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 XXXIII: Of the Wholesome Discourse that passed betwixt the Duchess and her Damosels, with Sancho Panza, worthy to be read and noted


WELL, the story tells us that Sancho slept not that day, but according to his promise came when he had dined to see the duchess, who, for the delight she received to hear him, made him sit down by her in a low chair, though Sancho, out of pure mannerliness, would not sit; but the duchess bade him sit as he was governor, and speak as he was squire, though in both respects he deserved the very seat of Cid Ruydiaz the champion.

Sancho shrunk up his shoulders,1 obeyed, and sat down, and all the duchess’s waiting-women and damosels stood round about her, attending with great silence to Sancho’s discourse; but the duchess spake first, saying: ‘Now that we are all alone, and that nobody hears us, I would signior governor would resolve me to certain doubts I have, arising from the printed history of the grand Don Quixote, one of which is that, since honest Sancho never saw Dulcinea — I say the Lady Dulcinea del Toboso — neither carried her Don Quixote’s letter (for it remained in the note-book in Sierra Morena), how he durst feign the answer, and that he found her sifting of wheat, this being a mock and a lie, and so prejudicial to the Lady Dulcinea’s reputation, and so unbefitting the condition and fidelity of a faithful squire.

Here Sancho rose without answering a word, and softly crooking his body, and with his finger upon his lips, he went up ‘and down the room, ting up the hangings, which done, he came and sat down again, and said, ‘Now I see, madam, that nobody lies in wait to hear us, besides the bystanders, I will answer you, without fear or fright, all that you have asked, and all that you will ask me. And first of all I say that I hold my master Don Quixote for an incurable madman, though sometimes he speaks things that in my opinion, and so in all theirs that hear him, are so discreet, and carded in so even a track, that the devil himself cannot speak better; but truly and without scruple, I take him to be a very frantic; for so I have it in my mazzard, I dare make him believe that that hath neither head nor foot, as was the answer of that letter, and another thing that happened some eight days ago, which is not yet in print, to wit, the enchantment of my Lady Dulcinea; for I made him believe she is enchanted, it being as true as the moon is made of green cheese.’

The duchess desired him to tell her that enchantment and conceit, which he did just as it passed, at which the hearers were not a little delighted. And, prosecuting her discourse, the duchess said, ‘I have one scruple leaps in my mind, touching what Sancho hath told me, and a certain buzz coming to mine ears that tells me, if Don Quixote de la Mancha be such a shallow madman and widgeon, and Sancho Panza his squire know it, yet why, for all that, he serves and follows him, and relies on his vain promises; doubtless he is as very a madman and blockhead as his master, which being so as it is, it will be very unfitting for my lord the duke to give Sancho an island to govern, for he that cannot govern himself will ill govern others.

‘By’r Lady,’ quoth Sancho, ‘that scruple comes in pudding-time: but bid your buzz speak plain, or how he will, for I know he says true; and if I had been wise I might long since have left my master; but ‘twas my luck, and this vile errantry; I cannot do withal, I must follow him, we are both of one place, I have eaten his bread, I love him well, he is thankful, he gave me the ass-colts, and, above all, I am faithful, and it is impossible any chance should part us but death. And if your altitude will not bestow the government on me, with less was I born, and perhaps the missing it might be better for my conscience; for, though I be a fool, yet I understand the proverb that says the ant had wings to do her hurt, and it may be Sancho the squire may sooner go to heaven than Sancho the governor. Here is as good bread made as in France; and in the night Joan is as good as my lady; and unhappy is that man that is to break his fast at two of the clock in the afternoon and there’s no heart a handful bigger than another; and the stomach is filled with the coarsest victuals; and the little fowls in the air have God for their provider and cater; and four yards of coarse Cuenca cloth keep a man as warm as four of fine Lemster wool of Segovia;2 and when we once leave this world, and are put into the earth, the prince goes in as narrow a path as the journeyman; and the pope’s body takes up no more room than a sexton’s, though the one be higher than the other; for when we come to the pit all are even, or made so in spite of their teeth and — and good night. Let me say again, if your ladyship will not give me the island as I am a fool, I’ll refuse it for being a wise man; for I have heard say, the nearer the church the further from God; and all is not gold that glistreth; and that from the oxen, plough, and yokes, the husbandman Bamba was chosen for King of Spain; and that Rodrigo, from his tissues, sports, and riches, was cast out to be eaten by snakes, if we may believe the nines of the old romaunts, that lie not.’

‘Why, no more they do not,’ said Donna Rodriguez, the waiting woman, that was one of the auditors, ‘for you have one romaunt that says that Don Rodrigo was put alive into a tomb full of toads, snakes, and lizards, and some two days after, from within the tomb, he cried with a low and pitiful voice, “Now they eat, now they eat me in the place where I sinned most”; and, according to this, this man bath reason to say he had rather be a labourer than a king, to be eaten to death with vermin.

The duchess could not forbear laughing, to see the simplicity of her woman, nor to admire to hear Sancho’s proverbial reasons, to whom she said ‘Honest Sancho knows that when a gentleman once makes a promise he will perform it, though it cost him his life. My lord and husband the duke, though he be no errant, yet he is a knight, and so he will accomplish his promise of the island, in spite of envy or the world’s malice. Be of good cheer, Sancho; for when thou least dreamest of it thou shalt be seated in the chair of thy island, and of estate, and shall clasp thy government in thy robes of tissue. All that I charge thee is that you look to the governing your vassals, for you must know they are all well-born and loyal.’

‘For governing,’ quoth Sancho, ‘there’s no charging me; for I am naturally charitable and compassionate to the poor, and of him that does well they will not speak ill, and, by my holidam, they shall play me no false play. I am an old dog, and understand all their “Hist! hist!” and I can snuff myself when I see time, and I will let no cobwebs fall in my eyes, for I know where my shoe wrings me; this I say because honest men shall have hand and heart, but wicked men neither foot nor fellowship. And methinks, for matter of government, there is no more but to begin, and in fifteen days governor I could manage the place, and know as well to govern as to labour in which I was bred.’

‘You have reason, Sancho,’ quoth the duchess; ‘for no man is born wise, and bishops are made of men, and not of stones. But, turning to our discourse that we had touching the Lady Dulcinea’s enchantment, I am more than assured that that imagination that Sancho had to put a trick upon his master, and to make him think the country-wench was Dulcinea, that, if his master knew her not, all was invented by some of those enchanters that persecute Signior Don Quixote; for I know partly that that country-wench that leaped upon the ass-colt was and is Dulcinea, and Sancho, thinking to be the deceiver, is himself deceived; and there is no more to be doubted in this than in things that we never saw. And know, Sancho, that here we have our enchanters too, that love, and tell us plainly and truly what passeth in the world, without tricks or devices; and believe me, Sancho, that leaping wench was and is Dulcinea, who is enchanted as the mother that brought her forth, and, when we least think of it, we shall see her in her proper shape, and then Sancho will think he was deceived.’

‘All this may be,’ quoth Sancho, ‘and now will I believe all that my master told me of Montesinos’ Cave, where he said he saw our mistress Dulcinea, in the same apparel and habit that I said I had seen her in, when I enchanted her at my pleasure; and it may be, madam, all is contrary, as you say; for, from my rude wit, it could not be presumed that I should in an instant make such a witty lie; neither do I believe that my master is so mad that with so poor and weak a persuasion as mine he should believe a thing so incredible. But for all that, good lady, do not think me to be so malevolent, for such a leek as I am is not bound to bore into the thoughts and maliciousness of most wicked enchanters. I feigned that to escape from my master’s threats, and not with any purpose to hurt him; and, if it fell out otherwise, God is above that judgeth all hearts.’

‘‘Tis true,’ said the duchess; ‘but tell me, Sancho, what is that you said of Montesinos’ Cave? I should be glad to hear it.’ Then Sancho began to tell, word for word, all that passed in that adventure, which when the duchess heard, she said, ‘Out of this success may be inferred that, since the grand Don Quixote says that he saw there the same labouring wench that Sancho saw at their coming from Toboso, without doubt it is Dulcinea, and that in this the enchanters here are very listening and wary.

‘This I said,’ quoth Sancho, ‘that, if my Lady Dulcinea del Toboso be enchanted, at her peril be it, for I’ll have nothing to do with my master’s enemies, who are many, and bad ones. True it is, that she that I saw was a country-wench, and so I held her, and so I judged her to be; and if that were Dulcinea I’ll not meddle with her, neither shall the blowze pass upon my account. Ay, ay, let’s have giving and taking every foot: Sancho said it, Sancho did it, Sancho turned, Sancho returned, as if Sancho were a dish-clout, and not the same Sancho Panza that is now in print all the world over, as Samson Carrasco told me, who at least is one that is bachelorised in Salamanca; and such men cannot lie, but when they list, or that it much concerns them; so there is no reason any man should deal with me, since I have a good report, and, as I have heard my master say, better have an honest name than much wealth. Let ‘em join me to this government and they shall see wonders; for he that hath been a good squire will easily be a good governor.’

‘Whatsoever Sancho hitherto hath said,’ quoth the duchess, ‘is Catonian sentences, or at least taken out of the very entrails of Michael Verinus, “florentibus occidit annis.” Well, well, to speak as thou dost, a bad cloak often hides a good drinker.’ ‘Truly, madam,’ said Sancho, ‘I never drank excessively in my life; to quench my thirst sometimes I have, for I am no hypocrite. I drink when I am dry, and when I am urged to; for I love not to be nice or unmannerly; for what heart of marble is there, that will not pledge a friend’s carouse? But, though I take my cup, I go not away drunk; besides, your knight-errant’s squires ordinarily drink water, for they always travel by forests, woods, meadows, mountains, craggy rocks, and meet not with a pittance of wine, though they would give an eye for it.’ ‘I believe it,’ said the duchess; ‘and now, Sancho, thou mayst repose thyself, and after we will talk at large, and give order how thou mayst be joined, as thou sayst, to the government.’

Sancho again gave the duchess thanks, but desired her she would do him the kindness that his Dapple might be well looked to. ‘What Dapple?’ quoth she. ‘My ass,’ said Sancho; ‘for, not to call him so, I say my Dapple, and when I came into the castle I desired this waiting-woman to have a care on him, and she grew so loud with me as if I called her ugly or old; for I held it fitter for them to provender asses than to authorise rooms. Lord God! a gentleman of my town could not endure these waiting-women.’ ‘Some peasant,’ quoth Donna Rodriguez, the waiting-woman; ‘for, if he had been a gentleman and well-bred, he would have extolled them above the moon.’

‘Go to, no more,’ quoth the duchess; ‘peace, Rodriguez, and be quiet, Sancho, and let me alone to see that Sancho’s ass be made much of; for, being Sancho’s household stuff, I will hold him on the apples of mine eyes.’ ‘Let him be in the stable,’ quoth Sancho; ‘for neither he nor I am worthy to be so much as a minute upon those apples of your greatness’s eyes; and I had as lief stab myself as consent to that; for, although my master says that in courtesies one should rather lose by a card too much than too little, yet in these ass-like courtesies, and in your apples, it is fit to be wary and proceed with discretion.’ ‘Carry him, Sancho,’ quoth the duchess, ‘to thy government; for there thou mayst cherish him at thy pleasure, and manumit him from his labour.’ ‘Do you think you have spoken jestingly, lady duchess,’ quoth Sancho; ‘for I have seen more than two asses go to governments, and ‘twould be no novelty for me to carry mine.’

Sancho’s discourse renewed in the duchess more laughter and content; and, sending him to repose, she went to tell the duke all that had passed between them, and both of them plotted, and gave order to put a jest upon Don Quixote that might be a famous one, and suiting to his knightly style, in which kind they played many pranks with him, so proper and handsome that they are the best contained amongst all the adventures of this grand history.

1 The Spaniard’s lousy humility.
2 Their Lemster breed came first out of England.

Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

The History of Don Quixote - The Second Part

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