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 XLIII: Of the Second Advice that Don Quixote gave Sancho Panza


WHO could have heard this discourse and not held Don Quixote for a most wise personage, and most honest? But, as it hath been often told in the progress of this large history, he was only besotted when he touched upon his cavallery, and in the rest of his talk he showed a clear and current apprehension; so that every foot his works bewrayed his judgment, and his judgment his works: but, in these second documents he gave now to Sancho, he showed a great deal of lenity, and balanced his judgment and his madness in an equal scale. Sancho hearkened most attentively unto him, and strove to bear in mind his instructions, as thinking to observe them, and by them to be very well delivered of his big swoln government. Don Quixote proceeded, saying:

‘Touching the governing thine own person and household, Sancho, the first thing I enjoin thee to is to be cleanly, and to pare thy nails, not letting them grow, as some do, whose ignorance hath made them think ‘tis a fine thing to have long nails; as if that excrement and superfluity that they let grow were only their nails, rather the claws of a lizard-bearing kestrel; and a foul abuse it is.

‘Go not ungirt or loose, for a slovenly garment is a sign of a careless mind, if so be this kind of slovenly looseness be not to some cunning end, as it was judged to be in Julius Caesar.

‘Consider with discretion what thy government may be worth, and, if it will afford thee to bestow liveries on thy servants, give them decent and profitable ones, rather than gaudy or sightly, and so give thy cloth amongst thy servants and the poor: I mean, that if thou have six pages, give three of them liveries, and three to the poor; so shalt thou have pages in earth and in heaven: and your vainglorious have not attained to this kind of giving liveries.

‘Eat not garlic or onions that thy peasantry may not be known by thy breath. Walk softly, and speak staidly; but not so as if it appeared thou hearkenest to thyself, for all kind of affectation is nought.

‘Eat little at dinner, but less at supper, for the health of the whole body is forged in the forge of the stomach.

‘Be temperate in drinking, considering that too much wine neither keeps secret nor fulfils promise.

‘Take heed, Sancho, of chewing on both sides, or to ruct before anybody.’

‘I understand not your ructing,’ quoth Sancho.

‘To ruct,’ quoth he, ‘is as much as to belch; and this is one of the foulest words our language hath, though it be very significant: so your more neat people have gotten the Latin word, and call belching ructing, and belchers ructers; and though some perhaps understand not this, ‘tis no great matter, for use and custom will introduce them that they may easily be understood; and the power that the vulgar and custom hath is the enriching of a language.’

‘Truly,’ said Sancho, ‘one of your advices that I mean to remember shall not be to belch, for I am used to do it often.’

‘Ruct, Sancho, not belch,’ quoth Don Quixote.

‘Ruct, I will say,’ quoth he, ‘henceforward, and not forget it.’

‘Likewise, Sancho, you must not intermix your discourse with that multiplicity of proverbs you use; for though proverbs be witty short sentences, yet thou bringest them in so by head and shoulders that they are rather absurdities than sentences.’

‘This,’ quoth Sancho, ‘God Almighty can only help; for I have more proverbs than a book will hold, and when I speak they come so thick to my mouth that they fall out, and strive one with another who shall come out first; but my tongue casts out the first it meets withal, though they be nothing to the purpose; but I will have a care hereafter to speak none but shall be fitting to the gravity of my place; for “Where there is plenty the guests are not empty”; and “He that works doth not care or play”; and “He is in safety that stands under the bells”; and “His judgment’s rare that can spend and spare.”’

‘Now, now,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘glue, thread, fasten thy proverbs together; nobody comes: the more thou art told a thing, the more thou dost it; I bid thee leave thy proverbs, and in an instant thou hast cast out a litany of them, that are as much to the purpose as To-morrow I found a horse-shoe. Look thee, Sancho, I find not fault with a proverb brought in to some purpose, but to load and heap on proverbs, huddling together, makes a discourse wearisome and base.

‘When thou gettest on horseback, do not go casting thy body all upon the crupper, nor carry thy legs stiff down and straddling from the horse’s belly, nor yet so loosely as if thou wert still riding on thy Dapple; for your horse-riding makes some appear gentlemen, others grooms.

‘Let thy sleep be moderate; for he that riseth not with the sun loseth the day: and observe, Sancho, that diligence is the mother of good fortune, and sloth the contrary, that never could satisfy a good desire.

‘This last advice that I mean to give thee, though it be not to the adorning of the body, yet I would have thee bear it in thy memory; for I believe it will be of no less use to thee than those that I have hitherto given thee; and it is—

 ‘That thou never dispute of lineages, comparing them together, since of necessity, amongst those that are compared, one must be the better; and of him thou debasest thou shalt be abhorred, and of him [thou] ennoblest not a whit rewarded.

‘Let thy apparel be a paned hose and long stockings, a long-skirted jacket, and a cloak of the longest; but long hose by no means, for they become neither gentlemen nor governors.

‘This is all, Sancho, I will advise thee to for the present: as the time and occasions serve hereafter, so shall my instructions be, so that thou be careful to let me know how thou dost.’

‘Sir,’ quoth Sancho, ‘I see well that you have told me nothing but what is good, holy, and profitable; but to what purpose, if I remember nothing? True it is, that that of not letting my nails grow, and to marry again if need be, I shall not forget; but your other slabber-sauces, your tricks and quillets, I cannot remember them, nor shall not, no more than last year’s clouds; therefore I pray let me have them in writing, for though I can neither write nor read, I’ll give them to my confessor, that he may frame them into me, and make me capable of them at time of need.’

‘Wretch that I am,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘how ill it appears in a governor not to write or read! for know, Sancho, that for a man not to read, or to be left-handed, argues that either he was a son of mean parents, or so unhappy and untowardly that no good would prevail on him.’

‘I can set to my name,’ quoth Sancho, ‘for when I was constable of our town I learned to make certain letters, such as are set to mark trusses of stuff, which they said spelt my name: besides now, I’ll feign that my right hand is maimed, and so another shall firm for me; for there’s a remedy for everything but death, and since I bear sway I’ll do what I list; for, according to the proverb,1 “He that hath the judge to his father,” etc., and I am governor, which is more than judge. Ay, ay, let ‘em come and play at bo-peep, let ‘em back-bite me, let ‘em come for wool, and I’ll send them back shorn; whom God loves, his house is savoury to him, and every man bears with the rich man’s follies; so I being rich, and a governor, and liberal too, as I mean to be, I will be without all faults. No, no, pray be dainty, and see what will become on’t; have much, and thou shalt be esteemed much, quoth a grandame of mine; and might overcomes right.’

‘Oh, a plague on thee, Sancho!’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘threescore thousand Satans take thee and thy proverbs? this hour thou hast been stringing them one upon another, and giving me tormenting potions with each of them: I assure thee that one of these days these proverbs will carry thee to the gallows; for them thy vassals will bereave thee of thy government, or there will be a community amongst them. Tell me, ignorant, where dost thou find them all? or how dost thou apply them, ninny-hammer? for, for me to speak one, and apply it well, it makes me sweat and labour, as if I had digged.’

‘Assuredly, master mine,’ quoth Sancho, ‘a small matter makes you angry: why the devil do you pine that I make use of my own goods? for I have no other, nor any other stock but proverbs upon proverbs: and now I have four that fall out jump to the purpose, like pears for a working-basket: but I will say nothing, for now Sancho shall be called Silence.’

‘Rather Babbling,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘or Obstinacy itself; yet I would fain know what four proverbs they be that came into thy mind so to the purpose; for I can think upon none, yet I have a good memory.

‘What better,’ said Sancho, ‘than “Meddle not with a hollow tooth”; and “Go from my house, What will you have with my wife?“ there’s no answering; and “If the pot fall upon the stone, or the stone on the pot, ill for the pot, ill for the stone”; all which are much to the purpose. That nobody meddle with their governor, nor with their superior, lest they have the worst, as he that puts his hand to his teeth (so they be not hollow, ‘tis no matter if they be teeth). Whatsoever the governor says, there is no replying, as in saying, “Get you from my house,” and “What will you have with my wife?” and that of the pot and the stone, a blind man may perceive it: so that he that sees the mote in another man’s eye, let him see the beam in his own, that it may not be said by him, The dead was afraid of her that was flayed. And you know, sir, that the fool knows more in his own house than the wise man doth in another’s.’

‘Not so, Sancho,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘for the fool, neither in his own house nor another’s, knows aught, by reason that no wise edifice is seated upon the increase of his folly and let us leave this, Sancho, for if thou govern ill thou must bear the fault, and mine must be the shame; but it comforts me that I have done my duty in advising thee truly, and as discreetly as I could, and with this I have accomplished with my obligation; and God speed thee, Sancho, and govern thee in thy government, and bring me out of the scruple I am in, that thou wilt turn thy government with the heels upwards; which I might prevent, by letting the duke know thee better, and telling him, that all that fatness, and little corpse of thine, is nothing but a sack of proverbs and knavery.’

‘Sir,’ quoth Sancho, ‘if you think I am not fit for this government, from henceforward I lose it: I had rather have a poor little scrap of the nail of my soul than my whole body; and I can as well keep myself with plain Sancho, a loaf and an onion, as a governor with capons and partridges; and whilst we are asleep, all are alike, great and small, poor and rich; and if you consider on’t, you shall find that you only put me into this vein of governing, for I know no more what belongs to governing of islands than a vulture; and rather than in being a governor the devil shall fetch my soul—I had rather be Sancho and go to heaven, than a governor and go to hell.’

‘Truly, Sancho,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘for these last words thou hast spoken I deem thee worthy to govern a thousand islands; thou hast a good natural capacity, without which no science is worth aught; serve God, and err not in thy main intentions; I mean that thou always have a firm purpose and intent to be sure in all businesses that shall occur, because Heaven always favours good desires; and let’s go dine, for I believe now the lord expects us.

1 A troop of absurd speeches still to Sancho’s part.

Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

The History of Don Quixote - The Second Part

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