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 XXII: Of the Famous Adventure of Montesinos’ Cave, which is in the Heart of Mancha, which the Valorous Don Quixote happily accomplished


THE married couple made wonderful much of Don Quixote, obliged thereunto for the willingness he showed to defend their cause, and with his valour they paralleled his discretion, accounting him a Cid in arms and a Cicero in eloquence. The good Sancho recreated himself three days at the bridegroom’s charge, and now knew that Quiteria knew nothing of the feigned wounding, but that it was a trick of Basiius, who hoped for the success that hath been showed. True it was that he had made some of his loving friends acquainted with his purpose, that they might help him at need, and make good his deceit.

‘They cannot be called deceits,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘that are done to a virtuous end, and that the marriage of a loving couple was an end most excellent. But, by the way, you must know that the greatest opposite that love hath is want and continual necessity; for love is all mirth, content, and gladsomeness, and the more when he that loves enjoys the thing loved, against which necessity and poverty are open and declared enemies.’ All this he spoke with a purpose to advise Basilius that he should leave exercising his youthful abilities; that, although they got him a name, yet they brought no wealth; and that he should look to lay up something now by lawful and industrious means, which are never wanting to those that will be wary and apply themselves. ‘The honest poor man, if so be the poor man may be called honest, hath a jewel of a fair woman, which if any man bereave him of, dishonours him and kills her. She that is fair and honest when her husband is poor deserves to be crowned with laurel and triumphant bays. Beauty alone attracts the eyes of all that behold it, and the princely eagles and high-flying birds do stoop to it as to the pleasing lure; but, if extreme necessity be added to that beauty, then kites and crows will grapple with it, and other ravenous birds; but she that is constant against all these assaults doth well deserve to be her husband’s crown. Mark, wise Basiius,’ proceeds Don Quixote, ‘it was an opinion of I know not what sage man, that there was but one good woman in the world; and his advice was that every man should think, that was married, that his wife was she, and so he should be sure to live contented. I never yet was married, neither have I any thought hitherto that way; notwithstanding, I could be able to give any man counsel herein that should ask it, and how he should choose his wife. First of all I would have him rather respect fame than wealth; for the honest woman gets not a good name only with being good, but in appearing so; for your public looseness and liberty doth more prejudice a woman’s honesty than her sinning secretly. If you bring her honest to your house, ‘tis easy keeping her so, and to better her in that goodness; but if you bring her dishonest, ‘tis hard mending her, for it is not very pliable to pass from one extreme into another, — I say not impossible, but I hold it to be very difficult.’

Sancho heard all this, and said to himself, ‘This master of mine, when I speak matters of marrow and substance, is wont to tell me that I may take a pulpit in hand, and preach my fine knacks up and down the world; but I may say of him that when he once begins to thread his sentences he may not only take a pulpit in hand, but in each finger too, and go up and down the market-place, and cry, “Who buys my ware?“ The devil take thee for a knight-errant, how wise he is! On my soul, I thought he had known only what belonged to his knight-errantry; but he snaps at all, and there is no boat that he hath not an oar in.

Sancho spoke this somewhat aloud, and his master overheard him, and asked, ‘What is that thou art grumbling, Sancho?’ ‘I say nothing, neither do I grumble,’ quoth he; ‘I was only saying to myself that I would I had heard you before I was married, and perhaps I might now have said, “The sound man needs no physician.”’ ‘Is Teresa so bad, Sancho?’ said Don Quixote. ‘Not very bad,’ said Sancho, ‘and yet not very good — at least, not so good as I would have her.’ ‘Thou dost ill, Sancho,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘to speak ill of thy wife, who is indeed mother of thy children.’ ‘There’s no love lost,’ quoth Sancho, ‘for she speaks ill of me too when she list, especially when she is jealous; for then the devil himself will not cope with her.’

Well, three days they stayed with the married couple, where they were welcomed like princes. Don Quixote desired the skilful parson to provide him a guide that might show him the way to Montesinos’ Cave, for he had a great desire to enter into it, and to see with his own eyes if those wonders that were told of it up and down the country were true. The parson told him that a cousin-german of his, a famous student and much addicted to books of knighthood, should go with him, who should willingly carry him to the mouth of the cave, and should show the famous lake of Ruydera, telling him he would be very good company for him, by reason he was one that knew how to publish books and direct them to great men.

By and by the young student comes me upon an ass with foal, with a coarse packing-cloth or doubled carpet upon his pack-saddle. Sancho saddled Rozinante, and made ready his Dapple, furnished his wallets, and carried the student’s too, as well provided; and so taking leave and bidding all God be with you, they went on, holding their course to Montesinos’ Cave. By the way Don Quixote asked the scholar of what kind or quality the exercises of his profession and study were. To which he answered that his profession was humanity, his exercises and study to make books for the press, which were very beneficial to himself and no less grateful to the commonwealth; that one of his books was intituled The Book of the Liveries, ‘where are set down seven hundred and three sorts of liveries, with their colours, mottoes, and ciphers, from whence any may be taken at festival times and shows by courtiers, without begging them from anybody, or distilling, as you would say, from their own brains to suit them to their desires and intentions; for I give to the jealous, to the forsaken, to the forgotten, to the absent, the most agreeable, that will fit them as well as their punks. Another book I have, which I mean to call the Metamorphosis, or Spanish Ovid, of a new and rare invention; for, imitating Ovid in it, by way of mocking, I show who the Giralda of Seville was, the Angel of the Magdalena, who was the pipe of Vecinguerra of Cordova, who the bulls of Guisando, Sierra Morena, the springs of Leganitos and Lavapies in Madrid;1 not forgetting that of Pioio, that of the gilded pipe and of the abbess; and all this with the allegories, metaphors, and translations, that they delight, suspend, and instruct all in a moment. Another book I have, which I call a Supply to Polydore Virgil, concerning the invention of things, which is of great reading and study, by reason that I do verify many matters of weight that Polydore omitted, and declare them in a very pleasing style. Virgil forgot to tell us who was the first that had a catarrh in the world, and the first that was anointed for the French disease, and I set it down presently after I propose it, and authorise it with at least four-and-twenty writers, that you may see whether I have taken good pains, and whether the said book may not be profitable to the world.’

Sancho, that was very attentive to the scholar’s narration, asked him, ‘Tell me, sir, so God direct your right hand in the impression of your books, — can you tell me (for I know you can, since you know all) who was the first man that scratched his head, for I believe it was our first father Adam?’ ‘Yes, marry, was it,’ said he; ‘for Adam, no doubt, had both head and hair, and, being the first man in the world, would sometimes scratch himself.’ ‘I believe it,’ quoth Sancho; but tell me now, who was the first vaulter in the world?’ ‘Truly, brother,’ said he, ‘I cannot at present resolve you; I will study it when I come to my books, and then I’ll satisfy you when we see one another again; for I hope this will not be the last time.’ ‘Well, sir,’ said Sancho, ‘never trouble yourself with this, for now I can resolve the doubt: know that the first tumbler in the world was Lucifer, when he was cast out of heaven, and came tumbling down to hell.’ ‘You say true,’ quoth the scholar. And Don Quixote said, ‘This answer, Sancho, is none of thine; thou hast heard somebody say so.’ ‘Peace, sir,’ quoth Sancho, ‘for, if I fall to question and answer, I shall not make an end between this and morning; and to ask foolish questions, and answer unlikelihoods, I want no help of my neighbours.’ ‘Thou hast spoken more, Sancho, than thou thinkest for,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘for you have some that are most busied in knowing and averring things, whose knowledge and remembrance is not worth a button.’

All that day they passed in these and other delightful discourses, and at night they lodged in a little village, from whence the scholar told them they had but two little leagues to Montesinos’ Cave, and that if he meant to enter it he must be provided of ropes to tie and let himself down into the depth. Don Quixote said that, though it were as deep as hell, he would see whither it reached; so they bought an hundred fathom of cordage, and the next day at two of the clock they came to the cave, whose mouth is wide and spacious, but full of briars and brambles, and wild fig-trees, and weeds so intricate and thick that they altogether blind and dam it up. When they came to it, Sancho and the scholar alighted, and Don Quixote whom they tied strongly with the cordage; and, whilst they were swathing and binding of him, Sancho said to him, ‘Take heed, sir, what you do; do not bury yourself alive, and do not hang yourself, like a bottle to be cooled in some well, for it neither concerns nor belongs to you to search this place, worse than a dungeon.’ ‘Bind me and peace,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘for such an enterprise as this, Sancho, was reserved for me.’ Then said the guide, ‘I beseech you, Signior Don Quixote, that you take heed, and look about you with an hundred eyes, to see what is within; for perhaps you may meet with things that will be fit for me to put in my book of Transformations.’ ‘He hath his instrument in his hand,’ quoth Sancho, ‘that knows how to use it.’

This said, and Don Quixote’s binding ended, which was not upon his harness, but upon his arming-doublet, he said, ‘We did unadvisedly in not providing ourselves of some small bell, that might have been tied with me to the same cord, by whose sound you might know that I were still toward the bottom and alive; but, since there is now no remedy, God be our good speed!’ And straight he kneeled upon his knees, and made a soft prayer to God Almighty, desiring His aid, and to give him good success in that (to see to) dangerous and strange adventure; and then straightways he cried aloud, ‘O thou mistress of my actions and motions, most excellent, peerless Dulcinea del Toboso! if it be possible that the prayers and requests of this thy happy lover come to thine ears, hearken, I beseech thee, by thy unheard-of beauty; deny not now unto me thy favour and protection, which I so much need. I go to cast myself headlong to a plunge, and sink myself into the abyssus that presents itself to me, that the world may know that if thou favour me there shall be nothing impossible for me to undergo and end.’

And in saying this he came to the mouth, but saw he could not come near to be let down, except it were by making way with main force, or with cutting through; and so, laying hand on his sword, he began to cut and slash the weeds that were at the mouth of the cave, at whose rushing and noise there came out an infinite company of crows and daws, so thick and so hastily that they tumbled Don Quixote on the ground; and, if he had been as superstitious as good Christian, he would have taken it for an ill sign, and not have proceeded.

Well, he rose, and seeing the crows were all gone, and that there were no other night-birds, as bats, that came out amongst the crows, Sancho and the scholar let him down to search the bottom of that fearful cave; but Sancho first bestowed his benediction on him, and, making a thousand crosses over him, said, ‘God and the Rock of France, together with the Trinity of Gaeta,2 guide thee, thou flower, cream, and scum of knights-errant. There thou goest, hackster of the world, heart of steel, and arms of brass; God again be thy guide, and deliver thee sound and without scar to the light of this world which thou leavest, to bury thyself in the obscurity which thou seekest.’

The scholar did, as it were, make the same kind of wishes and deprecations. Don Quixote cried out that they should yet give him more rope, which they gave by little and little; and when his voice, that was stopt in the gutters of the cave, could be no longer heard, and that they had let down their hundred fathom of rope, they were of opinion to hoist him up again, since they could give him no more cord; for all that, they stayed some half an hour, and then began easily to draw up the rope, and without any weight, which made them think Don Quixote was within; and Sancho believing it wept bitterly, and drew up apace, that he might be satisfied; but, coming somewhat near fourscore fathom, they felt a weight, which made them very much rejoice. At length, when they came to ten, they plainly saw Don Quixote, to whom Sancho cried out, saying, ‘You are well returned, sir, for we thought you had stayed there for breed.’

But Don Quixote did not answer a word, but, drawing him altogether out, they saw that his eyes were shut, as if he were asleep; they stretched him on the ground and unbound him, and for all this he awaked not. But they so turned, tossed, and shaked him that a pretty while after he came to himself, lazing himself, as if he had wakened out of a great and profound sleep, and, looking wildly around about him, said, ‘God forgive you, friends, for you have raised me from one of the delicatest and pleasingest lives and sights that ever was seen by human eye. Now at length I perceive that all the delights of this world do pass like a shadow or dream, or wither like a flower of the field. O unhappy Montesinos! O ill-wounded Durandarte! O luckless Belerma! O mournful Guadiana! and you, unfortunate daughters of Ruydera, that show by your waters those your fair eyes wept!’

The scholar and Sancho gave ear to these words which Don Quixote spake, as if with great pain they came from his very entrails; they desired him to let them know his meaning, and to tell them what he had seen in that hellish place. ‘Hellish, call ye it?’ said Don Quixote. ‘Well, call it not so, for it deserves not the name, as straight you shall hear.’ He desired them to give him somewhat to eat, for he was exceeding hungry. They laid the scholar’s coarse wrapper upon the green grass, and went to the spence of their wallets; and, all three of them being set like good fellows, eat their bever, and supped all together. The cloth taken up, Don Quixote said, ‘Sit still, ho! let none of you rise, and mark me attentively.’

1 All these several rarities of Spain. 2 Several places of devotion.

Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

The History of Don Quixote - The Second Part

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