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 XLVII: How Sancho demeaned himself in his Government

 

THE story tells us that Sancho, from the judgment-seat, was carried to a sumptuous palace, where in a great and spacious hall was spread a royal and plentiful table: the wind-music played, and four pages came in to minister water to him, which he used with much state. The wind-instruments ceased, and Sancho sat him down at the upper end of the table, because there was no other seat, nor no other napkin laid but that.

At his elbow there stood a certain personage, that after showed to be a physician, with a whalebone rod in his hand. Then they took off a rich white towel, which covered many sorts of fruits, and a great variety of several dishes of meats. One that seemed to be a kind of student said grace, and a page put a laced bib under Sancho’s chin; and another, that played the carver’s part, set a dish of fruit before him; but he had no sooner eaten a bit when he with the rod touching the dish, it was very suddenly taken from before him; but the carver set another dish of meat before him. Sancho would have tasted of it; but before he could touch it he with the rod was at it, and a page set it away with as much celerity as the fruit; which when Sancho saw, he began to be in suspense, and, beholding all that were by, asked if that meat were to be eaten like your children’s coral.1

To which he with the rod made answer, ‘It must be eaten, sir governor,’ quoth he, ‘according to the use and custom of governors in other islands. I, sir, am a physician, and am stipended in this island to be so to the governors of it; and I am much more careful of their health than of my own, studying night and day, and weighing the complexion of the governor, that I may hit the better upon the curing him whensoever he falls sick: and the principal thing I do is to be present with him at meats, and to let him eat what I think fit for him, and to take away what I imagine may do him hurt or be naught for his stomach; and therefore I now commanded the dish of fruit to be taken away, because it is too moist; and the other dish, because it was too hot, and had much spice, that provoked thirst: and he that drinks much kills and consumes his humidum radicale, wherein life consists.’

‘So that,’ quoth Sancho, ‘yon dish of partridges there roasted, and, in my opinion, well seasoned, will do me no hurt at all.’

To which said the physician, ‘You shall not eat of them, sir, as long as I live.’

‘Why so?’ quoth Sancho.

The physician answered, ‘Because Hippocrates our master, north-star and light of physic, says in an aphorism of his, “Omnis saturatio mala, perdicis autem pessima” the meaning is, All surfeit is ill, but that of a partridge is worst of all.’

‘If it be so,’ quoth Sancho, ‘pray see, master doctor, which of all these dishes will be most wholesome for me and do me least hurt, and let me eat of that, without banging of it with your rod; for, in good sadness, I tell you plain, I am ready to die with hunger; and to deny me my victuals, in spite of master doctor, let him say what he will, is rather to take away my life than to increase it.’

‘You say true, sir governor,’ quoth the physician, ‘and therefore my opinion is that you touch not those boiled conies nor that veal, for it is waterish meat: if it were roasted or powdered — but ‘twere much about one. Then quoth Sancho, ‘That great dish that stands fuming there before me, methinks ‘tis an olla podrida;2 and by reason of the diversities of things it hath in it, I cannot but meet with something that will do me good.’ ‘Absit,’ quoth the physician, ‘far be such an ill thought from us, quoth the physician; ‘there is nothing in the world that worse nourisheth than an olla podrida, fit only for your prebends and rectors of colleges, or for your country marriages: let your governor’s tables be without them, and let them be furnished with all prime dainties and quaintness; and the reason is, because always, and wheresoever, and by whomsoever, your simple medicines are in more request than your compounds; because in simples there can be no error, in compounds there are many, altering the quantity of things of which they are composed; but that that I know is fit for the governor to eat at present, to preserve his health, and corroborate it, is some hundred of little hollow wafers, and some pretty slice or two of quince marmalade, that may settle his stomach, and help his digestion.’

When Sancho heard this, he leaned himself to the back of his chair, and by fits now and then looked at the physician, and with a grave voice asked him his name, and where he had studied.

To which he answered, ‘My name, sir governor, is Doctor Pedro Rezio de Aguero. I was born in a town called Tirteafuera, which is between Caraguel and Almodovar del Campo, upon the right hand, and I took my degree of doctor in the University of Osuna.’

To which quoth Sancho, all inflamed with choler, ‘Well, Master Doctor Pedro Rezio of Aguero, born at Tirteafuera, a town on the right hand as we go from Caraguel to Almodovar del Campo, graduated in Osuna, get you straight out of my sight, or I vow by the sun I’ll get me a cudgel, and with bangs begin with you, and so forward, till I leave not a physician in all the island, at least such as I know to be ignorant; for your wise, prudent, and discreet physicians, I will hug them, and honour them as divine persons. I say again, Pedro Rezio, get you gone, or else I’ll take the chair I sit upon and dash it upon your head, and let me be called in question for it when I give up my office; for I can discharge myself by saying that I did God service to kill such a physician, the commonwealth’s hangman: and let me eat, or else take your government again; for an office that will not afford a man his victuals is not worth two beans.’

The doctor was in an uproar to see the governor so choleric, and would have gone out of the hall, but that at that instant a posting-horn sounded in the street, and the carver, peeping out of the window, turned back, saying, ‘A post is come from my lord the duke, that brings some important despatch.’ The post came straight in, sweating and amazed, and, drawing a packet out of his bosom, he delivered it to the governor. Sancho gave it to the steward, and bade him read the superscription, which was this: ‘To Don Sancho Panza, governor of the island Barataria; to his own hands, or to his secretary.’ Which when Sancho heard, he said, ‘Who is here my secretary?’ and one that was by answered, ‘I, sir; for I can write and read, for I am a Biscayner.’ ‘With that addition,’ quoth Sancho, ‘you may well be secretary to the emperor himself: open your packet, and let’s hear the contents.’

The new-born secretary did so, and having viewed the contents, said that it was a business to be imparted in private. Sancho commanded those in the presence to withdraw, and only the steward and the carver to remain; and the rest, with the physician, went out, and presently the secretary read the letter following:

‘I am given to understand, Signior Don Sancho Panza, that certain enemies of mine, and of that island, mean one of these nights to give it a furious assault. ‘Twere fit you caused watch and ward to be kept, that they take you not unprovided. I know also, by faithful spies, that four persons have entered there (the island) disguised to kill you; for they stand much in awe of your abilities. Have a care to see who comes to speak to you, and eat of nothing that shall be presented unto you. I will be careful to send you aid, if you be in necessity; and in the rest I hope you will proceed as is expected from your understanding. From hence the 4th of August, at four of the clock in the morning.

YOUR FRIEND, THE DUKE.’

Sancho was astonished, and the standers-by seemed to be no otherwise; and, turning to the steward, he said, ‘I’ll tell you what is fit to be done, and that presently. Clap me Doctor Rezio into dungeon; for if anybody kill me, it is he, and with so vile and trivial a death as hunger.’ ‘Methinks, too,’ said the carver, ‘you should do well to eat nothing of all this meat upon the table; for this dinner was presented by nuns, and it is an old saying, “The nearer the church, the farther from God.”’ ‘I grant ye so,’ quoth Sancho; ‘and therefore for the present give me only a piece of bread and some four pound of grapes; for in them there can be no poison, and indeed I cannot live without eating. For if we must provide ourselves for these wars that threaten us, twere fit to be well victualled; for the guts uphold the heart, and not the heart the guts. And you, secretary, answer my lord the duke: tell him that his commands shall be fulfilled most punctually; and commend me to the duchess, and say that I request her that she forget not to send my letter by a special messenger, and likewise the fardel to my wife Teresa Panza, and in it she shall do me a particular favour, and I will be careful to serve her to the uttermost of my power: and by the way you may clap in a commendation to my master, Signior Don Quixote de la Mancha, that he may see I am thankful for his bread; and you, like a good secretary, and an honest Biscayner, may in the rest add what you will, or shall think fitting. And take away here, and yet leave me something to eat, and let these spies, these murderers and enchanters, come upon me and my island, I’ll deal with them well enough.’

And now a page came in, saying, ‘Here’s a husbandman, a suitor that would speak with your honour in a business of importance, as he says.’ ‘ ‘Tis a strange thing of these suitors,’ quoth Sancho, ‘is it possible they should be so foolish as not to perceive that these be not times for them to negotiate in? Belike, we that govern, we that are judges, are not men of flesh and blood! and is it not fit that we should ease ourselves, when necessity requires, except they think we should be made of marble? Verily, and in my conscience, if my government last, as I have a glimmering it will not, I’ll lay one of these fellows up for it. Well, bid this honest fellow come in for this once; but see first that he be none of the spies or any of my murderers.’ ‘No, sir,’ quoth the page, ‘ for he is a very dull soul to see to : either I know little, or he hath no more harm than a piece of good bread.’ ‘There’s no fearing him,’ said the steward, ‘for we all are here.’ ‘Carver,’ quoth Sancho, ‘were it not possible, now that Doctor Rezio is not here, that I might eat a bit of some substantial meat, though ‘twere but a crust and an onion?’ ‘To-night at supper,’ quoth the carver, ‘your dinner shall be amended, and your honour shall be satisfied.’ ‘God grant it,’ quoth Sancho.

And now the husbandman came in, one of a very goodly presence, and that you might see a thousand miles off was a good hurtless soul. The first thing that he said was, ‘Which is my lord the governor?’ ‘Who should it be,’ quoth the secretary, ‘but he that sits there in the chair?’ ‘I humble myself to his presence, then,’ quoth the husbandman, and, kneeling on his knees, desired his hand to kiss. Sancho denied it, and commanded him to rise and to say what he would have. The husbandman did so, and said, ‘I, sir, am a husbandman, born in Miguel Turra, a town some two leagues from Ciudad Real.’ ‘Here’s another Tirteafuera,’ quoth Sancho. ‘Say on, brother; for, let me tell you, I know the place very well, and it is not far from my town.’ ‘The business, sir, is this,’ quoth the husbandman: ‘I, by God’s blessing, and the full consent of the Catholic Roman Church, am married, have two sons that be students; the youngest studies to be bachelor, and the eldest to be master. I am a widower, for my wife died, or, to say trulier, a wicked physician killed her, that purged her when she was great with child; and if it had pleased God that she had been delivered, and it had been a son, I would have set him to study to have been doctor, that he might not have envied his brothers, the bachelor and master.’

‘So that,’ quoth Sancho, ‘if your wife had not been dead, or if they had not killed her, you had not now been a widower?’ ‘No, sir, by no means,’ quoth the husband-man. ‘We are much the nearer,’ quoth Sancho; ‘forward, brother, ‘tis time to sleep. Have you any more to say?’

‘I say,’ quoth the husband-man, ‘that my son that was to be the bachelor fell in love in the same town with a maiden called Clara Perlerina, daughter to Andrew Perlerina, a rich farmer; and this name of Perlerina comes not to them by any offspring or descent, but that all of this race and name are palsyish, and, to better the name, they were called Perlerinas; and, indeed, the maid is as fair as an oriental pearl; and, looking upon her right side, she is like a flower in the field, but on her left, otherwise; for there she wants an eye, that flew out of her head with the smallpox; and though she have many holes left still in her face, many say, that love her well, that those are not holes, but graves where her lovers’ souls are buried. She is so cleanly that, because she will not beray her face, she wears her nose, as you would say, tucked up, as if it fled from her mouth, and for all that, it becomes her passing well, for she hath a wide mouth, and were it not that she wanted ten or twelve teeth, and her grinders, she might pass, and set a mark for the well-favouredst to come to. For her lips, I say nothing, for they are so thin and delicate that if they did use to reel lips, they might make a skein of hers; but because they are of a more different colour than we see ordinarily in lips, they are miraculous, for they are jaspered with blue and green, and berengene-coloured: and under correction, sir governor, since I paint out the parts of her that I mean to make my daughter so exactly, it is a sign I love her, and that I do not dislike her.’

‘Paint what you will,’ quoth Sancho, ‘for I recreate myself with the painting; and if I had dined, there were no better dish of fruit to me than your picture.’

‘I humbly thank you, sir, for that,’ quoth the husbandman, ‘but time will come that I may be thankful, if I be not now; and if I should paint out to you her gentleness, and the height of her body, ‘twould admire you; but that cannot be, for she is crooked, her knees and her mouth meet, and, for all that, ‘tis well seen that if she could stand upright she would touch the roof with her head; and long ere this she would have given her hand to my son to be his spouse, but that she cannot stretch it out, ‘tis so knotted and crumpled up; for all that, her goodness and good shape appears in her long and guttered nails.’

“Tis very well,’ quoth Sancho; ‘and make account, brother, that now you have painted her from head to foot. What would you now? Come to the matter without fetches, or lanes, or digressions, or additions.’

‘I would desire you,’ quoth the husbandman, ‘to give me a letter of favour to my brother by marriage, her father, to desire him to consent that this marriage may go forward, since our fortunes be equal and our births; for, to say true, sir governor, my son is possessed with the devil, and there’s not a day passeth but the wicked spirits torment him, and once falling in the fire hath made his face as wrinkled as a piece of parchment, and his eyes are somewhat bleared and running, and he is as soft-conditioned as an angel; for if it were not for buffeting of himself, now and then, he were a very saint.’

‘Will you anything else, honest friend?’ quoth Sancho. ‘One thing more,’ quoth he, ‘but that I do not tell it, but let it out; it shall not rot in my breast, speed how it will. I desire, sir, that you would give me three hundred or six hundred ducats to help my bachelor’s portion; I mean, to help him to furnish his house, for they will live by themselves, without being subject to the impertinencies of fathers-in-laws.’

‘Will you have anything else?’ quoth Sancho, ‘and be not abashed or ashamed to tell it.’ ‘No, truly,’ quoth the husbandman; and he had scarce said this when the governor, rising up, laid hold on the chair that he sat on, saying, ‘I vow to you, goodman splayfoot, unmannerly clown, if you go not straight and hide yourself out of my presence, I’ll break your head with this chair here, ye whoreson rascal, the devil’s painter! Comest thou at this time of day to ask me six hundred ducats? and where have I them, stinkard? and if I had them; why should I give them thee, sottish knave? What a pox care I for Miguel Turra, or all the lineage of the Perlerinas? Get thee out of my sight, or I swear by my lord the duke’s life, that I’ll do as I have said. Thou art not of Miguel Turra, but some crafty knave sent from hell to tempt me. Tell me, desperate man! ‘tis not yet a day and a half since I came to the government, how wouldst thou have me have six hundred ducats?’

The carver made signs to the husbandman to get him out of the hall; who did so like a sheep-biter, and, to see to, very fearful, lest the governor should execute his choler on him, for the cunning knave very well knew what belonged to his part.

But leave we Sancho to his choler, and peace be in the quire, and return we to Don Quixote; for we left his face bound up and dressed, for his cattish wounds, of which he was not sound in eight days; in one of which this befel him that Cid Hamet promiseth to recount with all the punctuosity and truth that he usually doth in the most trivial matters of this history.
 

1 Only to be touched, but not swallowed.
2 A pot of all kind of flesh sod together.

Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

The History of Don Quixote - The Second Part

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