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 LXXIV: How Don Quixote fell Sick; of the Will he made, and of his Death

 

AS all human things being transitory, and not eternal, are ever declining from their beginnings until they come unto their last end and period, but more especially the lives of men, and as that of Don Quixote had no privilege from Heaven to continue in one estate and keep its course, his end surprised him at what time he least thought of it. I wot not whether it proceeded of the melancholy which the sad remembrance of his being vanquished caused in him, or whether the disposition of the heavens had so decreed; so it is that a burning fever seized upon him, which forced him to keep his bed six days, during which time the curate, the bachelor, and the barber, who were all his good friends, did very often visit him; and Sancho Panza his good squire never went from his bedside.

They supposing that the vexation and fretting which he felt for having been conquered, as also because he saw not the accomplishment of his desires touching the disenchantment of Dulcinea, caused this sickness in him, endeavoured by all possible means to make him merry.

The bachelor desired him to be of good courage, and to rise, that they might begin their pastoral exercise, and how he had already composed an eclogue, which was nothing behind those that Sanazaro had compiled; that for the same purpose he had bought two goodly and fair dogs, and of great renown, for to keep their flock, whereof the one was called Barcino and the other Butron, and how a shepherd of Quintanar had sold them to him.

But for all this Don Quixote quitted not his sorrow, nor left off his sadness.

His friends called for a physician, who was nothing well pleased with his pulse which he felt; and therefore he told him that whatsoever might happen he should not do amiss to begin to think on the salvation of his soul, for the health of his body was in very great danger.

Don Quixote, without being any whit amazed, did very quietly listen unto this discourse, which neither his niece, his maid, nor his squire did; for they were so deeply plunged in tears and weeping as had they seen ghastly death in the face they could have done no more.

The physician told them plainly that only melancholy and his troublesome cares were the cause of his death.

Don Quixote entreated the company to leave him alone, because he had a great desire to sleep a while. They did so, and he had a sound nap, as they say, of six hours, so that the maid and his niece thought he would never have waked again. Well, he waked at last, and with a loud and audible voice he uttered these words: ‘The Almighty God be for ever blessed, that hath done so much good for me. To be short, His mercies have no bounds; they are neither shortened nor hindered by the sins of man.’

The niece listened with heedy attention unto her uncle’s words, and, perceiving that they were better couched and wiser disposed than those he was accustomed to pronounce in all his sicknesses, she proposed this question unto him: My lord and uncle, what is that you say? Is there any new matter befallen? What mercies do you speak of? or what sins of men?’

‘My good niece,’ replied Don Quixote, ‘the mercies I talk of are those which God of His goodness hath at this instant conferred upon me, wretched sinner, and my sins have been no stop or let unto them. I possess now a free and clear judgment, and nothing overshadowed with the misty clouds of ignorance, which the continual reading and plodding on books of chivalry had overcast me withal. I acknowledge all these extravagancies, and confess them to be but cozening tricks, and am aggrieved that this disabuse hath happened so late unto me as it affords me no leisure to make amends for my oversight by reading of other good books, and which might serve and tend to the enlightening of my soul. My dear niece, I feel myself near unto death; but I would not have it to be such as the surname of fool should rest upon me; for although I have been foolish in my life, I desire not to confirm the truth of it in my death. And therefore, my dear friend, go and cause the curate, the bachelor Samson Carrasco, and Master Nicholas the barber, to come immediately unto me. I desire to confess myself, and to make my last will and testament.’

His niece was eased of this labour by the coming of them all three, who even then entered the chamber. Don Quixote no sooner saw them, but said thus unto them : ‘My good sirs, give me some New Year’s gift ; I am no more Don Quixote de la Mancha, but rather Alonso Quixano, unto whom my honest life and civil conversation hath heretofore appropriated the surname of Good. I am now a professed enemy to Amadis de Gaul, and of all the infinite rabble of his race. Now are all the profane histories of errant chivalry hateful unto me; I now acknowledge my folly, and perceive the danger whereinto the reading of them hath brought me. But now, by the mere mercy of my God, become wise, at my own proper cost and charges, I utterly abhor them.’

When these three friends heard him speak so, they believed undoubtedly that he was possessed with some new kind of foolishness. ‘My Lord Don Quixote,’ said Samson unto him, ‘now that the news are come unto us that the Lady Dulcinea of Toboso is disenchanted, do you speak in this manner? And now that we are so near-hand to become shepherds, that so we may in singing, mirth, and jollity lead a kind of princely life, do you intend to become a hermit?’

‘Hold your peace, I pray you,’ replied Don Quixote. ‘Recollect your wits together, and let us leave all these discourses; that which hath hitherto served me to my hurt and detriment, my death, by the assistance of Heaven, shall turn to my good and redound to my profit. Good sirs, I perceive and feel death to follow me at my heels. Let us leave off and quit all merriments and jesting, and let me have a confessor to shrift me, and a notary to draw my last will and testament. In the extremity whereunto I now find and feel myself a man must not make a jest of his soul; and therefore whilst master curate is taking of my confession, let me have a scrivener fetched.’

They stood all gazing one upon another, wondering at Don Quixote’s sound reasons, although they made some doubt to believe them. One of the signs which induced them to conjecture that he was near unto death’s door was that with such facility he was from a stark fool become a wise man; for to the words already alleged he added many more, so significant, so Christian-like, and so well couched, that without doubt they confidently believed that Don Quixote was become a right wise man. The curate made all those who were in the chamber to avoid, and, being left alone with him, took his confession. The bachelor Carrasco went to find out a notary, who not long after came with him, and with Sancho Panza. This good squire having understood from the mouth of the bachelor that his master was in a very bad estate, and finding his maidservant and his niece weeping very bitterly, began like a madman with his own fists to thump and beat himself, and to shed brackish tears.

The confession being ended, the curate came forth, and was heard to utter these words: ‘Verily, verily, he is at his last gasp; and verily the good Alonso Quixano is become wise, and it is high time for him to make his last will and testament.’

These heavy news opened the sluices of the tearsful and swoln-blubbering eyes of the maid, of the niece, and of his good squire Sancho Panza, so that they showered forth whole fountains of tears, and fetched from the very bottom of their aggrieved hearts a thousand groaning sighs. For, in effect, as we have already declared elsewhere, whilst Don Quixote was simply the good Alonso Quixano, and likewise when he was Don Quixote de la Mancha, he was ever of a mild and affable disposition, and of a kind and pleasing conversation, and therefore was he not only beloved of all his household but also of all those that knew him.

In the mean space the notary came, who, after he had written the beginning of his will, and that Don Quixote had disposed of his soul with all the circumstances required and necessary in a true Christian, and that he was come unto the legacies, he caused this to be written:

‘Item, concerning a certain sum of money, which Sancho Panza, whom I made my squire, whilst my folly possessed me, hath yet in his custody: for so much as between him and me there remain certain odd reckonings and accounts to be made up of what he hath received and laid out, my will and pleasure is that he be not tied to yield any account at all, nor be in any bond for it; nay, rather, if any over-plus remain in his hands, having first fully paid and satisfied him of what I owe, and am indebted to him (which is no great matter), my purpose is that it be absolutely his own, and much good may it do him. And as, being then a fool, I was the cause that he had the government of an island given, him, I would to God (now I am wise and in my perfect senses) it were in my power to give him a kingdom; for the sincerity of his mind and the fidelity of his comportments do well deserve it.’

Then, addressing himself unto Sancho, he made this speech unto him: ‘My dear friend, pardon me that I have given thee occasion to seem a fool as I was, in making thee to fall into the same error wherein I was fallen, that in the world there have been, and still are, errant knights.’

‘Alas and well-a-day! my good sir,’ answered Sancho, throbbing and weeping, ‘yield not unto death, I pray you, but rather follow my counsel, which is, that you endeavour to live many fair years. The greatest folly that any man can commit in this world is to give himself over unto death without apparent cause, except he be wilfully slain, or that no other hand bring him to his end but that of melancholy. Once more I beseech you, suffer not remissness or faint-heartedness to overcome you. Rather rise out of your bed, and let us go into the fields attired like shepherds, as we were once resolved to do. It may come to pass that we behind some bush or shrub shall find the lady Madam Dulcinea disenchanted, so that we shall have no more business. If the vexation or irksomeness you feel to have been vanquished attempt to bring you unto death, let me undertake the blame, who will stoutly maintain in all places, and before all men, that you were overthrown and quelled because I had not well girt your palfrey Rozinante. And you have seen and read in your books of chivalry that it is an ordinary thing for one knight to thrust another out of his saddle, and that he who is to-day conquered is to-morrow a conqueror.

It is most true,’ quoth Samson; ‘and Sancho Panza relates the very truth of such accidents.’

‘My sirs,’ replied Don Quixote, ‘I pray you go not on so fast, since that in the nests of the last year there are no birds of this year. Whilom I was a fool, but now I am wise; sometimes I was Don Quixote de la Mancha, but am now, as I have already told you, the good Alonzo Quixano. Let my unfeigned repentance, and the truth of what I say, obtain this favour at your courteous hands, that you will have the same estimation of me now which you have had heretofore; and so let master notary proceed.

‘Item, I make and institute my niece, Antoinette Quixana, who is here present, general heir of all my goods whatsoever, having first deducted out of them all that shall be necessary for the full accomplishment of the legacies which I have bequeathed. And the first thing I would have discharged, I purpose, shall be the wages which I owe unto my maidservant; and that, over and besides, she have twenty ducats delivered unto her, to buy her some good clothes withal.

‘Item, I appoint and institute master curate and Master Samson Carrasco, the bachelor here present, to be the overseers and executors of this my last will and testament.

‘Item, my will and pleasure is that if Antoinette Quixana my niece chance to marry, that it be to a man of whom diligent inquiry shall first be made that he is utterly ignorant of books of chivalry, and that he never heard speech of them. And if it should happen that he have read them, and that, notwithstanding, my niece will or take him to her husband, that she utterly lose and never have anything that I have bequeathed her as an inheritance. All which my executors and assigns may, at their pleasure, as shall seem good unto them, employ and distribute in pious uses.

‘Item, I entreat the said executors and overseers of my will, that if by good fortune they come to the knowledge of the author who is said to have composed an History which goes from hand to hand under the title of The Second Part of the Heroic Feats of Arms of Don Quixote de la Mancha, they shall, in my behalf, most affectionately desire him to pardon me, for that I have unawares given him occasion to write so infinite a number of great extravagancies and idle impertinencies; for so much as I depart out of this life with this scruple upon my conscience, to have given him subject and cause to publish them to the world.’

He had no sooner ended his discourse, and signed and sealed his will and testament, but a swooning and faintness surprising him, he stretched himself the full length of his bed. All the company were much distracted and moved thereat, and ran presently to help him; and during the space of three days that he lived after he had made his will, he did swoon and fall into trances almost every hour.

All the house was in a confusion and uproar; all which notwithstanding, the niece ceased not to feed very devoutly, the maidservant to drink profoundly, and Sancho to live merrily. For, when a man is in hope to inherit anything, that hope doth deface or at least moderate in the mind of the inheritor the remembrance or feeling of the sorrow and grief which of reason he should have a feeling of the testator’s death.

To conclude, the last day of Don Quixote came, after he had received all the sacraments, and had by many and godly reasons made demonstration to abhor all the books of errant chivalry.

The notary was present at his death, and reporteth how he had never read or found in any book of chivalry that any errant knight died in his bed so mildly, so quietly, and so Christianly as did Don Quixote.

Amidst the wailful plaints and blubbering tears of the bystanders he yielded up the ghost; that is to say, he died; which the curate perceiving, he desired the notary to make him an attestation or certificate how Alonso Quixano, surnamed the Good, and who was commonly called Don Quixote de la Mancha, he was deceased out of this life unto another, and died of a natural death. Which testificate he desired, to remove all occasions from some authors, except Cid Hamet Benengeli, falsely to raise him from death again, and write endless histories of his famous acts.

This was the end of the Ingenious Gentleman de Je Mancha, of whose birthplace Cid Hamet hath not been pleased to declare manifestly the situation unto us, to the end that all villages, towns, boroughs, and hamlets of La Mancha should contest, quarrel, and dispute among themselves the honour to have produced him, as did the seven cities of Greece for the love of Homer. We have not been willing to make mention, and relate in this place the doleful plaints of Sancho, nor those of the niece and maidservant of Don Quixote, nor likewise the sundry new and quaint epitaphs which were graven over his tomb; content yourself with this which the bachelor Samson Carrasco placed there:

‘Here lies the gentle knight, and stout,
That to that height of valour got,
As if you mark his deeds throughout,
Death on his life triumphed not
With bringing of his death about.

The world as nothing he did prize,
For as a scarecrow in men’s eyes
He lived, and was their bugbear too;
And had the luck, with much ado,
To live a fool, and yet die wise.

In the meanwhile the wise and prudent Cid Hamet Benengeli addressed this speech unto his witty pen: ‘Here it is, O my slender quill, whether thou be ill or well cut, that thou shalt abide hanged upon those racks whereon they hang spits and broaches, being thereunto fastened with this copper wire. There shalt thou live many ages, except some rash, fond-hardy, and lewd historian take thee down to profane thee. Nevertheless, before they lay hands upon thee, thou mayst, as it were by way of advertisement, and as well as thou canst, boldly tell them, Away, pack hence, stand afar off, you wicked botchers and ungracious souters, and touch me not, since to me only it belongs to cause to be imprinted “Cum bono privilegio Regiae Majestatis.” Don Quixote was born for me alone, and I had my birth only for him. If he hath been able to produce the effects, I have had the glory to know how to write and compile them well. To be short, he and I are but one selfsame thing, maugre and in despite of the fabulous Scribbler de Tordesillas, who hath rashly and malapertly dared with an ostriche’ coarse and bungling pen to write the prowess and high feats of arms of my valorous knight.

‘This fardel is too too heavy for his weak shoulders, and his dull wit over-cold and frozen for such an enterprise: and if peradventure thou know him, thou shalt also advise him to suffer the weary and already rotten bones of Don Quixote to rest in his sepulchre; for it would be too great a cruelty if, contrary to all orders and decrees of death, he should go about to make show of him in Castile the old, where in good sooth he lieth within a sepulchre, laid all along, and unable to make a third journey and a new outroad. It is sufficient to mock those that so many wandering knights have made, that those two whereof he hath made show unto the world, to the general applause and universal content of all people and nations that have had knowledge of them, as well through the whole countries of Spain as in all other foreign kingdoms. Thus shalt thou perform what a good Christian is bound to do, in giving good counsel to him that wisheth thee evil. As for me, I shall rest contented and well satisfied to have been the first that hath fully enjoyed the fruits of his writings, and that according to my desires, since I never desired any other thing than that men would utterly abhor the fabulous, impertinent, and extravagant books of chivalry. And, to say truth, by means of my true Don Quixote, they begin already to stagger; for, undoubtedly, such fables and flim-flam tales will shortly fail, and I hope shall never rise again. Farewell.’
 

THE END

Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

The History of Don Quixote - The Second Part

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