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 XII: Wherein is related the grand Adventure of the Cave of Montesinos, lying in the heart of La Mancha; to which the valorous Don Quixote gave a happy Conclusion.


The new-married couple made exceeding much of Don Quixote, being obliged by the readiness he had showed in defending their cause; and they esteemed his discretion in equal degree with his valour, accounting him a Cid(162) in arms, and a Cicero in eloquence. Three days honest Sancho solaced himself at the expense of the bride and bridegroom; from whom it was known that the feigned wounding himself was not a trick concerted with the fair Quiteria, but an invention of Basilius's own, hoping from it the very success which fell out. True it is, he confessed, he had let some of his friends into the secret, that they might favour his design and support his deceit. Don Quixote affirmed, it could not, nor ought to be called deceit, which aims at virtuous ends, and that the marriage of lovers was the most excellent of all ends: observing by the way, that hunger and continual necessity are the greatest enemies to love; for love is gaiety, mirth, and content, especially when the lover is in actual possession of the person beloved, to which necessity and poverty are opposed and declared enemies. All this he said with design to persuade Basilius to quit the exercise of those abilities in which he so much excelled; for, though they procured him fame, they got him no money; and that now he should apply himself to acquire riches by lawful and industrious means, which are never wanting to the prudent and diligent. The honourable poor man, if a poor man can be said to have honour, possesses a jewel in having a beautiful wife; and whoever deprives him of her, deprives him of his honour, and as it were kills it. The beautiful and honourable woman, whose husband is poor, deserves to be crowned with laurels and palms of victory and triumph. Beauty of itself alone attracts the inclinations of all that behold it, and the royal eagles and other towering birds stoop to the tempting lure. But if such beauty be attended with poverty and a narrow fortune, it is besieged by kites and vultures, and other birds of prey; and she who stands firm against so many attacks may well be called the crown of her husband. "Observe, discreet Basilius," added Don Quixote, "that it was the opinion of a certain sage that there was but one good woman in the world; and he gave it as his advice, that every man should think -[388]- and believe she was fallen to his lot, and so he would live contented. I for my part am not married, nor have I ever thought of being so; yet would I venture to give my advice to anyone, who should ask it of me, what method he should take to get a wife to his mind. In the first place, I would advise him to lay a greater stress upon charity than fortune; for a good woman does not acquire a good name merely by being good, but by appearing to be so; for public freedoms and liberties hurt a woman's reputation much more than secret wantonness. If you bring a woman honest to your house, it is an easy matter to keep her so, and even to make her better, and improve her very goodness: but if you bring her naughty, you will have much ado to mend her; for it is not very easy to pass from one extreme to another. I do not say it is impossible; but I take it to be extremely difficult."

All this Sancho listened to, and said to himself, "This master of mine, when I speak things pithy and substantial, used to say, I might take a pulpit in my band, and go about the world preaching fine things; and I say of him, that when he begins stringing of sentences and giving advice, he may not only take a pulpit in his hand, but two upon each finger, and stroll about your market-places, crying out, Mouth, what would you have? The devil take thee for a knight-errant that knows everything! I believed in my heart, that he only knew what belonged to his chivalries; but he pecks at everything, and thrusts his spoon into every dish." Sancho muttered this so loud, that his master, overhearing it, said to him, "Sancho, what is it you mutter?" — "I neither say nor mutter anything," answered Sancho: "I was only saying to myself that I wished I had heard your worship preach this doctrine before I was married; then perhaps I should have been able to say now, The ox that is loose is best licked." — "Is your Teresa then so bad, Sancho?" said Don Quixote. "She is not very bad," answered Sancho; "but she is not very good neither, at least not quite so good as I would have her." — "You are in the wrong, Sancho," replied Don Quixote, "to speak ill of your wife, who is the mother of your children." — "We are not in one another's debt upon that score," answered Sancho; "for she speaks as ill of me whenever the fancy takes her, especially when she is jealous; for then Satan himself cannot bear with her."

Three days they stayed with the new-married couple, where they were served and treated like kings in person. Don Quixote then desired the dexterous student to furnish him with a guide, to bring him to the cave of Montesinos; for he had a mighty desire to go down into it, and see with his own eyes whether the wonders related of it in all those parts were true. The student told him he would procure him a cousin of his, a famous scholar, and much addicted to reading books of chivalry, who would very gladly carry him to the mouth of the cave itself, and also show him the Lakes of Ruydera, famous all over La Mancha, and even all over Spain; telling him he would be a very entertaining companion, being a young man who knew how to write books for the press, and dedicate them to princes. In short, the cousin came, mounted on an ass big with foal, whose pack-saddle was covered with a doubled piece of an old carpet or sacking. Sancho saddled Rozinante, pannelled Dapple, and replenished his wallets; and those of the scholar were as well provided; and so, commending themselves to the protection of God, and taking leave of everybody, they set out, bending their course directly towards the famous cave of Montesinos. -[389]-

Upon the road Don Quixote asked the scholar of what kind and quality his exercises, profession, and studies were. To which he answered, that his profession was the study of humanity; his exercise, composing of books for the press, all of great use, and no small entertainment to the commonwealth; that one of them was entitled, "A Treatise of Liveries," describing seven hundred and three liveries, with their colours, mottoes, and cyphers; from whence the cavalier courtiers might pick and choose to their minds, for feasts and rejoicings, without being beholden to others, or beating their own brains to invent and contrive them to their humour or design; "For," said he, "I adapt them to the jealous, the disdained, the forgotten, and the absent so properly, that more will hit than miss. I have also another book, which I intend to call, 'The Metamorphoses, or Spanish Ovid,' of a new and rare invention; for therein, imitating Ovid in a burlesque way, I show who the Giralda of Seville was, and who the angel of La Magdalena; what the conduit of Vecinguerra of Cordova; what the bulls of Guisando; the Sable Mountain; the fountains of Leganitos, and the Lavapies in Madrid: not forgetting the Piojo, that of the golden pipe, and that of the Priora; and all these, with their several allegories, metaphors, and transformations, in such a manner as to delight, surprise, and instruct, at the same time. I have another book, which I call, 'A Supplement to Polydore Virgil,' treating of the invention of things; a work of vast erudition and study, because therein I make out several material things omitted by Polydore, and explain them in a fine style. Virgil forgot to tell us who was the first in the world that had a cold, and who the first that was fluxed for the French disease; these points I resolve to a nicety, and cite the authority of above five-and-twenty authors for them; so that your worship may see whether I have taken true pains, and whether such a performance is not likely to be very useful to the whole world."

Sancho, who had been attentive to the student's discourse, said: "Tell me, Sir, and so may God send you good luck in the printing your books, can you resolve me, though I know you can, since you know everything, who was the first that scratched his head? I, for my part, am of opinion it must be our first father Adam." — "Certainly," answered the scholar;" for there is no doubt but Adam had a head and hair; and this being granted, and he being the first man in the world, he must needs have scratched his head one time or another." — "So I believe," answered Sancho; "but tell me now, who was the first tumbler in the world?" — "Truly, brother," answered the scholar, "I cannot determine that point till I have studied it; and I will study it as soon as I return to the place where I keep my books, and will satisfy you when we see one another again; for I hope this will not be the last time." — "Look ye, Sir," replied Sancho, "take no pains about this matter; for I have already hit upon the answer to my question: know then, that the first tumbler was Lucifer, when he was cast, or thrown, headlong from Heaven, and came tumbling down to the lowest abyss." — "You are in the right, friend," replied the scholar. Don Quixote said: "This question and answer are not your own, Sancho; you have heard them from somebody else." — 'Say no more, Sir," quoth Sancho; "for in good faith, if I fall to questioning and answering, I shall not have done between this and to-morrow morning; for foolish questions and ridiculous answers, I need not be obliged to any of my neighbours." — "Sancho," said Don Quixote, "you have said more than you are aware of; for some there are who tire themselves with examining into, and explaining -[390]- things, which, after they are known and explained, signify not a farthing to the understanding or the memory."

In these and other pleasant discourses they passed that day; and at night they lodged in a small village, from whence, the scholar told Don Quixote, there were but two leagues to the cave of Montesinos, and that, if he continued his resolution to enter into it, it would be necessary to provide himself with rope to tie and let himself down into its depth. Don Quixote said, if it reached to the abyss, he would see where it stopped; and so they bought near a hundred fathom of cord; and about two in the afternoon following, they came to the cave, the mouth of which is wide and spacious, but full of briers, wild fig-trees, and thorns, so thick and intricate, that they quite blind and cover it. When they arrived at it, the scholar, Sancho, and Don Quixote alighted: then the two former bound the knight very fast with the cord, and while they were swathing him, Sancho said: "Have a care, dear Sir, what you do; do not bury yourself alive, nor hang yourself dangling like a flask of wine let down to cool in a well; for it is no business of your worship's, nor does it belong to you, to be the scrutiniser of this hole, which must needs be worse than any dungeon." — "Tie on, and talk not," answered Don Quixote; "for such an enterprise as this, friend Sancho, was reserved for me alone." Then the guide said: "I beseech your worship, Signor Don Quixote, to take good heed, and look about you with an hundred eyes, and explore what is below; perhaps there may be things proper to be inserted in my book of metamorphoses." — "The drum is in a hand that knows full well how to rattle it," answered Sancho Panza.

This being said, and the tying of Don Quixote, not over his armour, but his doublet, finished, Don Quixote said: "We have been very careless in neglecting to provide a little bell, to be tied to me with this rope; by the tinkling of which you might hear me still descending, and know that I was alive; but, since that is now impossible, be the hand of God my guide." And immediately he kneeled down, and in a low voice put up a prayer to Heaven for assistance and good success, in this seemingly perilous and strange adventure; then of a sudden, in a loud voice, he said: "O mistress of my actions and motions, most illustrious and peerless Dulcinea del Toboso! if it be possible, that the prayers and requests of this thy adventurous lover reach thy ears, I beseech thee, for thy unheard-of beauty's sake, hearken to them; for all I beg of thee is, not to refuse me thy favour and protection, now that I so much need it. I am just going to precipitate, to ingulf, and sink myself in the profound abyss here before me, only to let the world know, that, if thou favourest me, there is no impossibility I would not undertake and accomplish." And, so saying, he drew near to the brink, and saw he could not be let down, nor get at the entrance of the cave, but by mere force, and cutting his way through; and so, laying his hand to his sword, he began to lay about him, and hew down the brambles and bushes at the mouth of the cave; at which noise and rustling, an infinite number of huge ravens and daws flew out so thick and so fast, that they beat Don Quixote to the ground; and had he been as superstitious as he was Catholic, he had taken it for an ill omen, and forborne shutting himself up in such a place. At length he got upon his legs, and seeing no more ravens flying out, nor other night-birds, such as bats, some of which likewise flew out among the ravens, the scholar and Sancho, giving him rope, let him down to the bottom of the fearful cavern; and, at his going -[391]- in, Sancho, giving him his blessing, and making a thousand crosses over him, said: "God, and the rock of France, together with the trinity of Gaλta, speed thee, thou flower, and cream, and skimming of knights-errant! There thou goest, hector of the world, heart of steel, and arms of brass! Once more, God guide thee, and send thee back safe and sound, without deceit, to the light of this world, which thou art forsaking, to bury thyself in this obscurity." The scholar uttered much the same prayers and intercessions.

Don Quixote went down, calling for more and more rope, which they gave him by little and little; and when the voice, by the windings of the cave, could be heard no longer, and the hundred fathom of cordage was all let down, they were of opinion to pull Don Quixote up again, since they could give him no more rope. However, they delayed about half an hour, and then they began to gather up the rope, which they did very easily, and without any weight at all; from whence they conjectured that Don Quixote remained in the cave; and Sancho, believing as much, wept bitterly, and drew up in a great hurry to know the truth; but, coining to a little above eighty fathoms, they felt a weight, at which they rejoiced exceedingly. In short, at about the tenth fathom, they discerned Don Quixote very distinctly; to whom Sancho called out, saying: "Welcome back to us, dear Sir; for we began to think you had stayed there to breed." But Don Quixote answered not a word; and, pulling him quite out, they perceived his eyes were shut, as if he was asleep. They laid him along on the ground, and untied him; yet still he did not awake. But they so turned and jogged, and re-turned and shook him, that after a good while he came to himself, stretching and yawning just as if he had awaked out of a heavy and deep sleep; and gazing from side to side, as if he was amazed, he said: "God forgive ye, friends, for having brought me away from the most pleasing and charming life and sight that ever mortal saw or lived. In short, I am now thoroughly satisfied that all the enjoyments of this life pass away like a shadow or a dream, and fade away like the flower of the field. O unhappy Montesinos! O desperately wounded Durandarte! O unfortunate Belerma! O weeping Guadiana! And ye unlucky daughters of Ruydera, whose waters show what floods of tears streamed from your fair eyes." The scholar and Sancho listened to Don Quixote's words, which he spoke as if with immense pain he fetched them from his entrails. They entreated him to explain to them what it was he had been saying, and to tell them what he had seen in that hell below. "Hell do you call it?" said Don Quixote; "call it so no more, for it does not' deserve that name, as you shall presently see." He desired they would give him something to eat, for he was very hungry. They spread the scholar's carpet upon the green grass; they addressed themselves to the pantry of his wallets, and, being all three seated in loving and social wise, they collationed and supped all under one. The carpet being removed, Don Quixote de la Mancha said, "Let no one arise; and, sons, be attentive to me."


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