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 XLV: How the Grand Sancho Panza took Possession of his Island, and the Manner of his Beginning to Govern


O PERPETUAL discoverer of the antipodes, torch to the world, eye of heaven, sweet stirrer of wine-cooling vessels, one while Titan, another Phoebus, sometimes an archer, other whiles a physician, father of poesy, inventor of music, thou that always risest, and (though it seems so) yet never settest,—to thee I speak, O sun, by which man begets man; to thee I speak, help me, and lighten my obscure wit, that I may punctually run thorough the narration of the grand Sancho Panza’s government; for without thee I am dull, unmoulded, and confused. I proceed, then, thus:

Sancho, with all his troop, came to a town, which had in it about a thousand inhabitants, which was one of the best the duke had; they told him the island was called Barataria, either because the town was called Baratario, or else because he had obtained his government so cheap. When he came to the town-gates (for it was walled), the officers came out to welcome him, the bells rung, and all the inhabitants made show of a general gladness, and they carried him in great pomp to the high church, to give God thanks; and straight after some ridiculous ceremonies they delivered him the keys, and admitted him for perpetual governor of the island Barataria. His apparel, his beard, his fatness, and the shortness of this new governor, made all the people admire that knew not the jig of the matter, and those also that knew it, which were many.

Finally, when he came out of the church, they carried him to the judgment-seat, and seated him in it, and the duke’s steward told him, ‘It is an old custom, sir governor, in this island, that he that comes to take possession of this famous island must answer to a question that shall be asked him, that must be somewhat hard and intricate; by whose answer the town guesseth and taketh the pulse of their new governor’s capacity, and, accordingly, is either glad or sorry at his coming.’

Whilst the steward said this to Sancho, he was looking upon certain great letters that were written upon the wall over-against his seat; and because he himself could not read, he asked what painting that was in the wall. It was answered him, ‘Sir, the day is set down there in which your honour took possession of this island, and the epitaph says thus: “This day, such a day of the month and year, Signior Don Sancho Panza took possession of this island, long may he enjoy it. ‘And whom call they Don Sancho Panza?’ said Sancho. ‘Your honour,’ quoth the steward, ‘for no other Panza hath come into this island but he that is seated in that seat.’ ‘Well, mark you, brother,’ quoth Sancho, ‘there belongs no Don to me, neither ever was there any in all my lineage: I am plain Sancho, my father was called Sancho, my grandfather, and all were Panzas, without any additions of Dons or Donnas, and I believe this island is as full of Dons as stones; but ‘tis enough, God knows my meaning, and perhaps, if my government last but four days to an end, I’ll weed out these Dons, that with their multiplicity do weary and trouble like mosquitoes. On with your question, master steward. I’ll answer you as well I can, let the town be sorry or not sorry.’

At this instant two men came into the judgment-place, the one clad like a husbandman, and the other like a tailor, having shears in his hand. The tailor said, ‘Sir governor, I and this husbandman are come before you for this cause: this honest man came yesterday to my shop—and I, saving your reverence, am a tailor, and a free man, God be thanked—and, showing me a piece of cloth, asked me, “Sir, will there be enough here to make a capouch?” I, measuring the cloth, answered him, “Yes.” He thought as I did, and I thought true, that I would steal some of his cloth, being maliciously bent, and out of the ill opinion he had of tailors; and he replied again, that I should tell if there were enough to make two. I smelt his drift, and told him, “Ay”; and my gallant, in his first knavish intention, went adding more capouches, and I answered with more yes-es, till we came to five; and even now he came for them. I gave them him, but he will not pay me for the making, rather he demands that I pay him, or return him his cloth.’ ‘Is it true this?’ quoth Sancho. ‘Yes,’ said the fellow; ‘but pray, sir, let him show his five capouches that he hath made me.’ ‘With a very good will,’ quoth the tailor, and, incontinently taking his hand from under his cloak, he showed five capouches in it, upon each finger one, and said, ‘Behold here the five capouches that this man would have me make, and in my soul and conscience I have not a jot of cloth left, as any workman shall judge.’

All the bystanders laughed at the number of the capouches and the strange contention. Sancho, after a little consideration, said, ‘Methinks in this suit there need no delays, but a quick and plain judgment; my sentence therefore is, that the tailor lose his labour, and the husbandman his cloth, and that the capouches be carried to the poor in the prison, without any more ado.’

If the sentence that passed of the grazier bred admiration in the bystanders, this moved them to laughter; but what the governor commanded was fulfilled: before whom two ancient men were now presented. The one had a hollow cane instead of a staff, the other had none; he without the staff said, ‘Sir, I lent this honest man, long since, ten crowns in good gold, to do him a kindness; I let him alone a good while, without asking for them, because I would not put him to more trouble to repay me than he had to borrow them of me; but because I saw him careless of the payment, I have asked him more than once or twice for my money, which he not only doth not return me, but denies, and says he never received the ten I crowns lent him, or, that if I did lend them him, he hath paid me. I have’ no witnesses, neither of the lending or of the payment: I pray, sir, will you take his oath? and if he will swear that he hath paid me, I give him an acquittance from henceforth, and before God.’ ‘What say you to this, honest old man with the staff?’ quoth Sancho. ‘Sir, I confess that he lent them me, and hold down your rod,1 and since he will have me swear, I will, that I have paid him really and truly.’ The governor held out his rod, and, in the meantime, he with the staff gave it to the other old man to hold whilst he was to swear, as if it had hindered him; so with his hand he made a cross over the rod of justice, saying ‘twas true that he had lent him the ten crowns that he demanded, but that he had truly restored them to him again, and that his forgetting of it made him continually demand them. Which when the grand governor saw, he asked the creditor what he could say against his adversary. He said that surely his debtor said true, for he held him to be an honest man and a good Christian, and that it might be he had forgotten how or when he paid him, and that from henceforward he would never demand him aught. The debtor took his staff again, and, making an obeisance, was going out of the judgment-place; which when Sancho saw, and that he was going without any more ado, and seeing likewise the other’s patience, he nodded with his head on his breast, and dapped the index of his right hand upon his nose and eyebrows, and a pretty while was as it were considering, and by and by lifted up his head and commanded that the old man with the staff should be brought to him; and Sancho, seeing him, said, ‘Honest man, give me that staff, for I have use for it.’ ‘With a very good will,’ quoth the old man; ‘here ‘tis, sir,’ and gave it him. Sancho took it, and, giving it to the other old man, said, ‘Go, on God’s name, now you are paid.’ ‘Ay, sir?’ said the old man. ‘Why, can this cane be worth ten crowns?’ ‘Yes,’ said the governor, ‘or else I am the veriest blockhead in the world: and now you shall see whether I have a brain or no to govern a whole kingdom’; so he commanded that before them all the cane should be broken, which was done, and in the midst of it they found the ten crowns.

All of them admired at this, and held their governor for a second Solomon. They asked him how he gathered that the ten crowns was in the cane. He answered that because he saw the old man that was to swear give his adversary the staff whilst he took his oath, and that he swore he had given him the money truly and really, and that when he had ended his oath he demanded his staff of him again, it came into his imagination that within it the money was hidden; whereby it may be collected that although many governors are stark asses, yet sometimes it pleaseth God to direct them in their judgments; for besides, he had heard the vicar of his parish tell of such an accident as this, and that he had a special memory, for if it were not for forgetting all he desired to remember, there were not such a memory in the whole island.

At last, one of the old men ashamed, and the other paid his money, they departed, and those that were present were astonished; and he that wrote down Sancho’s words, deeds, and behaviour could not resolve whether he should set him down a fool or a wise man.

As soon as this suit was ended, there came a woman into the place of judgment, laying hold strongly on a man clad, to see to, like a rich grazier, who came crying aloud, and saying, ‘Justice, lord governor, justice! and if I have it not on earth, I will seek it in heaven. Sweet governor, this wicked man met me on the highway, and hath abused my body as if it had been an unwashed rag; and, unhappy that I am, he hath gotten that that I have kept these three-and-twenty years, defending it from Moors and Christians, from home-bred ones and strangers; I have been as hard as a cork-tree, and kept myself as entire as the salamander in the fire, or as the wool amongst the briars and this man must come now with a washed hand and handle me.’

‘This is to be tried yet,’ quoth Sancho, ‘whether this gallant’s hands be washed or no’; and, turning to the fellow, he said, ‘What answer you to yonder woman’s complaint?’ who, all in a fright, answered, ‘Sir,’ quoth he, I am a poor grazier, and deal in swine, and this morning I went (with pardon be it spoken) from this town to sell four hogs, and the tallage and other fees cost me little less than they were worth. As I went homeward, by the way I met with this good matron, and the devil, the author of all mischief, yoked us together. I gave her sufficient pay; but she, not satisfied, laid hold on me, and would not let me go till she had brought me hither. She says that I forced her, and I swear she lies; and this is true, every jot of it.’

Then the governor asked him if he had any money about him, who answered him yes, that he had in a leathern purse in his bosom some twenty crowns in silver. He commanded him to take it out and to deliver it just as it was to the plaintiff, which he did, trembling. The woman received it, and, making a thousand Moorish ducks to the company, and praying to God for the governor’s life and health, that was so charitable to poor orphans and maidens, she went out from the place of judgment, laying fast hold with both her hands on the purse, though first she looked whether ‘twere silver within or no. She was scarce gone when Sancho said to the grazier, that had tears standing in his eyes, and his heart going after his purse, ‘Honest fellow, run after yonder woman, and take her purse from her whether she will or no, and bring it me hither.’ He spoke not to a fool or a deaf man, for straight he parted like lightning, and went to perform what was commanded him. All that were present were in suspense and expectation of the end of that suit; and a little after, both man and woman returned together, more fastened and clung together than formerly, she with her coat up, and her purse in her lap, and he striving to get it from her, which was not possible, she did so resist, crying out, and saying, ‘Justice of God and the world! Look ye, sir governor, mark the little shame or fear of this desperate man, that in the midst of a congregation and in the midst of a street would take away my purse that you commanded him to give me.’

‘And hath he got it?’ said the governor. ‘Got it?’ said she. ‘I had rather lose my life than the purse. I were a pretty child, ‘faith, then; you must set other manner of colts upon me than this poor nasty sneak-up: pincers, hammers, beetles, scraping-tools, shall not get it out of my claws, out of my lion’s paws; they shall rather get one half of my soul out of my flesh.’ ‘She says right,’ quoth the fellow. ‘I yield to her; I have no more power; I confess my force is not sufficient to take it away.

Then said the governor to the woman, ‘You, honest virago, give me that purse hither,’ which she did, and the governor restored it again to the man, and said to the forcible woman, but not forced, ‘Do you hear, sister? if you had showed but half your valour and breath to defend your body that you did for your purse, Hercules his force could not have forced you. Get you gone with a pox, come not into this island, nor in six leagues round about it, on pain of two hundred lashes; get you gone straight, I say, makebate, shameless cozener!’

The woman was affrighted, and away she went like a sheep-biter, and melancholy; and the governor said to the man, ‘Honest fellow, get you home on God’s name with your money, and henceforward, if you mean not to lose it, pray have no mind to yoke with anybody.’ The man, as clownishly as he could, thanked him, and went his way: the bystanders admired afresh at the judgment and sentences of their new governor.

All which, noted by his chroniclist, was straight written to the duke, that with much desire expected it. And leave we honest Sancho here; for his master hastens us now, that was all in a hurly-burly with Altisidora’s music.

1 The custom in Spain being that he who is to swear makes a cross over the rod of justice.

Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

The History of Don Quixote - The Second Part

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