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The history of Don Quixote online

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our opponents have any holy relics or other secret
charms about them, whether the sun be duly divided,
or any other punctilios and circumstances observed
iimong private duelists — things which thou understand-
est not, but I do, and must further let thee know that
the true knight-errant, though he met ten giants, whose
tall aspiring heads not only touch but overto]) the
clouds, each of them stalking with prodigious legs like
huge towers, their sweeping arms like masts of mighty
ships, each eye as large as a mill-wheel, and more fierj'
than a glass furnace, yet he is so far from being afraid
to meet them, that he must encounter them with a gen-
tle countenance and an undaunted courage, assail them,
close with them, and if possible vanquish and destroy
them all in au instant; nay, though they came armed
with the scales of a certain iish, which they say is
harder than adamant, and instead of swords had dread-
ful sabres of keen Damascus steel, or mighty maces
with points of the same metal, as I have seen more than
a dozen times. "

"Ah ! sir, " said the niece, "have a care what you say ;
the stories of knights-errant are nothing but a pack of
lies and fables; and if the5r are not burnt, they ought
at least to wear a sanbenito, the badge of hcresj', or
some other mark of infamy, that the world may Icnow
them to be wicked, and perverters of good manners."

"Now, by the powerful sustainer of my being," cried
Don Quixote ; " wert thou not so nearly related to me,
wert thou not my own sister's daughter, I would take
such revenge for the blasphemy thou hast uttered, as
would resound through the Avhole universe. Who ever
heard of the like impudence? What would Sir Amadis
have said, had he heard this? But he undoubtedly
would have forgiven thee, for he was the most cour-
teous and complaisant knight of his time, especially to
the fair sex, being a great j)rotector of damsels ; but
thy words might have reached the ears of some that
would have sacrificed thee to their indignation, for all
knights are not possessed of civilty or good nature;
some are rough and revengeful; and neither are all
those that assume the name of a disposition suitable to
the function. Some indeed are of the right stamp, but
others are either counterfeiter of such an alloy as can-
not bear the touchstone, though they deceive the sight.
Inferior mortals there are, who aim at knighthood, and
strain to reach the height of honor; and high-born
knights there are, who seem fond of grovelling in the
dust, and being lost in the crowd of inferior mortals.
The first raise themselves by ambition or by virtue; the
last debase themselves by negligence or by vice; so
that there is need of a distinguishing understanding to
judge between these two sorts of knights, so nearly
allied in name, and so different in actions."

"Bless me! dear uncle," cried the niece, "that you
should know so much as to be able, if there was occa-
sion, to get up into a pulpit, or preach in the streets,
and yet be so strangely mistaken, so grossly blind of
understanding, as to fancy a man of your years and



infirmity can be strong and valiant; that you can set
everything right, and force stubborn malice to bend,
when you yourself stoop beneath the burden of age ;
and what is yet more odd, that you are a knight, when
it is well known you are none! For though some gen-
tlemen may be knights, a poor gentleman can hardly
be so, because he cannot buy it."

"You say well, niece," answered Don Quixote; "and
as to this last observation, I could tell you things that
you would wonder at concerning families; but because
I will not mix sacred things with profane, I waive the
discourse. However, listen both of you, and for your
farther instruction know that all the lineages and
descents of mankind are reducible to these four heads : —
First, those who, from a very small and obscure begin-
ning, have raised themselves to a spreading and pro-
digious magnitude. Secondly, those who, deriving
their greatness from a noble spring, still preserve the
dignity and character of their original splendor. A
third are those who, though they had large foundations,
have ended in a point like a pyr^imid, which by little
and little dwindles, as it were, into nothing, or next to
nothing, in comparison of its basis. Others there are
(and those are the bulk of mankind) who have neither
had a good beginning nor a rational continuance, and
whose ending shall therefore be obscure; such are the
common people, the plebeian race. The Ottomun family
is an instance of the first sort, having derived their
present greatness from the poor begiuuiug of a base-
born shepherd. Of the second sort, there are many
j)rinces who, being born such, enjoy their dominions by
inheritance, and leave them to their successors without
addition or diminution. Of the third sort there is an
infinite number of examples: for all the Pharaohs and
Ptolemies of Egypt, your Caesars of Eome, and all the
swarm (if I may use that word) of princes, monarch s,
lords — Medes, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, and barba-
rians — all these families and empires have ended in a
point, as well as those who gave rise to them: for it
were impossible at this day to find any of their descend-
ants; or if we could find them, it would be in a poor,
grovelling condition. As for the vulgar, I say nothing
of them, more than that they are thrown in as ciphers
to increase the number of mankind, without deserving
any other praise. Now, my good-natured souls, you
may at least draw this reasonable inference from what
I have said of this promiscuous dispensation of honors,
and this uncertainty and confusion of descent, that
virtue and liberality in the present possessor are the
most just and indisputable titles to nobility; for the
advantages of pedigree, without these qualifications,
serve only to make vice more conspicuous. The great
man that is vicious will be greatly vicious, and the
rich miser is only a covetous beggar; for, not he who
possesses, but who spends and enjoys his wealth,
is the rich and the happy man; nor he neither
who barely spends, but who does it with discretion.
The poor knight, indeed, cannot show he is one by his
magnificence; but yet by his virtue, affability, civility,
and courteous behavior, he may display the chief in-
gredients that enter into the composition of knight-



■244



DON QXTIXOTE DE LA IIANCHA.



hood ; and though he cannot pretend to liberality,
wanting riches to support it, his charity may recom-
pense that defect; for an alms of two maravedis cheer-
fully bestowed upon an indigent beggar, by a man in
poor circumstances, proves him as liberal as the larger
donative of a vainglorious rich man before a fawning
crowd. These accomplishments will always shine
through the clouds of fortune, and at last break
through them with splendor and applause. There are
two paths to dignity and wealth— arts and arms. Arms
I have chosen; and the influence of the planet Mars,
that presided at my nativity, led me to that adventur-
ous road: so that all your attempts to shake my resolu-
tion are in vain ; for in spite of all mankind, I will pur-
sue what Heaven has fated, fortune ordained, reason
requires, and (which is m(ue) my inclination demands.
I am sensible of the troubles and dangers that attend
the prosecution of knight-errantry, but I also know
what infinite honors and rewards are the consequences
of the performance. The path of virtue is narrow, and
the way of vice easy and open; but their ends and rest-
ing-places ire very diflerent. For I know, as our great
Oastilian poet expresses it, that



' Through Bteep ascents, through strait and nigged ways,
Ourselves to glory's lofty seats we raise;
In vain we hope to reach the bless'd abode,
Who leaves the narrow path for the more easy road.' "

"Alack a-day!" cried the niece, "my uncle is a poet,
too! He knows everything. I will lay my life he
might turn mason in case of necessity. If he would
but undertake it, he could build a house as easy as a
bird-cage."

"Why truly, niece," said Don Quixote, "were not my
understanding wholly involved in thoughts relating to
the exercise of knight-errantry, there is nothing which
I durst not engage to perform; no curiosity should
escape my hands, especially bird-cages and tooth-
picks. "

By this somebody knocked at the door, and being-
asked who it was, Sancho answered it was he; where-
upon the housekeeper slipped out of the way, not wish-
ing to see him, and the niece let him in. Don Quixote
received him with open arms; and locking themselves
both in the closet, they had another dialogue as pleasant
as the former.



CHAPTER VII.



AN ACCOUNT OF DON QUIXOTE'S CONFERENCE WITH HIS SQUIRE, AND OTHER MOST FAMOUS PASSAGES.



The housekeeper no sooner saw her master and San-
cho locked up together, but she presently surmised the
drift of that close conference, and concluding that no
less than villanous knight-errantry and another sallj-
would prove the residt of it, she flung her veil over
her head, and quite cast down with sorrow and vexa-
tion, trudged away to seek Samson Carrasco, the bach-
elor of arts; depending on his wit and eloquence to
persuade his friend Dou Quixote from his frantic reso-
lution. She fotmd him walking in the yard of his
house, and fell presently on her knees before him in a
cold sweat, and with all the marks of a disordered mind.

"What is the matter, woman?" said he, somewhat sur-
prised at her posture and confusion ; " what has befallen
you, that you look as if you were ready to give up the
ghost?"

"Nothing," said she, "dear sir, but that my master
is departing! he is departing, that is most certain."

"How!" cried Carrasco, "what do you mean? Is his
soul departing out of his body?"

"No," answered the woman, "but all his wits are
quite and clean departing. He means to be gadding
again into the wide world, and is upon the spur now
the third time to hunt after ventures, as he calls them,
though I don't know why he calls those chances so.
The first time he was brought home was athwart an ass,
and almost cudgelled to pieces. The other bout he was



forced to ride home in a wagon, cooped up in a cage,
where he would make us believe he was enchanted;
and the poor soul looked so dismally, that his own
mother would scarcely have known her child — so mea-
gre, wan and withered, and his eyes so sunk and hid in
the utmost nook and corner of his brain, that I am sure
I used about six hundred eggs to fatten him up again;
ay, and more too, as Heaven and all the world is my
witness; and the hens that laid them cannot deny it. "

"That I believe," said the bachelor, "for j-our hens
are so well bred, so fat, and so good, that they won't
say one thing and think another for thg world. But is
this all? Has no other ill luck befallen j on, besides
this of your master's intended ramble?"

"No other, sir," quoth she.

"Then trouble your head no farther," said he, "but
get you home; and as you go, say me the prayer of St.
ApoUonia, if you know it; then get me some warm bit
for breakfast, and I will come to you presently, and you
shall see wonders. "

"Dear me !" quoth she, "the prayer of St. Polonia]!
Why, it is only good for the toothache ; birt his ailing
lies in his skull."

"Mistress," said he, "do not dispute with me: I know
what I say. Have I not commenced bachelor of arts at
Salamanca, and do you think there is any hachelorising
beyond that?"



DON QUIQOTE DE LA MANCHA.



245



With that away she goes, and he presently to find
the curate, to consult with him about what shall be de-
clared in due time.

When Sanuho tiud his master were looked up together
ill the room, there passed some discourse between them,
of which the history gives a very punctual and impar-
tial account.

"Sir," quoth Sancho to his master, "I have at last
reliiced my wife to let me go with your worship wher-
ever you will have mc."

"Reduced, you would say, Sancho," said Don Quix-
ote, "and not reluccd."

"Look yon, sir," quoth Sancho; "if I am not mis-
taken, I liiive wished you once or twice not to stand
correcting my words, if you understand my meaning:
if yon do not, why then do but say to me, 'Sancho,' or
what you please, 'I nnderstand thee not;" and if I do
not make out my meaning plainly, then take me up; for
I am so forcible — — . "

"I understand you not," said Don Quixote, interrupt-
ing him; "for I cannot guess the meaning of your
forcible."

"Why, so forcible," quoth Sancho, "is as much as to
say, forcible; that is, I am so and so, as it were."

"Less and less do I understand thee," said the
knight.

"Why, then," quoth Sancho, "there is an end of the
matter; it must even stick there for me, for I can speak
no better."

"Oh! now," quoth Don Quixote, "I fancy I guess
your meaning; you mean docible, I suppose, implying
that yon are so ready and apprehensive, that you will
presently observe what I shall teach you."

"I will lay an even wager now," said the squire,
"you understood me well enough at first, but you had a
mind to put me out, merely to hear me i)ut your fine
wor<ls onto' joint."

"That may be," said Don Quixote, "but pr'ythee,
tell me what saj's Teresa ?"

"Why, an't please you," quoth Sancho, "Teresa bids
me make sure work with your worship, and that we
may have 'less talking and more doing;' that ' a man
must not be his own carver;' that 'he who cuts does
not shuffle;' that ' it is good to be certain;' that ' paper
speaks when beards never wag;' that 'a bird in hand
is worth two in the bush.' 'One hold-fast is better
than two I will give thee.' Now, I say a woman's coun-
sel is not worth much, yet he that despises it is no
wiser than he should be."

"I say so too," said Don Quixote; "but pray, good
Sancho, proceed; for thou art in an excellent strain ;
thou talkest most sontentiously to-day!"

"I say," quoth Sancho, "as you know better yoiirself
til an I do, that we are all mortal men, here to-day and
gone to-morrow; ' as soon goes the j'oung lamb to the
spit as the old wether;' no man can tell the length of
his days; for Death is deaf, and when he knocks at the
door, mercy on the porter! He is in post-haste; neither
fair words nor foul, crowns nor mitres, can stay liim, as
the report goes, and as we are told from the pul-
pit."



"All this I grant," said Don Quixote; "but what
would you infer from hence?"

"Why, sir," quoth Sancho, "all I would be at is, that
your worship allow me so much a month for my wages,
wliilst I stay with you, and that the aforesaid wages be
paid me out of your estate. For I will trust no longer
to rewards, that mayhaps may come late, and may-
haps not at all. I would be glad to know what I get,
be it more or less. 'A little in one's own pocket is bet-
ter than much in another man's purse.' ' It is good to
keep a nest egg.' 'Many little makes a mickle.'
' While a man gets he never can lose.' Should it hap-
pen, indeed, that your worship should give me this
same island, whieh you promised me, though it is wliat
I dare not so much as hope for, why then I ain't such an
ungrateful nor so unconscionable a muckworm, but
that I am willing to strike off upon the income, for
what wages I receive, eantity for cantity."

"Would not quantity have been better than can-
tity?" asked Don Quixote.

"Ho! I understand you now," cried Sancho: "I
dare lay a wager I should have .said quantity and not
cantity: but no matter for that, since you knew what I
meant."

"Yes, Sancho," quoththe knight,"! have dived to the
very bottom of your thought, and understand now the
aim of all your numerous shot of proverbs. Look you,
friend Sancho, I should never scruple to pay thee
wages, had I any example to warrant such a practice.
Nay, could 1 find the least glimmering of a precedent
through all the books of chivalry that ever I read, for
any yearly or monthly stipend, your request should be
granted. But I have read all, or the greatest piut of
the histories of knights-errant, and find tliat all their
squires depended purely on the favor of their masters
for a subsistence, till by some surprising turn in the
knight's fortune, the servants were advanced to the
government of some island, or some equivalent gratuity ;
at least, they had honor and a title conferred on them
as a. reward. Now, friend Sancho, if you will depend
on these hopes of preferment, and return to my service,
it is well; if not, get you home, and tell your imperti-
nent wife that I will not break through all the rules
and customs of chivalry, to satisfy her sordid diffidence
and yours; and so let there be no more words about the
matter, but let us part friends ; and remember this, that
if there be vetches in my dove-houso, it will want no
pigeons. 'Good arrears are better than ill pay;' and
'a fee in reversion is better than a farm in possession.'
Take notice too, there is proverb for proverb, to let you
know that I can pour oirt a volley of them as well as
jroii. In short, if you will not go along with me upon
courtesy, and run the same fortune with me, Heaven be
with you, and make you a saint ; I do not question but
I shall get me a squire, more obedient, more careful,
and less saucy and talkative than you. "

Sancho hearing his master's firm resolution, it was
cloudy weather with him in an instant; he was struck
dumb with disappointment, and down sunk at once his
heart to his girdle; for he verily thought he could have
brought him to any terms, through a vain opinion that



246



DON QriXOTE DE LA MANCHA.



the knight would not for the world go without him.
While he was thus dolefully buried in thought, in came
Samson Carrasco and the niece, very eager to hear the
bachelor's arguments to dissiuide Don Quixote from his
intended sally. But Samson, who was a rare comedian,
presently embracing the knight, and beginning in a high
strain, .soon Oisappointedher. "Oh, flower of chivalry!"
cried he, "refulgent glory of arms, living honor and
mirror of our Spanish nation, may all those who pre-
vent the third expedition which thy heroic spirit medi-
tates be lost in the labyrinth of thtir perverse desires,
and find no thread to lead them to their wishes! " Then
turning to the housekeeper, "You have no need now to
say the prayer of St. Apollonia," said he, "for I find it
written in the stars that the illustrious champion must
no longer delay the prosecution of glory; and I should
injure my conscience should I presume to dissuade him
from the benefits that shall redound to mankind by ex-
erting the strength of his formidable arm, and the in-
nate virtues of his heroic soul. Alas! his stay deprives
the oppressed orphans of a protector, damsels of a
deliverer, cliarai)ions of their honor, widows of an
obliging patron, and married women of a vigorous com-
forter; nay, also delays a thousand other important ex-
ploits and achievements, which are the duty and neces-
sary couseixuences of the honorable order of knight-
errantry. Go on then, my graceful, my valoroirs Don
Quixote, rather this very daj' than the next; let your
greatness be upon the wing, and if anything be wanting
towards the completing of your equipage, I stand forth
to supply you with my life and fortune, and ready, if it
be thought expedient, to attend your excellence as a
squire — an honor which I am ambitious to attain."

"Well, Sancho," said Don Quixote, hearing this, and
turning to his scjuire, "did I not tell thee I should not
want squires? behold who offers me his service! the
most excellent bachelor of arts, Samson Carrasco, the
perpetual darling of the ]\Iuses, and glory of the Sala-
manca schools, sound and active of body, patient of
labor, inured to abstinence, silent in misfortune, and,
in short endowed with all the accomplishments that
coustitute a squire. But forbid it. Heaven! that to in-
dulge my private inclinations I should presume to
weaken the whole body of learning, l)y removing from
it so substantial a pillar, so va,st a repository of sciences,
and so eminent a branch of the liberal arts. No, my
friend, remain thou another Samson in thy country; be
the honor of Spain, and the delight of thy ancient
parents; I shall content myself with any squire, since
Saucho does not vouchsafe to go with me."

"I do, I do," cried Sancho, relenting with tears in
his eyes; "I do vouchsafe; it shall never be said of
Sancho Panza, 'No longer pipe, no longer dance.' Nor
have I heart of flint, sir; for all the world knows, and
especially our town, what the whole generation of the
Panzas has ever been. Besides, I well know, and have
already found by many good turns, and more good
words, that your worship has had a good will towards
me all along: and if I have done otherwise than I
should, in standing upon wages or so, it was merely to



humor my wife, who, when once she is setn])on a thing,
stands digging and hammering at a man, like a cooper
at a tub, till she clinches the point. But I am the hus-
band, and will be her husband; and she is but a. wife,
and shall be a wife. None can deny but I am a man
every inch of me, wlierever I am, and I will be a man at
home, in spite of anybody; so that you have no more
to do but to make your will and testament; but be sure
you make the conveyance so firm that it cannot be re-
buked, and then let us be gone as soon as you please,
that Master Samson's soul may be at rest; for he says
his conscience won't let him be quiet till he has set you
upon another journey through the world: and here I
again otter mj'self to follow your worship, and promise
to be faithful and loyal, as well, nay, and better, than
all the squires that ever waited on knights-errant."

The bachelor was amazed to hear Sancho Panza ex-
press himself after that manner; and though he had
read much of him in the first part of his history, he
could not believe him to be so pleasant a fellow as lie
is there represented. But hearing him now talk of re-
buking instead of revoking testaments and conveyan-
ces, he was induced to credit all that was said of him,
and to conclude him one of the oddest compounds of
the age; nor could he imagine that the world ever saw
before so extravagant a couple as the master and
man.

Don Quixote and Sancho embraced, becoming as good
friends as ever; and so, with the approbation of the
grand Oarrasco, who was then the knight's oracle, it
was decreed that they should set out at the expiration
of three days; in which time all necessaries should be
provided, especially a whole helmet, which Don Quix-
ote sai<l he was resolved by all means to purchase.
Samson ottered him one which he knew he could easily
get of a friend, and which looked more dull with the
mould and rust, than bright with the lustre of the steel.
The niece and the housekeeper made a woful outcry;
they tore their hair, scratched their faces, and howled
like common mourners at funerals, lamenting the
knight's departure, as if it had been his real death,
and cursing Oarrasco most unmercifully, though his
behavior was the result of a. contrivance plotted l)e-
tween the curate, the barber, and himself. In short,
Don Quixote and his s(iuire having got all things in
readiness, the one having pacifled his wife, and the
other his niece and housekeeper, towards the evening,
without being seen by anybody but the bachelor, who
would needs accompany them about half a league from
the village, they set forward for Toboso. The knight
mounted his Eozinante, and Sancho his trusty Dapple,
his wallet well stuffed with provisions, and his purse
with money, which Don Quixote gave him to defray
expenses. At last Samson took his leave, desiring the
champion to give him, from time to time, an account of
his success, that, according to the laws of friendship,
he might sympathize in his good or evil fortune. Don
Quixote made him a promise, and then they parted;
Samson went home, and the knight and squire con-
tinued their journey for the great city of Toboso.



CHAPTER VIII.

DON QUIXOTE'S SUCCESS IN HIS JOUENEY TO VISIT THE LADY DULOINEA DEL. TOBOSO.



" Blessed be the mighty Allah! " says Hamet Benen-
geli, at the beginning of his eighth chapter; "blessed
be Allah?" which ejaculation he thrice repeated, in
consideration of the blessing that Don Quixote and
Sancho had once more taken the field again, and that
from this period the readers of their delightful history
may date the knight's achievements and the squire's
pleasantries; and he entreats them to forget the former
heroical transactions of the wonderful knight, and fix
their eyes upon his future exploits, which take birth
from his setting out for Toboso, as the former began in



Online LibraryMiguel de Cervantes SaavedraThe history of Don Quixote → online text (page 44 of 85)