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 LII: The Adventure of the Second Afflicted or Straitened Matron, alias Donna Rodriguez


CID HAMET tells us that Don Quixote being recovered of his scratches, he thought the life he led in that castle was much against the order of knighthood he professed; so he determined to crave leave of the dukes to part towards Saragosa, whose jousts drew near, where he thought to gain the armour that useth to be obtained in them. And being one day at the table with the dukes, and beginning to put his intention in execution, and to ask leave, behold, unlooked for, two women came in at the great hall-door, clad, as it after appeared, in mourning from head to foot: and one of them coming to Don Quixote, she fell down all along at his feet, with her mouth sewed to them; and she groaned so sorrowfully and so profoundly that she put all that beheld her into a great confusion. And though the dukes thought it was some trick their servants would put upon Don Quixote, notwithstanding, seeing with what earnestness the woman sighed, groaned, and wept, they were a little doubtful and in suspense, till Don Quixote, in great compassion, raised her from the ground, and made her discover herself, and take her mantle from her blubbered face. She did so, and appeared to be what could not be imagined, Donna Rodriguez, the waiting-woman of the house, and the other in mourning was her wronged daughter abused by a rich farmer’s son. All were in admiration that knew her, especially the dukes; for though they knew her to be foolish, and of a good mould that way, yet not to be so near mad.

Finally, Donna Rodriguez turning to the lords, she said, May it please your Excellencies to give me leave to impart a thing to this knight? for it behoves me to come out of a business into which the boldness of a wicked rascal hath thrust me.’

The duke said he gave her leave, and that she should impart what she would to Signior Don Quixote. She, directing her voice and her gesture to Don Quixote, said, ‘Some days since, valorous knight, I related to you the wrong and treachery that a wicked farmer hath done to my beloved daughter, the unfortunate one here now present, and you promised me to undertake for her to right this wrong that hath been done her. And now it hath come to my notice that you mean to part from this castle, in quest of your adventures (God send them), and therefore my request is that, before you scour the ways, you would defy this untamed rustic, and make him marry my daughter, according to the promise he gave her before he coupled with her. For to think that my lord the duke will do me justice is to seek pears from the elm, for the reason that I have plainly told you; and so God give you much health, and forsake not us.’

To these reasons Don Quixote answered, with great gravity and prosopopeia: ‘Good matron, temper your tears and save your sighs, and I will engage myself to right your daughter; or whom it had been much better not to have been so easy of believing her lover’s promises, which for the most part are light in making, but heavy in accomplishing; and therefore, with my lord the duke’s leave, I will presently part in search of this ungodly young man, and find and challenge him, and kill him, if he deny to accomplish his promise. For the chief aim of my profession is to pardon the humble and to chastise the proud: I mean, to succour the wretched and to destroy the cruel.’

‘You need not,’ quoth the duke, ‘be at the pains of seeking the clown of whom the good matron complains; neither need you ask me leave to defy him, ‘tis enough that I know you have done it; and let it be my charge to give him notice that he accept the challenge, and come to my castle to answer for himself, where safe lists shall be set up for you both, observing the conditions that in such acts ought to be observed, and both your justices equally, according as princes are obliged to do, that grant single combat to those that fight within their dominions.’

‘Why, with this security, and your greatness’s licence,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘here I say, that for this once I renounce my gentry, and do equalise myself to the meanness of the offender, and so qualify him to combat with me: and so, though he be absent, I challenge and defy him, for that he did ill to defraud this poor creature that was a maid, and now, by his villainy, is none, and that he shall either fulfil his word he gave her to marry her, or die in the demand.’

And straight plucking off his glove, he cast it into the midst of the hall, and the duke took it up, saying that he, as had been said, in his vassal’s name accepted the challenge, and appointed the prefixed time six days after, and the lists to be in the court of that castle, and the usual arms of knights, as lance and shield, and laced armour, with all other pieces, without deceit, advantage, or superstition, seen and allowed by the judges of the lists. ‘But first of all ‘tis requisite that this honest matron and this, ill maid commit the right of their cause into Signior Don Quixote de la Mancha’s hands; for otherwise there will be nothing done, neither will the said challenge be put in execution.

‘I do,’ quoth the matron. ‘And I too,’ said the daughter, all blubbered and shamefaced, and in ill taking.

This agreement being made, and the dukes imagining what was to be done in the business, the mourners went their ways, and the duchess commanded they should be used not as their servants, but like lady-adventurers, that came to their house to ask justice, and served as strangers, to the wonderment of other servants, that knew not what would become of the madness and levity of Donna Rodriguez and her errant daughter.

Whilst they were in this business, to add more mirth to the feast, and to end the comedy, behold where the page comes in that carried the letter and tokens to Teresa Panza; whose arrival much pleased the dukes, desirous to know what befel him in his voyage; and, asking him, the page answered that he could not tell them in public, nor in few words, but that their Excellencies would be pleased to reserve it for a private time, and that in the meantime they would entertain themselves with those letters; and, taking them out, he gave two to the duchess: the superscription of the one was, ‘To my Lady Duchess, I know not whence’; and the other, ‘To my husband Sancho Panza, Governor of the Island Barataria, whom God prosper longer than me.

The duchess could not be quiet till she had read her letter; so, opening it, and reading it to herself, and seeing that she might read it aloud, she did so, that the duke and the bystanders might hear it, as followeth:


‘LADY MINE, — Your greatness’s letter you wrote to me did much content me, for I did very much desire it. Your string of corals was very good, and my husband’s hunting-suit comes not short of it. That your honour hath made my consort governor all this town rejoiceth at it, though there is none that will believe it, especially the vicar, Master Nicholas the barber, and Samson Carrasco the bachelor; but all is one to me; so it be true, as it is, let each one say what he will; but if you go to the truth, had it not been for the coral and the suit I should not have believed it neither; for all in this town hold my husband for a very leek, and taking him from his governing a flock of goats, they cannot imagine for what government else he should be good; God make him so, and direct him as He sees best, or his children have need of it. I, lady of my life, am determined, with your worship’s good leave, to make use of this good fortune in my house, and to go to the court to stretch myself in a coach, to make a thousand envious persons blind that look after me. And therefore I request your Excellency to command my husband to send me some stock of money to purpose, because I hear the court expenses are great, that a loaf is worth sixpence, and a pound of mutton five-pence, that ‘tis wonderful; and that if he mean not that I shall go, he let me know in time, for my feet are dancing till I be jogging upon the way; for my friends and neighbours tell me that if I and my daughter go glistering and pompously in the court, my husband will be known by me more than I by him; for that, .of necessity, many will ask, “What gentlewomen are these in the coach?“ Then a servant of mine answers, “The wife and daughter of Sancho Panza, governor of the island Barataria”; and by this means Sancho shall be known, and I shall be esteemed, and to Rome for all.1 I am as sorry as sorrow may be that this year we have gathered no acorns, for all that I send your highness half a peck, which I culled out, and went to the mountain on purpose, and they were the biggest I could find. I could have wished they had been as big as ostrich eggs. Let not your pomposity forget to write to me, and I’ll have a care to answer and advise you of my health, and all that passeth here where I remain, praying to God to preserve your greatness, and forget not me. My daughter Sancha and my son kiss your hands. — She that desires more to see than to write to your honour, your servant,


Great was the content that all received to hear Teresa Panza’s letter, principally of the dukes; and the duchess asked Don Quixote’s advice if it were fit to open the letter that came for the governor, which she imagined was most exquisite. Don Quixote said that, to pleasure them, he would open it; which he did, and saw the contents, which were these:


‘I received thy letter, my Sancho of my soul, and I promise and swear to thee, as I am a Catholic Christian, there wanted not two fingers’ breadth of making me mad for joy. Look you, brother, when I came to hear that thou art a governor, I thought I should have fallen down dead with gladness; for thou knowest that ‘tis usually said that sudden joy as soon kills as excessive grief. The water ran down thy daughter Sanchica’s eyes, without perceiving of it, with pure content. The suit thou sentest me I had before me, and the corals my lady the duchess sent, and the letters in my hands, and the bearer of them present, and, for all this, I believed and thought that all I saw or felt was a dream; for who could think that a goatherd should come to be a governor of islands? and thou knowest, friend, that my mother was used to say that ‘twas needful to live long to see much. This I say, because I think to see more if I live longer; for I hope I shall not have done till I see thee a farmer or customer, which are offices that, though the devil carry him away that dischargeth them badly, yet in the end good store of coin goes thorough their hands. My lady the duchess will let thee know what a desire I have to go to the court; consider of it, and let me know thy mind, and I will do thee honour there, going in my coach. The vicar, barber, bachelor, nor sexton cannot believe that thou art a governor, and say that ‘tis all juggling or enchantment, as all thy master Don Quixote’s affairs are; and Samson says he will find thee out, and put this government out of thy noddle, and Don Quixote’s madness out of his coxcomb. I do nothing but laugh at them, and look upon my coral chain, and contrive how to make my daughter a gown of the suit thou sentest me. I sent my lady the duchess some acorns, I would they had been of gold; I prithee send me a string of pearls, if they be used in that island.

‘The news of this town is, that Berneca married her daughter to a scurvy painter that came to this town to paint at random. The burghers of the town willed him to paint the king’s arms over the gate of the town hail; he demanded two ducats, which they gave him beforehand; he wrought eight days, in the end painted nothing, and said he could not hit upon painting such a deal of pedlary ware; so he returned them their money; and, for all this, he married under the name of a good workman; true it is, that he hath left his pencil, and taken the spade, and goes to the field most gentlemanlike. Pedro de Lobo’s son hath taken orders, and shaved his head, with purpose to be a priest. Minguilla, Mingo Silvato’s niece, knew of it, and she hath put a bill against him for promising her marriage; malicious tongues will not stick to say that she is great by him, but he denies it stiffly.

‘This year we have had no olives, neither is there a drop of vinegar to be had in all the town. A company of soldiers passed by here, and by the way they carried three wenches from this town with them; I will not tell thee who they are, for perhaps they will return, and there will not want some that will marry them for better for worse. Sanchica makes bone-lace, and gets her three halfpence a day dear, which she puts in a box with a slit, to help to buy her household stuff; but now that she is a governor’s daughter thou wilt give her a portion, that she needs not work for it. The stone fountain in the market-place is dried up; a thunderbolt fell upon the pillory; there may they fall all! I expect an answer of this, and thy resolution touching my going to the court; and so God keep thee longer than me, or as long, for I would not leave thee in this world behind me. — Thy wife,


These letters were extolled, laughed at, esteemed, and admired; and, to mend the matter, the post came that brought one from Sancho to Don Quixote, which was likewise read aloud, which brought the governor’s madness in question. The duchess retired with the page, to know what had befallen him in Sancho’s town, who told her at large, without omitting circumstance. He gave her the acorns, and a cheese too, which Teresa gave him for a very good one, much better than those of Tronion. The duchess received it with great content, in which we will leave her, to tell the end that the government of the grand Sancho Panza had, the flower and mirror of all islandish governors.

1 A phrase used by her to no purpose, but ’tis a usual thing in Spain, among ill livers, to cry, ‘A Roma per todo,’ there to get absolution for their villainies.

Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

The History of Don Quixote - The Second Part

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