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Don Quixote, Book II, Chapter 33

By Miquel de Cervantes

--from The Life and Exploits of Don Quixote de la Mancha. Translated from the Original Spanish of Miquel de Cervantes Saavedra by Charles Jarvis, Esq. (London: Bumpus, Sharpe, Samms, Warren and Reilly, 1821), Vol. 4: Part II, Book III, Chapter I.


Of the relishing conversation, which passed between the duchess, her damsels, and Sancho Panza; worthy to be read and remarked.

THE history then relates, that Sancho Panza did not sleep that afternoon, but, to keep his word, came with the meat in his mouth to see the duchess; who, being delighted to hear him talk, made him sit down by her on a low stool, though Sancho, out of pure good manners, would have declined it: but the duchess would have him sit down as a governor, and talk as a squire, since in both those capacities he deserved the very stool of the champion Cid Ruy Dias. Sancho shrugged up his shoulders, obeyed, and sat down; and all the duchess's damsels and duennas got round about him, in profound silence, to hear what he would say. But the duchess spoke first, saying: now we are alone, and that nobody hears us, I would willingly be satisfied by signor governor, as to some doubts I have arising from the printed history of the great Don Quixote: one of which is, that, since honest Sancho never saw Dulcinea, I mean the lady Dulcinea {2} del Toboso, nor carried her Don Quixote's letter, it being left in the pocket-book in the sable mountain, how durst he feign the answer, and the story of his finding her winnowing wheat, it being all a sham, and a lie, and so much for the prejudice of the good character of the peerless Dulcinea, and the whole so unbecoming the quality and fidelity of a trusty squire?

At these words, without making any reply, Sancho got up from his stool, and stepping softly, with his body bent, and his finger on his lips, he crept round the room, lifting up the hangings; and this being done, he presently sat himself down again, and said: Now, madam, that I am sure nobody but the company hears us, I will answer, without fear or emotion, to all you have asked, and to all you shall ask me; and the first thing I tell you, is, that I take my master Don Quixote for a downright madman, though sometimes he comes out with things, which, to my thinking, and in the opinion of all that hear him, are so discreet, and so well put together, that Satan himself could not speak better; and yet for all that, in good truth, and without any doubt, I am firmly persuaded he is mad. Now, having settled this in my mind, I dare undertake to make him believe any thing that has neither head nor tail, like the business of the answer to the letter, and another affair of some six or eight days standing, which is not yet in print: I mean the enchantment of my mistress Donna Dulcinea; for you must know I made him believe she was enchanted, though there is no more truth in it than in a story of a cock and a bull. The duchess desired him to tell her the par- {3} ticulars of that enchantment or jest; and Sancho recounted the whole, exactly as it had passed; at which the hearers were not a little pleased, and the duchess, proceeding in her discourse, said: From what honest Sancho has told me, a certain scruple has started into my head, and something whispers me in the ear, saying to me: Since Don Quixote de la Mancha is a fool, an ideot, and a madman, and Sancho Panza his squire knows it, and yet serves and follows him, and relies on his vain promises, without doubt, he must be more mad, and more stupid than his master; and, this being really the case, it will turn to bad account, lady duchess, if to such a Sancho Panza you give an island to govern; for he who knows not how to govern himself, how should he know how to govern others? By my faith, madam, quoth Sancho, this same scruple comes in the nick of time: please your ladyship to bid it speak out plain, or as it lists: for I know it says true, and, had I been wise, I should have left my master long ere now; but such was my lot, and such my evil-errantry. I can do no more; follow him I must; we are both of the same town; I have eaten his bread; I love him; he returns my kindness; he gave me his ass-colts; and above all I am faithful; and therefore it is impossible any thing should part us but the sexton's spade and shovel: and, if your highness has no mind the government you promised should be given me, God made me of less, and it may be the not giving it me may redound to the benefit of my conscience: for, as great a fool as I am, I understand the proverb, The pismire had wings to her hurt; and it may perhaps be easier for Sancho the squire to get to heaven, than for Sancho the governor. They make as good bread here as in France; and, In the dark all cats are grey; and, Unhappy is he, who has not breakfasted at three; and, {4} No stomach is a span bigger than another, and may be filled, as they say, with straw or with hay; and, Of the little birds in the air, God himself takes the care; and, Four yards of coarse cloth of Cuença are warmer than as many of fine Segovia serge; and, at our leaving this world, and going into the next, the prince travels in as narrow a path as the day-labourer; and the pope's body takes up no more room than the sexton's, though the one be higher than the other; for, when we come to the grave, we must all shrink and lie close, or be made to shrink and lie close in spite of us; and so good night: and therefore I say again, that, if your ladyship will not give me the island, because I am a fool, I will be so wise as not to care a fig for it; and I have heard say, The devil lurks behind the cross; and, All is not gold that glitters; and Bamba the husbandman was taken from among his ploughs, his yokes, and oxen, to be king of Spain; and Roderigo was taken from his brocades, pastimes, and riches, to he devoured by snakes, if ancient ballads do not lie. How should they lie? said then the duenna Rodriguez, who was one of the auditors; for there is a ballad which tells us how king Roderigo was shut up alive in a tomb full of toads, snakes, and lizards, and that, two days after, the king said from within the tomb, with a mournful and low voice, Now they gnaw me, now they gnaw me, in the part by which I sinned most: and according to this, the gentleman has a great deal of reason to say, he would rather be a peasant than a king, if such vermin must eat him up.

The duchess could not forbear laughing to hear the simplicity of her duenna, nor admiring to hear the reasonings and proverbs of Sancho, to whom she said: Honest Sancho knows full well that, whatever a knight once promises, he endeavours to perform it, {5} though it cost him his life. The duke, my lord and husband, though he is not of the errant order, is nevertheless a knight, and therefore will make good his word as to the promised island, in spite of the envy and the wickedness of the world. Let Sancho be of good cheer; for when he least thinks of it he shall find himself seated in the chair of state of his island and of his territory, and shall so handle his government as to despise for it one of brocade three story high. What I charge him is, to take heed how he governs his vassals, remembering that they are all loyal and well born. As to governing them well, answered Sancho, there is no need of giving it me in charge; for I am naturally charitable and compassionate to the poor, and, None will dare the loaf to steal from him that sifts and kneads the meal; and, by my beads, they shall put no false dice upon me: I am an old dog, and understand tus, tus1 and know how to snuff my eyes in proper time, and will not suffer cobwebs to get into my eyes; for I know where the shoe pinches. All this I say, that the good may be sure to have of me both heart and hand, and the bad neither foot nor footing: and, in my opinion, as to the business of governing, the whole lies in the beginning; and perhaps, when I have been fifteen days a governor, my fingers may itch after the office, and I may know more of it than of the labour of the field, to which I was bred. You are in the right, Sancho, quoth the duchess; for nobody is born learned, and bishops are made of men, and not of stones. But, to resume the discourse we were just now upon, concerning the enchantment of the lady Dulcinea; I am very certain, that Sancho's design of putting a trick upon his master, and making him be- {6} lieve that the country wench was Dulcinea, and that, if his master did not know her, it must proceed from her being enchanted, was all a contrivance of some one or other of the enchanters who persecute Don Quixote: for really, and in truth, I know from good hands, that the wench who jumped upon the ass was, and is Dulcinea del Toboso, and that honest Sancho, in thinking he was the deceiver, was himself deceived; and there is no more doubt of this truth than of things we never saw: for signor Sancho Panza must know that here also we have our enchanters, who love us, and tell us plainly and sincerely, and without any tricks or devices, all that passes in the world: and believe me, Sancho, the jumping-wench was and is Dulcinea del Toboso, who is enchanted just as much as the mother that bore her; and, when we least think of it, we shall see her in her own proper form, and then Sancho will be convinced of the mistake he now lives in.

All this may very well be, quoth Sancho Panza, and now I begin to believe what my master told of Montesinos' cave, where he pretends he saw the lady Dulcinea del Toboso in the very same dress and garb I said I had seen her in, when I enchanted her for my own pleasure alone; whereas, as your ladyship says, all this must have been quite otherwise: for it cannot, and must not be presumed, that my poor invention should, in an instant, start so cunning a device, nor do I believe my master is such a madman, as to credit so extravagant a thing, upon no better a voucher than myself. But, madam, your goodness ought not, therefore, to look upon me as an ill-designed person; for a dunce, like me, is not obliged to penetrate into the thoughts and crafty intentions of wicked enchanters. I invented that story to escape the chidings of my master and not with design to offend him: and, if it {7} has fallen out otherwise, God is in heaven, who judges the heart. That is true, quoth the duchess: but tell me, Sancho, what is it you were saying of Montesinos' cave? I should be glad to know it. Then Sancho related, with all its circumstances, what has been said concerning that adventure. Which the duchess hearing, she said: From this accident it may he inferred, that, since the great Don Quixote says he saw the very same country-wench, whom Sancho saw coming out of Toboso, without doubt it is Dulcinea, and that the enchanters hereabouts are very busy, and excessively curious. But I say, quote Sancho Panza, if my lady Dulcinea del Toboso is enchanted, so much the worse for her; and I do not think myself bound to engage with my master's enemies, who must needs be many and malicious: true it is, that she I saw was a country-wench: for such I took her; and such I judged her to be; and, if she was Dulcinea, it is not to be placed to my account, nor ought it to lie at my door. It would he fine indeed, if I must be called in question at every turn, with, Sancho said it, Sancho did it, Sancho came back, and Sancho returned; as if Sancho were who they would, and not that very Sancho Panza, handed about in print all the world over, as Sampson Carrasco told me, who is at least a candidate to be a bachelor at Salamanca; and such persons cannot lie, excepting when they have a mind to it, or when it turns to good account: so that there is no reason why any body should fall upon me, since I have a good name; and, as I have heard my master say, a good name is better than great riches: case me but in this same government, and you will see wonders for a good squire will make a good governor.

All that honest Sancho has now said, quoth the duchess, are Catonian sentences, or at least extracted {8} from the very marrow of Michael Verino2 himself -" florentibus occidit annis:" in short, to speak in his own way, A bad cloak often covers a good drinker. Truly, madam, answered Sancho, I never in my life drank for any bad purpose: for thirst it may be I have; for I am no hypocrite: I drink when I have a mind, and when I have no mind, and when it is given me, not to be thought shy or ill-bred; for, when a friend drinks to one, who can be so hard-hearted as not to pledge him? But though I put on the shoes, I do not dirty them. Besides, the squires of knights-errant most commonly drink water; for they are always wandering about woods, forests, meadows, mountains, and craggy rocks, without meeting the poorest pittance of wine, though they would give an eye for it. I believe so too, answered the duchess: but, for the present, Sancho, go and repose yourself, and we will hereafter talk more at large, and order shall speedily be given about casing you, as you call it, in the government.

Sancho again kissed the duchess's hand, and begged of her, as a favour, that good care might be taken of his Dapple, for he was the light of his eyes. What Dapple? quoth the duchess. My ass, replied Sancho; for, to avoid calling him by that name, I commonly call him Dapple: and I desired this mistress duenna here, when I first came into the castle, to take care of him, and she was as angry, as if I had said she was ugly or old; though it should he more proper and natural for duennas to dress asses than to set off drawing-rooms. God be my help! how ill a gentleman of our town agreed with these madams! He was some country clown to be sure, quoth Donna Rodriguez; for, had he been a gentleman, and well born, he would have placed them above the horns of the moon. Enough, quoth the duchess; let us have no more of this; peace, Donna Rodriguez, and you, signor Panza, be quiet; and leave the care of making much of your Dapple to me; for, he being a jewel of Sancho's, I will lay him upon the apple of my eye. It will be sufficient for him to lie in the stable, answered Sancho; for upon the apple of your grandeur's eye, neither he nor I are worthy to lie one single moment, and I would no more consent to it, than I would poniard myself: for, though my master says, that, in complaisance we should rather lose the game by a card too much than too little, yet, when the business is asses and eyes, we should go with compass in hand, and keep within measured bounds. Carry him, Sancho, quote the duchess, to your government, and there you may regale him as you please, and set him free from further labour. Think not, my lady duchess, you have said much, quoth Sancho; for I have seen more than two asses go to governments, and, if I should carry mine, it would be no such new thing. Sancho's reasonings renewed the duchess's laughter and satisfaction; and, dismissing him to his repose, she went to give the duke an account of what had passed between them, and they two agreed to contrive and give orders to have a jest put upon Don Quixote, {10} which should be famous, and consonant to the style of knight errantry; in which they played him many, so proper, and such ingenious ones, that they are some of the best adventures contained in this grand history.

1. Words used in Spain to coax a dog to come, when the design is to beat him.

2. A young Florentine of exceeding great hopes, who died young, and whose loss was lamented by all the poets of his time. His fables and dictichs, in imitation of Cato's, are preserved and esteemed. He died at seventeen, rather than take his physician's advice, which was -- a wife. Politian made the following epitaph on him, in allusion to this circumstance -

		"Sole Nemo poterat lento succurrere morbo:
		Ne se pollueret, maluit ille mori."