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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 XXXII: Of Don Quixote’s Answer to his Reprehender, with other Successes as Wise as Witty


DON QUIXOTE being thus upon this legs, and trembling from head to foot, like a man filled with quicksilver, with a hasty and thick voice, said, ‘The place and presence before whom I am, and the respect I have and always had to men of your coat, do bind and tie up the hands of my just wrath; so that as well for what I have said, as for I know all know that women and gowned men’s weapons are the same, their tongues, I will enter into single combat with you with mine, though I rather expected good counsel from you than infamous revilings. Good and well-meant reprehensions require and ask other circumstances, other points; at least, your public and so bitter reprehensions have passed all limits, and your gentle ones had been better; neither was it fit that, without knowledge of the sin you reprehend, you call the sinner, without more ado, coxcomb and idiot. Well, for which of my coxcombries seen in me do you condemn and revile me, and command me home to my own house, to look to the governing of it, my wife and children, without knowing whether I have any of these? Is there no more to be done, but in a hurry to enter other men’s houses, to rule their owners? Nay, one that hath been a poor pedagogue, or hath not seen more world than twenty miles about him, to meddle so roundly to give laws to chivalry, and to judge of knights-errant? Is it happily a vain plot, or time ill spent, to range through the world, not seeking its dainties, but the bitterness of it, whereby good men aspire to the seat of immortality? If your knights, your gallants, or gentlemen should have called me coxcomb, I should have held it for an affront irreparable; but that your poor scholars account me a madman, that never trod the paths of knight-errantry, I care not a chip. A knight I am, a knight I’ll die, if it please the Most Highest. Some go by the spacious field of proud ambition, others by the way of servile and base flattery, a third sort by deceitful hypocrisy, and few by that of true religion; but I, by my star’s inclination, go in the narrow path of knight-errantry, for whose exercise I despise wealth, but not honour. I have satisfied grievances, rectified wrongs, chastised insolencies, overcome giants, trampled over spirits; I am enamoured, only because there is a necessity knights-errant should be so; and, though I be so, yet I am not of those vicious amorists, but of your chaste platonics. My intentions always aim at a good end, as to do good to all men, and hurt to none. If he that understands this, if he that performs it, that practiseth it, deserve to be called fool, let your greatnesses judge, excellent duke and duchess.’

‘Well, I advise you,’ quoth Sancho, ‘master mine, speak no more in your own behalf, for there is no more to be said, no more to be thought, no more persevering in the world; besides, this signior denying as he hath done that there neither is nor hath been knight-errant in the world, no marvel though he knows not what he hath said.’

‘Are you, trow,’ quoth the clergyman, ‘that Panza whom they say your master hath promised an island?’ ‘Marry, am I,’ said he, ‘and I am he that deserves it as well as any other, and I am he that — Keep company with good men, and thou shalt be as good as they;1 and I am one of those that — Not with whom thou wert bred, but with whom thou hast fed; and of those that — Lean to a good tree and it will shadow thee. I have leaned to my master, and it is many months since I have kept him company, and I am his other self. If God please, live he and I shall live; he shall not want empires to command, nor I islands to govern.

‘No, surely, friend Sancho,’ straight said the duke; ‘for I, in Signior Don Quixote’s name, will give thee an odd one of mine, of no small worth.’ ‘Kneel down, Sancho,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘and kiss his Excellency’s foot for the favour he hath done thee.’ Which Sancho did, but when the clergyman saw this he rose up wonderful angry, saying, ‘By my holy order, I am about to say, your Excellency is as mad as one of these sinners; and see if they must not needs be mad, when wise men canonise their madness. Your Excellency may do well to stay with them, for whilst they be here I’ll get me home and save a labour of correcting what I cannot amend.’ And without any more ado, leaving the rest of his dinner, he went away, the duke and the duchess not being able to pacify him, though the duke said not much to him, as being hindered with laughter at his unseasonable choler.

When he had ended his laughter he said to Don Quixote, ‘Sir Knight of the Lions, you have answered so deeply for yours elf that you left nothing unsatisfied to this your grievance, which though it seem to be one, yet is not; for, as women have not the power to wrong, neither have churchmen, as you best know.’ ‘‘Tis true,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘the cause is that he who cannot be wronged can do no wrong to anybody. Women, children, and churchmen, as they cannot defend themselves when they are offended, so they cannot suffer an affront and a grievance. There is this difference, as your Excellency best knows: the affront comes from one that may best do it and be able to make it good; the grievance may come from either party without affronting. For example: one stands carelessly in the street; some ten men come armed, and bastanadoing him, he claps hand to his sword, and doth his devoir; but the multitude of his assailants hinder him of his purpose, which is to be revenged. This man is wronged, but not affronted, and this shall be confirmed by another example. One stands with his back turned, another comes and strikes him, and when he hath done runs away; th’other follows, but overtakes him not: he that received the blow is wronged, but not affronted, because the affront ought to have been maintained. If he that struck him, though he did it basely, stand still and face his enemy, then he that was struck is wronged and affronted both together — wronged, because he was struck cowardly; affronted, because he that struck him stood still to make good what he had done. And so, according to the laws of cursed duel, I may be wronged, but not affronted; for children nor women have no apprehension, neither can they fly, nor ought to stand still. And so is it with the religious, for these kinds of people want arms offensive and defensive; so that, though they be naturally bound to defend themselves, yet they are not to offend anybody. And, though even now I said I was wronged, I say now I am not; for he that can receive no affront can give none; for which causes I have no reason to resent nor do I, the words that that good man gave me; only I could have wished he had stayed a little, that I might have let him see his error, in saying or thinking there have been no knights-errant in the world; for, if Amadis had heard this, or one of those infinite numbers of his lineage, I know it had not gone well with his worship.’

‘I’ll swear that,’ quoth Sancho; ‘they would have given him a slash that should have cleaved him from top to foot like a pomegranate or a ripe musk-melon. They were pretty youths to suffer such jests. By my holidam, I think certainly, if Renaldos de Montalvan had heard these speeches from the poor knave, he had bunged up his mouth that he should not have spoken these three years; ay, ay, he should have dealt with them, and see how he would have scaped their hands.’

The duchess was ready to burst with laughter at Sancho, and to her mind she held him to be more conceited and madder than his master, and many at that time were of this opinion.

Finally, Don Quixote was pacified and dinner ended, and, the cloth being taken away, there came four damosels, one with a silver bason, the other with an ewer, a third with two fine white towels, the fourth with her arms tucked up to the middle, and in her white hands — for white they were — a white Naples washing-ball. She with the bason came very mannerly, and set it under Don Quixote’s chin, who, very silent and wondering at that kind of ceremony, taking it to be the custom of the country to wash their faces instead of their hands, he stretched out his face as far as he could, and instantly the ewer began to rain upon him, and the damosel with the soap ran over his beard apace, raising white flakes of snow; for such were those scourings, not only upon his beard, but over all the face and eyes of the obedient knight, so that he was forced to shut them.

The duke and duchess, that knew nothing of this, stood expecting what would become of this lavatory. The barber damosel, when she had soaped him well with her hand, feigned that she wanted more water, and made her with the ewer to go for it, whilst Signior Don Quixote expected; which she did, and Don Quixote remained one of the strangest pictures to move laughter that could be imagined. All that were present, many in number, beheld him; and as they saw him with a neck half a yard long, more than ordinary swarthy, his eyes shut, and his beard full of soap, it was great marvel and much discretion they could forbear laughing. The damosels of the jest cast down their eyes, not daring to look on their lords; whose bodies with choler and laughter even tickled again, and they knew not what to do, either to punish the boldness of the girls or reward them for the pastime they received to see Don Quixote in that manner.

Lastly, she with the ewer came, and they made an end of washing Don Quixote, and straight she that had the towels wiped and dried him gently, and all four of them, at once making him a low curtsy, would have gone: but the duke, because Don Quixote should not fall into the jest, called to the damosel with the bason, saying, ‘Come and wash me too, and see that you have water enough.’

The wench, that was wily and careful, came and put the bason under the duke, as she had done to Don Quixote, and, making haste, they washed and scoured him very well, and leaving him dry and clean, making curtsies, they went away. After, it was known that the duke swore that if they had not washed him as well as Don Quixote he would punish them for their lightness, which they discreetly made amends for with soaping him.

Sancho marked all the ceremonies of the lavatory, and said to himself, ‘Lord!’ thought he, ‘if it be the custom in this country to wash the squires’ beards as well as the knights’? for of my soul and conscience I have need of it; and, if they would, to run over me with a razor too.’

‘What sayest thou to thyself, Sancho?’ said the duchess. ‘I say, madam,’ quoth he, ‘that I have heard that in other princes’ palaces they used to give water to wash men’s hands when the cloth is taken away, but not lye to scour their beards; and therefore I see ‘tis good to live long, to see much; although ‘tis said also that he that lives long suffers much, though to suffer one of these lavatories is rather pleasure than pain.’ ‘Take no care, Sancho,’ quoth the duchess, ‘for I’ll make one of my damosels wash thee, and, if need be, lay thee a-bucking.’ ‘For my beard,’ quoth Sancho, ‘I should be glad for the present; for the rest God will provide hereafter.’ ‘Look you, carver,’ said the duchess, ‘what Sancho desires, do just as he would have you.’ The carver answered that Signior Sancho should be punctually served; and so he went to dinner, and carried Sancho with him, the dukes and Don Quixote sitting still, and conferring in many and several affairs, but all concerning the practice of arms and knight-errantry.

The duchess requested Don Quixote to delineate and describe unto her, since he seemed to have a happy memory, the beauty and feature of the Lady Dulcinea del Toboso, for, according to fame’s trumpet, she thought that she must needs be the fairest creature in the world, and also of the Mancha.

Don Quixote sighed at the duchess’s command, and said, ‘If I could take out my heart, and lay it before your greatness’s eyes upon this table on a dish, I would save my tongue a labour to tell you that which would not be imagined, for in my heart your Excellency should see her lively depainted; but why should I be put to describe and delineate exactly, piece for piece, each several beauty of the peerless Dulcinea, a burden fitter for other backs than mine — an enterprise in which the pencils of Parrasius, Timantes, and Apelles, and the tools of Lysippus, should indeed be employed to paint and carve her in tables of marble and brass, and Ciceronian and Demosthenian rhetoric to praise her.’

‘What mean you by your Demosthenian, Signior Don Quixote?’ quoth the duchess. ‘Demosthenian rhetoric,’ quoth he, ‘is as much as to say the rhetoric of Demosthenes, as Ciceronian of Cicero, both which were the two greatest rhetoricians in the world.’ ‘‘Tis true,’ quoth the duke, ‘and you showed your ignorance in asking that question; but, for all that, Sir Don Quixote might much delight us if he would paint her out, for I’ll warrant, though it be but in her first draught, she will appear so well that the most fair will envy her.’ ‘I would willingly,’ said he, ‘if misfortune had not blotted out her Idea, that not long since befel her, which is such that I may rather bewail it than describe her; for your greatnesses shall understand that, as I went heretofore to have kissed her hands and receive her benediction, leave and license, for this my third sally, I found another manner of one than I looked for: I found her enchanted, and turned from a princess to a country-wench, from fair to foul, from an angel to a devil, from sweet to contagious, from well-spoken to rustic, from modest to skittish, from light to darkness, and finally from Dulcinea del Toboso to a peasantess of Sayago.’

‘Now God defend us!’ quoth the duke, with a loud voice, ‘who is he that hath done so much hurt to the world? Who hath taken away the beauty that cheered it, the quickness that entertained it, and the honesty that did credit it?’ ‘Who?’ said he; ‘who but some cursed enchanter, one of those many envious ones that persecute me — this wicked race born in the world to darken and annihilate the exploits of good men, and to give light and raise the deeds of evil? Enchanters have me persecuted; enchanters me persecute; and enchanters will me persecute, till they cast me and my lofty chivalry into the profound abysm of forgetfulness, and there they hurt and wound me where they see I have most feeling; for to take from a knight-errant his lady is to take away his eyesight, with which he sees the sun that doth lighten him and the food that doth nourish him. Oft have I said, and now I say again, that a knight-errant without a mistress is like a tree without leaves, like a building without cement, or a shadow without a body by which it is caused.’

‘There is no more to be said,’ quoth the duchess; ‘but yet, if we may give credit to the history of Don Quixote, that not long since came to light with a general applause, it is said, as I remember, that you never saw Dulcinea, and that there is no such lady in the world; but that she is a mere fantastical creature engendered in your brain, where you have painted her with all the graces and perfections that you please.’

‘Here is much to be said,’ quoth he. ‘God knows if there be a Dulcinea or no in the world, whether she be fantastical or not; and these be matters whose justifying must not be so far searched into. Neither have I engendered or brought forth my lady, though I contemplate on her, as is fitting, she being a lady that hath all the parts that may make her famous through the whole world, as these: fair without blemish, grave without pride, amorous but honest; thankful as courteous, courteous as well bred, and, finally, of high descent, by reason that beauty shines and matcheth upon her noble blood in more degrees of perfection than in mean-born beauties.’

“Tis true,’ said the duke; ‘but Don Quixote must give me leave to say what the history where his exploits are written says, where is inferred that, though there be a Dulcinea in Toboso, or out of it, and that she be fair in the highest degree, as you describe her, yet in her highness of birth she is not equal to your Orianas, your Alastraxarias, or your Madasimas,2 with others of this kind, of which your histories are full, as you well know.’

‘To this I answer you,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘Dulcinea is virtuous, and virtue adds to lineage, and one that is mean and virtuous ought to be more esteemed than another noble and vicious; besides, Dulcinea hath one shred that may make her queen with crown and sceptre; for the merit of a fair and virtuous woman extends to do greater miracles, and, although not formally, yet virtually, she hath greater fortunes laid up for her.’

‘I say, Signior Don Quixote,’ quoth the duchess, ‘that in all you speak you go with your leaden plummet and, as they say, with your sounding line in your hand, and that henceforward I will believe, and make all in my house believe, and my lord the duke too, if need be, that there is a Dulcinea in Toboso, and that at this day she lives, that she is fair and well — born, and deserves that such a knight as Don Quixote should serve her, which is the most I can or know how to endear her. But yet I have one scruple left, and, I know not, some kind of inkling against Sancho; the scruple is that the history says that Panza found the said Lady Dulcinea, when he carried your epistle, winnowing a bag of wheat, and, for more assurance, that it was red wheat, a thing that makes me doubt of her high birth.’

To which Don Quixote replied: ‘Lady mine, you shall know that all or the most part of my affairs are clean different from the ordinary course of other knights-errant, whether they be directed by the unscrutable will of the destinies or by the malice of some envious enchanter; and as it is evident that [of] all or the most of your famous knights-errant, one hath the favour not to be enchanted, another to have his flesh so impenetrable that he cannot be wounded — as the famous Roldan, one of the twelve peers of France, of whom it was said that he could not be wounded but upon the sole of his left foot, and that this too must be with the point of a great pin, and with no other kind of weapon; so that when Bernardo del Carpio did kill him in Roncesvalles, seeing he could not wound him with his sword, he lifted him in his arms from ground and stifled him, as mindful of the death that Hercules gave Anteon, that horrid giant, that was said to be the son of the Earth; — from all this I infer that it might be I might have had some of these favours, as not to be wounded; for many times experience bath taught me that my flesh is soft and penetrable, or that I might have the power not to be enchanted; but yet I have seen myself clapped in a cage, where all the world was not able to enclose me, had it not been by virtue of enchantments; but since I was free, I shall believe that no other can hinder me; so that these enchanters, who see that upon me they cannot use their sleights, they revenge themselves upon the things I most affect, and mean to kill me by ill-entreating Dulcinea, by whom I live; and so I believe that when my squire carried my ambassage they turned her into a peasant, to be employed in so base an office as winnowing of wheat. But I say that wheat was neither red nor wheat, but seeds of oriental pearls; and, for proof of this, let me tell your magnitudes that, coming a while since by Toboso, I could never find Dulcinea’s palace, and, Sancho my squire having seen her before in her own shape, which is the fairest in the world, to me she then seemed a foul coarse country-wench, and meanly nurtured, being the very discretion of the world. And, since I am not enchanted, neither can I be in all likelihood, she is she that is enchanted, grieved, turned, chopped and changed; and my enemies have revenged themselves on me in her, and for her I must live in perpetual sorrow till she come to her pristine being.

‘All this have I spoken, that nobody may stand upon what Sancho said of that sifting and winnowing of hers; for, since to me she was changed, no marvel though for him she was exchanged. Dulcinea is nobly born, and of the best blood in Toboso, of which I warrant she hath no small part in her; and for her that town shall be famous in after-ages, as Troy for Helen, and Spain for Cava,3 though with more honour and reputation. On the other side, I would have your lordships know that Sancho Panza is one of the prettiest squires that ever served knight-errant; sometimes he hath such sharp simplicities that to think whether he be fool or knave, causeth no small content. He hath malice enough to be a knave, but more ignorance to be thought a fool; he doubts of everything, and yet believes all; when I think sometimes he will tumble headlong to the foot, he comes out with some kind of discretion that lifts him to the clouds.

‘Finally, I would not change him for any other squire, though I might have a city to boot; therefore I doubt whether it be good to send him to the government that your greatness hath bestowed on him, though I see in him a certain fitness for this you call governing; for, trimming his understanding but a very little, he would proceed with his government as well as the king with his customs: besides, we know by experience that a governor needs not much learning or other abilities, for you have a hundred that scarce can read a word, and yet they govern like jer-falcons; the business is that their meaning be good, and to hit the matter aright they undertake, for they shall not want counsellors to teach them what they shall do, as your governors that be swordmen and not scholars, that have their assistants to direct them. My counsel should be to him that neither bribe he take nor his due forsake, and some other such toys as these that I have within me, and shall be declared at fit time to Sancho’s profit, and the island’s which he shall govern.’

To this point of their discourse came the duke, duchess, and Don Quixote, when straight they heard a great noise of people in the palace, and Sancho came into the hall unlooked for, all in a maze, with a strainer instead of a bib, and after him many lads or, to say better, scullions of the kitchen, and other inferior people; and one came with a little kneading-tub of water, that seemed, by the colour and sluttishness, to be dish-water, who followed and persecuted Sancho, and sought by all means to join the vessel to his chin, and another would have washed him.

‘What’s the matter, ho?’ quoth the duchess. ‘What do ye to this honest man? What, do ye not know he is governor elect?’ To which the barber-scullion replied, ‘This gentleman will not suffer himself to be washed according to the custom, as my lord the duke and his master were. ‘Yes, marry, will I,’ said Sancho, in a great huff; ‘but I would have cleaner towel and clearer suds, and not so sluttish hands; for there is no such difference between my master and me, that they should wash him with rose-water and me with the devil’s lye. The customs of great men’s palaces are so much better by how little trouble they cause; but your lavatory custom here is worse than penitentiaries. My beard is clean, and I need no such refreshing; and he that comes to wash me, or touch a hair of my head — of my beard, I say, sir-reverence of the company — I’ll give him such a box that I’ll set my fist in his skull; for these kind of ceremonies and soap-layings are rather flouts than entertainers of guests.

The duchess was ready to die with laughter, to see Sancho’s choler and to hear his reasons; but Don Quixote was not very well pleased to see him so ill dressed with his jaspered towel, and hemmed in by so many of the kitchen pensioners; so making a low leg to the dukes, as if he intended to speak, with a grave voice he spoke to the scoundrels: ‘Hark ye, gentlemen, pray let the youth alone, and get you gone as you came, if you please; for my squire is as cleanly as another, and these troughs are as strait and close for him as your little red clay drinking — cups. Take my counsel and leave him, for neither he nor I can abide jests.’

Sancho caught his words out of his mouth, and went on, saying, ‘No, let ‘em come to make sport with the setting-dog and I’ll let ‘em alone, as sure as it is now night; let em bring a comb hither, or what they will, and curry my beard, and if they find anything foul in it let ‘em shear me to fitters.’

‘Then,’ quoth the duchess, unable to leave laughing, ‘Sancho says well; he is clean, as he says, and needs no washing; and, if our custom please him not, let him take his choice. Besides, you ministers of cleanliness have been very slack and careless — I know not whether I may say presumptuous — to bring to such a personage and such a beard, instead of a bason and ewer of pure gold and diaper towels, your kneading-troughs and dish-clouts; but you are unmannerly rascals, and, like wicked wretches, must needs show the grudge you bear to the squires of knights-errant.’

The rascal regiment, together with the carver that came with them, thought verily the duchess was in earnest; so they took the sieve-cloth from Sancho’s neck, and even ashamed went their ways and left him, who, seeing himself out of that, as he thought, great danger, kneeled before the duchess, saying, ‘From great ladies great favours are still expected: this that your worship hath now done me cannot be recompensed with less than to desire to see myself an armed knight-errant, to employ myself all days of my life in the service of so high a lady. I am a poor husbandman; my name is Sancho Panza; children I have, and serve as a squire; if in any of these I may serve your greatness, I will be swifter in obeying than your ladyship in commanding.’

‘’Tis well seen, Sancho,’ quoth the duchess, ‘that you have learnt to be courteous in the very school of courtesy; I mean, it seems well that you have been nursed at Don Quixote’s breast, who is the cream of compliment and the flower of ceremonies. Well fare such a master and such a servant! the one for north-star of knight-errantry, the other for the star of squire — like fidelity. Rise, friend Sancho, for I will repay your courtesy, in making my lord the duke, as soon as he can, perform the promise he hath made you, of being governor of the island.’

With this their discourse ceased, and Don Quixote went to his afternoon’s sleep, and the duchess desired Sancho that, if he were not very sleepy, he would pass the afternoon with her and her damsels in a cool room. Sancho answered that, though true it were that he was used in the afternoons to take a some five hours’ nap, yet to do her goodness service he would do what he could not to take any that day, and would obey her command; so he parted.

The duke gave fresh order for Don Quixote’s usage to be like a knight-errant, without differing a jot from the ancient style of those knights.

1 He plunders out proverbs as usually to no purpose, which is Sancho’s part always.
2 Names of feigned ladies in books of knighthood.
3 Daughter to an earl that betrayed Spain to the Moors, Vide Mariana, Hist. de Reb. Hisp.

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