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 XII: Of the Rare Adventure that befel Don Quixote
with the Knight of the Looking-Glasses

 

DON QUIXOTE and his squire passed the ensuing night after their Death’s encounter, under certain high and shady trees, Don Quixote having first, by Sancho’s entreaty, eaten somewhat of the provision that came upon Dapple; and as they were at supper Sancho said to his master, ‘Sir, what an ass had I been, had I chosen for a reward the spoils of the first adventure which you might end, rather than the breed of the three mares! Indeed, indeed, a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.’

‘For all that,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘if thou, Sancho, hadst let me give the onset, as I desired, thou hadst had to thy share, at least, the empress’s golden crown and Cupid’s painted wings, for I had taken ‘em away against the hair, and given ‘em thee.’ ‘Your players’ sceptres and emperors’ crowns,’ said Sancho, ‘are never of pure gold, but leaf and tin.’

‘‘Tis true,’ answered Don Quixote, ‘for it is very necessary that your play-ornaments be not fine, but counterfeit and seeming, as the play itself is, which I would have thee, Sancho, to esteem of, and consequently the actors too, and the authors, because they are the instruments of much good to a commonwealth, being like looking-glasses, where the actions of human life are lively represented; and there is no comparison that doth more truly present to us what we are, or what we should be, than comedy and comedians. If not, tell me, hast not thou seen a play acted, where kings, emperors, bishops, knights, dames, and other personages are introduced? One plays a ruffian, another the cheater; this a merchant, t’other a soldier; one a crafty fool, another a foolish lover; and, the comedy ended and the apparel taken away, all the rehearsers are the same they were.’ ‘Yes, marry, have I,’ quoth Sancho. ‘Why, the same thing,’ said Don Quixote, ‘happens in the comedy and theatre of this world, where some play the emperors, others the bishops, and, lastly, all the parts that may be in a comedy; but, in the end — that is, the end of our life — death takes away all the robes that made them differ, and at their burial they are equal.’ ‘A brave comparison,’ quoth Sancho; ‘but not so strange to me, that have heard it often, as that of the chess-play, that while the game lasts every piece hath its particular motion; and, the game ended, all are mingled and shuffled together, and cast into a leathern bag, which is a kind of burial.’

‘Every day, Sancho,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘thou growest wiser and wiser.’ ‘It must needs be,’ said Sancho, ‘that some of your wisdom must cleave to me; for grounds that are dry and barren, by mucking and tilling them, give good fruit; I mean your conversation hath been the muck that hath been cast upon the sterile ground of my barren wit, and the time that I have served you the tillage, with which I hope to render happy fruit, and such as may not gainsay or slide out of the paths of good manners which you have made in my withered understanding.’

Don Quixote laughed at Sancho’s affected reasons, and it seemed true to him, what he had said touching his reformation; for now and then his talk admired him, although for the most part, when Sancho spoke by way of contradiction, or like a courtier, he ended his discourse with a downfall from the mount of his simplicity to the profundity of his ignorance; but that wherein he showed himself most elegant and memorable was in urging of proverbs, though they were never so much against the hair of the present business, as hath been seen and noted in all this history.

A great part of the night they passed in these and suchlike discourses, but Sancho had a great desire to let fall the portcullises, as he called them, of his eyes, and sleep; and so, undressing his Dapple, he turned him freely to graze. With Rozinante’s saddle he meddled not, for it was his master’s express command that whilst they were in field or slept not within doors he should not unsaddle him, it being an ancient custom observed by knights-errant to take the bridle and hang it at the saddle-pommel, but beware taking away the saddle, which Sancho observed, and gave him the same liberty as to his Dapple, whose friendship and Rozinante’s was so sole and united that the report goes by tradition from father to son that the author of this true history made particular chapters of it; only, to keep the decency and decorum due to so heroic a story he omitted it, although sometimes he forgets his purpose herein, and writes that, as the two beasts were together, they would scratch one another, and, being wearied and satisfied, Rozinante would cross his throat over Dapple’s neck at least half a yard over the other side, and, both of them looking wistly on the ground, they would stand thus three days together, at least as long as they were let alone, or that hunger compelled them not to look after their provender. ‘Tis said, I say, that the author, in his story, compared them, in their friendship, to Nisus and Euryalus, to Pylades and Orestes, which if it were so, it may be seen, to the general admiration, how firm and steadfast the friendship was of these two pacific beasts, to the shame of men, that so ill know the rules of friendship one to another. For this it was said, ‘No falling out like to that of friends.’ And let no man think the author was unreasonable in having compared the friendship of these beasts to the friendship of men; for men have received many items from beasts, and learned many things of importance, as the stork’s dung, the dog’s vomit and faithfulness, the crane’s watchfulness, the ant’s providence, the elephant’s honesty, and the horse’s loyalty.

At length Sancho fell fast asleep at the foot of a cork-tree, and Don Quixote reposed himself under an oak; but not long after, a noise behind wakened him, and, rising suddenly, he looked and hearkened from whence the noise came, and he saw two men on horseback, and the one, tumbling from his saddle, said to the other, ‘Alight, friend, and unbridle our horses, for methinks this place hath pasture enough for them, and befits the silence and solitude of my amorous thoughts.’ Thus he spoke, and stretched himself upon the ground in an instant, but, casting himself down, his armour wherewith he was armed made a noise, a manifest token that made Don Quixote think he was some knight-errant, and coming to Sancho, who was fast asleep, he plucked him by the arm, and told him softly, ‘Brother Sancho, we have an adventure.’ ‘God grant it be good!’ quoth Sancho; ‘and where is this master adventure’s worship?’ ‘Where, Sancho!’ replied Don Quixote: ‘look on one side, look, and there thou shalt see a knight-errant stretched who, as it appears to me, is not overmuch joyed, for I saw him cast himself from his horse, and stretch on the ground, with some shows of grief, and as he fell he crossed his arms.’ ‘Why, in what do you perceive that this is an adventure?’ quoth Sancho. ‘I will not say,’ answered Don Quixote, ‘that this is altogether an adventure, but an introduction to it, for thus adventures begin. But hark, it seems he is tuning a lute or viol, and, by his spitting and clearing his breast, he prepares himself to sing.’ ‘In good faith, you say right,’ quoth Sancho, ‘and ‘tis some enamoured knight.’ ‘There is no knight-errant,’ said Don Quixote, ‘that is not so. Let us give ear, and by the circumstance we shall search the labyrinth of his thoughts, if so be he sing; for out of the abundance of the heart the tongue speaketh.’ Sancho would have replied to his master; but the Knight of the Wood’s voice, which was but so-so, hindered him, and whilst the two were astonished he sung as followeth:

SONNET.

Permit me, mistress, that I follow may
   The bound, cut out just to your heart’s desire,
The which in mine I shall esteem for aye,
   So that I never from it will retire.
If you be pleased, my grief I silent stay,
   And die, make reckoning that I straight expire;
If I may tell it you, the unusual way,
   I will, and make Love’s self be my supplier.
Fashioned I am to proof of contraries,
   As soft as wax, as hard as diamond too;
And to Love’s laws my soul herself applies;
   Or hard, or soft, my breast I offer you;
Graven, imprint in’t what your pleasure is,
   I, secret, swear it never to forego.

With a deep-fetched ‘Heigh-ho!’ even from the bottom of his heart, the Knight of the Wood ended his song; and, after some pause, with a grieved and sorrowful voice, uttered these words ‘Oh, the fairest and most ungrateful woman in the world! And shall it be possible, most excellent Casildea de Vandalia, that thou suffer this thy captive knight to pine and perish, with continual peregrinations, with hard and painful labours? Sufficeth not that I have made all the knights of Navarre, of Leon, all the Tartesians, all the Castilians confess thee to be the fairest lady of the world. — ay, and all the knights of Mancha too?’ ‘Not so,’ quoth Don Quixote straight; for I am of the Mancha, but never yielded to that, for I neither could nor ought confess a thing so prejudicial to the beauty of my mistress; and thou seest, Sancho, how much this knight is wide; but let us hear him, it may be he will unfold himself more.’ ‘Marry, will he,’ quoth Sancho, ‘for he talks as if he would lament a month together.’

But it fell out otherwise; for the Knight of the Wood having overheard that they talked somewhat near him, ceasing his complaints, he stood up, and with a clear but familiar voice thus spake: ‘Who’s there? who is it? Is it haply some of the number of the contented or of the afflicted?’ ‘Of the afflicted,’ answered Don Quixote. ‘Come to me, then,’ said he of the Wood, ‘and make account you come to sadness itself, and to affliction’s self.’ Don Quixote, when he saw himself answered so tenderly and so modestly, drew near, and Sancho likewise. The wailful knight laid hold on Don Quixote’s arm, saying, ‘Sit down, sir knight; for to know that you are so, and one that professeth knight-errantry, it is enough that I have found you in this place, where solitariness and the Serene bear you company,1 the natural beds and proper beings for knights-errant.’ To which Don Quixote replied, ‘A knight I am, and of the profession you speak of; and, though disgraces, misfortunes, and sorrows have their proper seat in my mind, notwithstanding, the compassion I have to other men’s griefs hath not left it. By your complaints I guess you are enamoured, — I mean that you love that ungrateful fair one mentioned in your laments.’ Whilst they were thus discoursing, they sat together lovingly upon the cold ground, as if by daybreak their heads also would not break. The Knight of the Wood demanded, ‘Are you happily enamoured, sir knight?’ ‘Unhappily I am,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘although the unhappiness that ariseth from well-placed thoughts ought rather to be esteemed a happiness than otherwise.’ ‘True it is,’ replied he of the Wood, ‘if disdains did not vex our reason and understanding, which, being unmerciful, come nearer to revenge.’ ‘I was never,’ said Don Quixote, ‘disdained of my mistress.’ ‘No, indeed,’ quoth Sancho, who was near them; ‘for my lady is as gentle as a lamb, and as soft as butter.’ ‘Is this your squire?’ said he of the Wood. ‘He is,’ said Don Quixote. ‘ I ne’er saw squire,’ replied he of the Wood, ‘that durst prate so boldly before his master; at least yonder is mine, as big as his father, and I can prove he never unfolded his lips, whensoever I spake.’ ‘Well, i’ faith,’ quoth Sancho, ‘I have spoken, and may speak before — as — and perhaps — but let it alone; the more it is stirred, the more it will stink.’

The Squire of the Wood took Sancho by the hand, saying, ‘Let us go and talk what we list squire-like, and let us leave these our masters; let them fall from their lances and tell of their loves, for I warrant you the morning will overtake them before they have done.’ ‘A’ God’s name,’ quoth Sancho; ‘and I’ll tell you who I am, that you may see whether I may be admitted into the number of your talking squires.’ So the two squires went apart, between whom there passed as witty a dialogue as their masters’ was serious.
 

1 Serene, the night-dew that falls.

Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

The History of Don Quixote - The Second Part

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