zocodover,(157) as they who are all day walking up and down the cloisters of the great church? And yet they are all Toledans. Purity, propriety, elegance, and perspicuity of language are to be found among discerning courtiers, though born in Majalahonda. I say discerning, because a great many there are who are not so, and discernment is the grammar of good language, accompanied with custom and use. I, gentlemen, for my sins, have studied the canon law in Salamanca, and pique myself a little upon expressing myself in clear, plain, and significant terms." — "If you had not piqued yourself more upon managing those unlucky foils you carry than your tongue," said the other scholar, "you might by this time have been at the head of your class; whereas now you are at the tail."

"Look you, bachelor," answered the licentiate, "you are the most mistaken in the world in your opinion touching the dexterity of the sword, if you hold it to be insignificant." — "With me it is not barely opinion, but a settled truth," replied Corchuelo;" and if you have a mind I should convince you by experience, you carry foils, an opportunity offers, and I have nerves and strength that, backed by my courage, which is none of the least, will make you confess that I am not deceived. Alight, and make use of your measured steps, your circles, and angles, and science; for I hope to make you see the stars at noonday with my modern and rustic dexterity; in which I trust, under God, that the man is yet unborn who shall make me turn my back, and that there is nobody in the world whom I will not oblige to give ground." — "As to turning the back or not, I meddle not with it," replied the adept, "though it may happen that, in the first spot you fix your foot on, your grave may be opened; I mean, that you may be left dead there for despising the noble science of defence." — "We shall see that presently," answered Corchuelo; and, jumping hastily from his beast, he snatched one of the foils which the licentiate carried upon his ass. "It must not be so," cried Don Quixote at this instant;" for I will be master of this fencing-bout, and judge of this long-controverted question;" and alighting from Rozinante, and grasping his lance, he planted himself in the midst of the road, just as the licentiate, with a graceful motion of body and measured step, was making toward Corchuelo, who came at him, darting, as the phrase is, fire from his eyes. The two countrymen, without dismounting, served as spectators of the mortal tragedy. The flashes, thrusts, high strokes, back-strokes, and fore-strokes Corchuelo gave, were numberless, and thicker than hail. He fell on like a provoked lion; but met with a smart tap on the mouth from the button of the licentiate's foil, which stopped him in the midst of his fury, making him kiss it, though not with so much devotion as if it had been a relic. In short, the licentiate, by dint of clean thrusts, counted him all the buttons of a little cassock he had on, and tore the skirts, so that they hung in rags like the many-tailed fish. Twice he struck off his hat, and so tired him, that, through despite, choler, and rage, he flung away the foil into the air with such force, that one of the country fellows present, who was a kind of scrivener, and went to fetch it, said, and swore, it was thrown near three quarters of a league; which affidavit has served, and still serves, to show and demonstrate that skill goes farther than strength. Corchuelo sat down quite spent, and Sancho -[377]- going to him said: "In faith, Master Bachelor, if you would take my advice, henceforward, you should challenge nobody to fence, but to wrestle, or pitch the bar, since you are old enough and strong enough for that; for I have heard say of these masters, that they can thrust the point of a sword through the eye of a needle." — "I am satisfied," answered Corchuelo, "and have learned by experience a truth I could not otherwise have believed;" and getting up, he went and embraced the licentiate, and they were now better friends than before. So, being unwilling to wait for the scrivener, who was gone to fetch the foil, thinking he might stay too long, they determined to make the best of their way, that they might arrive betimes at Quiteria's village, whither they were all bound. By the way, the licentiate laid down to them the excellences of the noble science of defence, with such self-evident reasons, and so many mathematical figures and demonstrations, that everybody was convinced of the usefulness of the science, and Corchuelo entirely brought over from his obstinacy.

It was just nightfall; but, before they arrived, they all thought they saw, between them and the village, a kind of heaven full of innumerable and resplendent stars. They heard also the confused and sweet sounds of various instruments, as flutes, tambourines, psalteries, cymbals, and little drums with bells; and, drawing near, they perceived the boughs of an arbour, made on one side of the entrance into the town, all hung with lights, which were not disturbed by the wind; for all was so calm, there was not a breath of air so much as to stir the very leaves of the trees. The life and joy of the wedding were the musicians, who went up and down in bands through that delightful place, some dancing, others singing, and others playing upon the different instruments aforesaid. In short, it looked as if mirth and pleasure danced and revelled through the meadow. Several others were busied about raising scaffolds, from which they might commodiously be spectators next day of the plays and dances, that were to be performed in that place, dedicated to the solemnising the nuptials of the rich Camacho, and the obsequies of Basilius. Don Quixote refused to go into the town, though both the countryman and the bachelor invited him; but he pleaded, as a sufficient excuse in his opinion, that it was the custom of knights-errant to sleep in the fields and forests rather than in towns, though under gilded roofs; and therefore he turned a little out of the way, sorely against Sancho's will, who had not forgotten the good lodging he had met with in the castle, or house, of Don Diego.

 

Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis

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