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 VIII: What befel Don Quixote,
going to see his Mistress Dulcinea del Toboso


‘BLESSED be the powerful Ala!’ saith Hamet Benengeli, at the beginning of this eighth chapter.1 ‘Blessed be Ala!’ which he thrice repeated, and said that he rendered these benedictions to see that now Don Quixote and Sancho were upon their march, and that the readers of their delightful history may reckon that from this time the exploits and conceits of Don Quixote and his squire do begin. He persuades them that they should forget the former chivalry of the noble knight, and fix their eyes upon his acts to come, which begin now in his way towards Toboso, as the former did in the fields of Montiel; and it is a small request, for so much as he is to perform; so he proceeds, saying:

Don Quixote and Sancho were now all alone, and Samson was scarce gone from them, when Rozinante began to neigh, and Dapple to sigh, which both by knight and squire were held for lucky signs and an happy presaging, though, if the truth were told, Dapple’s sighs and brayings were more than the horse’s neighing, whereupon Sancho collected that his fortune should exceed and overtop his master’s, building I know not upon what judicial astrology, that sure he knew, although the history says nothing of it; only he would often say when he fell down or stumbled, he would have been glad not to have gone abroad, for of stumbling or falling came nothing but tearing his shoes or breaking a rib; and, though he were a fool, yet he was not out in this.

Don Quixote said unto him: ‘Friend Sancho, the night comes on us apace, and it will grow too dark for us to reach Toboso ere it be day, whither I am determined to go before I undertake any adventure; and there I mean to receive a benediction, and take leave of the peerless Dulcinea del Toboso, after which I know and am assured I shall end and close up every dangerous adventure, for nothing makes knights-errant more hardy than to see themselves favoured by their mistresses.’ ‘I believe it,’ quoth Sancho; ‘but I doubt you will not speak with her; at least, not see her where you may receive her blessing, if she give you it not from the mud walls where I saw her the first time, when I carried the letter and news of your mad pranks which you were playing in the heart of Sierra Morena.’

‘Were those mud walls in thy fantasy, Sancho,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘where or thorough which thou sawest that never-enough-praised gentleness and beauty? They were not so, but galleries, walks, or goodly stone pavements—or how call ye ‘em?—of rich and royal palaces.’ ‘All this might be,’ answered Sancho, ‘but to me they seemed no better, as I remember.’ ‘Yet let’s go thither,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘for, so I see her, let them be mud walls or not, or windows; all is one whether I see her thorough chinks or thorough garden lattices, for each ray that comes from the sun of her brightness to mine eyes will lighten mine understanding and strengthen mine heart, and make me sole and rare in my wisdom and valour.’

‘Truly, sir,’ said Sancho, ‘when I saw that sun, it was not so bright that it cast any rays from it; and belike ‘twas that, as she was winnowing the wheat I told you of, the dust that came from it was like a cloud upon her face, and dimmed it.’

‘Still dost thou think, Sancho,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘believe, and grow obstinate that my mistress Dulcinea was winnowing, it being a labour so unfit for persons of quality, that use other manners of exercises and recreation which show a flight-shoot off their nobleness! Thou dost ill remember those verses of our poet, where he paints out unto us the exercises which those four nymphs, used in their crystal habitations, when they advanced their heads above the loved Tagus,2 and sat in the green fields working those rich embroideries which the ingenious poet there describes unto us, all which were of gold, of purl, and woven with embossed pearls. Such was the work of my mistress when thou sawest her, but that the envy which some base enchanter bears to mine affairs turns all that should give me delight into different shapes; and this makes me fear that the history of my exploits which is in print—if so be some wizard my enemy were the author— that he hath put one thing for another, mingling with one truth a hundred lies, diverting himself to tell tales not fitting the continuing of a true history. O envy, thou root of infinite evils, thou worm of virtues! All vices, Sancho, do bring a kind of pleasure with them; but envy hath nothing but distaste, rancour, and raving.’

‘I am of that mind too,’ said Sancho; ‘and I think that in the history that Carrasco told us of, that he had seen of us, that my credit is turned topsy-turvy, and, as they say, goes a-begging. Well, as I am honest man I never spoke ill of any enchanter, neither am I so happy as to be envied; true it is that I am somewhat malicious and have certain knavish glimpses; but all is covered and hid under the large cloak of my simplicity, always natural to me, but never artificial; and if there were nothing else in me but my belief (for I believe in God, and in all that the Roman Church believes, and am sworn a mortal enemy to the Jews), the historians ought to pity me and use me well in their writings. But, let ‘em say what they will, naked was I born, naked I am; I neither win nor lose; and, though they put me in books, and carry me up and down from hand to hand, I care not a fig, let ‘em say what they will.’

‘‘Twas just the same,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘that happened to a famous poet of our times, who, having made a malicious satire against all the courtesans, he left out one amongst them, as doubting whether she were one or no, who, seeing she was not in the scroll among the rest, took it unkindly from the poet, asking him what he had seen in her that he should not put her amongst the rest, and desired him to enlarge his satire, and put her in the spare room; if not, she would scratch out his eyes. The poet consented, and set her down with a vengeance; and she was satisfied to see herself famous, although indeed infamous. Besides, the tale of the shepherd agrees with this that set Diana’s Temple on fire, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the World, because he would be talked of for it; and, although there were an edict that no man should either mention him by speaking or writing, that he might not attain to his desire, yet his name was known to be Erostratus. The same allusion may be had out of an accident that befel the great Emperor Charles the Fifth with a knight of Rome. The emperor was desirous to see the famous temple of the Rotunda, which in ancient times was called “the Temple of All the Gods,” and now, by a better style, “of all Saints,” and it is the only entire edifice that hath remained of all the Gentiles in Rome, and that which doth most conserve the glory and magnificence of its founders. ‘Tis made like an half orange, exceeding large and very lightsome, having but one window that gives it light, or, to say truer, but one round louver on the top of it. The emperor looking on the edifice, there was a Roman knight with him that showed him the devices and contriving of that great work and memorable architecture, and, stepping from the louver, said to the emperor: “A thousand times, mighty monarch, have I desired to seize your majesty, and cast myself down from this louver, to leave an everlasting fame behind me.” “I thank you,” said the emperor, “that you have not performed it, and henceforward I will give you no such occasion to show your loyalty; and therefore I command you that you neither speak to me nor come to my presence.” And, for all these words, he rewarded him. I’ll tell you, Sancho, this desire of honour is an itching thing. What dost thou think cast Horatius from the bridge all armed into deep Tiber? What egged Curtius to launch himself into the lake? What made Mutius burn his hand? What forced Caesar against all the soothsayers to pass the Rubicon? And, to give you more modern examples, what was it bored those ships, and left those valorous Spaniards on ground, guided by the most courteous Cortez in the New World? All these and other great and several exploits are, have been, and shall be the works of fame, which mortals desire as a reward and part of the immortality which their famous arts deserve; though we that be Christian Catholic knights-errant must look more to the happiness of another world, which is eternal in the ethereal and celestial regions, than to the vanity of fame, which is gotten in this present frail age, and which, let it last as long as it will, it must have ending with this world which hath its limited time; so that, O Sancho, our actions must not pass the bounds that Christian religion, which we profess, hath put us in. In giants we must kill pride, envy in generousness and noble breasts; anger in a continent, reposed, and quiet mind; riot and drowsiness in temperance and vigilance; lasciviousness in the loyalty we observe to those that we have made the mistresses of our thoughts; and sloth by travelling up and down the world, seeking occasions that may make us, beside Christians, famous knights. These, Sancho, are the means by which the extremes of glory are obtained, which fame brings with it.’

‘All that you have hitherto spoken,’ quoth Sancho, ‘I understand passing well; but I would fain have you zolve me of one doubt, which even now comes into my head.’ ‘Resolve,’ thou wouldst say, Sancho,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘speak i’ God’s name, for I’ll answer thee as well as I can.’ ‘Tell me, sir,’ said Sancho; ‘these Julies or Augusts, and all these famous knights you talk of, that are dead, where are they now ?‘ ‘The Gentiles,’ said he, ‘undoubtedly are in hell; the Christians, if they were good Christians, either in purgatory3 or in hell.’ ‘‘Tis very well; but the sepulchres where the bodies of these great lordings lie interred, have they silver lamps4 burning before them, or are their chapel walls decked with crutches, winding-sheets, periwigs, legs, and wax eyes? And, if not with these, with what?’ ‘The sepulchres of the Gentiles,’ said Don Quixote, ‘were, for the most part, sumptuous temples. The ashes of Julius Caesar’s body were put upon a huge pyramis of stone, which at this day is called Saint Peter’s Needle. The Emperor Adrian’s sepulchre was a great castle as big as a pretty village; it was called Moles Adriani, and, at this day, the Castle of Saint Angelo in Rome. Queen Artemisia buried her husband Mausolus in a sepulchre which was held to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World. But none of all these, nor many others the Gentiles had, were decked with winding-sheets, nor any kind of offerings or signs that testified they were saints that were buried in them.’

‘That’s it I come to,’ said Sancho; ‘and tell me now, which is more, to raise a dead man or to kill a giant?’ ‘The answer is at hand,’ said Don Quixote: ‘to raise a dead man.’ ‘There I caught you,’ quoth Sancho. ‘Then, the fame of him that raiseth the dead, gives sight to the blind, makes the lame walk, restoreth sick men, who hath lamps burning before his sepulchre, whose chapel is full of devout people, which upon their knees adore his relics,—this man hath greater renown, and in another world, than ever any of your Gentile emperors or knights-errant ever left behind them.’

‘I grant you that,’ quoth Don Quixote. ‘Well,’ answered Sancho, ‘this fame, these graces, these prerogatives—how call ye ‘em?—have the bodies and relics of saints, that, by the approbation and license of our holy Mother the Church, have their lamps, their lights, their winding-sheets, their crutches, their pictures, their heads of hair, their eyes and legs, by which they increase men’s devotions, and endear their Christian fame. Kings carry the bodies of saints or their relics upon their shoulders; they kiss the pieces of their bones, and do deck and enrich their chapels with them, and their most precious altars.’

‘What will you have me infer from all this, Sancho?’ quoth Don Quixote. ‘I mean,’ said Sancho, ‘that we endeavour to be saints, and we shall the sooner obtain the fame we look after. And let me tell you, sir, that yesterday or t’other day,—for so I may say, it being not long since,—there were two poor barefoot friars canonised or beatified, and now many think themselves happy to kiss or touch those iron chains with which they girt and tormented their bodies; and they are more reverenced than is, as I said, Roldan’s sword in the armoury of our lord the King—God save him! So that, master mine, better it is to be a poor friar, of what order soever, than a valiant knight-errant; a dozen or two of lashes obtain more at God’s hands than two thousand blows with the lance, whether they be given to giants, to spirits, or hobgoblins.’

‘All this is true,’ answered Don Quixote; ‘but all cannot be friars, and God Almighty hath many ways by which He carries His elect to heaven. Cavallery is a religion, and you have many knights saints in heaven.’ ‘That may be,’ said Sancho; ‘but I have heard you have more friars there than knights-errant.’ ‘That is,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘because the religious in number are more than the knights.’ ‘But there are many knights-errant,’ said Sancho. ‘Many, indeed,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘but few that deserve the name.’

In these and such-like discourses they passed the whole night and the next day, without lighting upon anything worth relation, for which Don Quixote was not a little sorry; at last, the next day toward night, they discovered the goodly city of Toboso, with which sight Don Quixote’s spirits were revived, but Sancho’s dulled, because he knew not Dulcinea’s house, nor ever saw her in his life, no more than his master; so that, the one to see her, and the other because he had not seen her, were at their wits’ end, and Sancho knew not how to do, if his master should send him to Toboso. But Don Quixote resolved to enter the city in the night, and till .the time came they stayed between certain oaks that were near Toboso; and, the prefixed moment being come, they entered the city, where they lighted upon things, things indeed.

1 ‘Ala’ amongst the Moors is as much as ‘Mahomet’ amongst the Turks.
2 A river in Spain.
3 According to the Romish opinion, erroneous.
4 Relics that use to be hanged up in the papists’ churches.

Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

The History of Don Quixote - The Second Part

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