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 XLII: Of the Instructions Don Quixote gave Sancho Panza before he went to govern the Island; with other Matters well considered.


The duke and duchess were so satisfied with the happy and glorious success of the adventure of the Afflicted, that they resolved to carry the jest still farther, seeing how fit a subject they had to pass it on for earnest; and so, having projected the scheme, and given the necessary orders to -[472]- their servants and vassals, how they were to behave to Sancho in his government of the promised island, the day following Clavileno's flight, the duke bid Sancho prepare, and get himself in readiness to go to be a governor; for his islanders already wished for him, as for rain in May. Sancho made his bow, and said, "Ever since my descent from Heaven, and since from its lofty summit I beheld the earth, and observed it to be so small, the great desire I had of being a governor is, in part, cooled; for what grandeur is it to command on a grain of mustard-seed, or what dignity or dominion is there in governing half a dozen men no bigger than hazel-nuts? for methought the whole earth was nothing more? If your lordship would be pleased to give me but some small portion of Heaven, though it were no more than half a league, I would accept it with a better will than the biggest island in the world." "Look you, friend Sancho." answered the duke, "I can give away no part of Heaven, though no bigger than one's nail; for God has reserved the disposal of those favours and graces in his power. But what I can give you, I give you; and that is an island ready made, round and sound, and well proportioned, and above measure fruitful and abundant, where, if you manage dexterously, you may, with the riches of the earth, purchase the treasures of Heaven." "Well then," answered Sancho, "let this island come; for it shall go hard but I will be such a governor, that, in spite of rogues, I shall go to Heaven; and think not it is out of covetousness that I forsake my humble cottage, and aspire to greater things, but for the desire I have to taste how it relishes to be a governor." "If once you taste it, Sancho," said the duke, "you will eat your fingers after it, so very sweet a thing it is to command, and be obeyed. Sure I am, when your master comes to be an emperor (for doubtless he will be one, in the way his affairs are), no one will be able to wrest it from him, and it will grieve and vex him to the heart to have been so long a time without being one." "Sir," replied Sancho, "I am of opinion it is good to command, though it be but a flock of sheep." "Let me be buried with you, Sancho, for you know something of everything," answered the duke, "and I doubt not you will prove such a governor as your wit seems to promise. Let this suffice for the present; and take notice, that, to-morrow, without fail, you shall depart for the government of the island. and this evening you shall be fitted with a convenient garb, and with all things necessary for your departure." "Let them dress me," quoth Sancho, "how they will; for, howsoever I go clad, I shall still be Sancho Panza." "That is true," said the duke; "but our dress must be suitable to the employment, or dignity, we are in: for it would be preposterous for a lawyer to be habited like a soldier, or a soldier like a priest. You, Sancho, must go dressed partly like a scholar, and partly like a captain; for, in the island I give you, arms are as necessary as letters, and letters as arms." "Letters," answered Sancho, "I know but little of; for I can scarcely say the A, B, C; but it is sufficient to have the Christus(185) to be a good governor; and as to arms, I shall handle such as are given me, till I fall, and God be my guide." "With so good a memory," added the duke, "Sancho can never err."

By this time Don Quixote came up, and, learning what had passed, and how suddenly Sancho was to depart to his government, with the duke's leave, he took him by the hand, and carried him with him to his chamber, proposing to give him advice how to behave himself in his employment. Being come into the apartment, he shut the door after him, and, almost by -[473]- force, made Sancho sit down by him, and, with a composed voice, said to him, "Infinite thanks give I to Heaven, friend Sancho, that, first, and before I have met with any good luck myself, good fortune has gone forth to meet and receive you. I, who had made over my future good success for the payment of your past services, find myself still at the beginning of my advancement, whilst you, before the due time, and against all rule of reasonable expectation, find yourself in full possession of your wishes. Others bribe, importune, solicit, attend early, pray, persist, and yet do not obtain what they aim at; another comes, and, without knowing how, or which way, carries that employment, or office against all other pretenders. And this makes good the saying, In pretensions luck is all. You, who, in respect to me, without doubt are a blockhead, without rising early, or sitting up late, and without taking any pains at all, by the air alone of knight-errantry breathing on you, see yourself, without more ado, governor of an island, as if it were a matter of nothing. All this I say, O Sancho, that you may not ascribe the favour done you to your own merit, but give thanks, first to Heaven, which disposes things so sweetly, and, in the next place, to the grandeur inherent in the profession of knight-errantry. Now, your heart being disposed to believe what I have been saying, be attentive, son, to me, your Cato, who will be your counsellor, your north star and guide, to conduct and steer you safe into port, out of that tempestuous sea, wherein you are going to be ingulfed; for offices and great employments are nothing else but a profound gulf of confusions.

"First, my son, fear God; for, to fear him is wisdom, and being wise, you cannot err.

"Secondly, consider who you were, and endeavour to know yourself, which is the most difficult point of knowledge imaginable. The knowledge of yourself will keep you from puffing yourself up, like the frog, who strove to equal herself to the ox; for the consideration of your having been a swineherd in your own country will be, to the wheel of your fortune, like the peacock's ugly feet." "True," answered Sancho; "when I was a boy, I kept swine; but afterwards, when I grew towards man, I looked after geese, and not after hogs. But this, methinks, is nothing to the purpose; for all governors are not descended from the loins of kings." "Granted," replied Don Quixote; "and therefore those, who are not of noble descent, should accompany the gravity of the office they bear with a kind of gentle sweetness, which, guided by prudence, exempts them from that ill-natured murmuring which no state of life can well escape.

"Value yourself, Sancho, upon the meanness of your family, and be not ashamed to own you descend from peasants; for when people see that you yourself are not ashamed, nobody else will endeavour to make you so; and think it greater merit to be a virtuous mean man than a proud sinner: infinite is the number of those, who, born of low extraction, have risen to the highest dignities, both papal and imperial; and of this truth I could produce examples enough to tire you.

"Look you, Sancho, if you take virtue for a mean, and value yourself upon doing virtuous actions, you need not envy lords and princes; for blood is inherited, but virtue acquired; and virtue has an intrinsic worth which blood has not.

"This being so, as it really is, if by chance one of your kindred comes to see you when you are in your island, do not despise nor affront him, but receive, cherish, and make much of him; for, in so doing, you will -[474]- please God, who will have nobody despise his workmanship, and you will act agreeable to nature well disposed.

"If you take your wife along with you (and it is not proper for those who govern to be long without one), teach, instruct, and polish her from her natural rudeness; for, many times, all that a discreet governor can acquire is dissipated and lost by an ill-bred and foolish woman.

"If you chance to become a widower (a thing which may happen), and your station entitles you to a better match, seek not such a one as may serve you for a hook and angling-rod, or a friar's hood to receive alms in, for, believe me, whatever the judge's wife receives, the husband must account for at the general judgment, and shall pay fourfold after death for what he made no reckoning of in his life.

"Be not governed by the law of your own will, which is wont to bear much sway with the ignorant, who presume upon being discerning.

"Let the tears of the poor find more compassion, but not more justice, from you, than the informations of the rich.

"Endeavour to sift out the truth amidst the presents and promises of the rich, as well as among the sighs and importunities of the poor.

"When equity can, and ought to, take place, lay not the whole rigour of the law upon the delinquent; for the reputation of the rigorous judge is not better than that of the compassionate one.

"If perchance the rod of justice be warped a little, let it not be by the weight of a gift, but that of mercy.

"If it happens, that the cause of your enemy comes before you, fix not your mind on the injury done you, but upon the merits of the case.

"Let not private affection blind you in another man's cause; for the errors you shall commit thereby are often without remedy, and, if there should be one, it will be at the expense both of your reputation and fortune.

"If a beautiful woman comes to demand justice, turn away your eves from her tears, and your ears from her sighs, and consider at leisure the substance of her request, unless you have a mind your reason should be drowned in her tears, and your integrity in her sighs.

"Him you are to punish with deeds, do not evil-entreat with words; for the pain of the punishment is enough for the wretch to bear, without the addition of ill language.

"In the criminal, who falls under your jurisdiction, consider the miserable man, subject to the condition of our depraved nature; and, as much as in you lies, without injuring the contrary party, show pity and clemency, for, though the attributes of God are all equal, that of his mercy is more pleasing and attractive in our eyes than that of his justice.

"If, Sancho, you observe these precepts and these rules, your days will be long, and your fame eternal; your recompense full, and your felicity unspeakable. You shall match your children as you please; they and your grandchildren shall inherit titles; you shall live in peace, and in favour with all men; and at the end of your life, death shall find you in a sweet and mature old age, and your eyes shall be closed by the tender and pious hands of your grandchildren's children.

"What I have hitherto taught you, Sancho, are documents for the adorning your mind; listen now to those which concern the adornments of the body."


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