Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis
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 XXIV: In which are recounted a thousand Impertinences necessary to the right Understanding of this grand History.
The translator of this grand history from the original, written by its first author Cid Hamete Benengeli, says, that coining to the chapter of the adventure of the cave of Montesinos, he found in the margin these words of Hamete's own handwriting:
"I cannot persuade myself, or believe, that all that is mentioned in the foregoing chapter, happened to the valorous Don Quixote exactly as it is there written; the reason is, because all the adventures hitherto related might have happened and are probable; but in this of the cave I find no possibility of its being true, as it exceeds all reasonable bounds. But for me to think that Don Quixote, being a gentleman of the greatest veracity, and a knight of the most worth of any of his time, would tell a lie, is as little possible; for he would not utter a falsehood, though he were to be shot to death with arrows. On the other hand, I consider, that he told it with all the aforesaid circumstances, and that he could not, in so short a space, have framed so vast a machine of extravagances; and if this adventure seems to be apocryphal, I am not in fault; and so, without affirming it for true or false, I write it. Since, reader, you have discernment, judge as you see fit; for I neither ought nor can do any more; though it is held for certain, that, upon his death-bed, he retracted, and said he had invented it only because it was of a piece, and squared with the adventures he had read of in his histories."
Then the translator goes on saying:
The scholar was astonished, no less at the boldness of Sancho Panza, than at the patience of his master, judging that the mildness of temper he then showed sprung from the satisfaction he had just received in seeing his mistress Dulcinea del Toboso, though enchanted; for, had it not been so, Sancho said such words and things to him as richly deserved a cudgelling; and in reality he thought Sancho had been a little too saucy with his master; to whom the scholar said: "For my part, Signor Don Quixote, I reckon the pains of my journey in your worship's company very well bestowed, having thereby gained four things. The first, your worship's acquaintance, which I esteem a great happiness. The second, my having learned what is enclosed in this cave of Montesinos, with the metamorphoses of Guadiana, and the Lakes of Ruydera, which will serve me for my Spanish 'Ovid' I have now in hand. The third is, to have learned the antiquity of card-playing, which was in use at least in the days of the -- Emperor Charles the Great, as may be gathered from the words your worship says Durandarte spoke, after Montesinos had been talking to him a long time, when he awoke, saying, Patience, and shuffle the cards'; and this allusion to cards, and this way of speaking, he could not learn, during his enchantment, but when he was in France, and in the days of the said Emperor Charles the Great; and this remark comes pat for the other book I am upon, the 'Supplement to Polydore Virgil on the Invention of Antiquities '; for I believe he has forgotten to insert that of cards in his work, as I will now do in mine; which will be of great importance, especially as I shall allege the authority of so grave and true an author as Signor Durandarte. The fourth is, the knowing with certainty the source of the river Guadiana, hitherto unknown."
"You are in the right," said Don Quixote;" but I would fain know, if by the grace of God a license be granted you for printing your books, which I doubt, to whom you intend to inscribe them?" — "There are lords and grandees enough in Spain, to whom they may be dedicated," said the scholar. "Not many," answered Don Quixote;" not because they do not deserve a dedication, but because they will not receive one, to avoid lying under an obligation of making such a return as seems due to the pains and complaisance of the authors. I know a prince,(166) who makes amends for what is wanting in the rest, with so many advantages, that, if I durst presume to publish them, perhaps I might stir up envy in several noble breasts. But let this rest till a more convenient season, and let us now consider where we shall lodge to-night." — "Not far from hence," answered the scholar, "is a hermitage, in which lives a hermit, who, they say, has been a soldier, and has the reputation of being a good Christian, and very discreet and charitable. Adjoining to the hermitage he has a little house, built at his own cost; but, though small, it is large enough to receive guests." — "Has this same hermit any poultry?" quoth Sancho. "Few hermits are without," answered Don Quixote;" for those now in fashion are not like those in the deserts of Egypt, who were clad with leaves of the palm tree, and lived upon roots of the earth. I would not be understood, as if, by speaking well of the latter, I reflected upon the former; I only mean that the penances of our times do not come up to the austerities and strictness of those days. But this is no reason why they may not be all good; at least I take them to be so; and, at the worst, the hypocrite, who feigns himself good, does less hurt than the undisguised sinner."
While they were thus discoursing, they perceived a man on foot coming towards them, walking very fast, and switching on a mule laden with lances and halberds. When he came up to them, he saluted them, and passed on. Don Quixote said to him: "Hold, honest friend; methinks you go faster than is convenient for that mule." — "I cannot stay," answered the man; "for the arms you see I am carrying are to be made use of to-morrow, so that I am under a necessity not to stop, and so adieu; but, if you would know for what purpose I carry them, I intend to lodge this night at the inn beyond the hermitage, and, if you travel the same road, you will find me there, where I will tell you wonders; and, once more, God be with you." Then he pricked on the mule at that rate, that Don Quixote had no time to inquire what wonders they were he designed to tell them; and, as he was not a little curious, and always tormented with the desire of hearing new things, he gave orders for their immediate departure, resolving to pass -- the night at the inn, without touching at the hermitage, where the scholar would have had them lodge. This was done accordingly; they mounted, and all three took the direct road to the inn, at which they arrived a little before nightfall. The scholar desired Don Quixote to take a step to the hermitage to drink one draught; and scarcely had Sancho Panza heard this, when he steered Dapple towards the hermitage, and Don Quixote and the scholar did the same; but Sancho's ill luck, it seems, would have it, that the hermit was not at home, as they were told by an under-hermit, whom they found in the hermitage. They asked him for the dearest wine: he answered, His master had none; but, if they wanted cheap water, he would give them some with all his heart. "If I had wanted water," answered Sancho, "there are wells enough upon the road, from whence I might have satisfied myself. Oh! for the wedding of Camacho, and the plenty of Don Diego's house! how often shall I feel the want of you!"
They quitted the hermitage, and spurred on towards the inn, and soon overtook a lad who was walking before them in no great haste. He carried a sword upon his shoulder, and upon it a roll or bundle, seemingly of his clothes, in all likelihood breeches or trousers, a cloak, and a shirt or two. He had on a tattered velvet jacket lined with satin, and his shirt hung out. His stockings were of silk, and his shoes square-toed, after the court fashion. He seemed to be about eighteen or nineteen years or age, of a cheerful countenance, and in appearance very active of body. He went on singing couplets, to divert the fatigue of the journey; and, when they overtook him, he had just done singing one, the last words whereof the scholar got by heart; which they say were these:
The first, who spoke to him, was Don Quixote, who said: "You travel very airily, young spark; pray whither so fast? Let us know, if you are inclined to tell us." To which the youth answered: "My walking so airily is occasioned by the heat and by poverty, and I am going to the wars." — "How by poverty?" demanded Don Quixote. "By the heat it may very easily be." — "Sir," replied the youth, "I carry in this bundle a pair of velvet trousers, fellows to this jacket; if I wear them out upon the road, I cannot do myself credit with them in the city, and I have no money to buy others; and for this reason, as well as for coolness, I go thus, till I come up with some companies of foot, which are not twelve leagues from hence, where I will list myself, and shall not want baggage-conveniences to ride in, till we come to the place of embarkation, which they say is to be at Carthagena; besides, I choose the king for my master and lord, whom I had rather serve in the war than any paltry fellow at court." — "And pray, Sir, have you any post?" said the scholar. — "Had I served some grandee, or other person of distinction," answered the youth, "no doubt I should; for, in the service of good masters, it is no uncommon thing to rise from the servants' hall to the post of ensign or captains, or to get some good pension; but poor I was always in the service of strolling fellows or foreigners, whose wages and board wages are so miserable and slender, that one half is spent in paying for starching a ruff; and it would be looked upon as a miracle, if one page-adventurer in an hundred should get any tolerable preferment." — "But, tell me, friend," said Don Quixote, "is it possible, that, in all the time you have been in service, you could not -- procure a livery?" — "I had two," answered the page;" but, as he, who quits a monastery before he professes, is stripped of his habit, and his old clothes are returned him, just so my masters did by me, and gave me back mine; for, when the business was done, for which they came to court, they returned to their own homes, and took back the liveries they had given only for show."
"A notable Espilorcheria,(167) as the Italians say," cried Don Quixote: "however, look upon it as an earnest of good fortune, that you have quitted the court with so good an intention; for there is nothing upon earth more honourable or more advantageous, than first to serve God, and then your king and natural lords, especially in the exercise of arms, by which one acquires at least more honour, if not more riches, than by letters, as I have often said; for though letters have founded more great families than arms, still there is I know not what that exalts those who follow arms above those who follow letters; with I know not what splendour attending them, which sets them above all others. And bear in mind this piece of advice, which will be of great use to you, and matter of consolation in your distresses; and that is, not to think of what adverse accidents may happen; for the worst that can happen is death, and, when death is attended with honour, the best that can happen is to die. That valorous Roman Emperor, Julius Caesar, being asked which was the best kind of death, answered, that which was sudden, unthought of, and unforeseen; and though he answered like a heathen, and a stranger to the knowledge of the true God, nevertheless, with respect to human infirmity, he said well. For, supposing you are killed in the first skirmish or action, either by a cannon-shot or the blowing up of a mine, what does it signify? All is but dying, and the business is done. According to Terence, the soldier makes a better figure dead in battle, than alive and safe in flight; and the good soldier gains just as much reputation, as he shows obedience to his captains, and to those who have a right to command him. And take notice, son, that a soldier had better smell of gunpowder than of musk; and if old age overtakes you in this noble profession, though lame and maimed, and full of wounds, at least it will not overtake you without honour, and such honour as poverty itself cannot deprive you of; especially now that care is taken to provide for the maintenance of old and disabled soldiers, who ought not to be dealt with, as many do by their negro slaves when they are old and past service, whom they discharge and set at liberty, and, driving them out of their houses, under pretence of giving them their freedom, make them slaves to hunger, from which nothing but death can deliver them. At present I will say no more; but get up behind me upon this horse of mine, till we come to the inn, and there you shall sup with me, and to-morrow morning pursue your journey; and God give you as good speed as your good intentions deserve."
The page did not accept of the invitation of riding behind Don Quixote, but did that of supping with him at the inn; and here, it is said, Sancho muttered to himself, "The Lord bless thee for a master! is it possible that one who can say so many and such good things, as he has now done, should say he saw the extravagant impossibilities he tells of in the cave of Montesinos? Well, we shall see what will come of it."
By this time they arrived at the inn, just at nightfall, and Sancho was pleased to see his master take it for an inn indeed, and not for a castle as usual. They were scarcely entered, when Don Quixote asked the landlord -- for the man with the lances and halberds: he answered, he was in the stable looking after his mule. The scholar and Sancho did the same by their beasts, giving Rozinante the best manger and the best place in the stable.
Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis