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 XXVII: Who Master Peter and his Ape were, with the Ill Success that Don Quixote had in the Adventure of the Braying, which ended not so well as he would, or thought for


CID HAMET, the chronicler of this famous history, begins this chapter with these words: ‘ I swear like a Catholic Christian.’ To which the translator says that Cid his swearing like a Catholic Christian, he being a Moor, as undoubtedly he was, was no otherwise to be understood than that, as the Catholic Christian, when he swears, doth or ought to swear truth, so did he, as if he had sworn like a Catholic Christian in what he meant to write of Don Quixote, especially in recounting who Master Peter and the prophesying ape were, that made all the country astonished at his foretelling things. He says, then, that he who hath read the former part of this history will have well remembered that same Gines de Passamonte whom Don Quixote, amongst other galley-slaves, freed in Sierra Morena, a benefit for which afterward he had small thanks and worse payment from that wicked and ungrateful rout.

This Gines de Passamonte, whom Don Quixote called Ginesillo de Parapilla, was he that stole Sancho’s Dapple, which, because neither the manner nor the time were put in the First Part, made many attribute the fault of the impression to the author’s weakness of memory. But true it is that Gines stole him as Sancho slept upon his back, using the same trick and device of Brunelo’s, whenas Sacripante being upon the siege of Albraca, he stole his horse from under his legs; and after Sancho recovered him again, as was showed.

This Gines, fearful of being found by the justices that sought after him, to punish him for his infinite villanies and faults, that were so many and so great that himself made a great volume of them, determined to get him into the kingdom of Aragon, and so covering his left eye, to apply himself to the office of a puppet-man; for this and juggling he was excellent at. It fell out so that he bought his ape of certain captive Christians that came out of Barbary, whom he had instructed that upon making a certain sign he should leap upon his shoulder, and should mumble, or seem to do so at least, something in his ear. This done, before he would enter into any town with his motion or ape, he informed himself in the nearest town, or where he best could, what particulars had happened in such a place or to such persons, and, bearing all well in mind, the first thing he did was to show his motion, which was sometimes of one story, otherwhiles of another; but all merry, delightful, and familiarly known. The sight being finished, he propounded the rarities of his ape, telling the people that he could declare unto them all things past and present; but in things to come he had no skill. For an answer to each question he demanded a shilling; but to some he did it cheaper, according as he perceived the demanders in case to pay him. And sometimes he came to such places as he knew what had happened to the inhabitants, who, although they would demand nothing, because they would not pay him, yet he would still make signs to the ape, and tell them the beast had told him this or that, which fell out just by what he had before heard, and with this he got an unspeakable name, and all men flocked about him; and at other times, as he was very cunning, he would reply so that the answer fell out very fit to the questions; and, since nobody went about to sift or to press him how his ape did prophesy, he gulled every one and filled his pouch. As soon as ever he came into the vent he knew Don Quixote and Sancho, and all that were there; but it had cost him dear if Don Quixote had let his hand fall somewhat lower when he cut off King Marsilius his head and destroyed all his chivalry, as was related in the antecedent chapter. And this is all that may be said of Master Peter and his ape.

And, returning to Don Quixote de la Mancha, I say that after he was gone out of the vent he determined first of all to see the banks of the river Heber, and all round about, before he went to the city of Saragosa, since between that and the jousts there he had time enough for all. Hereupon he went on his way, which he passed two days without lighting on anything worth writing, till the third day, going up a ridgeway, he heard a sound of drums, trumpets, and guns. At first he thought some regiment of soldiers passed by that way; so to see them he spurred Rozinante, and got up the ridge, and when he was at the top he saw, as he guessed, at the foot of it, near upon two hundred men, armed with different sorts of arms, to wit, spears, crossbows, partisans, halberds and pikes, and some guns, and many targets. He came down from the high ground, and drew near to the squadron, insomuch that he might distinctly perceive their banners, judged of their colours, and noted their impresses, and especially one, which was on a standard or shred of white satin, where was lively painted a little ass, like one of your Sardinian asses, his head lifted up, his mouth open, and his tongue out, in act and posture just as he were braying; about him were these two verses written in fair letters:

“Twas not for nought that day
The one and th’ other judge did bray.’

By this device Don Quixote collected that those people belonged to the braying town, and so he told Sancho, declaring likewise what was written in the standard. He told him also that he that told them the story was in the wrong to say they were two aldermen that brayed, for by the verses of the standard they were two judges. To which Sancho answered, ‘Sir, that breaks no square; for it may very well be that the aldermen that then brayed might come in time to be judges of the town; so they may have been called by both titles. Howsoever, ‘tis not material to the truth of the story whether the brayers were aldermen or judges, one for another be they who they would; and a judge is even as likely to bray as an alderman.

To conclude, they perceived and knew that the town that was mocked went out to skirmish with another that had too much abused them, and more than was fitting for good neighbours. Don Quixote went towards them, to Sancho’s no small grief, who was no friend to those enterprises. Those of the squadron hemmed him in, taking him to be some one of their side. Don Quixote, lifting up his visor, with a pleasant countenance and courage, came toward the standard of the ass, and there all the chiefest of the army gathered about him to behold him, falling into the same admiration as all else did the first time they had seen him. Don Quixote, that saw them attentively look on him, and no man offering to speak to him, or ask him aught, taking hold on their silence, and breaking his own, he raised his voice and said, ‘Honest friends, I desire you with all earnestness that you interrupt not the discourse that I shall make to you, till you shall see that I either distaste or weary you; which if it be so, at the least sign you shall make, I will seal up my looks and clap a gag on my tongue.’ All of them bade him speak what he would, for they would hear him willingly.

Don Quixote, having this licence, went on, saying, ‘I, my friends, am a knight-errant, whose exercise is arms, whose profession to favour those that need favour and to help the distressed. I have long known of your misfortune, and the, cause that every while moves you to take arms to be revenged on your enemies. And having, not once but many times, pondered your business in my understanding, I find, according to the laws of duel, that you are deceived to think yourselves affronted; for no particular person can affront a whole town, except it be in defying them for traitors in general, because he knows not who in particular committed the treason for which he defied all the town. We have an example of this in Don Diego Ordonnez de Lara, who defied the whole town of Zamora, because he was ignorant that only Velido de Olfos committed the treason in killing his king; so he defied them all, and the revenge and answer concerned them all; though, howsoever, Don Diego was somewhat too hasty and too forward, for it was needless for him to have defied the dead, or the waters, or the corn, or the children unborn, with many other trifles there mentioned; but let it go, for when choler overflows the tongue hath neither father, governor, or guide that may correct it. This being so, then, that one particular person cannot affront a kingdom, province, city, commonwealth, or town only, it is manifest that the revenge of defiance for such as affront is needless, since it is none; for it were a goodly matter sure that those of the town of Reloxa should every foot go out to kill those that abuse them so; or that your Cazoteros, Verengeneros, Vallenatos, Xanoneros,1 or others of these kinds of nicknames that are common in every boy’s mouth, and the ordinary sort of people—’twere very good, I say, that all these famous towns should be ashamed, and take revenge, and run with their swords continually drawn like sackbuts, for every slender quarrel. No, no, God forbid! Men of wisdom and well-governed commonwealths ought to take arms for four things, and so to endanger their persons, lives, and estates: first, to defend the Catholic faith; secondly, their lives, which is according to divine and natural law; thirdly, to defend their honour, family, and estates; fourthly, to serve their prince in a lawful war; and, if we will, we may add a fifth (that may serve for a second), to defend their country. To these five capital causes may be joined many others, just and reasonable, that may oblige men to take arms; but to take them for trifles, and things that are rather fit for laughter and pastime than for any affront, it seems that he who takes them wants his judgment. Besides, to take an unjust revenge (indeed nothing can be just by way of revenge) is directly against God’s law which we profess, in which we are commanded to do well to our enemies, and good to those that hate us—a commandment that, though it seem difficult to fulfil, yet it is not only to those that know less of God than the world, and more of the flesh than the Spirit; for Jesus Christ, true God and man, who never lied, neither could nor can, being our Law-giver, said that His yoke was sweet and His burden light; so He would command us nothing that should be impossible for us to fulfil. So that, my masters, you are tied both by laws divine and human to be pacified.’

‘The devil take me,’ thought Sancho to himself at this instant, ‘if this master of mine be not a divine; or, if not, as like one as one egg is to another.’

Don Quixote took breath a while, and, seeing them still attentive, had proceeded in his discourse, but that Sancho’s conceitedness came betwixt him and home, who, seeing his master pause, took his turn, saying: ‘My master, Don Quixote de la Mancha, sometimes called the Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance, and now the Knight of the Lions, is a very judicious gentleman, speaks Latin and his mother tongue as well as a Bachelor of Arts, and in all he handleth or adviseth proceeds like a man of arms, and hath all the laws and statutes of that you call Duel ad unguem; therefore there is no more to be done but to govern yourselves according to his direction, and let me bear the blame if you do amiss. Besides, as you are now told, ‘tis a folly to be ashamed to hear one bray; for I remember when I was a boy I could have brayed at any time I listed, without anybody’s hindrance, which I did so truly and cunningly that when I brayed all the asses in the town would answer me; and for all this I was held to be the son of honest parents; and, though for this rare quality I was envied by more than four of the proudest of my parish, I cared not two straws; and, that you may know I say true, do but stay and hearken; for this science is like swimming, once known never forgotten.’ So, clapping his hand to his nose, he began to bray so strongly that the valleys near-hand resounded again. But one of them that stood nearest him, thinking he had flouted them, lifted up a good bat he had in his hand, and gave him such a blow that he tumbled him to the ground.

Don Quixote, that saw Sancho so evil entreated, set upon him that did it, with his lance in his hand; but so many came betwixt that it was not possible for him to be revenged; rather seeing a cloud of stones coming towards himself, and that a thousand bent cross-bows began to threaten him, and no less quantity of guns, turning Rozinante’s reins, as fast as he could gallop he got from among them, recommending himself heartily to God to free him from that danger, and fearing every foot lest some bullet should enter him behind, and come out at his breast; so he still went fetching his breath, to see if it failed him. But they of the squadron were satisfied when they saw him fly, and so shot not at him. Sancho they set upon his ass, scarce yet come to himself, and let him go after his master; not that he could tell how to guide him, but Dapple followed Rozinante’s steps, without whom he was nobody.

Don Quixote being now a pretty way off, looked back, and saw that Sancho was coming, and marked that nobody followed him. Those of the squadron were there till dark night, and, because their enemies came not to battle with them, they returned home to their town, full of mirth and jollity; and if they had known the ancient custom of the Grecians they would have raised a trophy in that place.

1 Several nicknames given to towns in Spain, upon long tradition, and too tedious to be put in a margent.

Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

The History of Don Quixote - The Second Part

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