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 LIII: Of the toilsome End and Conclusion of Sancho Panza's Government.


To think that the things in this life will continue always in the same state is a vain expectation; the whole seems rather to be going round, I mean in a circle. The spring is succeeded by the summer, the summer by the autumn, the autumn by the winter, and the winter by the spring again; and thus time rolls round with a continual wheel. Human life only posts to its end, swifter than time itself, without hope of renewal, unless in the next, which is limited by no bounds. This is the reflection of Cid Hamete, the Mahometan philosopher. For many, without the light of faith, and merely by natural instinct, have discovered the transitory, and unstable condition of the present life, and the eternal duration of -[521]- condition of the present life, and the eternal duration of that which is to come. But here our author speaks with respect to the swiftness with which Sancho's government ended, perished, dissolved, and vanished into smoke and a shadow.

Who being in bed the seventh night of the days of his government, not satiated with bread nor wine, but with sitting in judgment, deciding causes, and making statutes and proclamations; and sleep, maugre and in despite of hunger, beginning to close his eyelids; he heard so great a noise of bells and voices, that he verily thought the whole island had been sinking. He sat up in his bed, and listened attentively, to see if he could guess at the cause of so great an uproar. But so far was he from guessing that, the din of an infinite number of trumpets and drums joining the noise of the bells and voices, he was in greater confusion, and in more fear and dread than at first. And getting upon his feet, he put on his slippers, because of the dampness of the floor; and without putting on his nightgown, or anything like it, he went out at his chamber door, and instantly perceived more than twenty persons coming along the gallery, with lighted torches in their hands, and their swords drawn, all crying aloud: "Arm, arm, my lord governor, arm; for an infinite number of enemies are entered the island, and we are undone, if your conduct and valour do not succour us." With this noise and uproar, they came where Sancho stood, astonished and stupefied with what he heard and saw. And when they were come up to him, one of them said, "Arm yourself straight, my lord, unless you would be ruined, and the whole island with you." "What have I to do with arming," replied Sancho, "who know nothing of arms or succours? It were better to leave these matters to my master Don Quixote, who will despatch them and secure us in a trice; for, as I am a sinner to God, I understand nothing at all of these hurly-burlies." "Alack, Signor Governor," said another, "what faint-heartedness is this? Arm yourself, Sir; for here we bring you weapons offensive and defensive; and come forth to the market-place, and be our leader and our captain, since you ought to be so, as being our governor." "Arm me, then, in God's name," replied Sancho; and instantly they brought him a couple of old targets, which they had purposely provided, and clapped them over his shirt (not suffering him to put on any other garment), the one before and the other behind. They thrust his arms through certain holes they had made in them, and tied them well with some cord; insomuch that he remained walled and boarded up straight like a spindle, without being able to bend his knees, or walk one single step. They put a lance into his hand, upon which he leaned, to keep himself upon his feet. Thus accoutred, they desired him to march, and to lead and encourage them all; for he being their north pole, their lantern, and their morning-star, their affairs would have a prosperous issue. "How should I march, wretch that I am," answered Sancho, "when I cannot stir my knee-pans? For I am hindered by these boards, which press so close and hard upon my flesh. Your only way is to carry me in your arms, and lay me athwart, or set me upright at some postern, which I will maintain, either with my lance or my body." "Fie, Signor Governor," cried another, "it is more fear than the targets that hinders your marching. Have done, for shame, and bestir yourself; for it is late, the enemy increases, the cry grows louder, and the danger presses." At which persuasions and reproaches the poor governor tried to stir, -[522]- and down he fell, with such violence that he thought he bad dashed himself to pieces. He lay like a tortoise enclosed and covered with his shell, or like a flitch of bacon between two trays, or like a boat with the keel upwards upon the sands. And though they saw him fall, those jesting rogues had not the least compassion on him; on the contrary, putting out their torches, they reinforced the clamour, and reiterated the alarm with such hurry and bustle, trampling over poor Sancho, and giving him an hundred thwacks upon the targets, that, if he had not gathered himself up, and shrunk in his head between the bucklers, it had gone hard with the poor governor; who, crumpled up in that narrow compass, sweated and sweated again, and recommended himself to God from the bottom of his heart, to deliver him from that danger. Some stumbled, others fell over him; and one there was, who, getting upon him, stood there for a good while, and from thence, as from a watch-tower, commanded the troops, and with a loud voice, cried: "This way, brave boys; here the enemy charges thickest; guard that postern; shut yon gate; down with those scaling-ladders; this way with your caldrons of rosin, pitch, and burning oil; barricade the streets with wool-packs." In short, he named, in the utmost hurry, all the necessary implements and engines of war used in defence of a city assaulted. The poor battered Sancho, who heard and bore all, said to himself: "Oh, if it were Heaven's good pleasure that this island were once lost, and I could see myself either dead or out of this great strait!" Heaven heard this petition, and, when he least expected it, he heard voices crying, "Victory, victory! the enemy is routed; rise, Signor Governor, enjoy the conquest, and divide the spoils taken from the foe by the valour of that invincible arm." "Let me be lifted up," quoth the dolorous Sancho, with a doleful voice. They helped him to rise; and when he was got upon his legs, he said: "May all the enemies I have vanquished be nailed to my forehead: I will divide no spoils of enemies; but I entreat and beseech some friend, if I have any, to give me a draught of wine, for I am almost choked; and let me dry up this sweat, for I am melting away, and turning into water.'' They rubbed him down; they brought him wine; they untied the targets. He sat down upon his bed, and swooned away with the fright, surprise, and fatigue he had undergone. Those who had played him the trick began to be sorry they had laid it on so heavily. But Sancho's coming to himself moderated the pain they were in at his fainting away. He asked what o'clock it was; they told him it was daybreak. He held his peace, and, without saying any more, he began to dress himself, while they remained buried in silence. They all stared at him, in expectation of what would be the issue of his dressing himself in such haste.

In short, having put on his clothes, by little and little (for he was so bruised he could not do it hastily), he took the way to the stable, everybody present fallowing him; and going to Dapple, he embraced him, and gave him a kiss of peace on the forehead; and, not without tears in his eyes, he said: "Come hither, my companion, my friend, and partner in my fatigues and miseries. When I consorted with thee, and had no other thoughts but the care of mending thy furniture, and feeding thy little carcass, happy were my hours, my days, and my years. But since I forsook thee, and mounted upon the towers of ambition and pride, a thousand miseries, a thousand toils, and four thousand disquiets, hare entered into my soul." And while he was talking thus, he went on pannelling his ass, without anybody's saying a word to him. Dapple being pannelled, he got upon him, with great pain -[523]- and heaviness, and directing his speech to the steward, the secretary, the sewer, and Doctor Pedro Rezio, and many others that were present, he said: "Give way, gentlemen, and suffer me to return to my ancient liberty; suffer me to seek my past life, that I may rise again from this present death. I was not born to be a governor, nor to defend islands, or cities, from enemies that assault them. I better understand how to plough and dig, how to prune, and dress vines, than how to give laws and defend provinces and kingdoms. Saint Peter is well at Rome; I mean that nothing becomes a man so well as the employment he was born for. In my hand a sickle is better than a governor's sceptre. I had rather have my belly full of my own poor porridge,(203) than be subject to the misery of an impertinent physician, who kills me with hunger; and I had rather lay myself down under the shade of an oak in summer, and equip myself with a double sheepskin jerkin in winter, at my liberty, than lie under the slavery of a government, between holland sheets, and be clothed in sables. Gentlemen, God be with you; and tell my lord duke, that naked was I born, and naked I am; I neither win nor lose; I mean, that without a penny came I to this government, and without a penny do I quit it, the direct reverse of the governors of other islands. Give me way, and let me begone to plaster myself; for I verily believe all my ribs are broken; thanks to the enemies, who have been trampling upon me all night long."

"It must not be so, Signor Governor," said Doctor Pedro Rezio;" for I will give your lordship a drink good against falls and bruises, that shall presently restore you to your former health and vigour. And, as to the eating part, I give you my word I will amend that, and let you eat abundantly of whatever you have a mind to." "It comes too late," answered Sancho;" I will as soon stay as turn Turk. These are not tricks to be played twice. Before God, I will no more continue in this, nor accept of any other government, though it were served up to me in a covered dish, than I will fly to Heaven without wings. I am of the race of the Panzas, who are all headstrong; and if they once cry odds, odds it shall be, though it be even in spite of all the world. In this stable let the pismire's wings remain, that raised me up in the air to be exposed a prey to martlets and other small birds; and return we to walk upon plain ground, with a plain foot; for, if it be not adorned with pinked Cordovan shoes, it will not want for hempen sandals.(204) Every sheep with its like; and, stretch not your feet beyond your sheet; and so let me begone; for it grows late." To which the steward said: "Signor Governor, we will let your lordship depart with all our hearts, though we shall be very sorry to lose you; for your judgment, and Christian procedure, oblige us to desire your presence; but you know, that every governor is bound, before he leaves the place he has governed, to submit to a judicature, and render an account of his administration. When your lordship has done so for the ten days you have held the government, you shall depart, and God's peace be with you." "Nobody can require that of me," answered Sancho, "but whom my lord duke shall appoint. To him I am going, and to him it shall be given exactly; besides, departing naked as I do, there needs surely no other proof of my having governed like an angel." "Before God, the great Sancho is in the right," cried Doctor Pedro Rezio, "and I am of opinion we should let him go; for the duke will be infinitely glad to see him." They all consented, and suffered him to depart, offering first to bear him company, and to furnish everything he desired for the use of his person, and the -[524]- conveniency of his journey. Sancho said he desired only a little barley for Dapple, and half a cheese and half a loaf for himself; for, since the way was so short, he stood in need of nothing more, nor any other provision. They all embraced him, and he, weeping, embraced them again, and left them in admiration as well at his discourse, as at his so resolute and discreet determination.


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