Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis

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-[512]-

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 LI: Of the progress of Sancho Panza's Government, with other entertaining events.

 

Now appeared the day succeeding the night of the governor's round; which the sewer passed without sleeping, his thoughts being taken up with the countenance, air, and beauty of the disguised damsel; and the steward spent the remainder of it in writing to his lord and lady what Sancho Panza said and did, equally wondering at his deeds and sayings; for his words and actions were intermixed with strong indications both of discretion and folly. In short, Signor Governor got up, and by the direction of Doctor Pedro Rezio, they gave him, to break his fast, a little conserve, and four draughts of cold water; which Sancho would gladly have exchanged for a piece of bread and a bunch of grapes; but, seeing it was more by force than good-will, he submitted to it with sufficient grief to his soul, and toil to his stomach; Pedro Rezio making him believe that to eat but little, and that of slight things, quickened the judgment, which was the properest thing that could be for persons appointed to rule and bear offices of dignity: in which there is not so much occasion for bodily strength as for that of the understanding. By means of this sophistry, Sancho endured hunger to a degree, that inwardly he cursed the government, and even him that gave it. -[513]-

However, with his hunger and his conserve, he sat in Judgment that day, and the first thing that offered, was a question proposed by a stranger; the steward and the rest of the assistants being present all the while. It was this: "My lord, a main river divides the two parts of one lordship pray, my lord, be attentive; for it is a case of importance, and somewhat difficult I say then, that upon this river stood a bridge, and at the head of it a gallows, and a kind of court-house, for a seat of judicature; in which there were commonly four judges, whose office it was to give sentence according to a law enjoined by the owner of the river, of the bridge, and of the lordship; which law was in this form: Whoever passes over this bridge, from one side to the other, must first take an oath from whence he comes, and what business he is going about; and, if he swears true, they shall let him pass; but, if he tells a lie, he shall die for it upon yonder gallows, without any remission. This law, and the rigorous condition thereof, being known, several persons passed over; for, by what they swore, it was soon perceived they swore the truth, and the judges let them pass freely. Now it fell out that a certain man, taking the oath, swore, and said, by the oath he had taken, he was going to die upon the gallows, which stood there, and that this was his business, and no other. The judges deliberated upon the oath, and said, 'If we let this man pass freely, he swore a lie, and by the law he ought to die; and if we hang him, he swore he went to die upon that gallows, and, having sworn the truth, by the same law he ought to go free. It is now demanded of my lord governor, how the judges shall proceed with this man; for they are still doubtful and in suspense; and, being informed of the acuteness and elevation of your lordship's understanding, they have sent me to beseech your lordship, on their behalf, to give your opinion in so intricate and doubtful a case." To which Sancho answered: "For certain these gentlemen, the judges, who sent you to me, might have saved themselves, and you, the labour; for I have more of the blunt than the acute in me: nevertheless, repeat me the business over again, that I may understand it; perhaps I may hit the mark." The querist repeated what he had said once or twice, and Sancho said, "In my opinion, this affair may be briefly resolved, and it is thus. The man swears he is going to die upon the gallows, and, if he is hanged, he swore the truth, and by the law established, ought to be free, and to pass the bridge; and, if they do not hang him, he swore a lie, and, by the same law, he ought to be hanged." "It is just as Signor Governor says," replied the messenger, "and nothing more is wanting to the right stating and understanding of the case." "I say then," answered Sancho, "that they ought to let pass that part of the man which swore the truth, and hang that part which swore a lie; and thus the condition of the passage will be literally fulfilled." "If so, Signor Governor," replied the querist, "it will be necessary to divide the man into two parts, the false and the true; and, if he is cut asunder, he must necessarily die, and so there is not a tittle of the law fulfilled, and there is an express necessity of fulfilling the law." "Come hither, honest man," answered Sancho; "either I am a very dunce, or there is as much reason to put this passenger to death, as to let him live and pass the bridge; for, if the truth saves him, the lie equally condemns him; and this being so, as it really is, I am of opinion, that you should tell those gentlemen, who sent you to me, that, since the reasons for condemning him and acquitting him are equal, they ought to let him pass freely; for it is always commendable to do good rather than harm; -[514]- and this I would give under my hand, if I could write; and, in this case, I speak not of my own head, but upon recollection of a precept given me, among many others, by my master, Don Quixote, the night before I set out to be governor of this island; which was, that, when justice happens to be in the least doubtful, I should incline and lean to the side of mercy; and God has been pleased to make me remember it in the present case, in which it comes in so pat." "It does so," answered the steward; "and, for my part, I think Lycurgus himself, who gave laws to the Lacedemonians, could not have given a better judgment than that now given by the great Panza; and let us have no more hearings this morning, and I will give order, that Signor Governor shall dine to-day much to his satisfaction." "That is what I desire, and let us have fair play," quoth Sancho. "Let me but dine, and bring me cases and questions never so thick, I will despatch them in the snuffing of a candle."

The steward was as good as his word, making it a matter of conscience to starve so discerning a governor; especially since he intended to come to a conclusion with him that very night, and to play him the last trick he had in commission.

It fell out then, that, having dined that day against all the rules and aphorisms of Doctor Tirteafuera, at taking away the cloth, a courier came in with a letter from Don Quixote to the governor. Sancho bid the secretary read it first to himself, and, if there was nothing in it that required secrecy, to read it aloud. The secretary did so, and, glancing it over, said, "Well may it be read aloud; for what Signor Don Quixote writes to your lordship deserves to be printed and written in letters of gold; and the contents are these:

Don Quixote de La Mancha's letter to Sancho Panza, Governor of the island of Barataria.

"When I expected, friend Sancho, to have heard news of your negligences and impertinences, I nave had accounts of your discretion; for which I give particular thanks to Heaven, that can raise the poor from the dunghill, and make wise men of fools. I am told, you govern as if you were a man, and are a man as if you were beast, such is the humility of your demeanour. But I would have you take notice, Sancho, that it is often expedient and necessary, for the sake of authority, to act in contradiction to the humility of the heart; for the decent adorning of the person in weighty employments must be conformable to what those offices require, and not according to the measure of what a man's own humble condition inclines him to. Go well clad; for a broomstick well dressed does not appear a broomstick. I do not mean that you should wear jewels or fine clothes, nor, being a judge, that you should dress like a soldier; but that you should adorn yourself with such an habit as suits your employment, and such as is neat and handsomely made. To gain the good-will of the people you govern, two things, among others, you must do. One is, to be civil to all (though I have already told you this), and the other is, to take care that there be plenty; since nothing is so discouraging to the poor as hunger and dearness of provisions. Publish not many edicts, and when you do, see that they are good ones, and, above all, that they are well observed; for edicts that are not kept are as if they had not been made, and serve only to show that the prince, though he had wisdom and authority sufficient to make them, had not the courage to see them put in execution; and laws that intimidate at their publication, and are not executed, become like the log king of the frogs, which terrified them at first; but, in time, they contemned him, and got upon his back. Be a father to virtue, and a step-father to vice. Be not always severe, nor always mild; but choose the mean betwixt these two extremes; for therein consists the main point of discretion. Visit the prisons, the shambles, and the markets; for the presence of the governor in such places is of great importance. Comfort the prisoners, that they may hope to be quickly despatched. Be a bugbear to the butchers, who will then make their weights true; and be a terror to the market-people for the same reason. Do not show yourself (though perchance you may be so, but I do not believe it) given -[515]- to covetousness, to women, or gluttony; for, when the town, and those who have to do with you, find your ruling passion, by that they will play their engines upon you, till they have battered you down into the depth of destruction. View and re-view, consider and re-consider, the counsels and documents I gave you in writing, before you went hence to your government, and you will see how you will find in them, if you observe them, a choice supply to help to support you under the toils and difficulties which governors meet with at every turn. Write to your patrons, the duke and duchess, and show yourself grateful; for ingratitude is the daughter of pride, and one of the greatest sins; and the person who is grateful to those that have done him good shows thereby that he will be so to God too, who has already done him, and is continually doing him, so much good.
 

"My lady duchess has despatched a messenger with your suit and another present to your wife, Teresa Panza; we expect an answer every moment. I have been a little out of order with a certain cat-clawing, which befell not much to the advantage of my nose: but it was nothing; for, if there are enchanters who persecute me, there are others who defend me. Let me know, if the steward, who is with you, had any hand in the actions of the Trifaldi, as you suspected; give me advice, from time to time, of all that happens to you, since the way is so short. I have thoughts of quitting this idle life very soon; for I was not born for it. A business has fallen out, which will, I believe, go near to bring me into disgrace with the duke and duchess; but, though it afflicts me much, it affects me nothing; for, in short, I must comply with the rules of my profession, rather than with their pleasure, according to the old saying, Amicus Plato, sed magis amica veritas. I write this in Latin, for I persuade myself you have learned it, since you have been a governor. And so farewell, and God have you in his keeping, that nobody may pity you.

"Your friend,

"Don Quixote de la Mancha."

Sancho listened with great attention to the letter, which was applauded, and looked upon to be very judicious, by all that heard it. Presently Sancho rose from table, and, calling the secretary, he shut himself up with him in his chamber, and, without any delay, resolved immediately to send an answer to his lord Don Quixote. He bid the secretary, without adding or diminishing a tittle, to write what he should dictate to him. He did so, and the answer was to the following purport:

Sancho Panza's letter to Don Quixote de la Mancha.

"The hurry of my business is so great, that I have no time to scratch my head, nor so much as to pare my nails, and therefore I wear them very long; which God remedy. This I say, dear master of my soul, that your worship may not wonder, if hitherto I have given you no account of my well or ill-being in this government; in which I suffer more hunger than when we two wandered about through woods and deserts.

"My lord duke wrote to me the other day, giving me advice, that certain spies were come into this island to kill me; but hitherto I have been able to discover no other besides a certain doctor, who has a salary in this place for killing as many governors as shall come hither. He calls himself Doctor Pedro Rezio, and is a native of Tirteafuera; a name sufficient to make one fear dying by his hands. This same doctor says, he does not cure distempers when people have them, but prevents them from coming; and the medicines he uses are, diet upon diet, till he reduces the patient to bare bones; as if a consumption were not a worse malady than a fever. In short, he is murdering me by hunger, and I am dying of despite; for, instead of coming to this government to eat hot, and drink cool, and to recreate my body between Holland sheets, upon beds of down, I am come to do penance, as if I were an hermit; and, as I do it against my will, I verily think, at the long run, the devil will carry me away."

"Hitherto I have touched no fee, nor taken any bribe, and I cannot imagine what it will end in; for here I am told that the governors who come to this island, before they set foot in it, used to receive a good sum of money, by way of present or loan, from the people, and that this is the custom with those who go to other governments, as well as with those who come to this.

 "One night, as I was going the round, I met a very handsome damsel in man's clothes, and her brother in woman's. My sewer fell in love with the girl, and has, as he says, already in his thoughts made choice of her for his wife; and I have chosen the brother for -[516]- my son-in-law. To-day we both intend to disclose our minds to their father, who is one Diego de la Llana, a gentleman, and as old a Christian as one can desire.

"I visit the markets, as your worship advises me; and yesterday I found a huckster woman who sold new hazel-nuts, and it was proved upon her, that she had mixed with the new a bushel of old rotten ones. I confiscated them all to the use of the charity-boys, who well knew how to distinguish them, and sentenced her not to come into the market again in fifteen days. I am told, I behaved bravely; what I can tell your worship is, that it is reported in this town, that there is not a worse sort of people than your market- women; for they are all shameless, hard-hearted, and impudent; and I verily believe it so, by those I have seen in other places.

"As concerning my lady duchess's having written to my wife Teresa Panza, and sent her the present your worship mentions, I am mightily pleased with it, and will endeavour to show my gratitude at a proper time; pray kiss her honour's hand in my name, and tell her, she has not thrown her favours into a rent sack, as she will find by the effect.

"I would not wish you to have any cross-reckonings of disgust with our patrons the duke and duchess; for if your worship quarrels with them, it is plain it must redound to my damage; and since your worship advised me not to be ungrateful, it will not be proper you should be so yourself to those who have done you so many favours, and who have entertained you so generously in their castle.

"The cat business I understand not, but suppose it must be one of those unlucky tricks the wicked enchanters are wont to play your worship; I shall know more when we meet.

"I would willingly send your worship something or other, but I cannot tell what, unless it be some little clyster-pipes, which they make in this island very curiously. If my employment holds, I will look out for something to send, right or wrong. If my wife Teresa Panza writes to me, be so kind as to pay the postage, and send me the letter, for I have a mighty desire to know the estate of my house, my wife, and my children. And so, God deliver your worship from evil-minded enchanters, and bring me safe and sound out of this government, which I doubt; for I expect to lay my bones here, considering how Doctor Pedro Rezio treats me.

"Your worship's servant,

"Sancho Panza, the governor."

The secretary made up the letter, and despatched the courier with it immediately. Then those who carried on the plot against Sancho, contrived among themselves how to put an end to his government. That evening Sancho spent in making some ordinances for the good government of that which he took to be an island. He decreed that there should be no monopolizers of provisions in the commonwealth; that wines should not be imported indifferently from any parts the merchant pleased, with this injunction, that they should declare its growth, that a price might be set upon it according to its goodness, character, and true value; and that whoever dashed it with water, or changed its name, should be put to death for it. He moderated the prices of all sorts of hose and shoes, especially the latter, the current price of which he thought exorbitant. He limited the wages of servants, which before were very extravagant. He laid most severe penalties upon those who should sing lascivious and indecent songs by day or by night. He decreed that no blind man should sing his miracles in verse, unless he produced an authentic testimony of the truth of them, esteeming most of those sung by that sort of people to be false, in prejudice to the true ones. He created an overseer of the poor, not to persecute them, but to examine whether they were such or no; for under colour of feigned maimness and counterfeit sores, they are often sturdy thieves and hale drunkards. In short, he made such wholesome ordinances, that they are observed in that town to this day, and are called, "The constitutions of the great Governor Sancho Panza."

 

Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis

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