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 XVIII: What happened to Don Quixote in the Castle,
or Knight of the Green Cassock his House, with other Extravagant Matters

 

Don Quixote perceived that Don Diego de Miranda’s house was spacious, after the country manner; and his arms, though of coarse stone, upon the door towards the street; his wine-cellar in the court, his other cellar or vault in the entry, with many great stone vessels round about that were of Toboso, which renewed the remembrance of his enchanted and transformed Mistress Dulcinea; so sighing, and not minding who was by, said:

‘O happy pledges, found out to my loss,
Sweet and reviving, when the time was, once!1

O you Tobosian tuns, that bring to my remembrance the sweet pledge of my greatest bitterness!’

The scholar poet, son to Don Diego, that came out with his mother to welcome him, heard him pronounce this, and the mother and son were in some suspense at the strange shape of Don Quixote, who, alighting from Rozinante, very courteously desired to kiss her hands; and Don Diego said, ‘I pray, wife, give your wonted welcome to this gentleman, Signior Don Quixote de la Mancha, a knight-errant, and the valiantest and wisest in the world.’ The gentlewoman, called Donna Christina, welcomed him very affectionately and with much courtesy, which Don Quixote retorted with many wise and mannerly compliments, and did, as it were, use the same over again to the scholar, who, hearing Don Quixote speak, took him to be wondrous wise and witty.

Here the author paints out unto us all the circumstances of Don Diego his house, deciphering to us all that a gentleman and a rich farmer’s house may have; but it seemed good to the translator to pass over these and such-like trifles, because they suited not with the principal scope of this history, the which is more grounded upon truth than upon bare digressions.

Don Quixote was led into a hall; Sancho unarmed him, so that now he had nothing on but his breeches and a chamois doublet, all smudged with the filth of his armour; about his neck he wore a little scholastical band, unstarched and without lace; his buskins were date-coloured, and his shoes close on each side; his good sword he girt to him, that hung at a belt of seawolves’ skins, for it was thought he had the running of the reins many years; he wore also a long cloak of good russet cloth; but first of all, in five or six kettles of water—for touching the quantity there is some difference—he washed his head and his face; and for all that the water was turned whey-colour—God-a-mercy on Sancho’s gluttony, and the buying those dismal black curds that made his master so white. With the aforesaid bravery, and with a sprightly air and gallantry, Don Quixote marched into another room, where the scholar stayed for him to entertain him till the cloth was laid; for the mistress of the house, Donna Christina, meant to show to her honourable guest that she knew how to make much of them that came to her house.

Whilst Don Quixote was disarming himself, Don Lorenzo had leisure—for that was Don Diego’s son’s name—to ask his father, ‘What do you call this gentleman, sir, that you have brought with you; for his name, his shape, and your calling him knight-errant makes my mother and me wonder?’ ‘Faith, son,’ quoth Don Diego, ‘I know not what I should say to thee of him; only I may tell thee I have seen him play the maddest pranks of any madman in the world, and speak again speeches so wise as blot out and undo his deeds. Do thou speak to him, and feel the pulse of his understanding, and, since thou art discreet, judge of his discretion or folly as thou seest best, though, to deal plainly with thee, I rather hold him to be mad than wise.

Hereupon Don Lorenzo, as is said, went to entertain Don Quixote; and, amongst other discourse that passed betwixt them, Don Quixote said to Don Lorenzo: ‘Signior Don Diego de Miranda, your father, hath told me of your rare abilities and subtle wit, and chiefly that you are an excellent poet.’ ‘A poet, perhaps,’ replied Don Lorenzo; ‘but excellent, by no means; true it is that I am somewhat affectionated to poesy, and to read good poets, but not so that I may deserve the name of excellent that my father styles me with.’ I do not dislike your modesty,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘for you have seldom-times any poet that is not arrogant, and thinks himself to be the best poet in the world.’ ‘There is no rule,’ quoth Don Lorenzo, ‘without an exception; and some one there is that is so, yet thinks not so.’ ‘Few,’ said Don Quixote. ‘But tell me, sir, what verses be those that you have now in hand, that your father says do trouble and puzzle you? and, if it be some kind of gloss, I know what belongs to glossing, and should be glad to hear them; and, if they be of your verses for the prize, content yourself with the second reward;2 for the first goes always by favour, or according to the quality of the person; and the second is justly distributed; so that the third comes, according to this account, to be the second, and the first the third, according to degrees that are given in universities: but for all that the word “first” is a great matter.’ ‘Hitherto,’ thought Don Lorenzo to himself, ‘I cannot think thee mad; proceed we.’ And he said, ‘It seems, sir, you have frequented the schools; what sciences have you heard?’ ‘That of knight-errantry,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘which is as good as your poetry, and somewhat better.’ ‘I know not what science that is,’ quoth Don Lorenzo, ‘neither hath it as yet come to my notice.’ ‘‘Tis a science,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘that contains in it all or most of the sciences of the world, by reason that he who professes it must be skilful in the laws, to know justice distributive and commutative, to give every man his own and what belongs to him; he must be a divine, to know how to give a reason clearly and distinctly of his Christian profession, wheresoever it shall be demanded him; he must be a physician, and chiefly an herbalist, to know in a wilderness or desert what herbs have virtue to cure wounds, for your knight-errant must not be looking every pissing-while who shall heal him; he must be an astronomer, to know in the night by the stars what o’clock ‘tis, and in what part and climate of the world he is; he must be skilful in the mathematics, because every foot he shall have need of them; and, to let pass that he must be adorned with all divine and moral virtues, descending to other trifles, I say he must learn to swim, as they say, Fish Nicholas, or Nicolao, did; he must know how to shoe a horse, to mend a saddle or bridle; and, coming again to what went before, he must serve God and his mistress inviolably; he must be chaste in his thoughts, honest in his words, liberal in his deeds, valiant in his actions, patient in afflictions, charitable towards the poor, and, lastly, a defender of truth, although it cost him his life for it. Of all these great and lesser parts a good knight-errant is composed, that you may see, Signior Don Lorenzo, whether it be a snivelling science that the knight that learns it professeth, and whether it may not be equalled to the proudest of them all taught in the schools.’ ‘If it be so,’ said Don Lorenzo, ‘I say this science goes beyond them all.’ ‘If it be so!’ quoth Don Quixote. ‘Why, let me tell you,’ said Don Lorenzo, ‘I doubt whether there be any knights-errant now adorned with so many virtues.’ ‘Oft have I spoken,’ replied Don Quixote, ‘that which I must now speak again, that the greatest part of men in the world are of opinion that there be no knights-errant; and I think, if Heaven do not miraculously let them understand the truth, that there have been such and that at this day there be, all labour will be in vain, as I have often found by experience. I will not now stand upon showing you your error; all I will do is to pray to God to deliver you out of it, and to make you understand how profitable and necessary knights-errant have been to the world in former ages, and also would be at present, if they were in request; but now, for our sins, sloth, idleness, gluttony, and wantonness do reign.’ ‘I’ faith,’ thought Don Lorenzo, ‘for this once our guest hath scaped me; but, for all that, he is a lively ass, and I were a dull fool if I did not believe it.’

Here they ended their discourse, for they were called to dinner. Don Diego asked his son what trial he had made of their guest’s understanding, to which he made answer, ‘All the physicians and scriveners in the world will not wipe out his madness. He is a curious madman, and hath neat dilemmas.’

To dinner they went, and their meat was such as Don Diego upon the way described it, such as he gave to his guests, well-dressed, savoury, and plentiful; but that which best pleased Don Quixote was the marvellous silence throughout the whole house, as if it had been a covent of Carthusians; so that, lifting up his eyes, and grace being said, and that they had washed hands, he earnestly entreated Don Lorenzo to speak his prize verses. To which quoth he: ‘Because I will not be like your poets, that when they are over-entreated they use to make scruple of their works, and when they are not entreated they vomit ‘em up, I will speak my gloss, for which I expect no reward, as having written them only to exercise my muse. ‘A wise friend of mine,’ said Don Quixote, ‘was of opinion that to gloss was no hard task for any man, the reason being that the gloss could ne’er come near the text, and most commonly the gloss was quite from the theme given; besides that the laws of glossing were too strict, not admitting interrogations of “Said he?” or “Shall I say?” or changing nouns into verbs, without other ligaments and strictnesses to which the glosser is tied, as you know.’ ‘Certainly, Signior Don Quixote,’ said Don Lorenzo, ‘I desire to catch you in an absurdity, but cannot, for still you slip from me like an eel.’ ‘I know not,’ said Don Quixote, ‘what you mean by your slipping.’ ‘You shall know my meaning,’ said Don Lorenzo; ‘but for the present I pray you hearken with attention to my glossed verses, and to the gloss, as for example,—

“If that my ‘was’ might turn to ‘is,’
I look for ’t, then it comes complete;
Oh, might I say, ‘Now, now time ’tis,’
Our after-griefs may be too great.”

THE GLOSS.

“As everything doth pass away,
So Fortune’s good, that erst she gave,
Did pass, and would not with me stay,
Though she gave once all I could crave.
Fortune, ‘tis long since thou hast seen
Me prostrate at thy feet, I wis;
I shall be glad, as I have been,
If that my ‘was’ return to ‘is.’

“Unto no honour am I bent,
No prize, conquest, or victory,
But to return to my content,
Whose thought doth grieve my memory:
If thou to me do it restore,
Fortune, the rigour of my heat
Allayed is; let it come before
I look for ’t, then it comes complete.

“Impossibles do I desire
To make time past return, in vain;
No power on earth can once aspire,
Past, to recall him back again.
Time doth go, time runs and flies
Swiftly, his course doth never miss,
He’s in an error then that cries,
‘Oh, might I say, “now, now, time ‘tis.”’

“I live in great perplexity,
Sometimes in hope, sometimes in fear;
Far better were it for to die,
That of my griefs I might get clear;
For me to die ‘twere better far;
Let me not that again repeat
Fear says, ‘‘Tis better live long, for
Our after-griefs may be too great.’

When Don Lorenzo had ended, Don Quixote stood up and cried aloud, as if he had screeched, taking Don Lorenzo by the hand, and said: ‘Assuredly, generous youth, I think you are the best poet in the world, and you deserve the laurel, not of Cyprus or Gaeta, as a poet said (God forgive him!), but of Athens, if it were extant, Paris, Bologna, and Salamanca. I would to God those judges that would deny you the prize might be shot to death with arrows by Phoebus, and that the Muses never come within their thresholds. Speak, sir, if you please, some of your loftier verses, that I may altogether feel the pulse of your admirable wit.’

How say you by this, that Don Lorenzo was pleased, when he heard himself thus praised by Don Quixote, although he held him to be a madman? O power of flattery, how far thou canst extend, and how large are the bounds of thy pleasing jurisdiction! This truth was verified in Don Lorenzo, since he condescended to Don Quixote’s request, speaking this following sonnet to him, of the fable or story of Pyramus and Thisbe:

‘The wall was broken by the virgin fair,
That oped the gallant breast of Pyramus;
Love parts from Cyprus, that he may declare,
Once seen, the narrow breach prodigious.
There nought but silence speaks; no voice doth dare,
Thorough so strait a strait, be venturous;
Let their minds speak; Love works this wonder rare,
Facilitating things most wonderous.
Desire in her grew violent, and haste
In the fond maid, instead of heart’s delight,
Solicits death. See, now the story’s past
Both of them in a moment, O strange sight!
   One sword, one sepulchre, one memory,
   Doth kill, doth cover, makes them never die.’

‘Now, thanked be God,’ quoth Don Quixote, having heard this sonnet, ‘that amongst so many consummated poets as be, I have found one consummate, as you are, sir, which I perceive by your well-framed sonnet.’

Don Quixote remained four days, being well entertained, in Don Diego’s house, at the end of which he desired to take his leave, and thanked him for the kindness and good welcome he had received: but, because it was not fit that knights-errant should be too long idle, he purposed to exercise his function, and to seek after adventures he knew of; for the place whither he meant to go to would give him plenty enough to pass his time with, till it were fit for him to go to the jousts at Saragosa, which was his more direct course; but that first of all he meant to go to Montesinos’ vault, of which there were so many admirable tales in every man’s mouth, so to search and inquire the spring and origin of those seven lakes commonly called of Ruydera. Don Diego and his son commended his noble determination, and bid him furnish himself with what he pleased of their house and wealth, for that he should receive it with all love and good will; for the worth of his person, and his honourable profession, obliged them to it.

To conclude, the day for his parting came, as pleasing to him as bitter and sorrowful to Sancho, who liked wondrous well of Don Diego’s plentiful provision, and was loth to return to the hunger of the forests and wilderness, and to the hardness of his ill-furnished wallets, notwithstanding he filled and stuffed them with the best provision he could. And Don Quixote, as he took his leave of Don Lorenzo, said, ‘I know not, sir, whether I have told you heretofore, but, though I have, I tell you again, that when you would save a great deal of labour and pains, to arrive at the inaccessible top of Fame’s temple, you have no more to do but to leave on one hand the strait and narrow path of poesy, and to take the most narrow of knight-errantry, sufficient to make you an emperor, ere you would say, “What’s this?

With this epilogue Don Quixote shut up the comedy of his madness; only this he added: ‘God knows, I would willingly carry Signior Don Lorenzo with me, to teach him what belongs to pardoning the humble, to curbing and restraining the proud, virtues annexed to my profession; but, since his slender age is not capable, and his laudable enterprises will not permit him, I am only willing to advise you that being a poet you may be famous, if you govern yourself by other men’s judgments more than by your own; for you have no parents that dislike their own children, fair or foul, and this error is more frequent in men’s understandings.’

The father and the son afresh admired at Don Quixote’s oft-interposed reasons, some wise, some foolish, and at his obstinate being bent altogether upon his unlucky adventures, which he aimed at, as the mark and end of his desire. They renewed again their kind offers and compliments with him; but Don Quixote, taking his leave of the lady of the castle, mounted his Rozinante, and Sancho his Dapple: so they parted.
 

1 O dulces prendas.  A beginning of a sonnet in ‘Diana de Montemayor,’ which Don Quixote here raps out upon a sudden.
2 ‘De justa literaria’: a custom in universities in Spain, of rewards proposed to them that make the best verses.

Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

The History of Don Quixote - The Second Part

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