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 LXXIV: How Don Quixote fell Sick, made his Will, and Died.


As all human things, especially the lives of men, are transitory, incessantly declining from their beginning, till they arrive at their final period; and as -[604]- that of Don Quixote had no peculiar privilege from Heaven, to exempt it from the common fate, his end and dissolution came, when he least thought of it. For, whether it proceeded from the melancholy occasioned by finding himself vanquished, or from the disposition of Heaven so decreeing it, he was seized with a fever, which confined him six days to his bed, in which time he was frequently visited by the priest, the bachelor, and the barber, his friends; his trusty squire Sancho Panza never stirring from his bedside. They, supposing that his grief at being vanquished, and the disappointment of his wishes as to the restoration and disenchantment of Dulcinea, had reduced him to this state, endeavoured by all imaginable ways to revive his spirits. The bachelor bid him be of good courage, and rise from bed, to enter upon his pastoral exercise: he having already composed an eclogue to that purpose, not inferior to any written by Sannazarius; telling him besides, that he had already bought with his own money of a herdsman of Quintanar, two excellent dogs, to guard the flock, the one called Barcino, and the other Butron. But, for all this, Don Quixote's melancholy continued. His friends sent for a physician, who felt his pulse, and did not much like it, and said, come what would, it would not be amiss for him to look to his soul's health, that of his body being in danger. Don Quixote heard it with composure of mind; but not so did his housekeeper, his niece, and his squire, who all began to weep most bitterly, as if he were already dead, and laid out before their faces. It was the doctor's opinion, that melancholy and disappointment had brought him to his end. Don Quixote desired they would leave him, for he was inclined to sleep a little.

They did so, and he slept at a stretch, as the saying is, above six hours, insomuch that the housekeeper and the niece thought he would never awake more. But awake he did at the end of that time, and, with a loud voice, said: "Blessed be Almighty God, who has vouchsafed me so great a good; in short, his mercies have no bounds, and the sins of men can neither lessen nor obstruct them." The niece listened attentively to her uncle's words, and she thought there was more sense in them than usual, at least since his sickness, and she said to him: "What is it you say, Sir? Has anything extraordinary happened? What mercies and what sins do you speak of?" "Niece," answered Don Quixote, "the mercies I mean are those God has been pleased, notwithstanding my sins, to vouchsafe me at this instant. My judgment is now undisturbed, and free from those dark clouds of ignorance, with which my eager and continual reading of those detestable books of chivalry had obscured it. Now I perceive the absurdity and delusion of them, and am only sorry I am undeceived so late, that I have no time left to make some amends, by reading others that might help to enlighten my soul. I feel myself, niece, at the point of death, and I would fain so order it as not to leave the imputation of madness upon my memory; for, though I must confess I have been a madman, I would not confirm the truth of it at my death. Dear child, call hither my good friends, the priest, the Bachelor Sampson Carrasco, and Master Nicholas the barber; for I would make my confession and my will." But this trouble was saved the niece by the coming of all three.

Scarcely had Don Quixote set his eyes on them, when he cried out: "Give me joy, good gentlemen, that I am now no longer Don Quixote de la Mancha, but Alonzo Quixano, for his virtues surnamed the Good. I am now an utter enemy to Amadis de Gaul, and the innumerable rabble of -[605]- his descendants: now all the histories of knight-errantry are to me odious and profane; I am now sensible of my folly, and of the danger I was led into by reading them; and now, through the mercy of God, and my own dear-bought experience, I detest and abhor them." When his three friends heard him speak thus, they believed for certain, that some new frenzy had possessed him; and Sampson said to him: "What! Signor Don Quixote, now that we have news of the Lady Dulcinea's being disenchanted, do you talk at this rate? and, now that we are just upon the point of becoming shepherds, to lead our lives singing, and like any princes, would you turn hermit?" "Peace, I conjure you," replied Don Quixote; "recollect yourself, and leave idle stories: those, which have hitherto done me so much real hurt, my repentance, by the assistance of Heaven, shall convert to my good. I feel, gentlemen, the quick approach of death: let us be serious, and bring me a confessor, and a notary to draw my will; for in such circumstances as these, a man must not trifle with his soul; and therefore I beseech you, while my friend the priest is taking my confession, let the notary be fetched." They stared at one another, wondering at Don Quixote's expressions, and, though still in some doubt, they resolved to believe him; and one of the signs by which they conjectured he was dying, was his passing by so easy and sudden a transition, from mad to sober. To the words he had already spoken he added others, so proper, so rational, and so Christian, that their doubt was quite removed, and they verily believed him in his perfect senses. The priest made everybody leave the room, and stayed with him alone, and confessed him. The bachelor went for the notary, and presently returned with him, and with Sancho Panza, who having learned from the bachelor in what condition his master was, besides finding the housekeeper and the niece in tears, began to pucker up his face, and to fall a-blubbering. The confession ended, the priest came out of the room, saying: "Good Alonzo Quixano is just expiring, and certainly in his right mind; let us all go in, that he may make his will." This news opened the sluices of the swollen eyes of the housekeeper, the niece, and Sancho Panza, his trusty squire, in such wise, that it forced a torrent of tears from their eyes, and a thousand groans from their breasts: for, in truth, as has been said before, both while he was plain Alonzo Quixano, and while he was Don Quixote de la Mancha, he was ever of an amiable disposition, and affable behaviour, and was therefore beloved, not only by those of his own family, but by all that knew him.

The notary now entered the room with the others; and the preamble of the will being made, and Don Quixote having disposed of his soul with all the Christian circumstances required, coming to the legacies, he said: "Item, it is my will, that in respect to certain monies, which Sancho Panza, whom, in my madness, I made my squire, has in his hands, there being between him and me some reckonings, receipts, and disbursements, he shall not be charged with them, nor called to any account for them; but if, after he has paid himself, there be any overplus, which will be but very little, it shall be his own, and much good may it do him; and if, as during my madness, I was the occasion of procuring for him the government of an island, I could, now that I am in my senses, procure him that of a kingdom, I would readily do it; for the sincerity of his heart, and the fidelity of his dealings, deserve it;" and turning to Sancho, he said: "Forgive me, friend, for making you a madman, by persuading you to believe, as I did myself, that there have been formerly, and are now, -[606]- knights-errant in the world." "Alas!" answered Sancho sobbing, "dear Sir, do not die; but take my counsel, and live many years; for the greatest madness a man can commit in this life is to suffer himself to die without anybody's killing him, or being brought to his end by any other hand than that of melancholy. Be not lazy, Sir, but get out of bed, and let us be going to the field, dressed like shepherds, as we agreed to do; and who knows, but behind some bush or other we may find the Lady Dulcinea, disenchanted as fine as heart could wish? If you die for grief of being vanquished, lay the blame upon me, and say you were unhorsed by my not having girted Rozinante's saddle as it ought to have been: beside, your worship must have read in your books of chivalries, that it is a common thing for one knight to unhorse another, and him who is vanquished to-day, to become conqueror to-morrow." "It is so," said Sampson," and honest Sancho is very much in the right." "Gentlemen," replied Don Quixote, "let us proceed fair and softly. Look not for this years birds in last year's nests. I was mad; I am now sober: I was Don Quixote de la Mancha; I am now, as I have said, the good Alonzo Quixano; and may my unfeigned repentance, and my sincerity, restore me to the esteem you once had for me; and let the notary proceed."

"Item, I bequeath to Antonia Quixano, my niece, here present, all my estate real and personal, after the payment of all my debts and legacies: and the first to be discharged shall be the wages due to my housekeeper for the time she has been in my service, and twenty ducats besides for mourning. I appoint for my executors Signor the Priest, and Signor Bachelor Sampson Carrasco, here present. Item, it is my will, that if Antonia Quixano, my niece, is inclined to marry, it shall be with a man, who, upon the strictest inquiry, shall be found to know nothing of books of chivalry; and in case it shall appear he is acquainted with them, and my niece notwithstanding will and does marry him, she shall forfeit all I have bequeathed her, which my executors may dispose of in pious uses as they think proper. Item, I beseech the said gentlemen, my executors, that, if good fortune should bring them acquainted with the author, who is said to have written a history handed about, and entitled, ''The Second Part of the Exploits of Don Quixote de la Mancha,' they will, in my name, most earnestly entreat him to pardon the occasion I have unwittingly given him of writing so many and so great absurdities as he there has done: for I depart this life with a burden upon my conscience for having furnished him with a motive for so doing." With this the will was closed, and a fainting-fit seizing him, he stretched himself out at full length in the bed. They were all alarmed, and ran to his assistance, and in three days that he survived the making his will, he fainted away very often. The house was all in confusion; however, the niece ate, the housekeeper drank, and Sancho Panza made much of himself; for this business of legacies effaces or moderates the grief that is naturally due to the deceased.

In short, after receiving all the sacraments, and expressing his abhorrence in strong and pathetic terms, of all the books of chivalry, Don Quixote's last hour came. The notary was present, and protested he had never read in any book of chivalry, that ever any knight-errant had died in his bed in so composed and Christian a manner as Don Quixote, who, amidst the plaints and tears of the bystanders, resigned his breath, I mean, died. Which the priest seeing, he desired the notary to draw up a certificate, that Alonzo Quixano, commonly called Don Quixote de la -[607]- Mancha, was departed this life, and died a natural death; and ha insisted upon this testimonial, lest any other author, besides Cid Hamete Benengeli, should raise him from the dead, and write endless stories of his exploits.

This was the end of the ingenious gentleman of La Mancha, the place of whose birth Cid Hamete would not expressly name, that all the towns and villages of La Mancha might contend among themselves, and each adopt him for their own, as the seven cities of Greece contended for Homer. We omit the lamentations of Sancho, the niece, and the housekeeper, with the new epitaphs upon his tomb, excepting this by Sampson Carrasco:

" Here lies the flow'r of chivalry,
          The knight of courage ample;
  In soul and arms so great was he,
  Death could not quell his bravery,
          Nor on his laurels trample.

  He in short time extended wide
          Through all the world his glory;
  In madness with Orlando vied,
  But like a sober Christian died
          And so concludes his story."

And the sagacious Cid Hamete, addressing himself to his pen, said: "Here, O my slender quill, whether well or ill cut I know not, here suspended by this brass wire, shalt thou hang upon this spit-rack, and live many long ages, if presumptuous or wicked historians do not take thee down to profane thee. But before they offer to touch thee, give them this warning in the best manner thou canst:

' Beware ye poet-thieves, beware,
          Nor steal a single line;
  For fate has made this work its care,
          And guaranteed it mine.'

For me alone was Don Quixote born, and I for him; he knew how to act, and I how to write: we were destined for each other, maugre and in despite of that scribbling impostor of Tordesillas, who has dared, or shall dare, with his gross and ill-cut ostrich quill, to describe the exploits of my valorous knight; a burden too weighty for his shoulders, and an undertaking above his cold and frozen genius. And warn him, if perchance he falls in thy way, to suffer the wearied and now mouldering bones of Don Quixote to repose in the grave; nor endeavour in contradiction to all the ancient usages and customs of death, to carry him into Old Castile, making him rise out of the vault, in which he really and truly lies at full length, totally unable to attempt a third expedition, or a new sally: for the two he has already made with such success, and so much to the general satisfaction, as well of the people of these kingdoms of Spain, as of foreign countries, are sufficient to ridicule all that have been made by other knights-errant. And thus shalt thou comply with the duty of thy Christian profession, giving good advice to those who wish thee ill; and I shall rest satisfied, and proud to have been the first who enjoyed entire the fruits of his writings; for my only desire was to bring into public abhorrence the fabulous and absurd histories of knight-errantry, which, by means of that of my true and genuine Don Quixote, begin already to totter, and will doubtless fall, never to rise again. Farewell."


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