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 XXXVI: Wherein is related the strange and never-imagined Adventure of the Afflicted Matron, alias the Countess of Trifaldi, with a Letter written by Sancho Panza to his wife Teresa Panza.


The duke had a steward, of a very pleasant and facetious wit, who represented Merlin, and contrived the whole apparatus of the late adventure, composed the verses, and made a page act Dulcinea. And now, with the duke and duchess's leave, he prepared another scene, of the pleasantest and strangest contrivance imaginable.

The next day the duchess asked Sancho whether he had begun the task of the penance he was to do for the disenchanting of Dulcinea. He said he had, and had given himself five lashes that night. The duchess desired to know with what he had given them. He answered, with the palm of his hand. "That," replied the duchess, "is rather clapping than whipping, and I am of opinion Signor Merlin will hardly be contented at so easy a rate. Honest Sancho must get a rod made of briers, or of whipcord, that the lashes may be felt; for letters written in blood stand good, and the liberty of so great a lady as Dulcinea is not to be purchased so easily, or at so low a price. And take notice, Sancho, that works of charity, done faintly and coldly, lose their merit, and signify nothing." To which Sancho answered: "Give me then, Madam, some rod, or convenient bough, and I will whip myself with it, provided it do not smart too much; -[453]- for I would have your ladyship know, that, though I am a clown, my flesh has more of the cotton than of the rush, and there is no reason I should hurt myself for other folk's good." "You say well," answered the duchess; "to-morrow I will give you a whip, which shall suit you exactly, and agree with the tenderness of your flesh, as if it were its own brother." To which Sancho said: "Your highness must know, dear lady of my soul, that I have written a letter to my wife, Teresa Panza, giving her an account of all that has befallen me since I parted from her; here I have it in my bosom, and it wants nothing but the superscription. I wish your discretion would read it; for methinks it runs as becomes a governor, I mean, in the manner that governors ought to write." "And who indited it?" demanded the duchess. "Who should indite it, but I myself, sinner as I am?" answered Sancho. "And did you write it?" said the duchess. "No indeed," answered Sancho; "for I can neither read nor write, though I can set my mark." "Let us see it," said the duchess; "for no doubt you show in it the quality and sufficiency of your genius." Sancho pulled an open letter out of his bosom; and the duchess, taking it in her hand, saw as follows:

Sancho Panza's letter to his wife, Teresa Panza.

"If I have been finely lashed, I have been finely mounted; if I have got a good government, it has cost me many good lashes. This, my dear Teresa, you will not understand at present; another time you will. You must know, Teresa, that I am determined you shall ride in your coach, which is somewhat to the purpose; for all other ways of going are creeping upon all fours like a cat. You shall be a governor's wife; see then, whether anybody will tread on your heels. I here send you a green hunting-suit, which my lady duchess gave me: fit it up, so that it may serve our daughter for a jacket and petticoat. They say in this country my master Don Quixote is a sensible madman and a pleasant fool, and I am not a whit short of him. We have been in Montesinos's cave, and the Sage Merlin has pitched upon me for the disenchanting of Dulcinea del Toboso, who, among you, is called Aldonza Lorenzo. With three thousand and three hundred lashes, lacking five, that I am to give myself, she will be as much disenchanted as the mother that bore her. Say nothing of this to anybody; for to give counsel about what is your own, and one will cry, 'It is white,' another, 'It is black.' A few days hence I shall go to the government, whether I go with an eager desire to make money; for I am told, all new governors go with the self-same intention. I will feel its pulse, and send you word whether you shall come and be with me or no. Dapple is well, and sends his hearty service to you; I do not intend to leave him, though I were to be made the great Turk. The duchess, my mistress, kisses your hands a thousand times; return her two thousand; for nothing costs less, nor is cheaper, as my master says, than compliments of civility. God has not been pleased to bless me with another portmanteau, and another hundred crowns, as once before; but be in no pain, my dear Teresa; for he, that has the repique in hand, is safe, and all will out in the bucking of the government. Only one thing troubles me; for I am told, if I once try it, I shall eat my very fingers after it; and, if so, it would be no very good bargain; though the crippled and lame in their hands enjoy a kind of petty-canonry in the alms they receive: so that, by one means or other, you are sure to be rich and happy. God make you so, as he easily can, and keep me to serve you.

"Your Husband, the Governor,

"Sancho Panza."

"From this Castle, the 20th
          of July, 1614.

The duchess, having read the letter, said to Sancho: "In two things the good governor is a little out of the way: the one, in saying, or insinuating, that this government is given him on account of the lashes he is to give himself; whereas he knows, and cannot deny it, that, when my lord -[454]- duke promised it him, nobody dreamed of any such thing as lashes in the world; the other is, that he shows himself in it very covetous; and I woold not have him be gripping; for avarice bursts the bag, and the covetous governor does ungoverned justice." "That is not my meaning, Madam," answered Sancho; "and if your ladyship thinks this letter does not run as it should do, it is but tearing it and writing a new one, and perhaps it may prove a worse if it be left to my noddle." "No, no," replied the duchess "this is a very good one, and I will have the duke see it."

They then went to a garden where they were to dine that day, and the duchess showed Sancho's letter to the duke, who was highly diverted with it. They dined, and, after the cloth was taken away, and they had entertained themselves a good while with Sancho's relishing conversation, on a sudden they heard the dismal sound of a fife, and also that of a hoarse and unbraced drum. They all discovered some surprise at the confused martial, and doleful harmony; especially Don Quixote, who could not contain himself in his seat through pure emotion. As for Sancho, it is enough to say, that fear carried him to his usual refuge, which was the duchess's side, or the skirts of her petticoat; for the sound they heard was really and truly most horrid and melancholy. And, while they were thus in suspense, they perceived two men enter the garden, clad in mourning robes, so long and extended, that they trailed upon the ground. They came beating two great drums, covered also with black. By their side came the fife, black and frightful like the rest. These three were followed by a personage of gigantic stature, not clad, but mantled about, with a robe of the blackest dye, the train of which was of a monstrous length. This robe was girt about with a broad black belt, at which there hung an unmeasurable scimitar in a black scabbard. His face was covered with a transparent black veil, through which appeared a prodigious long beard as white as snow. He marched to the sound of the drums with much gravity and composure. In short, his huge bulk, his stateliness, his blackness, and his attendants might very well surprise, as they did, all who beheld him, and were not in the secret. Thus he came, with the state and appearance aforesaid, and kneeled down before the duke, who, with the rest, received him standing. But the duke would in no wise suffer him to speak till he rose up. The monstrous spectre did so; and, as soon as he was upon his feet, he lifted up his veil, and exposed to view the horridest, the longest, the whitest, and best-furnished beard that human eyes till then had ever beheld; and straight he sent forth from his broad and ample breast a voice grave and sonorous; and, fixing his eyes on the duke, he said: "Most mighty and puissant Sir, I am called Trifaldin of the White Beard; I am squire to the Countess Trifaldi, otherwise called the Afflicted Matron, from whom I bring your grandeurs a message; which is, that your magnificence would be pleased to give her permission and leave to enter and tell her distress, which is one of the newest and most wonderful that the most distressed thought in the world could ever have imagined; but, first, she desires to know, whether the valorous and invincible Don Quixote de la Mancha resides in this your castle; in quest of whom she is come on foot, and without breaking her fast, from the kingdom of Candaya to this your territory; a thing which may and ought to be considered as a miracle, or ascribed to the force of enchantment. She waits at the door of this fortress or country-house, and only stays for your good pleasure to come in." Having said this, he hemmed, and stroked his beard from top to bottom -[455]- with both his hands, and with much tranquillity stood expecting the duke's answer, which was: "It is now many days, honest Squire Trifaldin of the White Beard, since we have had notice of the misfortune of my lady the Countess Trifaldi, whom the enchanters have occasioned to be called the Afflicted Matron. Tell her, stupendous squire, she may enter, and that the valiant knight Don Quixote de la Mancha is here, from whose generous disposition she may safely promise herself all kind of aid and assistance. Tell her also from me, that if my favour be necessary, it shall not be wanting, since I am bound to it by being a knight; for to such it particularly belongs to protect all sorts of women, especially injured and afflicted matrons, such as her ladyship." Trifaldin, hearing this, bent a knee to the ground, and making a sign to the fife and drums to play, he walked out of the garden to the same tune, and with the same solemnity as he came in, leaving everyone in wonder at his figure and deportment.

The duke then, turning to Don Quixote, said: "In short, renowned knight, neither the clouds of malice, nor those of ignorance, can hide or obscure the light of valour and virtue. This I say, because it is hardly six days, that your goodness has been in this castle, when, behold, the sorrowful and afflicted are already come in quest of you, from far distant and remote countries, and not in coaches, or upon dromedaries, but on foot, and fasting, trusting they shall find, in that strenuous arm of yours, the remedy for their troubles and distresses; thanks to your grand exploits, which run and spread themselves over the whole face of the earth." "I wish my lord duke," answered Don Quixote, "that the same ecclesiastic, who the other day expressed so much ill-will and so great a grudge to knights-errant were now here, that he might see with his eyes whether or no such knights as those are necessary in the world; at least he would be made sensible, that the extraordinarily afflicted and disconsolate, in great cases, and in enormous mishaps, do not fly for a remedy to the houses of scholars, nor to those of country parish-priests, not to the cavalier, who never thinks of stirring from his own town, nor to the lazy courtier, who rather inquires after news to tell again, than endeavours to perform actions and exploits for others to relate or write of him. Remedy for distress, relief in necessities, protection of damsels, and consolation of widows are nowhere so readily to be found as among knights-errant; and that I am one, I give infinite thanks to Heaven, and shall not repine at any hardship or trouble that can befall me in so honourable an exercise. Let this matron come, and make what request she pleases: for I will commit her redress to the force bf my arm, and the intrepid resolution of my courageous spirit."


Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis

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