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 XLV: How the great Sancho Panza took Possession of his Island, and of the Manner of his Beginning to govern it.


O thou, perpetual discoverer of the Antipodes, torch of the world, eye of Heaven, sweet motive of wine-cooling bottles;(192) here Tymbraeus, there Phoebus; here archer, there physician; father of poesy, inventor of music; thou, who always risest, and, though thou seemest to do so, never settest; to thee I speak, O sun! by whose assistance man begets man; thee I invoke to favour and enlighten the obscurity of my genius, that I may be able punctually to describe the government of the great Sancho Panza; for, without thee, I find myself indolent, dispirited, and confused.

I say then, that Sancho, with all his attendants, arrived at a town that contained about a thousand inhabitants, and was one of the best the duke had. They gave him to understand that it was called the island of Barataria, either because Barataria was really the name of the place, or because he obtained the government of it at so cheap a rate.(193) At his arrival near the gates of the town, which was walled about, the magistrates in their robes of office, came out to receive him, the bells rang, and the people gave demonstrations of a general joy, and, with a great deal of pomp, conducted him to the great church to give thanks to God. Presently after, with certain ridiculous ceremonies, they presented to him the keys of the town, and admitted him as perpetual governor of the island of Barataria. The garb, the beard, the thickness and shortness of the new governor, held all, that were not in the secret, in astonishment, and even those that were, who were not a few. In short, as soon as they had brought him out of the church, they carried him to the tribunal of justice, and placed him in the chair, and the duke's steward said to him: "It is an ancient custom here, my lord governor, that he, who comes to take possession of this famous island, is obliged to answer to a question put to him, which is somewhat intricate and difficult; and by his answer the people are enabled to feel the pulse of their new governor's understanding, and, accordingly, are either glad or sorry for his coming."

While the steward was saying this, Sancho was staring at some capital letters written on the wall opposite to his chair; and, because he could not read, he asked what that painting was on the wall. He was answered, "Sir, it is there written, on what day your honour took possession of this island; and the inscription runs thus: 'This day (such a day of the month and year) Signor Don Sancho Panza took possession of this island, and long may he enjoy it!' " "And, pray," quoth he, "who is it they call Don Sancho Panza?" "Your lordship," answered the steward;" for no other Panza, besides him now in the chair, ever came into this island." "Take notice, brother," quoth Sancho, "Don does not belong to me, nor ever did to any of my family: I am called plain Sancho Panza; my father was a Sancho, and my -[485]- grandfather a Sancho, and they were all Panzas, without any addition of Dons or Donnas; and I fancy there are more Dons than stones in this island: but enough; God knows my meaning, and perhaps, if my government last four days, I may weed out those Dons that overrun the country, and, by their numbers, are as troublesome as gnats. On with your question, master steward, and I will answer the best I can, let the people be sorry, or not sorry."

At this instant two men came into the court, the one clad like a country fellow, and the other like a tailor, with a pair of shears in his hand; and the tailor said: "My lord governor, I and this countryman come before your worship, by reason this honest man came yesterday to my shop (for, saving your presence, I am a tailor, and have passed my examination, God be thanked), and. putting a piece of cloth into my hands, asked me; Sir, is there enough of this to make me a cap? I, measuring the piece, answered Yes. Now he imagining, as I imagine (and I imagined right), that doubtless I had a mind to cabbage some of the cloth, grounding his conceit upon his own knavery, and upon the common ill opinion had of tailors, bid me view it again, and see if there was not enough for two. I guessed his drift, and told him there was. My gentleman, persisting in his knavish intention, went on increasing the number of caps, and I adding to the number of Yes's, till we came to five caps; and even now he came for them. I offered them to him, and he refuses to pay me for the making, and pretends I shall either return him his cloth, or pay him for it." "Is all this so, brother?" demanded Sancho. "Yes," answered the man; "but pray, my lord, make him produce the five caps he has made me." "With all my heart," answered the tailor, and pulling his hand from under his cloak, he showed the five caps on the end of his fingers and thumb, saying: "Here are the five caps this honest man would have me make, and, on my soul and conscience, not a shred of the cloth is left, and I submit the work to be viewed by any inspectors of the trade." All that were present laughed at the number of the caps, and the novelty of the suit. Sancho set himself to consider a little, and said: "I am of opinion, there needs no great delay in this suit, and it may be decided very equitably offhand; and therefore I pronounce, that the tailor lose the making, and the countryman the stuff, and that the caps be confiscated to the use of the poor; and there is an end of that." If the sentence he afterwards passed on the purse of the herdsman caused the admiration of all the by-standers, this excited their laughter. In short, what the governor commanded was executed.

The next that presented themselves before him were two ancient men, the one with a cane in his hand for a staff; and he without a staff said: "My lord, some time ago I lent this man ten crowns of gold, to oblige and serve him, upon condition he should return them on demand. I let him alone a good while, without asking for them, because I was loath to put him to a greater strait to pay me than he was in when I lent them. But at length, thinking he was negligent of the payment, I asked him more than once or twice for my money, and he not only refuses payment, but denies the debt, and says I never lent him any such sum, and if I did, that he has already paid me; and I having no witnesses of the loan, nor he of the payment, entreat your worship will take his oath; and, if he will swear he has returned me the money, I acquit him from this minute before God and the world." "What say you to this, old gentleman with the -[486]- staff?" quoth Sancho. To which the old fellow replied!" I confess, my lord, he did lend me the money; and, if your worship pleases to hold down your wand of justice, since he leaves it to my oath, I will swear I have really and truly returned it him." The governor held down the wand, and the old fellow gave the staff to his creditor to hold, while be was swearing, as if it encumbered him; and presently laid his hand upon the cross of the wand, and said, it was true indeed he had lent him those ten crowns he asked for; but that he had restored them to him into his own hand: and because, he supposed he had forgot it, he was every moment asking him for them. Which the great governor seeing, he asked the creditor what he had to answer to what his antagonist had alleged. He replied, he did not doubt but his debtor had said the truth; for he took him to be an honest man, and a good Christian; and that he himself must have forgotten when and where the money was returned; and that, from henceforward, he would never ask him for it again. The debtor took his staff again, and, bowing his head, went out of court. Sancho seeing this, and that he was gone without more ado, and observing also the patience of the creditor, he inclined his head upon his breast, and. laying the forefinger of his right hand upon his eyebrows and nose, he continued, as it were, full of thought a short spate, and then, lifting up his head, he ordered the old man with the staff, who was already gone, to he called back. He was brought back accordingly; and Sancho, seeing him, said: "Give me that staff, honest friend; for I have occasion for it" "With all my heart," answered the old fellow; and delivered it into his hand. Sancho took it, and, giving it to the other old man, said: "Go about your business, in God's name, for you are paid." "I, my lord?" answered the old man: "what! is this cane worth ten golden crowns?" "Yes," quoth the governor, "or I am the greatest dunce in the world: and now it shall appear, whether I have a head to govern a whole kingdom." Straight he commanded the cane to be broken before them all. Which being done, there were found in the hollow of it ten crowns of gold. All were struck with admiration, and took their new governor for a second Solomon. They asked him whence he had collected that the ten crowns were in the cane. He answered, that, upon seeing the old man give it his adversary, while he was taking the oath; and swearing that he had really and truly restored them into his own hands, and, when he had done, ask for it again, it came into his imagination that the money in dispute must be in the hollow of the cane. Whence it may be gathered that God Almighty often directs the judgment of those who govern, though otherwise mere blockheads: besides, he had heard the priest of his parish tell a like case; and, were it not that he was so unlucky as to forget all he had a mind to remember, his memory was so good, there would not have been a better in the whole island. At length both the old men marched off, the one ashamed, and the other satisfied: the by-standers were surprised and the secretary, who minuted down the words, actions, and behaviour of Sancho Panza, could not determine with himself whether he should set him down for a wise man or a fool.

This cause was no sooner ended, but there came into court a woman. keeping fast hold of a man, clad like a rich herdsman. She came crying aloud: "Justice, my lord governor, justice; "if I cannot find it on earth, I will seek it in Heaven: lord governor of my soul, this wicked man surprised me in the middle of the field, and made use of my body as if it had -[487]- been a dish-clout, and, woe is me, has robbed me of what I have kept above these three and twenty years, defended it against Moors and Christians, natives and foreigners. I have been as hard as a cork-tree, and preserved myself as entire as a salamander in the fire, or as wool among briers, that this honest man should come with his clean hands to handle me." "It remains to be examined," quoth Sancho, "whether this gallant's hands are clean or no;" and, turning to the man, he asked him what he had to say, and what answer to make to the woman's complaint. The man, all in confusion, replied: "Sirs, I am a poor herdsman, and deal in swine, and this morning I went out of this town, after having sold (under correction be it spoken) four hogs, and, what between dues and exactions, the officers took from me little less than they were worth. I was returning home, and by the way I lighted upon this good dame, and the devil, the author of all mischief, yoked us together. I paid her handsomely; but she, not contented, laid hold on me, and has never let me go, till she has dragged me to this place: she says I forced her; but, by the oath I have taken, or am to take, she lies; and this is the whole truth." Then the governor asked him, if he had any silver money about him. He said Yes, he had about twenty ducats in a leathern purse in his bosom. He ordered him to produce it, and deliver it just as it was to the plaintiff. He did so, trembling. The woman took it, and, making a thousand courtesies, after the Moorish manner, and praying to God for the life and health of the lord governor, who took such care of poor orphans and maidens, out of the court she went, holding the purse with both hands; but first she looked to see if the money that was in it was silver. She was scarcely gone out when Sancho said to the herdsman, who was in tears, and whose eyes and heart were gone after his purse: "Honest man, follow that woman, and take away the purse from her, whether she will or no, and come back hither with it." This was not said to the deaf or the stupid; for instantly he flew after her like lightning, and went about what he was bid. All present were in great suspense, expecting the issue of this suit; and presently after came in the man and the woman, clinging together closer than the first time, she with her petticoat tucked up, and the purse lapped up in it, and the man struggling to take it from her, but in vain, so tightly she defended it, crying out: "Justice from God and the world! See, my lord governor, the impudence and the want of fear of this varlet, who, in the midst of the town and of the street, would take from me the purse your worship commanded to be given me." "And has he got it?" demanded the governor. "Got it!" answered the woman; "I would sooner let him take away my life than my purse. A pretty baby I should be, indeed: otherguise cats must claw my beard, and not such pitiful sneaking tools; pincers and hammers, crows and chisels, shall not get it out of my clutches, nor even the paws of a lion; my soul and body shall sooner part." "She is in the right," quoth the man, "and I yield myself worsted and spent, and confess I have not strength enough to take it from her;" and so he left her. Then said the governor to the woman: "Give me that purse, virtuous virago." She presently delivered it, and returned it to the man, and said to the forceful, but not forced, damsel: "Sister of mine, had you shown the same, or but half as much courage and resolution in defending your chastity as you have done in defending your purse, the strength of Hercules could not have forced you. Begone, in God's name, and in an ill hour, and be not found in all this island, nor in six leagues -[488]- round about it, upon pain of two hundred stripes; begone instantly, I say, thou prating, shameless, cheating hussy!" The woman was confounded, and went away, hanging down her head and discontented; and the governor said to the man: "Honest man, go home, in the name of God, with your money, and from henceforward, unless you have a mind to lose it, take care not to yoke with anybody." The countryman gave him thanks after the clownishest manner he could, and went his way; and the by-standers were in fresh admiration at the decisions and sentences of their new governor. All which, being noted down by his historiographer, was immediately transmitted to the duke, who waited for it with a longing impatience. And here let us leave honest Sancho; for his master, greatly disturbed at Altisidora's music, calls in haste for us.


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