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 LI: Of Sancho’s Proceeding in his Government, with other Successes, as Good as Touch


THE day appeared after the governor’s rounding-night, in which the carver slept not a whit, being busied in thinking upon the face, feature, and beauty of the disguised damsel; and the steward spent the remainder of it in writing to his lords Sancho Panza’s words and actions, both which he equally admired; for both were mixed with certain appearances of discreet and fool.

The governor, in fine, was gotten up, and, by Doctor Pedro Rezio’s appointment, he broke his fast with a little conserve and some two or three spoonfuls of cold water, which Sancho would willingly have changed for a piece of bread and a bunch of grapes; but, seeing there was no remedy, he passed it over, though with much grief of mind and weariness of stomach; for Pedro Rezio made him believe that few dishes, and those delicate, did quicken the wit, which was the only thing for persons that bore rule and weighty offices, where they must benefit themselves, not only with corporal force, but strength of understanding too.

With this sophistry Sancho was almost starved, so that in secret he cursed the government, and also him that gave it him; but yet, with his hunger and his conserve, he sat in judgment that day, and the first thing that came before him was a doubt that a stranger proposed unto him, the steward and the rest of the fraternity being present, and it was this:

‘Sir, a main river divided two parts of one lordship (I pray mark, for it is a case of great importance, and somewhat difficult), I say, then, that upon this river there was a bridge, and at the end of it a gallows, and a kind of judgment-hall, in which there were ordinarily four judges, that judged according to the law that the owner of the river, bridge, and lordship had established, which was this: if anyone be to pass from one side of this bridge to the other, he must first swear whither he goes, and what his business is: if he swear true, let him pass; if he lie, let him be hanged upon the gallows that shows there without remission. This law being divulged, and the rigorous condition of it, many passed by, and presently by their oaths it was seen whether they said true, and the judges let them pass freely. It fell out that they took one man’s oath, who swore and said that he went to be hanged upon that gallows, and for nothing else. The judges were at a stand, and said, “If we let this man pass, he lied in his oath, and according to the law he ought to die; and if we hang him, he swore he went to die upon the gallows, and having sworn truly, by the same law he ought to be free.” It is now, sir governor, demanded of you, what should be done with this man, for the judges are doubtful and in suspense; and having had notice of your quick and elevated understanding, they sent me to you, to desire you, on their behalfs, to give your opinion in this intricate and doubtful case.

To which quoth Sancho, ‘Truly these judges that send you to me might have saved a labour; for I am one that have as much wit as a setting-dog; but, howsoever, repeat me you the business once again, that I may understand it, and perhaps I may hit the mark.’

The demandant repeated again and again what he had said before; and Sancho said, ‘In my opinion it is instantly resolved, as thus: the man swears that he goes to die upon the gallows; and if he die so, he swore true, and so by the law deserves to pass free; and yet, if he be not hanged, he swore false, and by the same law he ought to be hanged.’

‘’Tis just as master governor hath said,’ quoth the messenger; ‘and concerning the understanding the case there is no more to be required or doubted.’

‘I say, then,’ quoth Sancho, ‘that they let that part of the man pass that spoke truth, and that which told a lie let them hang it, and so the condition of the law shall be literally accomplished.’

‘Why, sir,’ said the demandant, ‘then the man must be divided into two parts, lying and true; and if he be divided, he must needs die, and so there is nothing of the law fulfilled; and it is expressly needful that the law be kept.’

‘Come hither, honest fellow,’ quoth Sancho; ‘either I am a very leek, or this passenger you speak of hath the same reason to die as to live and pass the bridge; for if the truth save him, the lie condemns him equally; which being so as it is, I am of opinion that you tell the judges that sent you to me, that since the reasons to save or condemn him be in one rank, that they let him pass freely; for it is ever more praiseworthy to do good than to do ill: and this would I give under my hand, if I could write: and in this case I have not spoken from myself, but I remember one precept, amongst many others, that my master Don Quixote gave me the night before I came to be governor, which was, that when justice might be anything doubtful, I should leave, and apply myself to pity: and it hath pleased God I should remember it in this case, which hath fallen out pat.’

‘’Tis right,’ quoth the steward: ‘and sure, Lycurgus, lawgiver to the Lacedemonians, could not have given a better sentence than that which the grand Sancho Panza hath given. And now this morning’s audience may end, and I will give order that the governor may dine plentifully.’ ‘That I desire,’ quoth Sancho, ‘and let’s have fair play. Let me dine, and then let cases and doubts rain upon me, and I’ll snuff them apace.’

The steward was as good as his word, holding it to be a matter of conscience to starve so discreet a governor besides, his purpose was to make an end with him that night, performing the last jest which he had in commission towards him. It happened, then, that having eaten contrary to the prescriptions and orders of the Doctor Tirteafuera, when the cloth was taken away, there came in a post with a letter of Don Quixote’s to the governor. Sancho commanded the secretary to read it to himself, and that if there came no secret in it, he should read it aloud. The secretary did so, and suddenly running of it over, said, ‘It may well be read out, for this that Don Quixote writes to you deserves to be stamped and written in golden letters; and thus it is:


‘When I thought, friend Sancho, to have heard news of thy negligence and folly, I heard it of thy discretion; for which I gave to God particular thanks. I hear thou governest as if thou wert a man, and that thou art a man as if thou wert a beast; such is thy humility thou usest. Yet let me note unto thee, that it is very necessary and convenient many times, for the authority of a place, to go against the humility of the heart: for the adornment of the person that is in eminent offices must be according to their greatness, and not according to the measure of the meek condition to which he is inclined. Go well clad, for a stake well dressed seems not to be so. I say not to thee that thou wear toys or gawdy gay things; not that being a judge, thou go like a soldier, but that thou adorn thyself with such a habit as thy place requires, so that it be handsome and neat.

‘To get the good will of those thou governest, amongst others, thou must do two things: the one, to be courteous to all, which I have already told thee of; and the other, to see that there be plenty of sustenance, for there is nothing that doth more weary the hearts of the poor than hunger and dearth.

‘Make not many statute-laws; and those thou dost make, see they be good, but chiefly that they be observed and kept; for statutes not kept are the same as if they were not made, and do rather show that the prince had wisdom and authority to make them than valour to see that they should be kept. And laws that only threaten, and are not executed, become like the Beam, king of frogs, that at first scared them, but in time they despised, and got upon the top of it.

‘Be a father of virtue, but a father-in-law of vice.

‘Be not always cruel, nor always merciful: choose a mean betwixt these two extremes; for this is a point of discretion.

‘Visit the prisons, the shambles, and the markets; for in such places the governor’s presence is of much importance.

‘Comfort the prisoners that hope to be quickly despatched.

‘Be a bull-beggar to the butchers, and a scarecrow to the huckster-women for the same reason.

‘Show not thyself (though perhaps thou art, which yet I believe not) covetous, or a whoremonger, or a glutton; for when the town, and those that converse with thee, know which way thou art inclined, there they will set upon thee, till they cast thee down headlong.

‘View and review, pass and repass thine eyes over the instructions I gave thee in writing before thou wentest from hence to thy government, and thou shalt see, how thou findest in them, if thou observe them, an allowance to help thee to bear and pass over the troubles that are incident to governors.

‘Write to thy lords, and show thyself thankful; for ingratitude is the daughter of pride, and one of the greatest sins that is: and he that is thankful to those that have done him good gives a testimony that he will be so to God too, that hath done him so much good, and daily doth continue it.

‘My lady duchess despatched a messenger a purpose with thy apparel and another present to thy wife Teresa Panza: every minute we expect an answer.

‘I have been somewhat ill at ease of late with a certain cat-business that happened to me, not very good for my nose, but ‘twas nothing; for if there be enchanters that misuse me, others there be that defend me. Let me know if the steward that is with thee had any hand in Trifaldi’s actions, as thou suspectedst; and let me hear likewise of all that befals thee, since the way is so short: besides, I think to leave this idle life ere long, for I was not born to it.

‘Here is a business at present that I believe will bring me in disgrace with these nobles; but though it much concern me, I care not, for indeed I had rather comply with my profession than with their wills, according to the saying, “Amicus Plato, sed magis amica veritas.” I write thee this Latin, because I think, since thy being governor, thou hast learnt to understand it. And so farewell, God keep thee, and send that no man pity thee.—Thy friend,


Sancho heard the letter very attentively; and those that heard it applauded it for a very discreet one: and presently Sancho rose from the table, and calling the secretary, locked him to him in his lodging chamber, and, without more delay, meant to answer his master Don Quixote; and therefore he bade the secretary, without adding or diminishing aught, to write what he would have him; which he did, and the letter in answer was of this ensuing tenor:


‘My business and employments are so great that I have not leisure either to scratch my head or pare my nails, which is the reason they are so long, God help me.

‘This I say, dear signior mine, that you may not wonder that hitherto I have not given you notice of my well or ill being at this government; in which I am now more hungry than when you and I travelled in the woods and wilderness.

‘My lord the duke wrote me the other day, by way of advice, that there were certain spies entered the island to kill me, but hitherto I have discovered none, but a certain doctor who is entertained in this town to kill as many governors as come to it, and his name is Doctor Pedro Rezio, born in Tirteafuera, that you may see what a name this is for me to fear lest he kill me.

‘This aforesaid doctor says of himself that he cures not infirmities when they are in present being, but prevents them before they come: and the medicines he useth are diet upon diet, till he makes a man nothing but bare bones; as if leanness were not a greater sickness than a calenture.

‘Finally, he hath even starved me, and I am ready to die for anger: for when I thought to have come to this island to eat good warm things, and to drink cool, and to recreate my body in Holland sheets and feather-beds, I am forced to do penance, as if I were an hermit; and because I do it unwillingly, I believe at the upshot the devil will have me.

‘Hitherto have I neither had my due, nor taken bribe, and I know not the reason; for here they tell me that the governors that use to come to this island, before they come, they of the town either give or lend them a good sum of money. And this is the ordinary custom, not only in this town, but in many others also.

‘Last night, as I walked the round, I met with a fair maid in man’s apparel, and a brother of hers in woman s. My carver fell in love with the wench, and purposed to take her to wife, as he says, and I have chosen the youth for my son-in-law, and to-day both of us will put our desires in practice with the father of them both, which is one Diego de la Liana, a gentleman, and an old Christian as much as you would desire. I visit the market-places, as you advised me, and yesterday found a huckster that sold new hazel-nuts, and it was proved against her that she had mingled the new with a bushel of old that were rotten and without kernels. I judged them all to be given to the hospital-boys, that could very well distinguish them, and gave sentence on her that she should not come into the market-place in fifteen days after. ‘Twas told me that I did most valorously: all I can tell you is that it is the common report in this town that there is no worse people in the world than these women of the market-places; for all of them are impudent, shameless, and ungodly, and I believe it to be so, by those that I have seen in other towns. That my lady the duchess hath written to my wife Teresa Panza, and sent her a token, as you say, it pleaseth me very well, and I will endeavour at fit time to show myself thankful. I pray do you kiss her hands on my behalf, and tell her her kindness is not ill bestowed, as shall after appear.

‘I would not that you should have any thwart-reckonings of distaste with those lords; for if you be displeased with them ‘tis plain it must needs redound to my damage; and ‘twere unfit that, since you advise me not to be unthankful, you should be so to them that have showed you so much kindness, and by whom you have been so well welcomed in their castle.

‘That of your cat-business I understand not; but I suppose ‘tis some of those ill fates that the wicked enchanters are wont to use toward you. I shall know of you when we meet. I would fain have sent you something from hence, but I know not what, except it were some little canes to make squirts; which with bladders too they make very curiously in this place: but if my office last, I’ll get something worth the sending.

‘If my wife Teresa Panza write to me, pay the portage, and send me the letter; for I have a wonderful desire to know of the estate of my house, my wife and children. And so God keep you from ill-minded enchanters, and deliver me well and peaceably from this government; for I doubt it, and think to lay my bones here, according as the Doctor Pedro Rezio handles me.—Your worship’s servant,


The secretary made up the letter, and presently despatched the post; and so, Sancho’s tormentors joining together, gave order how they might despatch him from the government.

And that afternoon Sancho passed in setting down orders for the well-governing the island he imagined to be so: and he ordained there should be no hucksters for the commonwealth’s provisions; and likewise that they might have wines brought in from whencesoever they would; only with this proviso, to tell the place from whence they came, to put prices to them according to their value and goodness. And whosoever put water to any wine, or changed the name of it, should die for it. He moderated the prices of all kind of clothing, especially of shoes, as thinking leather was sold with much exorbitancy. He made a taxation for servants’ wages, who went on unbridled for their profit. He set grievous penalties upon such as should sing bawdy or ribaldry songs, either by night or day. He ordained, likewise, that no blind man should sing miracles in verse, except they brought authentical testimonies of the truth of them; for he thought that the most they sung were false, and prejudicial to the true. He created also a constable for the poor, not that should persecute, but examine them, to know if they were so; for, under colour of feigned maimness and false sores, the hands are thieves, and health is a drunkard. In conclusion, he ordered things so well that to this day they are famed and kept in that place, and are called The Ordinances of the grand governor Sancho Panza.

Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

The History of Don Quixote - The Second Part

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