Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

The History of Don Quixote - The Second Part

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The History of the
Valorous & Witty Knight-Errant Don Quixote of the Mancha

By Miguel de Cervantes, Translated by Thomas Shelton

The Second Part

CHAPTER I: How the Vicar and the Barber passed their Time with Don Quixote, touching his Infirmity


Cid Hamet Benengeli tells us in the Second Part of this History, and Don Quixote his third sally, that the vicar and barber were almost a whole month without seeing him, because they would not renew and bring to his remembrance things done and past. Notwithstanding, they forbore not to visit his niece and the old woman, charging them they should be careful to cherish him, and to give him comforting meats to eat, good for his heart and brain, from whence in likelihood all his ill proceeded. They answered that they did so, and would do it, with all possible love and care, for they perceived that their master continually gave signs of being in his entire judgment; at which the two received great joy, and thought they took the right course when they brought him enchanted in the ox-wain (as hath been declared in the First Part of this so famous as punctual History). So they determined to visit him, and make some trial of his amendment, which they thought was impossible; and agreed not to touch upon any point of knight-errantry, because they would not endanger the ripping up of a sore whose stitches made it yet tender.

At length they visited him, whom they found set up in his bed, clad in a waistcoat of green baize, on his head a red Toledo bonnet, so dried and withered up as if his flesh had been mummied. He welcomed them, and they asked him touching his health: of it and himself he gave them good account, with much judgment and elegant phrase, and in process of discourse they fell into State matters, and manner of government, correcting this abuse and condemning that; reforming one custom and rejecting another, each of the three making himself a new lawmaker, a modern Lycurgus, and a spick-and-span new Solon; and they so refined the Commonwealth as if they had clapped it into a forge, and drawn it out in another fashion than they had put it in. Don Quixote in all was so discreet that the two examiners undoubtedly believed he was quite well and in his right mind. The niece and the old woman were present at this discourse, and could never give God thanks enough, when they saw their master with so good understanding. But the vicar, changing his first intent, which was not to meddle in matters of cavallery, would now make a thorough trial of Don Quixote’s perfect recovery; and so now and then tells him news from court, and, amongst others, that it was given out for certain that the Turk was come down with a powerful army, that his design was not known, nor where such a cloud would discharge itself, and that all Christendom was affrighted with this terror he puts us in with his yearly alarm; likewise, that his Majesty had made strong the coasts of Naples, Sicily, and Malta. To this said Don Quixote, ‘His Majesty hath done like a most politic warrior, in looking to his dominions in time, lest the enemy might take him at unawares; but, if my counsel might prevail, I would advise him to use a prevention which he is far from thinking on at present.’ The vicar scarce heard this, when he thought with himself; ‘God defend thee, poor Don Quixote! for methinks thou fallest headlong from the high-top of thy madness into the profound bottom of thy simplicity.’ But the barber presently, being of the vicar’s mind, asks Don Quixote what advice it was he would give; ‘for peradventure,’ said he, ‘it is such an one as may be put in the roll of those many idle ones that are usually given to princes.’ ‘Mine, goodman shaver,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘is no such.’ ‘I spoke not to that intent,’ replied the barber, ‘but that it is commonly seen that all or the most of your projects that are given to his Majesty are either impossible or frivolous, either in detriment of the king or kingdom.’ ‘Well, mine,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘is neither impossible nor frivolous, but the plainest, the justest, the most manageable and compendious that may be contained in the thought of any projector.’ ‘You are long a-telling us it, Master Don Quixote,’ said the vicar. ‘I would not,’ replied he, ‘tell it you here now, that it should be early to-morrow in the ears of some privy councillor, and that another should reap the praise and reward of my labour.’ ‘For me,’ quoth the barber, ‘I pass my word, here and before God, to tell neither king nor keisar, nor any earthly man, what you say, — an oath learned out of the Ballad of the Vicar, in the Preface whereof he told the king of the thief that robbed him of his two hundred double pistolets and his gadding mule.’ ‘I know not your histories,’ said Don Quixote; ‘but I presume the oath is good, because master barber is an honest man.’ ‘If he were not,’ said the vicar, ‘I would make it good, and undertake for him that he shall be dumb in this business upon pain of excommunication.’ ‘And who shall undertake for you, master vicar?’ quoth Don Quixote. ‘My profession,’ answered he, ‘which is to keep counsel.’ ‘Body of me!’ said Don Quixote, ‘is there any more to be done then, but that the king cause proclamation to be made that at a prefixed day all the knights-errant that rove up and down Spain repair to the court? and if there came but half a dozen, yet such an one there might be amongst them as would destroy all the Turk’s power. Hearken to me, ho! and let me take you with me: do you think it is strange that one knight-errant should conquer an army of two hundred thousand fighting-men, as if all together had but one throat, or were made of sugar pellets? But tell me, how many stories are full of those marvels? You should have brave Don Belianis alive now, with a pox to me, for I’ll curse no other; or some one of that invincible lineage of Amadis de Gaul; for if any of these were living at this day, and should affront the Turk, i’faith I would not be in his coat. But God will provide for His people, and send some one, if not so brave a knight-errant as those formerly, yet at least that shall not be inferior in courage; and God knows my meaning, and I say no more.’ ‘Alas!’ quoth the niece at this instant, ‘hang me, if my master have not a desire to turn knight-errant again.’ Then cried Don Quixote, ‘I must die so; march the Turk up and down when he will, and as powerfully as he can — I say again, God knows my meaning.’ Then said the barber, ‘Good sirs, give me leave to tell you a brief tale of an accident in Seville, which because it falls out so pat, I must tell it.’ Don Quixote was willing, the vicar and the rest gave their attention, and thus he began:

‘In the house of the madmen at Seville, there was one put in there by his kindred, to recover him of his lost wits; he was a bachelor of law, graduated in the Canons at Osuna, and though he had been graduated at Salamanca, yet, as many are of opinion, he would have been mad there too. This bachelor, after some years’ imprisonment, made it appear that he was well and in his right wits, and to this purpose writes to the archbishop, desiring him earnestly and with forcible reasons to deliver him from that misery in which he lived, since by God’s mercy he had now recovered his lost understanding; and that his kindred, only to get his wealth, had kept him there, and so meant to hold him still, wrongfully, till his death. The archbishop, induced by many sensible and discreet lines of his, commanded one of his chaplains to inform himself from the rector of the house of the truth, and to speak also with the madman, that if he perceived he was in his wits he should give him his liberty. The chaplain did this, and the rector said that the party was still mad; that although he had sometimes fair intermissions, yet in the end he would grow to such a raving as might equal his former discretion, as he told him he might perceive by discoursing with him. The chaplain would needs make trial, and, coming to him, talked with him an hour or more; and in all that time the madman never gave him a cross nor wild answer, but rather spoke so advisedly, that the chaplain was forced to believe him to be sensible enough; and, amongst the rest, he told him the rector had an inkling against him, because he would not lose his kindred’s presents, that he might say he was mad by fits. Withal he said that his wealth was the greatest wrong to him in his evil fortune, since to enjoy that his enemies defrauded him, and would doubt of God’s mercy to him that had turned him from a beast to a man. Lastly, he spoke so well that he made the rector to be suspected, and his kindred thought covetous and damnable persons, and himself so discreet that the chaplain determined to have him with him, that the archbishop might see him, and be satisfied of the truth of the business. With this good belief the chaplain required the rector to give the bachelor the clothes he brought with him thither. Who replied, desiring him to consider what he did, for that the party was still mad. But the rector’s advice prevailed nothing with the chaplain to make him leave him; so he was forced to give way to the archbishop’s order, and to give him his apparel, which was new and handsome. And when the madman saw himself civilly clad, and his madman’s weeds off, he requested the chaplain that in charity he would let him take his leave of the madmen his companions. The chaplain told him that he would likewise accompany him, and see the madmen that were in the house. So up they went, and with them some others there present, and the bachelor being come to a kind of cage, where an outrageous madman lay, although as then still and quiet, he said, “Brother, if you will command me aught, I am going to my house; for now it hath pleased God of His infinite goodness and mercy, without my desert, to bring me to my right mind. I am now well and sensible, for unto God’s power nothing is impossible. Be of good comfort; trust in Him, that since He hath turned me to my former estate, He will do the like to you, if you trust in Him. I will be careful to send you some dainty to eat, and by any means eat it; for let me tell you what I know by experience, that all our madness proceeds from the emptiness of our stomachs, that fills our brains with air. Take heart, take heart; for this dejecting in misery lessens the health, and hastens death.” Another madman in a cage over against heard all the bachelor’s discourse, and raising himself upon an old mattress, upon which he lay stark naked, asked aloud who it was that was going away sound and in his wits. The bachelor replied, “It is I, brother, that am going, for I have no need to stay here any longer; for which I render infinite thanks to God, that hath done me so great a favour.” “Take heed what you say, bachelor,” replied the madman; “let not the devil deceive you; keep still your foot, and be quiet here at home, and so you may save a bringing back.” “I know,” quoth the bachelor, “I am well, and shall need to walk no more stations hither.” “You’re well?“ said the madman: “the event will try! God be with you; but I swear to thee by Jupiter, whose majesty I represent on earth, that for this day’s offence I will eat up all Seville for delivering thee from hence, and saying thou art in thy wits; I will take such a punishment on this city as shall be remembered for ever and ever, Amen. Knowest not thou, poor rascal bachelor, that I can do it, since, as I say, I am thundering Jupiter, that carry in my hands the scorching bolts with which I can and use to threaten and destroy the world? But in one thing only will I chastise this ignorant town, which is that for three years together there shall fall no rain about it, nor the liberties thereof; counting from this time and instant henceforward that this threat hath been made. Thou free, thou sound, thou wise? and I mad, I sick, I bound? As sure will I rain as I mean to hang myself.” The standers-by gave attention to the madman; but our bachelor, turning to the chaplain and taking him by the hand, said, “Be not afraid, sir, nor take any heed to this madman’s words; for if he be Jupiter, and will not rain, I that am Neptune, the father and god of the waters, will rain as oft as I list and need shall require.” To which quoth the chaplain, “Nay, Master Neptune, it were not good angering Master Jupiter. I pray stay you here still, and some other time, at more leisure and opportunity, we will return for you again.” The rector and standers-by began to laugh, and the chaplain grew to be half abashed; the bachelor was unclothed, there remained; and there the tale ends.’

‘Well, is this the tale, master barber,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘that because it fell out so pat you could not but relate it? Ah, goodman shavester, goodman shavester! how blind is he that sees not light through the bottom of a meal-sieve! and is it possible that you should not know that comparisons made betwixt wit and wit, valour and valour, beauty and beauty, and betwixt birth and birth, are always odious, and ill-taken? I am not Neptune, god of the waters, neither care I who thinks me a wise man, I being none; only I am troubled to let the world understand the error it is in, in not renewing that most happy age in which the order of knight-errantry did flourish. But our depraved times deserve not to enjoy so great a happiness as former ages, when knights-errant undertook the defence of kingdoms, the protection of damsels, the succouring of orphans, the chastising the proud, the reward of the humble. Most of your knights nowadays are such as rustle in their silks, their cloth of gold and silver; and such rich stuffs as these they wear rather than mail, with which they should arm themselves. You have no knight now that will lie upon the bare ground, subject to the rigour of the air, armed cap-a-pie; none now that upright on his stirrups, and leaning on his lance, strives to behead sleep, as they say your knights-errant did. You have none now that, coming out of this wood, enters into that mountain, and from thence tramples over a barren and desert shore of the sea, most commonly stormy and unquiet; and finding at the brink of it some little cock-boat, without oars, sail, mast, or any kind of tackling, casts himself into it with undaunted courage, yields himself to the implacable waves of the deep main, that now toss him as high as heaven and then cast him as low as hell; and he, exposed to the inevitable tempest, when he least dreams of it, finds himself at least three thousand leagues distant from the place where he embarked himself; and leaping on a remote and unknown shore, lights upon successes worthy to be written in brass and not parchment. But now sloth triumphs upon industry, idleness on labour, vice on virtue, presumption on valour, the theory on the practice of arms, which only lived and shined in those golden ages and in those knights-errant. If not, tell me who was more virtuous, more valiant than the renowned Amadis de Gaul; more discreet than Palmerin of England; more affable and free than Tirante the White; more gallant than Lisuart of Greece; a greater hackster, or more hacked, than Don Belianis; more undaunted than Perian of Gaul; who a greater undertaker of dangers than Felismarte of Hircania; who more sincere than Esplandian; who more courteous than Don Cierongilio of Thracia; who more fierce than Rodomant; who wiser than King Sobrinus; who more courageous than Renaldo; who more invincible than Roldan; who more comely or more courteous than Rogero, from whom the Dukes of Ferrara at this day are descended, according to Turpin in his Cosmography? All these knights, and many more, master vicar, that I could tell you, were knights-errant, the very light and glory of knighthood. These, or such as these, are they I wish for; which if it could be, his Majesty would be well served, and might save a great deal of expense, and the Turk might go shake his ears; and therefore let me tell you, I scorn to keep my house, since the chaplain delivers me not, and his Jupiter, as goodman barber talks, rains not; here am I that will rain when I list: this I speak that goodman Bason may know I understand him.’

‘Truly, Master Don Quixote,’ said the barber, ‘I spoke it not to that end; and so help me God as I meant well, and you ought not to resent anything.’ ‘I know well enough whether I ought or no, sir,’ replied Don Quixote. Then quoth the vicar, ‘Well, go to; I have not spoken a word hitherto; I would not willingly remain with one scruple which doth grate and gnaw upon my conscience, sprung from what Master Don Quixote hath here told us.’ ‘For this and much more you have full liberty, good master vicar,’ said Don Quixote, ‘and therefore tell your scruple, for sure it is no pleasure to continue with a scrupulous conscience.’ ‘Under correction,’ quoth the vicar, ‘this it is: I can by no means be persuaded that all that troop of knights-errant which you named were ever true and really persons of flesh and bone in this world; I rather imagine all is fiction, tales and lies, or dreams set down by men waking, or, to say trulier, by men half-asleep.’ ‘There’s another error,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘into which many have fallen, who believe not that there have been such knights in the world; and I myself; many times, in divers companies, and upon several occasions, have laboured to show this common mistake, but sometimes have failed in my purpose, at others not, — supporting it upon the shoulders of Truth, which is so infallible that I may say that with these very eyes I have beheld Amadis de Gaul, who was a goodly tall man, well-complexioned, had a broad beard and black, an equal countenance betwixt mild and stern, a man of small discourse, slow to anger, and soon appeased; and, just as I have delineated Amadis, I might in my judgment paint and decipher out as many knights-errant as are in all the histories of the world; for, by apprehending they were such as their histories report them, by their exploits they did and their qualities, their features, colours, and statures may in good philosophy be guessed at.’ ‘How big, dear Master Don Quixote,’ quoth the barber, ‘might giant Morgante be?’ ‘Touching giants,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘there be different opinions whether there have been any or no in the world; but the holy Scripture, which cannot err a jot in the truth, doth show us plainly that there were, telling us the story of that huge Philistine Golias, that was seven cubits and a half high, which is an unmeasurable greatness. Besides, in the Isle of Sicilia there have been found shank-bones and shoulder-bones so great that their bigness showed their owners to have been giants, and as huge as high towers, which geometry will make good. But, for all this, I cannot easily tell you how big Morgante was, though I suppose he was not very tall; to which opinion I incline, because I find in his history, where there is particular mention made of his acts, that many times he lay under a roof; and therefore, since he found an house that would hold him, ‘tis plain he could not be of extraordinary bigness.’ ‘‘Tis true,’ quoth the vicar, who, delighting to hear him talk so wildly, asked him what he thought of the faces of Renaldo of Montalban, Don Roldan, and the rest of the twelve peers of France, who were all knights-errant. ‘For Renaldo,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘I dare boldly say, he was broad-faced, his complexion high, quick and full-eyed, very exceptious and extremely choleric, a lover of thieves and debauched company. Touching Rolando, or Rotolando, or Orlando — for histories afford him all these names — I am of opinion and affirm that he was of a mean stature, broad-shouldered, somewhat bowlegged, auburn-bearded, his body hairy, and his looks threatening, dull of discourse, but affable and well-behaved.’ ‘If Orlando,’ said the vicar, ‘was so sweet a youth as you describe him, no marvel though the fair Angelica disdained him and left him for the handsome, brisk, and conceited beard-budding Medor, and that she had rather have his softness than t’other’s roughness.’ ‘That Angelica,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘was a light housewife, a gadder, and a wanton, and left the world as full of her fopperies as the reports of her beauty; she despised a thousand knights, a thousand both valiant and discreet, and contented herself with a poor beardless page, without more wealth or honour than what her famous singer Ariosto could give her, in token of his thankfulness to his friend’s love, either because he durst not in this respect, or because he would not chant what befel this lady, after her base prostitution, for sure her carriage was not very honest. So he left her when he said,

“And how Cataya’s sceptre she had at will,
 Perhaps some one will write with better quill.”

And undoubtedly this was a kind of prophecy, for poets are called vates — that is, soothsayers — and this truth hath been clearly seen, for since that time a famous Andalusian poet wept and sung her tears, and another famous and rare poet of Castile her beauty.’ ‘But tell me, Master Don Quixote,’ quoth the barber, ‘was there ever any poet that wrote a satire against this fair lady, amongst those many that have written in her praise?’ ‘I am well persuaded,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘that if Sacripant or Orlando had been poets they had trounced the damosel; for it is an ordinary thing amongst poets once disdained or not admitted by their feigned mistresses (feigned indeed, because they feign they love them) to revenge themselves with satires and libels, — a revenge truly unworthy noble spirits; but hitherto I have not heard of any infamatory verse against the lady Angelica, that hath made any hurlyburly in the world.’ ‘Strange!’ quoth the vicar. With that they might hear the niece and the old woman, who were before gone from them, keep a noise without in the court, so they went to see what was the matter.


Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

The History of Don Quixote - The Second Part

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