Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Don Quixote 1.26



Returning to the proceedings of him of the Rueful Countenance when
he found himself alone, the history says that when Don Quixote had
completed the performance of the somersaults or capers, naked from the
waist down and clothed from the waist up, and saw that Sancho had gone
off without waiting to see any more crazy feats, he climbed up to
the top of a high rock, and there set himself to consider what he
had several times before considered without ever coming to any
conclusion on the point, namely whether it would be better and more to
his purpose to imitate the outrageous madness of Roland, or the
melancholy madness of Amadis; and communing with himself he said:

"What wonder is it if Roland was so good a knight and so valiant
as everyone says he was, when, after all, he was enchanted, and nobody
could kill him save by thrusting a corking pin into the sole of his
foot, and he always wore shoes with seven iron soles? Though cunning
devices did not avail him against Bernardo del Carpio, who knew all
about them, and strangled him in his arms at Roncesvalles. But putting
the question of his valour aside, let us come to his losing his
wits, for certain it is that he did lose them in consequence of the
proofs he discovered at the fountain, and the intelligence the
shepherd gave him of Angelica having slept more than two siestas
with Medoro, a little curly-headed Moor, and page to Agramante. If
he was persuaded that this was true, and that his lady had wronged
him, it is no wonder that he should have gone mad; but I, how am I
to imitate him in his madness, unless I can imitate him in the cause
of it? For my Dulcinea, I will venture to swear, never saw a Moor in
her life, as he is, in his proper costume, and she is this day as
the mother that bore her, and I should plainly be doing her a wrong
if, fancying anything else, I were to go mad with the same kind of
madness as Roland the Furious. On the other hand, I see that Amadis of
Gaul, without losing his senses and without doing anything mad,
acquired as a lover as much fame as the most famous; for, according to
his history, on finding himself rejected by his lady Oriana, who had
ordered him not to appear in her presence until it should be her
pleasure, all he did was to retire to the Pena Pobre in company with a
hermit, and there he took his fill of weeping until Heaven sent him
relief in the midst of his great grief and need. And if this be
true, as it is, why should I now take the trouble to strip stark
naked, or do mischief to these trees which have done me no harm, or
why am I to disturb the clear waters of these brooks which will give
me to drink whenever I have a mind? Long live the memory of Amadis and
let him be imitated so far as is possible by Don Quixote of La Mancha,
of whom it will be said, as was said of the other, that if he did
not achieve great things, he died in attempting them; and if I am
not repulsed or rejected by my Dulcinea, it is enough for me, as I
have said, to be absent from her. And so, now to business; come to
my memory ye deeds of Amadis, and show me how I am to begin to imitate
you. I know already that what he chiefly did was to pray and commend
himself to God; but what am I to do for a rosary, for I have not got

And then it occurred to him how he might make one, and that was by
tearing a great strip off the tail of his shirt which hung down, and
making eleven knots on it, one bigger than the rest, and this served
him for a rosary all the time he was there, during which he repeated
countless ave-marias. But what distressed him greatly was not having
another hermit there to confess him and receive consolation from;
and so he solaced himself with pacing up and down the little meadow,
and writing and carving on the bark of the trees and on the fine
sand a multitude of verses all in harmony with his sadness, and some
in praise of Dulcinea; but, when he was found there afterwards, the
only ones completely legible that could be discovered were those
that follow here:

Ye on the mountain side that grow,
Ye green things all, trees, shrubs, and bushes,
Are ye aweary of the woe
That this poor aching bosom crushes?
If it disturb you, and I owe
Some reparation, it may be a
Defence for me to let you know
Don Quixote's tears are on the flow,
And all for distant Dulcinea
Del Toboso.

The lealest lover time can show,
Doomed for a lady-love to languish,
Among these solitudes doth go,
A prey to every kind of anguish.
Why Love should like a spiteful foe
Thus use him, he hath no idea,
But hogsheads full- this doth he know-
Don Quixote's tears are on the flow,
And all for distant Dulcinea
Del Toboso.

Adventure-seeking doth he go
Up rugged heights, down rocky valleys,
But hill or dale, or high or low,
Mishap attendeth all his sallies:
Love still pursues him to and fro,
And plies his cruel scourge- ah me! a
Relentless fate, an endless woe;
Don Quixote's tears are on the flow,
And all for distant Dulcinea
Del Toboso.

The addition of "Del Toboso" to Dulcinea's name gave rise to no
little laughter among those who found the above lines, for they
suspected Don Quixote must have fancied that unless he added "del
Toboso" when he introduced the name of Dulcinea the verse would be
unintelligible; which was indeed the fact, as he himself afterwards
admitted. He wrote many more, but, as has been said, these three
verses were all that could be plainly and perfectly deciphered. In
this way, and in sighing and calling on the fauns and satyrs of the
woods and the nymphs of the streams, and Echo, moist and mournful,
to answer, console, and hear him, as well as in looking for herbs to
sustain him, he passed his time until Sancho's return; and had that
been delayed three weeks, as it was three days, the Knight of the
Rueful Countenance would have worn such an altered countenance that
the mother that bore him would not have known him: and here it will be
well to leave him, wrapped up in sighs and verses, to relate how
Sancho Panza fared on his mission.

As for him, coming out upon the high road, he made for El Toboso,
and the next day reached the inn where the mishap of the blanket had
befallen him. As soon as he recognised it he felt as if he were once
more living through the air, and he could not bring himself to enter
it though it was an hour when he might well have done so, for it was
dinner-time, and he longed to taste something hot as it had been all
cold fare with him for many days past. This craving drove him to
draw near to the inn, still undecided whether to go in or not, and
as he was hesitating there came out two persons who at once recognised
him, and said one to the other:

"Senor licentiate, is not he on the horse there Sancho Panza who,
our adventurer's housekeeper told us, went off with her master as

"So it is," said the licentiate, "and that is our friend Don
Quixote's horse;" and if they knew him so well it was because they
were the curate and the barber of his own village, the same who had
carried out the scrutiny and sentence upon the books; and as soon as
they recognised Sancho Panza and Rocinante, being anxious to hear of
Don Quixote, they approached, and calling him by his name the curate
said, "Friend Sancho Panza, where is your master?"

Sancho recognised them at once, and determined to keep secret the
place and circumstances where and under which he had left his
master, so he replied that his master was engaged in a certain quarter
on a certain matter of great importance to him which he could not
disclose for the eyes in his head.

"Nay, nay," said the barber, "if you don't tell us where he is,
Sancho Panza, we will suspect as we suspect already, that you have
murdered and robbed him, for here you are mounted on his horse; in
fact, you must produce the master of the hack, or else take the

"There is no need of threats with me," said Sancho, "for I am not
a man to rob or murder anybody; let his own fate, or God who made him,
kill each one; my master is engaged very much to his taste doing
penance in the midst of these mountains; and then, offhand and without
stopping, he told them how he had left him, what adventures had
befallen him, and how he was carrying a letter to the lady Dulcinea
del Toboso, the daughter of Lorenzo Corchuelo, with whom he was over
head and ears in love. They were both amazed at what Sancho Panza told
them; for though they were aware of Don Quixote's madness and the
nature of it, each time they heard of it they were filled with fresh
wonder. They then asked Sancho Panza to show them the letter he was
carrying to the lady Dulcinea del Toboso. He said it was written in
a note-book, and that his master's directions were that he should have
it copied on paper at the first village he came to. On this the curate
said if he showed it to him, he himself would make a fair copy of
it. Sancho put his hand into his bosom in search of the note-book
but could not find it, nor, if he had been searching until now,
could he have found it, for Don Quixote had kept it, and had never
given it to him, nor had he himself thought of asking for it. When
Sancho discovered he could not find the book his face grew deadly
pale, and in great haste he again felt his body all over, and seeing
plainly it was not to be found, without more ado he seized his beard
with both hands and plucked away half of it, and then, as quick as
he could and without stopping, gave himself half a dozen cuffs on
the face and nose till they were bathed in blood.

Seeing this, the curate and the barber asked him what had happened
him that he gave himself such rough treatment.

"What should happen me?" replied Sancho, "but to have lost from
one hand to the other, in a moment, three ass-colts, each of them like
a castle?"

"How is that?" said the barber.

"I have lost the note-book," said Sancho, "that contained the letter
to Dulcinea, and an order signed by my master in which he directed his
niece to give me three ass-colts out of four or five he had at
home;" and he then told them about the loss of Dapple.

The curate consoled him, telling him that when his master was
found he would get him to renew the order, and make a fresh draft on
paper, as was usual and customary; for those made in notebooks were
never accepted or honoured.

Sancho comforted himself with this, and said if that were so the
loss of Dulcinea's letter did not trouble him much, for he had it
almost by heart, and it could be taken down from him wherever and
whenever they liked.

"Repeat it then, Sancho," said the barber, "and we will write it
down afterwards."

Sancho Panza stopped to scratch his head to bring back the letter to
his memory, and balanced himself now on one foot, now the other, one
moment staring at the ground, the next at the sky, and after having
half gnawed off the end of a finger and kept them in suspense
waiting for him to begin, he said, after a long pause, "By God,
senor licentiate, devil a thing can I recollect of the letter; but
it said at the beginning, 'Exalted and scrubbing Lady.'"

"It cannot have said 'scrubbing,'" said the barber, "but
'superhuman' or 'sovereign.'"

"That is it," said Sancho; "then, as well as I remember, it went on,
'The wounded, and wanting of sleep, and the pierced, kisses your
worship's hands, ungrateful and very unrecognised fair one; and it
said something or other about health and sickness that he was
sending her; and from that it went tailing off until it ended with
'Yours till death, the Knight of the Rueful Countenance."

It gave them no little amusement, both of them, to see what a good
memory Sancho had, and they complimented him greatly upon it, and
begged him to repeat the letter a couple of times more, so that they
too might get it by heart to write it out by-and-by. Sancho repeated
it three times, and as he did, uttered three thousand more
absurdities; then he told them more about his master but he never said
a word about the blanketing that had befallen himself in that inn,
into which he refused to enter. He told them, moreover, how his
lord, if he brought him a favourable answer from the lady Dulcinea del
Toboso, was to put himself in the way of endeavouring to become an
emperor, or at least a monarch; for it had been so settled between
them, and with his personal worth and the might of his arm it was an
easy matter to come to be one: and how on becoming one his lord was to
make a marriage for him (for he would be a widower by that time, as
a matter of course) and was to give him as a wife one of the damsels
of the empress, the heiress of some rich and grand state on the
mainland, having nothing to do with islands of any sort, for he did
not care for them now. All this Sancho delivered with so much
composure- wiping his nose from time to time- and with so little
common-sense that his two hearers were again filled with wonder at the
force of Don Quixote's madness that could run away with this poor
man's reason. They did not care to take the trouble of disabusing
him of his error, as they considered that since it did not in any
way hurt his conscience it would be better to leave him in it, and
they would have all the more amusement in listening to his
simplicities; and so they bade him pray to God for his lord's
health, as it was a very likely and a very feasible thing for him in
course of time to come to be an emperor, as he said, or at least an
archbishop or some other dignitary of equal rank.

To which Sancho made answer, "If fortune, sirs, should bring
things about in such a way that my master should have a mind,
instead of being an emperor, to be an archbishop, I should like to
know what archbishops-errant commonly give their squires?"

"They commonly give them," said the curate, some simple benefice
or cure, or some place as sacristan which brings them a good fixed
income, not counting the altar fees, which may be reckoned at as
much more."

"But for that," said Sancho, "the squire must be unmarried, and must
know, at any rate, how to help at mass, and if that be so, woe is
me, for I am married already and I don't know the first letter of
the A B C. What will become of me if my master takes a fancy to be
an archbishop and not an emperor, as is usual and customary with

"Be not uneasy, friend Sancho," said the barber, "for we will
entreat your master, and advise him, even urging it upon him as a case
of conscience, to become an emperor and not an archbishop, because
it will be easier for him as he is more valiant than lettered."

"So I have thought," said Sancho; "though I can tell you he is fit
for anything: what I mean to do for my part is to pray to our Lord
to place him where it may be best for him, and where he may be able to
bestow most favours upon me."

"You speak like a man of sense," said the curate, "and you will be
acting like a good Christian; but what must now be done is to take
steps to coax your master out of that useless penance you say he is
performing; and we had best turn into this inn to consider what plan
to adopt, and also to dine, for it is now time."

Sancho said they might go in, but that he would wait there
outside, and that he would tell them afterwards the reason why he
was unwilling, and why it did not suit him to enter it; but be
begged them to bring him out something to eat, and to let it be hot,
and also to bring barley for Rocinante. They left him and went in, and
presently the barber brought him out something to eat. By-and-by,
after they had between them carefully thought over what they should do
to carry out their object, the curate hit upon an idea very well
adapted to humour Don Quixote, and effect their purpose; and his
notion, which he explained to the barber, was that he himself should
assume the disguise of a wandering damsel, while the other should
try as best he could to pass for a squire, and that they should thus
proceed to where Don Quixote was, and he, pretending to be an
aggrieved and distressed damsel, should ask a favour of him, which
as a valiant knight-errant he could not refuse to grant; and the
favour he meant to ask him was that he should accompany her whither
she would conduct him, in order to redress a wrong which a wicked
knight had done her, while at the same time she should entreat him not
to require her to remove her mask, nor ask her any question touching
her circumstances until he had righted her with the wicked knight. And
he had no doubt that Don Quixote would comply with any request made in
these terms, and that in this way they might remove him and take him
to his own village, where they would endeavour to find out if his
extraordinary madness admitted of any kind of remedy.

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