Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

The History of Don Quixote - The Second Part

Gavilan Spanish Questions or comments  Bibliographic Record Index page Previous page Bottom Next page 

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 III: The Ridiculous Discourse that passed betwixt Don Quixote,
Sancho, and the Bachelor Samson Carrasco
 

 

Don Quixote was monstrous pensative, expecting the bachelor Carrasco, from whom he hoped to hear the news of himself in print, as Sancho had told him; and he could not be persuaded that there was such a history, since yet the blood of enemies killed by him was scarce dry upon his sword blade, and would they have his noble acts of chivalry already in the press? Notwithstanding, he thought that some wise man, or friend, or enemy, by way of enchantment, had committed them to the press: if a friend, then to extol him for the most remarkable of any knight-errant; if an enemy, to annihilate them, and clap em beneath the basest and meanest that ever were mentioned of any inferior squire; although, thought he to himself, no acts of squire were ever divulged; but if there were any history, being of a knight-errant, it must needs be lofty and stately, famous, magnificent, and true. With this he comforted himself somewhat, but began to be discomforted to think that his author must be a Moor, by reason of that name of Cid; and from Moors there could be no truth expected, for all of them are cheaters, impostors, and chymists.

He feared likewise that he might treat of his love with some indecency, that might redound to the lessening and prejudice of his Lady Dulcinea del Toboso’s honesty; he desired that he might declare his constancy and the decorum he had ever kept toward her, contemning queens and empresses, and damsels of all sorts, keeping distance with violencies of natural motions. Sancho and Carrasco found him thus tossed and turmoiled in these and many such-like imaginations, whom Don Quixote received with much courtesy.

This bachelor, though his name was Samson, was not very tall, but a notable wag-halter, lean-faced, but of a good understanding: he was about four-and-twenty years of age, round-faced, flat-nosed, and wide-mouthed, all signs of a malicious disposition, and a friend to conceits and merriment, as he showed it when he saw Don Quixote; for he fell upon his knees before him, saying, ‘Good Master Don Quixote, give me your greatness his hand; for by the habit of St. Peter, which I wear, you are, sir, one of the most complete knights-errant that hath been or shall be upon the roundness of the earth. Well fare Cid Hamet Benengeli, that left the stories of your greatness to posterity! and more than well may that curious author fare that had the care to cause them to be translated out of the Arabic into our vulgar Castilian, to the general entertainment of all men!’

Don Quixote made him rise and said: ‘Then it seems my history is extant, and that he was a Moor and a wise man that made it.’ ‘So true it is,’ quoth Samson, ‘that, upon my knowledge, at this day there be printed above twelve thousand copies of your history; if not, let Portugal, Barcelona, and Valencia speak, where they have been printed; and the report goes that they are now printing at Antwerp, and I have a kind of guess that there is no nation or language where they will not be translated.’ ‘One of the things, then,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘that ought to give a man virtuous and eminent content is to see himself living, and to have a good name from everybody’s mouth, to be printed and in the press; I said with a good name, for otherwise no death could be equalled to that life.’ ‘If it be for a good name,’ said the bachelor, ‘your worship carries the prize from all knights-errant; for the Moor in his language, and the Christian in his, were most careful to paint to the life your gallantry, your great courage in attempting of dangers, your patience in adversities, and your sufferance as well in misfortunes as in your wounds, your honesty and constancy in the so platonic loves of yourself and my Lady Donna Dulcinea del Toboso.’ ‘I never,’ replied Sancho, ‘heard my lady styled Don before, only the Lady Dulcinea del Toboso; and there the history erreth somewhat.’ ‘This is no objection of moment,’ said Carrasco. ‘No, truly,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘but tell me, signior bachelor, which of the exploits of mine are most ponderous in this history?’

‘In this,’ said the bachelor, ‘there be different opinions, as there be different tastes. Some delight in the adventure of the windmills, that you took to be Briareans and giants; others in that of the fulling-hammers; this man in the description of the two armies, which afterwards fell out to be two flocks of sheep; that man doth extol your adventure of the dead man that was carried to be buried at Segovia; one saith that that of the freeing of the galley-slaves goes beyond them all; another that none comes near that of the Benitian giants, with the combat of the valorous Biscayner.’ ‘Tell me,’ said Sancho, ‘sir bachelor, comes not that in of the Yanguesian carriers, when our precious Rozinante longed for the forbidden fruit?’ ‘The wise man,’ said Samson, ‘left out nothing; he sets down all most punctually, even to the very capers that Sancho fetched in the blanket.’ ‘Not in the blanket,’ replied Sancho, ‘but in the air, more than I was willing.’

‘According to my thought,’ said Don Quixote, ‘there is no human history in the world that hath not his changes, especially those that treat of cavallery, which can never be full of prosperous successes.’ ‘For all that,’ replied the bachelor, ‘there be some that have read your history, that would be glad the authors had omitted some of those infinite bastings that in divers encounters were given to Sir Don Quixote.’ ‘Ay, there,’ quoth Sancho, ‘comes in the truth of the story.’ ‘They might likewise in equity silence them,’ said Don Quixote, ‘since those actions that neither change nor alter the truth of the story are best left out, if they must redound to the misprizing of the chief person of the history. Eneas, i’ faith, was ne’er so pitiful as Virgil paints him out, nor Ulysses so subtle as Homer describes him.’ ‘True it is,’ said Samson; ‘but it is one thing to write like a poet, and another like an historian: the poet may say or sing things, not as they were, but as they ought to have been; and the historian must write things, not as they ought to be, but as they have been, without adding or taking away aught from the truth.’

‘Well,’ said Sancho, ‘it you go to telling of truths, we shall find that this Signior Moor hath all the bastings of my master and me; for I am sure they never took measure of his worship’s shoulders, but they took it of all my body too; but no marvel, for, as my master himself saith, the rest of the parts must participate of the head’s grief.’ ‘Sancho, you are a crack-rope,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘i’ faith you want no memory when you list to have it.’ ‘If I would willingly forget those cudgellings that I have had, the bunches yet fresh on my ribs would not consent.’ ‘Peace, Sancho,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘and interrupt not the bachelor, whom I request to proceed and tell me what is said of me in the mentioned history.’ ‘And of me too,’ said Sancho, ‘for it is said that I am one of the principal parsonages of it.’ ‘Personages, and not parsonages, you would say, Sancho,’ quoth Samson. ‘More correcting of words!’ quoth Sancho. ‘Go to this, and we shall not end in our lifetime.’ ‘Hang me, Sancho,’ said Samson, ‘if you be not the second person in the story; and you have some that had as lief hear you speak as the best there; though others would not stick to say you were too credulous to believe that your government of the island offered by Sir Don Quixote, here present, might be true.’

‘There is yet sunshine upon the walls,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘and when Sancho comes to be of more years, with the experience of them he will be more able and fit than now to be a governor.’ ‘By the mass,’ said Sancho, ‘if I be not fit to govern an island at these years, I shall never govern, though I come to be as old as Methusalem; the mischief is, that the said island is delayed I know not how, and not that I want brain to govern it.’ ‘Leave all to God, Sancho,’ said Don Quixote, ‘for all will be well, and perhaps better than you think for; and the leaves in the tree move not without the will of God.’

‘‘Tis true, indeed,’ said Samson, ‘for, it God will, Sancho shall not want a thousand islands, much less one. ‘I have seen,’ said Sancho, ‘of your governors in the world that are not worthy to wipe my shoes, and, for all this, they give ‘em titles; and are served in plate.’ ‘Those are not governors of islands,’ replied Samson, ‘but of other easier governments; for they that govern islands must be at least grammarians.’ ‘For your “gra” I care not, but your “mare” I could like enough; but, leaving this government to God’s hands, let Him place me where He pleaseth. I say, sir bachelor Samson Carrasco, that I am infinitely glad that the author of the history hath spoken of me in such sort that the things he speaks of me do not cloy the reader; for, by the faith of a Christian, if he had spoken anything of me not befitting an old Christian as I am,1 I should make deaf men hear on’t.’ ‘That were to work miracles,’ said Samson. ‘Miracles or not miracles,’ quoth Sancho, ‘every man look how he speaks or writes of men, and set not down each thing that comes into his noddle in a mingle-mangle.’ ‘One of the faults that they say,’ said Carrasco, ‘is in that history is this: that his author put in a certain novel or tale, entitled The Curious-Impertinent; not that it was ill or not well contrived, but that it was unseasonable for that place, neither had it anything to do with the history of Don Quixote.’

‘I’ll hold a wager,’ quoth Sancho, ‘the dog-bolt hath made a gallimaufry.’ ‘Let me tell you,’ said Don Quixote, ‘the author of my story is not wise, but some ignorant prater, that at unawares and without judgment undertook it, hab-nab, as Orbaneja, the painter of Ubeda, who being asked what he painted, answered, “As it happens.” Sometimes he would paint ye a cock, but so unlike that he was forced to write underneath it in Gothish letters, “This is a cock”; and thus I believe it is with my history, that it hath need of a comment to make it understood.’

‘No, surely,’ replied Samson; ‘it is so conspicuous and so void of difficulty that children may handle him, youths may read him, men may understand him, and old men may celebrate him. To conclude, he is so gleaned, so read, and so known to all sorts of people that they scarce see a lean horse pass by, when they say, “There goeth Rozinante.” And amongst these pages are most given to read him; you have no great man’s withdrawing room that hath not a Don Quixote in him; some take him, if others lay him down; these close with him, they demand him. Lastly, the story is the most pleasing, the least hurtful for entertainment that hath hitherto been seen; for all over it there is not to be seen a dishonest word, or one like one, nor an imagination less than catholic.’

‘He that should write otherwise,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘should write no truths, but lies; and he that doth so ought to be burned, like them that coin false money; and I know not what the author meant to put in novels and strange tales, my story affording him matter enough; belike he holds himself to the proverb of chaff and hay, etc. Well, I’ll tell you, out of mentioning only my thoughts, my sighs, my tears, my honest wishes, and my onsets, he might have made a greater volume than all Tostatus’ works. Indeed, signior bachelor, all that I conceive is, that to write a history, or any other work of what sort so ever, a man had need of a strong judgment and a ripe understanding: to speak wittily and write conceits belongs only to good wits: the cunningest part in a play is the fool’s, because he must not be a fool that would well counterfeit to seem so. An history is as a sacred thing, which ought to be true and real; and where truth is there God is, inasmuch as concerneth truth: howsoever, you have some that do so compose and cast their works from them as if they were fritters.’

‘There is no book so bad,’ said the bachelor, ‘that hath not some good in it.’ ‘No doubt of that,’ said Don Quixote; ‘but many times it falls out that those that have worthily hoarded up and obtained great fame by their writings, when they commit them to the press, they either altogether lose it, or in something lessen it.’ ‘The reason of it,’ quoth Samson, ‘is this, that as the printed works are viewed by leisure their faults are easily espied, and they are so much the more pried into by how much the greater the author’s fame is. Men famous for their wits, great poets, illustrious historians, are always, or for the most part, envied by them that have a pleasure and particular pastime to judge of other men’s writings, without publishing their own.’ ‘That’s not to be wondered at,’ cries Don Quixote, ‘for there be many divines that are nothing worth in a pulpit, and are excellent in knowing the defect or excess of him that preacheth.’ ‘All this,’ said Carrasco, ‘Sir Don Quixote, is right; but I could wish such censurers were more mild and less scrupulous in looking on the motes of the most clear sun of his works whom they bite; for, if “aliquando bonus dormitat Homerus,” let ‘em consider how much he watched to show the light of his work, without the least shadow that might be; and it might be that what seems ill to them were moles, that sometimes increase the beauty of the face that hath them; and thus, I say, that he that prints a book puts himself into a manifest danger, being of all impossibilities the most impossible to frame it so that it may content and satisfy all that shall read it.’

‘The book that treats of me,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘will please very few.’ ‘Rather contrary,’ says Samson, ‘for, as “stultorum infinitus est numerus,” an infinite number have been delighted with this history; but some found fault, and craftily taxed the author’s memory, in that he forgot to tell who was the thief that stole Sancho’s Dapple; for there is no mention there, only it is inferred that he was stole, and not long after we see him mounted upon the same ass, without knowledge how he was found. They also say, that he forgot to tell what Sancho did with those hundred pistolets which he found in the mail in Sierra Morena, for he never mentions them more, and there be many that desire to know what became of them, and how he employed them, which is one of the essential points in the work.’

‘Master Samson,’ said Sancho, ‘I am not now for your reckonings or relations, for my stomach is faint, and, if I fetch it not again with a sup or two of the old dog, it will make me as gaunt as Saint Lucia. I have it at home, and my pigsney stays for me. When I have dined I am for ye, and will satisfy you and all the world in anything you will ask me, as well touching the loss of mine ass as the expense of the hundred pistolets.’ And so, without expecting any reply, or exchanging another word, home he goes.

Don Quixote entreated the bachelor to stay and take a pittance with him; the bachelor accepted the invitement, and so stayed dinner. Beside their ordinary fare, they had a pair of household pigeons added. At table they discoursed of cavallery; Carrasco followed his humour; the banquet was ended and they slept out the heat; Sancho returned, and the former discourse was renewed.
 

1 In Spanish Christiano vieio, [sic, for viejo] a name they desire to be distinguished from the Moors by.

Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

The History of Don Quixote - The Second Part

Gavilan Spanish Questions or comments Bibliographic Record Index page Previous page Top Next page